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Religion News Service


  • Originally published 07/31/2013

    Kenyan lawyer on quixotic quest to nullify trial of Jesus

    The conviction of Jesus by Pontius Pilate may be the most famous court verdict -- and perhaps the most consequential, since it led to Christ's crucifixion and the founding of a global religion.Now a Kenyan lawyer wants to overturn Pilate's decision, though he wants to keep the faith that flowed from it."The selective and malicious prosecution (of Jesus) violated his human rights," said Dola Indidis, a Roman Catholic who is petitioning the International Court of Justice, based at The Hague, to nullify Jesus' conviction and death sentence....

  • Originally published 03/12/2013

    Why the new pope's name matters

    Once the new pope is elected, he will have two big initial decisions to make: whether to accept the job, and what his new papal name will be.Gregory? Leo? Benedict? No one knows what the next pope will pick. But choosing a new moniker is a decision that’s tied up in history, tradition and more than a little symbolic value.In papal tradition, newly elected pontiffs choose a name to identify themselves during their reigns. The tradition has been around for centuries, even though no law or rule requires that a pope pick a new name.Chester Gillis, a professor of theology at Georgetown University, said that the pope’s choice of name offers an early indicator of what his papacy might be like....

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Has there ever been an African pope?

    Amid all the fevered speculation about who might succeed Pope Benedict XVI, one possibility seems particularly tantalizing: that the conclave could elect an African to be the first black pontiff in the nearly 2,000-year history of the papacy.But in all that time has there really never been a black pope? Or an African pope? It depends on what you mean by “black” and by “African,” and answering those questions requires a bit of ancient history and some modern context....“North Africa was the Bible belt of early Christianity,” said Christopher Bellitto, a church historian at Kean University in New Jersey. “Carthage was the buckle,” he added, referring to the city located in modern-day Tunisia....

  • Originally published 02/26/2013

    Exhibit highlights blacks’ connection to Scripture

    NEW YORK — A new exhibit at New York’s Museum of Biblical Art makes one point clear and inescapable: Biblical narratives and imagery have been an underlining constant in the life of African-American Christians.From the days of slavery onward, “African-Americans felt the Bible was a powerful tool that established their quest for freedom and identity amidst the madness they were living in,” said guest curator Leslie King-Hammond. “The Bible was the constant.”King-Hammond is the founding director of the Center for Race and Culture at the Maryland Institute College of Art and helped organize the exhibit, “Ashe to Amen: African Americans and Biblical Imagery.” (The “ashe” in the exhibition’s title derives from the African Yoruba language and refers to an artist’s power or “inner eye.”)...

  • Originally published 02/26/2013

    The pope's notorious namesake

    You won’t find many Catholic churches named after Pope Benedict IX.He was a puppet pope, installed by his powerful family at a time when rival clans ruled Rome. The young man seemed uninterested in religious life, rushing through ordination only after his election to the Throne of St. Peter in 1032.Benedict IX squandered the papacy’s moral and financial riches in bordellos and banquet halls. His violence and debauchery “shocked even the Romans,” said philosopher Bertrand Russell, which is kind of like being busted for lewdness in Las Vegas....

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    Did gun control enable the Holocaust?

    As gun control moved toward the top of the American agenda after the Dec. 14 massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, gun rights activists began to invoke a curious analogy: the Holocaust.

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