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“You can’t legislate morality!” This was a familiar line in the chorus of objection to the civil rights and voting laws of the early 1960s. The idea was that passing laws won’t make people love each other and create community where there are problems born of generations of custom and practice. The point is right, […] Read More

LOS ANGELES (RNS) In a decision that likely will set the stage for a high-stakes showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down California’s Proposition 8 ballot measure that banned gay marriage, saying there is no “legitimate” reason to keep same-sex couples from marrying. Prop 8 supporters immediately […] Read More

WILMINGTON, N.C. (RNS) As a Muslim woman waits in jail for word on a possible indictment in her alleged involvement in a murder-for-hire beheading plot, her friends and family are using social media to rally support for her cause. Shortly after the arrests in late January of Nevine Aly Elshiekh and alleged accomplice Shkumbin Sherifi, […] Read More

(RNS) North American Muslims are more than satisfied with the secular legal system and do not want a set of parallel courts for Islamic law, according to a new study of U.S. and Canadian Muslims by a Washington-based think tank. The study, by University of Windsor law professor Judy Macfarlane for the Institute for Social […] Read More

PITMAN, N.J. (RNS) Located just 17 miles southeast of Philadelphia, Pitman, N.J., has the rural feel of fictional Bedford Falls in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Life, however, became a lot less wonderful for Pitman’s mayor, Mike Batten, a week ago when he received an email from Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion […] Read More

NEW YORK (RNS) The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday (Dec. 5) let stand a lower court ruling that bars congregations from using space in New York City schools for after-hours worship services. The decision appears to end a legal saga that began in 1995 when the Bronx Household of Faith sued the city for barring […] Read More

BERLIN (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI can cross an outstanding charge of failing to use a seatbelt from his list of worries. The southern German city of Freiburg on Wednesday (Nov. 30) threw out charges against the pontiff for riding in his popemobile without a seatbelt during a September visit. “There will be no fine for […] Read More

SUGARCREEK, Ohio (RNS) An investment broker dubbed the “Amish Bernie Madoff” has decided not to fight federal charges that he defrauded thousands of investors out of nearly $17 million. Monroe Beachy, 77, intends to reject his lawyer’s legal advice and plead no contest at an arraignment in Youngstown on Thursday (Oct. 27), defense attorney Gerald […] Read More

LEDYARD, N.Y. (RNS) A conservative Christian group is behind a new YouTube video that features a town clerk explaining why she believes she should not have to comply with a state law and issue same-sex marriage licenses. Ledyard Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti’s position has drawn heavy criticism, a possible lawsuit and an opponent to […] Read More

(RNS) Jews, Muslims and their allies cheered Sunday (Oct. 2) as California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill prohibiting all local bans on circumcision, making it illegal for local authorities to restrict the medical or religious practice. Anti-circumcision activists had gathered enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot in San Francisco. Voters would […] Read More