Reuters blog archive
The Israeli military is embroiled in a public battle over whether God ought to be mentioned at memorial rites for fallen soldiers. The ferocity of the debate, going to the heart of Israel's secular and religious Jewish divide, prompted the intervention on Monday of a parliamentary panel that urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's fractious cabinet to decide the issue.
The controversy is over whether Yizkor, the Hebrew prayer of remembrance, should begin at military ceremonies with the words "May God remember" or "May the people of Israel remember". Military policy calls for the version mentioning God to be used, but enforcement has been patchy in an apparent nod to the sentiments of the Jewish state's secular majority.
Media reports that Israel's new armed forces chief, Lieutenant-General Benny Ganz, had sided with chaplains who insisted on using the "May God remember" phrase have drawn complaints the military is becoming too Orthodox.
Pennsylvania's debt-ridden capital of Harrisburg has tried every form of fiscal belt-tightening, from layoffs to furloughs to filing for bankruptcy. Now, it is turning to God.
Mayor Linda Thompson said on Friday she will join religious leaders in three days of fasting and prayer to encourage "a cooperative spirit among government leaders, the business community and citizens."
Hundreds of Islamist Salafists defied security forces and held special prayers Friday for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan this week. Some Islamists regard Saudi-born bin Laden, who was inspired by Egyptian militants, as a martyr.
Chaplains representing every branch of the U.S. military and many faiths gathered on Wednesday to discuss everything from counseling stressed-out soldiers to a recent lawsuit charging the military neglects a sexually abusive culture.
The Church of England has voted to use more accessible language during baptisms to help it connect better with congregations, especially non church-goers. Members attending the Church's General Synod, or parliament, in London, agreed that the Liturgical Commission should provide supplementary material to help prevent the eyes of worshippers "glazing over" during important parts of the service.
The Reverend Tim Stratford, from Liverpool, said on Wednesday his motion was "not a request for christenings without Christianity." Quite the opposite. "I am not asking for the language of Steven Gerrard," he said, referring to the Liverpool and England soccer star. "Just references that could be understood by the majority."
Thousands of Thais prayed for peace and unity in Bangkok on Wednesday, a week after a deadly military crackdown on protesters sparked a terrifying night of arson and riots that levelled buildings and killed 54 people.
from Tales from the Trail:
President Barack Obama had his first face-to-face talks on Sunday with one of America's top spiritual leaders, the Reverend Billy Graham.
Graham, 91, who is ailing with Parkinson's disease, has prayed with U.S. presidents over the course of the past 50 years or so.
Power-rationing has failed. The rains have still not come. So Venezuelan electricity workers are seeking divine help to solve the nation's power crisis.
State oil company Edelca has summoned all its workers to an hourlong prayer meeting scheduled for Friday and titled: "Clamor to God for the National Electricity Sector."
A ruling by a Berlin court allowing a 16-year-old Muslim pupil to pray towards Mecca in a separate room at school has raised questions about the extent of religious freedom in Germany. Some media, including the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, describe the ruling as a landmark case, saying it is the first time a German court has considered whether the right to practise religious beliefs should extend to schools.
The case arose in 2007 when the head of a school in Berlin, which has a strong secular tradition, forbid a boy and his friends from kneeling on their jackets to pray where they could be seen by other pupils.
Bhutan has warned its citizens over cutting down thousands of young trees every year to make prayer flags, a threat to the tiny kingdom's lush scenery and the government's duty to bring "Gross National Happiness".
Himalayan Buddhists put up prayer flags for good luck or to help the dead find the right path to their next life. The more flag poles put up for the departed the better, and Buddhist monks say fresh poles must be used each time.