France takes first step towards banning Muslim face veils

January 26, 2010
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Camera crews at presentation of the veil commission report in Paris, 26 Jan 2010/Tom Heneghan

Text of Mehmet Ali Agca’s letter before release from prison

January 13, 2010

Following is the full text of an open letter issued on Wednesday in Istanbul by lawyers for Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who shot Pope John Paul in 1981. Agca is due to be released from a Turkish jail on Monday January 18.

Religion now hottest topic of study for U.S. historians – AHA survey

December 31, 2009

nypl 1Religion has become the hottest topic of study for U. S. historians, overtaking the previous favourite — cultural studies — and pulling ahead of women’s studies in the latest annual survey by the American Historical Association. Younger historians are more likely than older ones to turn their sights on faith issues.

French foreign ministry bureau studies faith issues worldwide

December 29, 2009
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Bernard Kouchner (L) and Nicholas Sarkozy (R), 10 July 2008/Vincent Kessler

France’s Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, one of the original “French doctors” who has been active in humanitarian causes for decades, once said the only major conflict he knew that had nothing to do with religion was the 1969 “football war” between El Salvador and Honduras. With a perspective like that, he naturally asked when he took over the foreign ministry in 2007 where religion figured in its diplomatic analysis and strategy. The answer was that it didn’t really figure in it, at least not in a systematic way. Laïcité — France’s trademark separation of church and state — had created a kind of “we don’t do God” reflex in its diplomacy. Kouchner began a series of internal discussions about the new challenges to diplomacy,  issues such as global warming, terrorism, sustainable development or religion. One of the results was the establishment last summer of a religious affairs bureau at the Quai d’Orsay.

from Felix Salmon:

Christian values, only $25.98

By Felix Salmon
December 21, 2009

Baptist values are going cheap! They're only $25.27 per share, while Methodist values are $25.55, Lutheran values are $25.56, and Catholic values are $25.98 -- the same price as general Christian values.

INTERVIEW-Lisbon treaty to boost EU, church contact-Cardinal Dziwisz

December 18, 2009

dziwisz 2There was something missing from our post yesterday entitled Pope John Paul remains touchstone for Poland’s Catholic Church — a link to the story Reuters published based on the interview that Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz gave to Gabriela Baczynska and me. Since it hasn’t been posted separately on the web, here’s the story:

What were the top religion news stories of 2009?

December 17, 2009
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Hindu lights Diwali candles in Agartala, India, 17 Oct 2009/Jayanta Dey

It’s Top 10 time again. As 2009 nears its end, Time magazine and the Religion Newswriters Association in the U.S. have produced their lists of the main religion news stories of the year. They take quite different views.

from Raw Japan:

Church attacks shake Kansai

December 17, 2009

In the minds of many people, religious rivalry could occasionally be expected to  spill over into violence in places as diverse as the occupied West Bank or Glasgow's 'Old Firm' football derby.

Pew measures global religious restrictions

December 16, 2009

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has come out with a new report that tries to measure, country by country on a global level, government and social restrictions on religion. You can see our coverage of the report here and here and can download the whole report here.

GUESTVIEW: European liberals – stand up and speak out in Islam debate

By Guest Contributor
December 11, 2009
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Posters for minaret ban at Zurich train station, 26 Oct 2009/Arnd Wiegmann

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Dr H.A. Hellyer is Fellow of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations, University of Warwick, author of “Muslims of Europe: the ‘Other’ Europeans”and Director of the Visionary Consultants Group.