Bob Smietana | Religion News Service

Stories by Bob Smietana | Religion News Service

How Dying Churches Can Find New Life

Rather than closing their doors, struggling churches find new life by merging with larger congregations.

‘Snake Salvation’ Pastor Won’t be Charged with Violating Tenn. Law

A grand jury decided not to indict the Rev. Andrew Hamblin on charges of violating a state ban on possessing venomous snakes.

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RNS () — Growing up Baptist, J. Dana Trent heard plenty of warnings about interfaith romance. Marrying the wrong person … Continued

Feds offer atheists a clergy tax break that they don’t want

RNS () — The federal government wants to give Annie Laurie Gaylor a tax break for leading the Freedom from … Continued

Is God an angry ogre? Presbyterians and Baptists debate

RNS () — The dispute over dropping a beloved Christian song from a new Presbyterian hymnal has widened into a … Continued

A reality TV show about snake handlers to debut in September

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A pair of snake-handling Pentecostal preachers are getting their own reality television show. “Snake Salvation” is set … Continued

ACLU says magistrate can’t order ‘Messiah’ name change

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee judge should not have barred a couple from naming their child “Messiah,” said the executive … Continued

Presbyterians stir debate by rejecting popular new hymn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Fans of a beloved contemporary Christian hymn won’t get any satisfaction in a new church hymnal. The … Continued

Reza Aslan defends controversial new book on Jesus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For the third time, Jesus is about to change Reza Aslan’s life. As a teenager, Aslan turned … Continued

The evolution of Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore

Russell Moore, the new chief ethicist for the Southern Baptist Convention, has Jesus in his heart, Wendell Berry on his … Continued

Tweet your way out of purgatory (but there’s work involved)

Following Pope Francis’ Twitter feed may be good for your soul — both in this life and the next. The … Continued

Young Muslim musicians marry faith, hip-hop, rock ‘n’ roll

In the early 1970s, singers such as the late Larry Norman transformed Christian music from hymns to rock ‘n’ roll … Continued

Churches move to cut ties to Scouts after gay policy change

For the Rev. Ernest Easley, the decision to cut ties with the Boy Scouts was simple. The Bible says homosexuality … Continued

Modern hymn writers revive a lost musical art

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Most songwriters in Nashville want to get their songs on the radio. Keith and Kristyn Getty hope … Continued

Christian worker quits over 666 on tax form

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Walter Slonopas said he quit his job last week in order to save his soul. Slonopas, 52, … Continued

Pastor who pushes corporal punishment accused of abuse

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A pastor known for promoting corporal punishment has been accused of physically abusing a woman for 25 … Continued

Marathon ministry trains runners to put’one foot in front of the other’

In a few weeks Mark Simpson will lace up his sneakers, set out some 5-gallon water coolers, and start waiting … Continued

Parents accept daughter’s rare illness as ‘God’s will’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Eric and Ruth Brown believe nothing about daughter Pearl Joy’s life is a mistake. They say God … Continued

Unitarian Universalists see chance for growth in growth of secularism

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For Nathan De Lee, going to church as a kid was an ordeal. De Lee, a Unitarian … Continued

Religious labels matter less in 2012 campaign

There aren’t any white Protestants on the presidential ballot this year — a first in American history. Instead, the race … Continued