Survey: Religious Americans keep faith amid secularization
NEW YORK (AP) — A newly-released survey finds the 77 percent of American adults who continue to identify with a faith group have largely stayed as religiously engaged as they were in 2007.
The Pew Research Center's findings are based in part on a 2014 telephone survey of more than 35,000 people.
It found two-thirds of religiously affiliated adults said faith was very important to them and they prayed daily, nearly unchanged from 2007, the last time Pew conducted its U.S. Religious Landscape Study. About 6-in-10 said they attend worship services at least once or twice a month, a rate similar to the earlier study.
But a higher percentage say they regularly read scripture, participate in small prayer or study groups and share their faith with others.
In an initial release of data last May, Pew researchers found that the 23 percent of Americans who don't affiliate with a religion have become the second-largest group in total numbers behind evangelicals, at 25 percent.
Vatican arrests 2 people in latest probe of leaked documents
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says a Spanish priest and an Italian laywoman who served on a financial reform commission set up by Pope Francis have been arrested in the probe into yet another leak of confidential information and documents.
A statement from the Holy See's press office said that Vatican prosecutors on Monday upheld the arrests of the two, who had been interrogated over the weekend.
The woman was allowed to go free on her own recognizance, but the priest was being held in a Vatican jail.
The arrests were the latest confirmation that scandal and intrigue still swirl through the largely closed world of the Vatican's administrative bureaucracy.
Current and past papal efforts to clean house at the Vatican have sparked resentment and found resistance in the Holy See's entrenched bureaucracy, a perfect combination of factors to foster leaks.
Police arrest 2 men in vandalism of Boston-area mosque
BURLINGTON, Mass. (AP) — Police have arrested two 18-year-old men who allegedly vandalized a mosque in the Boston suburb of Burlington.
Cameron Cappella and Derrik Demone, both of Burlington, are each charged with malicious destruction of property over $250 and tagging property.
Police were called to the Islamic Center of Burlington Sunday after the vandalism was discovered. "U.S.A." was written multiple times with red spray paint on the outside of the building. Several eggs had been thrown at the building.
Cappella and Demone were arrested Monday after police received several leads from the community. It was not immediately clear whether the men had retained lawyers.
The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Sunday that the graffiti reflects a growing sentiment that Muslims are not "real" Americans.
Photo of praying football players causes stir on Facebook
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's High School Activities Association says it has not created a new rule banning prayer at sports games.
The statement comes in response to a Facebook post of praying players that caused a stir.
A photo of the Bismarck St. Mary's and Kindred football teams praying together after Saturday's playoff game in Bismarck has been shared more than 2,000 times on Facebook. The post by a local resident states that the activities association "said no public prayers before the game."
Association Executive Director Matt Fetsch told The Bismarck Tribune that a prayer can't be delivered over the public-address system at a postseason game because those games are hosted by the association and not the home team.
Fetsch said opening prayers haven't happened at postseason games for 15 years, since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such prayer was unconstitutional.
Christmas bonus: Farm animals in demand for Nativity scenes
BERRY, Ky. (AP) — Some farmers have extra reason to rejoice at Christmas: Tis the season for renting out animals for live Nativity scenes and other holiday events.
Megan Powell, the event coordinator at Honey Hill Farm, a mobile petting zoo with locations in Kentucky and Ohio, says renting animals for Christmas programs helps pay for their food and upkeep and has been a huge growth area for the business.
Powell says Honey Hill works with dozens of churches, schools and businesses to provide sheep, donkeys and goats for live Nativity scenes.
Many churches also ask for camels, but few petting zoos and traditional farms raise them.
Bob Hudelson of Lost River Game Farm in Orleans, Indiana, says "There are a lot of camels out there — just not a lot of tame camels."