Polls find shifts on gay marriage ban

WASHINGTON -- New polls in California indicate public opinion on same-sex marriage may be changing toward acceptance, and religion continues to play a large role in the change.

Conservatives will appeal 'Ground Zero mosque' approval

A conservative religious law firm plans to appeal a decision that
grants a green light for the construction of an Islamic community center two
blocks from Ground Zero.

The Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) opposes the
construction of the Cordoba House in lower Manhattan because the building
currently at the site “stands as an iconic part of the cultural and historical
fabric of America.”

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday (Aug. 3)
voted unanimously not to grant historic status to the site, eliminating a key
hurdle that allows planning and construction to go forward.

The ACLJ, which represents a retired New York City firefighter, called the
vote “deeply offensive,” adding that they are “poised to file legal action on
behalf of our client to challenge this flawed decision and put a stop to this
project.”

Tension has mounted in recent weeks regarding what critics call the “Ground
Zero Mosque,” while proponents say it will not be a mosque and that it is not at
Ground Zero.

As Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, CEO of the Cordoba Initiative, told Reuters, the

Methodists study the hallmarks of healthy churches

What is the key to a healthy church? United Methodists have paid big bucks to find out.

As the sour economy and aging buildings wreak havoc on church budgets, United Methodists are trying to get ahead of the problem and assess the health of their congregations in a bid to reverse declining fortunes.

The church recently concluded a study of more than 32,000 Methodist congregations across North America, seeking the “key factors impacting vital congregations.” The study surveyed everybody from bishops to district superintendents to people in the pews.

Working with New York-based Towers Watson consultants, researchers constructed a “vitality index” to measure each church and concluded “that all kinds of UMC churches are vital -- small, large, across geographies, and church setting.”

The report identified four key areas that fuel vitality: small groups and programs; worship services that mix traditional and contemporary styles with an emphasis on relevant sermons; pastors who work hard on mentorship and cultivation of the laity; and an emphasis on effective lay leadership.

Must Sikhs, Hindus convert to get elected?

WASHINGTON -- What does it mean when the two best-known Indian-American politicians in American politics are converts to Christianity?

In South Carolina, Nikki Haley won the Republican nomination for governor despite a whisper campaign that criticized her name and religion. Along with rumors of alleged sexual misconduct, many questioned the validity of Haley's Christian faith.