National Catholic Reporter

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Faith & Parish

Forget the numbers. The big story is that religion has lost social influence

"Religion plays a less important role in American life." Or maybe, "Religion declines as powerful source of American public authority."

I doubt those headlines would have garnered the attention the Pew Research Center recently received with its subtitle "Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population."

To the ends of the earth

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No matter what the Gospel says, picking up snakes is never going to be part of my mission plan. Now that I think about it, I'm also pretty reluctant to pick fights with demons, so the commentaries that say Mark didn't really write this ending to his Gospel offer me a welcome justification for avoiding those adventures. Most scholars think that the Gospel of Mark ended at Verse 8 of Chapter 16, which states that the women who discovered Jesus' empty tomb "said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid."

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