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Survey: Economy continues negative effect on churches

The economy continues to weigh on pastors, with a new survey showing that almost two-thirds say it has affected their churches negatively.

LifeWay Research asked 1,000 pastors about the economy's effect on their churches and found that 56 percent described it somewhat negatively and 8 percent very negatively. Nine percent reported a positive effect on their churches and one-quarter said the economy was having "no impact on my church."

"Pastor views on the economy are similar to many economic outlook surveys," said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. "We weren't surprised the current perspective of economic impact on churches is predominantly negative."

A Gallup poll released Tuesday found that 43 percent of Americans call the country's economic conditions "poor," compared to 13 percent who say they are "good" or "excellent." Almost 6 in 10 expect the economy to worsen and 35 percent perceive improvement.

Church, teachings at forefront with Catholic vice presidential candidates

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For the first time in history, Catholic will oppose Catholic on the presidential tickets of the two major political parties. With Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as the Republican Party's vice presidential candidate and incumbent Vice President Joe Biden for the Democrats, the role of the Catholic church and its teachings is guaranteed to be front and center in the fall campaign.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan asks candidates to sign civility pledge

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NEW YORK -- Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who sparked controversy by agreeing to deliver the closing blessing at the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., this week, on Monday drew further attention to his political role by asking both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama to sign a civility pledge promoted by a leading conservative Catholic activist.

Republicans can find religion in not-so-religious Tampa

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Tampa, Fla., is the GOP's choice for its four-day national convention, which begins Monday. But despite the Republicans' warm relations with so-called "values voters," the city on the bay does not enjoy a reputation as a particularly prayerful town.

A 2006 study showed Tampa to have the third most strip clubs per capita in the U.S. And a 2010 ranking of more than 50 metropolitan areas placed Tampa-St. Petersburg next to last in the percentage of people who identify themselves as religious adherents -- just ahead of Portland, Ore.

(Charlotte, host city for the Democratic National Convention, ranked 18th.)

But just because Tampa may lack a great religious reputation doesn't mean it lacks a meaningful religious life. For those who need a break from the nominating and speechifying during convention week, there are some ways to find spiritual sustenance, even if you're just watching the proceedings from afar.

Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan GOP ticket reflects religious shift

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By naming devout, conservative Catholic U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan to be his running mate, former Gov. Mitt Romney, once a Mormon bishop, did more than ensure the U.S. will have a Catholic vice president in 2013.

He established the first Republican ticket without a Protestant since 1860, when Abraham Lincoln, who belonged to no church, chose Maine Sen. Hannibal Hamlin, a Unitarian, as his running mate, said Mark Silk, professor of religion and public life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

Drone attacks are a stain on the nation

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OPINION

As president, Richard Nixon, a man with well-honed grudge-bearing skills, had an enemies list. Barack Obama has one, too. Unlike Nixon, who mostly brooded about people he saw as swine, with curses and vulgarities vented against them, Obama takes his list further. He kills his enemies -- by approving drone attacks operated by remote control in military bases around the country.

Catholics pray for Paul Ryan's, Joe Biden's change of heart

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Some Wisconsin Catholics are praying both Catholic vice presidential candidates will have a religious epiphany. They want GOP Rep. Paul Ryan to change his mind and heart about his deep-cuts budget, and Vice President Biden to turn against abortion rights.

Two Franciscans, Rhett Engelking, a layman, and the Rev. Michael Crosby, have launched a website Pray for Paul's Change of Heart with a special rosary prayer to St. Paul -- the most famous of converts who once condemned Christ until he saw the light on the road to Damascus.

While praising the congressman's sincere faith, they say they want Ryan to "reconnect with the compassion for the poor and vulnerable that is rooted in our consciences and articulated by the Catholic Church."

Their press release highlights the U.S. Catholic bishops' stance that the deep budget slashes fail to meet Catholic moral criteria to protect the poor and promote common good.

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