Biden and Ryan Debate Over Religion: News Roundup

In the news this week, Biden, Ryan spar over religion, Jews in France fear waves of attacks, Pastors prepare to take on IRS over political endorsement ban, and other stories. 

The topic of abortion came up toward the end of Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate, as Vice President Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (Wis.) were each asked about their Catholic faith, and how it informs their position on abortion. The Washington Post

Jews across France say anti-Semitic threats have escalated since a deadly assault on a Jewish school in the southwestern town of Toulouse this spring. The attack on the grocery store in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles came several weeks ago, and the synagogue in nearby Argenteuil was this weekend.

In all cases, police suspect Muslim extremists. The Toulouse attacker was a Frenchman trained by Islamist paramilitaries. And anti-terrorist police killed one man and arrested 11 in raids this weekend against an Islamist cell suspected in the Sarcelles attacks.

French Jews believe the danger comes from radical messages that appeal to young Muslims in France who are unemployed, angry, alienated and looking for someone to blame. St. Louis Post

Pastor Ron Johnson’s sermon is part of a wider effort by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal organization that since 2008 has organized Pulpit Freedom Sunday, when they encourage and pledge to help pastors who willfully violate the Johnson Amendment by endorsing from the pulpit.

The movement is growing – and quickly. Pulpit Freedom Sunday had 33 churches participating in 2008, and 539 last year.

The goal: Force the IRS to come down on these churches so that the Alliance Defending Freedom, whose network includes 2,200 attorneys, can test the Johnson Amendment’s constitutionality. CNN

Is the importance of organized religion in American life diminishing? A recent Pew Research Center poll shows that nearly one-fifth of all U.S. adults, including over 30% of adults age 30 and under, now list their religious affiliation as "none."

Data from Pew Research's report, "Nones" on the Rise: One-in Five Adults Have No Religious Affliliation, indicates that the number of adult Americans who identify themselves as not being connected with any religion has grown from just over 15% to just under 20% in the last five years alone.

Among the religious "Nones" are more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics representing nearly 6% of the U.S. public, and 33 million people – 14% of the public — who say they have no particular religious affiliation.