Sex as a religion? Top 5 News Stories

Sex As A Religion? Ask The IRS • What Oprah gets wrong about atheism • Muslims say they deserve school time off for holidays, too • Hispanics increasingly identify as ‘nones’ • The Surprising Story Of 'Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an'

Sex As A Religion? Ask The IRS

Sometimes, self-declared churches are hard to take too seriously. Take a spin on religion offered by a group promoting orgies as religious fulfillment. There was established liturgy and dogma–something the IRS likes to see–and it appeared to be written seriously enough.

Much of the discussion leads back to what constitutes a legitimate church. Churches reap a vast array of tax advantages. Among them are special limits on IRS audit powers. With church status being so desirable, how does the IRS police it?

What Oprah gets wrong about atheism

A few days ago Winfrey interviewed long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad on Super Soul Sunday. Nyad identified herself as an atheist who experiences awe and wonder at the natural world and humanity.

Nyad, 64, who swam from Cuba to Key West last month, said “I can stand at the beach’s edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist, go on down the line, and weep with the beauty of this universe and be moved by all of humanity — all the billions of people who have lived before us, who have loved and hurt.”

Winfrey responded, “Well I don’t call you an atheist then.”

Muslims say they deserve school time off for holidays, too

Several school districts with significant Muslim populations already observe one or both of the Eid holidays as official days off, including Paterson and Trenton in New Jersey; Dearborn, Mich.; Burlington Vt.; and Cambridge, Mass.

Similar efforts in New York City, Connecticut, and Baltimore County, Md., have stalled, while those in Maryland’s Montgomery County, just north of Washington, have recently restarted. There, schools are closed for Christmas, Good Friday and the Monday after Easter; since the 1970s, schools have closed for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur if those days fall on a weekday.

Hispanics increasingly identify as ‘nones’

The number of Hispanic-Americans who say they adhere to no religion is growing and now rivals the number of Hispanic evangelicals, a new study has found.

The share of Hispanics living in the U.S. who say they are atheist, agnostic or have no religious affiliation has reached 12 percent, according to the 2013 Hispanic Values Survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. That is double the rate reported in 1990 by the American Religious Identification Survey.

The Surprising Story Of 'Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an'

Thomas Jefferson had a vast personal library reflecting his enormous curiosity about the world. Among his volumes: a Quran purchased in 1765 that informed his ideas about plurality and religious freedom in the founding of America.

In her book Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an: Islam and the Founders, author Denise Spellberg draws parallels between the beliefs of the founding father and religious tolerance in the United States today.