Tom Gjelten

Both the challenges and opportunities of U.S. Christianity are evident at Fairmeadows Baptist Church in Duncanville, Texas, just south of Dallas.

On some Sundays, services at the church draw as few as a dozen worshippers, most of them white.

For the past year, however, the church has also been home to a largely Hispanic tenant congregation that calls itself Erez Baptist, and in that incarnation the church is thriving. The average Sunday attendance is around 80, and the congregation has a youth music group and already sponsors a missionary in Brazil.

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The #MeToo movement, having exposed alleged sexual misconduct from Hollywood to Capitol Hill and in board rooms and news rooms, has now reached into evangelical Christian circles, raising questions unique to that faith culture.

In a White House meeting with members of Congress this week, President Trump is said to have suggested that the United States accepts too many immigrants from "shithole countries" in Africa and too few from countries like Norway.

President Trump was among the first to express public condolences after Mormon leader Thomas S. Monson died this week.

"Melania and I are deeply saddened," Trump said in a statement Wednesday marking the death of Monson, who served as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for nearly a decade.

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As 2017 ends, evangelical Christians in the United States are suffering one of their periodic identity crises. Unlike other religious groups, the evangelical movement comprises a variety of perspectives and tendencies and is therefore especially prone to splintering and disagreement.

Those Jews and evangelical Christians who say an undivided Jerusalem should be the eternal capital of Israel have a ready answer for anyone who questions that claim: The Bible says so.

President Trump's declaration that Jerusalem is Israel's capital and his order to move the U.S. Embassy brought quick and sharply differing reactions from Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders.

From the U.S. Senate race in Alabama to the tax debate in the U.S. Congress, the role of religion in American politics is once again front and center.

In Alabama, Republican candidate Roy Moore is an unabashed Christian nationalist, arguing that the United States was established as a Christian nation, to be governed by Christian principles.

I have covered many wars during my years at NPR, but never did I encounter such a monstrous man as Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb army commander likely to spend the rest of his life in prison.

I first heard his name when I was staying in Sarajevo in June 1992. It was a time of constant and brutal shelling carried out on the explicit orders of Mladic, who was intent on terrorizing and dividing the city and killing or expelling all non-Serbs.

With his U.S. Senate campaign in Alabama suddenly endangered by allegations that he had sexually abused a minor, GOP candidate Roy Moore sought to turn the crisis to his political advantage by portraying it as an "us vs. them" confrontation.

"We are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message," he tweeted.

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The newest museum in Washington, D.C., is a $500 million institution dedicated to a single book.

The privately funded Museum of the Bible, set to open Nov. 17, will focus on biblical history, biblical stories and the Bible's impact on the world.

"We only have one mission statement," says Cary Summers, the museum president, "and that is to engage people with the Bible."

Five hundred years after a rebellious act by a single German monk divided the Christian world, religious leaders on both sides of that split have finally agreed their churches share responsibility for the historic rupture.

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We are only about 24 hours past this shooting. NPR's Tom Gjelten, you've been covering this all day. And I want to ask you, what do you think we should expect that of the investigation tomorrow and in the coming days?

In churches across Houston on Sunday, pastors struggled to tell their parishioners why a God they believed to be good might have allowed a storm of Biblical proportion to flood their city.

"God causes it to happen, but He has a reason," Pastor Gary Smith told the worshippers at Fifth Ward Church of Christ in northeast Houston. "We don't comprehend what God has planned for us."

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Updated August 19.

President Trump's belated and halfhearted denunciation of the hate groups that marched in Charlottesville, Virginia., has cost him the support of numerous business leaders and fellow Republicans and prompted at least a half-dozen nonprofit organizations to cancel planned fundraising events at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

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Religion has played an outsized role in U.S. history and politics, but it's one that has often gone unrecognized in U.S. museums.

"As a focused subject area, it's been neglected," says Peter Manseau, a scholar and writer installed last year as the first full-time religion curator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

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Immigration authorities have rounded up nearly 200 Iraqis in recent weeks, and the Trump administration is now under heavy pressure to hold off moves to deport them.

Many of those currently detained are from the minority Chaldean Christian community, which faces severe persecution in Iraq.

U.S. immigration authorities say the detained Iraqis have criminal records, but their families and supporters say many have already served time or paid their fines and that they would face persecution if sent back.

Saturday's nationwide "March Against Sharia," sponsored by a group known for aggressively criticizing Islam, has in recent days become a rallying cause for right-wing extremists, forcing march organizers to repudiate some of their own supporters and prompting concern about clashes with militant leftists.

By heading straight to the homelands of Islam, Judaism and Christianity on his first presidential trip, Donald Trump took a major risk. The possibility of offending his hosts somewhere along the way with an ill-considered tweet or offhand remark loomed large. Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican are places where appearances matter and words must be chosen carefully.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now to the Vatican for our feature Words You'll Hear. That's where we try to understand some of the stories we'll be hearing more about in the coming days by parsing a word or phrase connected with the story.

President Trump's choice to represent the United States at the Vatican, Callista Gingrich, has one especially prominent achievement as a Catholic: She is responsible for her husband, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, converting to Roman Catholicism in 2009.

"When Newt became a Catholic, it was one of the happiest moments of my life," she said in a 2012 interview with The New Yorker.

Donald Trump's first overseas trip as president begins Friday with a pilgrimage of sorts. With stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican, Trump will be visiting the centers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the three major monotheistic religions.

But he's wading into deep waters with potential for missteps and disagreement. He'll meet with Muslim leaders despite declaring that "Islam hates us" during the campaign; he'll meet with Pope Francis, who advocates for countries to be welcoming to refugees.

Here is a proposition that may seem self-evident to many people: As societies become more modern, religion loses its grip. People separate their religion from their institutions and from parts of their lives.

Sociologists have a name for this idea. They call it the "secularization thesis." Now, research suggests the story is more complicated.

In 1822, Thomas Jefferson suggested an early version of it, predicting that Unitarianism "will, ere long, be the religion of the majority from north to south."

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