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What I learned from the 'Angelina effect'

Actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie attends a summit to end sexual violence in conflict, at the Excel centre in London June 12, 2014. The summit runs from June 10 to 13 (Credit: Reuters/Luke Macgregor) Angelina Jolie made world headlines last May with the announcement that she had undergone a double mastectomy.  She did not have breast cancer, but she had tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, which placed her at significantly higher risk for developing the disease.  So she had preventative surgery, then told the world what she had done.  Her goal was to help other women get gene tested.

Now we know the results.  A new study discovered that genetic testing referrals for the most common breast cancer mutations more than doubled after Jolie told her story.  Referrals continued to be much higher for months afterwards.  Researchers are calling this phenomenon the "Angelina effect."

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More churches accepting gays than ever before

A rainbow banner, proclaiming all are welcome, hanging over the main entrance of the Church of the Pilgrims located at 2201 P Street, N.W., in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C, used to send a message that homosexuals are welcome in the church, August 22, 2007 (Credit: Drama Queen via Flickr) The National Congregations Study recently published its latest report of America's churches, synagogues and mosques.  It finds more racial and ethnic diversity in our pews, more encouragement of hand-waving, amen-shouting and dancing in our aisles, and less connection to denominations, doctrines, and rules that might impede growth.

The study also found that more congregations than ever before accept gays and lesbians in active membership and in church leadership.  Roman Catholics and white conservative evangelicals are the exception: the percentage of Catholic churches permitting full membership and leadership roles for homosexuals has fallen significantly, while only four percent of white conservative evangelical churches permit gays in leadership roles.

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Did NFL discriminate against Robert Griffin III's faith?

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III at a post game press conference before and after his T-shirt was turned inside out following the Washington Redskins 41-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, September 14, 2014 (Credit: AP/Evan Vucci)Robert Griffin III is one of the most remarkable athletes of our day.  He was one of America's best quarterbacks in high school, and was also ranked No. 1 in the nation as a hurdler.  He was also class president and ranked seventh in his class.  He won a Heisman Trophy at Baylor, where his statue now stands outside the university's new stadium.  He graduated from Baylor in three years with a 3.67 GPA and a degree in political science.  Drafted by the Washington Redskins, he was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.  His status is so iconic that he is known simply as RG3.

Knee injuries in college and the NFL have been his greatest challenge.  Then he dislocated his left ankle last Sunday, and will be out six to eight weeks.  He came into a press conference following the game on crutches.  That's when controversy erupted.

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Why I agree with religion-basher Bill Maher

Bill Maher, host of Real Time with Bill Maher, prepares to host episode 269 of the HBO show with guests Nancy Pelosi, Jon Tester, David Avella, Howard Dean, Kristen Soltis (Credit: HBO/Janet Van Ham) Comedian Bill Maher is no friend of religion.  He has called God "a psychotic mass-murderer," claims that "faith means making a virtue out of not thinking," and believes that "religion must die for mankind to live."

And yet, when Maher was interviewed recently by Charlie Rose, he became a passionate defender of Christianity.  Rose tried to claim that "a vast number of Christians" hold beliefs that are as radical as those of ISIS.  Maher countered: "No, that's not true.  Not true.  Vast numbers of Christians do not believe that if you leave the Christian religion you should be killed for it.  Vast numbers of Christians do not treat women as second class citizens.  Vast numbers of Christians . . . do not believe that if you draw a picture of Jesus Christ you should get killed for it."

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Eric Metaxas on 'the new witch hunt'

Eric Metaxas, host of Socrates in the City, opens the most recent forum with guests Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel, June 19,2014 (Credit: Socrates in the City via Vimeo) Eric Metaxas has written best-selling biographies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce, and is one of the most popular speakers in America.  The headline of his recent BreakPoint commentary caught my eye: "The New Witch Hunt."  Here's the story.

Gordon College was founded in 1889 to train Christian missionaries, and moved to its present location north of Boston in 1955.  It is the only non-denominational Christian liberal arts college in New England.  Gordon's president, Dr. Michael Lindsay, is a Pulitzer Prize nominated author and sociologist with degrees from Baylor, Oxford and Princeton.  He is also a longtime and trusted personal friend.

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