N.J. governor defends remarks on civil rights

TRENTON, N.J. (RNS) In the midst of a heated battle over gay rights, Gov. Chris Christie defended his recent remarks on civil rights, calling one his New Jersey critics “numbnuts.” By Matt Friedman and Jenna Portnoy. 250.

Anti-Shariah demonstrators rally against a proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York. RNS photo courtesy Asterio Tecson

Study says U.S. Muslims don’t want Shariah either

 (RNS) When asked whether they thought American courts should apply Shariah to non-Muslims in the legal system, all of the respondents answered no. Just three of the 41 imams said they wanted parallel Shariah tribunals where Muslims could handle civil issues like marriage, divorce, and inheritance. By Omar Sacirbey.

Tuesday Godbytes: Florida Robocalls; Bicultural Marketing; Kim Kardashian

Florida is voting. Right now. Guess what that means? …Religion issues!  (Wait, you were thinking something else?) In recent days, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has been courting the Jewish vote in the Sunshine State by accusing opponent Mitt Romney of being less-than-sensitive to Judaism. Today, though, Newt brought out the big guns: his campaign is reportedly blanketing the state with a “Robocall” accusing Mitt Romney of having forced Holocaust survivors to eat non-kosher food. For such a sunny state, things seem to get dark in Florida pretty quickly.

COMMENTARY: Upon this stubborn rock

(RNS) I don't think any enterprise has done more huffing, more blocking, bickering and begging for time than Christianity. We are the case study for trying to stand still in a rapidly moving stream, getting swept away, and still claiming the moral high ground while we drown. By Tom Ehrich.

Tuesday’s Religion News Roundup: Koshergate, RIP compassionate conservatism; Boykin bounced

As Floridians head to the polls today, Newt Gingrich has been subtly playing the religion card.  On Monday, Gingrich accused Mitt Romney of being “extraordinarily insensitive” to religion as governor of Massachusetts because he planned cut to Medicaid funding to Jewish and Catholic health care facilities. Driving the point home in God's Waiting Room (aka Florida), Gingrich noted that one program targeted for cuts had served kosher meals to elderly Jews. Buzzfeed illustrates the photo with a hilariously inapt photo of Romney cutting into a pig. Get those editors an Old Testament! Romney's response: “It's really sad.

The end of ‘compassionate conservatism’?

(RNS) Just three years after George W. Bush left the White House, compassionate conservatives are an endangered species. Is this just a case of the Republican Party wanting to distance itself from the Bush years — or is compassionate conservatism gone for good? By Amy Sullivan.

Monday Godbytes: Christians Against Cockfighting; Buddhist Video Games; More Muppet Meditation

Christians are are taking a stand against cockfighting. What an eggselent cause!  It's good to hear they're not chickening out this time, and are trying to cooperate with others to get it done. As long as they don't get cocky… Get ready folks: Christian Libertarians (like Ron Paul) are on the rise. Have you ever played the video game Asura's Wrath and thought, “Man, everything about this game is so Buddhist!”  According to Kotaku, that might be because, well, it is — games with less-than-explicit religious themes are apparently popping up all over the place.

In Cleveland, a battle over unwanted churches

CLEVELAND (RNS) Shuttered churches might be the biggest challenge facing the preservation community. Shrinking congregations and migration to the suburbs have left churches empty, or with fewer members. Preservationists lobby to save them, but no one can afford to open them. By  Michelle Jarboe McFee.

Catholics rally against Obama contraception mandate

 (RNS) From Maine to Phoenix to southern Louisiana, Catholic churches across the country echoed with scorn for a new federal rule requiring faith-based employers to include birth control and other reproductive services in their health care coverage. By Rick Jervis. 650.

Pennsylvania Catholic bishop criticized for Hitler comment

HARRISBURG, Pa. (RNS) “In totalitarian governments, they would love our system,” Bishop Joseph McFadden said. “This is what Hitler and Mussolini and all those tried to establish: a monolith so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things.” By Diana Fishlock.