Pope’s plea * Colbert’s chaplain * Matzo madness: Friday’s roundup

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courtesy Comedy Central

courtesy Comedy Central


courtesy Comedy Central

courtesy Comedy Central

Will Stephen Colbert have a chaplain on “Late Night”? What is marriage? What does the papyrus really prove about Jesus? Will reading this roundup online chip away at your religion?

We’ve got as many questions as a Seder (Passover starts Monday night). 

Stephen Colbert will no longer be “Stephen Colbert” – the Bill O’Reilly parody character he plays on the Report – when he steps into David Letterman’s shoes next year. But will the very-Catholic-in-real life Colbert bring one frequent guest to his new digs, the Rev. James Martin? The editor at large of the Jesuit magazine “America,” and chaplain to the Colbert Nation is a wry cleric who can banter with the best (he did a book on humor).  Martin tweeted:

Heading toward Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week, Pope Francis said Friday he feels “compelled to personally take on all the evil” of clergy sex abuse and asked forgiveness for the sins. “The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed.”

More from the Department of Sorry:

The fate of Utah’s gay marriage ban was argued at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver Thursday — the first state ban case to move to the federal appeals court level since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act last year. Oral arguments centered on family, faith and fairness but The New York Times reports a moving moment in the hallway. Utah’s attorney general, Sean Reyes told plaintiffs in the case: “I’m sorry that we’re causing you pain. Sometime after the case is over, I hope we can sit down.”

Moving on to the department of skepticism:

  • Theology and chemistry are getting a workout this week as experts argue the authenticity and doctrinal significance, if any, of the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,”  says David Gibson. Whether the scrap of ancient papyrus presented by scholar Karen King in 2012 is a fraud or genuine depends on what you think of the ink tests results newly released. But King would like the discussion to move now to what it means to say “my wife” and the questions it raises “about family and marriage and sexuality and Jesus.”  
  • Shankar Vedantam explains on NPR why people may exaggerate about how often they pray and other religious behavior. The more someone thinks religion is important and important in their daily lives, the more likely they are to overstate how often they participate, particularly in societies where secularization is on the rise. “You over-report it when you’re anxious about wanting to appear a certain way when you really are not.” 
  • Is the Internet solely to blame for a slide in religiosity in America? The trends coincide but hold off on assigning blame says Allen Downey, author of a new study “Religious affiliation, education and Internet use.”  Downey cautions: “We can’t know for sure that Internet use causes religious disaffiliation.”
  • The pay gap between men and women was in the headlines all week. Columnist Jonathan Merritt sees another gender gap – there’s a sizable divide between Christian men and women on contraception coverage in health plans.

Monday night is the first Seder, the ritual meal at the center of the Passover celebration, and Jews are stocking up on matzo, the crackers essential to the celebration. Lauren Markoe takes a lighthearted look at unleavened bread: It’s not called the “bread of affliction” for nothing.

Mercurial beings that Islamic and Arabic folklore say were created by God inhabit supernatural thriller “Jinn” from Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad. He’s one of a growing number of Muslims in the American film industry, says Omar Sacirbey.

What happened months after Mormons lifted the ban on missionaries using social media to spread the LDS faith? Trolls and converts.

Blogger Chris D. Stedman talks with a Unitarian Universalist Humanist on the divide with UU – “Humanism has lost ground in the UUA, in favor of “anythingism” and spiritualism.”

Tobin Grant at the Corner of Church and State found 1 billion reasons why World Vision matters. It forced evangelicals to ask questions about which issues are central to their faith: Is it more important to help the poor or uphold traditional ethics of the family and sexuality?

But there’s no question what you should do next: Subscribe to the RNS daily roundup.