Nigerian schoolgirls * LGBT Army? * Atheists lose: Monday’s Roundup

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Happy belated Mother’s Day. Today’s roundup is a sort of Women’s Day collection.

Start with the ongoing drama of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls. The latest question: Will the leader of Boko Haram trade the girls’ safe return in exchange for imprisoned members of the terrorist group? Nigeria says no. Meanwhile, new video released today to French journalists in Nigeria, may show some of the kidnapped Christian girls now dressed in Muslim headscarves and extolling Islam. 

Of course, not all the news highlights women.

LGBT Army? Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Sunday that the military should review its policies banning transgender people from service: “Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it.” 

University of Missouri football star Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, making him the first openly gay player in the NFL. (Raise your hand if you think he’ll be the only gay player on the field.) And an Arkansas judge opened the door to gay marriage – one the state attorney general will likely shut today.

Atheists wrapped up a bad week in the courts on Friday. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Friday that the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance does not violate the religious beliefs of an atheist family. For unbelievers, the decision came hard on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling clearing the table for sectarian prayer at public meetings.

Today’s New York Times profiles the 20-year history and current victories of the Alliance Defending Freedom. The conservative Christian legal group is a force to be reckoned with in the courts these days

Tablet profiles the Argentine rabbi who will guide Pope Francis in the Holy Land – his long time friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka. 

Boz Tchividjian (Rhymes with Religion) lists five practical ways ordinary people can help protect youth from sexual abuse.

Now, women take a bow.


Courtesy of Scott Hales

Enid’s views on life as a Mormon teen delight Jana Riess.

Meet a Mormon star. Jana Riess extolls the funny, warm-hearted comic The Garden of Enid, featuring a 15-year-old girl.

Women in Secularism meet this week and the struggle with sexism in the atheist community is high on the agenda. They’ll hear from activist Kayley Whalen on why they should care about transgender issues, says Faitheist Chris Stedman.

How many hot button issues can Pultizer-prize winning writer Marilynne Robinson hit in one Q & A with Sarah Pulliam Bailey? Plenty. And she starts with a bang on how “it’s a little bit unChristian to have thinking and behavior governed by fear.”

Ever wonder if the kids you sponsor in some foreign land are real – and really helped? One Hollywood producer did. And what she learned inspired Shelene Bryan to challenge fellow Christians to do more to fight poverty. More in Jonathan Merritt’s column.

The nuns took a beat down from the Vatican last week. But David Gibson writes, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is hanging in to the tenuous dialogue with church authorities even though.  “This work is fraught with tension and misunderstanding.”