Monday’s roundup

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Religious groups are again rushing to send people and supplies to victims of a natural disaster, this time the magnitude-8.8 quake that hit Chile on Saturday. An estimated 700 people have died already as Chilean officials say they are confronting an unprecedented emergency.

The Winter Olympics wrapped up yesterday with a kitschy celebration of all things Canada — on ice, of course. (Maple Leaf Girls in leotards and dancing Mounties, anyone?) It was a good day for Canada’s true religion, hockey, though the American youngsters acquitted themselves well in the gold-medal game.

And at least the Olympics were played, which is more than one can say for the Islamic Solidarity Games, the so-called Muslim Olympics, which were cancelled because Iran, the would-be host, inscribed “Persian Gulf” on the tournament’s official logo and medals.

Much to the chagrin of cultural conservatives, secularists met with White House officials on Friday and discussed religiously based “medical neglect” of children, proselytizing in the military, and government funding of religious charities. Meanwhile, President Obama’s faith advisory council voted on policy recommendations, including more consultation of religious groups on foreign policy, clarifying the rules around what government-funded religious charities can do, and expanding the faith-based initiative itself.

The Archdiocese of Washington says it will be in compliance of the district’s gay marriage law when it goes into effect on March 3, but decline to specify what, exactly, it is doing. A New York Times editorial argues that the C Street House made famous by Republican philanderers should not receive tax exemptions as a religious organization, no matter how pious its boarders are.

The Supreme Court declined to hear yet another Ten Commandments case. (Wonder if they’re as sick of these cases as everyone else.) A lower court decision in Oklahoma said the Decalogue must go. President Bush said he couldn’t have been president without prayer and that America has enough critics without his own “opining.”

One of the suspects in the Texas church fires attended a Sunday service and Baptist ministry on his college campus, even as suspicious authorities began to close in on him. A USA Today op-ed asks “Where Have all the Protestants Gone?” Long time passing, indeed. A Wisconsin presbytery voted to ordain an openly gay man, setting up yet another no-doubt lengthy legal scrum over homosexuality in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan says “white right” is conspiring to make Obama a one-term president. A deceased Jesuit accused of sexual abuse is haunting his order. Men who are liberal atheists have higher IQs, according to a study. Satan is following people on Twitter.

China is raising the profile of its hand-picked Panchen Lama, the No. 2 spiritual figure in Tibetan Buddhism. Anti-Semitism is declining in Poland. A court in Indian struck down the two-year waiting period for Christian newlyweds to get divorced.

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