Monday's Religion News Roundup: Catholics & Columbus. Mormon missionaries. Bishops' snubbery.

While debate continues about whether Christopher Columbus was a hero or a villain, Peter Smith of the Louisville Courier-Journal unearths an interesting stat. Catholics are much more likely to credit Columbus with discovering America.

Someone spray-painted "Muslim lier" on a banner outside President Obama's campaign headquarters in Iowa. Police are on the lookout for the confused and analphabetic suspect. 

With voters focused intently on pocketbook issues, Mitt Romney and Obama are framing their faith-outreach efforts around the economy.

Most telling fact for me: Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition is distributing voter guides that list tax cuts and a balanced budget amendment ahead of same-sex marriage and abortion.

The Obama campaign angered journalists at last week's Religion Newswriters Association conference by insisting that a panel featuring their faith-outreach directors not be televised. Campaign staffers later called it a "casual preference." It wasn't quite so casual for the TV journalists prevented from doing their job.

Speaking of RNA, congrats to all the award winners, especially our own David Gibson, who took home a lot of hardware. David, I'll expect you to pick up the tab for the forseeable future.

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In other big news, Mormon leaders announced a lowering of the age for full-time missionary service - from 21 to 19 for women and from 19 to 18 for men. 

"The Lord is hastening this work," said LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, "and he needs more and more willing missionaries."

Writer Joanna Brooks (aka Mormon Girl) said, "This changes the narrative for young Mormon women in pretty fundamental ways. It uncouples church service from the expectation of marriage and motherhood and teaches young women they should take responsibility for knowing their faith."

LDS church leaders also decried same-sex marriage and abortion at their semi-annual General Conference in Salt Lake City. 

The fact that many Muslim heads of state stood at the UN and demanded that America and the West substantially abridge their notions of freedom and human dignity should be getting a lot more attention, says The Forward. 

Free expression — a cornerstone of Tunisia's 2011 revolution that kicked off the Arab Spring — is now under attack by Muslim extremists, RNS reports. 

The Canadian government is canceling the contracts of all non-Christian chaplains at federal prisons.

A Vatican court sentenced Pope Benedict XVI's former butler to 18 months in jail for stealing the pontiff's private papers and leaking them to the press. A papal pardon is expected. 

Also detained: the Episcopal Bishop of San Francisco as he waited to attend the new Catholic archbishop's installation

Bishop Marc Andrus said he was taken to a basement room with other invited guests, then left waiting as ushers showed everyone but him to their seats in the sanctuary. 

Had he stuck around, Andrus would have heard San Francisco's new archbishop, Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, joke about his recent DUI arrest

"I know in my life God has always had a way of putting me in my place. I would say, though, that in the latest episode of my life God has outdone himself," Cordileone said with a chuckle.

A Colorado woman hit a college student and crashed into an Episcopal church while driving drunk. She was on her way to an AA meeting.

Yr hmbl aggrgtr,

Daniel Burke