Beliefs Culture

Friday’s Religion News Roundup: Vampires, Pastafarian Christmas, Theology of Sec …

A mayor in Serbia is asking locals to stock up on garlic and crosses because apparently there's a vampire on the loose.

Churches in Santa Monica lost their second court bid to force the city to bring back its collection of nativity displays; the event had been co-opted by atheists last year, and the city decided to shut that whole thing down rather than take sides in the Christmas wars.

And here's what they were trying to avoid:

–In Pennsylvania, a group of Pastafarians is petitioning Chester County to add their pasta-covered pine tree to a holiday display to honor their Flying Spaghetti Monster god and all of its noodley appendages. They lost.

— An elected official in Loudon County, Va., said atheists who don't support courthouse Christmas displays are “terrorists” and “fanatics.”

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee gave only 30 minutes notice before lighting the state “holiday tree” after last year's ceremony was overtaken by critics who drowned him out with a rousing round of “O Christmas Tree.”

Here's the Christmas gift that keeps on giving: a FREE subscription to the daily Religion News Roundup. Just sign up below. It's better than fruitcake (then again, what isn't?):

No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus, and no, Virginia, the pope didn't try to muzzle the lowing oxen at Jesus' crib, the Vatican says.

From the Dept. of What's Old is New Again: the fledgling anti-Obama secession movement shares the same theological DNA as many church or denominational schisms.

Gay marriage activists say 2012 taught them an important lesson: engaging people of faith in support of gay marriage is just as powerful as the traditional religious voices who line up against it.

Paging James Dobson: A bid to allow civil unions in Colorado is coming back, and having an openly gay Speaker of the state House (and new Democratic majorities in both chambers) could make the third time a charm.

Parents who say their sons were helped by “reparative therapy” to pray away the gay are suing to overturn the California law that bans the practice on minors.

Catholics are losing to evangelicals over who has more “strongly affiliated” (i.e., really into it) members — 56 percent of evangelicals vs. 35 percent of Catholics.

A federal appeals court says a Catholic businessman can pursue his challenge to the Obama administration's contraception mandate. Court watchers tell us that's a big deal.

At the U.N., Palestinians won their fight to get upgraded from “entity” to non-member state status. The uber-powerful Israeli lobbying group AIPAC wants a “full review” of U.S. ties to the Palestininans. The Vatican, which now shares the same status as the Palestinians, was pleased.

Christian and Jewish members of a stalled dialogue panel hope to start talking again, and Christian leaders acknowledged that their call to investigate U.S. aid to Israel made things difficult, even as they stand by it.

Liberal Catholics who think Vatican II ditched the old church, and conservatives who think Vatican II was an temporary anomaly to the one true church, are both guilty of heresy, the Vatican's chief doctrinal watchdog says.

The Church of England says it will find a way — somehow — to take a second vote on allowing women bishops next year after last week's embarassing defeat.

— Kevin Eckstrom

About the author

Kevin Eckstrom

Kevin Eckstrom joined the Religion News Service staff in 2000 and became editor-in-chief in 2006.

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