Thursday Religion News Roundup: Illinois gay marriage* Catholic school enrollment*Jewish Superman

The Illinois General Assembly may vote today on gay marriage. Catholic school enrollment declined by a quarter in Louisville, Ky. Was Superman Jewish?

An illustration of Superman

The Illinois’ General Assembly may vote today on marriage equality. Should lawmakers approve it, Illinois might become the 10th state to allow gay marriage.

Meanwhile, Roman Catholic Cardinal Francis George has launched a last-ditch campaign to convince the legislature not to legalize same-sex marriage.

In Louisville (Ky.), Catholic school enrollment has declined by a quarter in the past decade, reports Peter Smith.

Faced with the increasingly difficult task of recruiting and retaining quality teachers in under-resourced Catholic schools, one program in neighboring Ohio provides coaching, support and — importantly — cash incentives.

Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts chain store, has found a new recipient for its gift of a free 217-acre college campus in Massachusetts: The National Christian Foundation. It wasn’t clear what the foundation plans to do with the land.

An excavation team has found nearly 600 sets of remains in the very spot where the historic Kawaiahao Church plans to build a multi-purpose center.

A suspended Pittsburgh-area priest will serve more than eight years in prison for collecting thousands of images of child pornography on his computer, books and compact discs.

According to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, 2012 saw a boomlet in abortion restrictions, with 43 new laws in 19 states restricting access to abortion services.

Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan went to confession the other day only to find a priest using an iPad. She was delighted. Not sure how others will feel seeing the confessional glowing in the dark.

In international news, the death toll from a New Year’s Eve stampede during a Pentecostal religious vigil at an overcrowded stadium in Angola has risen to 16.

Islamist militants in the north of Nigeria have taken the lives of 34 people since Christmas, including 27 Christians attending church services.

The Archbishop of Westminster, head of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, has axed special masses for gay and lesbian churchgoers in central London.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed new legislation that makes a course on the fundamentals of religion mandatory in all schools. It wasn’t clear if that means lessons on Orthodox Christianity or world religions  generally.

Not exactly breaking news, but a new book on the Church of Scientology reveals that leaders virtually imprisoned some of its members, threatening blackmail if they tried to leave. The New York Times caught up with Pulitzer winner Lawrence Wright, author of “Going Clear: Scientology, Celebrity, and the Prison of Belief” (Knopf).

CNN profiles Tania Treiger, one of only five conservators in the entire world allowed to handle the 2,000-year-old pieces of parchment that make up the Dead Sea Scrolls.

And finally, the Center for Jewish History in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City is mounting an exhibit of early Superman illustrations. Joe Shuster, Superman’s co-creator, began illustrating the man of steel in the late 1930s. But in 1945, he spotted a man on the street that looked just like his Superman character. Who knew? He was Jewish too.

–Yonat Shimron

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