Beliefs Religion News Roundup

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

An illustration of Superman
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

About the author

Yonat Shimron

Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.


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  • The state of Illinois should not attempt to redefine marriage. It is not bigotry or discrimination to treat different things differently. Marriage is unique in that one of its central components is sexual difference. Same-sex couples lack this essential difference and cannot procreate or provide both a mother and a father to children. Both reason and faith tell us that the marriage of one man and one woman calls forth the best of spouses, not only for their own sake, but also for the well-being of their children and for the advancement of the common good. Marriage generates children, is an ideal environment for raising them and is the basic building block for any human society. In the end, it is neither possible for us to change the definition of marriage, without forfeiting its meaning, nor wise to attempt to do so. Vote “no” on the redefinition of marriage!

  • @Timothy, not every heterosexual couple can procreate first of all and they can still get married. Also, there are many people who have two mothers and two fathers for the sheer fact that their parents divorced and remarried. And sometimes they just have 1 mother. I had one mother due to divorce and I came out just fine. A socialworker told me it takes two parents to raise a child, but my mother did just fine with us. So.. u don’t need a mommy and a daddy to raise a child b/c in some cases you have both and the child still ends up in gangs or doing drugs. So that has nothing to do on how children are raised. And church and state are separate, this country was based on that FACT. Everyone deserves to have the same rights and should not be discrimnated against. Don’t force ur religious ideals on others.

  • Shutting gay families and their children out of the protections and dignity of legal marriage will not cause more children to be raised by both a mother and father. Not a single one.

    The fact that you may believe that someone else’s family is not “ideal” is no excuse to deny them equal rights under the law.

  • Because we no longer sell our daughters for a few goats and rich guys don’t marry 30 wives, then we have already redefined marriage. You don’t like it because it is icky, which is no reason to dictate laws.

  • I am a straight man living in New York. We legalized gay marriage here over one year ago. We had all the complaints and carrying on by the Catholic and fundamentalist Protestant and orthodox Jewish clergy. What has been the result on society? ABSOLUTELY NONE – except that gay people can get a marriage license from the county or NYC clerk and get married legally. No clergyman or house of worship is compelled to perform or host the marriage much less religiously recognize it. These ultra-conservative enemies of gay marriage are purposely conflating the religious RITE of marriage with the civil RIGHT of marriage. They are not the same thing. If you think gay marriage is a terrible is my advice: DON’T MARRY A GAY. Otherwise, and this goes for your cardinal out there in Ill. too–mind your own business and not your neighbor’s personal life.

  • The funny thing about Superman’s Jewish background is how much Christology there was in the 1978 movie. “They are a good people Kal-El…they only need the light to show them the way…For this, I have sent them you, my only son.”

  • If procreation is the sine qua non of marriage, I know a carpenter named Joseph whom you should speak with…….