Monday's Religion News Roundup: Cesar Chavez * Piper's swan song * CCD or OCD?

chavezHope everyone had a lovely Cesar Chavez day!

Some Christians were upset that Google chose to honor the Mexican-American labor icon -- instead of Easter on Sunday.

The brainy crowd at First Things, on the other hand, says it was fitting to render onto Cesar.

They might not have been as happy if Google had doodled Hugo Chavez.

Still, some Venezuelans consider the late dictator a saint, the AP reports. "He saved us from so many politicians who came before him,"  said one woman. "He saved us from everything."

Over in Syria, Christians experienced real Holy Week hardship, dodging mortar shells and gunfire as they wondered where next Easter might find them.

In Nigeria, attacks between Christians and Muslims killed 50 people last week.

That's persecution. American Christians, not so much, reports CNN's John Blake.

Pope Francis celebrated his first Easter as pope, fresh off the controversy over his washing of women's feet during a Maundy Thursday ritual.

By the way, if it's against "church law" to invite women to participate in the rite, someone should tell the U.S. Catholic bishops.

Word is, Francis now plans to wash the feet of every single soul on planet Earth.

Cardinal Dolan of NY says the church "has not been too good" at separating its opposition to gay marriage from a general attack on gays and lesbians.

President Obama attended Easter services at an Episcopal church near the White House and heard a sermon that criticized "captains of the religious right," according to the AP.

A new conservative line of attack? Obama's dog stinks at Easter-egg hunting.

For many Americans, religious holy days have become family holidays, reports Cathy Lynn Grossman.

Mormon Marie Osmond says having a gay child has made her pro-same-sex marriage.

Some atheists are looking to shed their "grumpy Gus" image, our own Kimberly Winston reports.

Will image matter if atheists keep suing over things like the WTC cross?  A judge ruled that the cross should stay because it helps tell the 9/11 story.

The U.S. Air Force has its first female rabbi, The Forward reports.

Evangelical eminence John Piper preached his farewell sermon Sunday at his Minneapolis megachurch.

Hindus celebrated Holi this weekend, and our ace photographer Sally Morrow has the colorful video.

Is religiosity in kids a symptom of mental illness? Maybe, but Time doesn't bring enough info to bear.

My favorite line: "Some children suffer from scrupulosity, a form of OCD that involves a feeling of guilt and shame. "

Or, as I call it, "My Catholic Childhood."

Yr hmbl aggrgtr,

Daniel Burke 

You don't have to be particularly scrupulous to receive our Religion News Roundup. Just sign up below. It's free.


  1. Mr. Burke: While I normally enjoy the Roundup, I am appalled by your flippant commentary today on the Time magazine story regarding childhood religiosity: “My favorite line: ‘Some children suffer from scrupulosity, a form of OCD that involves a feeling of guilt and shame.’ Or, as I call it, ‘My Catholic Childhood.'” To people (and there are many of us) who truly suffer from OCD, your little joke is not funny; in fact, it is staggeringly ignorant and disrespectful. Regardless of whether the Time article “[brought] enough info to bear”, it did provide a reasonably accurate description of the sort of continual anguish that is faced by OCD sufferers. I suggest you read it again; this time, focus on the substance of the article, not on finding a quote that you can use to make a lame, tasteless joke at the expense of people with a debilitating mental illness.

  2. Author

    Thanks, Michael. I did not intend to make a joke at the expense of people who suffer from mental illness. I was tweaking journalists who draw in such broad strokes as to categorize what can be perfectly ordinary experiences, such as scrupulosity, as mental defects.

    Journalism is awash in alarmist articles these days (usually directed at parents with small children), and I feel very little compunction about puncturing holes in bloated writing. If the magazine wanted to run a long piece examining this issue in depth, I’d happily read and recommend it. Instead, they dashed off a quick post with no actual parents or children interviewed and gave it a sexed-up headline.

    So I would ask that you read my post again and reconsider whether I’m making a joke at the expense of mental illness or alarmist journalism.

    Daniel Burke

  3. well, i struggle with being ocd but am not catholic [or anti-catholic] and i found the joke funny…

  4. @Daniel Burke: I understand your argument, and I usually appreciate and applaud your efforts to call out journalists for irresponsible or unduly alarmist writing. However, even in your response to me, you’ve undercut your own complaint against the Time article: “I was tweaking journalists who draw in such broad strokes as to categorize perfectly ordinary experiences, such as scrupulosity, as a mental defect.” You are apparently unaware that “scrupulosity” is a clinically recognized cluster of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder characteristics, along with “contamination”, “checking”, etc. (See for a partial list). Within the context of OCD, “scrupulosity” is not simply a casual, abstract term; it is a diagnostic one. When it is part of OCD, scrupulosity is not “perfectly ordinary”; it is an unwanted, stressful, and disruptive element. I understand that you did not intend to make a joke at the expense of the mentally ill; however, you have demonstrated — twice — that you are not informed on this subject matter enough to realize that your comments / jokes are reckless and potentially offensive.

  5. @dj spellchecka: My apologies. I should not have presumed to speak for anyone other than myself. I am especially sensitive to the way in which I believe OCD — and its sufferers — are often reduced to comedic punchlines in the media, by people who have no real appreciation or knowledge of the pain caused by the disorder.

  6. Author

    Thanks, Michael.

    I am aware that scrupulosity can also be a characteristic of OCD, but I disagree that the article put that term into suitable context, or adequately drew distinctions between regular old religious morality and harmful mental illness.

    Take this line, for example: “Sufferers obsessively worry that they have committed blasphemy, been impure or otherwise sinned. They tend to focus on certain rules or rituals rather than the whole of their faith.”

    What is this supposed to mean? That Catholic children who ruminate on the Sacrament of Penance, or Jewish kids who memorize all 613 mitzvots or Buddhists consumed with karma, are ill?

    So that’s the point of my joke. I’m mimicking the article by conflating ordinary scruples with scrupulosity, and putting some distance between the Roundup and the article by hinting that I don’t think it makes its case very clearly. That’s something we do pretty often here.

    But here’s the bottom line: If you’re offended, I’m truly sorry. That’s never my intention. And if you’ve seen more resources on religious behavior and mental illness, I’d be interested in reading them.


  7. @Daniel Burke: Thank you for engaging in some dialog with me over this. While I still believe that the joke was unnecessary (and that your point could have been made in a manner less exploitative of a specific disorder — particularly one that is already so frequently dismissed, misunderstood, and ridiculed in the media), I understand and support your general goal. I am also aware that I tend to be oversensitive to this issue from time to time, due to my own personal experience, so I apologize for the harshness of my earlier comments.

  8. @michael…
    no apology necessary…as i often say while discussing music online, “opinions: they differ”

  9. You really are biblically illiterate if you actually think the passages in I Cor about homosexuality are ambiguous. The writings of Paul were informed by the Old Testament which clearly says, A Man should not lay with another man as he does with a woman. The N.T. is not foggy about homosexuality. The only fog is between the ears of the arrogant liberal professor that thinks he can worm his way around the actual meaning of the text.
    Sorry years of study in Greek and Hebrew make me as qualified as anyone you will find to interpret that text. Common sense, however, is a necessary prerequisite. The Old Testament writings inform the New Testament writers.

  10. Daniel, It really bummed me your article refered to THE sword verse – check out
    There are over 150 verses in the koran encouraging violence – the hadith has far more. I know of 2 verses where Jesus appears to advocate violence. The history of islam includes genocide against every other religion. The “you too” counter arguments are most specious. The terrorists are very dedicated to their religion. Of course most moslems don’t follow the violent verses – no one denies most are peaceful. Still double digit percentage moslems in most countries support various terrorist groups or believe in death for anyone insulting the prophet. Please consider a deeper investigation.

Leave a Comment