Culture Religion News Roundup

Wednesday’s Religion News Roundup: Tornado Theology * Red State Atheist * Pope’s B …

Grace Episcopal Church of Randolph, NY via the congregation's Facebook page
Grace Episcopal Church of Randolph, NY via the congregation's Facebook page

Grace Episcopal Church of Randolph, NY via the congregation’s Facebook page

You knew that even before the death toll had been tallied Pat Robertson would weigh in with some weather-inflected theology that blames the victims. But when John Piper looked to start down that path, Rachel Held Evans cut him off:

“This theology is, in a word, abusive, for it blames the victim for whatever calamity, abuse, or tragedy she suffers and says it is deserved.”

At CNN, the Rev. Ian Punnett is on the same track, and at the Christian Century blog, MaryAnn McKibben Dana has more reflections in “When bad theology happens to good people.”

How about when live TV happens to Wolf Blitzer? Give the guy credit, he found a real live atheist in red state Oklahoma.

You can also find “godless” funerals in Catholic Ireland, so go figure.

Closer to home, Gallup’s latest says 72 percent of us believe moral values in the country as a whole are getting worse. Thing is, they always say they’re getting worse. Does our depravity have a floor?

Michele Bachmann is still optimistic. As she tells James Dobson:

“I think before his second term is over, we’re going to see a miracle before our eyes, I believe God is going to answer our prayers and we’ll be freed from the yoke of Obamacare … We serve a mighty God and I believe it can happen.”

By the way, if the IRS ever audited churches, THAT would be a scandal. But can’t happen, as Mark Silk explains.

How about putting some teeth into the State Department’s reports on the state of religious freedom overseas?

In Texas, a judge says a lesbian couple can’t live together because of a morality clause in one of the women’s divorce papers. It would be okay if they were married, but …

Don’t get all self-righteous, New Yorkers: there’s a spate of ugly and even deadly attacks against gays in the city.

Then there’s this: The Peace Corps says it will begin accepting applications from same-sex couples who want to volunteer overseas.

Then again, a rightwing historian and traditionalist Catholic was so upset over France legalizing same-sex marriage that he killed himself at the altar in Notre Dame and left an ugly suicide note behind. Not sure what tradition in Catholicism he was upholding there.

Then again, a Catholic priest who wrote an anonymous book two years ago about being a gay cleric has now come out – he is the Rev. Gary Meier of St. Louis, and many are wondering what will happen next.

Speaking of priests, they’re not too happy with the changes in the Mass – less so, in fact, than the folks in the pews. But they have more speaking parts.

Great Britain is seeing a surge (relatively speaking) in women wanting to be nuns. Is it recession-related?

The Quote of the Day goes to Pope Francis, from remarks at his daily morning Mass:

“To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”

Just as powerful were his words rebuking “intolerant” Christians who don’t think non-believers can do good, thereby closing the church off – “a wall that leads to war.” Pow.

Follow up: no, the Pope gave that man a blessing, not an exorcism. But another priest later said the man was possessed by four demons, apparently relating to an abortion law in Mexico. It’s all good fodder for discussion in Nicole Winfield’s piece for The AP.

Father Fugee is back in jail, and the Star-Ledger editorial board says prosecutors shouldn’t stop there but should also investigate Newark Archbishop Myers.

Moral-legal debate: prosecutors in Cleveland want to charge the awful Ariel Castro with murder because one of the kidnapping hostages he repeatedly raped got pregnant five times and he abused her until she miscarried. Some pro-choice advocates say that was terrible, yeah, but worse would be counting the fetus as a murder victim because it could impede abortion rights.


Marketing dogma: Sex sells. Or maybe not, says one economist.

Okay, so might as well tone down all the erotica in the Roundup.

Is using a church for graffiti a sin – or a way to spread the Gospel? An Episcopal church in New York wants to find out.

Finally, Los Angeles has its first Jewish mayor. Mazel tov, Eric Garcetti! Ah, but be careful what you pray for …

David Gibson

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.


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  • Yeah…No.Sorry,but given the Roman Catholic Church long,egregious history of”killing in the Name of God”-Deus Volt!-I’m sooo NOT impressed with the new pope’s comments. Are you kidding me??!

  • So you agree with the new pope’s sentiment, but because you are anti-Catholic church no matter what, boo?

  • Perhaps the far-right French historian who killed himself at Notre Dame was suffering from dementia?

  • What Catholic tradition was Venner upholding? The French Catholic church, especially in the south of France, has always had a large number of Fascist sympathizers.

    The general assumption in the Catholic church now is that the suicide was in a deranged state. So a Catholic funeral in consecrated ground is almost always allowed. The blasphemy of killing himself on an altar would be sufficient to assume a deranged state. The rest is up to God to sort out.

    Surely the church hierarchy will feel some responsibility for – if you’ll pardon me – this drama queen act. They encouraged this type of hysteria.

  • Pope Francis: “That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.” I pray that this will be the new direction of the Roman Church. There is much work to do, to convince Catholics that violence is not a solution to anything. Catholics can not participate in the blasphemy of war or any kind of violence. . God bless you, Pope Francis!!!

  • It’s hard to read this article and see any credibility in faith. It just seems like a worn-out siren that whines on day and night. If this is what we have to work with today, The Dark Ages but have been an idyllic time.

  • The Catholic Church, The Pope, must have forgotten, disassociated memories.
    The Witch Hunts
    The sexually abused by priest who commit suicide
    I suggest the Pope consider making a Papal Rule that no
    Catholic male be allowed to serve in the military and that
    all who are currently enlisted be set free.

  • Only one link to a story about a mainline Protestant Church? Do we not have our fair share of wierd people and events?

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