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Thursday’s Religion News Roundup: Lost at sea * Shattering the glass ceiling * Arab winter

A family lost at sea is back home. Lutherans (ELCA) elect a first female presiding bishop. Violence in Egypt, Syria mars Arab Spring.

Storm at sea, courtesy Shutterstock,
an illustration of a boat in a storm.

Storm at sea

A family is back home in Arizona after an attempt to relocate to a tiny island left them lost at sea for weeks. They left in May because of government interference in religion. Guess who secured their return tickets to the U.S.?

Yup. The U.S. State Department.

The Gastonguay family doesn’t believe in abortion or gay rights, though it’s not clear just how the government interfered with the family’s religion.

But here’s another story to put claims of religious interference in perspective:

A Hawaiian minister can use religion as a defense in part of his federal marijuana distribution case, a U.S. District Court judge in Honolulu ruled.

And while we’re on the subject of government interfering with religion, Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports that a commission of religious leaders is proposing Congress lift a ban on pastors making political endorsements from the pulpit. The leaders argued the ban has a chilling effect on free speech.

Predictably, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State disagrees.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elected the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton as the denomination’s first female presiding bishop, shattering yet another glass ceiling.

More from the “Go women!” department: The feminist group, Women of the Wall, which is fighting for legal recognition to pray as co-equals at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, plans to stage a religious ceremony there prior to the Jewish High Holidays, which begin on Sept. 4.

From the department of motion pictures: Batman actor Christian Bale will portray Moses in “Exodus,” a forthcoming Ridley Scott movie. (The role of pharaoh goes to Joel Edgerton (“Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Great Gatsby”).

Eugene Allen, the inspiration for the new movie “The Butler,” may have served eight presidents, but folks at Greater First Baptist Church knew the butler by other titles: usher, trustee, and humble man of faith. Adelle Banks has more. The movie opens Friday.

The bloodshed grows in Egypt. At least 525 people were killed on Wednesday, while 3,717 were wounded. The Muslim Brotherhood said it would hold an afternoon march in Cairo to protest the deaths.

The Atlantic has some very graphic photos.

“If I see you again, I’ll shoot you in the leg,” a police officer told a group of Washington Post reporters.

Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) claimed individuals tied to the Muslim Brotherhood have “infiltrated” President Barack Obama’s administration.

“We were castigated as alarmists and Islamophobes. The Muslim Brotherhood even lied about running a candidate for President. We are now witnessing the result of our blindness.”

Meanwhile, in Syria, Al-Qaida-linked rebels killed Italian Jesuit priest Paolo Dall’Oglio, a vocal supporter of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. (RNS reported on the disappearance of the well-respected priest a few weeks ago.)

Young Jewish donors in their 20s and 30s are “far more” likely to give to faith-focused causes than their non-Jewish peers, a new report concluded.

More than 40,000 will attend his MegaFest conference in Dallas in two weeks.  Our own Jonathan Merritt has a revealing interview with T.D. Jakes on fixing American families.

The man behind the crude “Innocence of Muslims” film that stoked anti-U.S. protests across the Muslim world has been moved from prison to a halfway house to serve the remaining weeks of his sentence.

Are religious people less intelligent than atheists? That’s the provocative conclusion of a meta analysis of 63 studies of intelligence and religion that span the past century. In 53 of the studies, conducted between 1928 to 2012, there was an inverse relation between religiosity and intelligence.

I remain skeptical of this analysis. And you, dear readers, are the reason why.

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