Beliefs Religion News Roundup

Atheist Asylum * Marriage Ban * Playoff Sermon: Tuesday’s Religion News Roundup

Pope Francis will sell off his Harley to raise money for a soup kitchen. Harley image courtesy of Topseller via Shutterstock.
Pope Francis will sell off his Harley to raise money for a soup kitchen.  Harley image courtesy of Topseller via Shutterstock.

Pope Francis will sell off his Harley to raise money for a soup kitchen. Harley image courtesy of Topseller via Shutterstock.

Usually, we start out with the news, and leave the light and fluffy stuff until the end. But Pastor Tim Christensen, an ardent 49ers fan, is so refreshingly honest about his need to get out of church and in front of his TV, that you shouldn’t have to wait to hear the pre-playoff sermon he delivered Sunday. It will only take a minute . . . well, one minute and two seconds . . .

God is a 49ers fan

Pastor Tim Christensen of Gold Hill Lutheran Church in Butte, Montana artfully handles the conflict between Sunday’s playoff and church with a very speedy sermon. Watch this. You might be moved to become a 49ers fan, or a Lutheran. Not sure.

(Update: As first reported, Christensen didn’t let his congregation off that easily. He held a full service afterward his abbreviated one.)

New cardinals, pure Francis

When the pope chose his new cardinals this week, he asked them to refrain

. . . from any expression of worldliness or from any form of celebration contrary to the evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty.

It’s just one way, David Gibson writes, that Francis’ cardinal-picking reflects Francis. In related news, Francis is auctioning off his Harley to raise money for a soup kitchen.

Nigerian President bans gay marriage

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill on Monday that criminalizes same-sex marriage, same-sex romantic relationships and membership in gay rights groups, and punishes violations with up to 14 years in prison. Protests by the U.S. and other nations may not move Jonathan since 1. anti-gay actions tend to boost politicians in much of Sub-Saharan Africa and 2. Nigeria is awash in oil money and isn’t scared of threats to cut aid.

Mormon Pop Quiz

Which country is home to the most Mormons outside the Americas? a. Nigeria b. Indonesia c. Philippines d. Australia (Answer at the bottom.)

This questions and more are answered in what the premier LDS sociologist is calling “the most reliable and indispensable source available” on Mormonism’s global demographics.” The 1,900 page, two-volume almanac, compiled by a Mormon doctor and a former missionary, has been lauded, but not officially sanctioned, by the LDS church.

Assisted Suicide?

The New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops is unhappy with the decision of a state district court judge who ruled that terminally ill patients have a right to ask doctors to prescribe medicines to assist in dying on their own terms. The judge said she can’t envision a more fundamental right. Said Allen Sanchez, the bishops’ executive director:

As long as there is a chance for human error, we can’t have that. You can never reverse the decision you’ve made. It’s the finality of it.

Atheist Asylum

Britain has granted asylum to a Muslim-raised Afghan man who came to Britain as a teenager and lost his faith. He argued that as an atheist, he might face death if he had to return to his native land.

Dennis Rodman is ‘sorry’

The former NBA star says he feels bad that he couldn’t do anything to help Kenneth Bae, the American missionary wasting away in a North Korean prison — the same missionary who Rodman, in North Korea last week, blamed for his own incarceration. But Rodman doesn’t feel so horrible that he isn’t planning another trip to buddy up with the brutal dictator who runs North Korea, which tops Open Doors’ list of worst countries for Christian persecution. In response to a reporter’s question, Rodman did not say whether he had actually brought up Bae with Kim Jong Un.

Suspected Pastor

The former head of the Alabama Baptist Convention said he tends to believe that his former colleague, Pastor Richard Shahan, is innocent of charges that he murdered Karen Shahan, his wife. Associated Baptist Press reports that Charles Carter, the former convention president and now interim pastor of First Baptist Church in Birmingham, where Shahan was children’s minister, told his flock Sunday that he doesn’t know all the facts in the case, but God does.

Of interest . . .

Kimberly Winston examines at a recently re-popularized book that asks: Did your absentee father make you an atheist?

Fredrick Nzwili talks to Roman Catholic Archbishop Nestor Desire Nongo-Aziagbia about the next steps for the ravaged Central African Republic.

Robert Zaretsky in The Forward notes a Middle East bright spot: despite death threats and actual fighting among lawmakers during deliberations, the new Tunisian constitution explicitly protects the nation’s small Christian and even smaller Jewish minorities.

– Lauren Markoe

Answer to the Mormon Pop Quiz: c. Philippines.

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About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)