Former President Jimmy Carter during a book signing at The Washington Post on March 26, 2014 for his new book, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power.” Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks

Aslan on Islam * Bishop bars girls * Gordon's gays: Wednesday's Roundup

Former President Jimmy Carter during a book signing at The Washington Post on March 26, 2014 for his new book, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power.” Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks

Former President Jimmy Carter during a book signing at The Washington Post on March 26, 2014, for his new book, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power.” Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks

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Happy Birthday, Jimmy Carter! The 39th president is regarded by some as a "heroic failure," as this ABC (Australian) radio religion & ethics report says. But it also asks if Carter was our "most religious president." Leroy Seat calls him "the best ex-president the U.S. has ever had in terms of public service and contributions to world peace and justice."

My view? As far as I'm concerned, the guy made it to 90. I should be such a failure.

"No co-ed contact sports for you!" says Catholic diocese

Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg has barred girls from football and rugby teams in the diocesan school system:

“The Diocese therefore believes that it is incompatible with its religious mission and with its efforts to teach Gospel values to condone competitions between young men and women in sports that involve substantial and potentially immodest physical contact.”

Gainer also says that if a Catholic school boy faces another wrestling team that puts up a girl against him, he must forfeit. Which seems to open the door to a perfect strategy for opponents: put up an all-girls wrestling team. And wait, why not have an all-girls Catholic rugby or football team?

Any-hoo, what is interesting is that other dioceses don't as a rule take such a stance, and in fact last year in Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles Chaput -- no mushy-headed liberal -- reversed a girls-only rule for Catholic football leagues. Go figure.

What would William F. Buckley say?

The National Review's Kevin Williamson likes to stir the pot, and has done so again, and then some, with some tweets about his views on how to deal with women who have abortions:

The Dish digs a bit deeper, or tries.

Sorry, Obama: Reza Aslan says ISIS is Islamic

The popular author tells Obama and everyone else that they cannot say who is Muslim or not, or Jewish or not, or Christian or not:

A Christian blowing up an abortion clinic can find justification in the Bible,” says Aslan. “Those blowing up a mosque can find justification. Jews killing Palestinians can find justification. The power of scripture can mean whatever you want it to mean. It’s up to the interpreter.”

That's an interesting interpretation. Completely wrong, I'd say. But feel free to correct me. I'm not as infallible as most individuals.

The Islamic State may be educating U.S. Christians ...

... About their co-religionists in the Middle East, according to this ABP story. For a long time, it says, Protestants and evangelicals in particular, for cultural and religious reasons, weren't terribly concerned with Christians in the Middle East, even if they knew they existed. With the advent of social media, and the terrible atrocities against Christians by Islamic State terrorists, that may be changing.

Tough lesson. But is it too little too late? (See: Cruz, Ted)

Gordon College under scrutiny over gay policies

The Christian school in Massachusetts is facing an inquiry from an accreditation board that includes reviewing its policy listing "homosexual practice" as a forbidden activity. The Boston Business Journal reports that the regional accrediting agency says Gordon's gay policy may violate its standards, and Gordon's president Michael Lindsay has set up a panel to report back in a year. Here is Gordon's FAQ response.

Gordon College's policy came under scrutiny after Lindsay signed a letter in July with other religious leaders supporting an exemption from an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

Gordon's morality policy, by the way, also prohibits sex (of any variety) outside of marriage, and drinking and smoking on campus or at college functions.

Is the big Anglican Lambeth confab going to happen?

The oldest Episcopal seminary in the U.S., General Theological in Manhattan, is in a meltdown, as Sarah Bailey reports, but that may not be the Anglican Communion's biggest problem:

According to the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US, Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and titular head of Anglicans worldwide was “very clear that he is not going to call a Lambeth until he is reasonably certain that the vast majority of bishops would attend."

The Lambeth Conference is held every 10 years and brings togethers leaders of the Anglican Communion from around the world to pray and discuss, and, increasingly, disagree. The role of gay people in the church seems to be the main issue of contention -- again.

Roman Catholics are having a meeting -- but should they?

It's a synod of bishops, being held at the Vatican, on family issues, and the unusually public sparring among cardinals is growing, as I wrote here. Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican's high court, blasted Cardinal Walter Kasper, who says his reform proposals have the backing of Pope Francis himself:

“I find it amazing that the cardinal claims to speak for the pope,” said Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis, speaking from Rome. “The pope doesn’t have laryngitis. The pope is not mute. He can speak for himself. If this is what he wants, he will say so.”

Buckle up, the fun officially starts on Sunday and runs for two weeks. Our own Josephine McKenna will be covering the action from Rome.

Meanwhile, conservative Catholics are discovering dissent

For 35 years, "dissenter" was an epithet and cudgel against Catholics who disagreed with anything the Roman pontiff said. But now that Francis is pope, says Michael Brendan Dougherty, conservative Catholics ought to embrace their inner dissenter -- and they may need to, if that aforementioned synod does something they don't like.

The Best of the Rest from RNS:

Meanwhile, stay tuned to this space for updates on all the religious news.

David Gibson


  1. If Kevin D. Williamson wishes to act on his comment, he would need to include the sperm party involved in the pregnancy. He might discover some things he wished he hadn’t.

    … you know the quote attributed to Big Papi.


  2. Mr. Williamson ought to realize that the easiest way to prevent abortion would be … 1. To encourage the use of contraceptives, and make them available readily, and mandate that contraceptives be covered by all health plans and institutions . Oh wait, killing sperm or stopping them on their journey IS abortion to evil – yes, evil – fanatics like him. …. 2. To castrate all boys at the age of 10. … Eliminating Hatred of women and their rights is the battle for the 21st century, if we manage to survive global warming.

  3. “… cannot say who is Muslim or not, or Jewish or not, or Christian or not …”

    I totally agree with that sentiment. When exposing and criticizing Christian-related child abuse, for example, I am often met with the argument from some Christians that those who abuse children are not true Christians. But those abusers will argue that they are the true Christians following the fundamentals of their faith by such things as corporal punishment, spiritual coercion, faith-healing leading to harm or death, etc.

    An obvious example is how members of the mainstream Mormon church refuse to accept that members of fundamentalist Mormon churches are also Mormons. The fundamentalists are Mormons because they consider themselves to be Mormons.

  4. Reza Aslan is absolutely correct.

    There wouldn’t be so very many different versions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, if it weren’t for diversity of interpretations. There is no “cast in stone” version of the Bible, Koran or Torah that is universally agreed upon by people in their respective religions. Anyone can cherry pick from any of these texts to “prove” a point. Your God requires stoning or bloodletting; it’s there. Your God is a loving God; it’s there. Any interpretation of a holy book, however insane and repulsive, is still a variant of that particular religion whether we approve of it or not

  5. Rowena-Prophecy accuracy is why the Bible holds up. Nobody even saw
    any miracles from the prophet of Islam and there is a former muslim that
    now speaks around the world because he figured out that his faith didn’t
    make sense. Christianity however has many,many authors over a span of
    many,many years that all say the same thing/predict the same thing and say
    that is Jesus is the Messiah/the only way to heaven! People saw the miracles
    that Jesus performed. People that didn’t even believe in Jesus lied and said
    His body was stolen after He rose from the dead. Bible prophecy is why we
    can trust the Bible because of the accuracy/all of the predictions came true.
    No true prophet can be revered if they are a liar and so if Jesus wasn’t the
    Son of God He was a liar and can’t be revered or a true prophet so He is a
    liar or He is who He says He is which is the Messiah/the only way to heaven!
    The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel is a really good book to read/check out.
    Man always want to twist things and do it the way they want and that is why
    we have so much confusion in the world. It started in the Garden of Eden
    with Adam and Eve and it is still going on today. If people would have just
    stuck to what God/the Bible said we wouldn’t be in this mess and the mess
    the world is in is just another example of what happens/the result of all of
    us/man not listening to what God/the Bible said to do. Jesus is the Messiah!

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