Burning Fire by

Burning Fire by Prapann via Shutterstock http://shutr.bz/16aoiNg

Sorry to start off on such a hellish note, but Dan Brown’s widely-anticipated “Inferno” is released today, and booksellers expect it to be the best-selling title of 2013.

“I’m writing about Dante’s vision of hell,” Brown told Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper. “It wasn’t until the 1300s and this version of Inferno that it became terrifying. Dante has had enormous influence on the Christian view of hell.”

Alessandro Speciale feels the Roman Catholic Church’s center of gravity moving south. Vatican statistics show that gains in Asia and Africa are making up for losses in Europe among the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Our own Adelle Banks fills us in on church-affiliated alternatives to the Boy Scouts, and how some families – upset with the Boy Scouts’ more accepting attitude toward gay kids – may seek them out for their sons.

Minnesota’s Democratic governor will sign a bill into law today making his state the 12th in the nation to allow gay marriage.

Great fake story of the day has Michele Bachmann comparing Minneapolis and St. Paul to Sodom and Gomorrah. Not true, but still worth reading.

In Ohio, a local Catholic teachers’ union will not back gay teacher Carla Hale, who was fired from a Columbus Catholic high school after a parent read Hale’s mother’s obituary, which noted Hale’s female partner.

The Obama administration is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that the morning-after pill must be made available to girls of any age without a prescription.

The National Cathedral, still recovering from the effects of a not insignificant earthquake in 2011, just won $100,000 to help with repairs.

Across the pond, another awe-inspiring cathedral is falling apart, but officials at Canterbury Cathedral say it will stay open despite missing out on $16 million in repair funds and subsequent rumors that it would close.

A jury found Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion doctor, guilty of murdering three babies.

More news that shouldn’t be: An Orthodox former yeshiva teacher in New Jersey admitted sexually abusing a boy, and awaits sentencing.

Two men in Saudi Arabia have been sentenced to prison time and hundreds of lashes for helping a woman convert to Christianity and to flee the country.

Some Muslims and other Virginians are upset that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, suspect in the Boston marathon bombing, was buried in their state. The Islamic Society of Greater Richmond  last week accepted the body and ended an uncle’s frustrating quest to find a burial ground for the nephew he called a “loser.”  But Imam Ammar Amonette of the Islamic Center of Virginia said:

“The whole Muslim community here is furious. Frankly, we are furious that we were never given any information. It was all done secretly behind our backs.”

But obviously, other Virginia Muslims thought it was the right thing to do.

R.G. Puckett, described by the Associated Baptist Press as the person who “worked as a Baptist journalist longer than any person in the 20th century,” has died.

If you haven’t yet read “Moozweek,” check out RNS blogger Omar Sacirbey’s weekly roundup of Muslim-related news . My favorite item from the latest edition told me about Kenneth Faried,

“a power forward who helped lead the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs this year . . .  who was raised by two gay Muslim moms, Waudda, and Sister Manasin.”

Here’s a public service announcement about smoke alarms. And yes, it does belong in the Religion News Roundup, because it comes from my buddy in Vermont, Howard Cohen, who is both a firefighter and a rabbi.

Rabbi/Firefighter Cohen says many of us have ionization smoke detectors. They do fine detecting smoke that comes from flames, but a poor job detecting smoke from a smoldering fire, which kills a lot of people. So get yourself photoelectric detectors to complement your ionization detectors, so an alarm will go off no matter what kind of smoke threatens. The National Fire Protection Association agrees that for the best protection, intall both types.

And for those of you who need a little spiritual push, Rabbi Cohen notes that the Torah requires us to keep our homes safe. “When you build a new house then you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you shall not bring blood upon your house, if any one falls from it.” (Devarim 22:8), which Christians know as the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible.

Obviously, we care for you more than just a little bit here at the roundup. So, nearing the close of our fundraiser to support this neatly-wrapped weekday parcel of religion news, please take a moment and give a little to ensure its future. Thanks.

- Lauren Markoe

Categories: Culture

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe covered government and features as a daily newspaper reporter for 15 years before joining the Religion News Service staff as a national correspondent in 2011. She previously was Washington correspondent for The State (Columbia, S.C.)


  1. Thank you for all this. Dan Brown owes you a small commission, I think.

    Easy to miss: In the R.G. Puckett story, ABP is the Associated Baptist Press, and to my knowledge has no official connection with the American Baptists, of which I am a pastor.

  1. [...] Tuesday's Religion News Roundup: “Inferno” Released * Scout Alternatives … And yes, it does belong in the Religion News Roundup, because it comes from my buddy in Vermont, Howard Cohen, who is both a firefighter and a rabbi. Rabbi/Firefighter Cohen says many of us have ionization smoke detectors. They do fine detecting … Read more on Religion News Service [...]

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