A Bible in a hotel room image courtesy (

If you’re into the culture wars, today’s your day:

An atheist who complained that he found Bibles in a state-owned cabin got his way. Georgia officials removed the Bibles from all state park resorts. But now, the state attorney general issued a ruling saying the Bibles are OK because the state hadn’t paid for the books. On Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal ordered the Bibles returned

Also in Georgia, Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta writes that the president of the LaGrange, Ga., Humanists is running to become the city’s first atheist mayor.

The American Family Association is going after the AARP for contributing money to the “homosexual agenda.”

“If you are a Christian and believe in biblical values, you can pretty much count on the fact that everything that you are in favor of, the AARP is opposing,” said AFA Executive Vice President Buddy Smith.

The head pastor of one of America’s “10 healthiest churches” has resigned after confessing that he committed adultery three years ago. David Loveless, pastor of Discovery Church, resigned the Orlando megachurch this month.

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, says Franklin Graham is not a victim of IRS overreach but of something else: “His lust for the media spotlight and his disgust with President Obama.” (If you missed the backstory, our own Adelle Banks reported that Graham wrote to Obama to complain after the IRS audited Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.)

Going to hell? The head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police has warned citizens against using Twitter, saying anyone using social media sites — and especially Twitter — “has lost this world and his afterlife.”

In other news:

Pope Francis has denounced the global financial system, blasting the “cult of money” that he says is tyrannizing the poor and turning humans into expendable consumer goods.

The anti-Shariah movement is changing, reports our own Omar Sacirbey. While older legislative bills singled out Islam and Shariah, newer bills mention only foreign laws, with no references to Shariah or Islam.

Some Catholics say they will quit the Boy Scouts of America if it allows openly gay boys into its program.

The Catholic diocese in Missouri will pay a $600,000 settlement to the family of a girl who was photographed by a priest in pornographic poses.

Two Minnesota women convicted of conspiring to send money to al-Shabab in Somalia were given prison sentences in federal court Thursday.

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews protested in Jerusalem on Thursday against plans to enlist men from their community into the military.

NPR says Buddhist monks in Myanmar may not be the meditating pacifists people in the West take them to be. Some Muslims say Buddhist monks have been inciting followers during recent violence in Myanmar.

Geza Vermes, a scholar who argued that Jesus could be understood only through the Jewish tradition from which he emerged, and who expanded that understanding through his widely read English translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, died last week in Oxford, England. Read the obituary of his fascinating life as the son of Hungarian Jewish converts to Catholicism who became a priest and later returned to Judaism.

There is no universal legal command for all Muslims to support each other at all times, says Hussein Rashid in a CNN commentary. Rashid is referring to the comment by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bomb suspects, that “an attack against one Muslim is an attack against all.”

In art news (it’s Friday), a new documentary about the Jews of Nigeria (yes, there are a few) suggests the Ibo people may be the lost tribe of Israel.

The rooftop terrace at the Metropolitan Museum in New York has been splattered with paint the color of dried blood. At first glance it looks like a crime scene or the site of a ritual slaughter. In fact, Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi has worked into the mess a pattern of leafy shrubbery, bird feathers and angels’ wings. It’s an odd juxtaposition and apparently suggestive of the Boston Marathon after the bombing.

Our feminist Mormon blogger Jana Riess gives the new Star Trek movie, Into Darkness, four stars.

And finally, we end on a sad note. The RNS staff was sorry to hear that UMR Communications, publishers of the United Methodist Reporter, will cease publishing at the end of the month. Some 26 employees will lose their jobs, including ace religion reporters Sam Hodges and Mary Jacobs. We thank them for their fine reporting and we wish them all well.


  1. Love your service; but please, it’s Star *Trek* that opens today, not Star *Wars*! The common link between them now, of course, is J.J. Abrams, so you can be forgiven – this once :).

  2. David Thompson

    Wherever there is religion there is conflict. Why do so many people adhere to such a problematic pursuit? Surely they can’t all believe in super hero type gods. It’s got to be the childhood indoctrination and the social aspect that keeps them participating, not the truly unbelievable stories from those horrible books.

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