This is 1. how I feel the morning after a three-day weekend and 2. a creature that did not live on Earth millions of years ago, according to a S.C. Christian school. Image courtesy Shutterstock (

The “Oklahoma atheist” is showered with donations from impressed fellow atheists who appreciated her poise on national television as she noted her lack of faith amidst the tornado rubble, but didn’t blame anyone for “thanking the Lord.”

Archbishop of Newark John J. Myers speaks out for the first time about the sexual abuse scandal raging around him, and has sacked the second-highest ranking official in the archdiocese over his handling of the accused Rev. Michael Fugee.

Australian Cardinal George Pell acknowledges a cover-up of abuse in his country, but says the number of abuse cases has fallen since efforts began to change its “culture of silence.”

And the Los Angeles Times explains the suppression of the “sub secreto” files that document that archdiocese’s scandal.

On the business pages, the New York Times goes to India to profile the vast organization built by Amma, “the hugging saint,” who has just kicked off an 11-city U.S. tour.

Pope Francis called out the Mafia in no uncertain terms, accusing them of “enslaving people,” and asking them to come to God.

High-ranking Vatican officials say anti-Christianity should be combatted like Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

Nearly four years after anti-Christian riots in Pakistan left nine dead, an official Pakistani report says state security services could have prevented the violence, and recommends that the nation’s blasphemy laws be amended to stem continuing anti-Christian violence.

A French university says a student play produced with state funds is not anti-Semitic despite a character called Goldberg who convinces people to invest their life savings in repugnant causes and two Nazi-hunters, “Cohen 1 and Cohen 2,” who abandon their hunt for cash.

More anti-Semitism at a Beyonce concert in Germany.

Venezuela is suffering a shortage of altar wine.

Is Francis endorsing heresy? No. But David Gibson would not blame you if, reading the papal headlines recently, the thought crossed your mind — especially given the nice things the pope had to say about atheists.

You won’t be shocked to learn that the highest concentration of the world’s atheists live in China, but the data point on Saudi Arabia might surprise. Here’s the global map of atheism based on a poll that’s not brand new, but one that might be of interest given the pope’s recent statements about atheists.

One reason I like reading RNS blogger Jonathan Merritt is that he doesn’t mince words. On the Philadelphia couple whose religious beliefs kept them from seeking life-saving medical attention for their son — their second child to die for their beliefs, JM writes:

The Schaibles need to go to jail, and so should any other misguided faith healer whose beliefs result in another’s death. As I’ve said before, the ocean of religious liberty must stop at the shore of child welfare. Faith healers who endanger children should be placed on alert: You can believe whatever you wish, but if those beliefs result in the death of a child, you will go to jail.

Adelle Banks asks whether there will be a mass exodus of religious groups from the Boy Scouts now that they accept gay scouts, and gets some varied answers.

Several leading evangelical pastors and authors are defending a Sovereign Grace Ministries pastor accused of covering up the sexual abuse of children, writes Sarah Pulliam Bailey.

In Tennessee public schools, a sex ed curriculum designed from a strong Christian, Republican and anti-abortion point of view skews the facts of life, according to some Volunteer State docs and educators.

This goes beyond fact-skewing: A S.C. Christian school teaches kids that dinosaurs didn’t live millions of years ago and that the earth isn’t billions of years old. The school gets publicly ridiculed for its unscientific science lessons . . . and thousands of dollars from Creationists to help it stay afloat.

Serving a sentence for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot was transferred to a hospital during the seventh day of her hunger strike. 

Burmese Buddhists have been attacking Burmese Muslims, who represent about 6 million of Myanmar’s 60 million people. Seems as if the improving political atmosphere has lifted the veil on longstanding tensions among religious and ethnic groups.

We leave you with two cool slide shows from Reuters this morning: A Nepalese ceremony for the god of rain involving a 75-year-old man scaling a 104-foot pole and dropping a coconut, and a massive Hasidic “royal” wedding in Jerusalem.

- Lauren Markoe

This roundup is over but you can get a new one tomorrow — and every weekday hereafter — just by typing your email in the box below. All we will give you is free religion news.

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. FROM THE ARTICLE: The “Oklahoma atheist” is showered with donations from impressed fellow atheists who appreciated her poise on national television as she noted her lack of faith amidst the tornado rubble, but didn’t blame anyone for “thanking the Lord.”

    MY RESPONSE: How curious. From the overly-aggressive and over-the-top, vitriol-filled manner in which most atheists attack those of faith, one would never have guessed that they’d appreciate poise and tolerance among their ranks.

    Perhaps all the donations came from atheists who recognize the bad behavior of their brethren, and decided to reward someone who broke from the ranks.

    The whole thing was, in any case, an embarrassment for CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who should never have said what he said in the first place. Indeed, the woman’s reaction called more attention to it, but even before she responded, he almost sounded like he was one of those conservative and confrontational-about-the-Bible Christians… like… um… what’s his name… the former child actor… and the banana guy…

    …oh, yeah, Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. Watch any of their confrontational street preaching videos, and you’ll recognize what Blitzer was doing as eerily similar. So I, personally, think he got exactly what he deserved. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Lord, himself, arranged for that woman to be whom he asked such a ridiculous question, in such a ridiculous way, on live TV: to teach him the lessone of his career.

    And bear in mind that I’m clergy. I just think there’s a time and place for everything, and Blitzer was in the wrong time and place for both what, and especially how, he asked what he asked. Heck, I’m now thinking of sending the woman a donation, myself!

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    • David Thompson

      Gregg, I think you misinterpret the responses from atheist. There’s been too long of time when atheist were just quite about their disbelief and that could probably have gone on, but the US has erased the line between church and state. It didn’t happen overnight. Reagan ushered it in with the Moral Majority and Bush established the Office of Faith Based Initiatives in the White House. Congress starts its session with a prayer. Children are learning that man and dinosaurs walked together less than 10,000 years ago and evolution isn’t true.

      Those are just a handful of the nonsense that goes on everyday with ignorant religious people being in your face. Wolf Blitzer as an example. I think what you hear and see is a response to all these things, plus misogyny, homophopia, and xenophobia. It’s enough to make me angry. Believe whatever you want but stop telling people how to live their lives according to your beliefs.

      If religion turned back to a private thing, I think you would see atheist be less in your face. It’s a cultural shift.

  2. Wow, another incredibly good RNR by Ms. Marcoe. I want to read and explore everything highlighted in the RNR by her today but as usual probably won’t find thhe time for it all. Might just have to work really hard to find it today.

  3. Hey greg, what David just said. I’d consider myself not an atheist but certainly not a conservative Christian in the mold of today’s one, and there has been plenty of times lately where I’ve sometimes just wanted to stand up and scream, sometimes have here on these pages. I think David hits it on the head and futhermore the atheist’s I know, while outspoken, often it takes them seeing or experiencing some sort of discrimination/injustice before they will actually speak up. Often, I’ve known most atheists to be just like the woman from Oklahoma, who has her belief’s, isn’t afraid to speak about them, but also doesn’t condemn or ridicule others for their beleifs. Now, if we could get the neo-con Christians to adopt that style we would all be better off. Many times it is them telling myself and others that it is our beliefs or lack thereof, that has caused problems, judgements etc. I’m blind, and actually have been told that it is because I didn’t have enough faith to be healed is why I have not been healed. This was within thhe 1st month or so of becoming blind, and I have not forgotten the extreme pain it caused me at the time. I do not attend church now, and in at least some small part that comment, along with many others, is a big reason why I no longer attend church. I prefer not to be insulted, intentionally or not, by judgemental people who have forgotten the words of Jesus and somehow think themselves to be in the mold of Saul before his conversion. My favorite saying: Religion is the opiate of the people. Karl Marx was bullseye on that one! Though those ultra religious of any stripe would not understand why he said it, and why it is/was such an important observation. Okay, off the soapbox for now, thanks for letting me vent a bit as I do retain beleif just in different ways and definately better ways! Shalom to all!

  4. Gregg, you are incorrect that most atheists launch over-the-top, overly-aggressive, vitriolic attacks against believers. Most atheists never say a word about their atheism to anyone but friendlies. If you doubt that, please find all of the examples you can of these attacks and then divide that number by, say, 6.3 million (a very conservative estimate of the number of atheists in the US). That will give you a rough idea of the number of aggressive atheists in this country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.