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Umbrellas in a crowd, courtesy Shutterstock. (

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann won’t seek reelection in 2014. In a nearly nine-minute video she explains her decision and promises to continue to protect “innocent human life, traditional marriage, family values, religious liberty and academic excellence.”

The No. 2 official in the Archdiocese of Newark was sacked for mishandling the supervision of a priest who violated a lifetime ban on ministry to children. (Meanwhile, on a related note: Australia’s top-ranking Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, admitted during a parliamentary inquiry that some members of the church tried to cover up child sexual abuse by other members of the clergy.)

While everyone else was holding up an umbrella, Pope Francis made his usual “tour” of St Peter’s Square in an open-topped Popemobile despite the rainstorm.

He tweets and likes Christian hip-hop. That would be Russell Moore, the Southern Baptists new ethics czar who is taking over from Richard Land.

Casino mogul and Obama critic Sheldon G. Adelson is visiting Jerusalem where he was crowned honorary citizen. He also wasted no time trashing prospects for peace with the Palestinians.

Peggy Fletcher Stack says the Jewish Reform movement could take a lesson from Mormons. The Reform movement is reconsidering a policy of not allowing rabbinical students to marry outside the faith. Latter-day Saints, Stack points out, have only 12 percent intermarriage rate.

Lawmakers in Nevada trying to reverse that state’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage are finding the repeal process time-consuming and expensive. Similar roadblocks are keeping even more progressive states such as California and Oregon from moving forward on the marriage front, according to BuzzFeed.

On the religion-in-the-schools front: A Southeast Texas school district is appealing a court ruling that allowed high school cheerleaders to display at football games banners emblazoned with Bible verses.

And, Kentucky’s Lincoln County High School’s graduation ceremony included a student-led prayer last Friday, despite objections from at least six of the school’s students.

A Boston church official who claimed in an autobiography that he was a leg-breaker for reputed gangster James “Whitey” Bulger pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he looted the church’s assets.

More sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar, aka Burma. This time, a mob burned down a mosque, a Muslim orphanage and shops in a northeastern town after rumors spread that a Muslim man had set fire to a Buddhist woman.

Islam is not an officially recognized religion in Italy, though Muslims are the country’s second-largest religious group. Read this fascinating account of some of the challenges Muslims face in Italy.

And finally, Barbara Brown Taylor talks to our own Jonathan Merritt about compassion fatigue, an occupational hazard for pastors.

“If you’re not careful, you begin to resent the very people you set out to serve,” said the former parish priest, writer and professor at Piedmont College (Ga.).

She tells of the Christmas Eve she went to the hospital to care for a parishioner who fell ill after the midnight service, her third that day. She then spent Christmas in a fog.

Don’t get in a fog about religion news. We’ll keep you updated while you do your job. Click the blue button.


  1. One person doing the compassion thing will lead to exhaustion. It needs to be by a mutually supportive group. Since most Protestants believe in the literal “universal priesthood” of the baptized, why not have a group ordain each other for parish ministries. Two or three people going on that compassion visit would have been better, with one possibly asking the visited if she/she would mind if one of the ministers left due to fatigue. Compassion itself needs to be mutual. Christ did say where more than on are gathered in his name, there he is.

  2. Laurence Charles Ringo

    What’s going on,RNS? I was expecting to read about the Vatican’s big walkback on the Pope’s theological FAIL,you know,the claim he made that even unbelievers are ALREADY redeemed?? Not COULD be,not IN POSITION to be,but ALREADY ARE?? [That may be the position of Roman Catholic theology,but the Word of God makes NO SUCH CLAIM.]— But wait!! Could it be?? The Vatican stated that the Pope was WRONG!!! WOW,who’da thunk it? The ironic part is that the Vatican uttered their own erroneous statement by whipping out that old,tiresome canard,…”No one can be saved who refuses to enter the Catholic Church”,blah,blah,blah…BIG YAWN. My Scriptures tells me that…”There is only ONE NAME given under Heaven,whereby people MUST be saved”…(Acts 4:12),and the Name isn’t roman catholic—It’s my Lord and Savior,JESUS CHRIST!!—This is a HUGE story,RNS;DON’T drop the ball!!!

    • Yonat Shimron

      Yonat Shimron

      Article author

      We wrote about this last week. See David Gibson’s article:

    • Funny, that the Catholic Pope has now announced what has always been doctrine in the Mormon church. . . unbelievers are redeemed just like anyone else. . .

    • Sorry for my sort of rant. Can I say one more thing though? Thanks, and the thing is this, I HATE religion! So did Christ, if you read his words, he hated religious intolerance, bigotry and the habit of the high ranking religious and very pious leaders to slam the poor, sick and such. Telling someone it is their fault, through sin, that they are sick, poor or otherwise afflicated and using that logic to themselves to then not then help the poor is what Christ hated most and my hate for that attitude when it shows up, yes, even in myself,, is something that I just can’t and am not going to tolerate anymore. John Hagee telling the poor to just “Starve!’ was something Christ would have never himself done yet Hagee is recognized as a great and moral religious leader. Funny how things haven’t changed all that much in 2k years isn’t it? Sigh.

  3. Go away with your b.s. Christian troll Ringo. You’re judgemental and mine is right yours is wrong attitude is EXACTLY WHY I no longer attend church. Christ had compassion for almost everyone he saved his worst critiques for the Pharisees and Saducees mainly because they also had their noses high in the air. I’ll stand with what I see of Christ in the Bible, not yours or anyone elses so called interpretation of the scriptures, at least as far as what I believe Christ himself taught about sin, forgiveness helping the poor, visiting sick, etc. I’m not Catholic but I said yesterday and still say today that I sure appreciate a Pope or any other religious leader who talks like he or she, is seeking truth and answers, instead of always sounding if they have all the answers. NO ONE this side of eternity does and I resent yours or anyones attempts to slam those who are honest enough to admit that they themselves don’t have all the answers!

  4. That’s really astounding, a person like Michelle Bachmann who has proven herself to be, an illiterate, headline-grabbing liar and exploiter of dirty politics is going to “continue” working for educational excellence. I would suggest that before she continues any of her distorted efforts in that or any other direction to obtain a free living that she return to school herself and learn a great deal. And she should return to some church where she can learn what genuine honesty is–if a church is necessary as an environment in which to learn that virtue.

    Before all the investigations that prompted her plans to not seek reelection are finished, she might have to do that, as her Speaker John Boehner wonders, in jail. At least we’ll be rid of her from the national scene. But whom will her even more illiterate electorate choose to replace Bachmann. After all, they hired her once and rehired her three more times. Is the 6th District of Minnesota suffering such an extended arid spell of virtue and political/governmental literacy?

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