Francis -- an Argentine who is the pope, and whose parents were born in Italy --  is not sure whether to root for an Italian or Argentine soccer team in an upcoming match. Image courtesy of KBF Media via Shutterstock.

Francis — an Argentine who is the pope, and whose parents were born in Italy — is not sure whether to root for an Italian or Argentine soccer team in an upcoming match. Image courtesy of KBF Media via Shutterstock. (Image source)

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The ACLU wonders if the judge who ordered that Tennessee mother not to name her child “Messiah” – because only Jesus Christ has a right to the title — has ever heard that judges shouldn’t impose their faith from the bench.

And for those of you who think the mom is in her own category of wacko, last year more parents named their newborns “Messiah” than “Donald.” Find out if your name is more popular than “Messiah.”

The RNS Sporting News: Pope Francis is apparently having trouble deciding who to root for in a match that will pit Italian and Argentine soccer teams against each other for the first time in 12 years.

The RNS Hollywood Report: Actor Joel Edgerton is reportedly in talks to play Ramses the Pharaoh in Ridley Scott’s Biblical drama “Exodus,” which stars Christian Bale as Moses.

Our own Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes an obituary for Jean Bethke Elshtain, who died this week at 72. The Christian ethicist was perhaps most famous for her defense of the War on Terror. But, as Bailey quotes Martin Marty, “If you reduce her to the Iraq War, you’ll miss her.”

The State Department won’t say how, but it will engage with Pyongyang to free ailing and detained American Christian missionary Kenneth Bae, who was sentenced to 15 years hard labor for supposedly “hostile acts” against North Korea.

A growing number of schismatic Roman Catholic priests in Africa, who don’t believe anything in the Gospels requires priestly celibacy, want an African pope of their own, Fredrick Nzwili reports from Nairobi. Former Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, founded “Married Priests Now!” after he was excommunicated by Rome.

RNS blogger Jonathan Merritt gets some very choice quotes from the Rev. Lillian Daniel in his piece on how the message of the liberal Protestant is resonating with Christians of all sorts. My favorite — what Daniel says she wants to say to those who declare themselves “spiritual but not religious:”

Thank you for sharing, spiritual-but-not-religious person. You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating.

$7.4 million: This sounds like a lot of money for Torah finials (caps that decorate a rolled up Torah scroll.) But these two are silver, ornate and date from the 18th century. Two of the nation’s oldest synagogues are arguing over the proposed sale of the finials to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

RNS commentator and Episcopal priest Tom Ehrich writes incisively about those of us — politicians and regular folks — who disdain the imperfect.

Perfection is a savage god, you see. It doesn’t just isolate you from other people. Perfection corrupts your soul by making an idol of your tastes and preferences. Perfection can make you a monster, like the religious extremist who will blow up children in order to defend an ideology that shouldn’t need such defending.

I know Richard Weinberg as the very professional director of communications at the Washington National Cathedral. He just returned from a Jesuit retreat, which, as a gay ex-Catholic, he had qualms about attending. Here is what he jokingly calls “my official statement of reconciliation with the Catholic Church.”

Doctors Without Borders is pulling out of Somalia after 22 years because of the rise of Islamist insurgents. Sixteen DWB workers, most of them locals, have been killed since 1991.

Syrian rebels say al-Qaida-linked forces killed the Rev. Paolo Dall’Oglio, a Jesuit priest and vocal supporter of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some Islamist rebel groups.

Our own Yonat Shimron traveled around her home state of North Carolina to chronicle the fast-growing church gardening movement, which aims to nurture the earth and the people who live on it. She quotes church gardening pioneer Fred Bahnson, who has just written a book on the phenomenon:

One reason I’m so interested in food, gardening and agriculture is that it’s a way we can be co-creators with God . . . We’re not mere receptacles for God’s agency. We’re agents ourselves.

Doesn’t that just make you want to go out and plant something? A rutabaga? A church? I could plant a synagogue. I’d make everyone in it subscribe to the Religion News Roundup. But you can do that even without joining my dream congregation. Fill in the box below for a free, newsy, daily dose of religion news.

- Lauren Markoe

Categories: Beliefs

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. Francis could root for both or neither, neither being the more politically correct decision in my opinion. Nameing your child Messiah isn’t that like Jews nameing their child joshua? The judges decision was, a complete joke,but the right wing Christian Party thinks they have a mandate from God to force their religion on the rest of us.

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