Hulu doll. Image by Joao Virissimo via Shutterstock

Hulu doll. Image by Joao Virissimo via Shutterstock (Image source)

Strikes against Syria look less likely this morning as President Obama says he will seriously consider a Russian proposal to remove chemical weapons from Assad.

Today Pope Francis holds a rare meeting of the heads of various pontifical councils and congregations and no one is quite sure why or what’s to come of it. But some are bracing or hoping for more shaking up of the place, the National Catholic Reporter tells us.

Remember liberation theology? We can’t blame you if you’ve forgotten – Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI would have been happy to see it fade away. But our man at the Vatican, Alessandro Speciale, reports that it’s in vogue again under Pope Francis.

The winner of our “Draw the Pope” contest seems to have understood this, with his winning entry “Pontifex Omnibus.” Emphasis on the bus.

And Pope John Paul II, the patron saint of  . . . sports? Catholics in Britain have begun circulating a petition in advance of his upcoming canonization.

Also today, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on marijuana, and the possibility of federal legislation that could make it far easier for states to make pot legal. In Colorado, one state that has voted for legalization, activists handed out joints to protest a move to tax personal pot.

Tomorrow is the twelfth anniversary of 9/11, and the mother of NYPD police cadet Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who died at the South Tower next to his medical kit, is still trying to get NYC to officially commemorate her son as a first responder, our own Omar Sacirbey reports.

Is it ethical for states to grant permits for blind people to carry guns in public? Iowa says yes.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is pushing for a special legislative session next month to make the Aloha State the fourteenth to sanction gay marriage.

Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, a retired United Methodist bishop, isn’t waiting for his own church to change its position on gay marriage — he recently offered a special blessing for the union of same-gender couples. 

Jeffrey Weiss may get you to re-think your response to that self-ordained guy in Florida who burns Qurans, if you response is: let’s ignore such horrific idiocy. Weiss interviews Muslim interfaith activist Mike Ghouse, whose message is: the world is watching for our response, so we better have a good one.

One of the world’s most famous atheists, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, has found himself in heaps of trouble for commenting that the “mild pedophilia” he and his former classmates suffered at a boarding school decades ago wasn’t such a big deal.

A jury has convicted a Washington state couple — fans of “To Raise Up A Child,” a religious parenting book that advocates corporal punishment — of manslaughter in the death of their adopted Ethiopian daughter.

Our own Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports that the Christian literary magazine Books & Culture lives to publish another day, despite fears that budget troubles would shut the publication down. But the small, religious periodical is far from alone in its struggle to stay afloat.

A large Philippine port is under lockdown as government troops try to take back portions of Zamboanga City held by the Moro Liberation Front, Muslim rebels group operating in the mostly Muslim Mindanao, a large island in the south of the mostly Christian Philippines. Two priests are among those held hostage.

The second-ranking Anglican archbishop in Nigeria is also a hostage. Archbishop Ignatius Kattey was kidnapped on Friday. Circumstances surrounding the abduction are still hazy, according to Agence France Press.

More than 31 people died in a Hindu-Muslim riot about 80 miles from Delhi this weekend, highlighting a spike in religious violence in India this year.

If you take an interest in religious freedom issues — in the U.S. and abroad — please check out the first installment of our own Brian Pellot’s Religious Freedom Roundup, a weekly rundown that informs on everything from Malaysians’ discomfort with the Miss World Pageant to the Iranian president’s shocking “Happy New Year” tweet to Jews.

Religious freedom at home: a federal judge in San Francisco rules that clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch had no right to forbid an employee from wearing a hijab.

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law that would require out-of-state law enforcement to get permission before conducting counter-terrorism surveillance. The bill was drafted after legislators read reports detailing NYPD surveillance on Muslims across the Hudson. Said Christie:

We must protect and maintain civil liberties, especially those of the citizens in New Jersey’s Muslim community.

Religious freedom royalty: Robert P. George, the Princeton law professor and conservative Christian thinker, was sworn in as chairman of the United States Commission on Religious Freedom Monday, by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Religious freedom in a country we don’t talk about much: Bolivia. Protestants there, pleased that the government had seemingly severed its close ties with the Catholic Church, are now worried about official sanction of pre-Columbian animism.

And animist art – which Christian missionaries tried to stamp out a century ago – is all the rage in Nigeria.

RNS blogger Jana Riess offers one Mormon’s take on how to deal with doubters with the LDS church. Hint: do not to bludgeon them with truth.

Doubt is not what landed Mormon writer Denver C. Snuffer Jr. in hot water with the church. The author of “Passing the Heavenly Gift” faces excommunication for accusing every Mormon prophet from Brigham Young forward of caving to social pressures, Peggy Fletcher Stack writes in the Salt Lake Tribune.

But you can’t get excommunicated for what you write or read in Religion News Roundup. I hope. Sign up if you haven’t already. It’s free and spam-free.

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. It seems to me that while secular people have been getting organized into small groups and stimulating each other with proofs that deities don’t exist, the evangelical fundamentalist Christians have been taking over the governmental machinery in the U. S. This includes the House of Representatives, state governorships and legislatures, school boards and administrations, textbook decision groups, county commissions, etc. They have also placed themselves into consultative groups in each of the major U. S. government departments, most recently, in the State Department. Meanwhile, some hardworking secularists in a few organizations have fought back with some success, but don’t seem to touch the core offenders of the principle of separation of church and state. We’re in dangerous territory.

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