A 1918 cartoon shows Congress closed, a commentary on the coal shortage crisis. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons.

A 1918 cartoon shows Congress closed, a commentary on the coal shortage crisis. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons

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The government shut down. Obamacare opens for business. Pope Francis can’t stop making news. Stay with me . . . this is not a slow news day.

Religious leaders plead for Congress to compromise, as shown in a roundup of tweets compiled by our own Sarah Pulliam Bailey.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, leader of a campaign to link averting a shutdown with scrapping Obamacare, prayed outside the White House Monday as the shutdown clock wound down — not for a congressional solution, but for the release of American pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been held in an Iranian prison for a year.

UCC Minister Chuck Currie said the shutdown makes Americans captives in need of delivery from the Tea Party, and has some words to share from the Book of Isaiah.

“Jews of no religion.” A landmark Pew study released today shows that 62 percent of Jewish Americans call themselves Jewish, not because they practice the religion, but because of culture or ancestry. This and many more fascinating finds from the report in my story here.

At the Vatican, Eric J. Lyman asks: Is the media pulling its punches when it comes to Pope Francis? But Eric, isn’t he the Best. Pope. Ever. (BPE) ?

Speaking of BPE, he opened a landmark meeting Monday on reforming the church and said he wants to infuse it with a missionary spirit.

In the spirit of reform, the Vatican Bank today published its first annual report in its 125 year history.

And here are David Gibson’s primo excerpts from a brand-new interview Francis gave to the atheist founder of La Repubblica, in which the pontiff speaks of the “leprosy of the papacy.”

Francis has an Instagram account now. In the words of José-Miguel Chavarría Múgica, a web producer for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications:

The world is full of images that remind us of the grace of God in our lives; situations, persons, statues, signs, little things we come across every day. Smartphones are the perfect tool to catch these instants of grace in a picture and Instagram is a great and easy tool to share them.

Looking for a more controversial Catholic? Try the writer G.K. Chesterton, one of the world’s most famous converts to Catholicism and the subject of a canonization campaign opposed by some for his allegedly anti-Semitic remarks.

During Mass, a church roof collapsed in a suburb of Monterrey, Mexico, killing a 10-year-old boy.

A sexting priest in New Jersey is taking a leave of absence for his texts to a man he believed was a 16-year-old boy.

Rick Warren is getting lots of flak for a picture of a Chinese Red Guard he posted on his Facebook page, an image some Asian-American Christians are calling insensitive.

That case of the Louisiana pastor shot to death at a revival meeting Friday just got worse. The local sheriff says the wife of the deacon who fired the gun was sexually involved with the pastor, against whom rape allegations were made last week.

The new head of the National Jewish Democratic Council will be a pulpit rabbi – Rabbi Jack Moline - who currently serves as the spiritual leader of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Va., a Conservative synagogue. The new gig starts in January.

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Monday recognized a deceased Egyptian doctor as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations,” an honorific given to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Dr. Mohamed Helmy will be the first Arab to hold the title.

The Religion News Roundup will never shut down, except for a day or so during the annual Religion Newswriters Association conference, which was awesome last week. So sign up for this free, spamless service below.

- 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. I very much appreciated Lauren Marcoe’s column today. I was glad to see that there are those praying for an end to the shutdown. I wonder, though, just how many were praying like the person from Moring Star Network who prayed for a military coup to overthrow the President and end the “scorge” of Obamacare. It is sad to see that there are supposed followers of Christ who wish to see that those who are uninsured stay that way and that those with pre-existing conditions be turned down by insurance companies. Equally sad is that they’d rather see this and sky-rocketing health care costs for insurance rather than support the very Christian principles of these things rectified in the Afforadable Health Care Act a.k.a. Obama Care. It leaves me disgusted with these supposed Christians and leves me just as concerned for our country.

  2. OK, why do we have a Jewish holocaust memorial when we didn’t have a Jewish holocaust? Shouldn’t that be in Germany or Poland?

    For that matter, why don’t we have an Indian holocaust museum?

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