Dear Lord-Allah-Vishnu-Great Spirit-Gaia-Yahweh-RichardDawkins-Ha-Shem-Flying-Spaghetti-Monster, please guide me in my first RNS daily roundup…

You won’t hear that at the Greece, N.Y., town hall meeting. But the U.S. Supreme Court is now mulling whether the government can or should vet public prayer.

Lauren Markoe was there for the big church-state Greece v. Galloway case arguments Wednesday as the court questioned if there could be pleas to heaven acceptable to all religious traditions. “Throw the atheists in, too,” urged Justice Antonin Scalia.

Demonstrators hold signs that read "Keep your theocracy off my democracy" and "This is not a church" in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday (Nov. 6) during oral arguments of Greece v. Galloway. RNS photo by Katherine Burgess

Demonstrators hold signs that read “Keep your theocracy off my democracy” and “This is not a church” in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday (Nov. 6) during oral arguments of Greece v. Galloway. RNS photo by Katherine Burgess

This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

If you want to try your hand at prayer rules, take your case to Faith & Reason blog.

A Minneapolis-area school bus driver got schooled in the rules about prayer in school. The dual career driver (he’s a pastor, too) lost his driving job for leading the kids in prayer on the bus ride to public school every morning.

There were some unanswered prayers in elections on Tuesday. In the aftermath, Democrats are scrambling to arms at the prospect of facing freshly empowered N.J. Gov. Chis Christie.  On the GOP side, meanwhile, it’s internecine warfare among forces of the old right, the new right and the off the charts Tea Party right.

Now, we have three entries for a new category: Mystery exits in the news.

— Doug Phillips, the Christian ministry leader, resigned his post over an emotional extramarital “affair”:  “While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.” Is that a quote that would have made Bill Clinton-of-the-’90s proud?

—  Doug Birdsall was booted by the American Bible Society after a mere six months as CEO. No reasons given. Big name evangelicals like multi-site megachurcher Tim Keller are rallying to Birdsall’s defense.

— And one final exit: Swiss forensic tests have revived speculation that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died from poisoning. Israel says, don’t look at us. But the PLO still wants an international investigation.

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops picks a new president next week. David Gibson says they’ll make their pick with “The Francis Effect” in mind. What kind of U.S. leadership might the humble, happy, huggable Holy Father want for his “poor church for the poor”? (Hint: Cue the social justice concerns, downplay the culture wars.)

Jana Riess looks at a multi-generation sociological study of how parents pass down their faith – or don’t.

What parent hasn’t told a little girl that everyone has an inner beauty? Evidently not so many in Venezuela, capital of plastic surgery. Osmel Sousa, head of the Miss Venezuela pageant, tells The New York Times: “I say that inner beauty doesn’t exist. That’s something that unpretty women invented to justify themselves.”

Sexy “priests” sell a message in the second annual Orthodox calendar featuring men-of-little-or-no-cloth including one in priestly garb lasciviously licking whipped cream. Are they priests? The producers say, “We consider irrelevant the true identities of these men. What is important — as with the Pussy Riot debate – are discussions generated by this video in respect of the role of gay men in religious orders…

The Friendly Atheist Blog is bringing back its call for Heathen Holiday Cards.

Billionaire Silvio Berlusconi, disgraced former Italian prime minister, makes a sympathy plea: “My children say that they feel like Jewish families in Germany under Hitler’s regime.” Time for a visit to the Yad Vashem?

The Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan weighed in on bioethics this week: Test tube babies, yes. Cloning and sex-change operations, no.

Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking) celebrates this day as a “feast day” for a secular saint – 100 years ago Albert Camus was born. She admires the agnostic French author’s “moral compass.”

You can celebrate this day by answering my prayer that you’ll subscribe to our daily roundup.


  1. Yes, Ms. Grossman a great roundup for your first of many we hope! The RNR just keeps adding to it’s stable of great religion writers without the usual bias of other religion “news’ sites.

  2. Couldn’t resist commenting on Mr. Phillips half confession to a affair he was having with a woman not his wife. I especially liked the quote “while I didn’t know her in a Biblical sense” saying that it was just “affectio” towards her. Really? Who, except for the very gullible, believes him. Affection towards another is a reason to resign and hold a very public news conference to admit to it? Mr. Phillips, just admit that you, like many others before you, gave into your more human side and had sex with her. It happens, it’s wrong, but we understand that you were tempted and gave in to that temptation. I’d respect him or anyone who had the honesty to admit that. Funny thing about these religious leaders though, they don’t hold themselves to the same standards as they hold us mere mortals to. They seem to think that we will believe their half confessions to things they’ve condemned in the past and continue supporting them. Unfortunately for those of us who have common sense far too many gullible people do continue supporting these hypocrites and their right wing hypocrital causes without so much as a thought of perhaps this guy is a con man bent on seperating me from my hard earned money and nothing more, and they keep on supporting the con man or woman in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed, which is a much more lavish and tax free lifestyle than most of us could hope for in a lifetime. Sad.

  3. Ms Grossman, I think you have the dynamics of the GOP wrong:
    “On the GOP side, meanwhile, it’s internecine warfare among forces of the old right, the new right and the off the charts Tea Party right.”
    It is the Tea Party that is attempting to return the GOP to something of an opposition to the socialist party that are the Democrats. It is the “old right” that has earned scorn because it has done everything the liberals have done when they are in power. Just look at the administration of GWB for examples, and note that his GOP Congress lost its majority after only two years because it failed to serve as an antidote to the socialist toxicity we had been experiencing.

    There’s more: the last statement above doesn’t seem to make much sense on the surface, true. But this points out the terrible predicament the electorate finds itself in every two years: We elect socialists, become displeased, and vote in the other party as punishment. However, we end up voting in socialists-lite and get pretty much the same sort of government we had been getting. Again, I refer you to the Bush years. We can even find good examples from Pappy Bush’s term before Clinton’s two. Pappy gave us David Souter for the Supreme Court.

    I submit this is one of the major reasons why a large majority of the electorate is dissatisfied with government. It has been generations since they’ve had an experience of conservatism at all. Even Reagan did not do anything to actually shrink the size and power of the federal government. ‘Nuf said.

    Ms Grossman, if you want “moderates,” I suggest you plunk unabashedly for the Democrats. “Moderates” are nothing more than liberals who do not like the label. The proof lies in the kind of government they vote for.

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