Hope your holiday preparations are going well, especially if you are preparing for Thanksgivukkah. Remember: It hasn’t happened since 1888 and, according to one calculation, won’t happen again for another 77,798 years. Here are some recipes to get you going.

 The parsonage of First Methodist Church in Monroe, Wisc.

The parsonage of First Methodist Church in Monroe, Wisc. Photo by James Steakley

1) Tax-free housing allowance unconstitutional:  In a “stunning” decision on Friday, a federal judge ruled that clergy’s exemption from paying taxes on a housing allowance is not constitutional. If the ruling stands, an estimated 4,000 ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and other clergy could experience an estimated 5 to 10 percent cut in take-home pay. Also, atheists are challenging the IRS over nonprofit finances.

2) Yeshiva Sex Abuse Allegations: Yeshiva President Richard Joel knew more about the explosive sex abuse allegations against the school than had been initially revealed, documents suggest. The Forward reports that Joel was told both before and after he became president in 2003 about allegations against Rabbi George Finkelstein, and that he declined to intervene in the first instance or respond in the second.

3) High school teacher-led prayers: A Missouri school district has vowed to “vigorously defend” itself after a secular organization announced it had filed a lawsuit to prevent alleged teacher-sponsored school prayer sessions in high school classrooms.

4) Anniversary of JFK & C.S. Lewis deaths: A few more pieces about John F. Kennedy: CNN looks at how Catholic he was exactly. Also, a guard-turned-minister recalls escorting Jackie Kennedy to the Eternal Flame grave site. Plus, here’s another C.S. Lewis interview, from a 91-year-old friend who knew him, calling him naive and shy.

5) Pope Francis & U.S. Catholics: The media talks about a “Francis effect,” but has the pope’s popularity produced a Catholic resurgence in the U.S., where 10% of adults are former Catholics? Not so far, says Pew Research.

6) Can we get our church bells back? As the United States military assists the Philippines in recovering from a devastating typhoon, a small town is asking the U.S. to return three church bells. The town says the bells were stolen as trophies during the 1899-1902 Philippine-American War, and two of them are at an Air Force base in Wyoming.

7) An ex-Mouseketeer’s returns to Christianity from Paganism: Teo Bishop, a singer-songwriter who blogged about exploring Druidry, has returned to the Christian faith. But he is also not ready to accept any simple labels, Christian or otherwise.

8) Landmark church to start charging visitors: Washington’s National Cathedral will begin charging admission to visitors at the start of the new year. A memo states that the cathedral ran a deficit and a $10 admissions fee for adults ($6 for children) could generate $150,000 in additional income in 2014.

9) An apology: A Christian journal published by Harvard students has apologized for publishing an article by a Jewish convert to Christianity say Jews should be punished by God for killing Jesus. The story follows former President George W. Bush’s controversial speech to Messianic Jews.

10) In sports and religion: Sounds like last nights Patriots vs. Broncos game was quite religious, or something. The Patriots came back 21-0 at the half to win in a stunning overtime. But in the other kind of religion news, Pope Francis met with a delegation of Olympic leaders, warning them about commercialization of athletes.


“Doctor Who” fans might be interested in this BBC piece on time travel through faith.

From RNS:

Mark Driscoll accused of plagiarism by radio host (Jonathan Merritt)

‘Lost Faces of the Bible’ reconstructs four skeletal remains using science, forensics

Max Lucado on his new film and why December is so painful for so many

And don’t miss:

The religious freedom recap: *Women bishops *Blasphemous twits *Gay tornadoes.

Categories: Beliefs

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a national correspondent for RNS, covering how faith intersects with politics, culture and other news. She previously served as online editor for Christianity Today where she remains an editor-at-large.


  1. Brian Pellot

    I’m apparently nerdy enough to know that you’re not supposed to abbreviate Doctor Who as Dr. Who. “Doctor” is his first name, or something? I’m sure someone even nerdier will clarify :)

  2. I wrote about such exemptions in my blog this morning, but if there is any good to come out of this, (most preachers are not as extreme in their beliefs of the IRS involvement in the church…I asked for the moon in that blog) thus… THIS may be the warning shot that will wake them up to the fact that they are about to leave Kansas for good.
    Church, you have the right to remain silent… here is your 501c3 status.Translation: “Church, shut up, sit down and if you are good boys and girls, we will give you a special tax-free status.”
    See writing at the following link: http://www.monicaboyer.com/church-you-have-the-right-to-remain-silent-here-is-your-501c3-status/

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