This is a week for memorializing.
Nelson Mandela’s funeral is tomorrow, and President Obama will attend a send-off in a Johannesburg soccer stadium that will likely feel more secular than religious, but here is Fredrick Nzwili on Mandela’s Methodist education, Adelle Banks’ roundup of pastors’ tributes and the AP’s look at Sunday sermons from South Africa.
Stateside, the Washington National Cathedral will hold a memorial service for Mandela on Wednesday, and a service for the Newtown students and teachers on Thursday, nearly a year after the elementary school massacre.
Religion News to Know:
Apartheid Church No Longer: Agence France Press visits an Afrikaaner church that was once a center for the religious defense of apartheid, but now prayerfully thanks Mandela for saving South Africa from racism and civil war. During the apartheid era, leaders of the Dutch Reform Church had argued that the white people who controlled South Africa had been chosen by God.
A Satan Monument at the Oklahoma Statehouse? A satanist group wants to erect a monument to Satan alongside the Ten Commandments monument that has sat outside the Oklahoma statehouse since 2009, after the legislative voted to approve the privately-funded tablets. A representative of the Satanic Temple, based in New York, thanked the Oklahoma legislator who campaigned hardest to have religious sculpture on public grounds:
He’s helping a satanic agenda grow more than any of us possibly could . . . You don’t walk around and see too many satanic temples around, but when you open the door to public spaces for us, that’s when you’re going to see us.
Hospital Chaplains’ Growing Presence: In the Wall Street Journal, Laura Landro documents hospitals increasing reliance on chaplains. She quotes the Rev. Eric Hall, a Presbyterian minister and CEO of the HealthCare Chaplaincy:
Now seems to be the time for spirituality to come along in health care, as everyone recognizes we are all body, mind and spirit.
Canada is Confusing: First Quebecois legislators try to ban provincial workers from wearing any type of religious gear, from crosses to hijabs to kippas. Now the Edmonton police design a uniform that includes a hijab even though nobody on the force has expressed an interest in wearing one.
New Life for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union? They still exist, with a few thousand members nationally — compared to the half million who belonged in the 1940s — but the WCTU is reviving itself by taking aim at liberalizing marijuana laws.
Gay Marriage Roundup Within The Roundup: This week Australia’s first gay marriages, solemnized last week, could be ruled invalid. A judge has ordered a Colorado bakery to serve same-sex couples. A gay teacher at a Catholic school in Philadelphia was fired for applying for a marriage license in New Jersey. The Human Rights Campaign reports that the list of companies providing benefits to same-sex partners is growing fast.
Interesting thing about bakery-discrimination case is that #Colorado actually does NOT allow gay marriage.
— jack healy (@jackhealyNYT) December 6, 2013
A Cross in Parliament: A Polish court has rejected a motion from lawmakers who object to the cross that has been hanging in the Polish parliament debating chamber since 1997, when two conservative politicians put it up in the middle of the night. The court: it’s been up there for awhile, no one objecting and most Poles are fine with it.
The Difference Between Birth Control and Ham: Mark Silk brilliantly makes a point that I have been making privately and less articulately since Obamacare was unveiled: A law requiring religious employers to pay for health insurance that includes birth control is not like a hypothetical law requiring Jewish deli owners to sell pork, an analogy popular with Rick Warren, Archbishop Lori and others.
French Ignore U.S. Pleas on Sacred Masks A French auction house Monday dismissed a plea from U.S. officials and went forward with the sale of dozens of masks sacred to the Hopi people, who say the masks, which they call “friends,” who represent their ancestors’ spirits. American laws restricting trafficking in Native American sacred objects hold no force in France. The masks sold quickly, with one going for $42,300.
Other interesting reads today: The rise of super Orthodox beauty salons in Israel; Brian Pellot’s Religious Freedom Recap which notes an American uptick in religious freedom lawsuits; God Grrl reveals that she was a cheerleader in high school but that her recent 60-mile walk against cancer taught her the true Biblical meaning of “exhortation.”
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- Lauren Markoe