An man dressed as "Krampus," and Austrian character that goes after bad boys and girls at Christmas time in Austria. Image by Pecold via Shutterstock.

A man dressed as “Krampus,” an Austrian character that goes after bad boys and girls at Christmastime in Austria. Image by Pecold via Shutterstock. (Image source)

Eight days until Christmas and a very Christmas-y roundup for you. Sorry about the scary guy. But he’s Krampus, an Austrian Christmas tradition, and he’s upset about the results of a new poll that leads the religion news this morning.

More tinsel, less gospel

Our own Cathy Lynn Grossman makes the data sing a jolly but not too religious tune today with the news that nine in 10 Americans will celebrate Christmas this year, but increasing numbers see the holiday as an opportunity for mostly secular fun. The Public Religion Research Institute poll also tells how Americans prefer that stores and businesses welcome them with the more generic “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” than “Merry Christmas.” 

Rev. Frank will not go quietly

He presided over the marriage of his son to another man, and then went before a United Methodist Church court, which suspended his collar for 30 days. A month has passed, but the Rev. Frank Schaefer said Monday he will refuse to surrender his clergy credentials voluntarily and continue to perform gay marriages in opposition to his denomination’s orders. Thursday, the Lebanon, Pa. pastor learns his fate, which could be nothing short of defrocking.

Tony Perkins says I told you so

Social conservatives are doing a sort of victory dance over a federal judge’s ruling that a Utah law prohibiting polygamy is unconstitutional. It’s not that social conservatives approve of renegade Mormons who practice “plural marriage,” explains our own Sarah Pulliam Bailey. It’s just that their prediction that the increasing acceptance and legalization of gay marriage would boost polygamy and all other sorts of socially unacceptable practices, appears to them to have come true.

Gay marriage comes early for the terminally ill

Gay marriage will be legal in Illinois in June, but that’s not soon enough for gay couples in which one of the partners is terminally ill, and might not make it to that day. A federal judge has ruled that such couples may get married starting Monday. Challis Gibbs and Elvie Gibbs, who recently entered a civil union, will take advantage of the new date, because Gibbs has cancer. She says:

When I die, I want Elvie to be able to say, `I lost my wife.’ I don’t want her to have to say, ‘I lost my civil union partner.’

Birthday breakfast, pope style

Pope Francis celebrated his 77th birthday by celebrating Mass and having breakfast with four homeless people and a dog that belongs to one of them, who live near the Vatican hotel where the pope lives. Happy Birthday, Uncle Frank. Many happy returns and thanks for all the news stories.

Harold Camping dies

The radio preacher and founder of Family Radio who kept predicting the return of Jesus and kept getting it wrong, is now probably having an interesting conversation with St. Peter. Camping was 92, and had been married for 71 years.

British Muslims selling alcohol threatened with lashes

Extremist Muslims are threatening to give 40 lashes to Muslim shop owners who are violating Shariah by selling alcohol. So what is the British punishment for giving someone 40 lashes?

Should you give cash or cows at Christmas?

A study of interest to anyone who gifts through charity this season: Christianity Today publishes a report on the relative impact of different types of charitable giving on the poor abroad: micro-lending vs. direct grants vs. groups such as Heifer International. Heifer supporters are going to feel great after reading this, but there are also some surprises about where your money may do more and less good. The methods and math look solid to me, but I was a history major.

Churches’ Instagram Christmas

Reuters reports that an increasing number of U.S. religious groups are looking to Instagram and YouTube this Christmas to impress parishioners and potential parishioners. We’re talking Instagram advent calendars, services on a Playstation channel and virtual choirs. Said DJ Chuang, host of the Social Media Church, a podcast with church leaders about social media:

Instagram is like the modern day stained glass window . . . They use it to tell the stories of the church.


I never heard of him (it?) either! An interesting little Christmas-y story in USA Today tells of four legendary characters, other than St. Nick, who share the Christmas spotlight with him in Italy, Austria, and elsewhere. Two are naughty and two are nice and, as you can imagine, the one named “Krampus” is not one of the nice ones.

Will you get snow on Christmas?

Check your chances of a white Christmas in your area.

More than 50 rabbis to shave their heads

“Superman Sam” aka Samuel Asher Sommer, was the eight-year-old son of Reform rabbis who died of leukemia this past weekend. In response to his mother’s request, more than 50 rabbis so far have pledged to shave their heads and raise money for pediatric cancer research. The shaving will take place at the Reform Movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis conference in Chicago — where Sam lived — in March.

– Lauren Markoe

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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. Today’s format is really good. Perhaps, you might add an article number at the front. That might help us refer to items more conveniently. In any event, this present format is about the best you’ve done. Thanks.

  1. […] Secular Christmas * Forty lashes * Krampus : Tuesday's Religion News Roundup Religion News Service A man dressed as “ Krampus ,” an Austrian character that goes after bad boys and girls at Christmastime in Austria. Image by Pecold via Shutterstock. (Image source). Eight days until Christmas and a very Christmas-y roundup for you. Sorry about the scary … …Source […]

  2. […] Cathy Lynn Grossman’s latest for The Washington Post highlights the findings of PRRI’s most recent report, conducted in partnership with Religion News Service and released just yesterday, which explores Americans’ feelings toward the holiday season. For one-quarter of American adults (26 percent), Dec. 25 is simply a cultural holiday, not a religious holy day. Be sure to also check out coverage of the new report at Reuters, PBS Newshour, and Religion News Service! […]

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