(Date unknown) A Salvation Army worker with a collection bell solicits funds on a street corner during the Christmas season. Religion News Service file photo

(Date unknown) A Salvation Army worker with a collection bell solicits funds on a street corner during the Christmas season. Religion News Service file photo


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From the Dept. of Thanks but No Thanks, atheist and other secular groups are finding a lump of coal in their stockings this Christmas season when they try to join charity fund drives. “As atheists, we don’t have a church we can donate to, so we do it on a case-by-case basis,” says prolific blogger Hemant Mehta. “But sometimes it is tough to help because they feel it is dirty money.”

Speaking of holiday charity, we here at RNS would be especially grateful if you’d toss a donation in our virtual kettle. All donations are tax-deductible and go to fund the reporters and editors who bring you the Roundup and so much more.

Sorry, Satan. You can’t play our reindeer games

Love this: Oklahoma officials say they’re not taking any new applications for religious monuments at the state capitol. I’m sure the request by Satanists had nothing to do with it. Or the noodly appendages of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. In Florida, meanwhile, a Satanist holiday display was rejected for being “grossly offensive.”

Polygamy-loving priest

Did you see that Episcopal priest who says she’s now a big fan of polygamy? Now she’s backpeddaling, saying she would never perform a polygamous wedding, is not pushing for a change in church teaching and is only advocating for polygamists’ religious freedom. Her bishop, Ian Douglas (a good friend of RNS), says he plans to “to be in communication with Ms. Tumminio about what she has written.”

Quack, quack

The Louisiana pastor of the extended “Duck Dynasty” Robertson clan says he’s standing by patriarch Phil Robertson after his, um, colorful remarks on homosexuality, but says he might have worded things a bit differently. And he’s not going to lead a charge against A+E for suspending Robertson. “We’re not a protest kind of people. We don’t go out in front of people’s office with signs.”

Tax breaks for the rich or for people who pick through trash?

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue is usually the first to fire off a press release or launch a petition when someone says something bad about the Catholic Church. But Rush Limbaugh calling Pope Francis a “Marxist”? Totally fine, Donohue says. Then again, a lot of people concluded that Donohue (finally) jumped the shark with an incredibly rambling (and entertaining) press release about his booze-filled office Christmas party.

Speaking of Catholics, there’s a growing sense that free-market capitalists in the U.S. Catholic Church are ignoring or even rejecting Francis’ “Marxist” teachings — and getting rewarded for it. Our own David Gibson tracks the rise of the free-market Catholic right. For what it’s worth, Francis praised the poor who pick through piles of trash in search of items that could reused or recycled.

Aggravating trials and aggravated homosexuality

That Pennsylvania pastor who refused to recant for presiding at his gay son’s wedding, despite rules against it in the United Methodist Church? He was defrocked yesterday, and his bishop — who oversaw the charges against him — says the church appears to be trying to “talk out of two sides of our mouth” and says high-profile church trials are “not helpful.” At least he’s not in Uganda, which finally passed its controversial law that imposes life imprisonment for charges of “aggravated homosexuality.”

Islam 101 in schools?

No, President Obama is not launching a federal program to indoctrinate innocent schoolchildren in the tents of Islam. That and more in this week’s Moozweek, which provides a weekly recap of the most intriguing Muslim news.

Freedom of Religion v Freedom of Speech

From our own Brian Pellot: “47 percent of countries have laws that penalize blasphemy, apostasy and/or defamation of religion. In many of these countries, bloggers and journalists are censored, arrested or murdered for merely reporting the facts of a developing story.”

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