After getting mixed reviews from last week’s tweet-driven roundup, I’m back to the drawing board, still trying to find the best way to bring you the news from the weekend.
This time of year is supposed to be somewhat quieter anyway, as people travel for the holidays and have time off work or from school. Forget Christmas wars this week: culture wars are back, baby.
Marriage matters: Same-sex marriage became legal in Utah, and attorneys will try to halt the law today, saying the 100-plus couples whose weekend marriages could become invalidated would cause harm. Meanwhile, an Indiana court decided that a sex change of spouse does not invalidate marriage despite same-sex marriage ban. And officials say a New Mexico county clerk and her deputy have resigned rather than follow a state Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
Quack backlash: Sorry if you’re sick of Duck Dynasty. At its heart, the debate hits at the tension between sexuality and religion, or as one Atlantic contributor puts it, it’s a debate between sexual tolerance with religious tolerance. Duck Dynasty is not just a television show. It’s a franchise. The publishers will continue to sell books, but it’s unclear if merchandise is actually flying off the shelves. Cracker Barrel apologized to some customers after removing some of its products. Tobin Grant looks at why evangelicalism needs controversies like this one. After A&E’s dismissal of Phil Robertson, some of the initial reaction came from male Christian leaders like Al Mohler, Russell Moore, Jim Daly and others. But over the weekend, highly shared opinions come from women like Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp and Kirsten Powers.
Christians making Phil Robertson the poster boy for traditional marriage is prob the last nail in the coffin of the same sex marriage debate
— Kirsten Powers (@kirstenpowers10) December 22, 2013
Uganda’s new law: The Ugandan parliament passed a bill that punishes certain acts of homosexuality with life in prison, removing a previous death penalty clause. A former Anglican bishop in the country says the bill is misguided.
Contraceptive clashes: Important decisions were handed down on the HHS contraceptive mandate for religious non-profits on Friday. GuideStone of the Southern Baptist Convention won a preliminary injunction from HHS Mandate by a federal district court. An Indiana federal district court rejected Notre Dame University’s claim that its rights under RFRA and the First Amendment are infringed. And the federal district court held that the accommodation does not impose a substantial burden on Catholic University’s religious exercise.
Abortion debates: A federal appeals court panel upheld an injunction delaying Wisconsin’s new law requiring abortion providers have admitting privileges at hospitals. And Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a significant financial organization, has suspended pro-choice and pro-life groups from its charity program after one of its 1,300 local chapters approved a Planned Parenthood affiliate.
Do you see what I mean about culture wars? Let’s move on:
“None,” not nun: “None,” or those who do not affiliate with organized religion, is new normal for religion in Britain. A new survey finds that 38 percent of overall and 48 percent of adults under 30 have no religion.
A death: Edgar M. Bronfman Sr., a billionaire businessman and longtime president of the World Jewish Congress, died on Dec. 21. In 1999, President Bill Clinton awarded Bronfman the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for working “to ensure basic rights for Jews around the world.”
Mecca’s new leader: Saudi King Abdullah on Sunday appointed his son Prince Mishaal as governor of Mecca Province, overseeing the guardianship of Islam’s holiest site and hosting of the annual haj pilgrimage. Mecca is home to the Kaaba, the black cube-shaped structure toward which Muslims pray.
Okay, a little bit of Christmas wars: Mixed with the money dropped in the Salvation Army’s red kettles this Christmastime are less obvious tokens of generosity: gold coins, $50,000 from a “Secret Santa,” lottery tickets and Viagra. Read more from the Wall Street Journal’s front-page story this weekend (google the headline if it requires a subscription). And during the holiday season, nonbelievers assert their right to celebrate.
Back by popular demand, tweet highlights from the weekend:
Median age, by religion 23 Muslims 26 Hindus 28 Global median 30 Christians 34 Unaffiliated 34 Buddhists 36 Jews pic.twitter.com/dMUgK09XHy
— Conrad Hackett (@conradhackett) December 23, 2013
…and, of course, Francis high-fives with kids during group-shot: pic.twitter.com/dGkWQR0S4a
— Rocco Palmo (@roccopalmo) December 21, 2013
Learned about reformer pilates today and now I can’t quit picturing John Calvin doing pilates.
— Sammy Rhodes (@sammyrhodes) December 22, 2013
Sammy Rhodes, the man behind the popular Twitter feed Prodigal Sam, is back with an explanation of why he disappeared. And Peter Smith, now at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has a new religion blog. Add to your RSS feeds and/or follow Smith on Twitter.
Meanwhile, RNS will be a bit quieter this week, but we’ll still be updating the website, Twitter, Facebook and giving you a roundup. As you’re thinking about end-of-the-year giving, consider donating to RNS.
If you’re desperate to get a last-minute gift, check out some of my board game recommendations. It has nothing to do with religion, but I can be pretty evangelistic about it.
And to see a flying spaghetti monster display at the Wisconsin State House, head on over to the religious freedom roundup.