(RNS) Words to watch today in this chill edition of the roundup: Polar vortex; income inequality; gay marriage.

Polar vortex is fancy science talk for the insane cold that has escaped from the Arctic and enveloped much of the USA. As we obsess about our chilled bodies, RNS blogger Omid Safi wonders “why we fail to show the same concern for exposure of the human heart to the frozen realm of coldness, of distance, of isolation.”

Isn’t that just the perfect segue to Congress’ return from recess? Will they vote to defrost some jobless benefits for 1.3 million Americans or perhaps restore food stamp cuts from the Farm Bill passed last year?

This week, the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. In the words of Lyndon Baines Johnson in his Jan. 8 State of the Union address:  “Too many Americans live on the outskirts of hope.” More than one in six Americans told a Public Religion Research Survey this summer that the income gap between rich and poor was a top economic issue.

Gay marriage in Utah is on hold while state officials appeal a judge's mid-December approval. It leaves about 1,000 couples in "legal limbo."

Gay marriage in Utah is on hold while state officials appeal a judge’s mid-December approval. It leaves about 1,000 couples in “legal limbo.”

So expect to hear “income inequality” tossed around more than a homily from Pope Francis or a speech from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Sarah Pulliam Bailey profiles the new “spiritual but not religious” de Blasio who puts his faith in social justice.

Do states have the power to halt the sweep of same-sex marriage legalization? Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has put a halt to gay weddings in Utah “while state officials appeal a decision allowing such unions.” This leaves about 1,000 couples wed since Dec. 17 in “legal limbo,” according to The New York Times.

Too late if you wanted to see Bill Nye “The Science Guy” debate Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis at the Petersburg, Ky., Creation Museum. The tickets sold out in two minutes on Monday for their February public debate on whether “creation is a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era.” But you may be able to see it on live streaming video.

Pentecostal pastor Ron Carpenter of the Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, S.C., announced a split from his wife, Hope, last fall and told the RWOC about her psychiatric treatment and “multiple affairs.” Now he tells tells “Charisma News” they are working with Bishop T. D. Jakes to reconcile.

All those portraits of little children coming to the arms of Christ have a new parallel. Sort of. Satanists have released a sketch of 7-foot statue they want to place by the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma State Capital. It shows a horned devil seated and smiling, with a boy and girl at his side.

Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old at the center of a dispute about the definition of death, has been moved to a care facility where machines perform all her bodily functions.

A former member of the Vatican elite Swiss Guard says he had to fend off unwanted sexual advances by clergy.

More from RNS bloggers:

Categories: Beliefs, Culture, Ethics

Cathy Lynn Grossman

Cathy Lynn Grossman

Cathy Lynn Grossman is a senior national correspondent for Religion News Service, specializing in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality and ethics, and manager for social media.


  1. Let’s let the process of law making follow the course established by years of determining the validity of legal proposals. The Supreme Court has validated same-sex unions – let’s not get people who do understand the creation of laws get upset over something they have no control. Pray, yes, by all means, but please, we do not need to use the same tactics as others do.

    • The first step to doing so is to remove the barriers set up to prevent the lawmaking process. Constitutional amendment is a particularly underhanded way to circumvent the normal law making process.

      Of course the Supreme Court always had the power to strike down laws which violate Constitutional principles. In this case the 14th Amendment’s provision for equal protection under the law. When it comes to civil liberties, judge made law always preceded legislature made law. Segregation was abolished in the court system 9 years before it was finally codified into Federal law.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.