Pope Francis picked new cardinals, paving the future of the Catholic Church. None of the 19 new cardinals come from the United States, however. The pope, marking the Baptism of Jesus on Sunday, also baptized 32 babies in Sistine Chapel and told mothers to feel free to breast feed. By the way, breast feeding in church is on the rise, but it’s still an issue. This morning, the pope criticized abortion as evidence of a “throwaway culture” that wastes people as well as food.
A Massachusetts law that abortion protesters must stay 35 feet from an abortion clinic’s entrance is being challenged at the U.S. Supreme Court as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. Arguments are set for Wednesday. Meanwhile, the court rejected Arizona’s bid to put in place its ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Former basketball star Dennis Rodman apologized again today for not being able to help an American missionary detained in North Korea during his recent trip for his friend Kim Jong Un’s birthday. ”It’s not my fault. I’m sorry. I just want to do some good stuff, that’s all I want to do,” he said. (Here’s his previous apology and Jonathan Merritt’s commentary.)
A Sikh woman is suing a Go-Kart facility for cutting her hair, which she has never cut since birth, after it was getting sucked into an engine. She says that she protested and asked them to call 911.
Five years after pledging to improve the U.S. relationship with the broader Middle East and in the Muslim world, the AP reports, the Obama administration’s strategy appears to have come unhinged due to unexpected events in the region.
A group of hardline Buddhist monks is rallying Sri Lankans against Muslims, saying they are a pernicious threat. Buddhists have attacked mosques and called for boycotts on Muslim-owned businesses and bans on headscarves and halal foods.
With the death of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, The Forward asks, “How Should We Die Jewishly and With Dignity?” And, by the way, who is a Jew? The Economist explores. And Jewish surnames are being explained.
Ian Barbour, a scientist who concluded that faith and science are in eternal conflict, helped create an academic realm where they share common ground. Barbour, who won the Templeton Prize, died last month.
From NPR: A Black Church’s Dilemma: Preserve A Building, Or Our Identity? Poverty and other concerns have made raising restoration funds difficult — and the effort to keep the church in black hands has sparked tensions with local preservationists in Arkansas.
The cover story of this month’s Relevant magazine is Malcolm Gladwell’s return to faith. The author has been making the rounds in various Christian circles, including at Catalyst and Eric Metaxas’ Socrates in the City. Just after Gladwell’s last book release, RNS interviewed him about his renewed faith.
The latest from RNS:
A new experiential research study — conducted by a smart phone app called SoulPulse — lets people monitor their spiritual state of mind. Computer users in the Vatican seem to have an illegal taste for the German heavy metal band Scorpions, the coming-of-age dance film “Billy Elliot,” the television comedy series “Camp.” And Christians are casting an anxious eye on Libya.
Tensions escalate over French comedian Dieudonne’s reverse Nazi salute. Books and texts are burned or banned in Lebanon, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Applestan. Utah’s gay newlyweds navigate a new political minefield. Read the religious freedom recap for more.