Godzilla got as many mentions as God in Sen. Mike Lee's Tea Party response to the president's State of the Union speech.

Godzilla got as many mentions as God in Sen. Mike Lee’s Tea Party response to the president’s State of the Union speech. "Godzilla" original movie poster via Wikimedia Commons

When a pope issues an executive order it’s called a “motu proprio,” so maybe President Obama’s speech last night should be called a “SOTU proprio”? Just a little ancient bureaucracy humor to try and lighten our morning and draw some connection between the thing everyone was talking about and the things we talk about in the Daily Religion Roundup. Don’t worry, this column gets better:

SOTU: It’s “Bingo!” and a drinking game…

For the best collection of faith-based responses to the State of the Union address check out the post from our own Tobin Grant, who notes that here was a Jewish SOTU drinking game, which consisted of finding different ways to drink Manischewitz, and a bingo game put together by NETWORK, the Catholic social justice lobby. In the end, President Obama’s proposals weren’t quite as liberal as Pope Francis might have liked, at least on economic policy. I mean, the pontiff went medieval on usury this morning. Usury! But with Pete Seeger gone it’s hard to keep the socialists singing from the same hymn book.

Here was my favorite suggestion for adding some faith-based theatrics to the evening:

But even a nun might have had stiff competition from the powerful presence of Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg. And would viewers have made the connection between birth control and a nun? Our own Cathy Grossman provides a handy new guide for that controversy.

Who mentioned God the most?

The president cited the Almighty three times, and in her response for the Republicans, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington mentioned God four times. But phrasing is everything, and her spiritually-inflected flourish at the end had tongues wagging. Sarah Pulliam Bailey sees hints of new life for the old “compassionate conservatism” in her talk.

Then again, Sen. Rand Paul, possible 2016 presidential aspirant, mentioned God just once, at the end of his response. (There were four altogether by the GOP.) And in his Tea Party response, Utah Sen. Mike Lee mentioned Godzilla as often as God – once each. Not sure what to make of that.

The other “Duck Dynasty” star was there…

What’s a momentous address about the future of our nation without a “Duck Dynasty” family member in the middle of it? Obviously we needed a Robertson on the SOTU mix, and Willie agreed to come — not clear whether ol’ Uncle Phil of the controversial remarks was asked. Willie wasn’t making any waves. The Daily Caller interviewed him about why he was the center of attention on Capitol Hill and he had this to say:

“I don’t know,” he said. “I think it’s the beard.”


Two Mormons, two views on contraception and the mandate

Keying off of Cathy Grossman’s contraception stories, longtime FORNS Peggy Fletcher Stack has an interesting piece comparing the views of two Mormons, a physician and a lawyer, who are weighing in on the nation’s birth control and “morning after” pill debates. And Peggy concludes:

Neither man claims to be representing the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which takes no position on birth control, but rather encourages its members to consider prayerfully their individual decisions. “The decision as to how many children to have and when to have them,” the faith advises in its Handbook for local leaders, “is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord.”

When do we start learning to hate others?

A new study says we start learning to divide the world between “us” and “them” between the ages of 6 and 8. The research out of Germany also found that “eight-year-old boys feel, or at least act upon, this disdain far more strongly than eight-year-old girls.”

So do some boy congressmen, like New York’s Rep. Michael Grimm, who left the compassion out of his conservatism when he threatened a television reporter last night. He also did it in front of a live TV camera, which isn’t so smart.

Is prison reform becoming a bipartisan issue?

It might be the only thing the two parties can agree on, but it would be a big one. EthicsDaily reports: “Republicans, Democrats and Independents are seeking common ground nationally and in state legislatures in an effort to reduce overcrowded prisons, address budget woes from prison costs and the high recidivism rate – the rate at which offenders return to prison in three years after being released.”

The 30 most beautiful college churches

Michael Sean Winters points to this gallery. The Catholics kind of score, but they had a big head start. And Perkins Chapel does make it. Barely.

Speaking of nuns…

Doug Erickson at the Wisconsin State Journal took a nun to a Broadway touring production of “Sister Act” and had her review it — one thumb up, one thumb down, pretty much, with very thoughtful comments from Sister Patricia Mary Vinje:

“The caricature of sisters and nuns can be fun,” she said. “However, the caricature that continues in perpetuity can do harm because then society no longer knows the real thing and assumes the caricature is the real thing.”

 Speaking of Pete Seeger…

He’s still with us, two days after his death, and may well be for some time given his legacy and the immediacy of the issues the folk singer sang about. Mark Silk places his religious background in context while at the Forward, Adam Langer highlights Seeger’s “seven most Jewish songs.” At Commonweal’s blog, Lisa Fullam looked at Arlo Guthrie’s prayerful communion with his old friend on his last night — and from a great distance:

“Arlo” he said, sounding just like the man I’ve known all of my life, “I guess I’ll see ya later.” I’ve always loved the rising and falling inflections in his voice. “Pete,” I said. “I guess we will.”

And we hope to see you in this space again tomorrow morning, and throughout the day.

David Gibson

Categories: Culture

David Gibson

David Gibson

David Gibson is an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He is a national reporter for RNS and has written two books on Catholic topics, the latest a biography of Pope Benedict XVI.


  1. Obama has denied being Christian, Muslim and is unwilling to say if he is Atheist, but he always ends his speeches with “God Bless”. Doesn’t really have any meaning unless the person saying it actually has faith in the god they refer to.

    • Obama calling himself “Christian” sets off too many political red flags. Conservatives will call him a “fake Christian” and Liberals would accuse him of alienating minority faiths.

      It is polarizing in a way which serves no end. Conservatives are never going to treat him with respect anyway and Liberals don’t make an issue of public faith.

      Doesn’t really matter at all. One’s religious faith should not be a consideration when one is choosing the leader of a multi-faith, multicultural polyglot nation like the United States.

    • Jenny, why do you repeat this lie? President Obama was baptised at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. He has said that he is a Christian. This is common knowledge if you expend any energy in a search. So, either you are ignorant of the facts, do not care about facts, or feel that willfully spreading this lie aids some cause that you are in favor of. Which is it?

  2. Please do NOT insert all the tweets and other such comments into the middle of your news. I want to read what you say, not what your readers have to say. Put their comments at the end. Please.

  3. This guy then complains bitterly that women “are confused,” “don’t know what they want”
    or don’t want “a good man. A lot of people love sunsets, bicycling, nature and eating out so if you do mention these things you should expand on them and mention additional interests in order to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Having a shower together will be great to add some spice in your lives.

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