Thai Coca Cola. Image courtesy of David via Flickr.

Thai Coca Cola. Image courtesy of David via Flickr. (Image source)

Today Gallup tells us that 41 percent of Americans are “very religious,” and that 29 percent are nonreligious. Here’s more on the survey, and a Coke ad for Americans of every religious stripe, unless you’re one of those people who think the ad was made by pandering, liberal atheist ad execs from one of the least religious states in the nation.

Religioussippi

Once again, Mississippi ranks as the nation’s most religious state, and once again Utah places second, according to Gallup’s annual religiosity rankings. More than 60 percent of Mississippians call themselves “very religious,” in contrast to 22 percent who make the claim in Vermont — the least religious state. But Vermont itself can be a religious experience . . . in the summer. In the winter it can be hell.

That Coke Ad

Coca Cola’s Superbowl ad, which featured “America the Beautiful” sung in several languages as pictures of Americans — including a woman in a hijab, men in yarmulkes and two dads rollerskating with their daughter — flashed across the screen, inspired much appreciation . . . and outrage. A longer version of the add will air during the Sochi Olympics.

 

The first gay Mennonite pastor?

Maybe. A regional body of Mountain States Mennonites has just licensed the first lesbian in a committed same-sex relationship, which is the first step Theda Good will need to take on her road to ordination in the Mennonite Church USA. Whether she gets there is another matter. The Mountain States Conference of the Mennonite Church will have to approve her ordination, and that’s not assured. Some Mennonites think this is fantastic news and other believe the Denver-area Mennonites have overstepped their bounds.

Idaho gay rights arrest

Police arrested dozens of gay rights activists Monday for blocking the entrances to the Idaho legislature as they demanded that lawmakers consider a bill to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination. The protest was triggered in part by a bill introduced last month that would forbid Idaho from revoking the professional licenses of those who refuse service or deny employment to gay people on religious grounds. In Virginia today, arguments begin in one of the gay marriage cases that could make it to the Supreme Court.

A too-lovely Beacon Hill rectory?

The Boston Globe couldn’t find anyone to complain about Trinity Church’s new $3.6 million Beacon Hill rectory on the record, but we imagine some members of the landmark Episcopal church are grumbling about its wine cellar and two-car garage. Church officials defended the purchase as “not opulent” and a good investment that will not affect the church’s considerable outreach to the poor.

Monsignor to plead guilty for stealing from bishop

Msgr. Edward Arsenault, who once headed a top clergy treatment center in New Hampshire, will plead guilty to stealing at least $4,500 from a hospital, a deceased priest’s estate and the state’s Roman Catholic Bishop, prosecutors said Monday. “In New Hampshire, Arsenault had been former Bishop John McCormack’s top lieutenant, handling the clergy sexual abuse crisis and was responsible for the church’s new child protection policies,” according to the AP.

Foster care ordered for children of reclusive Jewish sect

A Canadian judge has ruled that 14 children of the Lev Tahor sect, two hours from Toronto, should be sent to foster care in Quebec, in response to allegations of child-marriages, neglect and abuse. Sect leaders deny all charges and have 30 days to appeal.

Shiite-Sunni violence in Pakistan escalates

The tit-for-tat violence in Pakistan has escalated in the past few months, leaving many to wonder whether peaceful co-existence is going to win the day. Naveed Ahmad reports on the latest killings, but also offers a concise summary of their historical context, explaining the sources of the tension between Pakistan’s Sunnis (the vast majority of the nation’s 188 million people) and its Shiites (13 percent of the population.)

Accepting Israel as a state vs. a Jewish state

Here’s another article on feuding groups that does an admirable job of providing context. It’s USA Today’s story on a big obstacle in Palestinian/Israeli peace negotiations which explains why the Palestinians are loathe to recognize Israel specifically as a Jewish state, and why the Israelis are loathe to sign a deal without that acknowledgement.

More good reads

German bishops: German Catholics don’t follow the church’s rules on sex and birth control. The newsy part is that the bishops, who have been pressing for reform, were so public and blunt about the disconnect.

In her first trip abroad in three years, Queen Elizabeth will travel to Vatican City to meet Pope Francis. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has already visited the pope.

Another Godly tipper. Remember the diner who left enormous “tips for Jesus” for very grateful waiters and waitresses? This weekend, a customer of the Boone County Family Restaurant in Caledonioa, Ill., left three $5,000 checks for three young, struggling waitresses. “God sent me here to help you,” she told them.

- Lauren Markoe

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Categories: Beliefs

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe covered government and features as a daily newspaper reporter for 15 years before joining the Religion News Service staff as a national correspondent in 2011. She previously was Washington correspondent for The State (Columbia, S.C.)

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