Three signs of the times:
- More Americans check Facebook daily than read the Bible. This tidbit was cited as part of the 10th anniversary of the social media giant, which has 757 million daily users.
- Pat Robertson came out swinging against Young Earth creationists who believe the world is 6,000 years old, give or take a thousand years. “To say that it all came about in 6,000 years is just nonsense and I think it’s time we come off of that stuff and say this isn’t possible.” He was speaking of Ken Ham of the Creation Museum, who debated Bill Nye, the Science Guy, on Tuesday night.
- Today’s Prayer Breakfast keynoter will be USAID’s Rajiv Shah, son of immigrants from India and a Hindu.
The chairman of a powerful Knesset committee has described the Jewish Reform movement as “another religion” and “not Jewish.” The Reform Movement in Israel sent an urgent letter to Knesset Speaker demanding that Parliament member David Rotem be called to order.
A letter signed by five Israeli rabbis, all known for their hardline opposition to any compromise with the Palestinians, compares Secretary of State John Kerry to two of Israel’s worst enemies: Nebuchadnezzar and Titus, responsible for the destruction of the first and second temples.
Sochi multiculturalism (or lack thereof)
Worried about where to find kosher meals in Sochi? Worry no more. The Forward reports that members of the city’s Chabad-Lubavitch movement have been busy preparing for guests with plans to serve 7,000 kosher meals to sports fans and Jewish Olympians over the next three weeks.
Mother Jones reports that the Black Sea city, site of the Winter Olympics, has 20,000 Muslims, lots of fancy new amenities, but no mosque.
A peek at what it’s like to be gay in Putin’s Russia (and it ain’t pretty.)
By way of comparison
Earlier this week, he vowed not to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade because of its anti-gay policies. Now New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says public schools will observe the two major Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. The mayor said he wasn’t so sure about Hindu holiday of Diwali.
Our own Eric Lyman wrote about a U.N. panel’s critical observations accusing the Roman Catholic Church of failing to acknowledge the child sex abuse crisis and implementing policies that led to “the continuation of the abuse and the impunity of the perpetrators.” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the U.N. in Geneva, hit back, saying he was surprised by the findings, which he considered “not up to date” and a distorted depiction that ignored recent progress.
Over in Missouri, the Archdiocese of St. Louis said it would comply with an order by the state’s Supreme Court to reveal the names of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing minors — and of the victims.
Philomena Lee, the Irish woman whose son was taken away by nuns and given up for adoption, met with Pope Francis Wednesday. Lee, who is played by Judi Dench in the Oscar-nominated film “Philomena,” told reporters later: “You can’t go through life being so unyielding; you’ve got to forgive.” Too bad the pope does not watch movies (or so said his spokesperson). He might have enjoyed this one.
Pope John Paul II spent decades constantly questioning whether he was worthy of the role he was called to carry out, according to private diaries published on Wednesday in defiance of his request that they be destroyed.
In culture war news
Common Core, a curriculum that has faced criticism from religious groups, has found an ally in the largest organization of Hispanic Christians in the U.S.
And The New York Times editorial board writes that allowing employers to duck the birth control insurance mandate would violate the establishment clause, which enforces the separation of church and state.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Wednesday lauded the work of Christian missionaries promoting education and improving health care in remotest corners of the world during a talk to interfaith leaders in India.
On the atheism front
A North Carolina high school football coach was asked to stop praying with students. The request came from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national non-profit organization that protects the separation of church and state.
Snow on the brain
And finally: A statue of zombie-like man walking through the snow in his underwear has not gone over well at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.
We can’t blame you if you’ve got snow on the brain. But we’ll let know of the first sightings of spring. Sign up below: