Federal offices in Washington, D.C., may be closed, but religion news never takes a snow day. We’re open for business:
Hanging on a thread
Two days after Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee announced his state will not use the death penalty while he’s in office, the Pew Research Center reports that support for the death penalty nationwide is at 55 percent, down from 78 percent 18 years ago.
Gay marriage contretemps
A federal judge ruled that Kentucky is required to recognize gay marriages legally performed elsewhere. Some hope the ruling might pave the way for same-sex marriages to be performed legally in the bluegrass state.
In Utah and Oklahoma: A coalition of religious organizations has come together to urge a federal appeals court to uphold same-sex marriage bans in those states, saying unions between a man and woman are best for children, families and society.
Taxpayers footing the bill
A Tennessee county has spent $343,276 fighting a lawsuit brought by residents upset that the county approved construction plans for a mosque. And it’s not over. The legal bills will increase when county government lawyers respond to an appeal request to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Opposite of decline:
One of Africa’s biggest Pentecostal movements, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, is spreading across the US. Started in Nigeria, the movement opened its first American church in 1992. Today, it has 720 congregations across North America, according to the BBC.
Synagogue and state
The head of an ultra-Orthodox group in Israel has called on parents to prevent their children from dressing up as Israeli soldiers for Purim, the Jewish Halloween. The problem is an unpopular high court ruling that ultra-Orthodox men must be drafted into the army.
If you missed the resurrection of Christ, don’t worry — it’ll happen again. That is, if you’re in Tierra Santa, which claims to be the first religious theme park in the world. At the Buenos Aires park, a 40-foot statue of Jesus rises from inside a plaster mountain every hour.
From the RNS stable:
Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports that evangelical women’s conferences are not what they used to be. Many emphasize social justice and not the typical “women’s issues,” such as family and relationships.
Kimberly Winston writes about a new HBO documentary film that charts Charles Darwin’s passage from Christian to nonbeliever. The filmmaker made the same journey.
Jeff Weiss offers a review of the new Legos Movie. Who knew that religion would figure so prominently, if not obviously?
Jonathan Merritt takes a critical look at a new Cadillac car commercial and what it says about our consumerist culture.
Sister Simone Campbell and Rev. Michael Livingston say that in signing an executive order to lift the minimum wage for federally contracted workers, President Obama has lifted the dignity and worth of all working people.
More good reads:
In a country synonymous with designer fashions, Sister Maria Laura runs one of Italy’s most unlikely shops: a secondhand wedding dress depot inside a monastery. See the slideshow.
Still wondering what to make of allegations Woody Allen sexually abused his adopted daughter? Religion Dispatches has a piece on John Howard Yoder, the late Mennonite theologian, a revered Christian intellectual who also faced abuse allegations.
Were camels, the basic mode of transportation for the biblical patriarchs? Not according to a new scientific study that concludes the animal was not domesticated until hundreds of years after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are said to have wandered the earth.
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