A monk enjoying some vino. Vatican City consumes more wine per capita than any country in the world, a new study proves. (Who thinks of such a study?) Image courtesy of Robert Brown Stock via Shutterstock

A monk enjoying some vino. Vatican City consumes more wine per capita than any country in the world, a new study proves. (Who thinks of such a study?) Image courtesy of Robert Brown Stock via Shutterstock (Image source)

Embarrassing news from Charlotte. Harsh news from Uganda. And always something interesting going on in Vatican City these days.

Spontaneous baptisms? Not so fast.

Southern Baptist megachurch founder Steven Furtick is famed for his massive baptisms at his Elevation Church around Charlotte. But evidence shows Furtick engineers the “miracles” with the precision of a Kardashian wedding planner.

Duh (But very interesting nonetheless)

— Vatican City consumes more wine per capita than any other country.

It’s wrong in many ways for atheists to call believers “mentally ill.”

Moral questions swirling around U.S. executions, particularly with lack of legal drugs for lethal injections.

Seeds of the green pope

Pope Francis named himself after St. Francis, the saint with the birds flying around his head. Inspired by Francis, 10 Franciscan Earth Corps chapters started around the nation and six more are organizing. They’re part of a campaign by the Franciscan Action Network, a social justice group that aims to transform the world in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.

Francis the fiscally-responsible

Pope Francis on Monday entrusted Australian Cardinal George Pell to fix the Vatican’s scandal-plagued finances as head of the new Secretariat for the Economy. Pell will have “authority over all economic and administrative activities” in the Vatican.

Atheists giving out free memberships at conservative conference

American Atheists announced via email Monday that it will set up what it believes to be the first-ever atheist information booth at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the nation’s largest conference of conservatives from March 6-8 outside Washington, D.C.  Anyone who stops by can get a free membership in AA for a year. Says AA president David Silverman:

‘Conservative’ isn’t a synonym for ‘religious’ . . . Atheists are a growing constituency — an increasingly united constituency — and conservative legislators ignore our vote and our voice at their peril. 

50 pastors speak out against gay marriage

Today in Michigan marks the beginning of a federal trial of involving a lesbian couple wanting to adopt children. On the eve of the trial, about 50 pastors gathered in a Baptist church to speak out against gay marriage, and voice concern that the trial will undermine Michigan’s marriage amendment, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. 

Holder: State AG’s don’t have to defend gay marriage bans

Attorney General Eric Holder says his state counterparts are not required to support state laws that ban gay marriage, and compared those who refuse to with law enforcement officials who refused to back segregation. He said Monday:

If I were attorney general in Kansas in 1953, I would not have defended a Kansas statute that put in place separate-but-equal facilities.

Uganda gets attention for anti-gay law

A Ugandan newspaper today published a list of the nation’s “top 200″ homosexuals, one day after the nation’s presidents signed a bill into law that makes gay marriage and sex a crime punishable by life in prison. In response to the law, which Secretary of State Kerry called “a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights,” the U.S. is considering cutting off aid to Uganda. Here’s a world map showing where gay is illegal.

Some say American Christians share blame for Ugandan law:

800 Muslims in Catholic Church surrounded by Christian militia

A Catholic Church in the Central African Republic is protecting Muslim men, women and children who are surrounded by an armed gang of Christian militia who are threatening to kill them and the Catholic priest protecting them. The Muslims are feeling the wrath of the so-called anti-Balaka fighters who want to punish them for massacres attributed to Muslims militants who took over the northern part of the CAR but were forced from power in January.

Clash on the Temple Mount

Palestinian protesters and Israeli police faced off on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on Tuesday morning, resulting in a dozen injured. About 50 Palestinian protestors threw rocks and firecrackers, according to Israeli police. The protesters had heard that very Orthodox Jews planned to raise the Israeli flag on the Temple Mount, which is holy to Muslims and Jews. Israeli police used stun grenades and tear gas.

- 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.)


  1. I think it would be appropriate, whenever referring to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, since “Temple Mount” is the Jewish reference, to note that it is the third most holy shrine of Islam, and is known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif. That would be a more balanced representation of its sacred significance to two monotheistic faiths.

  2. As well intentioned as the P. Francis’ Green fans might be, they are exploiting the wrong saint. Francis (the original) was all about animals. The saint they want for the greening of the earth is Saint Fiacra, patron of gardeners, hemorrhoid sufferers, and taxi cab drivers (in Paris they are called Fiacras). My mom (though she was dyed in the wool Protestant) was all about this good saint and had a statue of him in her expansive garden (said statue is now in my office waiting for another garden to bless)

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