There’s a lot of news out there, and you’re probably not interested in all of it (except all the super awesome stuff we do here at RNS). So in an effort to make life easier on you, dear readers, here’s today’s news for your geographic reading pleasure:

Alligator in Blue Swamp, via Shutterstock.

Alligator in Blue Swamp, via Shutterstock. Shutterstock


It’s totally kosher to eat alligator on Fridays during Lent, according to New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond, although other meat is still verboten. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops points out: “Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.” Glad that’s settled.


Our own David Gibson has a masterful primer in how to understand Pope Francis: Understand the Jesuits. Meanwhile, the Pope Francis, um, critics are coming out in force in time for his one-year anniversary tomorrow: Catholic blogger John Vennari calls him a theological “train wreck.” Alrighty then. Meanwhile, victims’ advocates have compiled a summary of the pope’s actions on abuse cases when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.


If you’re part of the 10 percent of American Protestants who attend a “multisite” church and like watching your pastor on a movie screen, you’re not alone: A new study finds multisite congregations growing, and in most cases, thriving.  Interesting tidbit we learned: Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, which is paying nearly $9 million to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA), is seeking the divorce, in part, because PCUSA leaders didn’t want the church to go multisite.


Brothers Avrohom and Moshe Goldstein agreed to plead guilty to being part of violent scheme to threaten Jewish husbands to grant their wives a “get,” or Jewish divorce. Another Brooklyn man pleaded guilty last week.


Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt will presumably return to work soon after prosecutors said the outspoken culture warrior won’t face charges after a boy alleged Nienstedt touched his backside during a confirmation photo. Nienstedt placed himself on leave last year pending an investigation.


OK, this has absolutely nothing to do with religion, but ya gotta read it: A 22-pound cat went “over the edge” after being kicked in the butt and managed to barricade its owners in a bedroom. Gold star to NPR for the headline: “Seriously: Angry fat cat traps family in bedroom.” You’re welcome.

Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen is senior pastor at Lakewood Church. He also has his own organization, Joel Osteen Ministries. RNS file photo courtesy of Lakewood Church.

This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.


Which is more remarkable — that someone managed to swipe $600,000 from Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, or that the nation’s largest church manages to pull in $600,000 in one otherwise average weekend? According to reports, that’s $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in checks.


In a rare display of bipartisan agreement, the House approved a bill that expands exemptions to Obamacare for people who don’t want to buy insurance for religious reasons. We’re guessing this also applies to those health-sharing ministries, but it’s not clear.


We’ll let the Religion Dispatches headline say it all: “A Muslim on the Banning of Noah: It’s Not You, Russell Crowe, It’s Me” And then this: the film’s director calls it the “least biblical film ever made.


Jesus is getting his own show on Adult Swim. “Black Jesus,” according to The Hollywood Reporter, “finds Jesus living in present-day Compton, Calif., on a daily mission to spread love and kindness throughout the neighborhood with the help of his small but loyal group of downtrodden followers.”


Call it the fight over the old rugged roadside cross: Lake Elsinore, Calif., is in the middle of its second — or third, depending on who’s counting — public fight over whether crosses can and should be erected on public lands.


Omid Safi — a guy who’s not shy about sharing his opinions — is a bit, um, incensed over President Obama’s (HILARIOUS!!!!!) sit-down with Zach Galifianakis. Or as some fans love to call him, Fat Jesus.


Laura Turner takes Loneoak Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., to task for its evangelistic gun give-away.

The BBC talks to folks who believe they can raise the dead — if only they can get access to more bodies. “Practice makes perfect,” says practitioner Donna Leppitt. There’s even a “Deadraiser” documentary. H/t to HuffPo for this chestnut.


Mark Silk is quite relieved that he can still get tunafish sandwiches at the recently-shuttered-but-now-reopened kosher Crown Market.


Israeli lawmakers (well, some of them) approved a bill to get more ultra-Orthodox men to serve in the Israeli military; full-time Torah students had been exempt from the draft for decades, but the controversial new bill restricts those exemptions.


As the search for that doomed Malaysia Airlines flight gets more and more bizarre (and troubling), a Jewish man identified only as “Andy” says he cheated death by not boarding the plane because he didn’t want to fly on the Sabbath.


You’ve no doubt heard of the Christian exodus from large swaths of the Middle East; now there’s a Muslim exodus from Bangui, the strife-torn capital of the Central African Republic where fewer than 1,000 Muslims remain.


Norwegian Cruise Lines says it won’t send any more ships to stops in Tunisia after local officials wouldn’t let Israel citizens disembark at the Port of Tunis.

And with that, while we can’t see the weekend from here, at least it’s hump day. Make sure we have your email address below so we can send you the daily Roundup for free, regardless of which dateline city you call home. And if you really like what we do here at RNS, we’d encourage you to throw a little coin in the kitty.


  1. Regarding Obamacare, it’s my understanding that health-sharing ministries were specifically allowed under the law. There is no need to carve out an extra-legal exemption.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.