Evangelist Franklin Graham preaches during a crusade in Mobile, Ala.  (2006) Religion News Service photo by John David Mercer/The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala.

Evangelist Franklin Graham preaches during a crusade in Mobile, Ala. (2006) Religion News Service photo by John David Mercer/The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala.

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The latest in religion news has more mind-bending concepts than an episode of “Cosmos.” For example:

Gay Liberty U grad gets hired, gay activists get fired up

Ezra Klein, one of those flashy new data-driven wonk journos (yeah, I’ve got no future), gives Liberty University grad — and gay man — Brandon Ambrosino — a writing gig at his flashy new data-driven wonk news site and some on the left cry “foul” because Ambrosino’s writings aren’t so gay-friendly.

Confused? Well, gay conservative Catholic Andrew Sullivan explains it for you:

“He is unusual, in as much as his journey into gay life from religious fundamentalism inevitably makes his take on being gay a very particular – and fascinating – one. But guess what? Millions of gay people are born and brought up in fundamentalist Christian environments and families. Understanding their lives and finding a place for them in the world is something we should be striving to achieve rather than attempting to snuff out.”

Then there’s this, from us…

“Bravo, Michael Sam!” … Sam who?

When Cardinal Timothy Dolan was asked on “Meet the Press” last Sunday about top NFL prospect Michael Sam coming out as gay, the New York archbishop responded with a hearty “Bravo!” The pat on the back was seen as a welcome sign to gays and lesbians. Now it turns out Dolan didn’t know who Sam is — Dolan’s a baseball fan, ya know! So National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez walks back some of the warm and fuzzies for the cardinal, and says he is as misunderstood as Pope Francis.

Boehner invites Spanish-speaking, pro-immigrant Latino to Congress

Whether Argentine-born Pope Francis — a.k.a., Jorge Mario Bergoglio — will accept the Speaker’s invite to address a joint session of Congress during an anticipated September 2015 papal visit to Philly is unclear. No visiting pope has ever done that, and Francis is uneasy about his lack of English. If I were Congress, I might be uneasy about the distance between Francis’ approval ratings and theirs. Only Neil DeGrasse Tyson could explain it.

Worse, still, the pope is definitely a Marxist!

Yep, his pal is Munich Cardinal Reinhold Marx, who is not quite a Karl Marx type, but does speak out frequently on the failings of capitalism in ways that put him to the left of most Democrats. Cardinal Marx was just elected president of the influential German bishops conference. Francis Effect?

Francis overload?

Commonweal editor Paul Baumann, writing in Slate, says Catholics need to stop obsessing over the pope, and what he will do or won’t do: “The church’s unity and renewed vitality will be—must be—a gift that the faithful bring to the pope, and not the other way around.”

Is this what Paul means?

PS: Francis is back from retreat today. Just sayin’… Oh, and Baptists are divided over the Pope, so that’s something.

Minnesota archbishop cleared, returns to work

Police have cleared Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt of charges that he had inappropriately touched a male minor in 2009, and the prelate has returned to work. Nienstedt is a vocal social conservative who has come under fire following the leak of documents that appear to show he did not report suspected priest abusers to authorities.

Methodist pastor rips Sports Illustrated over its pin-up swimsuit issue

The Rev. Laurie Haller of Birmingham, Michigan, is fed up with the annual skin edition, and I have to say, I didn’t even know about the Swimsuit Barbie! Sister Haller preaches, read it all. A taste:

“I would like to issue an unapologetic challenge to Sports Illustrated. I ask you to publish a swimsuit issue in 2015 that features ordinary people who are making a difference, both male and female, none of who are professional models and none of whom are scantily clad.”

No sex please, we’re Hobbits

ICYMI: Albert Mohler on J.R.R. Tolkien on sex. Basically, it’s not a myth, it’s real. And dangerous: “The devil is endlessly ingenious, and sex is his favorite subject,” Tolkien insisted. “He is as good every bit at catching you through generous romantic or tender motives, as through baser or more animal ones.”

Confession leads to heart attack?

Bishop Bobby Davis, pastor and founder of the Miracle Faith World Outreach Church in Bridgeport, Conn., asked congregants to stay after services on Sunday so he could get something off his chest: he’d had an affair. Then, a congregant told the Connecticut Post, Davis suffered a fatal heart attack. He reportedly has received a “mixed response” to his confession.

Lent-loving Protestants

It’s the latest trend in ecumenism, according to Catholic News Service. Question: If we have to give up all that mutual suspicion and animus, can we keep the chocolate?

How about an ambassador for St. Patrick’s Day, Mr. President?

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is coming to the White House for St. Patrick’s Day, and the New York Times reports on why Mr. O’Bama has not managed to find an ambassador for the Emerald Isle for more than a year. Hey, is it that hard to find an Irish Catholic Democrat?

God is alive, but His voice goes silent…

From the Forward, news that Hal Douglas, a veteran voice-over artist whose distinctive, authoritative tone earned him the moniker “the voice of God,” has died at 89. “Hal was known not only for his incomparable voice, which could be heard on thousands of movie trailers, television and radio promos, commercials, documentaries, and as the spokesman for numerous broadcast networks, but also for his warmth, humility, humor, and generosity of spirit,” Sarah Douglas wrote on a memorial website for her father.

Check out the Best of the Rest from RNS …

Lots of great stuff on our home page, from a mortician’s irreverent thoughts on death to debates over Noah (and “Noah”), real bats in a real belfry, and the wrecking ball for Washington’s “ugliest church.”

And that’s it from our small corner of the universe. Have a great weekend.

David Gibson

Categories: Culture

David Gibson

David Gibson

David Gibson is an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He is a national reporter for RNS and has written two books on Catholic topics, the latest a biography of Pope Benedict XVI.


  1. Dear Rev. Graham,

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your “SCHOLARLY OPINION” regarding “sodomy”, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

    1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

    2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

    6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

    7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

    8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

    9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.

    Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

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