Happy last day of March. Here’s what you need to know from the weekend.

Russell Crowe (foreground) is Noah in "Noah", from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises. Photo by Niko Tavernise, courtesy of Grace Hill Media

Russell Crowe (foreground) is Noah in “Noah”, from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises. Photo by Niko Tavernise, courtesy of Grace Hill Media

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1. “Noah” rose to the top of box office over the weekend, bringing in an estimated $44 million. But the bigger surprise — again — was “God’s Not Dead,” finishing fifth at the box office with about $9 million for the second week in a row. Meanwhile, the rapture movie based on the “Left Behind” books starring Nicholas Cage is set to release on Oct. 3. Are biblical films here to stay? Deadline crunches the numbers.

2. Pope Francis broke protocol by confessing his sins to a priest at a Vatican basilica (video). Rocco Palmo wrote, “no Pope has ever been seen as a penitent.”

3. Mormon women from three organizations gather in Salt Lake City for what leaders called an historic meeting. More than 20,000 LDS girls and women gathered while millions more watched in Mormon meetinghouses across the globe, bringing together for the first time LDS females from 8 years old to 80 and older.

4. American mediators held urgent talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials Sunday in hopes of salvaging faltering Mideast peace talks. Secretary of State John Kerry will head to the region.

5. The ousted president of the Vatican bank was cleared in a money-laundering investigation, and accused the bank’s board of causing “grave damage” to the Holy See by firing him in 2012. A Vatican bank fraud was foiled after suspects were stopped with 1.2 billion euros in forged bonds.

6. Enrollment at Utah higher ed schools has gone down, and officials say a lower minimum age for Mormon missionaries has helped drive the trend, especially among younger women.

7. Studies have shown that churchgoers give more of their discretionary income to charitable causes, but atheists, humanists and others are planning a July conference in Chicago to promote giving.

8. One Anglican bishop in Uganda draws in many congregants who are gay in a country where other Christian preachers have led Uganda to pass laws on homosexuality that include life in prison in some cases. Meanwhile, a religion reporter for the BBC reports the following in a tweet:

9. A prominent European rabbi defended Danish zoo’s recent slaying of animals, criticizing Denmark’s new regulation last month that made it illegal to slaughter animals without stunning, posing a problem for Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter.

10. Rick and Kay Warren held a conference at Saddleback Church in California on Friday addressing mental health. Their son Matthew died by suicide a year ago in April. Churches must do more to address mental illness, the couple argue.

Bonus: Brian Pellot rounds up all the religious freedom news from the month of March.

Finally, a prayer for our week:


Categories: Beliefs

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a national correspondent for RNS, covering how faith intersects with politics, culture and other news. She previously served as online editor for Christianity Today where she remains an editor-at-large.


  1. Sarah, I’m concerned that a point above is misleading.

    Specifically, you write (#7) that “Studies have shown that churchgoers give more of their discretionary income to charitable causes”

    That’s simply false. What these studies have shown is that churchgoers give more of their income *to churches*, which I hope no one finds as a surprise.

    As long as media writers continue to allow churches to call themselves “charities”, the real giving to real charities will continue to be hidden behind religion’s self-promotion.

    Looking at the numbers, one finds that giving to actual charities is not something that churchgoers do more of:

    More to the point, continuing to repeat the falsehood that churchgoers give more to charity not only helps churches line their own pockets, but obscures that fact that this money could have been put towards actual charities, thus, in effect, hurting real charities and those people in need that they serve.

    Thank you.

    • Excellent point. Thank you. So-called charity stays exclusively within the church family, unless being used primarily for proselytizing (Salvation Army, etc.) or for making money (i.e. hospitals). If our government did not provide support for Christian “charities”, there would be more charity available for all, whether Christian or non-Christian.

  2. The European rabbi didn’t defend the Danish zoo’s killing of animals, he criticized Denmark itself, stating that its supposed concerns about animal-welfare abuses in ritual slaughter were a sham.

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