Happy last day of March. Here’s what you need to know from the weekend.
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.
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.
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:
President Museveni of Uganda is at a multi-faith service in Kampala org to give thanks for the harsh anti-homosexuality bill he signed Feb.
— Robert Pigott (@PigottRobert) March 31, 2014
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:
That we may be released from the icy grip of winter, we beseech thee, O Lord. pic.twitter.com/sXTkyvmx68
— Unvirtuous Abbey (@UnvirtuousAbbey) March 31, 2014