Are these the guys who are really running the Vatican?

Are these the guys who are really running the Vatican? Via Shutterstock

Good morning. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest news in religion, plus some other stuff that is basically a time suck, which makes us a lot like the rest of the Internet, only better. I mean, who else would point you to the awesome news that there will be another “Battlestar Galactica” reboot? Sci-fi theologians unite!

So here goes:

Brandeis reverses course, won’t honor Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali

She is a campaigner for women’s rights but also a fierce critic of Islam, and the news a week ago that the university would give Hirsi Ali an honorary degree prompted a backlash. As the NYT reports, Hirsi Ali has called the religion “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.” Brandeis says: “We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” What say ye?

Is Chick-fil-A the next Firefox?

Speaking of crusades, the fried chicken chain is coming to New York, in a big way, and is promising a range of healthy ingredients and healthy chickens (except that they’re dead). And CEO Dan Cathy, an evangelical Christian who closes the stores on Sundays, has even rued his brief foray into the culture wars by publicly stating his opposition to gay marriage. But this is the Big Apple: “Should these new PR moves make you forgive and forget or does the stink of bigotry outweigh the delicious smell of waffle fries?” asks Nell Casey at the Gothamist. When you put it like that, I’ll go for the spuds. See you at their Chelsea location!

The perils of self-righteousness, Part One

The online dating site OkCupid was a leader in the effort to oust Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich after it was revealed that Eich had donated $1000 to support the Prop 8 anti-gay marriage initiative in 2008. Eich was forced out, and OkCupid did a happy dance. Now it turns out that OkCupid’s own CEO, Sam Yagan, once donated to the campaign of Utah Republican Chris Cannon, who opposes gay rights and abortion among other things. Yagan now says he didn’t know that, and besides, it was business, not personal.

The perils of self-righteousness, Part Two

Lip-locking Louisiana congressman Vance McAllister is getting no reprieve from Rod Dreher, even if the country as a whole is likely to forgive and forget: “This guy, my Congressman, for whom I voted, blaming the liberals for everything, exploiting his wife and children to get himself elected, then running off and having an affair with his friend’s wife … Vance McAllister has got to be the sleaziest politician in Louisiana, and brother, that’s saying something.”

UPDATE: McAllister is asking the FBI to investigate how the security video that showed him canoodling with his staffer was leaked, and who did it. “Whatever happened to shame,” asks Mark DeMoss.

By the way, McAllister was endorsed by the Duck Dynasty crew…

Look what they’re up to now:

My own colleagues are quite funny, too…

As are our friends…

There’s never a Vulcan around when you need one

Otherwise Star Trek commander Kathryn Janeway – a.k.a., Kate Mulgrew – might have been stopped from narrating a really weird new film that promotes Geocentrism, a.k.a. the idea that the Sun revolves around the Earth. Huh? Yeah. Now she says she was duped: “I am not a geocentrist, nor am I in any way a proponent of geocentrism,” Mulgrew said. “I was a voice for hire, and a misinformed one, at that.” I can’t even understand the trailer. It makes “Cosmos” sound like “Sesame Street.”

The Vatican is “Area 51″?

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue often comes in for a lot of criticism — and seems to relish it — but I have to give him this one: Wild Bill flags a “Science Channel” (scare quotes intentional) “documentary” (also intentional) that claims that “new evidence may prove the Vatican is hiding actual aliens from the public.” Seriously. It’s whackadoodle. I mean, Pope Francis is all for welcoming immigrants, but WTH? Maybe they’re playing cards with Pope Joan.

DATELINE Pakistan: An illiterate couple is sentenced to death for texting

You read that right. A Christian couple was convicted of blasphemy for allegedly writing texts that defamed Islam even though they can’t read or write. “We are not surprised by such verdicts. The trial courts are under pressure to convict the accused,” the Rev. Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace told The Tablet. We can still be outraged, I think.

Pope Francis on Syria, and his martyred brother Jesuit

The pontiff spoke this morning about the execution of the Rev. Frans van der Lugt, who stayed in beseiged Homs to support the people, Christian and Muslim, and was shot to death this week. CNS has a translation:

His brutal murder filled me with with deep sadness and made me think again of all the people who suffer and are dying in that martyred country, already too long a victim of a bloody conflict that continues to sow death and destruction. I also remember the numerous people who have been kidnapped — Christians and Muslims, Syrians and people from other countries, among whom there are bishops and priests. We ask the Lord to grant that they may quickly return to their loved ones and families and communities.”

“From my heart, I ask you all to join my prayer for peace in Syria and in the region, and I launch a heartfelt appeal to Syrian leaders and to the international community: Silence the weapons! Put an end to the violence! No more war! No more destruction! May there be respect for humanitarian law, care for the people who need humanitarian assistance and may the desired peace be reached through dialogue and reconciliation.”

Godless givers going to Chicago

Nonbelievers are gathering there in July to launch a Peace Corps-type organization and explore other ways to expand giving by nontheists. “It’s not a matter of being good people or bad people. It’s about having this systematic giving model tied into your worldview,” Dale McGowan, executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief tells the Tribune’s Manya Brachear Pashman.

Why “Masculine Christianity” is Misguided

That’s the title of Dale Coulter’s essay at First Things. His walkaway: “The use of masculine and feminine metaphors for God and the soul within Christian tradition points toward the latent potential for more within the image of God as male and female. It undermines Christianity to say that it has a “masculine” feel. Instead, Christianity has a human feel.”

Move over Maccabeats. It’s Passover …

… and “Frozen” is the 11th plague. We need a remix to warm us up. Cue “Six13″:

The Best of the Rest from RNS:

I think that’ll do it for today. Keep moving forward, and we’ll see you back in this space tomorrow.

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. The geocentric movie has proven once and for all that fundamentalist Christians really do feel like they are entitled to their own facts.

    Is this some kind of Andy Kaufman-esque gag on the paucity of science education and insanity of fundamentalist belief?

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