Here are some top talkers from the weekend. If you’re sick of everything Easter, skip down to 6.

1. Church planting took a whole new meaning yesterday: Easter shared the calendar with a pot-lover’s highest holiday: April 20. Here’s how churches embraced the opportunity. As we’ve reported, faith leaders are wrestling with the growing support for marijuana. 

2. In his Easter message, Pope Francis made calls for world peace, especially in troubled lands, such as Syria, Ukraine and the Middle East. As an unrelated-to-Easter-side-note, here’s a piece on why how Pope Francis rides matters.

3. The Obama family celebrated Easter at the Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins’ Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. with 250 other congregants. By the way, is church dress getting tacky? Some are concerned. Plus, for many black women, dressing up for church, especially with a fabulous hat, has been essential. But society and fashions have changed.

4. In quirky Easter news, NPR spotlights the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, a church across the street from Walt Disney World with no permanent members, hosted tens of thousands of worshipers on Easter. By the way, during Lent, a part-time youth minister in Texas dressed like a convict for 40 days to highlight the obstacles inmates face on returning to society.

5. Final Easter-related story: American Atheists, in an effort to raise awareness and attract new members, held their annual conference over Easter weekend in the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

6. “Heaven Is for Real,” produced by megachurch pastor T.D. Jakestook in an estimated $21.5 million over Easter weekend, Hollywood’s fourth overtly faith-based hit of the year. For conservative Christians, however, the film is “the theological equivalent of feasting on marshmallow Peeps and calling it Easter,” writes Cathy Grossman. Other films like “Noah,” “Son of God” and “God’s Not Dead” have already performed quite well in the box office, and even more religious-themed movies on the way. “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is scheduled for December.

7. Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice said anti-Semitic leaflets distributed in Ukraine were “utterly sickening” and that Obama has expressed his disgust. Ukraine’s prime minister vowed to punish people behind fliers ordering Jews to register.

8. Obama could grant clemency to “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of people locked up for nonviolent drug crimes, a number not seen since former President Gerald Ford extended amnesty to Vietnam draft dodgers in the 1970s.

9. Buddhist monks have cremated the remains of Sherpa guides who were buried in the deadliest avalanche to hit Mount Everest. The disaster has prompted calls for a climbing boycott by Nepal’s ethnic Sherpa community, which could critically disrupt the Everest climbing season.

10. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the Church of England still holds an indirect investment in short-term loan company Wonga, even though he branded its activities “morally wrong” nine months ago. He says he doesn’t have the authority to tell the church’s investment arm to sell it. Welby also spoke in interview on the anguish he feels over same-sex marriage and the Anglican divide. Speaking of that divide, a friendship has formed between two ministers is considered an intriguing development in a feud that has split the Episcopal Church since the denomination elected an openly gay bishop a decade ago.

And here’s a tweet from the weekend:

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. I am so glad the pot smokers appropriated April 20 for a holiday of mellowness. It also happens to also be Hitler’s birthday. A date usually associated with crazy homicidal white people running amok. (Columbine massacre, etc). Say what you want about pot but I have never witnessed a person who was stoned and violent at the same time.

  2. Re biblical movies, Valerie Tarico has written the synopsis for five more. I might even pay to see these ones.

    “After Noah: Five Potential Blockbusters from the Book of Genesis”

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