We begin today in two religion hotspots: Nashville and Rome.

Southern Baptists talk marriage and sex

In Nashville, controversial sociologist Mark Regnerus told a gathering of Southern Baptists what they might have wanted to hear. According to his newest study, there’s a relationship between people’s religious affiliation and their behavior when it comes to sex and marriage. (To wit: Only 10 percent of Mormons had premarital sex compared to 50 percent of evangelicals.)

Meanwhile, blogger Mark Silk examines what it means for Russell Moore, the SBC ethics czar, to concede that the denomination is now a “moral minority” when it comes to public opinion.

Saints Cyril and Methodius in stained glass

Saints Cyril and Methodius in stained glass. courtesy Shutterstock

All eyes on Sunday saint-making

In Rome, two popular popes will be canonized by a third popular pope this Sunday. Our Vatican correspondent wonders if these canonizations are nothing more than an elaborate public relations exercise. Need a cheat sheet about John Paul II and John XXIII? We’ve got you covered.

Meanwhile, Maureen Dowd at The New York Times lets it rip:

“John Paul was a charmer, and a great man in many ways. But given that he presided over the Catholic Church during nearly three decades of a gruesome pedophilia scandal and grotesque cover-up, he ain’t no saint.”

And this just in: Pope Francis has phoned a divorced and remarried Catholic woman in Argentina to tell her she could “safely receive Communion.” Explanation: This may have potential ramifications for Catholic doctrine on divorce and remarriage.

Army extends recognition

The U.S. Army will now recognize humanists as a “religious preference.” This is big news, and as reporter Adelle M. Banks writes, “The religious preference designation could mean that humanist chaplains aren’t far behind.”

Evolution and climate change widely doubted

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 billion years ago, an Associated Press-GfK poll found.

Spy and get a green card

Four Muslim men have filed a lawsuit accusing the United States of violating their rights by placing or keeping them on the no-fly list after they declined to spy on local Muslim communities in New York, New Jersey and Nebraska.

Anti-Semitism watch

The mayor of the Missouri hometown of Frazier Glenn Miller resigned after saying he agreed with some of the anti-Semitic views of the suspected killer of three people at Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City, Kan. As the Los Angeles Times notes, there are consequences to befriending a white supremacist.

Meanwhile, over in Ukraine, a Holocaust memorial and the grave of the brother of the late Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson have been defaced, the Ukrainian newspaper Sevastopolskaya Gazeta reported.

Has Birthright finally peaked?

Concerned about declining interest in its free 10-day trips to Israel, the Taglit-Birthright program has hired a marketing agency to seek out new participants, targeting college students with little or no connection to the Jewish community.

Offensive tattoo

A British woman has been arrested and is facing deportation in Sri Lanka over a Buddha tattoo on her arm. Michelle Coleman, who has a tattoo of a Buddha seated on a lotus flower on her right arm, was arrested for ‘hurting others’ religious feelings,’ a police spokesman said.

Cheap thrills

A new study suggests God is the perfect rebound relationship.

A strip club in Guelph, Ontario, is holding church services right on the stage next to the stripper pole.

Deep thoughts

Peter Ochs, a professor of modern Jewish studies, writes about the need for Jews to recover a belief in God post Holocaust by learning to reread Scripture, aka Torah.

“Without a God of history, who is with us in our death, however horrible, as well as in our life, I fear there is no way for our faith to be brought back to life.”

Christianity Today has an interesting interview with Dave Garrison who documents in a new book what he calls a “global surge” of Muslims converting to Christianity, but not in West.

A Happy copycat

Finally, the the infectious Pharrell Williams song, “Happy” has engendered copycat videos across the world, including a version featuring British Muslims. Yesterday, Muslims gathered in Washington’s McPherson Square  to videotape their own version. Here’s the British clip:

Before you set out to do your own Happy video, be sure to sign up below for more copycat ideas:

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