Washington may lose the Rev. Amy Butler to New York. America is losing innocents to death row. And religious soldiers are losing their cases for exemptions to the U.S. Army dress code.

Riverside Church to Amy Butler: preach here!

Riverside Church in Manhattan is wooing the Rev. Amy Butler, who would be the first woman to lead the 83-year-old congregation. Butler has done a bang up job in D.C., where 11 years ago she took the struggling Calvary Baptist Church and made it into a center of Washington religious life, reports our own Sarah Pulliam Bailey. If you’re unfamiliar with Butler, here are her five reflections for Good Friday.

Riverside Church in Manhattan has recommended the Rev. Amy Butler as its seventh senior minister, the first woman in its 83-year-old history. Photo courtesy of Amy Butler

Riverside Church in Manhattan has recommended the Rev. Amy Butler as its seventh senior minister, the first woman in its 83-year-old history. Photo courtesy of Amy Butler

This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.


Cardinal Bertone: Pope Francis is not upset with me

Reports in the Italian media have it that Pope Francis thinks former Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone broke the Holy See’s unofficial modesty code when he moved into his lavish 6,500-square-foot Vatican City apartment. In an open letter, Bertone said Francis called him to say how sorry he was that the media attacked over his new pad. The Cardinal added that he renovated his San Carlo Palace flat at his own expense.

Pro-gay church people

The United Church of Christ sued the state of North Carolina on Monday over its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Grounds? The 2012 amendment violates the religious freedom of its clergy, says the UCC. That makes it the first church in the country to attack a same-sex marriage ban as a violation of religious freedom, our own Yonat Shimron writes.

Anti-gay church people

Meanwhile, the conservative wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion — made up chiefly of Anglican archbishops in Africa, Asia and Latin America — equated the experiences of Ugandans who support a new anti-gay law with those of victims of an earthquake or a terror attack. The law calls for life imprisonment for those guilty of certain homosexual acts. Uganda, by the way, is drafting more anti-gay laws.

Dress blues

The new Army Service Uniform is rooted in tradition.

The new Army Service Uniform is rooted in tradition. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

A new Pentagon policy aimed to make it easier for soldiers to respect their religious beliefs and the military dress code went into effect on January 22. So far two soldiers have requested exemptions. As Reuters reports, both were refused.

Just try to get an exemption from the health care law . . .

Your denomination can attempt to qualify for an exemption to the Affordable Care Act on religious grounds, but it will probably fail. There’s a clause in the act that allows people of certain religions an exemption from the “insure or pay a fine” requirement. But it applies only to denominations that operate “mutual aid’ systems to provide for congregants’ health care. Let’s just say that even the Christian Scientists don’t get an exemption.

Study: One in 25 death penalty inmates is innocent

A new statistical study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that about four percent of those given death sentences in the U.S. are likely innocent. That would mean that at least several of the 1,320 people executed since 1977 did not commit the crime. Meanwhile, Ohio has raised the dose of a sedative and painkiller in its lethal injection after the January execution of a man whose family said suffered horribly as he was killed.

Bonus tracks

Michelle Boorstein pens a profile of low-key Archbishop Donald Wuerl, and explains why he is a “power player” under Pope Francis.

I don’t know if it will make Israelis feel better after he embraced Hamas last week, but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ remarks on Holocaust Remembrance Day might qualify as groundbreaking.

Many U.S. Jewish groups criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for suggesting that, without a peace deal, Israel will become an “apartheid state.” Kerry now says he shouldn’t have used the “a” word.

We won

Religion News Service took home the top honor for a news service from the Associated Church Press. RNS blogger Jonathan Merritt won for commentary. National correspondent Adelle Banks racked up too many awards to mention them all (there were five!), but among them: her piece on how children conceived through rape are opening up a new front in the abortion wars. She and RNS Photo Editor Sally Morrow also took the lead on RNS’ winning project, “The March,” on the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

To help you procrastinate

You won’t be missing vital information if you fail to watch the following. But it is sorta religion-oriented and funny as heck: the Jewish James Bond video.

– Lauren Markoe

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Categories: Beliefs

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe covered government and features as a daily newspaper reporter for 15 years before joining the Religion News Service staff as a national correspondent in 2011. She previously was Washington correspondent for The State (Columbia, S.C.)


  1. I find Kerry overly dramatic with his sloppy metaphors and cries of alarm. His remarks have inflamed the Ukraine situation, the Syrian situation (think God Europe ignored him), and now the Israeli situation. I oppose Israeli statements on the West Bank but Israel is hardly an apartheid state in how its treats Christian and Muslim Arab citizens. Kerry is tactless. not a good thing in a diplomat.

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