Illustration of a boy falling from the sky.

The sky is falling. courtesy Shutterstock

We begin today with another blockbuster poll portending religious doom and end with a note about beer.

Wednesday’s big Pew survey

The Pew Research Center’s newest survey finds the percentage of Catholic Hispanics in the U.S., now 55 percent, has taken a steep tumble. Many ex-Catholics now consider themselves religious “nones,” as in, “none of the above.”

Our data queen, Cathy Lynn Grossman, says the new poll does not necessarily mean the sky is falling, and offers some reasons why. And Mark Silk thinks there’s something wrong with the poll.

The Pew study also looks at what Hispanics believe about the spirit world. It suggests spirits are still pretty popular in modern life.

Nigeria’s kidnapped girls on the world stage

The Obama administration on Wednesday began preparing to deploy a team of military and civilian advisers to aid in the search for 300 abducted Nigerian schoolgirls.

Top religious scholars working under the world’s largest bloc of Islamic countries said they strongly condemn the kidnapping and called for the girls’ immediate release.

Hillary Clinton called the kidnapping “an act of terrorism.” (Roman Catholic Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, told Vatican Radio it was shameful.)

And NPR says the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for abducting the girls, may have killed at least 125 people in an attack on a market in a Nigerian village near the Cameroon border on Monday.

Atheists strike back

While the Supreme Court decision allowing sectarian prayer at government meetings was a blow to secular organizations, it may also lead to some unlikely alliances: Atheists wonder whether they should join forces with religious minorities.

Coming to a TV near you: American Atheists plan to launch the first television channel dedicated to atheism in July. Kimberly Winston, our expert on all things nonbelief, suggests some celebs:

Finally: Montana’s attorney general says the state will not back down in a fight with atheists that’s winding through the courts over a 6-foot-tall Jesus statue that has stood at the Whitefish Mountain Resort for decades.

Abroad and at home

All of Pakistan’s minorities — Hindus, Christians, Ahmadis and even Shi’ite Muslims — feel the state fails to protect them, and even tolerates violence against them.

The Beverly Hills City Council has condemned the government of Brunei for its “extreme and inhumane” Shariah laws and urged the nation’s sultan to sell ownership of the landmark Beverly Hills Hotel.

Taking advantage of controversy

Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev contend the death penalty is unconstitutional. They seem to be hoping the botched execution in Oklahoma might help their cause — releasing Tsarnaev from the ultimate punishment.

Orthodox Jews getting (unwanted) attention

A rabbi pleaded guilty Tuesday to masterminding a bizarre plot to lure an Israeli man to his Lakewood home where he was handcuffed, blindfolded and beaten until he agreed to give his wife a “get,” a religious divorce under Orthodox Jewish law.

Lauren Markoe looks at the outsize influence of the Orthodox movement in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

More from Moore

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is on a roll. At a speech last week, he claimed that same-sex marriage violates the nation’s founding principles and called for a new Constitution that reflects the “reverent morality” of “God’s institution.”

More on sexuality

Organizers of Utah’s biggest parade have turned down a float proposal from a Mormon faith-related LGBT group, citing too much potential for controversy.

Satan back in the headlines

A Satanic Black Mass reenactment is scheduled to take place at a Memorial Hall pub at Harvard University on May 12. The Mass, celebrated by The Satanic Temple, will be hosted by the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club.

Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert has a few choice words for the Satanic Temple, which raised $28,000 to build a Baphomet statue outside the Oklahoma State House: “What kind of poseur devil worshippers are we dealing with here?”


Good reads:

Gustav Niebuhr takes issue with a booklet from the Presbyterian Church USA’s publishing house called “Zionism Unsettled” — especially its criticism of his famous theologian grand-uncle, Reinhold, and his support for Israel:

“That these unwarranted, ignorant charges against Niebuhr and others appear in a so-called “educational resource” for the 2 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) should be an embarrassment to the latter.”

At a time when so many people are shopping for the right church or religion, Jake Meador writes a lovely blogpost about how fidelity to a place, a people, or a tradition is often its own reward.

Katherine Stewart says the Supreme Court ruling in Greece v. Galloway takes America back to a “soft” establishment of religion, a place where “one religion is informally or implicitly acknowledged as the “approved” religion of the majority and a legitimate basis for public policy.”

Vox features an interesting graphic showing that people tweet more about beer than church — except in the South.

Stay tuned for more news about the South, the North, the East and the West by clicking on the blue button below.


  1. Charles Austin

    My Op-ed page comment from The Record, Hackensack, NJ

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