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And before we get to the news, a special shout-out to our veterans and their families on this Memorial Day weekend, particularly those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you.

Now, on to the news …

Pope Francis leaves tomorrow for his three-day drive-by of the Holy Land and the mayor of Bethlehem hopes Francis will urge her constituents to “remain rooted to this land, notwithstanding the numerous Israeli policies intended to make life difficult for all Palestinians.”

Church of BeyonceBut move over, Francis. There’s a new church on the block. The Church of Beyonce. Of course.

Is your head spinning from the flurry of court rulings striking down state bans on gay marriage? Don’t worry — I explain it all for you here, with five reasons gay marriage is winning.

Speaking of, former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, who oversaw the dismantling of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell in the military, is the new head of the Boy Scouts, which has its own gay ban to wrestle with.

Good question posed (and answered) by our own David Gibson: “Are American nuns paying for the sins of a Jesuit priest who died in the 1950s?”

Cover of Phil Roberston's new book, "Happy, Happy, Happy," via A&E.  http://bit.ly/1aHvjSS

Cover of Phil Roberston’s new book, “Happy, Happy, Happy,” via A&E.
http://bit.ly/1aHvjSS

One of the sons of “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson says his outspoken father is a “21st-century prophet.” Which is maybe true, because John the Baptist wouldn’t win any fashion or grooming awards, either.

From the Dept. of Tell Us How You Really Feel: Meghan McCain has choice words about her father’s running mate in 2008: “I think my father could have had Jesus Christ as his running mate, and it wouldn’t have mattered.”

Remember the Oklahoma cop who didn’t want to attend a law enforcement appreciation day at a local mosque, because it violated his Christian beliefs? A federal appeals court sided with his bosses, saying they were right to suspend him for not following orders.

The Creation Museum in Kentucky is going public with a new dinosaur skeleton that they say is about 4,300 years old — the poor fella drowned in Noah’s flood, they say.

Lovely: Tennessee officials say they’ll fire up Ol’ Sparky if they can’t get the right combination of drugs to carry out state executions.

Update on every religion reporter’s favorite Jewish source, Brandeis historian Jonathan Sarna: His condition has been upgraded from “critical” to “serious.” Godspeed, Jonathan.

If you’ve been following the saga of megachurch pastor C.J. Mahaney and the ongoing probe into sexual abuse at his former Maryland church, he’s breaking his silence. To say that he can’t say anything. Except that “I have never conspired to protect a child predator.”

Not sure I totally understand the legal ramifications here, but the Washington Supreme Court sided with a group of employees who pack those oh-so-tasty meals they serve on airplanes. Citing security, the company wouldn’t allow employees to bring their own lunches, and fed them instead. Except they served meatballs that contained pork, which violated the employees’ religious requirements.

The head of the Austrian branch of the Catholic reform group We Are Church has been excommunicated for celebrating Mass without a priest. In typical We Are Church fashion, Martha and Gert Heizer refuse to go quietly.

Speaking of, a 45-year veteran of Catholic schools in Cincinnati is quitting because of a new contract that requires employees not to support gay causes. Says Richard Hague:

“I simply cannot believe that Jesus would require me to condemn my friends, nor that Jesus would require me to report any of my colleagues who supported, even loved, gay persons, nor do I believe for a moment that Jesus would punish me for my earlier ministry.”

When is a kiss more than just a kiss? When you’re Iranian actress Leila Hatami, and you get a red carpet smooch from the president of the Cannes Film Festival, and now a group of Iranian students thinks you should get 50 lashes for violating standards of Iranian womanhood.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is getting a little antsy that the State Department still won’t add Pakistan or Syria — SYRIA!!! — to its list of the worst violators of religious freedom.

And finally, this:

 

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