All over but the shoutin’

A rally in support of traditional marriage was held on the Capitol lawn Thursday, with the likes of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. But if the several thousand marchers wanted to demonstrate the power of biblical values, they picked the wrong day.

At about the same time, the Presbyterian Church USA meeting in Detroit voted to allow gays and lesbians to wed in church, joining, among others, the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements,  the United Church of Christ, and the Unitarian Universalists.

A majority of the 172 regional presbyteries must still vote to ratify marriage equality language in the Book of Order. But given that many congregations upset about previous votes to ordain gays and lesbians have already decamped to more conservative redoubts, approval is likely.

Check this website later today for more Presbyterian news as the assembly takes on divestment from companies that profit from  Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

In other signs marriage for straight-only couples is out: President Obama is directing the Labor Department to create rules making sure that gay couples are eligible for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Turning lemons into lemonade

An atheist will deliver the invocation at a July 15 board meeting in the town of Greece, N.Y., the municipality involved in the recent Greece v. Galloway Supreme Court ruling.

That ruling, in which justices said sectarian prayer at government meetings is OK, is already having ramifications elsewhere.

In South Carolina, a school board plans to revisit its non-sectarian prayer policy in favor of one that allows people to voice more explicit prayers.

Two action figures

Action figures.Christian Bertrand /">courtesy Shutterstock

The Middle-East breakup

Iraqi forces are massing north of Baghdad, aiming to strike back at Sunni Islamists pushing toward the capital. Meanwhile, the spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiite majority called for a new, “effective” government Friday.

Two fascinating historical reads on how Iraq got into this mess: Jeffrey Goldberg on the inevitable break-up of Iraq. And in The Daily Beast, an article about Gertrude Bell, the British intelligence agent who “invented” Iraq.

But for the best story out of the larger Middle East, get this: The Washington Post reports that the CIA began secretly developing a ­custom-made Osama bin Laden ­action figure. The face of the figure was painted with a heat-dissolving material, designed to peel off and reveal a red-faced bin Laden who looked like a demon.

Vatican watch

Pope Francis has come out strongly against the legalization of recreational drugs.

A place to hang your head

Today is World Refugee Day, and a U.N. agency says there are now more than 50 million displaced people in the world. Read about the groups motivated by their faith to help them.

Ralph Reed is back in business

At a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference ahead of the 2016 elections, leading Republicans insisted America’s leaders must do more to defend Christian values at home and abroad.

Heritage dustup

Remember that Heritage Foundation panel earlier this week in which female Muslim attendee, Saba Ahmed, was taunted by the panelists? She wrote about the experience in The Washington Post.

“I was alone and felt unwelcomed. Such a hostile, unfriendly environment doesn’t benefit anyone.”

Eat, Pray, Yoga

On the trails of best-selling writer Elizabeth Gilbert,  a reporter for The New York Times travels to  Rishikesh, the place where yoga originated. It’s nestled amid the Himalayas, due north of New Delhi.

For more ways to turn on your inner Zen, subscribe to the Roundup. See you back here Monday.



  1. You are a bit early on saying that the ELCA allows gay and lesbian weddings. We officially accept gay and lesbian ministers (the only official church wide action taken so far). While it will happen – and does in some areas already – it is not policy or a church wide action.

      • Rev. Albert W. Kovacs, UCC

        Marriage of other than a man and woman is prohibited by pastors or in churches of the Calvin Synod Conference of the United Church of Christ.
        All ministers and church officers may not conduct nor participate in such unions. The Synod does not recognize pseudo-marriages, and requires chastity in singleness and fidelity in marriage of a man and woman.

      • Yonat, I was a voting member at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA, and I can affirm that your original statement, which was no longer in evidence at the time I viewed today’s RoundUp, was most likely correct. Mr. Balaban is incorrect. I am dismayed that you altered your original posting on the basis of Mr. Balaban’s statement. A simple check of Wikipedia after he posted what he posted would have given you pause. There you would have read:

        [The Assembly adopted the following resolutions:]

        Resolution 1: Adopted by a vote of 619-402: “Resolved, that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”[23]

        Resolution 2: Adopted by a vote of 559-451: “Resolved, that the ELCA commit itself to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.”[24]

        I was there. I voted for these resolutions.

        Please consider reverting your edits to your original statement. Thank you.

        • P.S. Your colleague, Lauren Markoe, wrote in the 6/19 story on the PCUSA vote (to which you linked):

          “The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ all allow same-sex marriage.”

          She’s right. Mr. Balaban is not. And now you’re not, either. Can you please correct this?

  2. The article on Gertrude Bell is ridiculous, as pointed out by knowledgeable commentators (whose comments the blog does not allow me to return to). Example: the article claims the Hashemite monarchy ended in 1938 when it fact the kings ruled until 1958, when The Baath party staged a coup, with Saddam quickly eliminating his Baath rivals and taking over. Bell was not important in drawing Iraq’s boundaries. This article is a deliberately created myth based on the real life of a British spy who, like Lawrence, was shoved aside when the real British imperial honchos took over and drew the boundaries.

  3. The “leaders’ of right wing “Christian” causes know a golden egg when they sit on it. they are in the fund raising business, for their own enrichment, one of the many legal cons done under the aegis of “non-profit” corporation. Winning the cause does not matter, getting the contributions to pour in is all that matters to these operators.

  4. PCUSA = Titanic.

    I urge all Bible-believing Presbyterians to leave that ship immediately. They are sinking VERY fast. Denominational hypothermia is imminent. Get off that ship, Christians.

  5. “Pope Francis has come out strongly against the legalization of recreational drugs.”

    Well, at least that makes it clear where he stands on science. He rejects abundant scientific evidence that the prohibition of drugs has been a disastrous public policy failure all around the world. If he was truly concerned about addiction issues he would accept the fact that the best way to prevent addiction, and to deal with current addicts, is to legalize and regulate drugs. Drug use is a public health issue not a criminal issue. It makes no sense legally, medically, or morally to continue to criminalize drug users.

  1. […] Presbyterian marriage * Middle East breakup * Yoga's birthplace: Friday's …Religion News ServiceA rally in support of traditional marriage was held on the Capitol lawn Thursday, with the likes of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. But if the several thousand marchers wanted to demonstrate the …and more » […]

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