Welcome to the Friday edition of the Roundup in which we tell you what’s coming up and what you may have missed.

Coming up: Saturday will likely mark the beginning of Ramadan (depending on the sighting of the moon).

Just in time: Twitter has rolled out a bunch of interactive features including special icons, instant iftar times, and an interactive map that shows where people are talking about Ramadan.

In London, the AP reports that before the fast, there’s a shopping feast.

Here at RNS Central we were all awaiting the much-anticipated Hobby Lobby decision. (It will be released Monday).

You may have missed this SCOTUS ruling:

The Supremes ruled that a buffer zone of 35 feet outside abortion clinics violates the free speech rights of sidewalk counselors trying to stop patients who seek abortions.

In Chicago, anti-abortion activists celebrated because it may mean that the city’s “bubble zone” ordinance near medical facilities may also be struck down.

Sarah Posner, over at Religion Dispatches, had a different take. Her article “Your uterus is ‘an important subject’ about which your fellow citizens ‘wish to converse,’” contends the ruling is an invasion of privacy, if not a form of harassment.

We wouldn’t blame you if you missed the latest on Meriam Ibrahim and other stories:

We’re having a hard time keeping up: The Christian mother formerly on death row in Sudan has taken refuge at the U.S. Embassy after being released from police custody for a second time. Her husband is a U.S. citizen.

Hot off the Internet press: The Republican National Committee launches a major web-based effort to rally evangelicals behind the party. David Gibson says it’s an indication the GOP isn’t taking its evangelical base for granted.

Remember the story from earlier this week about how atheists are now asking to give invocations at town meetings, following the Greece v. Galloway Supreme Court decision, which allowed sectarian prayer at government meetings?

Well, in Huntsville, Ala., a Wiccan priest who had been scheduled to offer the prayer at Thursday’s Huntsville City Council meeting, was notified Wednesday that the invitation had been rescinded.

“I guess somebody got the collywobbles,” the Wiccan said.

On the gay marriage front, Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, waxes lyrical about Antonin Scalia, calling the justice a prophet for anticipating the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Two instances of retrenchment for your reading pleasure:

1. The Roman Catholic bishop of Madison (Wis.) is now requiring priests to coordinate any decision on baptizing the children of gay couples with his office. It appears that office wants to verify that the parent “truly intends to raise the child in the faith and all that means.”

2. The board of World Vision appears to be steering the ship in a more evangelical direction. Most telling: World Vision is asking board members to formally affirm a statement that marriage is between a man and a woman.

But if you prefer visuals with funny slogans, Buzzfeed has you covered: 43 wacky church signs for your viewing pleasure.

Stat of the day: 53 percent of the public says it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values, while 45 percent say it is necessary. Atheists: you’re making progress.

Good reads:

Is capitalism compatible with Christian values? The New York Times posts five opinions on the subject.

For a powerful reminder of the Bible’s prophetic stream, read Jonathan Merritt’s interview with Walter Brueggemann. Here’s one quote:

Legitimate power always includes attentiveness to justice. When power is not attentive to justice it cannot endure.

And our own Mark Silk points out that  the Vatican survey of bishops’ conferences, which found that many Catholics “have difficulty” accepting church teachings, also offers a critique of the Catholic concept of natural law:

“In a vast majority of responses and observations, the concept of natural law today turns out to be, in different cultural contexts, highly problematic, if not completely incomprehensible.”

It being Friday, we end with a good read on rest as an act of resistance:

Resting may be the most countercultural and spiritual thing we can do as people who follow God. In our modern, crazy-busy, take-it-to-the-limit society, rest is an act of trust in a sovereign God.

And with that, Shabbat shalom, y’all.


  1. ….in other news, the committee on where to site the moon was formed, and included a Romulan (so the committee has the needed phase teleportation technology), along with an Arcturian, a Vegan (who’ll eat anything) and a Sirian (who proceeded to explain she has nothing to do with Assad, in fact, and has never met her or him). They viewed a number of sites for the siting of the moon, and voted to delay the siting until the sighting for Ramadan was complete.

    • Thanks for fixing that. I was going to issue a citation over it – citing the siting meant to be sighting, but thought better of it.

      Seriously though – great column, thanks for the updates, and I’ve enjoyed reading it.

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