Yeah, yeah, we know y’all have your eyes set on the BBQ and fireworks and all the other fun stuff for The Fourth, but before you break out your sparklers and bunting, here’s what’s going on in the world:
The temperature’s hotter than Arkansas in July. Oh, wait, never mind: Things are getting pretty heated in the Arkansas Senate race, where Republican Tim Cotton is questioning the faith of Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor (he of the National Prayer Breakfast and Bible-wielding campaign ad).
Sick of Hobby Lobby yet? There’s more. The White House urged the Supreme Court to reject evangelical Wheaton College’s challenge to the contraception mandate, saying religious nonprofits already get the exemption that Hobby Lobby didn’t, so there’s no need for the Supremes to hear the case.
File this under “Disturbingly Awesome.” Turns out Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels‘ ideal Aryan child was … Jewish.
A group of Christian hip-hop artists are suing pop princess Katy Perry for allegedly ripping off their song “Joyful Noise” with her “Dark Horse,” and they don’t like her song’s “witchcraft, paganism, black magic, and Illuminati imagery.” Judge for yourself:
Defensive lineman Israel Idonije may be out of a job after being cut by the Chicago Bears, but he says he’s got his future set in a Communion-to-go business.
Our pal Peggy Fletcher Stack talks to the author of “American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the fate of the Mormon Church.” The book’s title pretty much sums it up.
Vicki Hyman reviews HBO’s “The Leftovers,” a post-Apocalypse series about life on Earth after 98 percent of the world gets Left Behind. She calls it the “feel-good series of the summer, if your summer revolves around root canals and recreational waterboarding.”
ICYMI, Lauren Markoe takes us on a photographic tour of services in Queens to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
The case of a youth pastor accused of homicide in a Las Vegas parking lot will go to a grand jury after a judge dismissed a murder charge; it’s unclear why prosecutors changed tactics. Either way, the scuffle resulted in what The AP called a “deadly fight that devastated two families of faith.”
CHURCHES AND SUCH
Wonder what kind of swag they give away in their goodie bags … exorcists now have their own church-sanctioned association.
Remember the Catholic Diocese of Madison, Wis., that wanted to centralize control over baptizing the kids of gay parents? The diocese seems to be backpedaling a bit, saying there’s no formal change in policy but “we are dealing with this sensitive matter prudently, for the child’s sake and the integrity of this most sacred sacrament.” From what we hear, it sounds like a solution in search of a problem.
Speaking of baptizing kids, an Italian archbishop wants a 10-year moratorium on naming godparents of those precious little ones in a bid to stop the influence of the Mafia. Good thing I got through with my two godkids, Sam and Mariah.
Our own Jana Riess is after the next Mormon excommunication — of her “own rage, my pride, my sense of having been wronged” — after Kate Kelly’s dismissal from the church.
Sons of a Preacher Man: Jonathan Meritt talks with Barnabas Piper about the trials and travails of growing up with a well-known preacher father.
I’m really glad this guy has no filter: Pope Francis calls landmines the “weapons of cowards.”
Mazel tov to every reporter’s favorite Jewish source, Jonathan Sarna, who’s home from the hospital after a scary (and undisclosed) illness.
‘Cuz this story just can’t get much worse: Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to death (until she wasn’t) for apostasy and then was freed (and rearrested) now says the baby girl born in jail is disabled because her legs were chained when she was giving birth.
Lovely, just lovely: A Zionist leader in Israel has apologized after calling for “300 Philistine foreskins” in revenge for the murder of three Israeli teenagers. According to The Forward, Rabbi Noam Perel is also facing pressure to resign.
Remember the Lev Tahor sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews that got into trouble with Canadian officials over the abuse of children? They’ve apparently decamped to, of all places, Guatemala.
And with that, go crack open a cold one and enjoy the holiday. And Happy Birthday, America!