We begin today’s Roundup with grim news from abroad:
Iraqi militants from the Islamic State group overran a cluster of predominantly Christian villages alongside the country’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, the AP reports.
That’s exactly where many of Mosul’s Christians fled after they were kicked out of town.
“All Christian villages are now empty,” said Bishop Joseph Tomas of Kirkuk.
A Virginia GOP official who posted a message on his Facebook page that questioned whether Muslim Americans have made positive contributions to U.S. society has resigned.
“Exactly what part of our nation’s fabric was woven by Muslims?” wrote Bob FitzSimmonds, treasurer of the state’s Republican Party. “What about Sikhs, Animists, and Jainists? Should we be thanking them too?”
And in my home state, a Winston-Salem, N.C., restaurant that offered patrons a 15 percent discount if they were seen praying in public stopped the practice after being threatened with a lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Not a living Seoul
North Korea has declined to send a delegation to a Mass that Pope Francis will celebrate during a visit to Seoul this month.
We also learn this from our fab Rome correspondent, Josephine McKenna:
— JoInRome (@JosephineMcK) August 7, 2014
Stoking the Gaza flames
Jewish children in Bondi, Australia, were subjected to a terrifying racial attack when thugs stormed their school bus and threatened to slit their throats. The attackers screamed: ‘Heil Hitler’, ‘Kill the Jews’, and ‘Palestine must kill you Jews.’
Not nearly as vile, the Tricycle Theatre in London canceled plans to host the UK Jewish Film Festival. The theater’s board didn’t like that fact that the Israeli embassy was one of the event’s sponsors.
Meanwhile, Usaid Siddiqui faults atheist Sam Harris for his blanket statements about Muslims. “Harris would like his audience to believe that Muslims have always been gunning for the Jews in a battle for ascendance—but he has not done his homework,” Siddiqui writes.
Word and deed
Prominent conservative voices have criticized the missionaries who contracted Ebola in Africa. They include Columnist Ann Coulter whose blogpost headline speaks for itself: Ebola doc’s condition downgraded to ‘idiodic.’
Five miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas, has aided more than 5,000 migrants this summer. National Geographic examines what it’s like to stay there.
After the Cincinnati Roman Catholic Archdiocese withdrew a $1,000 donation to a homeless shelter run by a renegade woman priest, the house received an unexpected windfall: $9,500 in donations.
A novel approach
Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta is asking his fans for financial help by launching a Kickstarter campaign for his upcoming volume, “God is an abusive boyfriend (and you should break up).”
Emily Filler writes that gay civil rights activists have turned a tactic used to vilify them on its head. While opponents of gay rights cite biblical passages condemning gay sex, these activists, and others like them, hold signs reminding people of other abominations God hates, such as shrimp. No surprise there’s a website, godhatesshrimp.com, too.
Adelle M. Banks writes about the Assemblies of God on its 100th anniversary. The U.S. denomination is a veritable United Nations of some 3.1 million faithful — with a membership that is 41 percent nonwhite.
Heather Adams reports that conservative Christian activists are pushing Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim series to cancel the new show “Black Jesus,” which they call offensive. Maybe someone should point out that it’s a parody.
- The New Republic’s Adam Kirsch has a great review of the HBO series, The Leftovers, which he says is “the one TV show that takes religion seriously.” Set in the present, the series is about what happens after 2 percent of the world’s population abruptly vanishes.
- Wednesday was Wendell Berry’s 80th birthday. Gracey Olmstead wrote an essay for The American Conservative explaining this poet philosopher and theologian’s contributions on the subject of place.
- In an interview with an Argentine paper recently, Pope Francis revealed a top 10 list for a happy life. Now a Guardian columnist says he expected more from a pope, fire and brimstone, for one:
“There was a time when the church issued commandments. Full-on, dictated-by-God, carved-into-stone commandments… The subtext of a commandment is: ‘Do exactly what I say, you bastards, or I’ll bloody well eff you up something rotten.’”
A crowd of people pushing together managed to lift a train carriage in Perth, Australia, early Wednesday morning to free a man who was trapped between the platform and train. If you haven’t seen the video, watch it.
Something about it reminded me of the phrase “If we all pull together…”
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