(RNS) Defiance. There may not be a better word to sum up the last few days. Defiance in the streets of Ferguson. Defiance by Catholic nuns. And a Biblical showdown, too.

But after a tour of the hot zones we’ll lighten up with atheist humor (seriously).

Ferguson

The Missouri town is in chaos. Moments of peaceful protest gave way Sunday night to protesters tossing Molotov cocktails and firing at police, looting, and attempting to block roads. Gov. Jay Nixon has called in the National Guard. Fueling the uproar: One autopsy has found Michael Brown, the unarmed teen who was killed by police a week ago, was shot six times.

Members of Middle Collegiate Church in New York held a worship celebration on Sunday (Aug. 17) in which attendees held their hands up as a gesture for prayer in response to the situation in Ferguson, Mo. Congregants were also asked to sign a petition asking President Obama, Senator Harry Reid and Representative John Boehner to enact federal laws to protect citizens from police violence and misconduct. Photo by Béatrice de Géa, courtesy of Middle Collegiate Church.

Members of Middle Collegiate Church in New York held a worship celebration on Sunday (Aug. 17) in which attendees held their hands up as a gesture for prayer in response to the situation in Ferguson, Mo. Congregants were also asked to sign a petition asking President Obama, Senator Harry Reid and Representative John Boehner to enact federal laws to protect citizens from police violence and misconduct. Photo by Béatrice de Géa, courtesy of Middle Collegiate Church.


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  • At Manhattan’s Middle Collegiate Church, Sunday morning worshipers shot a video joining the hands-up-don’t-shoot viral images on line. One of the staff ministers, Rev. Adriene Thorne, points out this was a gesture of surrender to God long before it signaled surrender to someone with a gun.
  • Washington Post columnist Cortland Milloy thinks “surrender” is not the right signal for these times.
  • St. Louis religion reporter Lilly Fowler tried to gather links to more prayer and faith responses from around the country. But the #fergusonsunday hashtag she set was invaded by racist tweets.
  • Christian Rapper Thi’sl tweeted:

Things are quiet (Note: Deploy personal favorite prayers or superstitions for warding off evil here) between Gaza and Israel (last we checked). There’s a five-day truce underway although, if you count from the midnight Wednesday start time, that could be extended after midnight Monday night — or not. Both sides stick to their demands.

You can’t even be pro-peace without friction, evidently. According to the Israeli paper, right-wing activists plan a counter-demonstration and police forces were deployed in the city.  

The Gaza/Israel conflict has also triggered a boom of anti-Semitism online. However, efforts to counter hate speech are also growing as groups set to debunk myths and stereotypes on blogs, forums and social media.

Pope Francis in Korea

The pontiff drew one in three of all South Korea’s 3 million Catholics to a Mass this weekend. He also paused to pray at a shrine to aborted babies.

Bible showdown

Public outcry sank the U.S. Navy’s plan to remove Bibles from thousands of Navy Exchange-run guest rooms near bases worldwide. The Gideon Bibles are going back in the nightstands, despite atheists’ objections.

Sister spells it out for the guys

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious — the network of 80 percent of U.S. nuns — faces a tightening leash of Vatican control over its leadership and programming. But at last week’s LCWR conference, the social-justice-focused sisters defiantly honored theologian-under-fire Sr. Elizabeth Johnson. And Friday night Johnson threw the book at the bishops. Her full text blasts their “wasteful” investigation of the LCWR while the church is “hemorrhaging” moral authority on numerous fronts.

Quick, while they’re free 

Before The New Yorker paywall goes up, it’s made work for the last seven years available online free. Among selections recommended by Slate:

Points of view:

  • British Christian rock star and Oxford trained theologian Vicky Beeching came out as gay. She tells RNS columnist Jonathan Merritt, “I just think we’ve misinterpreted the Scriptures that talk about sexuality.”
  • Tobin Grant looks to sociologists who studied the four ways evangelicals are changing their views on homosexuality.

    After studying Christianity Today's coverage, a researcher found four ways evangelicals are changing their views.

    After studying Christianity Today’s coverage, a researcher found four ways evangelicals are changing their views.

  • Fatheist Chris Stedman details how a dangerous car wreck reminded him “my atheism fuels my appreciation for being alive.”
  • Jana Riess has a message for the Mormon elder who said “we cannot yield” on traditional marriage. She says: “I can support nontraditional marriage precisely because I am a follower of that good shepherd, the one who preached compassion.”

News on the go, so to speak.
Two lower Manhattan churches are packing in the crowds. A stampede to salvation? No. The lines are for the churches’ public bathrooms.

Atheist humor: Can we get an amen to that?

A new study finds “To be an atheist is to be funny.”  The analysis, presented last week at the American Sociological Association, finds today’s atheists use humor “to highlight atheistic beliefs and establish boundaries between insiders and outsiders.”

Categories: Beliefs

Cathy Lynn Grossman

Cathy Lynn Grossman

Cathy Lynn Grossman is a senior national correspondent for Religion News Service, specializing in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality and ethics, and manager for social media.

3 Comments

    • David Lloyd-Jones

      Micah, and Webmaster,

      The link http://tobingrant.religionnews.com/2014/08/15/bible-gays-evangelicals-gay-rights-christianity-responses/ works.

      There’s an error in the html which concatenates this, correct, address to one that’s left in memory. Easy to do, webmaster: just clean up the anchor.

      -dlj.

  1. 18-Aug-14 Atheists and/or faitheists seem in the news more frequently in recent months. Maybe many of them would be surprised to know that Catholics agree with most of them (I taught Catholic theology at college level). We Catholics do not — could not — believe in the existence of any god like those that atheists seem to deny — at least those I know of. But I certainly don’t know how they all define “god.” Maybe others, besides me, would be interested to hear their definitions.

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