In Alabama, Roy Moore is once again running for State Supreme Court Justice (he was removed from office in November 2003, after refusing to follow a federal judge’s ruling and take down a monument to the Ten Commandments placed outside his own courtroom). If elected, Moore is likely to enjoy the judicial privilege of ruling on cases (such as the biblical welcome sign recently re-posted by the town of Sylvania, AL) in which he himself is apparently deeply invested.
While the new film, For Greater Glory (due out June 1), depicts events from early 20th century Mexican history (notably the Cristero War of 1926 to 1929 in which devout Catholic rebels, led in the movie by Andy Garcia, fought against the government of Mexican President Plutarco Calles, played by Ruben Blades), for Catholics “enraged by the Obama administration’s proposed contraception mandate” it seems to offer an inspiring imaginary. Muddying any sense of clarity on this issue, a recent poll suggests that 82% of Catholic American adults find birth control morally acceptable, and another that 54% of Americans want churches stay clear of “hot-button” issues and politics altogether.
It’s not yet clear whether such audiences will be equally sanguine about other forthcoming, religiously-oriented, films due out this year and next: one based upon Anne Rice’s 2005 novel, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, telling the story of Jesus’ childhood; Lionsgate’s Mary Mother, produced by Joel Ostein, about the life of Mary prior to the birth of Jesus; or Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, said to parallel the life of Church of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
Unexpectedly, internationally known Atheist author and speaker, Richard Dawkins, supports initiatives to make free Bibles available to school children in England. While Dawkins agrees that the Bible is of great importance to Western history, literature and culture, the surest way to stimulate critical thinking and downright skepticism about it, he suggests, is to have young people read it. “Whatever else the Bible might be,” he explains, “and it really is a great work of literature – it is not a moral book and young people need to learn that important fact because they are very frequently told the opposite.”
In Philadelphia this past weekend, young Catholic men “learn[ed] to throw a spiral, make a three-point shot and hit a long ball — and to resist homosexual urges.” Sounds like a winning recipe. Of course, conservative Catholics are not the only religious community to continue to invest in “reparative therapy,”despite retractions and apologies from psychiatric experts such as Robert L. Spitzer, who suggested in 2001 that homosexuality could be “cured.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, President Obama’s support of same-sex marriages has (thus far) had little measurable impact upon voters’ attitudes, African American or otherwise.
Theologically conservative white Pentecostals who see issues of racial and economic justice as relevant to their faith, the Kansas City Star reports, could play an important role in the 2012 Presidential Election, in that they may well support President Obama.
“What if Tim Tebow were gay?,” HuffPost fantasizes. Could he shepherd conservative Christians to the the lands of acceptance?
A growing number of online Mormon support groups, such as feministmormonhousewives.org, newordermormon.org and Johnston’s stayLDS.com, are said to “provide a safe place for Mormons to grapple with topics such as polygamy, institutional racism and a scripture that teaches that Jesus visited the American continent.”
In Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback signed into law legislation that passed unanimously through both legislative bodies last week. The bill, supporters say, should “protect Americans’ freedoms from ‘infiltration’ by foreign laws and legal doctrines, especially Islamic Shariah Law.” Fortunately, supporters also insisted, the bill does not discriminate “against any religion.”
It’s uncertain how such legislation will impact American Muslim marriages, divorces and wills. Speaking of which, the steady growth in American Muslim communities across the U.S. has given rise to a call for Muslim funeral homes and services. Concerned about access to basic rights of religious free exercise, nearly 15,000 Muslims gathered at the 37th annual convention of the Islamic Circle of North America with theme of defending their religious freedom and educating Americans about Sharia law. Good luck with that.
While studies suggest that antisemitism is down considerably across the U.S. in recent years, perhaps not everyone received the memo. In Wyoming, 2012 U.S. Senate hopeful Thomas Bleming recently posted a video in which he (apparently reading straight from 1930s Nazi propaganda materials that he had “updated”) warns his fellow Wyomingites about the dangers of “the eternal Jew,” typified by figures such as Bernie Madoff and Baruch Goldstein.
In North Carolina, community members alternately defend or ignore a local pastor’s plan to “get rid of all the lesbians and queers,” which [he says, he] couldn’t get… past the Congress…. Build a great big, large fence – 50 or 100 miles long – and put all the lesbians in there… Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals, and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. Feed them. And you know in a few years, they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce….” ‘He said he’d feed them!‘, some supporters (indignantly) insisted.
While Wiccans and Neo-Pagans make preparations for Mid-Summer celebrations, some football fans contemplate a “Football Solstice,” marking “the mid-point between the Super Bowl and the regular season.” In what might represent a significant sectarian split, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has seen a “Gluten Free” breakaway movement. Even if these last two stories are satire, how certain are you that it will stay that way?