Sunday Roundup: Pope Francis I, and also some other stuff

This week, Pope Francis I loves tango, a report alleges the NYPD violated three or more amendments, and Muslims are largely innocuous. 

Announcing! The pope, with some stuttering:

Somebody remix that!

And his first tweet was, “HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM”. Right on.

So who is Francis I? His bookkeeper’s odds were 25-1 (I told you it was a bad idea to bet). When he was twelve, he told his childhood sweetheart that if she didn’t marry him, he’d become a priest. He hates gay marriage, wasteful spending, and globalization and loves tango, the movie Babette’s Feast, and long walks on the beach. He took his name from St. Francis of Assai because he was a “man of the poor” and a “man of peace.” He certainly was. He also liked birds.

Francis has also taken this moment to make some immediate enemies in the Vatican, at least stylistically. He paid his hotel bill, gave up his papal limousine, and did not open his first address to the public as pope in the traditional way.

If you want to know about all the priestly politics that got Francis elected, here’s the best thing you’re going to get.

Francis’ complicated history related to Argentina’s military Junta may come back to haunt him. He may have aided in the kidnapping of a priest. Or maybe not. He also may have hidden wanted leftists from the Junta. At any rate, it’s hard to judge someone too harshly for collaborating with a dictatorship that would have quickly killed him if he didn’t.

Francis is also part of the Jesuit Religious Order, which is actually kind of supposed to avoid positions of power in the church. Oops. There’s an article on RNS about why Francis’ Jesuit status is important.

If you read just one article about Francis, make it David Gibson’s.

The Editor of RealClearScience appropriately shamed the media for being so perpetually and vigorously anti-Catholic in their reporting on the pope. As I’ve said before, we Americans represent Catholic theology as being far further to the right than it is. Which is bullshit. The Pope is not the Church, after all. At any rate, a Religion Dispatches article details how the American media has historically reported on the pope.

Speaking of unfounded negative American perceptions of religious groups…let’s talk about Muslims. This week, a report, “Mapping Muslims”, was released by a number of advocacy groups, which critiqued the NYPD just because they’d set up a massive warantless spying program against a religious group that created zero, that’s right, zero criminal leads. Not cases, leads.  Meanwhile, the program created institutionalized harassment so bad that some left the United States in fear. The report itself alleges that NYPD spying in mosques has caused mosque attendance to plummet, and thus is a violation of freedom of religion. Rolling Stone called the program a “Pointless National Shame“.  But the report might all be for naught: NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelley might not even read it. But I will. I’m hoping to finish reading the report this week and write about it, stay tuned.

The advent of Drone Strikes has caused Pakistan’s population to go from about a 50% approval rating of the United States to a 4% approval rating in the span of just two years. Wasn’t the whole point of these things to keep us safer?

A writer for David Horwitz’s neoconservative FrontPageMag infiltrated a Muslim Student conference, only to discover it was, and I quote, “largely innocuous.”

A Roman Catholic Priest being tried in the UK for child molestation revealed he’d been secretly married all along, therefore, that he couldn’t have molested a child. In other creepy-religious-leader news, Jack Schaap, a megachurch pastor from Indiana, is currently being tried for seducing a teenager from his church. The prosecution in his case brought out letters he had written her, which included the damning phrase, “In our ‘fantasy talk,’ you have affectionately spoken of being ‘my wife. That is exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!” You know this letter is by him because pastors are huge offenders when it comes to using a plus sign instead of an ampersand.

Speaking of which, Rachel Held Evans is doing a series on abuse in the church.

This week, America’s Christian Right showed that they’re softening up. A group called, “Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty” made an appearance at CPAC this year. Could we be seeing the beginning of the end for the pro-death penalty super-majority? Radical evangelicals are pushing against the comfortable conservatism of the evangelical movement. And Ohio’s Republican Senator, Rob Portman, suddenly became pro-gay marriage because his son is gay. Horray!

Richard Dawkins is not, as Herb Silverman says, a “positive voice” on atheism. You’re thinking of Chris Stedman. Richard Dawkins is an ass.

18% of Americans are now nonreligious. Which does not mean that they’re atheists! This growing and diverse group, and my opinion, is more a product of dissatisfaction both with the “spiritual but not religious” label and the “atheist” label.  I don’t even think it necessarily means “religion” is going away, just that how we define religion and spirituality no longer encompasses how people feel about themselves in relation to the supernatural.

Rob Bell definitely said God isn’t necessarily male.

Speaking of Rob Bell, here’s another negative review of his book.

Even the Westboro Baptist Church loves Jennifer Lawrence.

Stephanie Meyer called herself a feminist.


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