Hey all. It’s been quite a week. I’m hoping the next one is a little quieter and I can get back to producing some material besides the ol’ roundup.
Anyway….to the news!
It was a good week for hate – homophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Catholicism all reared their ugly heads. Oh, and a bunch of people mocked Rick Warren’s beliefs because his son killed himself. That was great, too.
So first off, homophobia. Why do conservative Christians seem to think they can deny service to gay people based on their beliefs? This week, an Etsy site wouldn’t make a guest book for a same sex wedding and a florist wouldn’t make flower arrangements. These actions, though super-illegal under basically every anti-discrimination law ever (imagine if you replaced “gay” with “black”) seem to be growing in popularity. I’ve been following this story for a while and its interesting that so many conservatives are choosing to make a stand here – I think it says something about the nature of business in our culture.
Some Republican senators may be supporting gay marriage, but the RNC sure isn’t. A unanimous vote upheld their commitment to “traditional marriage.”
Next up, Islamophobia. The Islamophobic section of the internet spent the week hyping a story about a “rape fatwa” that turned out to be completely…what’s the word? Made up. It was just totally made up.
Loonwatch documents how Richard Dawkins went from atheist hero to basically just another pro-“Western Values” neocon. It’s a really interesting read.
And Daniel Pipes made a case for non-intervention in Syria that was basically like, “everyone in Middle East is either a fascist or an Islamist and we should just let them kill each other.”
Then there was some nice anti-Catholicism. Is it 1885 already?
A video game called Vatican Quest puts the player in the position of the pope, who must deliver children to Cardinals and not be caught by journalists. The group making it said that they did so for “religious freedom”. It’s funny how many people use that term to describe their hatred of another religion nowadays.
Lastly, it kind of bothered me that so much attention was paid to this list of the most-torrented pornos in Vatican City. I mean, it’s interesting, but the list was basically just used to rip on Catholics. Does being in Vatican City really make the act of watching porn more morally reprehensible? Do we actually think any of these people downloading this porn are church leaders? And if that sounds too charitable to you, it’s not. I just don’t think most church officials know how to torrent.
On the plus side, Patti Smith met the pope and it was cute.
And it seems like Pope Francis might actually start trying to investigate pedophilia in the church, which is cool. Personally, nI would really like to see Cardinal Mahoney excommunicated, and we’re just a littttle bit closer to that. Speaking of Catholics and cool stuff, there’s a Catholic priest who is also a Hollywood Producer. Speaking of Catholics and slightly less cool stuff, there’s a small yet determined minority of Catholics who are very anti-gun-control.
Will American Hispanics who are becoming Evangelicals redefine American religion? It seems highly possible – although I doubt the Time Magazine article on this topic has much insight. It’s going to be an interesting process, to say the least.
RNS writer Jonathan Merritt takes American Christians to task for claiming that they are persecuted while their brethren actually suffer in the third world.
Margaret Thatcher died last week. Religion Dispatches published a “Muslim Perspective” on her legacy which alleges that Thatcher’s brash “pro-free-speech” stance exacerbated the Rushdie affair.
A very strange hoax made some think Joel Osteen renounced his faith. But the man behind the hoax is actually an Osteen fan – he seems to simply want to make Osteen change his ways. It’s a really weird story.
This week in religious books: A new book called Light Without Fire explores the making of America’s first Muslim college, and my own writing teacher Pete Rock just released an extensively researched fiction based on the rural cult called “The Church Universal and Triumphant”. The book itself is called The Shelter Cycle. I just started reading it and it’s great – it’s so nice and rare to read a work that really engages with people’s beliefs, no matter how strange they look at a distance. You can read an interview with Rock about the book here.
Anyway, that’s all for this week in religion. Tune in next week for more hatred, but hopefully also some nice things, too!