Recent Posts

Catholics and sexual abuse survivors protest in front of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis on June 11, 2014. The group gathered in response to a deposition given by St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson, who said he was uncertain if he knew when he was auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis that sexual abuse was a crime. Photo courtesy Barb Dorris, via SNAP

SNAP’s clergy abuse victims mark 25 years and eye new targets

David Gibson Jul 30, 2014

When victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests first organized into a small band of volunteer activists in the late 1980s, reports of clergy molesting children were still new and relatively few. Most were minimized as anomalies or dismissed altogether — much the way the victims were.

But today, as the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, marks its 25th anniversary at a conference in Chicago (Aug. 1-3), its members can take satisfaction in seeing that its claims have been validated, and a few (though hardly all) of its recommendations have been implemented by the church hierarchy.
And instead of facing constant verbal attacks and the occasional angry parishioner spitting on them at a protest, SNAP’s members today are far more likely to receive a handshake and a word of thanks, and maybe even a donation.

Tuesday Morning Meme, featuring Jabba the Hut

Greg Perreault Jul 29, 2014


It’s very difficult to argue with this impenetrable reasoning.

An Open Letter to Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler

Nabihah Maqbool Jul 28, 2014

While your letter states, “Thank you for contacting me regarding the state of Israel,” I will have to take issue with that specification. I was contacting you about the disproportionate number of deaths occurring in Palestine, in Gaza. The death toll as of this Sunday was over 1000 Palestinians murdered in a brutal assault by airstrikes, guns and bombing, with 87% of deaths being women and children. I lament the loss of civilian lives on both sides and while I am thankful that the number of Israeli deaths have been limited due to the missile defense system of the Iron Dome, I wonder why the same protection is not afforded to the Palestinians caught in this war? Just last week, Israel requested an additional $225 million from the US for additional iron dome components, in addition to the already $275 million dollars the US has planned to provide this year. Do Palestinian civilians not earn a fraction of these funds for protecting them against the very weapons we subsidize? Is this the most effective usage our taxpayer money? Israel receives 3.1 billion dollars of US aid each year, while the second highest recipient, Afghanistan, receives $1.6 billion each year.

Victoria Ann Thorpe protests against the death penalty outside of a Spokane, Wash., mall. Her sister, Kerry Lyn Dalton, has been on death row for 18 years, something that's given Thorpe fodder for wanting to end executions in Washington state.

Crime and Punishment

Kurt Saxton Jul 25, 2014

The recent execution, one that some would call botched, by lethal injection, along with strong passions on either side of the debate about capital punishment, have given me cause to review my own understanding of the Baha’i Writings on the topic. As I understand them, the Writings indicate that there are two capital crimes, arson and murder. But even so, there is latitude granted to seek alternatives to execution.

Rhonda Rowe, right, and her team discuss strategy at a nursing home near Washington, D.C., on July 17, 2014. The group of lay evangelists is targeting senior citizens as a ministry opportunity. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Nursing home evangelism: Preaching at the last ‘bus stop to eternity’

Adelle M. Banks Jul 24, 2014

Rhonda Rowe and her team gathered around a diagram of the nursing home’s floor plan and determined how to split up to avoid praying with anyone twice.

Rowe made her way to a room where a 93-year-old woman lay in her bed while her 87-year-old roommate sat in a wheelchair. Rowe knelt between them and went through her “Nursing Home Gospel Soul-Winning Script.”

“Fill me with your Holy Spirit and fire of God,” the 93-year-old repeated. “I’m on my way to heaven. I have Jesus in my heart.”

Rowe was soon off to the next room, but before she left, acknowledged that she might never see them again on earth. “I’ll see you girls in heaven!” she chirped.

Welcome to the world of nursing home evangelism, where teams of lay evangelists target senior citizens for one last chance in this life for glory in the next.

A family adds flowers to a growing memorial at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The memorial was erected for the victims of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which crashed in the Ukraine on July 18, 2014, and killed all 298 occupants. Creative Commons image by Roman Boed

The ‘Splainer: Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and religious burial customs

Kimberly Winston Jul 23, 2014

Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists on Monday released the bodies of the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which had languished in refrigerated train cars since the plane was shot down on July 17. The world was shocked by images and reports of bodies being looted, thrown in the back of pick-up trucks and unceremoniously stacked in the train cars.

But for many of the victims’ families, the release has come too late for them to complete the burial customs of their various religions. This edition of The ‘Splainer looks at the death rituals of the different religions practiced by the victims, and how the delay in retrieving the bodies disrupted them.

Tuesday Morning Meme, featuring Amy Fowler, Theologian

Greg Perreault Jul 22, 2014



Amy Fowler from Big Bang Theory seems to be implying that a deity is most interested in final exam performance.

Investing summer time in meditation

Gabbie Rhodes Jul 21, 2014

When you’re stuck in a daily routine it’s hard to make time for other things. Usually, you become so comfortable doing your typical daily activities that you don’t even want to make time for anything else. I’ve experienced this problem. When I first started practicing Zen Buddhism, it was hard for me to find time to meditate everyday. Trying to balance school, work, homework, and other obligations made it difficult for me to even want to fit in mediating. Normally during the school year I would only meditate when I had time, which was either early in the morning or late at night and obviously that was a very inconsistent routine because I rarely had much spare time. However, in the summer I have a more flexible schedule that allows me to meditate nearly everyday for 30 minutes or more.

Sufi Muslims push designer Roberto Cavalli to pull an offensive logo

Heather Adams Jul 18, 2014

(RNS) A group devoted to the mystical Sufi tradition of Islam is taking to the streets and social media as it fights for the removal of the faith’s religious symbol on designer Roberto Cavalli’s “Just Cavalli” clothing and fragrance line.

Cavalli is an Italian fashion designer known for exotic prints and a sandblasted look for jeans. He created the “Just Cavalli” line in 2013. The line includes clothes, fragrances and accessories.

The “Just Cavalli” logo is said to be a snakebite, but members of the M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi centers say it’s actually their religious emblem.


Hobby Lobby’s Green family postpones launch of public school Bible curriculum

David Van Biema Jul 17, 2014

Fresh off their victory in the Supreme Court, the Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby craft chain, appear to have hit a stumbling block in one of their other projects — a potentially controversial public school elective on the Bible.