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On the run * Praying in public * God hates shrimp: Thursday’s Roundup

07Aug, 2014 07:08 am PDT Visited : 11741 times | 0 Visits Today

We begin today’s Roundup with grim news from abroad:

Iraqi militants from the Islamic State group overran a cluster of predominantly Christian villages alongside the country’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, the AP reports.

That’s exactly where many of Mosul’s Christians fled after they were kicked out of Mosul.

“All Christian villages are now empty,” said Bishop Joseph Tomas of Kirkuk.

Praying in public. courtesy Shutterstock


A Virginia GOP official who posted a message on his Facebook page that questioned whether Muslim Americans have made positive contributions to U.S. society has resigned.

“Exactly what part of our nation’s fabric was woven by Muslims?” wrote Bob FitzSimmonds, treasurer of the state Republican Party. “What about Sikhs, Animists, and Jainists? Should we be thanking them too?”

And in my home state, a Winston-Salem, N.C., restaurant that offered patrons a 15 percent discount if they were seen praying in public stopped the practice after being threated with a lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Not a living Seoul

North Korea has declined to send a delegation to a Mass that Pope Francis will preside over during a visit to Seoul this month.

We also learn this from our fab Rome correspondent, Josephine McKenna:

#popefrancis to speak English – a rare thing – when he meets youth in #SouthKorea on first #Asia trip. @RNS @pontifex #vatican

— JoInRome (@JosephineMcK) August 7, 2014

Stoking the Gaza flames

Jewish children in Bondi, Australia, were subjected to a terrifying racial attack when thugs stormed their school bus and threatened to slit their throats. The attackers screamed: ‘Heil Hitler’, ‘Kill the Jews’, ‘Palestine must kill you Jews.’

Not nearly as vile, the Tricycle Theatre in London canceled plans to host the UK Jewish Film Festival. The theater’s board didn’t like that fact that the Israeli embassy was one of the event’s sponsors.

Meanwhile, Usaid Siddiqui faults atheist Sam Harris for his blanket statements about Muslims. “Harris would like his audience to believe that Muslims have always been gunning for the Jews in a battle for ascendance—but he has not done his homework,” Siddiqui writes.

Word and deed

Prominent conservative voices have criticized the missionaries who contracted Ebola in Africa. They include Columnist Ann Coulter whose blogpost headline speaks for itself: Ebola doc’s condition downgraded to ‘idiodic.’

Five miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas, has aided more than 5,000 migrants this summer. National Geographic examines what it’s like to stay there.

After the Cincinnati Roman Catholic Archdiocese withdrew a $1,000 donation to a homeless shelter run by a renegade woman priest, the house received an unexpected windfall, $9,500 in donations.

A novel approach

A photo of people protesting discrimination against gays by holding posters reading 'God hates shrimp'.

People protesting discrimination against gays. courtesy

Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta is asking his fans to help him write his new book by launching a Kickstarter campaign for his upcoming volume, “God is an abusive boyfriend (and you should break up).”

Emily Filler writes that gay civil rights activists have turned a tactic used to vilify them on its head. While opponents of gay rights cite biblical passages condemning gay sex, these activists, and others like them, hold signs reminding people of other abominations God hates, such as shrimp. No surprise there’s a website,, too.

Diversity speech

Adelle M. Banks writes about the Assemblies of God on its 100th anniversary. The U.S. denomination is a veritable United Nations of some 3.1 million faithful — with a membership that is 41 percent nonwhite.

But Heather Adams reports, that conservative Christian activists are pushing Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim series to cancel the new show “Black Jesus,” which they call offensive. Maybe someone should point out that it’s a parody.

Good reads

  • The New Republic’s Adam Kirsch has a great review of the HBO series, The Leftovers, which he says is “the one TV show that takes religion seriously.” Set in the present, the series is about what happens after 2 percent of the world’s population abruptly vanishes.
  • Wednesday was Wendell Berry’s 80th birthday. Gracey Olmstead wrote an essay for The American Conservative explaining this poet philosopher and theologian’s contributions on the subject of place.
  • In an interview with an Argentine paper recently, Pope Francis revealed a top 10 list for a happy life. Now a Guardian columnist says he expected more from a pope, fire and brimstone, for one:

“There was a time when the church issued commandments. Full-on, dictated-by-God, carved-into-stone commandments… The subtext of a commandment is: ‘Do exactly what I say, you bastards, or I’ll bloody well eff you up something rotten.’”


Finally, we end on a note of hope for our fellow humans:

A crowd of people pushing together managed to lift a train carriage in Perth, Australia early Wednesday morning to free a man who was trapped between the platform and train. If you haven’t seen the video, watch it.

Something about it reminded me of the phrase “If we all pull together…”

Sign up below, and we really can steady this ship…

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