Culture Religion News Roundup

Papal call * Ebola-free * Per capita alcohol: Friday Roundup

Photo of a glass of red wine.
A glass of wine, anyone?
Photo of a red phone.

courtesy Shutterstock

Red phone.

Welcome to the Friday Roundup where we begin with our favorite newsmaker, who we like so much because 1.) He’s engaged with the news, and 2.) He picks up the phone:

Pope Francis called the bereaved family of a U.S. journalist James Foley who was killed by Islamic State militants earlier this week.

A Vatican spokesman said the call was “long & intense,” and the pope was struck by the depth of the family’s faith.

Foley, of course, was Catholic, and so too are his parents. This morning, the parents released an email they received from the militants just a week before their son was killed.

Foley’s medieval beheading is renewing calls from religious leaders to stop Islamic State militants.

Russell, Moore, the Southern Baptist ethics czar, sent a statement to Baptist Press in which he said:

“What is needed now are neither hawks, nor doves, but owls — with the talons to fight injustice and the wisdom to know when to start, and when to stop.”

Divided we stand

Back on these shores, there’s another battle that won’t go away. It’s called Ferguson.

Robert Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute writes in The Atlantic that the chief obstacle to having an intelligent conversation across the racial divide is that on average white Americans talk mostly to other white Americans.

Carl Kenney, a pastor and journalism instructor at the University of Missouri, has arrived at a very similar analysis. Invited to preach at a mostly white church in Columbia, Mo., he said he was tempted to drive away. But he realized, “change happens when we stay.”

If you’ve seen Al Sharpton’s face in Ferguson footage over the past few days, that’s no surprise. In a fascinating profile, Politico offers a peek at the 59-year-old activist and MSNBC talk-show host, who has evolved from agitator to insider directly connected to the White House and First Friend Valerie Jarrett.

Sunny skies

Dr. Kent Brantly was discharged from an Atlanta hospital Thursday. He is Ebola-free and no longer a danger to the public.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post had a fascinating article about the group Brantly worked for, Samaritan’s Purse:

Driven by a desire to spread the Christian message, the nonprofit is a sophisticated international enterprise, able to navigate the logistical and regulatory challenges necessary to rescue stricken missionaries and gain access to a promising experimental treatment that was administered to the workers.

Ed Stetzer interviewed missionary Nancy Writebol’s family. She was released from the hospital Tuesday.

Cold water

You know that ice bucket challenge that everybody and their brother are into?  A Catholic diocese in Ohio is discouraging its schools from participating in the challenge to benefit the ALS Association, citing its funding of research involving embryonic stem cells. But the ALS folks say people can ask that it not pay for stem cell research.

Good reads:

The disappearance and later resurfacing of two Amish girls in upstate New York last week has renewed interest in this reclusive community that numbers about 16,500 in the Empire State.

Deborah E. Lipstadt an expert on the Holocaust at Emory University wonders if she’s been too sanguine in criticizing those Jews who worry about another Holocaust in the offing.

Meanwhile Kenan Malik, a writer, lecturer and broadcaster, says it would be too easy to simply blame Muslim communities for the new anti-Semitism.

Our own Lauren Markoe examines the fallout from the closing of so many Catholic schools. 

Liberty University has big sports ambitions.

And Brevard (Fla.) county commissioners say atheists can’t give the opening invocation at its meetings.

Maybe this explains it all

Photo of a glass of red wine.

courtesy Shutterstock

A glass of wine, anyone?

Humans and Neanderthals may have coexisted in Europe for more than 5,000 years, providing ample time for the two species to meet and mix, according to new research.

Apparently, Neanderthal genes have survived in the DNA of many modern humans to this day.

And this being Friday, we can’t leave off without this cool graphic from the World Health Organization showing the countries that drink the most alcohol. Topping the list? Belarus (at 17.5 liters per capita).

Before you head off to uncork that bottle of wine, please let us know what you love about the Roundup. One sentence will do.

Happy Friday and Shabbat Shalom y’all.

About the author

Yonat Shimron

Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.


Click here to post a comment

  • I notice that there is only one non-Muslim country listed among the teetotalers. East Timor, which is 97% Catholic. Interesting.

  • Ephesians 5:18 says don’t get drunk on wine for it is debacuhery but be
    filled with the Spirit and 1 Corinthians 6:10 says that all drunkards go to
    hell. The Bible also says don’t get drunk with strong wine and the wine
    that Jesus made was from the fruit of the vine/new wine and diluted so
    Christians shouldn’t still be drinking/gettin drunk! People today seem to
    focus on gay marriage and/or abortion so that they don’t have to face their
    own sin. Jesus said many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven
    and you are one of Mine only if you follow Me! We must Repent/follow!

  • Yonat,
    I like CNS bec. it is current, short and to the point. It is somewhat slanted or bias to Catholics, but I don’t mind even tho I’m a protestant believer.

  • Oh, Karla,

    Thank you for drawing the sins of others to our attention. This is something society needs much more of — people like you who can warn us of the sin that stalks everywhere. I am touched to know how concerned you are about my sins.

    We are particularly indebted to you for pointing out that people who try to extend the rights of gays are really hiding their sin. You are performing a great public service by making this better known.

    I am sure you are right that people who think about the issues surrounding abortion and the interference of government with people’s control over their own bodies have never heard of sin, or when they have are busy hiding it. Yet again you perform a public service by bringing this question to the fore.

    Carry on. Yes, yes, Karla, do carry on.


  • Jesus said not what go into the mouth defiled you but what come from your mouth. Yes, 1Cor 6:10 is true that is why our World is like what it is today.. Some prophets believe alcohol and drugs are number enemy of God, Then what about the people who are using God number enemy?They are God enemy too.But,not doing these things everything around you become difficult, no good job, no club membership and so on.