Religion, Lately: Hell House Outreach, Tough Times for Russian Anti-Gay Pastafarians, Autumnal Equinox

mabonIIIBy Kenny Smith

Wiccans and neo-Pagans are getting ready for Fall Equinox celebrations (Sept. 21/22), a holiday many know as Mabon, when the hours of light and dark are perfectly balanced.

With the High Holidays behind us, Jewish religious cultures look ahead to Sukkot. Not up on your Jewish ritual calendar? Look here for a concise overview.

While it’s hardly surprising that 77% of evangelicals are said to believe that “we are currently living in the end-times,” some 41% of American adults are also said to express this opinion.

As the 2013 Halloween season approaches, churches all across the U.S. are preparing “Hell Houses,” “Judgment Houses,” and Rapture Walks.”  In need of a Hell House starter kit? There likewise seems to be a forthcoming film taking up basic Hell House theme: all the stuff young people like to do is demonic.

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In a recent interview gone viral, Pope Francis makes it clear that, “the dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent,” and thus the church will no longer be “obsessed with abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.” So, what else is there for the church to do? Plenty. Find out here.

Atheist spokesperson Richard Dawkins, in a markedly less successful interview, defends what he refers to as “mild-pedophilia.” Surely this will make things easier for atheists everywhere. Speaking of which, American atheists now have an official Atheist PAC determined to “defend the right of nonbelievers.” In Ontario, Canada, courts have ruled that schools can distribute Bibles if they also distribute “atheist texts.” And while Pope Francis has suggested that atheists too can get into heaven, Ronald Dworkin’s first posthumously published book argues that atheists can do religion, just not God.

In an exceedingly bizarre story from St. Petersburg, a conservative Russian politician violently rejected an attempt by followers of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to present him with a plate “of their sacred food” in return forrussian pastafarian his sponsorship of anti-gay legislation. “You’re all idiots,” he reportedly shouted and, after pitching the food in a nearby river, added: “[f]irst they wear colanders on their heads, and then they torch churches.” So much for inter-religious dialogue.

In a variety of American Hindu communities, the 150th anniversary of swami Vivekananda was jointly celebrated.

Are Will Smith and the Smith family members of the Church of Scientology? One journalist weighs the evidence either way. And if a handful of Hollywood stars practice Scientology, a much larger number are Buddhists of some sort. Sadly, so too was the gunman in the Washington navy yard shootings.

If you enjoy sipping holy water, it might be wise to take antibiotics beforehand. A recent study found dangerous levels of bacteria often found in fecal matter, such as e-coli, to be present.


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