It’s time for our weekly faith and culture recap. Let’s dig right in.
Do you believe in haunted houses? This woman is pretty convinced that there’s an evil spirit living inside her home — and the skeptical journalists investigated the scene said they found much more that they expected.
If that wasn’t creepy enough, check out these text messages a priest claims were sent to him by a demonic presence after a failed exorcism.
And last but not least on the truly bizarre beat — take a look at this security footage of furniture that inexplicably seems to move inside a U.K. theater.
On a more serious note, a new Gallup poll shows that “with few exceptions, Americans’ religiousness remains a major predictor of their political orientation.”
On the international front, it’s no secret that Christians in the Middle East face a tough environment, but one guy appears to be trying to alleviate their problems. Read our story about the “Jewish Schindler” who’s helped more than 700 Middle Easterners escape chaos and violence.
“I feel it. My family was killed in Nazi Germany. I’m Jewish. I know what this is like. That’s why I’m here, to help. OK?” he told one Syrian woman.
And while we’re on the subject of the Middle East, consider that a pro-Israel advocacy group here in the United States launched a national ad campaign last week to “educate Americans about the true nature of Hamas.”
Also, Hamas’ broadcasting network reportedly aired a sermon that promises the complete extermination of the Jews, saying “our belief about fighting you [Jews] is that we will exterminate you, until the last one, and we will not leave of you, even one.”
Moving on…it wouldn’t be a recap lately if craft-store chain Hobby Lobby didn’t somehow make its way into the headlines. And this time it’s all about the satanists.
Using the Hobby Lobby case as a precedent, the Satanic Temple in New York City is seeking a religious exemption from informed consent laws. The group claims that such laws are a violation of their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
While we’re covering legal battles, consider that an appeals court threw out the latest lawsuit by an atheist group to have a steel cross removed from the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.
“We’re really disappointed with the courts ruling. The court has reinforced inequality, reenforced Christian privilege,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists, the group that brought the complaint.
And famed atheist Richard Dawkins is at it again. Take a look at these controversial tweets about pedophilia and rape that had people in an uproar.
But the prominent atheist isn’t the only one getting blasted for what he said on the internet. Posts on a message board written by Pastor Mark Driscoll have surfaced again after 14 years. And some of them are pretty vulgar.
Jumping back to religious freedom, consider that opinions vary on President Barack Obama’s nominee for the position of ambassador at large for international religious freedom at the U.S. State Department. Read some of the praise — as well as some of the criticism.
Fight the New Drug, a group that opposes pornography, claims that porn not only is a moral issue, but also a matter of public health.
“We will not rest until the world knows that pornography is harmful,” a greeting message reads on the group’s website.
And here are some pretty fascinating stories on the history and social science fronts. Consider that historians looking to preserve centuries-old colonial records are encouraging churches to hand over old documents so that they can be archived and properly protected.
The Congregational Library and Archive’s website calls church records “an unparalleled source of information about the religious activities of the early colonists, and about many other aspects of early American life as well.” So, what have they found so far? Click here to find out.
And finally: read about how one researcher revealed the religious “subculture” in which people are living 10 years longer than the average American.