TheBlaze brings you a recap of the most popular and intriguing faith and culture stories each week. From the debate over whether tattooing is a "heathen practice" to a historian's candid views on Jesus — and the ongoing horrors undertaken by extremists in Iraq — a lot has unfolded of late.
Here's our latest recap:
Hollywood is once again flirting with the demonic. We recently spoke with Scott Derrickson, the director of "Deliver Us From Evil" — a new film based on a true story about an NYPD cop who purportedly battled supernatural forces — and Derrickson described just how disturbing it was to watch real-life exorcisms while researching for the film.
“Of all the things I’ve done … it was that window of time that was the most disturbing time for me in my creative work," he said.
Then there's the story we did on Dr. Candida Moss, a historian and professor at the University of Notre Dame, who told TheBlaze last week that she's never encountered anything in her work that would lead her to become a nonbeliever.
“I personally haven’t found anything that makes me want to be an atheist,” Moss, a Catholic, said on the Freefall podcast. “And I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of in the study of history.”
And there were a plethora of stories surrounding the debate over homosexuality in Christian circles. Consider that some critics are wondering whether the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a dying denomination, as its recent embrace of gay marriage made waves, angering its more conservative churches and members.
Then, the United Methodist Church also landed in the headlines, making a controversial decision to reinstate a pastor who had previously been defrocked for presiding over his gay son’s wedding.
Some are wondering if Methodists will eventually follow the Presbyterians in embracing same-sex unions, though the jury is still out.
On the evangelical front, World Vision, a Christian humanitarian group that reversed course just a few months after announcing that they would allow Christians in homosexual marriages to work for their U.S. branch, is now reportedly asking board members to affirm a traditional stance on marriage.
And did you hear about the Canadian city that recently banned an event from taking place in a public conference center due to the fact that it was sponsored, in part, by Chick-fil-A?
“The owner of [Chick-fil-A] has a rich history of homophobia and other divisive practices," a council member said at a meeting before proposing the ban.
Speaking of bans, the New York teacher who sued her district after being forced to remove Bible verses from her public school classroom has been in the headlines again.
Moving on — did you catch what Sen. Rand Paul recently said about the relationship between faith and freedom? Making comments at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference, he offered a passionate defense of faith in public life.
“I think that too often our culture seeks to separate faith and freedom. Freedom needs virtue and virtue needs freedom,” he said.
Meanwhile, author and terrorism expert Brigitte Gabriel accused CNN of “completely editing” and misrepresenting her views during a prerecorded interview that aired on last Sunday’s “Reliable Sources.”
Gabriel clashed with Linda Sarsour, director of the Arab American Association of New York, during the segment in question, battling over purported “fear-mongering” and Gabriel’s views on Islamic extremism.
Shifting gears to the Middle East, Christians in one Iraqi city are being forced to pay a protection tax by ISIS, which is now in control of the city.
Armed horsemen following an Iraqi flag join Iraqi Shiites of the Mahdi Army militia loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and vow to fight ISIS in a show of strength in a military parade on June 21, 2014 in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, Iraq. In a lightning advance, the Al Qaeda-inspired Sunni jihadists of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have taken control of western and central sectors of Iraq, and vowed to attack Shiite shrine cities of Karbala and Najaf. Scott Peterson/Getty Images
And we also brought you a disturbing report about the questions that Islamic militants reportedly pose to the citizens they capture — queries that could mean life or death, depending on whether victims indicate they are Sunni or Shite.
Oh, and Pat Robertson believes that "tattooing is a heathen practice." What do you think?
Let’s wrap things up on a lighter note. Have you been watching Clint Dempsey’s stellar performance in the World Cup? Read about why the captain of the U.S. soccer team raises his finger to the sky when he scores a goal.
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