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Fun Festivus: Top Religion Stories of 2011 & See You Next Year!

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Thanks to everyone who made it out last week to the Religion Newswriters Association & Religion Communicators Council networking event at The Huffington Post. Looking forward to more RNA/RCC gatherings; it’s a great way to talk faith-related news and get […]

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Fun Friday: What GOP Hopefuls & NY Middle Schoolers Have in Common

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Six GOP presidential hopefuls schlepped for votes Wednesday at a candidates forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition (insert your own SNL Coffee Talk joke here). Background notes: Jews make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population and vote overwhelmingly […]

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Fun Friday: Colbert’s Reax to Mass Changes, Israel Backs Off Un-Kosher Ads & Religion Reporters Ready to Mingle

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Catholic comedian Stephen Colbert devoted a “Yahweh or No Way” segment to the new English translation of the Roman Missal (Mass). Only Colbert could work in references to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and They Might Be Giants’ “Istanbul (Not Contantinople)” […]

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Fun Friday: Halloween, Jesusween or Halaloween – Just Gimme Some Candy!

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today is the Greek holiday “Ohi” (No) Day, celebrating Greece’s defiance against the Axis powers during World War II. In that spirit, I say “NO!” to anyone raining on my Halloween parade, from my family’s church canceling its awesome haunted […]

Fun Friday: Cagefighting Jesus, Alternative Southern Baptist Names, Ted Haggard’s Wife Swap

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report aren’t resting on their Emmy laurels — they each had entertaining faith-related bits this week, particularly on the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s United Nations edition. (Unfortunately, Comedy Central […]

Fun Friday: Muslim Guy Wants to Stop Apologizing for Sept. 11 Attacks

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Every time the 9/11 anniversary comes along, I’m torn between wanting to cover the hell out of it, and wanting to curl up in the fetal position until it goes away. Pretty much the same way I felt as a journalism […]

Fun Friday: Stephen Colbert on God’s Low Approval Rating; No Gay Marriage for Bert & Ernie

posted by Nicole Neroulias

If President Obama and other politicians are feeling down about their unpopularity these days, perhaps they can take some consolation in God’s surprisingly low approval rating. (He’s still more popular than the politicians, of course, but not by as much […]

Fun Friday: TDS Tackles No-Copay Birth Control, Atheist Protest of Ground Zero Cross

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m still washing out my eyeballs after last night’s “Daily Show With Jon Stewart” uncensored segment on Jason Jones’ vasectomy — good thing I didn’t go into medicine! Fortunately, the “Culture War Update: The Dividening of America” segment aired earlier in […]

Fun Friday: Rick Perry’s Ideal Running Mate, Lesbian Jewish Irony Alert, Wronged Hindu Vegetarians & Priest Protests Too Much

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Stephen Colbert had some fun words for Texas Gov. Rick Perry — is it just the twangy God talk, or is he physically morphing into his predecessor George W. Bush, too? — on his Comedy Central show a few days […]

Fun Friday: Jon Stewart Gets ‘Jewish’ Over Bleeding Wrist During Weinergate Press Conference

posted by Nicole Neroulias

There was a very funny exchange on The Daily Show this week, during the fake press conference Jon Stewart held to satirize both Congressman Anthony Weiner’s apology and his own show’s half-hearted mockery of the scandal (Weiner is an old […]

Fun Friday: Tim Tebow, Christian Sports Hero, Reveals Sense of Humor

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Football quarterback Tim Tebow, best known to the masses as the evangelical guy who wrote Bible verses in his eye-black as a college star last year (and had a pro-life ad air during last year’s Super Bowl), has been making […]

Fun Friday II: Ready for the Rapture?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s one thing not to take the world ending seriously… but most people, including reporters, seem to be using Harold Camping’s May 21 prediction as the chance to have some fun. (Especially since even Camping’s Family Radio ministry employees don’t […]

Billy Graham Released From Hospital; Lady Gaga’s Taking the Reins?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Five days after being admitted to a North Carolina hospital with pneumonia, the Rev. Billy Graham has been released from the hospital, and is now resting comfortably at his mountain home. Meanwhile, is Lady Gaga trying to be the next […]

Fun Friday: Pope John Paul II Killed Bin Laden, Jesus Hammers Thor & The End is Near

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s Friday the 13th, so whether you’re scared or skeptical about this “unlucky” day, check out this CNN Belief Blog piece by Stuart Vise about the superstition. Now, if you’re ready for some fun, check out this “Yahweh or No Way” […]

Fun Friday: If Muslims & Christians Pray Together, Can Santa – or God – Tell the Difference?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Check out this field report about interfaith cooperation from last night’s Daily Show With Jon Stewart, in which correspondent-comedian John Oliver plays the role of a conservative Christian confused by a Virginia church allowing Muslims to pray in its multi-purpose room. (Seems like […]

Holy Wednesday News Cycle: Oil Spill Anniversary, Lady Gaga + Judas, Reefer Madness & More

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Holy Wednesday, indeed: there’s so much random faith-related news on this hump day, the only way I can do it justice it to give you a top 5 list: Day of remembrance: 1 year after Gulf oil disaster (AP) Charter […]

Fun ‘Friday': Looking Forward To The Easter Weekend

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I was going to save these fun Easter-related links for Good Friday, but I’m sure there will be plenty more entertaining religion news by then. Happy Palm Sunday! Check out the Community Christian Church’s take on that infamously awful “Friday” pop song, riffing on […]

Fun Friday: Jew News Jokes, Stephen Colbert’s Lenten Quest, F-Word Pastor & More

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Since this Fun Friday also falls on April Fool’s Day, here’s a little something for everyone: Jews: From the JTA Archive: April Fool’s Day lessons for Jewish Pranksters Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Jains, Quakers, Shakers: Stephen Colbert Talks Religion With Stephen […]

Fun Friday: 103-Year-Old Dancing Nun, Un-Kosher Israel Flight & Oscar Preview

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Pew Research Center reports that religion coverage doubled last year — to a whopping 2 percent of overall news — largely due to negative stories like the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal, Florida pastor Terry Jones’ threat to burn the Koran, the Park51 (“Ground Zero […]

Fun Friday: Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Drake & Matisyahu Inspire Faithful Fans

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s awards season, so there’s lots of celebrity news — and the religion beat is no exception. Recent headlines include music superstars like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga using their fame to weigh in on contentious values issues like abortion […]

More Fun Friday: The Birth of a New Jewish Holiday in Texas?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart had a funny field report last night from Texas, covering the “miracle” of a Jewish Republican’s reelection. The show focuses on how Texas Rep. Joe Straus, Speaker of the Lone Star state’s House of […]

Happy Groundhog Day and Candlemas: Prayers Answered for Winter’s End?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Just a bit of sillinesss to balance out the Middle East today: It’s Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, which means he has predicted an early spring. (Sure, if you live in Seattle, where it’s been mild […]

Fun Friday: Boy George, Ricky Gervais, Tiger Mom & Russian Strippers

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Time to lighten up and have a laugh — or at least a hearty eye-roll? I have four finalists for this week’s Fun Friday newsmaker. Boy George Returns Stolen Church Icon (AFP) Full disclosure: I wanted to go with this […]

Fun Friday: Doritos, the Super Bowl’s Sacramental Snack Food?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I was going to blog about Ted Williams, the “golden voiced” homeless Ohio man and recovering addict who has credited God with for his newfound fame, but I’m a bit apprehensive about his sudden stardom — everyone loves a feel-good […]

Fun Friday & Away Message: Christmas Eve to Happy New Year 2011

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m off to India for a family wedding — perhaps we’ll wave to Santa from the window seat! — so here’s plenty of holiday cheer to last until I get back: A flash mob for Christmas (Blogging Religiously) Colbert Takes the […]

Fun Friday: Buff Bods for Benedict, Festivus for the Rest of Us

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Both of these stories cracked me up this week: a California inmate cited his religious belief in Seinfeld’s “Festivus” holiday in a bid to get salami-free prison meals, and a quartet of buff acrobats performed a bizarre barechested show for Pope […]

Fun Friday: Tweeting the Nativity, Pope Condom Ads & New Narnia Film

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Plenty of off-beat Christian news to pick from this week, ranging from entertaining to just odd. Here’s something for everyone: Pope Benedict & Condoms PETA launches ‘Pope condom’ ads to avoid unwanted dogs, cats (USA Today) Pope has not endorsed condoms […]

Hanukkah 2010 Soundtrack: Matisyahu, Maccabeats & Bieber/Kanye/Enrique Parodies Light Up the Holiday

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated to add the Maccabeats link and video. Hanukkah tunes have come a long way since my suburban New York public school had us singing “The Dreidel Song” and a couple of obscure Hebrew ditties to balance out all the Christmas […]

Fun Friday: Atheist Hymn, Jewish Oscar the Grouch, and Giant Jesus Race

posted by Nicole Neroulias

There were too many entertaining faith-related headlines to pick just one newsmaker this week, so here’s a Top 3 video edition of Fun Friday. (If you only want a print story, I also enjoyed the Baltimore nuns cashing in on a rare […]

Fun Friday: Faith Groups Plan ‘Faux-test’ at Stewart-Colbert Rally

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Comedy Central’s Daily Show host (and one of America’s top 50 influential Jews) Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” — essentially a giant eyeroll at Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally and Al Sharpton’s “Reclaim the Dream” counter-march two months ago — […]

Fun Friday: Praise for Grilled Cheesus on ‘Glee’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

This week’s episode of Glee focused on religion, with lunkhead leading man Finn Hudson’s creation of a “Grilled Cheesus” (burned toast resembling Jesus) prompting him to coax New Directions to sing about faith. The glee club’s musical numbers included covers […]

Fun Friday: Team Jesus vs. Team Mohammed

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated: Check out what else applies to 1 in 5 Americans, over at my Huffington Post column. First, the not-so-fun news: The Rev. Franklin Graham went on CNN and perpetuated the misconception that President Obama was born Muslim because his absentee father’s family […]

Fun Friday: Julia Roberts Becomes Hindu (While Eating, Praying, Loving)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

People reports that Julia Roberts, who was raised Christian, is now “definitely” Hindu. Presumably, she felt a spiritual connection to the faith while filming Eat Pray Love in India. According to the magazine: The entire Roberts-Moder family, she reveals, goes […]

Fun Friday: Vampire Author Anne Rice Quits Christianity (Again)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Long before Team Edward and Team Jacob, before Sookie Stackhouse and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there was Lestat, Louis and their fellow undead frenemies, creatures of the night cooked up by author Anne Rice. After quitting the vampire book biz and […]

Fun Friday: Holocaust Survivor Disco Dances at Auschwitz

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ve found a working YouTube link, so that’s fixed for now. (Please post in the Comments section if it stops working, and I’ll find another one again.) It’s a matter of global Jewish blogosphere debate whether this YouTube video of a Holocaust survivor […]

Fun Friday: Jon Stewart Riffs On Fox News (Again), This Time About NASA-Muslim Outreach, Mosque Protests

posted by Nicole Neroulias

There were a lot of quirky religion news stories with serious undertones this week, ranging from a cussing Catholic priest ministering to Mexican gangsters to the appointment of a Muslim mayor in a strongly Orthodox Jewish suburb of New York City. Iran […]

Fun Friday: Jack Abramoff Goes from Prison to Pizzeria; China Holds ‘Religious Games’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I can’t decide which of these religion stories has more entertainment value: disgraced lobbyist (and Orthodox Jew) Jack Abramoff now serving his debt to society by working at a kosher pizzeria in Baltimore, or China holding its first “Religious Games,” in which Buddhist monks […]

As ‘Twi-Hards’ Prepare for ‘Eclipse,’ Shedding Some Light on Mormon References

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ve only skimmed part of the hugely popular “Twilight” series — I already took a bite out of the vampire genre back before Anne Rice was a Christian author, followed up by my “Buffy” years – but I may just have to check out the third film when “The […]

Stephen Prothero to Stephen Colbert: ‘Christianity is Losing Market Share’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A few years after giving readers a crash course in Religious Literacy, Boston University professor Stephen Prothero’s new lesson plan focuses on debunking the theory that all religions are just different paths to the same goal (heaven, enlightenment, salvation, etc.). […]

Fun Friday: Lady Gaga Makes Like Madonna, But Is MTV ‘Blasphemy’ Still News?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Lady Gaga’s new music video for “Alejandro,” a catchy tune that strikes me as the lovechild of Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” and Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around,” has made headlines for its “blasphemous” images, including the singer dressed as a latex-clad nun […]

U.S. Muslims Disappointed by Washington, Frustrated by Hollywood

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As I hinted at in my blog posts on the anniversary of President Obama’s Cairo speech to the Muslim world, I’ve been working on a Religion News Service story about the impact that America’s political efforts and cultural exports — including “Sex and the City 2,” “South Park” and the Miss […]

Fun Friday: Carrie Bradshaw’s SATC Column, After Visiting Abu Dhabi With the Girls

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I checked out “Sex and the City 2″ this week, and found it pleasant enough for a girls’ night out. My husband, who has been to Abu Dhabi recently, couldn’t make it to the movie, so I’ll have to assume the critics are correct […]

‘Lost’ Finale References Purgatory, Nirvana, Forgiveness, and Other Spiritual Themes

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Like many “Lost” fans, I’m not sure what to think about last night’s series finale, but the show certainly continued to mine religious concepts — forgiveness, sacrifice, communion, purgatory, nirvana, etc. — until the very end, even literally gathering most of […]

Fun Friday: Marky Mark Wahlberg’s Career Steered by Family Priest

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The most entertaining religion story of the week was the speculation over the role that Mark Wahlberg’s religious mentor, the Rev. James Flavin, has had in helping him choose roles — steering him away from playing one of the gay cowboys in “Brokeback Mountain” […]

Happy Star Wars Day, Jedi Religion Followers and Fans

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Yoda fans around the world are observing today, May 4, as “Star Wars Day,” in a punny take on the Jedi Knight motto: “May the Force Be With You.” (May the Force, May the 4th… get it? Geddit?!) To learn […]

Fun Friday: ‘Boobquake’ Responds to Muslim Cleric, Causes Taiwan’s Tremor?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The most entertaining religion news story this week was unquestionably “Boobquake,” a Facebook-fueled joke calling on ladies to respond, um, appropriately to an Iranian Muslim cleric’s recent statement that womens’ immodest attire has been causing the earth’s violent tremors. Purdue University student/Boobquake mastermind […]

Fun Friday, Part II: Players Tricked Into Selling Their Souls for Online Games

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Along with last night’s Jon Stewart/South Park segment, the most entertaining religion news item of the past week came out of an April Fool’s Prank played by GameStation, a British online gaming store that buried an “immortal soul clause” in […]

Fun Friday, Part I: In ‘South Park’ Defense, Jon Stewart Recaps ‘Daily Show’ Religious Mockery

posted by Nicole Neroulias

While I considered the two-part 200th episode of “South Park” lots of fun, it wasn’t necessarily the most entertaining religion story of the week, especially once the censorship of the Prophet Muhammad’s image went from ironic plot device to network-imposed mandate, and media […]

Muslim Extremist News: Lebanese TV Psychic Saved, South Park Censored

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Looks like the media spotlight and global campaigning by groups like Amnesty International has succeeded in saving Ali Hussain Sibat, the Lebanese TV psychic sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for “witchcraft” after being arrested by the country’s religious police during a pilgrimage. […]

Fun Friday: Vatican Newspaper Forgives The Beatles

posted by Nicole Neroulias

This week’s most entertaining religion story came out of the Vatican — a nice surprise, considering the significantly less pleasant headlines from there lately. In short, the Holy See’s official newspaper published a glowing tribute to The Beatles, on the 40th anniversary […]

Fun Friday: Barbie Gets Ordained

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Introducing “Fun Friday,” my take on the most entertaining religion news of the past week. Hands down, as I came down off my Greek Easter food coma to a week of more clergy sex abuse news and the West Virginia coal mine disaster, […]

CNN: Condemned ‘Sorcerer’ Still Alive, in Saudi Prison

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s been a relatively good Friday for Ali Hussain Sibat, the Lebanese TV fortune-teller arrested by Saudi Arabia’s religious police and convicted of witchcraft last year. CNN reports that his attorney said he has not been beheaded today after all, though he […]

BREAKING NEWS: TV ‘Magician’ May Be Executed in Saudi Arabia Tomorrow

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The lawyer for Ali Hussain Sibat, a fortune-teller on a Lebanese TV show, says Saudi Arabia plans to behead her client tomorrow. (This is not an April Fools’ Day joke.) Sibat, 49, is Lebanese citizen, but was arrested by Saudi religious police […]

Arrested by Saudi Religious Police, ‘Magician’ Gets Death Penalty

posted by Nicole Neroulias

(Updated at 6:30 p.m. EST to clarify my last question.) Amnesty International has issued an “urgent appeal” calling on Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to stop the execution of a Lebanese TV personality sentenced to death for “sorcery.” Ali Hussain Sibat, […]

Trying ‘National Day of Unplugging,’ aka the Sabbath?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Several years ago, I failed to make it through Lent without visiting my favorite time-sucking Web site; I’ve never even considered giving up Facebook or going offline entirely (not a professional option, anyway). But, all this coverage of the Sabbath Manifesto’s call […]

Christians Object to Glenn Beck’s Warnings About ‘Social Justice’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Coverage has snowballed in the week since conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck called on Christians to “run as fast as you can” if their churches preach about social or economic justice, which he defines as code words for Communism and Nazism. Summarized […]

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More Blogs To Enjoy!
Thank you for visiting Belief Beat. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy:   Beliefnet News   Good News Happy Reading!  

posted 4:57:28pm Feb. 14, 2012 | read full post »

Fun Friday: Atheist Temple Planned for UK's Nonbelievers
Author Alain de Botton has announced plans to build an Atheist temple in the United Kingdom, presumably so nonbelievers have a place to gather and share their philosophies. Um... isn't that what Starbucks is for? Also, I can't wait to see how the architect will handle this kind of project. May

posted 2:53:42pm Jan. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Alaska Airlines: High Payers No Longer Offered Sky Prayers
Alaska Airlines, now the country's seventh-largest airline, has announced it will stop offering prayer cards with its in-flight meals. (It's just raining religion news in the great unchurched Pacific Northwest lately.) I've flown Alaska several times since moving to Seattle, but I confess that I'

posted 11:07:56am Jan. 26, 2012 | read full post »

Washington's Gay Marriage Debate: Clergy vs. Clergy
I reported for Reuters at the Washington state Capitol yesterday, covering the public hearings on a gay marriage bill -- and in between, the breaking news that the state Senate now has enough votes to pass the bill. (The House already had enough votes.) It now appears that Washington's lawmakers wi

posted 11:24:39am Jan. 24, 2012 | read full post »

What Israel's Domestic Policy & Santorum Supporters Have in Common
Hope everyone had an introspective Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, whether observed as a faith-related holiday, a nice break from the work week or something else entirely. Check out this story from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly about how mandatory sentencing for drug crimes and non-violent offens

posted 1:32:44pm Jan. 18, 2012 | read full post »

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