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Holy S**t! * Holy Grail * Holy Hog : Friday’s Roundup

Happy Friday to you, dear readers. And because it’s Friday, we’ll just go ahead and start with this:

Get yourselves to Boca tomorrow for the opening of a provocative art installation that includes the aptly named Holy S**t. Yes, it’s golden poop on a pillow. As the New Times describes it: “Byrd irreverently challenges organized religion in a way that’s off-putting yet beautiful. He sculpted the pile of poo with ceramic and adhered gold leaf to it. It sits atop an ecclesiastical pillow.” Someone alert the Catholic League.

Or, if your tastes lean more toward the porcine, head on over to St. Patrick’s Church in Stephensville, Wis., where grown men will try to wrangle a massive pig at the 44th annual Pig Rassle. Animal rights groups say the pigs are “punched in the face, kicked, body-slammed, jumped on, yelled at and thrown into a bucket.” A church deacon doesn’t buy it: “Are you kidding that our own parishioners would allow us to pound the pig in the head with a hammer? In 44 years, we’ve never injured a pig.”

Meanwhile, in other news …

From the Department of Someone call Monty Python

I mean, seriously, like straight out of central casting: Police raided an English country pub looking for a stolen bowl that some believe might be the famed Holy Grail. Pub “landlady” Di Franklyn says she’s seen a few “rogues and scallywags” in her establishment, but nobody capable of stealing a priceless relic.

From the Department of Big Surprise!

Mississippi is the most religious state, according to the good folks over at Movoto, the real estate brokerage company — based on population that identifies as religious, places of worship per capita, percentage of people that regularly visit a place of worship and percentage of population that “likes” prayer on Facebook. Coming in at #50? Here’s a hint: There’s a reason they call it Sin City.

From the Department of Well Bless His Heart

(I’m going to Charleston next week, so that sub-hed is part of me getting ready, y’all). Christian shock jock Rick Wiles says the ebola outbreak may be God’s way of wiping away the gay: “Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion.”

From the Department of Settle Down and Play Nice, People

Muslim-turned-evangelical Ergun Caner has his share of critics, but when the vitriol spilled over to his 15-year-old son, resulting in the boy’s suicide, evangelicals are saying enough is enough.

From the Department of Settle Down and Place Nice, Part II

Did you hear about the Orthodox Jewish woman from Brooklyn who took to social media to press her husband to grant her a religious divorce? He failed to show up in religious court, as promised. She’s more than a little broygis (and should be).

From the Department of Sorry, Hon, We Took That Off the Menu

So the North Carolina diner that was offering a 15% pray-in-public discount? Yeah, they yanked that after atheists complained that there was no suitable equivalent for nonbelievers.

From the Department of The Guy Nobody Wants to Share a Beer With

Richard Dawkins can raise money and attention for atheists, but for all the wrong reasons, his critics say. Now, even some long-time acolytes say the foot-in-mouth biologist has become more liability than asset for the movement he helped create.

From the Department of Oyez Oyez Oyez

They don’t agree on whether gay folks in Utah should be able to get married, but both defenders of traditional marriage and advocates of marriage equality agree on one thing: The Supreme Court has to decide this issue once and for all, and soon.

From the Department of This is Still My Favorite REM Song

So, the conventional wisdom that if you go to college you’re going to lose your faith? Still sorta true, according to a new study, but increasingly the folks Losing Their Religion are the ones who never went to college in the first place.

From the Department of I’ve Never Read Harry Potter and Don’t Really Know What This is About

But if Jana Riess says it’s important, I’ll go with that. Dumbledore (he’s the old guy, right?) wrote to a teenage Mormon shooting victim.

From the Department of ‘Emerging’ or ‘Emergent’ Church Movement?

I could never remember, but Jonathan Merritt talks to the man who started it all, Brian McLaren, about 25 years of emerging.

From the Department of Sigh …

The militant wackos from the Islamic State have now seized Iraq’s most populous Christian city, sending residents fleeing with little more than the clothes on their backs. Members of that minority Yazidi sect are stuck on a mountain, sun-burned and hungry, with nowhere to go unless they want to be killed if they try to escape. And that cease-fire between Israel and Palestinians? Yeah, not so much anymore. And the latest casualty of the conflict? Israel’s soccer season.

From the Department of More Troubles for the Death Penalty

Egypt’s grand mufti has refused to sign off on death sentences for leaders of the now-out-of-favor Muslim Brotherhood. As the NYT puts it: “Though his opinions are advisory, they carry significant weight.”

And with that, it’s off to the weekend and off to the beach for me. Stay classy, dear readers, and stay tuned to RNS for the latest in religion news.

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