Friday Five: An abusive cult, Top 10 religion stories of 2017, guns in churches and more

Today's Friday Five will be a Roy Moore-free (and Doug Jones-free) zone.

Hey, it's nothing personal (we've got posts here, here, here and here if you want to read more about this week's big politics-and-religion news). Plus, my inside sources tell me a must-listen-to GetReligion podcast on the subject is coming real soon.

But for a twist, the "Five" will focus on subjects besides "Sweet Home Alabama" (the above video notwithstanding).

Here goes:

1. Religion story of the week: The Associated Press published another riveting installment in its ongoing investigation of North Carolina-based Word of Faith Fellowship. Earlier this year, we called attention to this "important AP investigation on physical and sexual abuse" at that church. The latest story by Mitch Weiss and Holbook Mohr — "‘Nobody saved us’: Man describes childhood in abusive ‘cult’" — is again must reading.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: I mentioned the upcoming podcast. But if you missed last week's podcast ("Cakeshop question: Is 'tolerance' a bad word in America today?"), you can listen to it now. Terry Mattingly's post tied to the podcast — "Masterpiece Cakeshop waiting game: Are the bakers of all 'offensive' cakes created equal?" — was the No. 1 most-read post of the last week.

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): I'm going to go with the "and more" this week and mention, in case you missed it, that the Religion News Association's ranking of the Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year is out. Check it out. We'll talk more about this in our year-end posts. Spoiler alert: The Donald figures prominently. And yes, that subject I said I wasn't going to mention in today's Friday Five (except I think I just inadvertently did) makes the list.

4. Shameless plug: I covered a church security training seminar at a Southern Baptist megachurch in the Dallas area last week. My freelance piece for Religion News Service quoted an expert who warns against thinking that worshippers licensed to carry handguns can offer reliable protection. Our own tmatt earlier interviewed a different expert who offers a similar message.

5. Final thought: Who can resist a quirky news item about a live nativity cow who got "Away from the manger?" Not me! Hat tip to Wall Street Journal religion writer Ian Lovett, who retweeted the above item, which is how I came across it.


We'll look forward to seeing you back here in this same space next week. If you have recommendations for any of the items in our Friday Five, by all means, leave a comment or tweet us at @GetReligion.

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