Friday Five: American-style Islam, Christmas in Bethlehem, $29.95 ordination, Hooters and more

Here's something I betcha didn't know: I'm an ordained pastor, and it only cost me $29.95. (Apparently, I paid too much.)

More on that — and my strange clerical connection to Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law — in a moment.

First, though, let's dive right into this week's Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly mentioned Emma Green's important contributions to 2017 religion reporting in a post earlier this week.

Here's another shout-out for Green, who ended the year with an in-depth piece on "How America Is Transforming Islam."

The article didn't please everyone, but like Rod Dreher — who praised Green's story on his American Conservative blog — I thought it made for compelling and thought-provoking reading.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: The No. 1 spot this week belongs to tmatt's post on the timing of Christmas in the ancient city of Bethlehem. The post's title: "Once again in Royal David's City: Journalists still confused about Christmas who, what, when, where ..."

Coming in strong at No. 2 — and gaining as I type, but not fast enough — is my Thursday afternoon post headlined "Duck, duck, goose: Three different approaches to covering Mormon church president's death."

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): Let's go with "and more" this week and update a story we earlier highlighted. In October, we called attention to the Chicago Tribune's reporting on a dispute over a tombstone in a Catholic cemetery.

The case involved a family putting the inscription "She supported priest rapist victims” on her grave marker. According to a new Tribune story, a compromise has been reached.

The new epitaph wording: "“She supported priest sexual abuse victims.”

4. Shameless plug: I referenced Kushner up top. Here's the deal: Religion News Service (for which I occasionally freelance) reported this week that the president's son-in-law isn't an ordained "internet Unitarian," as he had reportedly said. Instead, he got his quick-and-easy ordination (allowing him to marry people) through

According to the website of the "Universal Life Church," ordination "is completely legal, is cost-free, and isn't complicated."

That's interesting to me because in 2001, I paid $29.95 to get my mail-order ULC credentials and wrote a tongue-in-cheek column about it for The Oklahoman. I guess the price has gone down.

5. Final thought: Would Jesus work at Hooters?

According to various Texas news reports, Abilene Christian University's more than 5,000 students are being urged not to apply for jobs at the Hooters set to open soon in that West Texas city.

From the Dallas Morning News:

In a written statement, Emerald Cassidy, the school's director of public and media relations, told the station that "we have asked students to consider both what Hooters represents and whether that is something they really want to support in terms of both their faith and the value this business model places on women."
According to the university handbook, Cassady said, students are challenged to make decisions "that ultimately glorify God" whether on or off campus, adding that the university could review any student it felt did not uphold that standard on a case-by-case basis.

For those unfamiliar with Hooters, what does the chain represent that might be offensive?

The Dallas paper's brief item doesn't specify, but the Abilene Reporter-News notes that Hooters is "known for its provocatively-dressed waitresses called Hooters Girls."

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