Friday Five: Atheists and hell, unsafe church vans, royal wedding, 'I'm Batman' and more


There was breaking news this week in the world of religion, as noted by Religion News Service's Aysha Khan.

"We now believe in hell," American Atheists announced on Twitter.

The impetus for this major change in (lack of) theology?

It was a New York Times report that "a television show featuring Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who is suing President Trump on behalf of a pornographic film actress, and the former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was pitched to two cable networks in recent weeks." 

Yes, I believe we'll all be reassessing the state of the universe now.

In the meantime, let's dive right into this week's Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: The Louisville Courier-Journal's investigative report headlined "Is your church van a death trap?" is the must-read religion story of the week. 

As noted in a GetReligion post earlier this week, the Courier-Journal's Caitlin McGlade and Justin Price delve meticulously into the subject, reviewing not just crash records but also testimony in various lawsuits sparked by van crashes.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: Editor Terry Mattingly's think piece on "news" about a stunning lack of intellectual diversity in liberal arts and religion faculties occupies the No. 1 spot this week. For journalists, this information could lead to news stories in quite a few zip codes from coast to coast.

Both the post and the comments are worth a click.

Check it out.

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): In case you missed the news (LOL), there's a wedding tomorrow — a royal wedding.

Former GetReligion contributor Mark Kellner has a fascinating RNS piece (including mention of a sermon bingo game) on how Episcopalians are scrambling "to make the most of every pageantry-filled moment."

The basic news angle: American Michael Curry, the Episcopal Church's presiding bishop, will deliver the wedding sermon, marking — as Kellner characterizes it — "a moment of opportunity to welcome newcomers and show the world Episcopalians are not entirely marginalized for their progressive views on gay ordination and same-sex marriage."


Another compelling read on the royal wedding: Washington Post religion writer Julie Zauzmer explores "Why Meghan Markle, raised a Christian, still got baptized before her royal wedding."

4. Shameless plug: How do major-league baseball players spend the offseason?

At least one works as a plumber, and the reason has something to do with his faith.

I interviewed Detroit Tigers ace Michael Fulmer, one of baseball's top young pitchers, for RNS. 

5. Final thought: I'm struggling to come up with a religion angle for this one, but it was the best thing on the internet this week.

Actor Michael Keaton ended his commencement address at Kent State University with two important words.

"I'm Batman."

Happy Friday, everybody!

Enjoy the weekend!



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