Friday Five: Dodger blues, religious freedom threat, Bathsheba raped?, judge's faith, Chick-fil-A hero


This week in news from the baseball gods: They sure don’t seem to like the Los Angeles Dodgers (or the Atlanta Braves).

In the National League Championship Series, I’ll be rooting for the Washington Nationals to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals (I’m a Texas Rangers fan, after all, still dealing with whiplash from what the Cardinals did in the 2011 World Series).

On the American League side, I must decide whether to support the Houston Astros (the Rangers’ division rival) or the New York Yankees (the Evil Empire). Hey, is it possible to root against both?

Meanwhile, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: Did you catch that headline, via the Deseret News’ Kelsey Dallas? “During LGBTQ rights town hall, top Democrats call for limits on religious freedom.”

It’s a must read.

Already, this story — including Beto O’Rourke pledging to strip the tax-exempt status from churches that refuse to change their doctrines to accept same-sex marriage — is causing an uproar in conservative media. And it’s drawn attention elsewhere in the mainstream press, too.

Here is the lede from the Dallas Morning News, a major paper in O’Rourke’s home state of Texas:

WASHINGTON – Beto O’Rourke -- already pushing a ban on assault weapons -- added Thursday night to the list of issues sure to alienate conservative voters if he makes it to the general election, by vowing to revoke the tax exempt status of churches that oppose same-sex marriage.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: Earlier this week, a different story with a huge religious freedom angle made headlines.

In fact, Terry Mattingly’s post titled “USA Today buries lede (here we go again) in big report on sexual-abuse 'window' laws” was our most-clicked commentary of the week. Here’s the main point:

… This USA Today report hides or, at best, obscures the fact that Catholic leaders do not oppose sexual-abuse laws that apply to public institutions and nonprofits, as well as to churches and other religious bodies. The church opposes laws that single out religious groups.

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): This is a really interesting news-feature from Adelle M. Banks and Emily McFarlan Miller of Religion News Service.

They write:

(RNS) — Few Bible scholars would argue that David, the king of Israel, did anything but sin when he had sex with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers.

But what sin was it?

Last week, Rachael Denhollander, the first athlete to publicly accuse USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar of abusing his young patients, called it as she sees it.

“David raped. It’s important we get that right,” she tweeted two days before she appeared as a featured speaker at last week’s Southern Baptist summit on confronting sexual abuse.

They interview Baptist leaders and biblical scholars and highlight a Baptist Press story published in March but taken down in July over concerns about how it portrayed a woman who made an abuse claim. (An earlier RNS story originally referred to the “Baptist Free Press,” which had the GetReligion team Googling since we weren’t familiar with that newsroom. But the “Free” was edited out at some point, and it makes more sense.)

4. Shameless plug: I posted this week on various major news organizations delving into Judge Tammy Kemp giving Amber Guyger, a former Dallas police officer convicted of murder, a Bible and urging her to read John 3:16.

Not included in my post because it was published later: The New York Times (like The Associated Press, as I noted earlier) reported on why the judge said she did what she did.

The Times lede contains some crucial context:

Judge Tammy Kemp is a woman of faith. For more than 25 years, she has attended the same church in Dallas, where she serves as a deaconess. She keeps a Bible in her chambers, positioned on top of her laptop to remind herself to start her day with prayer. And she believes in redemption: In her courtroom, she encourages defendants to use their time in prison to remake their lives.

So when one of those defendants — a former police officer convicted of murdering her unarmed neighbor — asked the judge for advice and a hug last week, the judge’s thoughts turned to a sermon she had heard in church the previous Sunday. The Parable of the Lost Sheep tells the story of a shepherd who still has 99 sheep in his flock, but looks for the one sheep that is lost.

“Our pastor had said: ‘If we’re going to attract the one, we’ve got to show love and compassion.’ And then I also thought, God says my job is to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly,” Judge Kemp said. “So how can you refuse this woman a hug?”

5. Final thought: After the sad news this week from Nebraska, it’s nice to come across this encouraging Chick-fil-A development.

Happy Friday, everybody! Enjoy the weekend!

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