Friday Five: Centers of the religion news universe, plus Alexa orders toilet paper during sermon

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Rome. Nashville. St. Louis.

These are the centers of the religion news universe this week, involving America’s three largest Christian groups.

At Vatican City, Pope Francis has convened a four-day meeting on the Catholic Church’s ongoing sex abuse crisis. In Nashville, Tenn., Southern Baptists heard from the convention’s president, J.D. Greear, earlier this week concerning that denomination’s own sex abuse crisis.

Meanwhile, the United Methodist Church’s high-stakes, three-day meeting on LGBT issues opens Sunday in St. Louis. Are we talking about schism or a semi-schism?

Amid all that news, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

2. Most popular GetReligion post: And our No. 1 most-clicked analysis? Yes, it was a Catholic-related piece, too.

I’m talking about Editor Terry Mattingly’s post on “Priests trapped in closets: The New York Times offers updated talking points for Catholic left.”

Check it out.

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): Here’s an interesting development that I missed at the end of last week.

The Associated Press reported on a lawsuit filed by a Catholic mother accusing a federally funded South Carolina foster agency of not working with her because she’s “not the right kind of Christian.”

As GetReligion readers know, the fact that the agency in question, Miracle Hill Ministries, won’t work with Catholics isn’t new. I wish the AP story had been more balanced in its coverage and perhaps quoted the priest who told Religion News Service in January, “Within their worldview, all this makes perfect sense.”

4. Shameless plug: “Sunday Will Never Be the Same: A Rock & Roll Journalist Opens Her Ears to God” by Dawn Eden Goldstein is available for pre-order.

I look forward to reading this memoir by Goldstein, a former GetReligionista who is now Catholic theology professor and chair of online undergraduate theology for Holy Apostles College & Seminary in Cromwell, Conn. From rock music scribe to a pontifical doctorate in theology — what an interesting ride.

5. Final thought: O be careful little (technological) ears what you hear.

My Christian Chronicle colleague Erik Tryggestad’s story on Alexa ordering toilet paper during an Oklahoma minister’s sermon has gone viral this week — from Religion News Service to NPR.

Happy Friday, everybody!

Enjoy the weekend!

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