Friday Five: Godbeat trend, United Methodist future, Wheaton 'proof texts,' targeting atheists

In a post this week about religion writer Tim Funk retiring from the Charlotte Observer, I asked about the status of religion reporting at the nation’s regional newspapers.

I mentioned a few metro dailies — the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Peter Smith), The Tennessean (Holly Meyer) and The Oklahoman (Carla Hinton) among them — that still rock the Godbeat.

But I asked readers to help me compile a list of all the big papers with full-time religion writers. Got a name to add to the list? By all means, comment below or tweet us @GetReligion.

Now, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: Did you hear that the United Methodist Church had a high-stakes meeting in St. Louis, the latest battle in decades of warfare over marriage, sex and the Bible? LGBTQ issues are at the heart of this drama, as always (it seems).

Of course you heard about that and here are some of our posts from that major shindig:

Next big news story: After 40 years of war, is United Methodist establishment ready to bargain?

Big United Methodist questions: Has left embraced 'exit' plans? Do 'coexist' clauses work?

Yes, the United Methodist Church's big meeting in St. Louis is national news, but it's something else, too

Out of all the news coverage that I read, my favorite piece was this one by The Atlantic’s excellent Emma Green. Got a different nominee? Share a link below or tweet us at @GetReligion.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: Eric Metaxas and Julie Roys helped drive traffic to our No. 1 most-clicked analysis of the week, and we appreciate it!

That top post is Richard Ostling’s piece headlined “No 'proof texts': Wheaton College scholar seeks to shelve Old Testament moral rules.” After a day of heated online commentary and telephone calls, the Ostling post also includes a personal note from John Walton, the scholar at the heart of the debates.

If you missed it, check it out.

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): Here’s a wild church-state case that, as far as I can tell, has received no mainstream news coverage.

A Friendly Atheist blog post says that a Missouri bill would target atheists who file church-state separation lawsuits. That’s a totally valid church-state separation story that someone needs to look into. I’m sure there are passionate voices on both sides of that debate.

Read the full post.

4. Shameless plug: My Christian Chronicle story on a Pennsylvania congregation divided over whether to let a convicted sex offender — the church’s former longtime youth minister — attend worship was published today.

I’ve been working on this piece for a while.

Read it here.

5. Final thought: “Judges are appointed for life, not for eternity,” said the Supreme Court, speaking as a group. That’s not your normal SCOTUS prose. I thought that might give you a chuckle.

Happy Friday, everybody! Enjoy the weekend!

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