The Collection Plate

Following the Catholic money trail. Spoiler alert: It leads to discrimination.

If you grew up on the South Side of Chicago, you went to mass every Sunday. Not so much because you were super into Jesus & His sidekick, The Pope, as much as it was just the thing you did. There was a community aspect to the whole thing – seeing what everyone was wearing, if so-and-so showed up without her husband and the implications of that, to find out if that girl from Chemistry was out of her goth phase yet – but generally it was just obligation. Sunday afternoons were for the Bears, but Sunday mornings were for the Lord. And when that collection plate came around, you reached into your pocket and threw in a few bucks, not caring where the money went – maybe they could get the clergy some new robes or build a new statue out front – but believing it was the right thing to do.

Blindly trusting the church with your money is no longer possible. As this report from the Human Rights Campaign reveals, the church isn't exactly in the cathedral-building business and dolling out priests’ salaries anymore. During the previous election cycle, the Roman Catholic Church spent nearly $2 million to fund campaigns for anti-same sex marriage bills in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland and Washington. (All losing efforts, mind you.) That's money parishioners threw into the pot thinking that maybe they could have built a new homeless shelter, or gotten some extra workers for the soup kitchen, or, hell, even gotten a better quality of wine to stand in for Jesus's blood. Instead, it went right into continuing the spread of discrimination and trying to put a halt to tolerance. 

Catholics, keep that in mind the next time the collection plate gets passed.

Onto the roundup!

- Israel and Palestine are pretty much officially at war right now, after Hamas started launching missiles and Israel decided to blow up Ahmed Jabari, Hamas's military leader. While it's tough to place the blame entirely on either side – it's simply the latest escalation of “eye for an eye, bombing for a bombing” that's been happening for years – Israel has seemingly taken it a step further by using their Twitter feed to taunt their opponents, which certainly can't be considered in the realm of “peace-keeping”. This isn't going to end well. Or, really, end at all, ever, seeing that this fight revolves around which people like God more.

- In Beverly Hills, a suspicious package with some anti-Semitic slurs written on it shut down the area while the bomb squad took over. Turned out to be nothing.

- On Instagram? You can now follow “Dronestagram”, a single-serving feed that showcases satellite photos of where America's drones have dropped their insurgent-and-sometimes-just-innocent-bystander-killing bombs.

- Egypt's Coptic Christians finally have themselves a new pope, Bishop Tawadros. What's worth pointing out here mostly is just how they came to decide that Tawadros would make the best representative of their religion: They had a blindfolded boy pick a name out of a bowl. No. Really.

- A few weeks ago in Pakistan, a 77-year-old school principal was thrown behind bars after a piece of homework given out at his school contained derogatory references to the prophet Mohammed. A mob subsequently burned down the school. Since, the teacher's been released on bail, which seems like a good thing on the surface, but being unleashed freely into that powder keg may be more dangerous.

- A book blogger for a conservative magazine was fired after writing a post where he urged the GOP to change their stance on gay marriage.

- A Florida student’s parents accused a teacher of turning their daughter into a lesbian. The sickest part of the story is the revelation that the student's father was apparently bullying his own daughter on Twitter after he found out about her sexual orientation.

- Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist who was 17 weeks pregnant, was admitted to an Irish hospital with some back pain a few weeks ago. After it was discovered the pain was due to her pregnancy, she asked for an abortion. Three times. Doctors refused, saying Ireland “is a Catholic country”. A week later, both the fetus and mother died. This is that “mother's life in danger” scenario that Republicans (and electoral losers) like Joe Walsh don't believe are real.

- Speaking of abortion, a new study's about to be released that tracks women turned away from getting abortions – aptly named “turnaways” – to see what their lives are like, and comparing them to women who did get abortions. The first-released findings include evidence that suggests no long-term mental health consequences for women who get abortions, that later-term abortions are actually safer than childbirth, and that women who carried unwanted pregnancies to term were three times more likely to be below the poverty line two years later. Yikes. 

- That whole General Petraeus not being able to keep it in his pants scandal? According to Pat Robertson, it's really the fault of “extremely good-looking” Paula Broadwell, who used her charms to woo the former CIA director. “He's a man,” is Robertson's excuse, which is simply another link in the religion equals sexism chain.

- Ta-da! The former wife of GOP congressman Scott DesJarlais, someone who is stringently opposed to abortion, has had two abortions herself. DesJarlais was part of the decision-making process both times. 

- A Taliban spokesperson pulled the nightmare scenario that's haunted the dreams of anyone who's ever worked in an office by sending out a mass email with the addressees in the CC section, not the BCC.

- Super-Christian Uganda is trying to push their anti-homosexuality bill through Parliament before the Christmas break. If passed, it could mean the death penalty for anyone convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.”

- Oh, let's wind down the week with this gem that has, for whatever reason, been making its way around the blogosphere again: A segment from a 1984 episode of Today about a woman and her haunted toaster. It. Is. Incredible. 

- And Our Person of the Week: The writer who goes by the pseudonym Stella Forstner, who's writing a series of stories for TheHairpin.com, wherein she goes into what it's like growing up as a Scientologist. Part one and two are up now, and definitely worth checking out. 

Previously - The Longest Horoscope Ever