Friday Five: New Zealand, Houston drag queen, Trump as Bible's Esther, Elizabeth Warren's faith


Oh, the joys of life over 50 …

I got my first colonoscopy this week. Then I ate Chick-fil-A. So I either survived or died and went to heaven.

But enough about me and my fun times.

Let’s dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: Today marks one week since 50 worshipers were slain at two mosques.

The Associated Press reports that New Zealanders observed the Muslim call to prayer today, the first Friday after an act that an imam told the crowd of thousands had left the country broken-hearted but not broken.

“I could not have brought enough Kleenex for this,” tweeted one of the AP reporters covering the story. “So moving.”

2. Most popular GetReligion post: Julia Duin’s post on “Houston’s drag queen story hour” is our most-clicked commentary of the week.

Duin noted that there are so many questions and so few journalists asking them:

Now, if you know anything about the power of the large and very active churches in Houston, and the history of gay-rights battles in Houston, there is an obvious question that needs to be asked: Does this story have a religion angle? We will come back to that.

She does indeed come back to that.

Read the full post.

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): Earlier this week, we highlighted the controversy over Secretary of State Mike Pompeo limiting an on-the-record conference call to journalists from faith-based media.

Now, Pompeo is in the middle of his Middle East trip and making headlines on the religion beat.

The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested it is “possible” that President Trump is meant to save the Jewish people, responding to a question on whether Trump is a new Esther, a biblical character who persuaded the king of Persia not to destroy the Jews. The comments came during Purim, a Jewish holiday that marks Esther’s story.

Pompeo was responding to questions during an interview in Jerusalem with the Christian Broadcasting Network, which was founded by televangelist Pat Robertson and has a large evangelical audience. After he was asked whether Trump was a new Esther, he said, “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible."

In the story of Esther, a man named Haman is cited as responsible for encouraging the king to slaughter the Jews, and while questioning Pompeo, CBN’s Chris Mitchell described Iran as a modern-day Haman.

4. Shameless plug: We have a couple of updates related to friends and former GetReligionistas.

First, please join us in expressing sympathy and condolences to Mark Kellner, whose father, Jacques Kellner, died this week at the Veterans Administration hospital in Salt Lake City. He was 89.

In a moving tribute on Facebook, Mark Kellner wrote:

Dad was grateful for the circle of friends he had found in Utah, as well as being in touch with his family here and overseas. He was also grateful for the care he received from the VA, which he regarded most highly. Dad greatly enjoyed his visits to the VA clinic in Salt Lake City, where he'd strike up conversations with other veterans of his era. The bonds of military service proved lasting for Dad, who'd served three years on active duty and, I believe, six years in the reserves.

Meanwhile, Ira Rifkin shared good news concerning both his son Brady, who has battled prostate cancer, and himself after recent major heart surgeries.

In a Twitter post, Rifkin said:

Brady has to stay vigilant the rest of his life. I have weeks of home rest ahead of me as I gradually regain my strength.

But we have survived the worst health tests of our lives. Now, as Spring unfolds, is our time to exhibit a renewed embrace of life, the fragility and pain of which should never be under appreciated.

5. Final thought: Quoting Scripture on the campaign trail can be difficult. Right, President Trump?

Speaking of Donald Trump, people inside the DC Beltway waiting for the release of You Know What can buy Robert Mueller prayer candles? Seriously?

Happy Friday, everybody! Enjoy the weekend!

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