Friday Five: Matt from Walmart, pope vote, icky details, execution reprieve, butts and bagels

Hey Godbeat friends, can we please get a faith angle on Matt from Walmart — and pronto?

I kid. I kid. Well, mostly.

I heard about “How a dude named Matt at an Omaha Walmart went viral” via a tweet by Mary (Rezac) Farrow, a writer for Catholic News Agency. She described the Omaha World-Herald story as her “favorite piece of journalism” she’s read in a while.

After clicking the link, here’s my response: Amen!

Now, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: We are blessed here at GetReligion to have religion writing legends such as Richard Ostling on our team of contributors.

Ostling’s post this week “Down memory lane: A brief history of Catholic leaks that made news” is a typical example of his exceptional insight.

The news peg for the post is Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell’s recent scoop in America magazine on the precise number of votes for all 22 candidates on the first ballot when the College of Cardinals elected Pope Francis in 2013. Ostling offers praise, too, for Washington Post religion writer Michelle Boorstein’s coverage of the story.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: This week, two posts by Terry Mattingly ran neck-and-neck for the top spot.

Finishing No. 1, by a nose: tmatt’s commentary headlined “Gray Lady skips some icky details in obit for Cardinal Danneels, a key Pope Francis supporter.”

A close second: tmatt’s analysis of why “NBC News wins gold-medal prize for most over-the-top, biased report (so far) on United Methodists.”

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): Here’s a big story that broke overnight: The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Supreme Court granted a rare stay of execution for an inmate as he was waiting in the death chamber, ruling that the refusal of Texas to allow a Buddhist spiritual adviser to be present violated his freedom of religion.

From the AP story:

Lower courts had rejected Murphy’s argument.

But in a concurring opinion Thursday night, the newest justice on the court, Brett Kavanaugh, said the Texas prison system allows a Christian or Muslim inmate to have a state-employed Christian or Muslim religious adviser present either in the execution room or in the adjacent viewing room. But inmates of other religious denominations who want their religious adviser to be present can have the adviser present only in the viewing room and not in the execution room itself, he said.

“As this Court has repeatedly held, governmental discrimination against religion_in particular, discrimination against religious persons, religious organizations, and religious speech_violates the Constitution,” he wrote. “The government may not discriminate against religion generally or against particular religious denominations.”

4. Shameless plug: I wrote a Christian Chronicle story this week on a Pennsylvania judge vacating the criminal convictions of a former youth minister accused of preying on church boys.

The piece delves into reform efforts concerning statutes of limitations that are being considered in 35 states.

5. Final thought: We like to close Friday Five on a lighter note.

But this week, we faced a tough choice. End with bagels or butts?

On second thought, why not go with both?

Happy Friday, everybody! Enjoy the weekend!

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