- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stephen Colbert has made it clear that when he takes over “The Late Show” from David Letterman next year, it will be himself, not “Stephen Colbert,” sitting behind the desk.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Colbert, 49, said he would not use his satirical character from Comedy Central in his new job.

The real Stephen Colbert comes from a strong Catholic faith. Just how much his religion will play a part of his hosting gig remains to be seen, but Mr. Colbert has spoken openly about how Catholicism has shaped his life.

Mr. Colbert told the New York newspaper in 2012 that his mother “taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the cross and the example of sacrifice that he gave us.”

In a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, Mr. Colbert acknowledged that he wasn’t sure how good he was at putting his faith into practice, but his mother was a shining example.

“From a doctrinal point of view or a dogmatic point of view or a strictly Catholic adherent point of view, I’m first to say that I talk a good game, but I don’t know how good I am about it in practice,” he told the magazine. “I saw how my mother’s faith was very valuable to her and valuable to my brothers and sisters, and I’m moved by the words of Christ, and I’ll leave it at that.”

THE OFFICIAL GOOD BOOK

Louisiana doesn’t have an official state book, but that honor could end up with the Bible if government leaders have anything to say about it.

A bill offered by state Rep. Thomas G. Carmody Jr., a Republican, has reached the Louisiana House of Representatives less than two months after he proposed that the “Holy Bible be the official state book.”

The House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs approved the bill Tuesday with minimal amendments. Floor debate is set for Monday.

Mr. Carmody submitted the bill on behalf of a resident, The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La., reported. He said naming the Bible as the official state book was not the same as establishing a state religion. Some of his fellow representatives voiced concern about blurring the line between church and state. Others suggested adding all books of faith to the bill.

The Advocate reported that Mr. Carmody said he thought the Bible was an “appropriate symbol.”

Louisiana could have more than one state book; after all, it has more than one official state jelly.

ARMAGEDDON OUTTA HERE

Astronomers and apocalypse preparers alike had their eyes on the skies early Tuesday when a Blood Moon appeared.

Named for its reddish hue, the phenomenon is caused when the moon passes through the “amber shadow of Earth,” NASA said.

The Blood Moon was the first in a “tetrad,” or four total lunar eclipses spaced about six months apart. The other eclipses will occur Oct. 8, April 4, 2015, and Sept. 28, 2015.

NASA officials said lunar eclipses happen on average twice a year, but eight tetrads are predicted for the remainder of the 21st century. What is special this time, NASA scientist Fred Espenak said, “all of them are visible for all or parts of the USA.”

Not everyone is excited.

The Religion News Service pointed out that some people are concerned with Bible passages that refer to the moon turning to blood as a sign of a coming Judgment Day. According to Joel 2:31, “the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.”

In Acts 2:20 of the New Testament, the sun will be turned to darkness and “the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.”

Among the most popular Doomsday announcers, the Religion News Service points out, is Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee. His book “Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change” is No. 4 on the New York Times best-seller list for advice and how-to books.

“Just as in biblical times, God is controlling the sun, the moon, and the stars to send our generation a signal that something big is about to happen,” the book’s promotional material reads. “The question is: Are we watching and listening for His message?”

Others have argued that if there was ever a sign of the End of Days, it was the news this week from fried chicken purveyor KFC that it would be bringing back the Double Down — a breadless sandwich consisting of bacon, cheese and special sauce, held together by two fried chicken breasts.

MAY THE FAITH BE WITH YOU

A young inmate in a London prison claiming his religion as “Jedi” is complaining that his religious rights are being violated.

An anonymous letter was sent to Inside Time, a British-based paper for prisoners. The writer said he asked to be allowed to “practice religion freely,” but was told his religion is not recognized by the National Offender Management Service.

“This is an example of the kind of intolerance and religious bigotry faced by members of our faith on a daily basis, both within the prison system and without,” the letter stated. “Jedis have been portrayed very negatively in the media ever since the tragic battle of Yavin IV, when Luke Skywalker and a group of left-wing militants targeted the Death Star in a terrorist attack, killing thousands of civilian personnel.”

According to JediChurch.org, the faith is open to anyone, provided they believe “there is one all-powerful force that binds all things in the universe together.”

The Guardian reported that the letter was sent from an inmate at Her Majesty’s Prison Isis, a southeast London institution for offenders younger than 25.

The prison system might not recognize the Jedi religion, but a 2011 British census found that more than 176,000 people identified with the Jedi religion, out of the 240,000 people who listed “other religion” when asked about their faith.

Meredith Somers covers religion and faith issues for The Washington Times.

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