- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 10, 2014

Spread whatever rumors about wedding reception and honeymoon details that you want, but don’t fool around with faith when it comes to George Clooney.

The dashing actor who’s played everyone from Batman to Danny Ocean this week publicly chastised British tabloid the Daily Mail, after it ran a story claiming the mother of Mr. Clooney’s fiancee, Amal Alamuddin, was against the wedding for religious reasons.

“First of all, none of the story is factually true,” said Mr. Clooney in an exclusive statement to USA Today. “But this lie involves larger issues. The irresponsibility, in this day and age, to exploit religious differences where none exist, is at the very least negligent and more appropriately dangerous.”

The paper apologized for the story, which has since been removed from its website. The original account quoted a source that said Ms. Alamuddin’s mother was telling everyone that her daughter should wed someone who practices the family’s Druze religion. The British paper went on to report that Ms. Alamuddin’s mother had warned that her daughter risked being “cast out of the community” and “that several women have been murdered” for not following the Druze faith, a branch of Shia Islam.

“Amal’s mother is not Druze,” Mr. Clooney stated. “She is in no way against the marriage. … We have family members all over the world, and the idea that someone would inflame any part of that world for the sole reason of selling papers should be criminal.”

Out with a bang

A group of Buddhist monks in New Mexico had local police seeing red after they were caught launching illegal fireworks to celebrate the red, white and blue.

Monks from the Hoi Phuoc Buddhist Temple in Albuquerque were cited by police for setting off illegal fireworks on the Fourth of July, The Associated Press reported.

Police responded to the temple after a call-in complaint. When they arrived they found a crowd of people watching the private fireworks display. Officers were told that the fireworks were donated by someone who claimed they were legal, local TV station KRQE reported, and when they asked why no one had researched which explosives were illegal, an audience member told them the monks do not watch television, read the paper or even listen to the radio.

According to the station, Albuquerque Fire Department inspector Darrick Pino told the monks “it’s still your responsibility to know the laws of the land.”

The monks’ citation was one of 17 handed out that night. Each citation carries a fine of up to $500 or 90 days behind bars.

Same-sex criticism

A complaint has been filed against 36 United Methodist pastors who officiated a same-sex wedding in Philadelphia.

Bishop Peggy Johnson, episcopal leader for the Philadelphia Area of the United Methodist Church, told the United Methodist News she received a complaint against the 36 pastors, and that they were all “following the disciplinary process … of the United Methodist Church … and are prayerful that a just resolution can be achieved.”

“As United Methodists, we are committed to seeking peace and reconciliation as a model for society,” she said in a statement from her office. “May it be so.”

The names of the pastors, as well as the name of the person or people who filed the complaint, have not been released.

The same-sex wedding was held Nov. 9 at Arch Street United Methodist Church for Richard Kevin Taylor and William Robert Gatewood, both longtime members of the church.

Rev. Robin M. Hynicka, senior pastor at Arch Street, said at the time that 36 United Methodist clergy officiated the marriage, the News reported, but more than 40 faith leaders were present at the ceremony.

Vatican battle

A battle of pontifical proportions is brewing — or so the Catholic and futbol faithful would hope.

On Sunday, the World Cup final is set between Argentina and Germany, and it just so happens, Argentina is the native country of Pope Francis, while his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI hails from Germany.

Don’t think you’re the first to wonder if there will be a papal throwdown in Vatican City. In fact, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi on Thursday had to tell reporters that “both would want the better team to win, without taking sides.”

The game also starts a bit late for Pope Francis’ schedule, Rev. Lombardi said, while Pope Emeritus Benedict is not much of a sports fan.

But the spokesman left a sliver of hope for those holding out for a good-natured rivalry. Asked whether either man would change his mind about the match, he said, “We’ll see in the coming days.”

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

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