Click inside for the weekly religion rail, with items on what the Vatican's newspaper says about Homer Simpson, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us” by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell and more. Or check out these links:

The Vatican has recently claimed that Homer and Bart Simpson are devoted Catholics.


Well, maybe they’re not devoted, but the L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s newspaper, made it clear in an article titled “Homer and Bart are Catholic” that the Vatican considers two of America’s most loveable and politically incorrect cartoon characters part of their people.


“Few people know it and he does everything to hide it, but it is true: Homer J. Simpson is Catholic,” the article read. 


It refers to a 2005 episode when Homer and Bart meet a sympathetic priest, Father Sean, voiced by actor Liam Neeson, and consider converting to Catholicism, much to the dismay of Marge, Rev. Lovejoy and evangelical neighbor Ned Flanders.


However, the producers of the cartoon point out that they merely “consider” the option, and the Vatican may be off on its analysis.


"My first reaction is shock and awe, and I guess it makes up for me not going to church for 20 years," EW.com quoted executive producer Al Jean as saying. “We’ve pretty clearly shown that Homer is not Catholic.”


Of course, the Simpson family is known for leading a dubious lifestyle. For example, they live in Springfield, but it is not clear which state. Their state’s motto is “Not just another state,” and their state’s capital is Capital City.


The Simpson family does belong to the First Church of Springfield, “which is decidedly Presbylutheran,” as noted by Jean.


However, the Vatican points to the moral values that the Simpson family exhibits. The article notes the cartoon’s philosophical take on family, religion and life, even though Homer often misses the mark. In fact, Homer was voted one of Time magazine’s Top 10 TV Dads.


In the end, it is clear that the Vatican supports the themes and messages of the country’s longest running sitcom.


"'The Simpsons' remain among the few programs for children in which the Christian faith, religion and the question of God are recurring themes," it said. "The family recites prayers together before meals and, in its own way, believes in heaven.”


Week in Religion


- Oct. 26, 1950, Mother Teresa found her Mission of Charity in Calcutta, India.


- Oct. 27, 312, Constantine the Great is said to have received his famous Vision of the Cross.


- Oct. 28, 1646, first Protestant church assembly established for Indians in Massachusetts.


Survey Says


According to a survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 15 percent of voters who attend religious services at least once or twice a month say that their place of worship has made political information about parties or candidates available. Among the religious groups, this is most common among black Protestants (36 percent).


Good Book?


“American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us” by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell


American Grace is based on two comprehensive surveys on religion and public life in America. It includes a dozen in-depth profiles of diverse congregations across the country, which illuminate how the trends described by Putnam and Campbell affect the lives of real Americans.


Nearly every chapter of this book contains a surprise about American religious life. Among them:




Between one-third and one-half of all American marriages are interfaith.

Roughly one-third of Americans have switched religions at some point in their lives.

Young people are more opposed to abortion than their parents but more accepting of gay marriage.

Even fervently religious Americans believe that people of other faiths can go to heaven.

Religious Americans are better neighbors than secular Americans: more generous with their time and treasure even for secular causes.

Jews are the most broadly popular religious group in America today.

-- Amazon.com


Get to Know …


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 - 1821) is the first American-born citizen to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Raised in the Episcopal Church, she converted to Roman Catholicism in 1805.


Defying the anti-Catholic bigotry of the day, she established the first Catholic non-cloistered religious community, dedicated to the care of poor children, and the first Catholic school in America. The order was called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph.


The Word


Lex talionis: Latin for "law of retaliation." The Hebrew Scriptures state that injury was to be repaid with a similar injury, "an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth."


-- religioustolerance.org


Religion Around the World


Religious makeup of Iceland


Lutheran Church of Iceland: 80.7 percent 


Roman Catholic Church: 2.5 percent 


Reykjavik Free Church: 2.4 percent 


Hafnarfjorour Free Church: 1.6 percent 


Other religions: 3.6 percent 


Unaffiliated: 3 percent 


Unspecified: 6.2 percent 


- CIA Factbook


GateHouse News Service