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In related news, nearly two-thirds of Americans say local governments should not be able to bar anti-abortion sidewalk counselors, the Washington Times’ Mark A. Kellner reports, citing a Becket Fund for Religious Liberty survey.

Power Up: The Week’s Best Reads

1. ‘It’s a divorce, and a messy one’: “For many, the schism that has wracked the United Methodist Church seemed inevitable, though it was an outcome few wanted,” USA Today’s Marc Ramirez writes.

The departure of a quarter of the church’s approximately 30,000 congregations illustrates the fallout of a prolonged and messy divorce, sparked by disagreements over issues of sexuality and gender identity.”

Meanwhile, The Tennessean’s Liam Adams explains “what a recent decision by United Methodists in Africa could mean for the worldwide church.”

2. Farewell of GetReligion: Religion reporting still matters, but the Internet’s “preaching to the choir” algorithms have won out, longtime Godbeat pro Terry “tmatt” Mattingly tells Religion News Service’s Bob Smietana.

Smietana interviewed Mattingly about the decision to shut down the prominent blog he and Doug LeBlanc launched 20 years ago. Spoiler alert: I make a cameo appearance in the story (to which tmatt adds, if you can call nearly a decade a “cameo”).

3. Megachuch pastor’s tears: Nearly 20 years ago, I interviewed Joel Osteen and his wife, Victoria, about the transformation of the Houston Rockets’ former arena into Lakewood Church’s new spiritual home.

This past weekend, the pastor broke down on stage as he announced Lakewood has paid off its $100 million loan for the arena, the Houston Chronicle’s Eric Killelea reports.

Also interesting: Killelea’s recent feature on Alexandra Osteen, Joel and Victoria’s 25-year-old daughter — “the heiress of one of America’s largest congregations.”

CONTINUE READING: “Amid New Challenges For Pro-Lifers, March For Life Expected To Draw 100,000” by Bobby Ross, Jr., at Religion Unplugged.

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