MONDAY, JUNE 30 This week of Mars Hill moneygrubbing, soiled matrimony, and cat handoffs gone ridiculously wrong kicks off at the United States Supreme Court, where today justices released their decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, voting 5–4 in support of the rights of family-owned businesses to deny employees insurance coverage for birth control methods that conflict with the owners' religious beliefs. For commentary on this highly divisive ruling, we turn to the dissent written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who blasted the "decision of startling breadth" with a series of quotable quotes, including but not limited to: "The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would... deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage"; "Would the exemption... extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses), antidepressants (Scientologists), medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus)..."; "Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude"; "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."
TUESDAY, JULY 1 In better news, the week continues with Mars Hill Church, the Seattle-based mega-church that rose to prominence touting a hip Christianity that wound up being the same old sexist bullshit preached by an increasingly creepy leader. And as tireless Mars Hill chronicler Warren Throckmorton informed us today on the website Patheos, Mars Hill's misdeeds are coming back to haunt the church, in the form of a sharp, sudden decline in attendance and donations. "According to ex-staff and sources inside Mars Hill church, on June 20, nine staff were let go amid concern about a sudden 'budget crunch' from the church's executive elders," reports Throckmorton. Besides layoffs, Mars Hill is reportedly attempting to make up for lost funds by pressing church members who remain to give big.
"A current member told me that he received five solicitations within the space of three days requesting (fiscal) year end donations," writes Throckmorton. What this means for the rest of us: Get your popcorn, because shit's going down. Case in point: the repentant testimony of former Mars Hill associate Mike Anderson, who served as the church's "Director of the Resurgence" until he was repelled by the increasing creepiness of Mars Hill demigod Mark Driscoll. "I left because the mission had died," wrote Anderson in a recent blog post. "Mark's desire for control had pushed Acts 29 away and turned the Resurgence into a giant advertisement. I no longer recognized the old movement of former days." Anderson also used his blog post to make amends: "I want to apologize to women everywhere for being part of a culture that didn't value you as equal to men. I want to apologize to the people of different sexual orientation who have felt the weight of judgment... I want to apologize to my neighbors and the people of Seattle who have felt the myriad of hurts and pains and accusations that have come from this organization that I was a part of."
As for the embattled Mr. Driscoll: After a spring that saw him admit to using church funds to buy 11,000 copies of his latest book (to ensure its placement on the New York Times best-seller list, amid accusations of plagiarism leveled against Driscoll's earlier works), Driscoll has been called upon by "20 former pastors at Mars Hill... to repent and enter into a mediation over the church's structure," as Joel Connelly writes at Seattlepi.com. For now, the only concession Driscoll has agreed to is the relinquishing of his status as a "celebrity pastor" by staying off social media for the rest of the year. Stay tuned!
WEDNESDAY, JULY 2 Meanwhile in South Carolina, an angry bride is seeking punitive damages after her would-be dream wedding was allegedly ruined by a stranger's genitals. Details come from Courthouse News Service, which identifies our bride as Anna Rogers Murphy, who reportedly spent a year planning her wedding at the Double Tree Hotel in Charleston. According to the plaintiff-bride's complaint, "Before the agreement was signed, defendant LLC assured plaintiffs that the courtyard would be an appropriate location for the wedding ceremony and that the ceremony would not be disrupted by hotel guests not in attendance. Reassured, the plaintiffs paid the hotel $15,000 and proceeded with wedding preparations." Eventually, the big day arrived, along with Double Tree guest Samuel James Dengal. "On the day of the wedding, the plaintiffs say, Dengal rented a room overlooking the courtyard," reports Courthouse News Service. "While the wedding ceremony was in progress, plaintiffs observed Dengal standing at the window of his hotel room without clothing. Thereafter, while the ceremony was still in progress, Dengal exposed his genitals and buttocks to everyone in attendance." Citing the hotel's negligence and their own emotional distress, the bride and her parents are seeking unspecified damages from the operators of the Double Tree. (The allegedly ball-bearing Dengal is not a party to the lawsuit.)
THURSDAY, JULY 3 Speaking of scheduled events not proceeding as planned, the week continues with a beguiling story out of Tennessee, where a man's attempt to buy some cats instigated an alleged tornado of ridiculous mischief. As WRCB reports, the scene commenced Monday night in Chattanooga, when a cab driver drove to the house of a woman he believed was ready to sell him some cats. But, as the cabbie told police, when he arrived at the woman's home, he was confronted by her boyfriend, 33-year-old Michael Kirby, who reportedly did not want his girlfriend to sell her cats after all, and allegedly chased the cabbie down the street before hitting his car with a giant stick. "Kirby was charged with aggravated assault and vandalism, but picked up an additional assault charge from jail the following day," reports WRCB. "The cab driver, 24-year-old Ervin Morgan, was arrested for an unrelated theft. Police said Kirby went to Morgan's holding cell and punched him in the face because he thought Morgan 'got him arrested on false charges.'" Thank you, WRCB and, indeed, the whole of Tennessee.
FRIDAY, JULY 4 The week continues with the Fourth of July, the annual national holiday celebrating the birth of the United States with ambitious fireworks, incontinent pets, and a veritable rain of human hands sent flying by ill-handled explosives.
SATURDAY, JULY 5 Nothing happened today.
SUNDAY, JULY 6 Nothing happened today either.
Send hot tips to email@example.com, and follow me on Twitter @davidschmader.