Thomas Kinkade, whose sentimental paintings of country churches, cottages on snowy evenings, and peaceful glowing villages hearkened back to the goodness of an improbable America past, died April 6 at age 54. The devoutly Christian artist, whose mass-produced works were particularly popular with evangelical Christians and Americans committed to traditional values, “once said that he had something in common with Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell,” noted an Associated Press obituary: “He wanted to make people happy.”

A federal judge in Minnesota has ruled that a man who “transitioned” to the female gender through a “sex change” procedure is eligible to be carried under the health insurance of the man he “married” in 2005. As reported by the American Independent, “The judge said that because one person is male and the other legally transitioned to female, the couple qualifies as legally married under the state’s Defense of Marriage Act. The case hinged on the marriage of Christine and Calvin Radtke. The two were married in July 2005 in Goodhue County in southeastern Minnesota. Calvin works for United Parcel Service and enrolled himself and his wife in his union’s health plan. Christine had legally transitioned from male to female several years earlier.”

The Gallup pollsters have released their most recent report on which parts of the United States can boast the most religious residents, and predictably, those living in the Bible belt once again scored “above average” on questions of church attendance, importance of faith in their daily life, and the like, while those living in both northeastern and northwestern states scored “below average” in their emphasis on religious observance.

The charge made by a report from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) that the country’s students score poorly despite U.S. schools spending more than schools in other countries surprised no one. What was surprising was their recommendation: Leave things alone.

A street preacher who has handed out Bibles at Minneapolis’s “gay pride festival” for more than 15 years is suing the city’s Park Board for allowing the event’s organizers to relegate him to a “pride-free” zone. This year’s Pride Fest — which is definitely not what traditionalists would describe as a family-friendly event — is scheduled for June 23 and 24 in the Loring Park, a well-known center for homosexual activity.