RNS Daily Digest

c. 1996 Religion News Service Lost Luther manuscript returns to Germany (RNS)-A rare manuscript by Protestant reformer Martin Luther, thought to have been lost at the end of World War II, has been discovered at the Concordia Historical Institute in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, Mo., and will be turned over to German government officials on Tuesday (Feb. 20).”The German government is very excited to be getting it back,”said the Rev. Daniel Preus, director of the Institute, the archives and history department of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.”They thought it had been lost.” The manuscript, titled”Against Hanswurst,”was written in 1541.

TOP STORY: ISLAM IN BOSNIA: From the ashes of war, Islamic awareness rises in Bosnia

c. 1996 Religion News Service GORAZDE, Bosnia (RNS)-On the east bank of the River Drina, Mufti Muhammed Effendic, leader of Gorazde’s Islamic community, inspects the latest repairs on the minaret of Sinanbeg Sijercic Mosque. The new minaret is an ungainly construction of steel poles and twisted wires with a loudspeaker perched precariously at its top. Someday, a proper stone minaret will be built for the war-damaged mosque. But Effendic points out that the makeshift tower is still unique.

COMMENTARY: Without people’s trust, democracy doesn’t work

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Charles W. Colson, former special counsel to Richard Nixon, served a prison term for his role in the Watergate scandal. He now heads Prison Fellowship International, an evangelical Christian ministry to the imprisoned and their families. Contact Colson via e-mail at 71421,1551(at sign)compuserve.com.) (RNS)-Do you trust your neighbor? How about the federal government?

Denominational Report

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Following is a collection of news stories compiled from RNS staff, wire and denominational reports). Vatican delays acting on views of gay ministry leaders (RNS)-The Vatican has delayed deciding whether the theological views of the Rev. Robert Nugent and Sister Jeannine Gramick, founders of a controversial ministry with gays and lesbians, are compatible with church teaching on homosexuality. Cardinal Adam J. Maida of Detroit, chairman of the three-member American commission handling the probe, said the Vatican had requested more information from Nugent and Gramick.”They want further statements on our views on homosexual behavior and orientation,”Gramick said in an interview with RNS. In 1977, Gramick and Nugent founded New Ways Ministry in Mt.

TOP STORY: RELIGION AND POLICY: House hearings key on persecution of Christians around the world

c. 1996 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS)-A diverse coalition of church leaders and human rights advocates is challenging the U.S. government to take a stronger international leadership role to combat ongoing persecution of Christians in many regions of the world. “Clearly, the United States government has been woefully negligent in dealing with the issue of the persecution of Christians around the world,”said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission, in testimony Thursday (Feb. 15) before a congressional panel.”This issue has not occupied a significant plane in American foreign policy,”Land said.”That must change.” Land and 11 other witnesses testified at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights.

COMMENTARY: In Northern Ireland, peace didn’t have a chance

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Andrew M. Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, best-selling novelist and sociologist at the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. His home page on the World Wide Web is at http://tekweb.com/greeley.html. Or contact him at his e-mail address: agreel at aol.com.) (RNS)-When the history is written of the most recent failure to end the violence emanating from Northern Ireland, one version will blame British Prime Minister John Major for negotiating in bad faith. But Major hasn’t deviated from the tactics of any of his predecessors who have attempted to defuse this long-running conflict.

A covenant on racial reconciliation

c. 1996 Religion News Service ATLANTA (RNS)-Leaders of Promise Keepers, an evangelical Christian men’s movement, signed an”Atlanta Covenant”at the close of a conference for clergy Thursday (Feb. 15). The covenant, cast as an agreement between God and the pastors, is an expansion of the seven promises members of the movement are asked to embrace. Many of the 39,000 clergy attending the conference stood to show their agreement with the document.

Promise Keepers focusing on racial reconciliation

c. 1996 Religion News Service ATLANTA (RNS)-For five years, the evangelical Christian movement known as Promise Keepers has preached a gospel of contrition and reconciliation, urging men to become better husbands and fathers and more committed members of their churches. Now the movement, which has drawn hundreds of thousands of men to stadiums and convention centers for emotional revival-style hugfests, is turning its attention to a new issue: racial divisiveness. At a meeting here this week of some 39,000 clergy, Promise Keepers leaders announced that upcoming rallies around the country will focus on bringing men of various racial and ethnic backgrounds together. The group chose as its 1996 motto the phrase “Breaking Down the Walls.” “Racism is an insidious monster,” Bill McCartney, founder of Promise Keepers and a former football coach at the University of Colorado, said in the meeting’s opening session.

Global Religion Report

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Following is a collection of international religion stories compiled by RNS staff, wire and denominational reports.) State Department criticizes Farrakhan visits to Iran, Libya (RNS)-The State Department has condemned Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan for”cavorting”with leaders of Iran and Libya-countries the United States considers sponsors of international terrorism.”It’s shameful that an American citizen, much less a major religious leader in the United States, would cavort with dictators like (Libyan leader Moammar) Gadhafi and the Iranian leadership,”State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said at the agency’s regular briefing Wednesday (Feb. 14). Burns’ comments came after news reports quoted Farrakhan as making a number of anti-American comments during his month-and-a-half-long trip to Africa and the Middle East. They preceeded Farrakhan’s stopover in Iraq on Thursday (Feb.

TOP STORY: RELIGION AND RACE: Promise Keepers focusing on racial reconciliation

c. 1996 Religion News Service ATLANTA (RNS)-For five years, the evangelical Christian movement known as Promise Keepers has preached a gospel of contrition and reconciliation, urging men to become better husbands and fathers and more committed members of their churches. Now the movement, which has drawn hundreds of thousands of men to stadiums and convention centers for emotional revival-style hugfests, is turning its attention to a new issue: racial divisiveness. At a meeting here this week of some 39,000 clergy, Promise Keepers leaders announced that upcoming rallies around the country will focus on bringing men of various racial and ethnic backgrounds together. The group chose as its 1996 motto the phrase”Breaking Down the Walls.””Racism is an insidious monster,”Bill McCartney, founder of Promise Keepers and a former football coach at the University of Colorado, said in the meeting’s opening session.”You can’t say you love God and not love your brother.”

Michael W. Smith, dc Talk lead Dove Award nominations

c. 1996 Religion News Service NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS)-Contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith and dc Talk’s Toby McKeehan led the list of nominees for the Gospel Music Association’s 27th annual Dove Awards. Smith, who will host the awards show set for April 25 at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House, was nominated in seven categories, including artist of the year and songwriter of the year. His hit”Cry for Love”was among the nominees for song of the year.

NEWS FEATURE: Book gives an irreverent look at Hasidic Jews

c. 1996 Religion News Service (RNS)-Robert Eisenberg urges you to imagine an America in which the only Jews will be Hasidim and other Orthodox. It’s not merely possible, he says. By the year 2075, it’s likely. The vision shapes Eisenberg’s new book,”Boychiks In The Hood: Travels in the Hasidic Underground”(Harper San Francisco), an irreverent, detail-packed tour of the classic closed community.

COMMENTARY: In search of a world in which religions can coexist

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Rabbi Rudin is the national interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee.) (RNS)-Many people think theology is a set of eternal beliefs etched in stone. Wrong. Theology constantly changes from generation to generation. In the past, theologians provided a strong religious sanction for believing that women, blacks, Jews and American Indians were inferior human beings.

TOP STORY: RELIGION AND CULTURE: `Celestine’ sequel means more meditating

c. 1996 Religion News Service BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS)-Being married to the author of one of the most successful spiritual novels ever has given Salle Merrill-Redfield a high profile for promoting feminine spirituality and women’s issues. “My mission is to help women feel good about themselves,”she said.”There’s so much depression, so much anger and sadness.” By virtue of the success of James Redfield’s first novel,”The Celestine Prophecy,”the couple have become world celebrities in great demand for lecture tours.

TOP STORY: UNIFICATION CHURCH: Moon church takes a low profile in India

c. 1996 Religion News Service MOOLAVATTOM, India (RNS)-It is a small, obscure town in India’s southern state of Kerala, in the heart of one of the nation’s largest, most conservative Christian communities. Yet Moolavattom is where the Unification Church, founded in Korea in 1954 by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, has set up its southern India operations. The church, a visible and controversial presence in Asia and the United States, maintains a low profile here, attracting few followers and barely figuring in the region’s complex religious mileau. But the church’s profile in India-both here and in the north-is likely to grow in coming years.