c. 1996 Religion News Service (RNS)-Christian singer CeCe Winans has shared most of her recording career with her brother, BeBe. She’s best known as the female half of BeBe & CeCe Winans, the decade-old brother-sister gospel/R&B team that’s become one of the most celebrated duos in pop music. And she’s the eighth of 10 children in the Winans family- including four older brothers known as the Winans who’ve been serving up faith-filled music the past 15 years. But it took being paired with a sister of another kind, Whitney Houston, to truly bring CeCe Winans to the masses.
c. 1996 Religion News Service (Rabbi Rudin is the national interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee.) (RNS)-The tragic suicide of the Navy’s top officer, Admiral Jeremy M. Boorda, raises disturbing questions about America’s love affair with the armed forces and about the meaning of the term”honor,”which is so much a part of the military creed. I say this as a former Air Force chaplain who served in Japan and Korea. My brother served in the Army, and my father, a retired Army officer, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Did an investigation by Newsweek magazine on why Boorda wore two possibly unearned citations for valor in combat push him to such desperation?
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://www.greeley.com. Or contact him via e-mail at agreel(AT)aol.com.) (RNS)-Peace is tough. And there is ample evidence that the peace processes unfolding in Israel and Ireland have brought out the worst in some people.
c. 1996 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS)-Jane and Philip Hall will climb aboard a bus at midnight on June 1 in Florence, Mass., for a nine-hour trip to be part of a rally billed as an “historic stand for children.” The Halls say they have three aims-none of them political, at least not in the partisan sense. They want to show the nation’s leaders “that the little Florences around the country are concerned about children and will take this time to go and show our support,” said Jane Hall. They want children to know that people care profoundly about their futures. And they want to take the energy and inspiration they expect to find at the march and recommit themselves to helping children back home.
c. 1996 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS)-A coalition of more than 20 liberal Roman Catholic organizations, taking a cue from church members in Germany and Austria, Wednesday (May 22) launched a drive to gather 1 million signatures over the next year in support of changes in church law, including a married priesthood, female ordination and the popular election of bishops. But Cleveland Bishop Anthony Pilla, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, warned Catholics the campaign could create division in the church and said some of the”reforms”are”challenging church teaching.” Sister Maureen Fiedler, national coordinator of the”We Are Church”coalition sponsoring the campaign, said the”Referendum,”as it is called,”is the rough draft of an agenda for a Third Vatican Council.” Many liberal Catholics believe that the Second Vatican Council, which ended in 1965, began a process of fundamental reform of the church that has been halted and in some instances rolled back during the papacy of John Paul II.
c. 1996 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS)-Doctors and nurses around the world have been killed or jailed by governments for refusing to participate in torture and other human-rights abuses, Amnesty International said in a report released Wednesday (May 22). The London-based human-rights organization said doctors have been coerced-sometimes by law- into assisting in amputations, inflicted as punishment, and pressured into issuing false medical reports. Health professionals are not only victims of coercive practices but also perpetrators, according to the report. Physicians were criticized for giving”passive assistance”by tolerating government-sponsored torture as well as for actively giving medical advice,assisting at executions, or helping to cover up human rights violations.”The vulnerability of doctors or nurses results from the absence of a strong collective refusal to compromise ethical and professional standards,”the report said, calling on the United Nations, the World Health Organization and national medical associations to strengthen procedures for the reporting of human-rights violations.
c. 1996 Religion News Service BOMBAY, India (RNS)-Soaring above luxury apartments in an exclusive section of Bombay, vultures swoop toward the Parsi Towers of Silence on Malabar Hill. It is time for another”burial”at the”vultures cemetery.” Parsis, Indian followers of the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism, believe fire, earth and water are sacred. Thus they will not cremate or bury their dead.
c. 1996 Religion News Service BURBANK, Calif. (RNS)-Adolf Hitler’s”final solution”focused not only on the physical extermination of Jews, but also on a nightmarish dream to wipe out all trace of Jewish life and culture. At a small hotel gathering here this past weekend (May 17-18) of about 130 Holocaust survivors and their grown children, the generation that followed the”Shoah”confronted their own pain and resolved to keep fighting Hitler’s plan by never forgetting their parents’ experiences.”I feel like I carry the load, sometimes, of Jewish history,”said Irit Eckhaus, 39, a Polish-Israeli woman now working in Los Angeles as a physical therapist. She described the weekend gathering as”cleansing,”but added that being there”still keeps me down.”
c. 1996 Religion News Service Religious, aid groups criticize Clinton’s new land mines policy (RNS)-Religious groups and humanitarian relief organizations have criticized President Clinton’s recently announced land mines policy, calling it a disappointment and too limited to save lives.”This policy does little more than reinforce the status quo,”said Julia Taft, president of InterAction, a Washington-based umbrella group of more than 150 religious, relief and non-profit aid groups. On May 16, Clinton announced that he supported an eventual international effort to ban anti-personnel land mines. But he said the United States reserves the right to use so-called”smart,”or self-destructing, mines”as necessary,”and will continue to use”dumb”mines, which remain active indefinitely, to defend American and allied troops in Korea. He ordered the destruction of 4 million”dumb”mines in the U.S. arsenal.”These smart mines are not the hidden killers that have caused so much suffering around the world,”Clinton said in his announcement.”They destroy themselves within days, and they pose virtually no threat to civilian life once a battle is over.”
c. 1996 Religion News Service (Dale Hanson Bourke is the publisher of Religion News Service and author of”Turn Toward the Wind.”) (RNS)-When I asked the taxi driver for a receipt yesterday, he handed me a blank slip.”Could you fill it out?”I asked.”Most people like to fill in their own amount,”he said, shrugging.”They pick up a few extra bucks that way.” Padding expense accounts is nothing new. But it seems to be more widespread than ever. And truth-bending in general seems to be on the upswing.
c. 1996 Religion News Service (RNS)-After working with the homeless and drug addicted for several years, Mike Little felt overwhelmed by frustration and cynicism. Then he learned about”centering prayer,”a modern method of tapping into the ancient Christian tradition of contemplation. Now, twice a day for 20 minutes, Little sits in silence, closes his eyes and meditates as he seeks to commune with God beyond words, thoughts or emotions. The experience has rejuvenated him personally and given him new energy to work with the needy.”It basically saved my life,”said Little, 35, of Washington, D.C.”The practice of letting go has played over into my life where I feel I can handle just about anything.
c. 1996 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS)-The Clinton administration Tuesday (May 21) defended its handling of a string of suspicious arsons at African-American churches, saying it had more than 200 federal agents investigating the incidents. Federal officials who testified at a one-day House Judiciary Committee hearing also said that while they were”actively”investigating whether the church fires resulted from a national or regional conspiracy, no such evidence had been uncovered. Religious groups as disparate as the Christian Coalition and the National Council of Churches, along with civil-rights groups and some members of Congress, however, criticized the government efforts and urged law enforcement agencies to commit more resources to solving the crimes.”We have been outraged at these continuing attacks on places of worship-and sorely disappointed that until recently law enforcement in particular, as well as government and media in general-have seemed only mildly interested in focusing on these acts of terrorism,”the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), told the hearing. Lowery, however, said he was”not surprised at this feeble response”to the church burnings because the nation has denied and downplayed racism throughout its history.
c. 1996 Religion News Service TOKOZA TOWNSHIP, South Africa (RNS)-Not long ago Wiseman Ndbele and Albert Mogaila came to Kumalo Street, in the center of this sprawling township east of Johannesburg, for only one reason: to try to kill each other. In the five years leading up to the country’s first multi-racial election in 1994, these two men and thousands of others made this street the scene of some of the most vicious political violence this blood-soaked country has ever witnessed. Through their efforts, fighting in Tokoza and neighboring townships reached civil-war proportions. Police lost control of the situation and after a time could not even gain access to the area.
c. 1996 Religion News Service (Rabbi Eli Hecht is a member of Judaism’s Lubavitch Hasidic sect. He is director of Chabad of South Bay in Lomita, Calif., and vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He can be reached on via e-mail at rabbieh(at)aol.com.) (RNS)-There was once a man who had two wives. The younger wife plucked out his white hairs.
c. 1996 Religion News Service Jewish National Fund rejects money from Messianic Jews (RNS)-After a outcry from its regional offices and several major donors, the Jewish National Fund, which raises money for reforestation and other land-related projects in Israel, reversed its decision to accept a $50,000 donation from two organizations that seek to convert Jews to Christianity. The New York-based JNF said in a statement that it should not have originally accepted the donation offered earlier this year by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. The money would have underwritten the planting of a 10,000-tree forest in Israel.”The Jewish National Fund, in response to a strong outpouring of protest from longtime friends and supporters, including its lay and National Rabbinic Council leadership, acknowledges that it made a mistake,”the statement said. JNF had originally agreed to accept the donation with the understanding that the word”messianic”would not be used in connection with the tree-planting project.