TOP STORY: RELIGION AND CULTURE

c. 1996 Religion News Service ANGAHUAN, Mexico _ Speaking in a soft singsong, the town elder recalled villagers’ fear when a strange hillock spewing fire and smoke broke through the furrows of Dionisio Pulido’s cornfield.”People began to cry, but it was the adults crying, and then the little ones as well,”said Jorge Gomez Amado of that dark Saturday in 1943 when a new volcano was born.”That night, no one slept.” Today, more than 50 years later, Paricutin, a towering black volcano surrounded by petrified lava and miles of ashen sand, still dominates the physical and spiritual landscape of this remote area of Central Western Mexico. Villagers in this beautiful mountainous valley have televisions that bring them the latest news, they’ve talked with scientists who have explained geothermal principles of the volcano, and many have traveled all over the United States to earn a living. Yet, like their ancestors before them, they still tell myths and stories to explain the cataclysmic eruption that forever changed their lives.

NEWS STORY: TV offers too much pseudoscience, not enough fact, scientists complain

c. 1996 Religion News Service AMHERST, N.Y. _ A leading scientific group, frustrated by a rash of documentary-style TV shows that presented alien autopsies and humans coexisting with dinosaurs as credible, is forming a “media integrity” council to monitor shows and pressure TV networks and other media into presenting less mysticism and more real science. The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), which recently concluded its first World Skeptics Congress near Buffalo, N.Y., said that scientific ideas are increasingly being shut out of mainstream media in favor of sensational claims of paranormal phenomena and the irrational ideas of fringe groups. The committee is a 20-year-old skeptics organization founded by scientists. It has become the country’s leading group to challenge psychics and pseudoscience.

COMMENTARY: Earth to Eleanor: Help Hillary

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Frederica Mathewes-Green is a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church. She is the author of the recent book”Real Choices”and a frequent contributor to Christianity Today magazine.) (RNS)-Whenever I try to have a chat with Eleanor Roosevelt, I end up getting the Shopping Channel instead. Guess it’s my fault. I’m just not as high-minded as our first lady. In fairness to her, it doesn’t appear that Hillary Clinton had any expectation that she was actually talking with Roosevelt. Bob Woodward’s new book,”The Choice,”describes Hillary in a session with”researcher in psychic experiences and altered consciousness”Jean Houston.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1996 Religion News Service Report says Bonhoeffer soon to be pardoned (RNS) The German government may be about to pardon Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian executed by the Nazis and who is still listed under German law as guilty of high treason. Reuters news agency Monday (June 24) quoted unnamed German legal sources as saying the pardon could come”this summer or fall.” If it does, it would follow the recent pardoning of a Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Bernhard Lichtenberg, who died while in the Nazis custody after publicly praying for Jews and others persecuted by Adolf Hitler. That pardon came just prior to Pope John Paul II’s recent visit to Germany, which ended Sunday (June 23).

NEWS STORY: Pew study cites power of religion in politics

c. 1996 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The conservatism of white evangelical Protestants is the most powerful religious force in politics today, but religion overall has a strong impact on the political views of Christian Americans, according to a new survey released Monday (June 24). It also found a”significant”amount of politicking from the pulpit.”Religion is a strong and growing force in the way Americans think about politics,”said a report on the survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.”It has a bearing on political affiliation, political values, policy attitudes and candidate choice.”Its increasing influence on political opinion and behavior rivals factors such as race, region, age, social class and gender,”it said. At the same time, however, the report said that while religion plays an important role in the political life of African-Americans,”race, rather than religious faith, is the dominant force driving the political beliefs of black Christians.” The report,”The Diminishing Divide …

NEWS STORY: Pew study cites power of religion in politics

c. 1996 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The conservatism of white evangelical Protestants is the most powerful religious force in politics today, but religion overall has a strong impact on the political views of Christian Americans, according to a new survey released Monday (June 24). It also found a”significant”amount of politicking from the pulpit.”Religion is a strong and growing force in the way Americans think about politics,”said a report on the survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.”It has a bearing on political affiliation, political values, policy attitudes and candidate choice.”Its increasing influence on political opinion and behavior rivals factors such as race, region, age, social class and gender,”it said. At the same time, however, the report said that while religion plays an important role in the political life of African-Americans,”race, rather than religious faith, is the dominant force driving the political beliefs of black Christians.” The report,”The Diminishing Divide …

NEWS ANALYSIS: Bishops wrestle with role as teacher to U.S. Catholics

c. 1996 Religion News Service PORTLAND, Ore. _ For three days last week, in various ways and differing contexts, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops wrestled with and acted on their calling to be teachers of the nation’s 60 million Catholics. Confronting a full agenda of internal church concerns _ from voting on new English translations of liturgical texts to a discussion of the reorganization of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops _ the prelates also found time to speak out on a number of pressing social issues, from abortion and euthanasia to church burnings and immigration. Though bishops also serve as pastors and administrators of their dioceses, providing moral and doctrinal instruction is one of their highest duties.

NEWS ANALYSIS: Bishops wrestle with role as teacher to U.S. Catholics

c. 1996 Religion News Service PORTLAND, Ore. _ For three days last week, in various ways and differing contexts, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops wrestled with and acted on their calling to be teachers of the nation’s 60 million Catholics. Confronting a full agenda of internal church concerns _ from voting on new English translations of liturgical texts to a discussion of the reorganization of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops _ the prelates also found time to speak out on a number of pressing social issues, from abortion and euthanasia to church burnings and immigration. Though bishops also serve as pastors and administrators of their dioceses, providing moral and doctrinal instruction is one of their highest duties.

COMMENTARY: When does traditional morality become hatred?

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)compuserve.com.) (RNS)-With a dramatic flourish, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown recently advised President Clinton to”stay away”from his fair city lest the president find himself under attack by homosexual activists. Why?

COMMENTARY: When does traditional morality become hatred?

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)compuserve.com.) (RNS)-With a dramatic flourish, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown recently advised President Clinton to”stay away”from his fair city lest the president find himself under attack by homosexual activists. Why?

NEWS STORY: Pope meets a defiant flock on visit to Berlin

c. 1996 Religion News Service BERLIN _ It was meant to mark the peaceful reunification of Germany, but Pope John Paul II’s weekend trip to Berlin _ his first _ was anything but placid or unifying. As his vehicle was pelted by eggs and paint bombs and his entourage was greeted by demonstrators dressed as condoms, the pontiff ventured into one of the most hostile audiences of his well-traveled pontificate. The display horrified church traditionalists and embarrassed even those who wish for reforms in Vatican policy.”No matter what one’s opinion of the pope happens to be, it was an absolutely shameful and tasteless display of opposition,”said Josef Gruenwald, spokesman for Kritische Katholiken Berlin, a reform-minded group of Catholic Berliners.”There was a clear mood of displeasure among Berliners about the papal visit, but this was still not an appropriate way to express it.” Gruenwald added, however, that he believes the church itself was partly to blame for the protests.”The church was not willing to create an opportunity during the papal visit in which legitimate dissent could be properly aired,”he said.”It’s obvious that people are going to take to the streets if they feel they can’t be heard in any other way.”

TOP STORY: BLOODSHED IN AFRICA: Prayers, then screams, as death engulfs Tutsis’ monastery refu

c. 1996 Religion News Service GOMA, Zaire _ After a few minutes of coaxing, the battered old Land Rover’s engine came to life, coughing and shaking like a terminally ill patient until it warmed and settled into a healthy rhythm. The Rev. Victor Bourdeau drifted over to the rattling green hulk, ran his palm across the hood, then gently patted it.”If it would not have started that morning,”Bourdeau said with a sad smile,”we would have died along with the rest of them.” A few weeks before this June morning, Bourdeau, along with five fellow Trappists monks, a nun and seven small children, fled an attack on their monastery in a place called Mokoto north of Goma in eastern Zaire. The perpetrators were thousands of armed civilians from the Hutu ethnic group.

TOP STORY: WORK AND FAITH: Religion in the workplace raises complex issues for courts

c. 1996 Religion News Service (RNS)-When Isaiah”Ike”Brown took over a Des Moines county data processing unit in 1986, he made no bones about bringing his born-again Baptist beliefs into the office. He tacked prayer plaques and inspirational posters on the walls. He led prayers in his office before work with other Christians. During meetings he invoked biblical dictums against sloth.

Wagon trains on Mormon trail roll back the clock

c. 1996 Religion News Service NAUVOO, Ill. (RNS)-Clustered in a grassy field on the banks of the Mississippi River, a group of modern-day pioneers, traveling on foot, in covered wagons and on horseback, have embarked on a journey they hope will lead them to Salt Lake City. “It’ll be a trip we won’t forget,” said grizzled Iowa farmer Archie Durham, 73, perhaps the oldest member of the group, which left this river town Monday (June 17). “My kids said, `Dad, you’re too old to go.’

COMMENTARY: Instead of bashing gays, how about some sympathy?

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Andrew M. Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, best-selling novelist and a sociologist at the University of Chicago 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)-One of the many dishonesties of the Republicans currently dominating Congress is their disregard for elementary truth in packaging. The House of Representatives is considering a measure its proponents call the Defense of Marriage Act.