RNS Daily Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service Report: Chinese detain underground Catholic church leader (RNS) After 17 months in hiding, Roman Catholic Bishop Su Zhimin, a prominent leader of the underground church movement in China, has been detained by the government, a U.S.-based Catholic organization has reported. According to a spokesman for the Cardinal Kung Foundation in Stanford, Conn., the bishop was taken into custody on Wednesday (October 8) in Baoding, a town about 80 miles south of Beijing. The Cardinal Kung Foundation is an advocacy group for religious freedom in China and supports the underground Catholic movement that swears allegiance to Rome and refuses to register with the government. Su Zhimin’s disappearance comes at a sensitive time in Chinese politics as President Jiang Zemin prepares to visit the United States later in October.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service Deborah Lyons, wife of Baptist leader, pleads guilty to arson (RNS) Deborah Lyons, wife of the president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, pleaded guilty Monday (Oct. 20) to first-degree arson in a case that led to controversy for her husband, the Rev. Henry J. Lyons and the nation’s largest black Baptist denomination.”I am responsible for setting the fires,”Mrs. Lyons said as she entered her guilty plea for committing arson at a $700,000 house in St. Petersburg, Fla., that her husband owned with another woman. She was sentenced to five years probation, given 200 hours of community service and ordered to have an evaluation for alcohol and psychological treatment.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service Seminary librarian fired over letter to SBC president (RNS) A librarian at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was fired Sept. 26 apparently because he wrote a letter questioning the accuracy of remarks denominational president Tom Elliff made in a chapel address. Paul Debusman, 64, was dismissed from the Louisville, Ky., seminary after writing a personal letter to Elliff about what he felt were historical inaccuracies in a chapel speech made on Sept. 16.

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c. 1997 Religion News Service Orthodox Christian leader elevates status of U.S. bishops (RNS) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has elevated the status of six American bishops of the Greek Orthodox and Carpatho-Russian Orthodox churches. Meanwhile, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has released a memorandum intended to quiet growing unrest within the church over the leadership of its administrative head, Archbishop Spyridon. Named metropolitans, a step up from bishop in the Orthodox Christian hierarchy, were Greek Bishops Iakovos of Chicago, Anthony of San Francisco, Maximos of Pittsburgh, Methodios of Boston and Isaiah of Denver. The two remaining Greek Orthodox dioceses in the United States, Detroit and Atlanta, are currently without reigning bishops.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service `Nothing Sacred’ to last all season, gets Catholic support (RNS) Despite some highly visible criticism from a conservative Roman Catholic group, ABC says it has ordered a full season of the drama”Nothing Sacred.” The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights began campaigning against the one-hour drama before it premiered in September. The show depicts a Catholic priest’s struggles with contemporary times. The league’s campaign prompted many advertisers to avoid airing ads during the program.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service Appeals court nixes Ohio ban of `partial-birth’ abortions (RNS) A three-judge federal appeals court panel has struck down Ohio’s first-in-the-nation ban of the late-term abortion procedure opponents refer to as”partial-birth”abortion. In a 2-1 ruling, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati Tuesday (Nov. 18) upheld a 1995 U.S. District Court decision that said the ban unconstitutionally imposed burdens on a woman’s life, health and right to choose abortion. The appeals court decision is likely to be appealed further to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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c. 1997 Religion News Service Report: Moon’s Unification Church has few members, lots of businesses (RNS) Membership in the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church continues to decline, even as his multibillion-dollar religious empire continues to grow, The Washington Post reported in a series of in-depth articles on the controversial movement. In the Washington, D.C., area alone, the newspaper said, Moon’s church controls more than $300 million in commercial, political and cultural enterprises. Among the holdings is the Washington Times, the liberal Post’s conservative newspaper competition for local circulation. The Post stories, which began running in the paper Sunday (Nov.

RNS News Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service United Church of Canada in uproar over moderator’s remarks (RNS) The United Church of Canada (UCC), the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, is in an uproar following comments by its top official, who said he did not believe Jesus was God, was bodily resurrected or is the only path to God. The Rev. Bill Phipps, UCC moderator, revealed his views in an October newspaper interview. But the controversy over his remarks intensified this week when the church’s general council said it unanimously supported Phipps and called his comments”well within the spectrum of the United Church,”Reuters news agency reported Tuesday (Nov. 25).

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c. 1997 Religion News Service Disney’s Eisner calls notion of anti-Christian bent `ridiculous’ (RNS) Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner called charges that his company promotes an anti-Christian agenda”ridiculous”and said a Southern Baptist-led boycott has not affected the entertainment conglomerate financially. When delegates to the June meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention voted to boycott Disney, they voiced concern about what they believed was the corporation’s anti-Christian direction.”That’s ridiculous,”Eisner said during a”60 Minutes”interview scheduled to air on Sunday (Nov. 23).”We’re not pushing any agenda.”

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service Pope addresses Vatican policies enroute to Brazil (RNS) Brazilians put the finishing touches on preparations for a visit by Pope John Paul II as the pontiff discussed Vatican policies on sainthood and anti-Semitism before arriving in the South American nation Thursday afternoon (Oct. 2). Enroute, the pontiff dashed the hopes of the faithful intent on speeding up the process toward sainthood for Mother Teresa, who died Sept. 5.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service Atheists protest Promise Keepers, plan future (RNS) Members of American Atheists, gathered in Washington to demonstrate against Promise Keepers, are making plans to be more active in efforts to maintain a strict separation of church and state. Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, told a Friday (Oct. 3) news conference that members of her group will protest the Promise Keepers at the latter’s Stand in the Gap rally Saturday because they believe men can be good fathers and husbands without a faith commitment.”My husband is a wonderful father and a wonderful husband and he’s an atheist,”said Johnson. Johnson also differed with the Promise Keepers’ notion that men need to be on their knees in prayer.”No one is going anywhere in America until we get up off our knees,”she said.”You want to empower the men of America?

Religion News Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service Cuba to allow additional foreign Catholic priests and nuns (RNS) Cuba will allow an additional 57 foreign priests and nuns to enter the island nation to help the country’s small Roman Catholic leadership prepare for the January visit of Pope John Paul II. Some 28 priests and 29 nuns will come to the communist nation from Colombia, Spain and Haiti, the Associated Press reported. Cuban television, which announced Wednesday (Nov. 19) that the priests and nuns would be coming, also broadcast a commemoration of President Fidel Castro’s visit to the Vatican last year.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service Protesters arrested at Army’s School of the Americas (RNS) Some 600 protesters, led by the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Roman Catholic priest and longtime political activist, were arrested Sunday (Nov. 16) when they trespassed on the grounds of the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., demanding the controversial installation be shut down. The protest, involving more than 2,000 demonstrators carrying crosses and coffins, marked the anniversary of the 1989 slayings in El Salvador of six Jesuit priests and two women housekeepers by right-wing death squads. Some 19 of the 26 Salvadoran officers implicated in the killings had attended the school.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service Alabama official seeks to block enforcement of prayer ban (RNS) Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor has filed papers seeking to block enforcement of a portion of a federal court order banning state-sanctioned prayer in public schools. Pryor said he took the action so the state can appeal parts of U.S. District Court Judge Ira DeMent’s Oct. 29 ruling blocking vocal prayer, Bible devotionals and Scripture readings in public school classrooms. The order also banned school employees from distributing religious literature and other material in schools, on school grounds and at commencement ceremonies. It also said school public address systems may not be used to deliver religious messages.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1997 Religion News Service British Methodists, Anglicans look to re-start theological talks (RNS) Against the backdrop of two traumatic failures to heal the 18th-century breach between British Methodists and Anglicans, the Church of England’s general synod will be asked later this month to approve new, formal conversations with the Methodist Church of Great Britain. However, they will not _ as in the past _ be aimed at merger but will instead seek to draw up a common statement setting out points of agreement and outstanding differences between the two denominations. Such a statement would be expected to affirm the legitimacy of each body as a church and include a recognition of each other’s sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist. Among the points of difference such a statement would acknowledge, however,is that of the role of bishop, an office that does not exist in the British Methodist church.