NEWS FEATURE: Former addicts want to build megachurch, claim Cleveland for God

c. 1998 Religion News Service CLEVELAND _ Darrell Scott was mixing PCP for sale and smoking crack the night his girlfriend found God and his life changed forever. Early that evening in 1981, the couple had run out of rum and he sent Belinda for the 151-proof alcohol that would be used to pour on cotton stuck to the end of a coat hanger _ an improvised torch to keep the crack pipe lit. Already high, she ran into a devout neighbor on the way to the liquor store. “To shut him up,” she agreed to go to his church, and ended up giving her life to God.

COMMENTARY: The word, the real victim of Monica-gate

c. 1998 Religion News Service (Eugene Kennedy, a longtime observer of the Roman Catholic Church, is professor emeritus of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and author most recently of”My Brother Joseph, published by St. Martin Press.) UNDATED _ Have you ever wondered why the nation’s night air is so thick with inconclusive commentary about the scandals and rumors of scandals hanging like an unbudgeable low on the weather map of our times? Perhaps more troublesome than the scandals themselves, however, is the inability of any of the expert guests to find the right words to describe what is happening to us. The incessant solicitation and offering of opinion remain unfruitful and we remain frustrated because the guests come and go and we never seem to get anywhere.

COMMENTARY: Lies, and more lies

c. 1998 Religion News Service (Tom Ehrich is a pastor, writer and software developer living in Winston-Salem, N.C.) UNDATED-It was bizarre to read intimate Bill-and-Monica sexual details at the breakfast table last weekend, but not nearly so bizarre as the notion the president now will be judged harshly by Congress and the American public for having lied about it. Truth took leave of American politics long before Clinton denied his sophomoric groping in the Oval Office. The mock horror members of Congress and commentators now express about his”lying to the American people”is offensive _ and itself testimony to a political environment where code language and manipulation of perceptions long ago edged truth-telling into its current status as merely one public relations tool among many. Not only does that mock horror portray our politicians as guardians of truth, which they aren’t, but it suggests that exorcising one bad apple will restore our republic to some former state of virtue.

COMMENTARY: Hillary Clinton and her marriage: feminism and forgiveness

c. 1998 Religion News Service (Christine E. Gudorf is professor of religious studies at Florida International University. Her most recent book is”Body, Sex and Pleasure: Reconstructing Christian Sexual Ethics.”) UNDATED _ More than once over the last few months I have turned off the morning TV news rather than listen to more of what has passed for reporting on the Clinton scandal. Recently, however, it occurred to me that though the media has repeatedly treated the scandal as, at its core, a moral, even religious issue, I have never seen any news program interview theologians, ethicists or pastors. It is ironic that in exploring a subject freely characterized as about betrayal, sin, dishonesty, forgiveness and reconciliation, the news media consult not religious authorities but former White House employees and people on the street.

COMMENTARY: Clinton’s problem is our problem as well

c. 1998 Religion News Service (Samuel K. Atchison is an ordained minister and has worked as a policy analyst and social worker to the homeless. He currently is a prison chaplain in Trenton, N.J.) UNDATED _ It is said that Joseph P. Kennedy, the patriarch of the Kennedy clan, advised his sons that what matters most in life”is not what you are, but what people think you are.” So appealing, apparently, was this counsel that two generations later, Bill Clinton _ a Kennedy wannabe _ has made it his stock-in-trade. Make no mistake: Anyone who can repeatedly parse definitions and split verbal hairs the way Clinton has is duplicitous in the extreme.

NEWS STORY: Clinton, reaching to core of his faith, confesses `I have sinned’

c. 1998 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ President Clinton, reaching to the heart of his Christian faith, said Friday he “sinned” in his sexual relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He said he has repented and is seeking forgiveness. Clinton made his most dramatic and detailed _ and his most theological _ comments to date on the scandal that has scarred and threatened to ruin his presidency. He summoned the core concepts of his Southern Baptist heritage to tell an interfaith and interracial audience of male and female clerics, religious leaders and government officials _ along with a live national television audience _ that he “must have the help of God to be the person that I want to be.” His comments at an annual White House prayer breakfast continued a series of apologies and explanations that he has made in recent days.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Top Catholic official urges Congress to act on assisted suicide issue (RNS) A top U.S. Catholic Church official is urging Congress to support proposed legislation to bar the use of federally regulated drugs to aid terminally ill patients from commiting suicide. The Rev. Dennis Schnurr, general secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Catholic Conference, the bishops’ social policy arm, said in a letter to members of Congress that the legislation is needed”if the federal government is not to be drawn into supporting the killing of vulnerable patients.” The proposed legislation, sponsored in the House by Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., and in the Senate by Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., was introduced in response to a June ruling by Attorney General Janet Reno that said doctors could prescribe or give lethal doses of drugs to patients without losing their licenses. Under Oregon’s assisted suicide law _ the only such law in the nation _ terminally ill patients may ask their doctors to prescribe them a lethal dose of drugs.

NEWS STORY: Black Baptist denomination offers support to Clinton

c. 1998 Religion News Service KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ President Clinton, politically beleaguered and facing a congressional inquiry that could lead to impeachment, has received a rare show of support as top officials of the nation’s largest historically black denomination pledged to”stand with him.”We accept President Clinton’s apology,”the Rev. Henry Lyons, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA told an audience Wednesday night (Sept. 9) of 10,000 people attending the 8.2 million-member denomination’s annual meeting. He spoke just hours after independent counsel Kenneth Starr sent the fruits of his four-year probe of Clinton to Capitol Hill.”We love him,”Lyons said of the president.”We appreciate him.

NEWS FEATURE: Reel Jews: 50 major films on Jewish life and culture

c. 1998 religion News Service UNDATED _ The Jewish people were”the inventors of Western civilization,”giving the world their scriptures and the concept of monotheism, writes Thomas Cahill in his latest historical bestseller,”The Gifts of the Jews.” But it is perhaps through their contributions to the world of film that Jews have exercised their greatest cultural impact during this century.”There are a lot of Jewish films,”says Colorado film critic Kathryn Bernheimer, author of the recently published book”The 50 Greatest Jewish Movies”(Birch Lane).”A lot of that has to do with the fact that Jews founded Hollywood. They dominated it in its early days, and today they continue to be a driving force in film,”she says.”Jewish culture also has a strong literary connection, and a tradition of sophisticated storytelling. So it’s not surprising that Jews who migrated to this country would look to movie making as something they could do.”

NEWS FEATURE: Synagogue becomes `synaplex’ to meet High Holy Days needs

c. 1998 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ At Adas Israel Congregation, a 127-year-old institution that attracts many of this city’s Jewish movers and shakers, worshippers during the upcoming High Holy Days will have five different concurrent prayer services from which to choose. In the 1,500-seat Smith Sanctuary, a service favored by many longtime members of the Conservative synagogue will feature a cantor’s authoritative chanting of the liturgy and the singing of a professional choir _ some of whose members are non-Jews. Many in the sanctuary crowd will reserve the same wine-colored seats their families have occupied during similar Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services for years, if not generations. Meanwhile, in a room normally used by the synagogue’s nursery school, some 300 mostly young adults will attend a distinctly different service.

NEWS SIDEBAR:  New York rabbi energetically aids Polish Jews

c. 1998 Religion News Service
RYCHWALD, Poland _”Can’t you see I’m busy?”Rabbi Michael Schudrich shouted with mock alarm. He was actually busy filling a squirt gun before diving back into battle with young people at the summer camp here for Jews exploring their identities. In a CD-ROM dictionary, a video clip of Schudrich could illustrate the definition of tireless. All day _ every day _ here, he chanted prayers at services, gave lectures, cheered at games and led after-meal songfests with his strong nasal baritone.

NEWS SIDEBAR:  New York rabbi energetically aids Polish Jews

c. 1998 Religion News Service RYCHWALD, Poland _”Can’t you see I’m busy?”Rabbi Michael Schudrich shouted with mock alarm. He was actually busy filling a squirt gun before diving back into battle with young people at the summer camp here for Jews exploring their identities. In a CD-ROM dictionary, a video clip of Schudrich could illustrate the definition of tireless. All day _ every day _ here, he chanted prayers at services, gave lectures, cheered at games and led after-meal songfests with his strong nasal baritone.