c. 1998 Religion News Service UNDATED _ The screams from the first- and second-grade classroom could be heard throughout Mamou Alliance Academy. The teacher would fly into a rage _ sometimes toppling desks and children _ for infractions as small as a child not knowing how to pronounce the word vegetable. When Dorothy Wormley was really angry, her former pupils told a church commission, bathroom passes were withheld and 6- and 7-year-olds would spend the day sitting in their own feces and urine. But who was going to report her in this school for missionaries’ children nestled among the hills of Guinea in West Africa?
c. 1998 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ “We’re all the son of God,” declares Judas, portrayed as an openly gay man. Spreading ideas like that is Jesus’ great blasphemy, remarks the High Priest, paying out those 30 pieces of silver. “Unless you’re looking for trouble, I would keep that to myself,” he advises Judas, characterizing the son of God with an unprintable homophobic epithet. They are fighting words for the protesting religious groups who have been gathering outside Manhattan Theatre Club, where “Corpus Christi” made its controversial off-Broadway debut Tuesday night (Oct.
c. 1998 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ In the largest demonstration yet against the play”Corpus Christi,”some 2,000 protesters Tuesday night (Oct. 13) called down the wrath of God on the controversial work that suggests Jesus was a homosexual. The protesters, waving crucifixes and bearing signs with slogans such as”Blasphemous Filth is not Art,”were countered several yards away _ and separated by barricades and 300 police officers _ by 400 supporters of the Tony-award winning playwright, Terrence McNally, who said they marched in defense of his free speech rights.”Terrence McNally is engaged in theatrical hate speech,”said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Liberties, which organized the latest of several mass protests against the play.”We want to send a message to Broadway theaters that (Catholics) want the same respect accorded blacks, Jews and homosexuals.” At the counter-demonstration organized by the liberal civil liberties group People for the American Way Foundation, supporters also waved placards but this time with quotes Voltaire, Abraham Lincoln and Oprah Winfrey about about the importance of free speech.”There shouldn’t be a monopoly on religious viewpoints,”said Ming Cho Lee, a Tony-award winning set designer and Yale professor who had earlier joined arts groups in urging the Manhattan Theater Club to stage the play after it backed down in the face of vocal opposition.”We gathered together to show physical presence that we are committed to the First Amendment.”
c. 1998 Religion News Service LITOMERICE, Czech Republic _ Two photographs of a church in northern Bohemia tell the familiar story. The first shows a resplendent, gold-leaf Baroque altar watched over by large statues of whirling saints. The second shows what happened after thieves finished ripping out anything they could carry. There was nothing left but crumbling plaster and holes in the wall as yet another church fell victim to a ruthless trade in stolen art.
c. 1998 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Congressional passage of the compromise International Religious Freedom Act has been hailed by a broad spectrum of religious leaders, who generally view the measure as assuring that the treatment of religious believers overseas will become a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy. The House passed the measure Saturday (Oct. 10), one day after the Senate gave its approval to the act. The White House has signaled its intention to sign the legislation into law.
c. 1998 Religion News Service Conservatives set up group to counter ACLU on civil liberties (RNS) Accusing the American Civil Liberties Union of failing to really protect civil liberties, a group of conservative activists has announced it will form a new rights organization _ the American Civil Rights Union.”We want to do what the ACLU claims to do but doesn’t always do,”said Robert Carleson, a management consultant who served in the first Reagan administration. Carleson will serve as chairman of the new rights group. Others joining to form the new group are former Attorney General Edwin Meese and Robert Bork, President Reagan’s failed Supreme Court nominee. Meese said the new organization”is needed to look out for all the civil rights contained in the Constitution rather than selected defense of those rights based on a liberal political bias.”
c. 1998 Religion News Service UNDATED _ When the white smoke rose over the Vatican 20 years ago, few, even among the 111 cardinals casting votes, knew what sort of man they were choosing when on Oct. 16, 1978 they broke with more than 450 years of tradition and named Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow, the new pope. The robust and athletic Polish-born Wojtyla, then just 58, took over a church still heady with the efforts to implement the radical reforms of the decade-old Second Vatican Council and still reeling from the shock of the death of two popes within less than two months. Now, as he enters the twilight of a papacy that is the longest in the 20th century and the 12th longest in the nearly 2,000 year-old office, the pope _ who took the name John Paul II to honor his mentor, Pope Paul VI, and his immediate predecessor, John Paul I _ while increasingly frail and often ill, remains determined to lead the world’s 600 million Roman Catholics into the next millennium.
c. 1998 Religion News Service (Ed. note: Photo to accompany this article is available from RNS Stock. To receive free software for downloading photos, call 800-767-6781.) UNDATED _ The Hare Krishna movement, one of the most controversial religious movements to emerge from the 1960s, has voluntarily detailed one of its darkest episodes _ the widespread abuse, sexual and otherwise, of children who attended the group’s boarding schools during the 1970s and 1980s. Until now, only limited knowledge of the abuse by some teachers, older students, supposedly celibate monks and other Hare Krishna leaders had dribbled out in court cases, media interviews with victims and academic writings.
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 _ As the nation prepares to endure the second presidential impeachment probe of this century, the sense of both anxiety and opportunity, of careers made and lost, is unmistakable. Indeed, as Congress prepares to conduct formal hearings to determine whether President Clinton should remain in office, one cannot help remembering the final days of a previous administration. A generation ago, as the Nixon administration lay hanging in the balance, its fate and that of the nation became almost an afterthought as a new personality cult began to emerge.
c. 1998 Religion News Service UNDATED _ A year after tens of thousands of men gathered on Washington’s National Mall to recommit themselves to God and family, the evangelical Christian ministry Promise Keepers is simultaneously showing signs of decline and evidence of continued strength. On the down side, leaders of the 8-year-old organization _ which gained its greatest prominence at its Stand in the Gap rally last Oct. 4 _ recently announced plans to trim 55 members from its current 235-member staff by the end of October. They also said attendance at the organization’s 19 stadium and arena rallies for men across the country this year will total about 500,000 _ down from more than 638,000 at the same number of events last year.
c. 1998 Religion News Service ZAGREB, Croatia _ On the eve of Pope John Paul II’s visit here, thousands of Croats pressed into the capital city’s cathedral Thursday (Oct. 1) for a service honoring one of their most revered clerics, Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, officially considered a martyr to communist persecution. The thunderous voices of a men’s choir filled the vast, spare Gothic cathedral here as worshippers filed by the grave of Stepinac, reopened just two days before the pope is scheduled to beatify him _ the penultimate step toward sainthood.”It’s great satisfaction for all Croats,”seminarian Miroslav Markic of Zagreb said of the beatification.”He refused to separate the church of Croatia from Rome (under communist pressure). Without him, I don’t know if we would be here.”
c. 1998 Religion News Service LONDON _ Opponents of women priests in the Church of England have taken another step toward establishing themselves as a separate Anglican province, preparing for the moment the Anglican denomination ordains women as bishops.”It is hard to see how those opposed to women’s ordination could be expected to accept or continue in office in a college of bishops which contained women whose priestly and episcopal orders they could neither respect nor accept,”said a paper adopted by the assembly of Forward in Faith, the movement which links Church of England opponents of women priests. The proposed position paper takes the movement one step closer to establishing itself as a separate jurisdiction which would function independently of the Church of England. The movement’s actions are closely watched by dissidents in the U.S. Episcopal Church, which has also made some movements toward separation from the denomination and toward forming a separate Anglican jurisdiction. Unlike the Church of England, the Episcopal Church already includes women among its bishops.
c. 1998 Religion News Service NEW YORK _”Corpus Christi,”the controversial new play featuring a gay Christ-like figure, has opened for previews under unprecedented security as it draws protests from traditionalist Catholic and other religious groups over its content and sighs of relief from New York’s arts community that the show did, indeed, go on. While audiences are getting their first look at Tony-award winning playwright Terrence McNally’s new work, the five-month-long clash continues between free speech advocates who waged the effort to save the show and religious groups who want it shut down. The clash shows no sign of abating before next month’s official opening. Protests have been staged over plays with controversial religious themes here before, but few if any have reached the level displayed over the story of a young gay man named Joshua from Corpus Christi, Tex., and his spiritual journey with the 12 disciples who follow him.