COMMENTARY: The Jerrys and the GOP

c. 1999 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. Check out his home page at or contact him via e-mail at agreel(at) UNDATED _ How are the two men who are destroying the Chicago Bulls _ owner Jerry Reinsdorf and basketball operations director Jerry Krause _ like the Republican majority in Congress? Let me count the ways: 1. Both the Jerrys and the Henry Hydes and Trent Lotts have absolute power in common.

NEWS STORY: Russian police raid three Scientology facilities

c. 1999 Religion News Service MOSCOW _ Carrying automatic weapons and wearing bulletproof vests, Russian law enforcement officers have raided three Scientology facilities here over two days as part of an investigation of suspected tax evasion by the group. The police actions were part of an 11-month investigation into the activities of the Church of Scientology in Russia, where the group founded by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard claims 3,000 active members.”There was no reason they had to do this, had to keep us out of our offices, searching for material that doesn’t exist,”Hubbard Humanitarian Center spokesman Alexei Danchenkov said angrily Friday (Feb. 26) after returning to his office following the two-day search. Russian television reports showed tightlipped officers from the Tax Police and the Federal Security Service _ which inherited most of the former KGB’s duties _ hauling boxes of paperwork from the one-time kindergarten where the Hubbard Humanitarian Center is located.

NEWS FEATURE: Archdiocese seeks to train a new generation of Hispanic leaders

c. 1999 Religion News Service UNION CITY, N.J. _ In a restored classroom once filled with immigrant German Roman Catholic students, Veronica Chavez sat in rapt attention with 44 other Latino adults as the Rev. Fernando Gomez offered pointers on the best way to lead a prayer group. Chavez, who leads a weekly charismatic meeting, nodded in agreement as Gomez stressed the importance of participation. She was not afraid. After two decades of active participation in the church here, she had jumped at a chance for more formal religious education.

COMMENTARY: Public spirituality: Never sit too close

c. 1999 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’s Press.) UNDATED _ Recently, my wife and I were fortunate enough to attend a concert given by a wonderful tenor. By a suitably mysterious act of Providence, we were seated in the area usually occupied by the orchestra, in the very first row just below the stage. Despite our clear view of the singer, there was something uneasy about this across-the-footlights intimacy.

NEWS FEATURE: Scholar sees Hebrew influences in Emily Dickinson’s poetry

c. 1999 Religion News Service AMHERST, Mass. _ It’s been quite a year for Emily Dickinson. In less than 12 months, two separate Dickinson scholars have published books suggesting her poetry, when read between the lines, reveals she was having either a secret lesbian affair with her sister-in-law or a secret adulterous affair with her friend, newspaper publisher Samuel Bowles. Now into the mix comes a University of Massachusetts professor theorizing her poetry contains clues the Belle of Amherst may have been Jewish.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1999 Religion News Service Most Americans are religious, but not committed to house of worship (RNS) Large majorities of Americans say they’re religious and think spirituality is important, but that doesn’t translate into commitment to a single religion or house of worship, a MacArthur Foundation survey has found. More than seven out of 10 Americans surveyed said they are religious and consider spirituality to be an important part of their lives, USA Today reported. But about half attend religious services less than once a month or never. The findings also suggest that people are equally divided on whether it is best to explore different teachings or to follow one faith.”Spirituality in the U.S. is a mile wide and an inch deep,”said David Kinnaman of the Barna Research Group in Ventura, Calif., an organization that specializes in market research about faith and American culture.

NEWS FEATURE: Have `sexual McCarthyism,’ Monicagate soured America on sex and love?

c. 1999 Religion News Service UNDATED _ Have Monicagate and”sexual McCarthyism”soured America’s love affair with Valentine’s Day? Unfortunately, no, say religious leaders and thinkers. Ethicists and theologians say they are all for flowers, candy, candlelight dinners _ even sex. But, they add, sexual standards must be reassessed in an era when sexuality has been debased by”sexual McCarthyism”and the culture’s trivialization of sex.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1999 Religion News Service Israeli president warns of violence at Orthodox protest (RNS) With Orthodox leaders threatening to mobilize a half-million supporters for a weekend protest, Israel’s president met Thursday (Feb. 11) with a leading rabbi in an effort he said was designed to prevent bloodshed should secular counter-demonstrators also turn out. President Ezer Weizman went to the home of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the Orthodox Sephardic Torah Guardians (Shas) Party, a relatively small but critical member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition. Yosef caused an uproar by castigating Israel’s Supreme Court members as”oppressors of Jews”and”violators of the Sabbath.”He also called them”wicked, stubborn and rebellious”and less knowledgeable about Jewish religious law than”any 7-year-old.”

NEWS FEATURE: Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue: a steep and difficult climb

c. 1999 Religion News Service ROME _ Cardinal Edward Cassidy, who heads the Vatican’s Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, likens the ecumenical dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics to climbing a mountain. In the early stages, he says, you are scaling the foothills, which is easy. But as time goes on you reach the final peaks, the steepest and most difficult part of the climb. At the final peak is where the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) stands today as it prepares to issue the conclusions of its talks on the key question of who is in charge: the pope or the bishops.”The whole dialogue is centering around the word `authority,'”said the Rev. Bruce Ruddock, the representative in Rome of the archbishop of Canterbury and all the primates of the Anglican Communion.”To put it simply, the Roman Catholic Church believes that we Anglicans have too little authority.

NEWS STORY: Clinton urges peace, reconciliation at prayer breakfast

c. 1999 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ President Clinton urged historic enemies in the Middle East and elsewhere to reconcile and work for peace in a National Prayer Breakfast talk Thursday (Feb. 4) that one of his spiritual advisers said was as much about his own impeachment problems as the global issues he cited.”I ask you to pray for all of us, including yourselves, to pray that our purpose truly will reflect God’s will, to pray that we can all be purged of the temptation to pretend that our willfulness is somehow equal to God’s will,”Clinton told more than 3,500 religious, political and diplomatic leaders gathered at a downtown hotel. Among those on hand was Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whose attendance prompted some conservative Christian and Jewish groups to boycott the 47th annual breakfast. Arafat’s critics charged him with being soft on terrorism and had unsuccessfully sought to get his invitation to the event rescinded.

NEWS STORY: Church leaders, activists say end to poverty `biblically mandated’

c. 1999 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Declaring that efforts to eliminate poverty are”biblically mandated,”some 600 religious leaders and activists gathered for a four-day summit focused on what the church and the government can do to fulfill that mandate. And to make their point, as their final act on Wednesday (Feb. 3), they fanned out across Capitol Hill to press legislators to support a series of programs and principals aimed at reducing poverty. Ranging from Roman Catholics to Pentecostals, participants at the Call to Renewal-sponsored gathering attended workshops and worship services and heard talks from pastors such as evangelical preacher the Rev. John Perkins, politicians such as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo and policy analysts such as John Carr, secretary of the Department of Social Development and World Peace of the U.S. Catholic Conference.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1999 Religion News Service St. Valentine’s relics to go display in Glasgow (RNS) Were there two St. Valentines? What are claimed to be the relics of St.

COMMENTARY: The significance of the Ten Commandments

c. 1999 Religion News Service (Rabbi Rudin is the national interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee). UNDATED _ At this time each year the Torah portion containing the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 1-14) is read at Sabbath services in synagogues throughout the world. Like many other youngsters, I memorized the original Hebrew words along with the English translation. Indeed, the Ten Commandments are probably the best known teachings of the Bible.

COMMENTARY: Everyone is lovable

c. 1999 Religion News Service (Les Kaye is the abbot of Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center in Mountain View, California and author of”Zen at Work.”He can be reached at medatwork(AT) UNDATED _ The record of human history traces key events, individuals, and social forces that contour civilizations and create new forms of societies. Yet, history is more than incidents and personalities; it chronicles the difficulties of being human, as it traces our struggles to find meaning in life against the odds of injustice and bad luck. It is a record of human suffering and mankind’s efforts – mostly unsuccessful – to end it. Even the reluctant high school student has much to learn pondering the heroic deeds and follies of our predecessors.

NEWS FEATURE: Religious Objects Recycled for Needy Churches

c. 1999 Religion News Service UNDATED _ Sister Elias Freeman is an unlikely scavenger. But scavenger she is, her habit billowing in the chill of a January breeze, glasses glinting in the light, as she cajoles bigger and richer churches to give up their old bits of holy things so that those bits can find resurrection in other churches from Newark to Nigeria. On their way to new life, those items _ candlesticks and choir robes, incense holders and crucifixes _ pass through her hands and her house in Mountainside, N.J., hold a jumble of shelves and cabinets and drawers loaded with catalogued items, including linens with tags noting dimension and condition. Her garage holds choir robes.