NEWS ANALYSIS: The Most Important Muslim You’ve Never Heard of

c. 2003 Beliefnet (UNDATED) It may have been the most earth-shaking news to hit American Muslims since Sept. 11, 2001, but you wouldn’t have known it from reading the morning paper. Warith Deen Mohammed, spiritual leader of the American Society of Muslims and perhaps the most influential American orthodox Muslim ever, announced over Labor Day weekend in Chicago that he was stepping down. His action barely registered on the mainstream radar.

NEWS FEATURE: Bennett’s Allies Are Quiet on Gambling Vice

c. 2003 Beliefnet (UNDATED) Religious conservatives were in a bind. On one hand, they love William Bennett. His “The Book of Virtues” is standard reading for most conservative Christians, particularly in Christian schools. The book is sold on Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network site, among others.

NEWS FEATURE: The Wisdom of Seeking with Author Steve Hagen

c. 2003 Beliefnet (UNDATED) Author Steve Hagen talks with Beliefnet’s Lisa Schneider about how Zen invites us to experience the truth that lies before us, but eludes the thinking mind. Steve Hagen is a Zen priest, head teacher at Dharma Field Zen Center in Minneapolis, and the author of the international bestseller “Buddhism Plain and Simple.” He spoke with Beliefnet about his latest book, “Buddhism Is Not What You Think.” Q: Your book seems to say Buddhism isn’t what you think but what you see. What exactly does that mean? STEVE HAGEN: I teach Buddhism not as a belief system _ of course there are beliefs tied in with it, as human beings we have all kinds of thoughts and ideas and notions.

NEWS STORY: Bishop-Elect Robinsion: `God is Doing a New Thing in the World’

c. 2003 Beliefnet (UNDATED) Last month, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, 56, was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. Robinson is openly gay and in a long-standing relationship. If his election is confirmed by the national church’s General Convention, which starts July 30, he will become the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop. The event will be a watershed not only for Episcopalians, but also for the worldwide Anglican Communion, whose governing body in 1998 called gay sex “incompatible with Scripture.” Q. So much news about gay rights has happened this summer -the Canadian marriage decision, the Texas sodomy case, and your election.

NEWS STORY: Despite Controversy, Iraq Beckons as Evangleical Mission Field

c. 2003 Beliefnet (UNDATED) Franklin Graham stirred controversy recently when he said his charity, Samaritan’s Purse, would work in post-war Iraq. But he is far from alone. A newly released survey of evangelical Christian leaders by the Ethics & Public Policy Center and Beliefnet finds 81 percent believe it is “very important” and 16 percent “somewhat important” to “evangelize Muslims in other countries.” The survey showed evangelical leaders feel an intense obligation to spread the gospel and help Muslims. And they’re putting their words into action: _ The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination, plans to send several hundred American volunteers from Oklahoma, Georgia, and Texas to Iraq. They will provide food and shelter and try to help Iraqis “have true freedom in Jesus Christ.” They’ve spent $125,000 so far on supplies alone.

NEWS FEATURE: George Bush’s Thology: Does President Believe He Has Divine Mandate?

c. 2003 Beliefnet (UNDATED _ In the spring of 1999, as George W. Bush was about to announce his run for President, he agreed to be interviewed about his religious faith _ grudgingly. “I want people to judge me on my deeds, not how I try to define myself as a religious person of words.” It’s hard to believe that’s the same George W. Bush as now. Since taking office _ and especially in the last weeks _ Bush’s personal faith has turned highly public, arguably more so than any modern president. What’s important is not that Bush is talking about God but that he’s talking about him differently.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Catholic Bishops Want Vatican to Name King a Martyr (RNS) American Catholic bishops have asked the Vatican to name slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. a 20th century martyr for Christianity, according to the Boston Globe. King, along with four church women murdered in El Salvador in 1980, is among 10,000 people around the world nominated for recognition as 20th century martyrs by Pope John Paul II.”To think that his life of service and giving has been recognized, it’s very humbling to me,”said Christine King Farris, sister of the Baptist minister who was assasinated in 1968. Those chosen as martyrs will be selected by a special Vatican commission, and will be honored in Rome in a May 7 ceremony, part of the Jubilee 2000 celebration marking Christianity’s 2,000th anniversary. The group honored in Rome will include both Catholics and non-Catholics, and will be separate from the martyrs officially granted sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church.

NEWS STORY: Tens of Thousands of Young People Rally for Spiritual Renewal

c. 2000 Religious News Service WASHINGTON _ When her husband knelt down and kissed the feet of her son, Paula Lubrano enthusiastically waved her hands in praise to God. The scene on the National Mall on Saturday (Sept. 2) was replayed across the famous stretch of grass in an emotional act of reconciliation during TheCallDC, a multicultural, interdenominational event that drew Christian teens and adults from across the country for a day to dedicate themselves to spiritual renewal. “As my husband prayed for my son, it’s like all the angry words and all the distance became a thing of the past,” said Lubrano, 40, who attends a nondenominational charismatic church in Farmington, Conn.

NEWS FEATURE: Corporate Charity Aims to Boost Business Objectives

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Corporate America has discovered that giving pays. Businesses increasingly see philanthropy as a chance to boost bottom lines by attracting customers, retaining employees and banking goodwill for future times of crisis. The practice is called “strategic philanthropy,” meaning every dollar or product donated must enhance a company’s business objectives. Armed with new research, corporations have adopted a philosophy of “doing well by doing good.” A national study released Wednesday showed companies are doing significantly better.

NEWS STORY: Newark Archbishop Tapped to Lead Archdiocese of Washington

c. 2000 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Pope John Paul II on Tuesday (Nov. 21) tapped Newark, N.J., Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick to lead the Archdiocese of Washington, putting the 70-year-old in line to become a member of the elite College of Cardinals and possibly elect the next pope. McCarrick will succeed Cardinal James Hickey, 80, who is retiring because of age and ill health. McCarrick will officially become archbishop in ceremonies on Jan.

NEWS FEATURE: Conservative Church Members Wary of Charitable Choice Aid

c. 2000 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The 2000 presidential campaign has produced promises of a new partnership between church and state on behalf of the poor, with Vice President Al Gore calling for increased federal grants to faith-based organizations and Gov. George W. Bush saying he would emulate Texas’ heavy reliance on religious charities to help the needy. But whoever is elected will face doubts among the religious, particularly religious conservatives. Even though the Christian right’s political leaders are the most outspoken supporters of increased church-state collaboration, the view from the evangelical pew is that Uncle Sam is not to be trusted, even if he comes riding a Republican elephant with bags full of money. The overarching, often-overlooked concern of the faith community is not that the church will unconstitutionally influence the state.

NEWS FEATURE: Waiting for Bombs in Baghdad

c. 2003 Beliefnet (BAGHDAD, Iraq _ Christian Peacemaker Teams, a program of Brethren, Quaker and Mennonite Churches, has posted volunteers in Iraq since Oct. 25, 2002. More recently, additional delegations have gone to Iraq to educate the public and “get in the way” of potential military attacks. This is a diary by American and Canadian volunteers who are now in Iraq.

COMMENTARY: Elian, 150 Years Ago

c. 2000 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 _ The little Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, fills the news and our consciences in this cruelest of months, as T.S. Eliot referred to April. The story of Elian is Dickensian in its cruelties, for it contains storms at sea, the death of a young mother, the fustian posturing of lawyers and government officials and the boy himself all but lost in the black hole of political manipulation. It does not make Elian’s tale less sad to recall a similar sensational case that, with a different cast of characters, occurred in the mid-19th century.

NEWS STORY: When It Comes to Forgiving Catholics, Jews Find Themselves Uncomfortable

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Rabbi Mark Loeb is devoting one of his High Holy Day sermons to repentance, or teshuva. It’s hardly an unusual topic for the period of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, when Jews are supposed to both seek and grant forgiveness. But there is something different about Loeb’s sermon this year. The Conservative Baltimore rabbi will talk about soul-searching among Christians, not Jews.