RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Lawsuit Filed Under New Law on Religious Land Use (RNS) The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has filed a lawsuit under a brand-new federal law dealing with religious land use. The case, believed to be among the first filed under the new law, involves a church denied the use of a storefront location in Grand Haven, Mich. The Washington-based Becket Fund sued the city on behalf of Haven Shores Community Church in March but amended its complaint in light of the new Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. President Clinton signed the bill on Sept.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Lawsuit Filed Under New Law on Religious Land Use (RNS) The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has filed a lawsuit under a brand-new federal law dealing with religious land use. The case, believed to be among the first filed under the new law, involves a church denied the use of a storefront location in Grand Haven, Mich. The Washington-based Becket Fund sued the city on behalf of Haven Shores Community Church in March but amended its complaint in light of the new Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. President Clinton signed the bill on Sept.

NEWS STORY: Congressman Criticized for Links to `Islamophobes’

c. 2000 Religion News Service NEWARK, N.J. _ A New Jersey congressman who is a leading critic of the persecution of Christians abroad is coming under fire for his ties to a lobby that espouses anti-Muslim rhetoric as part of its campaign to highlight violence against Christians, especially in Islamic countries. The Council of American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim advocacy group,has asked Rep. Christopher Smith, a Republican, to repudiate the fundamentalist Christian lobby, International Christian Concern, or ICC. Smith, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, distanced himself from the group’s beliefs but refused to sever all ties with the ICC, which further angered the Islamic group. CAIR noted that Smith has worked closely with ICC and its founder, Steven Snyder, whose Web site contains harsh stereotypes about Muslims, including the argument that Islam “promotes violence and bloodshed” and that it is responsible for starting the slave trade.

NEWS STORY: Congressman Criticized for Links to `Islamophobes’

c. 2000 Religion News Service NEWARK, N.J. _ A New Jersey congressman who is a leading critic of the persecution of Christians abroad is coming under fire for his ties to a lobby that espouses anti-Muslim rhetoric as part of its campaign to highlight violence against Christians, especially in Islamic countries. The Council of American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim advocacy group,has asked Rep. Christopher Smith, a Republican, to repudiate the fundamentalist Christian lobby, International Christian Concern, or ICC. Smith, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, distanced himself from the group’s beliefs but refused to sever all ties with the ICC, which further angered the Islamic group. CAIR noted that Smith has worked closely with ICC and its founder, Steven Snyder, whose Web site contains harsh stereotypes about Muslims, including the argument that Islam “promotes violence and bloodshed” and that it is responsible for starting the slave trade.

NEWS SIDEBAR: Text of McKenzie Prayer at the White House

c. 2000 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Newly elected African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Vashti McKenzie has the reputation of being one of the nation’s top preachers. Here is an excerpt from the prayer she delivered at the White House prayer breakfast Sept. 14: Eternal one and almighty creator who is both our father and our mother, the shepherd of our fold, attune our hearts to seek you here this hour. It is with a great sense of gratitude that we call upon you again this morning, the one whom continues to be the I am that I am, and for what you continue to do in us and with us and through us.

NEWS SIDEBAR: Text of McKenzie Prayer at the White House

c. 2000 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Newly elected African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Vashti McKenzie has the reputation of being one of the nation’s top preachers. Here is an excerpt from the prayer she delivered at the White House prayer breakfast Sept. 14: Eternal one and almighty creator who is both our father and our mother, the shepherd of our fold, attune our hearts to seek you here this hour. It is with a great sense of gratitude that we call upon you again this morning, the one whom continues to be the I am that I am, and for what you continue to do in us and with us and through us.

NEWS FEATURE: First Woman AME Bishop Begins Her Tenure

c. 2000 Religion News Service BALTIMORE _ Just before reciting her final benediction as pastor of Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church, Bishop Vashti McKenzie concentrated on the ongoing needs of her congregation. “Now, let me remind you, Rev. Harriet is looking for you in Bible study on Wednesday,” she said, referring to Harriet McCombs, one of her ministerial staffers. “Don’t take this day as an excuse to back away from your spiritual development.” McKenzie, 53, was set to depart Wednesday (Sept. 27) for her African assignment as the first female bishop of the 213-year-old AME denomination, but just days before she seemed to relish her last time in the pulpit.

NEWS FEATURE: First Woman AME Bishop Begins Her Tenure

c. 2000 Religion News Service BALTIMORE _ Just before reciting her final benediction as pastor of Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church, Bishop Vashti McKenzie concentrated on the ongoing needs of her congregation. “Now, let me remind you, Rev. Harriet is looking for you in Bible study on Wednesday,” she said, referring to Harriet McCombs, one of her ministerial staffers. “Don’t take this day as an excuse to back away from your spiritual development.” McKenzie, 53, was set to depart Wednesday (Sept. 27) for her African assignment as the first female bishop of the 213-year-old AME denomination, but just days before she seemed to relish her last time in the pulpit.

NEWS FEATURE: First Woman AME Bishop Begins Her Tenure

c. 2000 Religion News Service BALTIMORE _ Just before reciting her final benediction as pastor of Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church, Bishop Vashti McKenzie concentrated on the ongoing needs of her congregation. “Now, let me remind you, Rev. Harriet is looking for you in Bible study on Wednesday,” she said, referring to Harriet McCombs, one of her ministerial staffers. “Don’t take this day as an excuse to back away from your spiritual development.” McKenzie, 53, was set to depart Wednesday (Sept. 27) for her African assignment as the first female bishop of the 213-year-old AME denomination, but just days before she seemed to relish her last time in the pulpit.

NEWS FEATURE: First Woman AME Bishop Begins Her Tenure

c. 2000 Religion News Service BALTIMORE _ Just before reciting her final benediction as pastor of Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church, Bishop Vashti McKenzie concentrated on the ongoing needs of her congregation. “Now, let me remind you, Rev. Harriet is looking for you in Bible study on Wednesday,” she said, referring to Harriet McCombs, one of her ministerial staffers. “Don’t take this day as an excuse to back away from your spiritual development.” McKenzie, 53, was set to depart Wednesday (Sept. 27) for her African assignment as the first female bishop of the 213-year-old AME denomination, but just days before she seemed to relish her last time in the pulpit.

NEWS SIDEBAR: What is Rosh Hashanah?

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sundown on Friday (Sept. 29) marks the start of the Jewish New Year. This year Jews will celebrate the beginning of the year 5761. Rosh Hashanah observances vary by synagogue and denomination, with Reform Jews celebrating only one day, and other Jews celebrating two days.

NEWS SIDEBAR: What is Rosh Hashanah?

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sundown on Friday (Sept. 29) marks the start of the Jewish New Year. This year Jews will celebrate the beginning of the year 5761. Rosh Hashanah observances vary by synagogue and denomination, with Reform Jews celebrating only one day, and other Jews celebrating two days.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Presbyterians Adopt Guidelines For Missionary Evacuation (RNS) The Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved guidelines for evacuating church missionaries who find themselves in hostage, war or unfriendly situations overseas. The Worldwide Ministries Division of the 2.5 million-member church introduced the new guidelines Sept. 23 in order to formalize procedures for getting missionaries out of dangerous situations. “Every situation is different, but we have needed basic guidelines to coordinate communication, to determine when there is an emergency and to balance the interests of the families and churches involved,” said the Rev. Marian McClure, director of the agency, according to Presbyterian News Service.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Presbyterians Adopt Guidelines For Missionary Evacuation (RNS) The Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved guidelines for evacuating church missionaries who find themselves in hostage, war or unfriendly situations overseas. The Worldwide Ministries Division of the 2.5 million-member church introduced the new guidelines Sept. 23 in order to formalize procedures for getting missionaries out of dangerous situations. “Every situation is different, but we have needed basic guidelines to coordinate communication, to determine when there is an emergency and to balance the interests of the families and churches involved,” said the Rev. Marian McClure, director of the agency, according to Presbyterian News Service.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Religious Groups Praise Signing of Religious Freedom Bill (RNS) Religious and civil liberties groups, in a rare display of agreement, praised a bill signed by President Clinton on Friday (Sept. 22) that gives religious groups and prisoners more protection when practicing their beliefs. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which received wide bipartisan support, will give religious groups greater flexibility in dealing with local government zoning laws. “This act recognizes the importance the free exercise of religion plays in our democratic society,” Clinton said in a statement.