RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Alliance of Baptists Becomes Member of National Council of Churches (RNS) The Alliance of Baptists, a moderate group that formed in opposition to the conservative direction of the Southern Baptist Convention, has become the 36th member communion of the National Council of Churches. Delegates to the NCC’s General Assembly in Atlanta voted unanimously Thursday (Nov. 17) to accept the alliance, a 60,000-member organization that is based in Washington. Stan Hastey, executive director of the alliance, thanked the General Assembly for welcoming his organization.

NEWS STORY: Catholic Bishops End Meeting With Call for Immigration Reform

c. 2000 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The nation’s Catholic bishops wrapped up their annual meeting Thursday (Nov. 16) with a stern rebuke of the U.S. immigration system, saying immigrants deserve legal protection and social services regardless of how they entered the country. The statement came a day after the bishops issued a pastoral statement urging greater acceptance of immigrant Catholics within the church. In their immigration statement, bishops said current U.S. policies have undermined “the human dignity of the immigrant and divided immigrant families.” “At the threshold of a new millennium, our nation must revisit its historic roots and reexamine attitudes, laws and policies toward newcomers who come to our land in search of a better life,” the bishops said.

NEWS STORY: Catholic Bishops End Meeting With Call for Immigration Reform

c. 2000 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The nation’s Catholic bishops wrapped up their annual meeting Thursday (Nov. 16) with a stern rebuke of the U.S. immigration system, saying immigrants deserve legal protection and social services regardless of how they entered the country. The statement came a day after the bishops issued a pastoral statement urging greater acceptance of immigrant Catholics within the church. In their immigration statement, bishops said current U.S. policies have undermined “the human dignity of the immigrant and divided immigrant families.” “At the threshold of a new millennium, our nation must revisit its historic roots and reexamine attitudes, laws and policies toward newcomers who come to our land in search of a better life,” the bishops said.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Religious Leaders: Shelve `Partisan Self-Interest’ in Vote Tally (RNS) A diverse group of religious leaders have teamed with a nonpartisan but liberal grass-roots organization in urging Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush to “put aside partisan self-interest” to resolve the controversy surrounding the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Calling to mind the candidates’ endorsement earlier this year of a pledge to conduct civil political campaigns, the Interfaith Alliance called upon the two to “put aside partisan self-interest to preserve the integrity and trustworthiness of our electoral process.” “It is clear that what is at stake is larger than either candidate or party,” the group’s statement said. “Nothing less is being tested than the strength of our cornerstone democratic principle that every vote counts.” More than 30 religious leaders of various faiths signed the statement, including Interfaith Alliance executive director the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, and the Rev. Joseph C. Hough Jr., president of Union Theological Seminary. Religious leaders have “a moral responsibility to speak to the current controversy surrounding the presidential elections,” the statement declared.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Religious Leaders: Shelve `Partisan Self-Interest’ in Vote Tally (RNS) A diverse group of religious leaders have teamed with a nonpartisan but liberal grass-roots organization in urging Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush to “put aside partisan self-interest” to resolve the controversy surrounding the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Calling to mind the candidates’ endorsement earlier this year of a pledge to conduct civil political campaigns, the Interfaith Alliance called upon the two to “put aside partisan self-interest to preserve the integrity and trustworthiness of our electoral process.” “It is clear that what is at stake is larger than either candidate or party,” the group’s statement said. “Nothing less is being tested than the strength of our cornerstone democratic principle that every vote counts.” More than 30 religious leaders of various faiths signed the statement, including Interfaith Alliance executive director the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, and the Rev. Joseph C. Hough Jr., president of Union Theological Seminary. Religious leaders have “a moral responsibility to speak to the current controversy surrounding the presidential elections,” the statement declared.

NEWS STORY: Gay Catholics Petition Bishops for `Reconciliation’

c. 2000 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Rob Connoley was prepared to do an overseas mission trip for the Roman Catholic Church until he was told he could not go for one reason _ Rob Connoley, a born-and-raised Catholic from Indianapolis, is gay. Since then, Connoley has left the Catholic Church. He now attends a predominantly gay Protestant church with his partner. On Monday (Nov.

NEWS STORY: Gay Catholics Petition Bishops for `Reconciliation’

c. 2000 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Rob Connoley was prepared to do an overseas mission trip for the Roman Catholic Church until he was told he could not go for one reason _ Rob Connoley, a born-and-raised Catholic from Indianapolis, is gay. Since then, Connoley has left the Catholic Church. He now attends a predominantly gay Protestant church with his partner. On Monday (Nov.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Postal Service to Issue Eid-al-Fitr Stamp (RNS) Earning praise from several Muslim organizations in the United States, the U.S. Postal Service on Monday (Nov. 13) unveiled a stamp commemorating the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, a feast that marks the end of fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. The stamp also commemorates Eid al-Adha, which marks the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The holidays join Thanksgiving and Christmas as the only ones honored with commemorative stamps for the year 2001.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Postal Service to Issue Eid-al-Fitr Stamp (RNS) Earning praise from several Muslim organizations in the United States, the U.S. Postal Service on Monday (Nov. 13) unveiled a stamp commemorating the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, a feast that marks the end of fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. The stamp also commemorates Eid al-Adha, which marks the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The holidays join Thanksgiving and Christmas as the only ones honored with commemorative stamps for the year 2001.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Pope Ties Eucharist to Acts of Charity (RNS) Pope John Paul II told some 35,000 pilgrims attending his general audience Wednesday (Nov. 8) that the “profound significance of the Eucharist” is closely linked to acts of charity and communion. Although John Paul did not spell out the kinds of charity he expects from Roman Catholics, he has often spoken of the need to help the weak and poor and to give special consideration to immigrants. The Vatican will hold an international symposium this weekend (Nov.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Pope Ties Eucharist to Acts of Charity (RNS) Pope John Paul II told some 35,000 pilgrims attending his general audience Wednesday (Nov. 8) that the “profound significance of the Eucharist” is closely linked to acts of charity and communion. Although John Paul did not spell out the kinds of charity he expects from Roman Catholics, he has often spoken of the need to help the weak and poor and to give special consideration to immigrants. The Vatican will hold an international symposium this weekend (Nov.

NEWS FEATURE: At 81, Huston Smith Still Exploring the World’s Religions

c. 2000 Religion News Service RALEIGH, N.C. _ Huston Smith, the nation’s preeminent authority on world religions, has added a new spiritual practice to his daily regimen. In addition to yoga, Scripture study, meditation and prayer, he now goes out to the yard after his afternoon nap and spends 15 minutes composting. “I’m a philosopher and a theologian,” said Smith, who spoke recently at Meredith College in Raleigh N.C, and Duke University in Durham, N.C. “I go around with my head in the clouds. It means a great deal to me to, in a participatory way, recognize my grounding in and dependence on my physical environment.” Spry at 81, though increasingly hard of hearing, Smith hasn’t lost his passion for exploring the world’s religions by experiencing them firsthand.

NEWS SIDEBAR: Behind the Scenes at a Billy Graham Crusade

c. 2000 Religion News Service JACKSONVILLE, Fla. _ On a recent evening just after evangelist Billy Graham spoke, Judy Wolfensperger sat at a computer terminal in a lounge of Alltel Stadium, marveling at the range of people who had responded to his crusade message. One of 60 people gathered for data-entry duties, the Presbyterian woman rejoiced at the 73-year-old woman and teen-aged girl who had filled out the follow-up cards whose data she was typing on her keyboard. “Billy Graham isn’t just here for tonight,” said Wolfensperger, 53, who works as a secretary for a general contractor.