NEWS DIGEST: Religion in Canada

c. 2004 Religion News Service Renegade Anglican Parishes Split VANCOUVER, British Columbia (RNS) Priests from four western parishes opposed to same-sex marriage rites have quit the Anglican Church of Canada nearly two years after the Diocese of New Westminster approved a rite of blessing for same-sex couples. The priests _ and the parishes they serve _ say they now belong to a new entity called the Anglican Communion in Canada under the “temporary” pastoral oversight of five primates based in Africa and southeast Asia. The decision to leave, they said, “is in response to the crisis of faith and order precipitated by the abandonment by the Diocese of New Westminster of the unambiguous teachings of the Anglican Communion with respect to the authority of Scripture and human sexuality.” The priests of the parishes all submitted to New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham letters formally resigning their positions. In a statement accepting the resignations, Ingham said he was “glad that they have finally clarified the situation and made it clear they are leaving the Anglican Church of Canada of their own volition.” But the breakaway priests’ dealings with the diocese may not be over.

NEWS STORY: Christian Religious Workers Reporting Israeli Visa Obstacles

c. 2004 Religion News Service JERUSALEM _ Donald Rogers, the Jerusalem-based country representative for Catholic Relief Services, needs to renew his Israeli visa and those of his family in the next few weeks. He’s praying it will go smoothly. “It’s been more difficult to get a visa the last couple of years,” says Rogers, whose visa will soon expire. “Last year when I applied, it was held pending for a number of months, but then the Interior Ministry did give me a one-year, multiple entry visa.” Rogers’ wife and kids weren’t as fortunate.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service IRS Issues Election-Year Politicking Reminder to Churches WASHINGTON (RNS) The Internal Revenue Service has warned churches and other houses of worship they risk losing their tax-exempt status if they engage in partisan election-year politics. The IRS, in a routine advisory issued every four years since 1992, said religious groups are “prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.” Churches, charities and schools known as 501(c)3 groups for their section of the tax code, may hold nonpartisan voter education forums or voter registration drives, but may not endorse any candidate. Nonprofit groups may not make donations to campaigns, raise funds for candidates, distribute campaign literature or “become involved in any other activities that may be beneficial or detrimental to any candidate,” the IRS said in an April 26 notice. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., however, said Wednesday (April 28) that clergy should be able to endorse candidates from their pulpits as a matter of free speech.

NEWS FEATURE: As `Left Behind’ Series Winds Down, Final Book Off to Strong Start

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Just weeks after hitting bookstore shelves, the final book in the amazingly successful, 12-volume “Left Behind” series is “No. 1” on national best-seller lists. “Glorious Appearing,” the last progeny of a prodigious partnership between conservative minister the Rev. Tim LaHaye, and Christian writer Jerry Jenkins, was released March 30. In less than a month, the book reached No.

COMMENTARY: The Proper Study of Mankind: In Church, During Sermon

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Eugene Cullen Kennedy, a longtime observer of the Roman Catholic Church, is professor emeritus of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and author of “Cardinal Bernardin’s Stations of the Cross,” published by St. Martin’s Press.) (UNDATED) The proper study of mankind, poet Alexander Pope observed long ago, is man. Noting that, of course, he meant man and woman, we ask where this investigation can be best carried out? Do we find men and women real enough for such study in the popular magazines that tell people true love follows the development of the kind of abdominal muscles that make their fronts resemble the grille work on a Humvee?

COMMENTARY: On Israel’s Birthday, Answering the Question `Is Israel Real?’

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Rabbi Rudin, the American Jewish Committee’s senior interreligious adviser, is Distinguished Visiting Professor at Saint Leo University.) (UNDATED) There is a crowded shop in Jerusalem offering customers a wide assortment of lettered T-shirts. Some shirts prominently display faces of famous rock performers or movie stars. Other brightly colored shirts feature comic-strip characters or witty bon mots. Yet the best selling T-shirt has only three words printed across its front: “Israel Is Real” _ a proud, almost defiant declaration.

NEWS STORY: Pentecostal Bishop Defends Himself Against Heresy Charge

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A Pentecostal preacher who has been declared a heretic by some of his clerical colleagues has reacted to their claim with a renewed commitment to his controversial doctrine known as “the gospel of inclusion.” The teachings of Bishop Carlton Pearson of Tulsa, Okla., were recently declared unorthodox and heretical by the Cleveland-based Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops Congress. While many evangelical clergy believe that a personal confession that Jesus is savior gives a person entrance to heaven, Pearson views salvation in a more “universally inclusive” way. “If I am judged for perceiving Christ or Christianity in error, I’d rather be wrong for overestimating the love of God than underestimating it,” Pearson said in a formal response sent to Religion News Service. “I’d rather err on the goodness, greatness, and graciousness of God than the opposite.” The Pentecostal bishops’ congress issued its conclusion in a March 29 report, released more than a year after Pearson defended his views before the organization at a Washington doctrinal forum.

NEWS FEATURE: Archive Celebrates 350 Years of Jewish Women in America

c. 2004 Religion News Service BOSTON _ By the year 1880, there was only one house in Santa Fe, N.M., that could boast running water and gas appliances. Those who might be surprised to learn that might feel even more so to learn that the woman who tended to that house was a Jew. Flora Spiegelberg, a German-born Jewish pioneer woman who traveled across America to settle with her husband in Santa Fe, is one of many whose lives might otherwise be forgotten if not for the Jewish Women’s Archive. As this year marks the 350th anniversary of the first Jewish settlers’ arrival on American shores, the JWA has launched a number of efforts to ensure that women’s stories are integrally woven into the greater community’s celebration.

NEWS STORY: `Faithful’ Catholics Gather at First Prayer Breakfast

c. 2004 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ When 1,000 “faithful” Catholics packed a hotel ballroom for the first-ever National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday (April 28), noticeably absent was the man who could be the first Catholic president in 44 years. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., probably would have found few kindred souls at the Mayflower Hotel, where organizers promised to uphold church teaching against abortion in a tumultuous election year. “There never was a finer time to be a faithful Catholic,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, a United Nations watchdog group, who helped organize the breakfast. “Though politicians are with us today, this is not a day for politics, but for prayer,” he said.

COMMENTARY: The Gods of Globalization

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Professor Akbar S. Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C., is author of “Islam Under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World,” published by Polity Press.) (UNDATED) In this uncertain and anxiety-charged world, we either take comfort in the traditional figures of our religions or create new icons. Television, Hollywood films, documentaries, plays and the print media have repeatedly projected certain extraordinary individuals, and their images are perpetuated globally through the MTV culture. There is a continuous, even morbid, fascination with every aspect of their lives. The characteristics of these lives _ with some variations _ are: physical beauty of an androgynous quality; extraordinary achievement and the glamour associated with it; an appeal that transcends national, racial and sexual boundaries; and, in many cases, early death.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Religion News Service Wins `Best in Class’ Associated Church Press Award (RNS) Religion News Service received an Award of Excellence for “Best in Class” in the news service category of the Associated Church Press awards for 2003. RNS Senior Correspondent Adelle M. Banks won an Award of Merit for a feature article about the 25th anniversary of a Christian rock festival and RNS National Correspondent Kevin Eckstrom won an Award of Merit for a news story about the Episcopal Church facing schism with the consecration of its first openly gay bishop. Eckstrom and Banks also each won an honorable mention for convention coverage of the Episcopal Church and a profile of a vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, respectively. RNS columnist Tom Ehrich won an Award of Merit for a series of commentaries.

NEWS FEATURE: Key Findings on Survey of Music Piracy

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Here are 10 key findings from the Survey on Music Piracy: _ 80 percent of teens have engaged in music piracy in the past six months. _ 77 percent of born-again teens have engaged in music piracy in the past six months. _ 8 percent of teens said both copying CDs for others and unauthorized downloading are morally wrong. _ 21 percent of teens said that both CD copying and unauthorized downloading are morally OK.

NEWS STORY: When It Comes to Music, Christian Teens, too, Are Pirates

c. 2004 Religion New Service (UNDATED) The Gospel Music Association has embarked on a campaign to counter music piracy after commissioning a study that found purchasers of Christian music are as likely as other teens to engage in the practice. Overall, the online survey of 1,449 teenagers found 80 percent of teenagers surveyed had engaged in at least one kind of music piracy _ such as making copies of CDs for other people, downloading unauthorized free music or uploading music files to the Internet to share with others _ in the past six months. Only 8 percent said unauthorized downloading and copying CDs for others was morally wrong. But it was the more specific findings about Christian youth that association officials found disappointing, if not surprising.

COMMENTARY: The Struggle

c. 2004 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., and a fellow of the George H. Gallup International Institute in Princeton, N.J.) (UNDATED) During my youth in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was common to hear African-Americans speaking of “The Struggle.” Broadly speaking, The Struggle referred to the pursuit of social, political and economic equality being waged by black Americans. As such, every court decision, legislative action or social accomplishment that affected black people was viewed through the larger prism of The Struggle. These, of course, were tumultuous years, influenced by a generation of baby boomers frustrated at the apparent gulf between the nation’s purported Judeo-Christian ethic and its unjust policies both at home and abroad.

NEWS FEATURE: New Film Explores the Ethics of Cloning

c. 2004 Religion News Service LOS ANGELES _ The possibility of losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. But how far will parents go to bring that child back? In “Godsend,” a Lions Gate Films release opening April 30, the sudden and tragic death of 8-year-old Adam sends his parents into deep despair. In their desperation to reunite their family, Adam’s parents agree to a cloning procedure that will create an almost exact replica of their son.