NEWS FEATURE: Former Clinton Spokesman Learns the Ropes as Church Delegate

c. 2003 Religion News Service PITTSBURGH _ When Mike McCurry was press secretary for President Bill Clinton, the toughest part of his job was staying one step ahead of the White House press corps. Now, he says, the toughest part of his job is keeping up with the junior high school students in his Sunday School class at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Kensington, Md. “I was seen as pretty sure-footed talking about foreign policy and domestic policy at the White House,” said McCurry.

COMMENTARY: The Many `Thens’ in Contemporary Life

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Tom Ehrich is a writer and computer consultant, managing large-scale database implementations. An Episcopal priest, he lives in Durham, N.C.) INDIANAPOLIS _ Today is the day. Like any “the day,” this cresting wave began far out to sea and only now washes over our feet. Everything of value in my father’s house has been labeled: some for his new home at a retirement center, and the rest divided among the three children and bound for North Carolina, Seattle and 11 blocks away.

NEWS STORY: Removal of `Ten Commandments’ Judge Upheld by Alabama Court

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Judge Roy Moore, whose 5,300-pound Ten Commandments monument cost him his job as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, had his removal from office upheld Friday (April 30) by a special court of review. The seven-member court unanimously ruled that former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s removal from office last year was “proper” because he violated state ethics codes when he defied a federal court order to remove the monument. Moore was tossed off the bench last November by a state Court of the Judiciary. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley appointed seven retired judges to serve on the special court to hear Moore’s appeal of his removal.

NEWS STORY: At Pew Forum, Differing Sides Square Off Over Religion and Marriage

c. 2004 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ As the dispute over gay marriage heats up, much of the language of the debate is religious, with supporters arguing gay unions may actually uphold religious norms while opponents maintain they neglect and undermine the moral requirement of procreation. A recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life here was the setting for another round in what has become the “wedge issue” in the “culture war.” “As a Catholic, you have an obligation to think about the marginalized,” said Andrew Sullivan, a political blogger and senior editor at The New Republic, at the Pew forum. “I believe the ability to integrate homosexuals and their families is a critical challenge. We should treat people as individuals regardless of their identities.” Sullivan, a gay and a political conservative, said he was raised in a Catholic family in which he was told he would someday be able to marry.

NEWS FEATURE: More Workers Using Family Leave to Care for a Parent

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When doctors told the Young brothers their mother’s emphysema would kill her within a year, each son made a big decision. Rich Young and his wife invited her to come live with them in their Robbinsville, N.J., home. Dennis Young, who lived in Maryland, skipped work nearly every Friday to spend a three-day weekend in New Jersey, where he took his scooter-bound mother on outings to restaurants, shows or simply the park. Gradually, as her health diminished, he used the time just to be at her side.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service UCC Calls for Defeat of Gay Marriage Amendment (RNS) One of the nation’s most liberal Protestant denominations has urged the defeat of a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, as well as the repeal of a 1996 federal law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The Executive Council of the United Church of Christ, meeting in Atlanta on Monday (April 26), also called for the defeat of state proposals that would prohibit gay marriage. “We hold that, as a child of God, every person is endowed with worth and dignity that human judgment cannot set aside,” the 76-member board said in a statement that was also adopted by four separate church agencies. “We believe that recognition of the sacred joining of individuals is deserving of serious, faithful discussion by people of faith, taking into consideration the long, complex history of marriage and family life, layered as it is by cultural practices, economic realities, political dynamics, religious history and biblical interpretation.” The Cleveland-based denomination claims 1.3 million members and has long been the vanguard of liberal Protestantism.

NEWS FEATURE: RNS Religion Calendar

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Here is the RNS calendar of religious holidays, events and meetings for May and June. It is updated monthly. April 29-May 1 Symposium on Religion and Politics, hosted by Calvin College’s Henry Institute, Grand Rapids, Mich. Contact: Corwin Smidt at 616-526-6233; e-mail: henry(at); Web site: May 2 Mawlid al-Nabi (Muslim holiday commemorating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad in approximately 570 A.D.) Panel discussion on religious climate in Barcelona, Spain, in advance of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, co-sponsored by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago.

COMMENTARY: The Trauma of Taking Away the Keys

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Marc Howard Wilson is a rabbi, columnist and organizational design consultant in Greenville, S.C. Collections of his essays can be found at and He can be reached at marcwilson1216(at) (UNDATED) In the aftermath of an elderly man killing folks as he plowed his car into a crowded market, a representative of the American Association of Retired People is asked how one deals with the painful issue of not allowing father or mother to drive anymore. The AARP rep acknowledges the trauma and dryly suggests this might be accomplished by asking “someone more detached and objective, like a therapist, doctor or family clergyman” to break the news. People who have not yet faced that daunting prospect might actually think it a good idea, if not an easy out.

COMMENTARY: God’s Mercy Is Reflected in a Mother’s Love

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Asma Mobin-Uddin is a pediatrician from Columbus, Ohio and serves as vice president of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. This column first appeared in the Columbus Dispatch.) (UNDATED) My newborn son lies nestled against my shoulder. I hear and feel his soft, gentle breaths as he sleeps, oblivious to the rest of the world. Warm, dry, fed and snuggled in the gentle cocoon of my arms, he rests peacefully.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Christian Reformed, RCA Merge Publications Departments (RNS) Two Reformed churches with shared roots in Dutch Calvinism have merged their publications divisions to streamline operations. The Christian Reformed Church, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., and the Reformed Church in America, based in New York City, will make the CRC’s Faith Alive Christian Resources division the primary publishing arm for both churches. As part of the deal announced April 27, all RCA resources for worship, education and evangelism will be handled through the Faith Alive office in Grand Rapids. Maintaining an RCA publications division was no longer financially “viable,” said the Rev. Ken Bradsell, the church’s director of operations and support.

NEWS STORY: Methodists Weigh Strength of Gay Clergy Ban

c. 2004 Religion News Service PITTSBURGH _ The United Methodist Church’s highest court will decide this week whether the recent acquittal of an openly lesbian pastor was improper because it ignored a church ban on “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy. On Saturday (May 1), the church’s Judicial Council ruled 6-3 that “the practice of homosexuality is a chargeable offense.” In addition, the court said a 20-year-old ban on gay clergy in the church’s Book of Discipline is “unambiguous” and “explicit.” That decision constrasted with a controversial verdict issued March 20 that cleared the Rev. Karen Dammann of Ellensburg, Wash., of charges that she violated church rules against noncelibate gay clergy. That verdict, by 13 pastors who said the ban was not “declarative,” outraged conservatives, who have turned to the court for help in forcing compliance with the prohibition. Delegates are now awaiting an answer from the court about how its recent decision might impact the Dammann verdict, and whether bishops can appoint openly gay clergy as pastors.

NEWS FEATURE: Anglican Priest Pens Novel to Rival `Harry Potter’

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When he was 21, Graham Taylor woke up from a night of heavy partying in his London flat, took a look in a mirror, and said, “Oh, God, there has got to be more to life than this.” Taylor says he didn’t expect God to answer. But God did. A voice inside told Taylor to make peace with his parents, whom he had hardly seen since running away at 16. “Go home,” the voice said, “and I’ll find you a job and I’ll find you a wife.” “I’ll tell you _ I didn’t want the job in my hometown and I didn’t want the wife,” Taylor said in an interview from his home in the Yorkshire village of Cloughton, where he’s now the local vicar.

NEWS ANALYSIS: In the Black Church, an Uneasy Silence On Gay Issues

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Asked about how he, as an African-American clergyman, feels about the debate over same-sex marriage, the Rev. James Forbes of New York’s Riverside Church talks about “leading a movement towards full inclusiveness.” The Church of God in Christ, one of the few African-American denominations to publicly address the issue, is headed in the opposite direction. It declared in mid-April that unions of same-sex couples “are sinful and in direct violation of the law of God in that they are a deviation from the natural use and purpose of the body.” But as the May 17 date when Massachusetts’ highest court will permit same-sex marriage approaches, most black denominations have not come out of the closet with their views on the controversy. “I’m struck by the fact that I haven’t seen more official statements or positions on the issue, guiding their own church members about how to think about this issue,” said the Rev. Robert Franklin, a black church expert and professor of social ethics at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. “We shouldn’t be silent on this issue.” Those who have been vocal acknowledge that some of their brethren may not have determined what they should say.