NEWS STORY: French Reopen Case into Murdered Monks

c. 2004 Religion News Service TIBEHIRINE, Algeria _ The seven French monks lived in a stone farmhouse fringed with pine and apple trees outside this small village, tucked into the soaring hills of northern Algeria. As Islamist violence tore the country apart, they cared for the sick and visited their Algerian neighbors. When the village mosque collapsed with age, they offered a room in their red-tiled monastery as a Muslim prayer hall. But when the terrorist came knocking on a March day in 1996, they disappeared.

NEWS STORY: Pope Hopes for `Leap Forward’ in Catholic-Orthodox Relations

c. 2004 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ Pope John Paul II welcomed the leader of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians to the Vatican on Tuesday (June 29) with an appeal for a “leap forward” in relations between the long-divided Catholic and Orthodox churches. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I came to Rome at the pope’s invitation to mark the 40th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Atenagora I in Jerusalem that opened the way to dialogue between the churches separated by the “great schism” of 1054. “The memory of that meeting favors a leap forward in dialogue and in the strengthening of mutual fraternal relations,” John Paul told Bartholomew at a private audience Tuesday morning. He asked specifically for the urgent resumption of theological dialogue by a joint Catholic-Orthodox commission.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Mayors Create Network for Faith, Government Leaders to Aid Ex-Offenders (RNS) The U.S. Conference of Mayors has approved the creation of a “national re-entry consortium” that will bring government and religious leaders together to help people leaving prison readjust to society. A resolution calling for the consortium was proposed after the mayors’ Faith-Based and Community Task Force held a summit in Philadelphia in April to address coordination of efforts to assist ex-offenders. It was adopted during the annual meeting of the conference in Boston, which ended Tuesday (June 29), after being proposed by Philadelphia Mayor John Street, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Miami Mayor Manuel A. Diaz, said Nicole Maharaj, program director of the Mayors’ Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The resolution calls for faith leaders, city governments, community advocacy associations and others to enhance national efforts to share information, offer technical assistance and promote advocacy on re-entry issues.

COMMENTARY: Where’s George Washington When We Really Need Him?

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. Visit his Web site at (UNDATED) Happy birthday, America! Where are Washington, Madison and Jefferson when we need them? Where I live, government is paralyzed by bickering among officials.

NEWS STORY: Poll Suggests Muslim Disfavor for Bush Could Swing Election

c. 2004 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ A new poll by a prominent civil rights group suggests that support for President Bush among Muslim voters has eroded so swiftly that Muslim votes for Sen. John Kerry could swing the presidential election in key battleground states. Of the nearly 1,200 Muslim voters surveyed in June by the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), 55 percent said they had voted for Bush in 2000, but only 3 percent of those same voters would vote to re-elect him. A full 54 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and 26 percent said they would vote for independent Ralph Nader. The drop in Muslim support for the president is dramatic _ exit polls in the 2000 election indicated that Bush carried between 70 percent and 80 percent of the Muslim vote.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service CAIR, NCC Praise Supreme Court Ruling on Detainees WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday (June 28) that “enemy combatants” and foreign nationals detained by the United States must be permitted to challenge their detention in U.S. courts. The rulings in two separate cases were applauded by religious groups who had filed “friend of the court” briefs on behalf of the prisoners, who are being held on a U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The court’s decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld applies to U.S. citizens who are determined to be “enemy combatants” by the president. Even in a time of war, the court ruled, the president is not constitutionally permitted to block their access to legal counsel and judicial review.

NEWS STORY: Palestinian Pastor Pushes Plight of Holy Land Christians

c. 2004 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The Rev. Mitri Raheb recalled a lecture he recently gave in Chicago. After the talk, a man asked Raheb why he had converted to Christianity. The Palestinian Lutheran pastor considered the question. “It was like this man thought I had been converted by missionaries from the Midwest,” Raheb, 42, said in a recent interview in Washington.

COMMENTARY: Shadows on the Wall

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Les Kaye is the abbot of Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center in Mountain View, Calif., and author of “Zen at Work.” He is the founder of Meditation at Work, an awareness training program for businesses.) (UNDATED) If you didn’t know better, you might think that they had collaborated in a study of the search for truth. Despite differences of place and worldview _ Buddha from the east and Plato from the west _ they arrived at strikingly similar insights concerning the human dilemma. While Buddha emphasized “delusions,” Plato spoke of mental “shadows” as the root cause of human suffering. Plato’s well-known metaphor portrays men living in a cave, forced to face the wall, backs to the light of the fire, seeing only shadows of what is real.

NEWS STORY: Jakes’ Mega Fest Brings 100,000 to Atlanta

c. 2004 Religion News Service ATLANTA _ With 100,000 registrants and tens of thousands of walk-ins expected, power preacher Bishop T.D. Jakes’ Mega Fest has taken over four giant downtown venues in Atlanta this week (June 23-26) for four days of fervent Christian worship mixed with an all-star entertainment lineup. Jakes regularly draws thousands of worshippers to his conferences and his church, the Potter’s House, in Dallas, drawn by his charismatic preaching and his candid tackling of painful and taboo subjects. But the Atlanta event is perhaps Jakes’ largest and most ambitious conference to date. Mega Fest is the new umbrella gathering for previously separate events _ “ManPower” and “Woman, Thou Art Loosed,” his famous conferences for men and women _ and a new addition, “The Youth 3D Experience.” Jakes already has plans to host another Mega Fest next year, also in Atlanta.

NEWS FEATURE: Work Program Offers New Hope for Struggling Catholic High Schools

c. 2004 Religion News Service CHICAGO _ It’s 8 a.m. and about 120 students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School here are chatting in the school’s cafeteria as they eat breakfast. Lourdes Orozco, a program coordinator at the school reads a few announcements and rattles off a list of students she needs to speak with. Then she has a few reminders. “Gentlemen, I still see a lot of facial hair,” Orozco says, rubbing the back of her hand against her cheek.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Dobson Says Prospects for Marriage Amendment `Not Good’ WASHINGTON (RNS) Focus on the Family founder James Dobson told journalists Friday (June 25) that he doesn’t think a proposed amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman has a good chance of passing on Capitol Hill. “The prospects for the Federal Marriage Amendment right now are not very good,” Dobson said, answering a question following his first address to the National Press Club. The Senate is scheduled the week of July 12 to consider the proposed amendment that would ban gay marriage. Dobson, host of the Focus on the Family evangelical Christian radio program, said members of Congress who say they don’t want to tamper with the Constitution are just making excuses.


(Editor’s note: This list is compiled by Publishers Weekly magazine from data received from general independent bookstores, chain stores and wholesalers within the month of May. Copyright 2004 Publishers Weekly. Distributed by Religion News Service.) HARDCOVER 1. The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren. (Zondervan, $19.99) 2.

NEWS STORY: Departing Members of Review Board Urge Vigilance

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Two years ago, Anne Burke was a self-admitted “passive Catholic” who lived in relative obscurity, save for her job as a justice on the Illinois Court of Appeals and wife of a Chicago alderman. But then she got a phone call from a Catholic bishop downstate who asked her to serve on an advisory lay board to monitor the church’s response to the clergy sex abuse scandal. Looking back, if she had known what the position would entail _ hundreds of hours of meetings, juggling court schedules _ she says she may not have taken it. Still, important lessons were learned.

NEWS STORY: Reform Rabbis Denounce Bush on `False’ Weapons Claims

c. 2004 Religion News Service TORONTO _ Reform rabbis meeting here for their annual conference condemned the Bush administration for using “false claims” of weapons of mass destruction to justify the war in Iraq and for failing to implement a plan to end “chaos” in the country. The Iraq resolution adopted by the 450 rabbis attending the 115th annual meeting of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) _ including about a dozen from Israel _ was tempered by support for American troops in Iraq and for the administration’s efforts to end the occupation and engage the United Nations in the transfer of power to Iraqi hands. The rabbis also expressed “deep concern” over the United Nations’ “failure” to help Kurds in northern Iraq, and “outrage” over the abuse of Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison by “a very few” U.S. soldiers. There were few surprises at the three-day gathering that ended Wednesday (June 23), as liberal rabbis voted on a dozen resolutions and had their choice of more than 60 workshops and seminars on issues ranging from terrorism to transgender issues to Kabbalah.