NEWS FEATURE: Evangelical Women Address Depression With Vulnerability

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Like her father, evangelist Billy, Ruth Graham knows how to deliver an uplifting message. After speaking to large crowds at Christian women’s conferences, lines form to the youngest daughter of the most famous preacher in American history. Many come to discuss a subject previously taboo in evangelical Christian circles, a subject that used to suggest weakness, or even a lack of faith, for those dragged down by its tentacles. That subject is depression, a topic the younger Graham and other prominent evangelical women are addressing with increasing vulnerability and credibility.

NEWS STORY: Campaigns Reach Out to Catholics, Especially in Battleground States

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) In a final push to reach undecided voters, both parties are wooing Roman Catholics in battleground states, but critics say aggressive tactics have crossed a sacred line. Republicans have enlisted 53,000 “Catholic team leaders” as political emissaries to Catholic “friends, families and congregants,” said Tara Hall, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. The RNC has also launched a Web site (http://www.kerrywrongforcatholics.com) alleging that Kerry departs from the church’s social teachings. The Washington-based Interfaith Alliance has attacked the effort, along with its Mormon counterpart (http://www.kerrywrongformormons.com), as “redefining religion from a perspective of partisan politics.” “Political parties and campaigns should learn to keep out of the internal affairs of religious institutions,” said Interfaith Alliance President Welton Gaddy in a statement.

NEWS STORY: Kerry Not Catholic Enough for Some Fellow Catholics

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The last time a Catholic was a contender for commander in chief, minimum wage was $1 an hour, Elvis was on top of the pop charts and Barbie was brand new. Before John F. Kennedy, the last such presidential contender was Alfred E. Smith in 1928, who was soundly defeated by Herbert Hoover. For both men, religious affiliation proved politically painful as they faced critics who claimed the pope would somehow determine policy if they were elected. Today, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a Roman Catholic who once considered entering the priesthood, confronts questions about his faith and its impact on his political decisions.

NEWS STORY: Faith-Based Bloggers Tackle the Election, Political Issues

c. 2004 Religion News Service PHILADELPHIA _ Equal parts soapbox, confessional and church social, the blogs of religious folk are not easily categorized. On Monday, someone may post a lengthy exegesis of a favorite Bible passage, on Tuesday a screed against Democrats and on Wednesday, a picture of his cat. Blogs, or “Web logs,” resemble personal Internet pages. But advances in computer technology are making such blogs public trading posts in the marketplace of ideas.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service At Request of Jewish Group, Target Pulls Kabbalah `Red String’ (RNS) Target has stopped selling bracelets made popular by pop icon Madonna and other celebrities after a Jewish group said the item commercialized a sacred religious tradition. The International Society for Sephardic Progress (ISFSP), a Florida-based advocacy group for Jews of Spanish descent, protested when the Target Corp. began selling a red string bracelet it called “Kabbalah Red String.” The string is believed to ward off evil. It is literally wrapped around what is believed to be the tomb, in Israel, of the biblical matriarch Rachel, who is seen as a protector and mother figure to adherents of Jewish mystical philosophy.

NEWS STORY: Jews, Presbyterians Meet Over Israeli Policy Divide

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A high-level summit between Jewish and Presbyterian leaders on Tuesday (Sept. 28) covered little new ground in an ongoing dispute over Middle East policy, but both sides promised to stay in close contact as the church considers selectively divesting from Israel. Relations between the two faiths soured in July after Presbyterian delegates voted to explore divestment from companies whose business in Israel supports violence against either Palestinians or Israelis. Jewish groups said the measure, along with a related call for Israel to end construction of a controversial security barrier, was unfair and did not apply equal pressure on Palestinians to stop suicide bombers.

COMMENTARY: Campaign Needs More Faith-Based Listening

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 http://www.onajourney.org.) (UNDATED) Partisan fervor is strong. How strong is hard to say. Candidates’ advertisements aren’t a good measure.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Catholic Abortion-Rights Groups Asks IRS to Censure Other Catholic Groups WASHINGTON (RNS) A Catholic group that supports abortion rights has asked the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax-exempt status of two groups that suggest it is impossible for Catholic voters to support Sen. John Kerry. Catholics for a Free Choice said a voting guide produced by Catholic Answers, a California-based apologetics group, and supported by the Culture of Life Foundation is an improper political endorsement by a tax-exempt entity. The Catholic Answers Voting Guide lists five “non-negotiable” issues _ abortion, cloning, euthanasia, gay marriage and embryonic stem cell research _ that Catholics must consider when voting. In the past, Catholic Answers has said Kerry, a Catholic, “flunks the test” on upholding church teaching.

NEWS FEATURE: In New Movie, Bishop Jakes Puts Camera on Child Abuse

c. 2004 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ On the make-believe screen of the movie theater, Bishop T.D. Jakes spends time in a prison cell, visiting a woman torn by the vestiges of child sexual abuse. In real life, the Dallas megachurch pastor would like to see more Christian leaders pay attention to the scourge of abuse that affects children and adults who were victims of molestation. “There needs to be increased awareness,” he said in an interview at a Washington hotel while in town to show screenings of the film, “Woman Thou Art Loosed: The Movie” ahead of its Friday (Oct. 1) release.

NEWS STORY: Former Bishop Won’t Be Tried on Child Rape Charges

c. 2004 Religion News Service SPRINGFIELD, Mass. _ The former Catholic bishop of Springfield will escape state criminal prosecution after becoming the highest-ranking U.S. cleric indicted on child sexual abuse charges. But there is still a possibility Thomas L. Dupre could face federal prosecution on charges of transporting two boys across state lines for sex more than two decades ago. Dupre became the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States to be charged with sexual abuse in an indictment made public Monday.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Former Massachusetts Bishop Indicted on Sexual Abuse Charges SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (RNS) The former bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has been indicted on child rape charges. He is the first U.S. Roman Catholic bishop to be charged with sexual abuse. A grand jury charged former Springfield Bishop Thomas L. Dupre with two counts of child rape Friday (Sept.

COMMENTARY: Molecular Biologist Explores Humanity’s `God Gene’

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Editors: Dean Hamer, a molecular biologist, is author of the forthcoming book `The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired Into Our Genes.’) (UNDATED) Since the dawn of our species, spirituality has been deeply woven into the human experience. More than 30,000 years ago, our ancestors in what today is Europe painted the walls of their caves with images of strange chimeras representing sorcerers or priests. Across millenniums, religion has produced innumerable acts of charity and unspeakable acts of violence. Today, the forces of fundamentalism _ whether Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim _ are sweeping the globe, from the Middle East and Africa to South America and Asia.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service At Request of Jewish Group, Target Pulls Kabbalah `Red String’ (RNS) Target has stopped selling bracelets made popular by pop icon Madonna and other celebrities after a Jewish group said the item commercialized a sacred religious tradition. The International Society for Sephardic Progress (ISFSP), a Florida-based advocacy group for Jews of Spanish descent, protested when the Target Corp. began selling a red string bracelet it called “Kabbalah Red String.” The string is believed to ward off evil. It is literally wrapped around what is believed to be the tomb, in Israel, of the biblical matriarch Rachel, who is seen as a protector and mother figure to adherents of Jewish mystical philosophy.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Under Pressure From Jewish Groups, Wal-Mart Pulls Anti-Semitic Book (RNS) Retail giant Wal-Mart has agreed to stop selling the anti-Semitic book “The Protocols on the Learned Elders of Zion” after receiving complaints from Jewish groups. Wal-Mart said in a statement Friday (Sept. 24) that “we have made a business decision to remove this book” based on “significant customer feedback.” Wal-Mart had been selling the book, a discredited tale of a world Jewish conspiracy, on its Web site. In early September, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, sent a letter to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott after one of the Jewish human rights group’s supporters alerted Cooper’s office.