RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Muslim Political Action Committee Gives Kerry `Qualified Endorsement’ (RNS) A political action committee representing major U.S. Muslim advocacy groups has given a “qualified endorsement” to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. The American Muslim Taskforce-Political Action Committee (AMT-PAC), which is affiliated with an umbrella organization representing the American Muslim Alliance, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America and other groups, made its long-awaited announcement at a press conference Thursday (Oct. 21). Earlier, the group had reportedly been leaning toward making no endorsement in the hotly contested election, but AMT-PAC chairman Agha Saeed called those reports “fallacious” and “rumors.” After much internal debate and discussion, the group announced a “qualified endorsement” of Kerry’s campaign, but also said that it is urging Muslims to make a “protest vote,” in which they vote not necessarily in favor of Kerry, but against President George W. Bush.

NEWS STORY: Bush Poised to Increase Share of Jewish Vote

c. 2004 Religion News Service TAMARAC, Fla. _ The Kings Point retirement community is home to some 8,000 people, almost all Jews. That’s more than the Jewish population of 13 states; more Jews than in Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas combined. Come Nov.

NEWS STORY: Bush and Kerry Scolded by Denominational Brethren

c. 2004 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Members of a particular denomination used to be proud when they shared a religious affiliation with a president or presidential candidate. But the scoldings President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are receiving from fellow United Methodists and Roman Catholics illustrate that’s not necessarily true this election season. “What’s happening is now it’s sort of flipped on its head,” said Corwin Smidt, director of the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. Recent criticisms of Bush and Kerry _ spurred by debates over the Iraqi war and abortion _ reflect the importance of faith to many American voters and the apparent closeness of the race for president, observers say.

NEWS STORY: Republican Party and Vatican Divided by War in Iraq

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The Vatican and the United States were close allies during the 1980s Cold War. Republican President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II seemed to campaign shoulder-to-shoulder to combat abortion and Soviet Communism, especially in the pontiff’s homeland of Poland. Republicans thought they continued to have the inside track on good relations with Catholic leaders in Rome during the era of President Bill Clinton, whom conservatives assaulted for not standing up for family values. But, according to best-selling American author John Allen, arguably the world’s leading commentator on the relationship between the Vatican and the United States, the close-knit days have ended, to the surprise and unease of the Republican administration and its supporters.

COMMENTARY: Jefferson’s Wall Could Be Crumbling

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Rabbi Rudin, the America Jewish Committee’s Senior Interreligious Adviser, is Distinguished Visiting Professor at Saint Leo University.) (UNDATED) I was a third-grader at Maury School in Alexandria, Va., when I first encountered religious bigotry and the liberating beliefs of Thomas Jefferson. There were 30 youngsters in my class, and on the first day of the school year, our teacher announced there would be a 10-minute Bible reading each morning. I thought little about it until the next day when she asked if any Catholics or Jews were in the class. I raised my hand along with two Catholic students.

NEWS STORY: Republicans Target the Amish in Battleground States

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) It has been said that the Old Order Amish pray Republican even if they don’t vote Republican. But with the presidential race remaining tight in the final days before the Nov. 2 election, GOP campaign organizers in battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania are hoping to turn Amish social concerns into real support for George W. Bush at the ballot box. The Amish, as well as their spiritual cousins the Hutterites and Old Order Mennonites, have long resisted political involvement as a way to “not be conformed to this world,” as the Apostle Paul wrote.

NEWS STORY: Gay Episcopal Bishop Expresses `Regret,’ Won’t Bless Gay Unions

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) An openly gay Episcopal bishop whose consecration was criticized by an Anglican church panel said Wednesday (Oct. 20) he is “deeply sorry” for the disarray his election has caused and will adopt a personal moratorium on blessing same-sex unions. “I do feel regret, a deep and abiding regret, that this has been so painful to so many people in the Anglican Communion,” said Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, in his first day of reacting to Monday’s report by a commission headed by Irish Archbishop Robin Eames. “It certainly was not the intent of the Diocese of New Hampshire or the (Episcopal Church) in giving consent.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Jews Angered by Presbyterian Meeting With Hezbollah Leaders (RNS) The Presbyterian Church (USA), already under fire from Jewish groups for considering financial divestment from Israel, has stirred anger again for sending a delegation to the Middle East that met with Hezbollah, a Lebanese guerrilla group that the United States characterizes as terrorist. A 24-member delegation of a church advisory panel on Sunday (Oct. 17) visited the Khiam refugee camp in southern Lebanon and met with leaders of Hezbollah, which runs the camp. The delegation also met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and planned to meet with unnamed Israeli officials.

NEWS STORY: Bush Makes Inroads With Help of Black Christian Conservatives

c. 2004 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Amid mounting hostility in the black community, President Bush stands to markedly increase _ even double _ his share of the black vote Nov. 2, a new poll suggests. The Bush years, a sour economy and the war in Iraq appear to have driven younger blacks into a more fervent embrace of the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, Republicans have made dramatic inroads with black Christian conservatives, whom they have courted on issues like gay marriage and federal support for faith-based charities.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Spitting on Christians Decried in Israel JERUSALEM (RNS) The Israeli government has vowed to crack down on religious Jews who insult and spit at Christians. In a stern statement issued Tuesday (Oct. 12), Interior Minister Avraham Poraz condemned recent incidents in which Jewish seminary students, many of them Americans studying in Israel, spat at Christian clergy during processions through the Old City of Jerusalem. Poraz expressed “revulsion” and called the situation intolerable, vowing to take action to prevent future incidents.

NEWS STORY: Bishops at Odds Over Homosexuality Express Hope for Future

c. 2004 Religion News Service LONDON _ Two bishops, one an American supporter of gay rights within the Anglican Communion and the other an African critic of such efforts, appeared at a forum Tuesday to explain their differences and express hope for a unified future for their international denomination. “It is the body of Christ,” said Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon of Kaduna, Nigeria, referring to an Anglican Communion torn over the issue of homosexuality. “I cannot see the Lord himself allowing his body to disintegrate.” Idowu-Fearon and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold of the Episcopal Church appeared at a discussion organized by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. They appeared together a day after a panel chaired by Archbishop Robin Eames of Ireland issued a long-awaited report on the Anglican Communion’s growing divide over homosexuality.

NEWS STORY: Top Episcopal Bishop Won’t Impose Panel’s Demands on Gay Bishops and Unions

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The top bishop of the Episcopal Church said Tuesday (Oct. 19) he cannot impose a moratorium on either gay bishops or same-sex unions, two demands made by a top-level Anglican church panel. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said he has no power to stop a diocese from electing a gay bishop or blessing gay unions. However, he said the American church is now more “intensely aware” of the ripple effects its decisions have on the wider Anglican Communion.

NEWS STORY: Evangelistic Tracts to Flood Pentagon

c. 2004 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The American Tract Society has developed a closer relationship with the Pentagon, with plans to supply its chaplains’ office with hundreds of thousands of evangelistic pamphlets in the next year. “My general goal is to get as many tracts in circulation as I can,” Dan Southern, president of the Dallas-based society, told Religion News Service. “Wherever I have the opportunity, I take advantage of it. It could be any place.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Reagan’s Daughter Sues Salvation Army Over Speaking Engagement (RNS) Patti Davis, the daughter of the late President Ronald Reagan, has filed suit against the Salvation Army, claiming her views supporting stem cell research led to a canceled speaking engagement. In a suit filed earlier this month (October) in New York State Supreme Court, Davis and her talent agency, Greater Talent Network, charged that plans for her to speak at a Santa Rosa, Calif., event were changed because her views differed from those of the evangelical Christian charity. They seek $7,500 _ half the $15,000 fee she was to be paid _ and additional punitive damages of as much as $22,500, court documents show. Davis supports embryonic stem cell research that some hope may someday cure ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease, which afflicted her famous father who died in June.

COMMENTARY: It’s Time for the Politicians to Listen to Us

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) We have spent the past many months listening to politicians. It is time they listened to us. Here is what I hope they hear come November 2: First, voting is serious business.