NEWS STORY: Shadow of Crusades Falls on Pope’s `Brotherly Gesture’ to the Orthodox

c. 2004 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ Centuries-old bitterness over the sack of Constantinople during the Crusades has cast a small shadow on a major gesture intended by Pope John Paul II to bring Catholics and Orthodox Christians a step closer to unity. At a solemn ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday (Nov. 27), the pope presented to Bartholomew I, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, relics of two 4th century saints who were bishops of Constantinople and doctors of the Orthodox Church and are venerated by Catholics as well as Orthodox.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Poll: Americans Support Creationism but Are Skeptical on Details (RNS) A Gallup Poll suggests that Americans are divided over how the world was created _ either through evolution or at the hand of God _ but either way they appear skeptical that it happened exactly as described in the book of Genesis. The poll found that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution remains controversial among Americans. About one-third say it is supported by evidence, one-third see it as bunk and one-third don’t know enough to judge. A plurality of Americans _ 45 percent _ say man was created by God in his present form, while 38 percent say man developed over time as God guided the process.

COMMENTARY: Hanukkah: The Jewish Holiday for All Ages

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Most religious festivals are split into two parts. The first component is intended for children and entails songs, special food, colorful decorations, distinctive games or parties. But a holiday’s second part is for adults and conveys a serious message often far different from the youngsters’ jolly observances. This dichotomy is especially true of Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of freedom, which begins the evening of Dec.

NEWS STORY: Salvation Army Finds New Homes for Holiday Kettles

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) For more than a century, the Salvation Army has been helping the needy during the holidays. But now the red-clad bell ringers are the ones getting some extra help to make sure their familiar kettles and donations of loose change don’t vanish like Santa’s sleigh. On the heels of news that coin-catching kettles would no longer be welcome at Target stores nationwide, five retail chains are boosting the Salvation Army’s presence at their stores. Companies that will either introduce or expand their red kettle programs include BJ’s Wholesale Club, Books-A-Million, Michaels Stores, Circuit City and AutoZone.

NEWS FEATURE: Despite Struggles, Modern-day Pilgrims Find Reasons to be Thankful

c. 2004 Religion News Service CLEVELAND _ Consider the plight of the original Pilgrims: They came to a new land for religious freedom, and in the first winter alone nearly half of the 102 colonists died from disease and inadequate diets. And still they gave thanks after the first harvest that “by the goodneses of God, we are so farre from want.” The fears of scurvy and consumption no longer occupy the lives of people here, but the suffering that is part of the human condition challenges many this Thanksgiving Day in Cleveland, recently rated the nation’s poorest city. These are the stories of some modern-day spiritual pilgrims _ a dying man, two blind women, a recovering addict, a poor mother, a person deaf since birth _ who come to the Thanksgiving table with their own struggles and still find much to be thankful about. They are not representative of all people in their situations, but they share an indomitable human spirit stretching over centuries that refuses to give up in the face of loss.

COMMENTARY: Is World AIDS Day Something to Celebrate?

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Dale Hanson Bourke is the author of “The Skeptics Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis” and founder of the AIDS Orphan Bracelet Project.) (UNDATED) Dec. 1, 2004 marks the 17th anniversary of World AIDS Day. It hardly seems fitting to say “Happy AIDS Day.” Nor does “merry” come to mind. But despite the fact that another 3 million people have died from AIDS since last year, and at least 5 million are newly infected, there are some reasons to celebrate this day.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Evangelical Scholars Further Explain Support for Biblical Inerrancy (RNS) A group of evangelical scholars has taken the first step to more clearly state its support of biblical inerrancy, the belief that the Bible is without error. Members of the Evangelical Theological Society, who gathered for their annual meeting Nov. 17-19 in San Antonio, adopted a resolution that further explains the group’s two-sentence “doctrinal basis” that declares the Bible is inerrant. “The case for biblical inerrancy rests on the absolute trustworthiness of God and Scripture’s testimony to itself,” reads the resolution, which was approved by a 4-to-1 margin.

NEWS FEATURE: With Faith, Hope and Loans of $100 or Less, Uganda Battles Poverty, AIDS

c. 2004 Religion News Service NTUNGAMO, Uganda Generous Katagira, 26, says she should be thinking about getting married. Most Ugandan women her age have already settled down and started a family. But Katagira is not like most Ugandan women. A university graduate, she manages the office of a Christian microcredit organization, overseeing a portfolio of more than 1,000 loans, most for $100 or less, for some of her country’s poorest people.

COMMENTARY: Those Threatening Boy Scouts Are at It Again, Believing in the Big Guy

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Move over, OBL _ our new national threat comes from the BSA. They’re a strange, religiously oriented group whose stated purposes ought to make your blood run as cold as chilled mercury. We’ve had remarkable success in recent years keeping them from undermining American power, thanks to the U.S. military. But now it’s official, and what was once a shadowy war is out in the open.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Muslim Group Protests `Raghead Cadaver’ Comment on Imus Program (RNS) A national Muslim civil liberties organization is protesting comments made on talk show host Don Imus’ program, which is nationally broadcast on radio and on television network MSNBC. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging its members to contact MSNBC to express their discontent. The group has also filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. According to the Washington-based CAIR, on Friday (Nov.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Muslim Group Protests `Raghead Cadaver’ Comment on Imus Program (RNS) A national Muslim civil liberties organization is protesting comments made on talk show host Don Imus’ program, which is nationally broadcast on radio and on television network MSNBC. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging its members to contact MSNBC to express their discontent. The group has also filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. According to the Washington-based CAIR, on Friday (Nov.

NEWS ANALYSIS: How a Religiously Sensitive President Became a Zealot in His Critics’ Eyes

c. 2004 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ George W. Bush, a man with deep Christian convictions, invariably includes Jews and Muslims when he speaks of religion, and welcomes the “faith of every person.” He even goes the extra mile for agnostics and atheists. The day after he claimed a second term, Bush volunteered that people with no faith are just as American as he is. “No president,” Bush declared, “should ever try to impose religion on our society.” But that is precisely what a sizable number of his critics accuse him of doing. In significant quarters of the nation and overseas, Bush provokes suspicion that, in its most exaggerated form, sees a zealot in the Oval Office _ one intent on remaking his country and the world.

NEWS STORY: Ailing Billy Graham Still Packing Stadiums at 86

c. 2004 Religion News Service PASADENA, Calif. _ At 86, Billy Graham moves a little more slowly. But his four-day California crusade revealed that the evangelist can still fill stadiums with his classic presentation of the Gospel. More than 312,000 people heard the evangelist preach during the Greater Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade, which ended Sunday at the Rose Bowl here.