Experts Warn Houses of Worship at Risk After Court Ruling

c. 2005 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Religious institutions may be more vulnerable to takeover through eminent domain after Thursday’s (June 23) Supreme Court ruling that gives local governments greater power to seize properties for private economic development, according to some religious and civil rights advocacy groups. Churches, mosques, synagogues and other nonprofit religious entities are considered especially at threat because they generate no tax revenue for cities, while developments like hotels or shopping malls are seen to be economic boons for urban renewal projects. “Because all houses of worship are tax-exempt, they will continue to be attractive targets for seizure by revenue-hungry local governments,” said Jared Leland, media and legal counsel of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The Becket Fund is a nonprofit, interfaith legal organization that advocates for the free expression of religion.

Comedy of the `Allah Tour’ Has Muslims Laughing

c. 2005 Religion News Service CLEVELAND _ Even for those non-Muslims who know Islam is far more than a religion of violent zealots, the idea of a Muslim comedy show may seem incongruous. Muslims laughing? Yes, actually. And guffawing, snorting, even gasping for air.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Fed Up With Pilgrims, Owner of House Where Pope Was Born Wants Out (RNS) Fed up with pilgrims, the owner of the 18th century house in the Bavarian town of Marktl where Pope Benedict XVI was born is looking for a buyer. “I want my private life back,” Claudia Dandl said. Dandl, a physiotherapist, said she and her two children no longer answer the door to pilgrims demanding to enter the two-story, former police station, which she bought and renovated six years ago. Benedict, son of a police officer, was born Joseph Ratzinger in the family’s apartment above the police station at 11 Marktplatz in the center of the town in southern Germany on April, 16, 1927.

COMMENTARY: Shame on Dick Durbin for His Nazi Analogy

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Despite laboring in the shocked-and-appalled trade as an opinion writer, I stopped being shocked and appalled years ago. I embraced the wisdom of the late Peter Lisagor, Washington bureau chief of the Chicago Daily News, who said hyperbole is to Washington what craps is to Las Vegas. Last Thursday (June 16), however, Sen. Dick Durbin rekindled my sense of outrage. He likened what Americans have done to some Guantanamo detainees to “the Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime _ Pol Pot or others _ that had no concern for human beings.” Now, the Illinois Democrat had every right to object to the actions an FBI agent set out in a memo.

Christian family relations

Quote of the Day: William Franklin Graham IV, Billy Graham’s grandson “We’re a Christian family. … The only way to the father is through the son, not through the grandson.” -William Franklin Graham IV, the grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, jokingly explaining his response when people ask him if they can meet his famous grandfather. He addressed Southern Baptists on Wednesday (June 22) at the denomination’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Christian family relations

Quote of the Day: William Franklin Graham IV, Billy Graham’s grandson “We’re a Christian family. … The only way to the father is through the son, not through the grandson.” -William Franklin Graham IV, the grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, jokingly explaining his response when people ask him if they can meet his famous grandfather. He addressed Southern Baptists on Wednesday (June 22) at the denomination’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

COMMENTARY: Bishops, Doctors and Their Tottering Hierarchies

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Two of America’s oldest hierarchies, the American Medical Association and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, tottered into Chicago during the same week recently. They shared overlapping interests. Medicine’s goal is health and that of religion is holiness. Along with wholeness that is kindred to both, these come from the same old English root, hal.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Vatican, Russian Orthodox Officials Find Common Ground Against Secularism VATICAN CITY (RNS) High-ranking Vatican and Russian Orthodox officials agreed Thursday (June 23) on the need for both churches to join in affirming “spiritual values” to combat growing secularism in the world. Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenical officer, met in Moscow with Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who is No. 2 in the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian news agency Ria-Novosti reported that a brief meeting between Kasper and Kyrill stretched into three hours.

COMMENTARY: Billy Graham, An Evangelistic `Lion in Winter’

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Politicians have a “Last Hurrah.” Athletes take a “Victory Lap.” For Billy Graham, who announced the current New York City crusade would be his final one in America, it’s a “Last Hallelujah.” Graham, the nation’s most prominent religious leader for more than 50 years, is 86 years old and suffers from prostate cancer, fluid on the brain, deafness in one ear, and a broken hip requiring the use of a walker. Yet, he presses on with his evangelistic message. Like another religious icon, Pope John Paul II, Graham preaches sermons of faith and hope despite physical pain and an awareness death may be near. Like Karol Wotyla, Billy Graham is a “Lion in Winter” who will not easily surrender to the inevitable.

Pope to European Unbelievers: Live as Though God Exists

c. 2005 Religion News Service ROME _ In his first book to be published since he became leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI challenges non-believing Europeans of the 21st century to live as though God does exist. “Even he who does not succeed in finding the way to the acceptance of God must try, however, to live and to address his life `veluti si Deus daretur,’ as if God were,” Benedict writes. The book, titled “The Europe of Benedict in the Crisis of Cultures,” is a collection of three talks by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, before he was elected pope on April 19. Laying out his views on the clash between religion and secularism in Europe, the new pontiff warns that carried to their logical extremes, the freedoms embodied in European secularism threaten church teaching on abortion, homosexuality and women’s ordination.

Ending Convention, Southern Baptists Commission Bronze Statue of Billy Graham

c. 2005 Religion News Service NASHVILLE, Tenn. _ Southern Baptists have commissioned a bronze statue of their most famous evangelist, Billy Graham, that will depict him with his hands outstretched, holding a Bible, standing in front of a huge cross. The decision was officially announced Wednesday (June 22), on the last day of Southern Baptists’ annual convention. A Wyoming artist has been given the task of creating the sculpture, which is expected to be unveiled at next year’s Southern Baptist meeting, in Greensboro, N.C. It will then be transported to Nashville, the location of the denomination’s executive offices.

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This Week’s e-Newsletter

Religion News Service E-Newsletter Click the link above to see this week’s Religion News Service e-newsletter. You can click here to receive your own copy via e-mail.

RNS Article of the Week

Party Hearty Festivals Create New Evangelism Model The RNS article of the week takes a look at Luis Palau festivals, and compares them to a Billy Graham crusade. Key quote: Palau-a youthful 70-has reached more than 4.4 million people with a party approach to evangelism featuring a slogan of “Great Music. Good News.” It has been so successful in attracting young people that some see it defining evangelism in the early part of this century as Graham shaped it in the latter part of the last century.

RNS Article of the Week

Party Hearty Festivals Create New Evangelism Model The RNS article of the week takes a look at Luis Palau festivals, and compares them to a Billy Graham crusade. Key quote: Palau-a youthful 70-has reached more than 4.4 million people with a party approach to evangelism featuring a slogan of “Great Music. Good News.” It has been so successful in attracting young people that some see it defining evangelism in the early part of this century as Graham shaped it in the latter part of the last century.