Christian rock & roll soars to new heights

Thursday’s top RNS story is about the revival of Christian rock. Not only is it surging ahead in the Christian music industry, but big mainstream labels are also catching on. Improved musical chops, impressive fan bases cultivated by constant touring, and artists who don’t trash hotel rooms are all part of the draw, according to label execs like Capitol Records’ Jaime Feldman.

A Mormon president?

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. “The one question you didn’t ask was about Mormonism-whether it would hurt him (Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney) in a national campaign. The answer is no. We’ve moved on. That died with my brother Jack.”

A Mormon president?

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. “The one question you didn’t ask was about Mormonism-whether it would hurt him (Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney) in a national campaign. The answer is no. We’ve moved on. That died with my brother Jack.”

No “religious test” for Supreme Court nominee

Kevin Eckstrom writes, in the RNS article of the week, that Catholic groups will be guarding against the use of Supreme Court nominee John Robert’s devout Catholicism to derail his nomination. Eckstrom notes that the debate over a public figure’s religiosity “has reopened questions of whether a nominee’s faith is fair game for inspection, and resurrected age-old fears that some Catholics face an ideological ‘litmus test’ about their ability to divorce their public lives from their private faith.” But as Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, notes: “If a senator opposes a person based on their position on abortion, and that person happens to be Catholic, to say that is ipso facto anti-Catholicism, that is utter nonsense.” The RNS weekly e-newsletter has also now been posted.

No “religious test” for Supreme Court nominee

Kevin Eckstrom writes, in the RNS article of the week, that Catholic groups will be guarding against the use of Supreme Court nominee John Robert’s devout Catholicism to derail his nomination. Eckstrom notes that the debate over a public figure’s religiosity “has reopened questions of whether a nominee’s faith is fair game for inspection, and resurrected age-old fears that some Catholics face an ideological ‘litmus test’ about their ability to divorce their public lives from their private faith.” But as Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, notes: “If a senator opposes a person based on their position on abortion, and that person happens to be Catholic, to say that is ipso facto anti-Catholicism, that is utter nonsense.” The RNS weekly e-newsletter has also now been posted.

Should the Catholic Church Publicly Expose Priests Who Abused?

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When the Newark (N.J.) Archdiocese determined in 2003 that the Rev. Gerald Ruane had been credibly accused of sex abuse, it accepted his retirement and quietly banned him from presenting himself as a priest in public. The diocese also banned him from wearing clerical garb. So this spring, his accuser, Michael Iatesta, was outraged to learn Ruane had just concelebrated Mass in front of more than 100 people at a Catholic shrine in Morris County and appeared in his priestly vestments on a television interview from Rome after the death of Pope John Paul II. The controversy surrounding Ruane highlights a delicate problem for the Catholic Church: How aggressively should dioceses spread the word about clergy believed to have sexually abused children?

COMMENTARY: Jerusalem Need Not Divide Over Religion

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Despite the current focus on Israel’s planned withdrawal from Gaza, there is no territorial issue as likely to sabotage hopes for peace between Israelis and Palestinians as the final status of Jerusalem. This issue, while not in the international headlines, continues to fuel the conflict. The battle for control of Jerusalem and its holy places has always provoked passionate and often belligerent emotions from Jews, Christians and Muslims. In the words of historian Karen Armstrong, “Once an issue like Jerusalem is elevated beyond the reach of compromise, the most extreme and immoral actions become not only possible but `holy’ to a disaffected minority.” Jerusalem need not be the cause of such conflict. The city is often mistakenly portrayed as a source of religious tension between Muslims and Jews, but an examination of the city’s history and religious significance reveals a legacy of coexistence enshrined in Jewish and Islamic traditions.

Lutherans Consider Gay Issue With Unique Approach That Omits Discipline

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The nation’s largest Lutheran church body will try to settle the divisive issue of homosexuality by maintaining bans on gay clergy and same-sex unions _ while also allowing churches to break both those rules without threat of discipline. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), with 5 million members, will consider a three-pronged proposal on homosexuality when it meets Aug. 8-14 for its Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, Fla. But, because traditionalists say the proposals go too far, and progressives say they don’t go far enough, the ELCA could reject the proposal and leave Orlando without any major change to its gay policies after spending four years wrestling with the issue.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Christian Church Is First Major Mainline Denomination to Elect Female Head (RNS) For the first time in the denomination’s history, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has elected a woman to be its general minister and president. The Rev. Sharon Watkins was elected general minister and president of the 750,000-member denomination on Tuesday (July 26), which also made her the first woman given the top spot of a major mainline Protestant denomination. Watkins was elected by acclamation, as expected, by delegates to the Disciples’ General Assembly meeting in Portland, Ore. She succeeds the Disciples’ interim leader, the Rev. William Chris Hobgood.

COMMENTARY: Iraq Constitution Must Protect Freedom to Choose Your Religion

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The war in Iraq isn’t really over until there is a guarantee of religious freedom in the new constitution. And right now, the deadline is looming as the creators of the new document debate ideas such as federalism, powers of regional governments, the role of religion and the allocation of resources. The 71-member drafting board made up of Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites has until Aug. 15 to submit a draft constitution, which will then be voted on in a general referendum in October.

COMMENTARY: Bomb Mecca Over Terrorism? Then Nuke the Vatican for Sex Abuse

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) One step forward: A group of British imams issued an honest-to-Allah fatwa against suicide bombers. According to the clerics, terrorists are not acting in the name of true Islam and will ride a hot, slick razor blade straight to hell. Good; more, please. Alas, there’s also one step back: In the same news cycle Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., mused on a radio show about his preferred response to a nuclear attack on America: bombing Mecca.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Observant Jews Say Daylight Savings Extension Hurts Morning Prayer (RNS) Observant Jews are expressing concerns over legislation extending daylight savings time by two months, saying that the late sunrises would impact their ability to pray in the morning and still reach work by 9 a.m. The provision, which set daylight savings time between March and November instead of April and October, was approved Tuesday (July 19) by a joint House-Senate conference committee. The committee met to finalize the energy legislation package Congress will present to the president by Aug. 1. The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) had written a letter to the members of the committee, explaining that an extension of daylight savings time would place a hardship on observant Jews.

Elvis stealing the church’s music

Larry Norman, Christian rock artist “I thought Elvis was stealing the church’s music. And I thought I should steal it back.” – Larry Norman, Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee, on how his musical career began. Norman, who is retiring, has been recognized as inventing the Christian rock genre. He was quoted in the Statesman Journal of Salem, Ore.

Elvis stealing the church’s music

Larry Norman, Christian rock artist “I thought Elvis was stealing the church’s music. And I thought I should steal it back.” – Larry Norman, Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee, on how his musical career began. Norman, who is retiring, has been recognized as inventing the Christian rock genre. He was quoted in the Statesman Journal of Salem, Ore.