Poll Finds Support for Pairing Creationism With Evolution

c. 2005 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Nearly two-thirds of Americans support teaching creationism alongside evolution in public schools, according to a new poll, but there is far less agreement over who gets to decide what is taught. The poll, released Tuesday (Aug. 30) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, found that three-quarters of Americans believe God created life on Earth, and 64 percent support teaching both evolution and creationism. The battle over evolution in the classroom has flared in public school districts in Kansas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Air Force Issues Interim Guidelines on Religion (RNS) The Air Force has released new interim guidelines urging its military members and civilian employees to protect the free exercise of religion. The guidelines, issued Monday (Aug. 29), were called for in a June report that investigated the religious climate at the Air Force Academy, an Air Force spokeswoman said, but affect the entire military force. The rules direct commanders and other leaders to avoid actions and language that might lead to the impression that they are officially endorsing or disapproving of individuals’ choices regarding religion.

Four Years After 9/11, an Increasing Search for a Multi-Faith God

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Four years after the religiously inspired attacks of Sept. 11, Americans are increasingly asking a spiritual question with vast political implications: Do all monotheists worship the same God, or not? The question gets an unambiguous “yes” in a high-profile documentary to debut on Connecticut Public Television at 9 p.m. EDT on Sept. 11 and on more than 100 public television stations nationwide in October.

COMMENTARY: Racial Unrest Can Erupt in Any Community

c. 2005 Religion News Service MARYVILLE, Tenn. _ This charming county seat south of Knoxville seems an unlikely venue for racial unrest, “white power” slogans and uproar over the Confederate flag. But then so does the city where I live, Durham, N.C., a diverse university town with a long tradition of liberalism, now embroiled in racial conflict, cross burnings and angry threats at public meetings. So, until it happens, do many communities where racial unrest among whites, blacks and Hispanics suddenly erupts into brawls, protests, shootings and cross burnings.

Support for creationism; causes for Katrina; a multi-faith God

In Tuesday’s RNS report Kevin Eckstrom and Adelle M. Banks look at a recent Pew poll that shows great support for creationism among Americans. According to the poll, almost two-thirds of Americans support teaching creationism alongside evolution in public schools. Which views should be taught in schools, and who should decide? Deborah Caldwell, senior editor of Beliefnet, looks at the different reasons being offered for Hurricane Katrina’s destruction: Was it a typical late-summer tropical storm caused by wind, water and heat? Mother Nature crying out on behalf of the Earth’s pain?

Keeping it light

Quote of the Day: Evangelist Billy Graham “Please pray for this project. And then if you have any money, give it, too.” -Evangelist Billy Graham, joking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday (Aug. 26). He was quoted by The Charlotte Observer.

In Labor Day Message, Catholic Bishops Criticize Divided Unions

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) In a Labor Day message, a spokesman for the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops criticized labor unions for their divisions, and large retailers for resisting unionization. “To move forward, our nation needs a strong and growing economy, strong and productive businesses and industries, and a strong and united labor movement,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, chairman of the domestic policy committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. DiMarzio also said a “fundamental moral measure of any economy is how the poor and vulnerable are faring.” DeMarzio’s comments were contained in the bishops’ annual Labor Day message, this year titled “Work, Pope John Paul II and Catholic Teaching.” The message cited a number of “troubling signs” in the economy that make it difficult for families to reconcile the demands of work, family life, and community and spiritual life. At the top of the list was the fractured labor movement.

Firms Hope to Profit by Cleaning Up Films

c. 2005 Religion & Ethics Newsweekly BOULDER, Colo. _ Responding to the public outcry over sex and violence in contemporary movies, a number of companies have found a new niche _ cleaning up the content of offensive films. Some firms are marketing filtering devices and others, more controversially, are editing scenes and then reselling the film. Under the Family Movie Act, which President Bush signed into law in April, unauthorized editing of Hollywood movies is legal. Critics, however, are challenging the law in court, contending the editing amounts to theft.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service White House Official, Some Advocates for Poor, Differ on Bush Budget (RNS) The director of the White House office dealing with faith-based initiatives says President Bush’s proposed budget _ with increases in funding for programs related to religious and community groups _ is a compassionate one, but leaders of some organizations concerned about poverty do not agree. “In the midst of a time where the budget is pressured by a number of forces, the president’s compassion agenda moves forward,” said Jim Towey, director of the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, speaking with reporters via conference call Monday (Feb. 7). He announced that Bush’s proposed $2.5 trillion budget includes a request for $385 million in funding for five programs related to faith-based and community initiatives, which totals $150 million more than current appropriations.

COMMENTARY: Despite Religious Opposition, Chief Wahoo Remains Cleveland Logo

c. 2005 Religion News Service

CLEVELAND _ I felt confident when I came to northeast Ohio in 1998 that I was going to love this place. This type of vibrant ethnically and religiously diverse community was all I had ever known. I grew up in a suburb of New Haven, Conn., worked my first job as a religion writer in Buffalo, N.Y., and lived in a suburb next door to Bridgeport, Conn., for the decade I worked at The Associated Press in New York. So there were only two things I found particularly striking after moving here.

Cleaning films; Bishops’ stance on labor unions

Monday’s report begins with a story from Lucky Severson of Religion & Ethics Newsweekly about companies that try to edit or filter sex and violence from movies: Some are marketing filtering devices. Others, more controversially, are editing scenes and then reselling the film. Critics are challenging in court the law President Bush signed in April that allows the unauthorized editing of films, contending it is theft. Despite the outcry, some say there is little difference between the viewing habits of religious and non-religious people, undercutting the financial potential of censoring devices. Senior Editor David E. Anderson writes about how Roman Catholic bishops in the United States are criticizing labor unions for their divisions, and large retailers for resisting unionization: “To move forward, our nation needs a strong and growing economy, strong and productive businesses and industries, and a strong and united labor movement,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, chairman of the domestic policy committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Faith and Boy Scouts

Quote of the Day: Muslim Boy Scout Rehman Muhammad of Houston “We’re just average American boys doing average American activities. But after Sept. 11, we also have to be ambassadors of our faith.” -Rehman Muhammad, 13, member of all-Muslim Boy Scout Troop 797 in Houston. He was quoted by Time magazine.

COMMENTARY: America Has Recovered From 9/11 All Too Well, With Smugness

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) If you missed the National Geographic Channel’s presentation of “Inside 9/11,” you missed a chance to clear up any confusion about our enemies and their character. Fortunately, you have a second chance; the program is to air again on Sept. 8. The program _ two segments of two hours each _ is a remarkably succinct and clear-eyed chronicle of the events that led up to the worst terrorist attack this country has ever seen, the attack itself and the aftermath.

Presbyterian Panel Urges Flexibility on Gay Clergy

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A special panel has urged the Presbyterian Church (USA) to maintain its ban on noncelibate gay clergy, but the panel also wants local congregations to determine when to apply _ or bypass _ that standard. The 20-member panel, which has spent four years studying divisions over homosexuality, said the church should retain its 1997 standards that call for church officers to maintain “fidelity … in marriage” or “chastity in singleness.” At the same time, the Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church said local churches “have the duty to apply standards and the right to discern which are essential for ordained service.” Such exceptions on when “departures can be tolerated” would be made on a “case-by-case” basis, but could also be challenged in church courts. The proposals now head to the church’s 2006 General Assembly in Birmingham, Ala.