RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Iraqi Religious Minorities Worry About Proposed Constitution (RNS) Leaders of some Iraqi religious minorities say the second article in the proposed constitution, which discredits laws that contradict the laws of Islam, could endanger their autonomy. “Who will interpret these Islamic laws?” said Dr. Suhaib Nashi of the Mandaean Association Union. “We’re putting a couple of people (in charge) who will supervise any law that will come from Parliament.” Mandaeans, who follow John the Baptist as their prophet, represent a part of Iraq’s tapestry of religious diversity. Sects of Christianity have existed in Iraq since before the nation was formed.

COMMENTARY: Intelligent Design Is an Article of Faith

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) President George W. Bush created a stir this month when he let drop to a group of Texas reporters that local schools should be able to teach creationism _ er, the other “side” of evolution. “Both sides ought to be properly taught,” said Bush, according to an unofficial transcript of the Aug. 1 interview posted by washingtonpost.com. “…

American Scientists Ask Pope to Clarify Position on Evolution

c. 2005 Religion News Service CLEVELAND _ FedEx phoned Lawrence Krauss’ cluttered office in the physics department at Case Western Reserve University. This package he was sending abroad, a dispatcher asked, could he give a more complete address? The package held a letter Krauss had addressed to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, 00120 Vatican City. The dispatcher wanted Mr. Benedict’s street number.

Is NPR overdoing its religion coverage?

Interesting discussion by NPR ombudsman, Jeffrey A. Dvorkin. One listener complains, “I too am dismayed and disgusted by the outpouring of religion that you have put on your programs in recent months. I do not listen to NPR to be proselytized. ” Walter Watson, senior producer of Weekend All Things Considered, replies: “Religion-and not just Protestantism-plays an increasingly important part of American life in politics, education and cultureâÂ?¦we think that it’s significant and we need to report it, even if it may make some of our long-time listeners uncomfortable.” Dvorkin writes, “Even as many listeners sense that NPR is giving too much airtime to prominent religious groups, they also ask that NPR report on developments in other religions that address the spiritual questions of the day.

Prayer for forgiveness

Quote of the Day: Taize community leader Alois Leser “With Christ on the cross we say to you, Father, forgive her, she does not know what she did.” -The Rev. Alois Leser, the new leader of the Taize ecumenical community in France, praying during the funeral of slain Taize founder Brother Roger Schutz. Schutz was stabbed by a Romanian woman, Luminita Solcan, during a Taize prayer service. Leser prayed that Solcan would be forgiven for the murder. He was quoted by The New York Times.

Catholic stance on evolution; Presbyterian gay standards

Friday’s RNS report features a story by Frank Bentayou about the pope being asked to clarify the Catholic Church’s position on evolution: Case Western Reserve University physics professor Lawrence Krauss is weighing in on a dispute between two of the world’s most visible institutions, science and the Catholic Church. The question at hand: How did life on Earth come to be as it is? He and two other professors have asked the pope to clarify the church’s position on evolution and science, after seeing recent signs of change from an influential cardinal. Some scientists, including Krauss, think there’s hardly been so pressing a conflict between the two world forces since the 1600s, when the church brought its wrath down on Galileo for reporting that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe. Kevin Eckstrom reports that a special task force of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has recommended that a ban on actively gay clergy be maintained, but has determined that local churches should be free to skirt the law.

Reed College, BYU Ranked as Nation’s Most Secular and Religious Colleges

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) If your family is about to spend $40,000 a year to send your freshman off to Reed College in Portland, Ore., you can rest assured that he will get the nation’s top-ranked overall academic experience for undergrads. The one thing the Reed student won’t get, however, is much time with God, at least according to the newest rankings released Monday (Aug. 22) by The Princeton Review. Reed, a private liberal arts and sciences school, placed first in overall academic excellence in the annual survey of 110,000 college students, but it also topped the category of schools where “students ignore God on a regular basis.” “Sometimes perception is a little different than reality,” said Reed spokeswoman Beth Sorenson, who downplayed the religion score but happily trumpeted the academic rating.

On Terrorism, New Pope Adopts Tougher Talk With Muslims

c. 2005 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ In his historic 2001 visit to Syria, the late John Paul II became the first pope to visit a mosque, where he stressed the common heritage of Christianity and Islam and highlighted the prominence of the Virgin Mary in the Quran. He also noted a certain “misuse (of) religion itself to promote or justify hatred and violence,” but left it undefined. But when his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, met with Muslim leaders in Germany on Saturday (Aug. 20), he stuck to one issue and gave it a name _ terrorism.

COMMENTARY: Painful Memories Addressed on PBS Show

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A PBS-TV program scheduled for broadcast on Tuesday (Aug. 30) is an extraordinary study of how two families, one Orthodox Jewish and the other Polish Catholic, confront sacred memories, a shared bitter past, and most importantly, how they encounter each other 60 years after the end of the Holocaust and World War II. Sound boring and cliche-laden? Just another touchy-feely, let’s-all-be-friends show?

Reed College, BYU Ranked as Nation’s Most Secular and Religious Colleges

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) If your family is about to spend $40,000 a year to send your freshman off to Reed College in Portland, Ore., you can rest assured that he will get the nation’s top-ranked overall academic experience for undergrads. The one thing the Reed student won’t get, however, is much time with God, at least according to the newest rankings released Monday (Aug. 22) by The Princeton Review. Reed, a private liberal arts and sciences school, placed first in overall academic excellence in the annual survey of 110,000 college students, but it also topped the category of schools where “students ignore God on a regular basis.” “Sometimes perception is a little different than reality,” said Reed spokeswoman Beth Sorenson, who downplayed the religion score but happily trumpeted the academic rating.

COMMENTARY: Thou Shalt Not Assassinate Foreign Leaders

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Pat Robertson spoke to TV viewers Monday (Aug. 22) on his “700 Club,” publicly calling for the assassination of the three-time elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. Calling Chavez a “terrific danger” in the Americas, Robertson said: “We have the ability to take him out and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator.” Robertson has said some outrageous and appalling things in recent years.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Christian Group’s Ads Target Senate Majority Leader on Stem Cells WASHINGTON (RNS) A conservative Christian group is launching ads in the crucial presidential proving grounds of Iowa to pressure Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to change his new position on embryonic stem cell research. The Center for Reclaiming America, part of the Rev. D. James Kennedy’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ministry, will run television, radio and print ads in Iowa that say Frist supports research “that destroys human life.” In July, Frist broke with President Bush and endorsed federal funding for embryo research, a switch that has angered many conservative groups. Frist, a heart surgeon, had previously opposed the research. Frist, a Republican, has said he plans to leave the Senate next year and is widely thought to be mulling a race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

Tougher new pope; religion at universities

Stacy Meichtry writes in Thursday’s RNS report that Pope Benedict XVI is tougher on Islam and terrorism than his predecessor: In his historic 2001 visit to Syria, the late Pope John Paul II became the first pope to visit a mosque, where he stressed the common heritage of Christianity and Islam and highlighted the prominence of the Virgin Mary in the Quran. He also noted a certain “misuse (of) religion itself to promote or justify hatred and violence,” but left it undefined. But when his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, met with Muslim leaders in Germany on Saturday (Aug. 20), he stuck to one issue and gave it a name-terrorism. Kevin Eckstrom checks out the Princeton Review’s latest university rankings and finds which schools top the the most secular and most religious lists: Reed, a private liberal arts and sciences school, placed first in overall academic excellence in the annual survey of 110,000 college students, but it also topped the category of schools where “students ignore God on a regular basis.”

As Criticism Mounts, Robertson Apologizes for Assassination Comments

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Responding to a growing chorus of denunciation, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson apologized Wednesday (Aug. 24) for suggesting on his television show that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated. “Is it right to call for an assassination?” asked Robertson in a statement posted on his Christian Broadcasting Network Web site. “No, and I apologize for that statement.

Christian Magazines and the Newsstand

Christian Magazines, Like Musicians, Try to Tap Secular Market RNS’ Adelle Banks reports on the efforts of Strang Communications and other publishers of religious magazines to increase single-copy sales through placement on general market newsstands. In the piece, Doug Trouten, executive director of the Evangelical Press Association, says that “The general market success of products like the ‘Left Behind’ books, the Mel Gibson ‘Passion of the Christ’ movie, have been enough to catch the attention of major market [magazine] distributors and to help them realize that this is a market sector worth doing business with.” By the way, the EPA has a blog, which you can find here. Note: RNS’ weekly e-newsletter, which features summaries of stories moved on the wire, and a look at upcoming features, is available here.