Giant Jesus: Highway Guardian or Christian Kitsch?

c. 2005 Religion News Service MIDDLETOWN, Ohio _ Shake every kudzu vine across America’s southern Bible belt, and no glow-in-the-dark plastic Jesus quite like Ohio’s mega-messiah will ever pop out. Nicknamed “Super Savior,” the 62-foot-tall statue of Christ looms over land reclaimed from a cornfield. It dominates a once-deadly stretch of Interstate 75 in southwestern Ohio that slices through some of the state’s fastest-growing counties. There is even a new urban legend being created: Not long after a church had the roadside statue erected last summer, the highway suddenly became safe.

COMMENTARY: Removing `God’ from Pledge Won’t Harm Faith

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Once again, we’re arguing over whether we should keep God out of our public schools. As if we could. I don’t think God takes marching orders from us. So I do not share the anxiety of those who claim that a U.S. federal judge’s recent order to remove the words “under God” from our Pledge of Allegiance is just one more step in a steady march toward a heathen nation.

Praying before the big game

Quote of the Day: Fellowship of Christian Athletes Executive Dan Britton “The landscape of sports is so crazy-parents beating up coaches, NBA players going into the stands, baseball players getting traded halfway through the season. A wooden bat and a leather ball make a horrible god. We say, let’s go to the Bible.” -Dan Britton, Fellowship of Christian Athletes vice president, linking a change in athletic culture to a trend toward spirituality among athletes. He was quoted in the Washington Post.

Vatican Rules Would Try to Prevent Gays From Entering Priesthood

c. 2005 Religion New Service VATICAN CITY _ New rules that would bar gay men from the Roman Catholic priesthood have been submitted to Pope Benedict XVI for approval, signaling a push for tightened regulations as the church prepares to review the sexual conduct of its seminarians. Prepared by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, which has oversight of seminaries, the guidelines are based on long-standing church teaching that has called homosexuality an “objectively disordered” condition that could impair priests in performing their ministry. Critics, however, say homosexuality should be a non-issue since all priests _ gay or straight _ are called to celibacy. They accuse the church of using gay men as a scapegoat for the church’s sexual abuse scandal.

Iraqi Fights for Democracy, Religious Tolerance, Despite Murder of Sons

c. 2005 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ Mithal al-Alusi, 52, dressed in a conservative suit and tie, sat with his hands politely folded on the table of a midtown New York office, resigned to the dangers that surround him every day. For daring to visit Israel, he incurred the wrath of Iraqi insurgents who killed his two sons and driver earlier this year; he barely escaped with his own life. There have been several death threats since then, and by coming to New York in May to raise funds for his fledgling political party, he was inviting more. “It’s crazy for Christians, Jews, Muslims to be fighting,” he said.

COMMENTARY: More Than Ever, High Holy Days Needed for Reflection

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) It’s a good thing the Jewish High Holy Days _ Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) _ will soon be here. The two-day observance of Rosh Hashana begins Monday evening Oct. 3 and Yom Kippur, Judaism’s most sacred day, starts at sunset on Wednesday, Oct. 12 and concludes the following evening.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Government Support of Private Schools After Katrina Draws Mixed Reviews (RNS) An effort to direct taxpayer dollars to pay for private _ and sometimes religious _ school tuition as part of the recovery effort from Hurricane Katrina has prompted praise and criticism from organizations with views about vouchers. The U.S. Department of Education has proposed that up to $1.9 billion be dispersed to public schools that have enrolled at least 10 students from the region hit by the storm, as well as up to $488 million to help families whose children are attending private schools. The Rev. William Maestri, school superintendent for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said that the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina should change the way people think about how to pay for education. “The question can no longer be who is providing the education,” said Maestri, who has been a prominent supporter of school vouchers for the past few years.

COMMENTARY: Simon Wiesenthal, a Force of Memory Against the Darkness of the Holocaust

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A few days before Simon Wiesenthal died this week _ 60 years after the end of Nazi Germany _ the German soccer federation finally released a report admitting its enthusiastic collaboration with Hitlerism. Like so much of what happened at that time, the facts were shameful and sordid and _ for an astonishing stretch of time _ secret. For virtually all of those 60 years, Wiesenthal _ who survived the Holocaust himself only by a series of impossible flukes, gun barrels turned from his head at the last possible moment _ crusaded against the secrets, against the lies, and especially against the forgetting. From a small, cramped office in Vienna, he demanded that the world face what had happened, and demonstrated the simple but unstoppable power of bearing witness.

Grilling Judge Roberts

Quote of the Day: Wall Street Journal columnist Manuel Miranda “How insulting. How offensive. How invidiously ignorant to question someone like Judge Roberts with such apparent presumption and disdain for the religion he practices. The JFK question is not just the camel’s nose of religious intolerance; it is the whole smelly camel.” -Columnist Manuel Miranda, in an editorial appearing on

The Voice of Guilt

Oy Vey! Book Offers Guidance to Wrestling with Jewish Guilt RNS’ article of the week, by Sarah Price Brown, reviews the book “The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt.” Click the link above to see the whole piece. Quote: The term “Jewish guilt” tends to conjure up stereotypical images of nagging, overprotective mothers and their angst-ridden sons. But anthology of essays edited by Ellenson explores in a nuanced way the different kinds of guilt experienced by modern American Jewish women.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Statue of Opus Dei Founder Added to St. Peter’s Basilica VATICAN CITY (RNS) A marble statue of St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of the conservative Opus Dei movement, was added to the exterior of St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday (Sept.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Religious Groups Cite `Moral Duty’ of U.S. to Stop Darfur Genocide WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious groups on Wednesday (Sept. 21) stepped up pressure on the Bush administration and Congress to help end the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region, saying the United States has a “moral duty” to intervene. The Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of 134 religious and humanitarian groups, said Washington must provide increased aid to African Union troops who are on the ground in Darfur and impose economic sanctions on the Sudanese government in Khartoum. Leaders met with Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and members of Congress and delivered a letter to President Bush as part of the “National Day of Action for the People of Sudan.” “The United States has a moral duty to lead the world to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians in Darfur,” said the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals.

`Lefebvrists’ Reflect Larger Fight Over Communion

c. 2005 Religion News Service BEVAGNA, Italy _ On a recent Saturday morning, dozens of worshippers gathered in a sun-dappled park just beyond the medieval walls of town to celebrate Mass. At the edges of the ceremony, priests occupied park benches to hear confessions. The rest of the congregation knelt in the grass with their eyes directed at the back of the Rev. Luigi Moncalero as he raised a chalice to the heavens. The worshippers, members of the Society of St.

Farming Nuns Celebrate 25 Years of Faith-Based Ecology

c. 2005 Religion News Service BLAIRSTOWN, N.J. _ The Dominican Sisters of Caldwell founded Genesis Farm as “a learning center for Earth studies” 25 years ago. The nonprofit, self-sustaining farm is largely based on the teachings of Catholic “geologian” Thomas Berry, who held that the institutions of economics, religion, education and government were failing to address global ecological problems, said founding member Sister Miriam MacGillis. And since Genesis Farm began in 1980, ecological problems have gotten much worse, in MacGillis’ view. “I think we’ve been in a profound sense of denial for about 40 years about how dire this (ecological crisis) is,” MacGillis said.

COMMENTARY: With Help From Bush, Faith-Based Nonprofits Can Resettle Katrina Evacuees

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Right now in the Gulf Coast region, hundreds of thousands of Americans are feeling the effects of trauma from being driven from home by the winds and water of Hurricane Katrina. At best, they feel a strong sense of displacement, as the familiarity and comfort of home are just a memory. Their experience will be tragically compounded if we do not assist their relocation as soon as possible. If they continue to live in shelters and sport stadiums alongside thousands of other people, their feeling of insecurity and abandonment will only increase.