Point of Grace Promotes `Classy, not Trashy’ Attire

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Teenage girls _ and their mothers _ tend to get very excited about Point of Grace, a fixture on America’s Christian music scene for 15 years. The four female singers hope to translate that excitement over their music into lessons about chastity and modesty. Across the country, they are leading two-day “Girls of Grace” conferences. They blend concerts with a workshop for teen girls that promises to take on such issues as premarital sex and being fashionable without showing too much skin.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Pope Condemns Human Trafficking VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI condemned human trafficking on Friday (Oct. 28), underscoring the role smugglers play in funneling unknowing immigrant women into foreign prostitution rings. Benedict described trafficking as a “scourge” that preys upon the vulnerability of immigrant women in search of better economic conditions. “It becomes easy for the trafficker to offer his own `services’ to the victims,” Benedict said, adding that immigrant women “often do not even vaguely suspect what awaits them.” “There are women and girls who are destined to be exploited almost like slaves in their work, and not infrequently in the sex industry too,” he said.

COMMENTARY: Halloween Costumes Get Religion

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) I love Halloween, and I hate to see it melting away like the Wicked Witch of the West. But two factors are working against my favorite holiday. First, there’s safety. It seems every generation is less likely to let the kids out after dark than the generation before.

Victims Renew Call for National Database of Clergy Abusers

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Amid all the disturbing tales of priests being charged with sexually abusing minors, stories about Nicholas Cudemo stand out. A grand jury report on clergy sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, released last month, revealed Cudemo had been accused of abusing 16 minors, raping an 11-year-old and helping her get an abortion. He was laicized _ formally dismissed from the clergy _ in June after four decades as a priest in eastern Pennsylvania. Despite that Vatican action, which was publicized, Cudemo presided in July at a baptism at Christ the King Church in Haddonfield, N.J., where the resident priest did not know his status.

Calls for clergy abuse database; Point of Grace

Friday’s RNS report starts off with a report by Jeff Diamant about renewed calls from victims’ advocates for a national database of clergy abusers, following last month’s grand jury report on abuse in Philadelphia: Amid all the disturbing tales of priests being charged with sexually abusing minors, stories about Nicholas Cudemo stand out. When a grand jury released its report last month on clergy sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, it revealed Cudemo had been accused of abusing 16 minors, raping an 11-year-old and helping her get an abortion. He was laicized-formally dismissed from the clergy-in June after four decades as a priest in eastern Pennsylvania. Despite that Vatican action, which was publicized, Cudemo presided in July at a baptism at Christ the King Church in Haddonfield, N.J., where the resident priest did not know his status. Greg Garrison writes about Point of Grace, a quartet of female singers who have been a fixture on the Christian music scene for 15 years, and who are trying to teach teenage girls about modesty and chastity: Across the country, they are leading two-day “Girls of Grace” conferences.

The Right nominee; Episcopalians prepare for split; Rosa Parks remembered

Thursday’s RNS report starts with a story by Adelle M. Banks about the Christian Right’s eagerness to unite behind a new nominee now that Harriet Miers has withdrawn as President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee: “We stand ready to support a nominee who truly is in the mold of Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas,” said Wendy Wright, executive vice president of Concerned Women for America, in a statement issued Thursday (Oct. 27), the day of Miers’ withdrawal. Wright echoed comments made by other leading religious conservatives, who had been split over the Miers nomination. Even James Dobson, one of Miers’ most prominent religious supporters, said he was disappointed by recent revelations that she gave speeches a decade ago saying “self-determination” should guide decisions about abortion. We’re also reporting on liberal Episcopalians preparing for a split in their church.

COMMENTARY: A Difficult Visit Examining Katrina’s Wallop

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Working for the American Jewish Committee’s hurricane emergency relief fund, my task was to visit hurricane-ravaged New Orleans and parts of Alabama to recommend reconstruction projects. Like millions of other concerned people, AJC’s members and supporters have been most generous in their contributions. Despite the high spirits and undeniable courage of the people I met in the Gulf region, it was a painful and poignant trip because the destruction, especially in New Orleans, was much worse than I anticipated. In Metairie, a New Orleans suburb, the Gates of Prayer synagogue and the St.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service U.S. House Passes Housing Bill Opposed by Church Groups WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. House has approved a controversial measure that would deny new federal housing funds to any nonprofit group _ including churches _ that have engaged in voter registration or get-out-the-vote activities. The Republican-backed provision, attached to the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act, passed the House Wednesday (Oct. 26) in a 331-90 vote. A host of Democrats and church-based groups said the measure was unconstitutional.

Rosa Parks Remembered as Quiet Woman With a Faith That Moved Mountains

c. 2005 Religion News Service TUSKEGEE, Ala. _ People who knew civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks before her arrest on a Montgomery bus in 1955 remember her as a quiet seamstress whose faith in God gave her strength, confidence and authority. “She was always very serene, very calm and quiet. But there was a fire smoldering under all of that quietness,” said E.D. Nixon Jr., 77, an actor and singer whose stage name is Nick LaTour.

Liberal Episcopalians Make Plans for Denominational Split in 2006

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Liberal Episcopalians, concerned that a split over homosexuality may be inevitable next year, have begun laying the groundwork for seizing control of church property and replacing bishops who leave the church. Leaders of Via Media, a loosely knit alliance of liberal groups in 12 conservative dioceses, sketched out the plan in a Sept. 29 meeting in Dallas. Draft minutes from the meeting were leaked to the media this week.

Divided Religious Conservatives Appear Eager to Back a New Nominee

c. 2005 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Now that Harriet Miers has withdrawn as President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, religious conservatives appear eager to unite behind a nominee likely to rule in their favor on hot-button issues like abortion, gay rights and church-state separation. “We are assured that the president will keep his promise to nominate a strict constitutionalist, who will uphold the principles that have made America great and not legislate from the bench,” said Wendy Wright, executive vice president of Concerned Women for America, in a statement issued Thursday (Oct. 27), the day of Miers’ withdrawal. “We stand ready to support a nominee who truly is in the mold of Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas.” Wright echoed comments made by other leading religious conservatives, who had been split over the Miers nomination.

How should military chaplains pray?

Quote of the Day: Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C. “Chaplains ought to be able to pray based on who they are. Otherwise, it’s hypocrisy.” -Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., who joined efforts by Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., to send a letter to President Bush asking him to issue an executive order that would permit military chaplains to pray according to their faiths. He was quoted by The Washington Times.

50 Propositions

After a Lively Start, Synod Affirms Priestly Celibacy and Other Traditions RNS’ Vatican correspondent, Stacy Miechtry, reviews the output of the recent Catholic bishop’s synod in our article of the week, linked above. Quote: But in the end, the bishops were not ready to take dramatic action at the synod, which traditionally convenes every two years. As an advisory body, the synod prepared a list of 50 propositions that bishops presented to the pope Saturday. Religion News Service obtained a copy of the list, which has not been publicly released.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Episcopal Report Says Alaska Drilling Would Violate Human Rights WASHINGTON (RNS) A new report co-sponsored by the Episcopal Church says President Bush’s plan to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would endanger the human rights of the Gwich’in native people, who are overwhelmingly Episcopalians. The report said the drilling plan _ currently under consideration by Congress _ would threaten a herd of porcupine caribou that are considered sacred by the Gwich’in and are a main source of food. “International law requires the United States to protect the fundamental human rights of native groups like the Gwich’in to culture and religion, their own means of subsistence and health,” the report said. Drilling opponents say the plan will disrupt the migration of the caribou, specifically the birthing grounds of the 120,000-member herd.

Adjusting to a Less Festive Eid

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When Salma Kazmi, now 30, was a child in Brookline, Mass., the end of Ramadan was not quite the festive celebration her parents experienced in a Muslim-majority country. “My parents tried to re-create the holiday they knew back in Pakistan,” Kazmi said, but didn’t succeed. She recalls long and boring road trips to visit relatives. As American Muslims await the beginning of the Nov.