COMMENTARY: Iranian President Sounds a Lot Like Hitler

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Americans have a split personality about the importance of learning from history. In 1905, philosopher George Santayana warned: “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” But in a 1916 Chicago Tribune interview, automaker Henry Ford declared: “History is more or less bunk.” Surveys continually indicate that many Americans have a poor knowledge of history, little interest in the subject and, as a nation, an extremely short attention span. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent speeches about Israel, America, the Jewish people and the Holocaust are chilling in their similarity to the words and ideas of Adolf Hitler. Ahmadineajad’s remarks will test whether Santayana or Ford truly reflects American attitudes toward history.

Pope’s Santa-Like Hat Another Fashion Statement

c. 2005 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ A crimson cap, trimmed with snow-white fur and worn by a rosy-cheeked elderly man as he glides past thousands of onlookers days before Christmas, may come across as typical holiday kitsch in many parts of the world. Here, however, the Santa-like accessory is an undeniable fashion statement. Pope Benedict XVI, whose taste for Gucci sunglasses and Prada footwear turned heads last summer, is again creating waves in fashion-conscious Italy after debuting the latest form of papal headgear during a Wednesday (Dec. 21) general audience.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Moore’s Wife Seeks Funds for `Spokesperson for Christian Conservatism’ MONTGOMERY, Ala. (RNS) The wife of Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Moore _ “the Ten Commandments judge” _ is asking supporters for a Christmas campaign gift to help her husband become a “national spokesperson for Christian conservatism.” Kayla Moore wrote in an e-mail that Christmas was an appropriate time to begin their campaign “to return morality to our country and God to our public square.” Her husband is opposed by people who want to promote gay marriage and “remove Christ from Christmas,” she wrote. J. Holland, a spokesman for Moore’s campaign, said the fund-raising letter was e-mailed to supporters. In the letter, Kayla Moore suggested the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State “will stop at nothing to keep Roy Moore out of the Governor’s office in Alabama!” “In short, they want to continue to promote homosexual marriages, maintain abortion on demand and remove Christ from Christmas,” Kayla Moore wrote.

Kirtland, the Historic Place of Mormon Revelations

c. 2005 Religion News Service KIRTLAND, Ohio _ Anyone with a birthday close to Christmas will recognize the dilemma faced by leaders of two churches linked to the man they call the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. Smith, who is said to have discovered the Book of Mormon and while in northeast Ohio received revelations that remain effective for millions today, was born Dec. 23, 1805. Yet as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ, the former Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, celebrate the bicentennial of Smith’s birth, they do so with some wariness that their reverence for Smith not be seen as taking away from their devotion to Jesus, whose birthday is celebrated two days later. So here at the Historic Kirtland complex run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Smith’s portrait was taken down in the multipurpose room and replaced with an exhibit of Nativity scenes.

Judge Rules Intelligent Design Unconstitutional

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A federal judge dealt a setback to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools by ruling Tuesday (Dec. 20) that a Pennsylvania school district’s policy promoted an unconstitutional variation of creationism, a religious theory. U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones, who presided over a six-week trial in Harrisburg, Pa., ruled that intelligent design violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which bars government from establishing a religion or favoring one religion over another. Jones said it is “abundantly clear” the Dover Area School District’s policy _ which requires that ninth-grade students hear a statement on intelligent design prior to the start of a unit on evolution _ “violates the Establishment Clause.” Jones added: “In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal issue of whether ID is science.

Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks at funeral for “Tookie”

Quote of the Day: The Rev. Jesse Jackson “Tookie is dead. We’re not safer, we’re not more secure, we’re not more humane.” -The Rev. Jesse Jackson, civil rights activist, speaking at the funeral Tuesday (Dec. 20) of Stanley Tookie Williams, who was put to death by injection for the 1979 murders of a 7-Eleven clerk and three motel owners. Jackson was quoted by the Associated Press.

The Year in Review

RNS’s Kevin Eckstrom reviews the year 2005, in this week’s full-text article: “And come he slow, or come he fast,” Scottish poet Sir Walter Scott once wrote, in a passage that could be applied to 2005, “It is but death who comes at last.”

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Pope Laments Consumerism, Loss of Religious Traditions at Christmas VATICAN CITY (RNS) Consumerism has obscured the traditional meaning of Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI said on Wednesday (Nov. 21), renewing his call to keep the birth of Christ at the center of holiday celebrations. Donning a fur-trimmed crimson cap and cape, the pope bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus as he reflected on the significance of Christmas during his weekly general audience. “As a certain modern consumer culture tends to make the Christian symbols of the Christmas celebration disappear, it is necessary for everyone to grasp the value of Christmas traditions that are part of our faith and culture,” Benedict said.

Catholic Nun, 81, Employs Zen Buddhism to Stoke Fires Within

c. 2005 Religion News Service TORONTO _ Few people can turn as many religious stereotypes on their head the way Elaine MacInnes does. No ordinary Roman Catholic nun, as she freely, even gleefully, concedes, the 81-year-old MacInnes is an accomplished classical musician and a prison activist in the mold of her American friend, Sister Helen Prejean, the Louisiana nun portrayed in the film “Dead Man Walking.” And unlike the unfair but still prevalent image of the brittle and stern nun clad in a severe black habit, Sister Elaine, as she’s widely known, is quick with a hearty laugh as she wears slacks and sports a bright flower brooch. The next part of her myth-busting requires a leap of faith. MacInnes is a Zen Buddhist roshi (master) _ the first Canadian, among a few Westerners _ and certainly the only Catholic nun to be invested into Zen’s highest echelon.

COMMENTARY: The Greatest Hanukkah Gift for Our Children

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The great race to shop for holiday gifts is in high gear. But as Christmas and Hanukkah fast approach, will we also remember to give the greatest, most enduring gifts of all? There is nothing about the holiday of Hanukkah that demands gift-giving (though giving money to children is a time-honored tradition). But with the holiday arriving so close to Christmas, it’s become a de facto gift-giving occasion.

COMMENTARY: `Christmas’ Flap Shows Secularism Needs New Vision, Ideas

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) ‘Tis the season to get all worked up over religious imagery in public places. From the talking heads of cable news to local media across the country, the secularization of Christmas _ or should I say, “the Holidays” _ is receiving more attention than ever. We need not even ask where American secularists stand on this issue. For an obsessive focus on maintaining rigid church-state boundaries is what American secularism is all about.

COMMENTARY: How, on a Two-Lane Highway, I Discovered the Christ in Christmas

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) It was one of those bitter-cold nights, when the snow crackles under your feet and the stars have to twinkle just to stay warm. We were driving on a two-lane highway, winding our way north out of southern Ohio. On our right, the Ohio River was threatening to make good on a promise to freeze. To our left, trailer homes and houses no bigger than shoe boxes trembled within spitting distance of cars and trucks whizzing by on their way to somewhere else.

Remembering the true meaning of Christmas

Quote of the Day: Pope Benedict XVI “In today’s consumer society, this time of year unfortunately suffers from a sort of commercial pollution that threatens to alter its true spirit.” -Pope Benedict XVI, speaking Dec. 11 about the meaning of Christmas. To help remember the religious meaning of Christmas, families should set up Nativity scenes, he said.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Religion Writers Rank Biggest Stories of 2005 (RNS) Religion writers deemed Pope John Paul II’s death and the naming of his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, the top two religion stories of 2005. An end-of-life dispute, faith-based disaster relief and the ordination of gay clergy also made the list, released by the Religion Newswriters Association on Tuesday (Dec. 13). One hundred of its journalist members ranked 28 religious events in an online survey Dec.