Looking for more than a phone call

Quote of the Day: Family Research Council President Tony Perkins “I welcome the president’s remarks-but he’d be more effective if he made them in person. Even Jimmy Carter doesn’t phone in to Habitat for Humanity.” -Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, comparing President Bush’s annual telephone call to March for Life anti-abortion protesters to former President Carter’s role in a prominent house-building ministry. He made his comments in his conservative Christian organization’s e-newsletter, Washington Update.

Evangelicals on immigration

On Immigration Issue, Big Evangelical Groups Conspicuously Mum In the latest RNS article of the week, linked above, G. Jeffrey MacDonald looks at reasons why evangelicals seem to be keeping quiet on the issue of immigration. Sample grab: Evangelicals’ hesitancy traces, observers say, to political as much as moral reservations. Evangelicals might be inclined to sympathize with fellow Christians from south of the border who have taken a grave personal risk in order “to support their families back at home,” World Relief staff attorney Amy Bliss says, but those views apparently can’t survive in public discourse. “The rhetoric is considered a liberal issue,” Bliss says. “Fear of looking weak or too liberal permeates a lot of the discussion.

COMMENTARY: Competition Should Inspire, Not Denigrate

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Across the countries of the world, no sport is more competitive than soccer. We’ve all heard the stories of entire stadiums erupting in violence. Many world-class arenas are now ringed in wire to keep irate fans from storming the field and attacking officials or members of the opposing team. Referees have been physically threatened for making a “wrong” call.

Four Bishops, Including First Woman, Nominated to Head Episcopal Church

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) One woman and three Southern men have been nominated to lead the Episcopal Church as the badly divided denomination faces an uncertain future and threats of schism after decades of fighting. The four bishops _ J. Neil Alexander of Atlanta; Henry Parsley of Birmingham, Ala.; Edwin Gulick of Louisville, Ky.; and Katharine Jefferts Schori of Las Vegas _ were nominated Wednesday (Jan. 25) by a 29-member nominating committee to serve as presiding bishop. The church’s new presiding bishop will be elected to a nine-year term on June 18 at the Episcopalians’ General Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

Pope Benedict XVI Issues First Encyclical, on Love

c. 2006 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ Pope Benedict XVI issued the first encyclical of his papacy Wednesday (Jan. 25), dedicating Roman Catholicism’s highest form of writing to a reflection on love and charity that called for a “purification” of erotic love between men and women. The encyclical, titled “Deus Caritas Est” or “God Is Love,” also called on Catholic charities around the world to reaffirm their ties with church hierarchy. He urged charities not to allow secular influences to blur their religious identity.

Bush speaks at Kansas State University

Quote of the Day: President Bush “One of the great strengths of this country is our faith-based programs that rose up in indignation about the slavery that was taking place in the Sudan.” -President Bush, speaking Monday (Jan. 23) at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service At Annual March, Abortion Foes Find Hope in Revamped Supreme Court WASHINGTON (RNS) Abortion opponents who gathered in Washington Monday (Jan. 23) for their annual march expressed hope that President Bush’s newest nominee for the Supreme Court will help overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision. The crowd, which included priests, parishioners, parents and children outside the Capitol, did their best not to let cold, drizzly weather dampen their mood as they recited chants in small groups representing religious and public advocacy groups.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Religious Conservatives Claim Victory After NBC Shuts `The Book of Daniel’ (RNS) Conservative critics are claiming victory after NBC pulled “The Book of Daniel,” a racy primetime drama about an Episcopal priest struggling to hold his dysfunctional family together. NBC officials in New York would not confirm or deny that the show has been cancelled, but the broadcaster’s Web site lists “Law and Order” during the Friday 10 p.m. time slot that had been occupied by “The Book of Daniel.” A blog on NBC’s home page contained an entry from Jack Kenny, the show’s creator, who said the show will “no longer be aired on NBC on Friday nights” for “many reasons.” “Whatever the outcome, I feel that I accomplished what I set out to do: a solid family drama, with lots of humor, that honestly explored the lives of the Webster family,” Kenny wrote, adding that he was “proud of our product.” The show, which debuted on Jan. 6, had only aired four of its eight scheduled episodes. Conservatives criticized the show’s sex, drugs and alcohol and said its depiction of Jesus was disrespectful.

Nuns’ resolve; and what the assisted suicide ruling means for states and for one particular se

In Tuesday’s RNS report David Briggs reports on a solution to the issue of dwindling numbers of nuns: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Cleveland, becoming part of a national trend finding strength in numbers amid rapidly declining and aging populations, have voted to join with six other congregations of St. Joseph from Louisiana to Illinois. The Cleveland community became the fifth congregation to approve the plan, joining the Sisters of St. Joseph of Tipton, Ind.; LaGrange, Ill.; Medaille in Baton Rouge, La.; and Nazareth, Mich.

Assisted Suicide Issue Painfully Personal for Senator Who Lost Depressed Son

c. 2006 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith rarely shies from action when public policy collides with his private pain. But if Senate colleagues try again to thwart his state’s assisted-suicide law, this time Smith wants no part of it. The issue has become too raw and too personal, said Smith. His eldest son, Garrett, committed suicide in September 2003 after battling clinical depression for several years.

COMMENTARY: A Primer in Lazy Labeling of Christians

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) It’s time for an election-year primer on how to address Christians. In the world of lazy labeling and media shorthand, terms like “evangelical,” “Christian” and “Word” are assigned meanings that aren’t helpful or true. Thus, an “evangelical Christian” is assumed to be a conservative Republican who favors war, opposes abortion, loathes homosexuality, yearns for a former era in family life, and tends to be a white suburbanite attending an unusually large church. By this logic, a politician who wants the “evangelical Christian” vote must visit Southern Baptist and non-denominational churches, invite conservative preachers to consult on policy, and mention code phrases like “pro-life,” “family values,” and “born again,” as if “Christian” positions on critical issues were settled and clear.

Other States See Path in Ruling on Oregon’s Assisted Suicide Law

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When Oregon became the first state to legalize doctor-assisted suicide in 1997, backers hoped _ and opponents feared _ that others would follow. None did. Oregon remains the only state where a doctor can legally prescribe a drug dose aimed at hastening a patient’s death. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last week, in favor of Oregon and against the Bush administration, could change that _ as much by its symbolism as its substance.

A father breaks his silence

Quote of the Day: Frank Lindh, Father of Former Taliban Fighter “In simple terms, this is the story of a decent and honorable young man embarked on a spiritual quest. … He certainly didn’t go to Afghanistan to do anything against America. He never fired a gun at an American. He was simply rescued.”

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service At Annual March, Abortion Foes Find Hope in Revamped Supreme Court WASHINGTON (RNS) Abortion opponents who gathered in Washington Monday (Jan. 23) for their annual march expressed hope that President Bush’s newest nominee for the Supreme Court will help overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision. The crowdÃÂ?MDULÃÂ?, which included priests, parishioners, parents and children outside the Capitol, ÃÂ?MDULÃÂ?did their best not to let cold, drizzly weather dampen their mood as they recited chants in small groups representing religious and public advocacy groups.