“Awesome need” in Louisiana

Quote of the Day: United Methodist Bishop Tom Bickerton of Pittsburgh “The most shocking thing for me was to work hard for several hours, raise up my head, look around and realize how little we accomplished. There is an awesome need for people to come to Louisiana as work teams. The need will go on for years.” -Bishop Tom Bickerton, leader of United Methodists in the Pittsburgh area, speaking about the continuing needs in Louisiana after getting a firsthand view of hurricane damage. He was quoted by United Methodist News Service.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Pope Defends Status of Pre-Implanted Embryos VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI told a Vatican symposium on the ethics of pre-implanted embryos on Monday (Feb. 27) that such embryos deserve the same respect as any human created by God. “The love of God doesn’t make any difference between the newly conceived, still in the womb of his mother, and the baby, or the young person, or the mature man or the old man,” Benedict said at the symposium, sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Human Life. Pre-implanted embryos are frozen for in vitro fertilization, a practice the church opposes, or screened for diseases and genetic traits, which can destroy embryos.

Religious Leaders Continue to Pressure Policy Makers Over Sudan

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Religious leaders around the world are continuing to press international policy makers to move from talk to action over the spiraling violence in Sudan’s Darfur region. But Sudan’s resistance to non-African peacekeepers and differences between the United States and the United Nations have hampered any unified approach by the international community to what the Bush administration and Congress have labeled genocide. On Sunday (Feb. 26), Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, arrived in Khartoum for a week-long visit.

In Faith, College Basketball Coach Finds Joy Amid Criticism

c. 2006 Religion News Service EAST ORANGE, N.J. _ The morning sun bathes the red-brick building in an amber glow as the folks inside New Hope Baptist Church prepare to dedicate their new sanctuary. Little girls in pretty dresses and little boys in polished shoes pose for pictures. Old friends embrace. The pastor, the Rev. Dwight Gill, greets everyone with a smile.

Things That Make You Go Oops…

It sounds like something Jesus might say-“If you will but worship me, all will be yours” (Luke 4:7)-so maybe it wasn’t suprising to find the verse posted on the Web site of St. James United Church of Christ in Limerick, PA. The only problem is the quote isn’t from Jesus– it’s from Satan, used to taunt and tempt Jesus. As soon as the church realized the mistake, the verse was taken off its Web site. “This lesson is a demonstration why when using tools online to identify quotes that you think deliver the honest and sincere message you intended you should always view the quotes in their whole context,” the church said.

Finding Violations, IRS Updates Church Guidelines on Politicking

c. 2006 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The Internal Revenue Service has updated guidelines on political campaign intervention by nonprofits after finding most of the charities it investigated _ including churches _ engaged in prohibited activities during the 2004 election campaign. “While the vast majority of charities, including churches, did not engage in politicking, our examinations substantiated a disturbing amount of political intervention in the 2004 electoral cycle,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson, in releasing the guidelines and a report of his agency’s investigation on Friday (Jan. 24). The guidelines include specific examples of proper and improper political activities by churches and other nonprofits.

With Nod to Pentecostals, Unity, WCC Assembly Closes in Brazil

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) In an era of global turmoil over religion, the fact that a relatively diverse body of Christians from around the world could meet and leave 10 days later without much acrimony was enough for some to call the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches a success. “The simple reality that 300 churches from 100 countries gathered for worship and prayer is a witness that the gospel can transform divisions: cultural, political, as well as confessional,” said the Rev. John Thomas, the general minister and president of the United Church of Christ (UCC), in an interview. He made the comment after the assembly completed its work Thursday (Feb. 23) in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Religious Leaders Join Bush, Ambassador in Condemning Mosque Attack (RNS) U.S. religious leaders joined President Bush and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in condemning the bombing Wednesday (Feb. 22) of Iraq’s Golden Mosque and supported calls for calm in the country. The destruction of the golden dome of the renowned Shiite shrine in Samarra prompted reprisal attacks on Sunni mosques and other violence that has left about 130 people dead, wire services reported. “The atrocious attack on the Askariya shrine is an obvious attempt to incite sectarian violence,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Catholic Conference Speaker Warns of Consequences of Gay Adoption

c. 2006 Religion News Service ROME _ A priest and psychotherapist at a Catholic conference on homosexuality condemned adoption by gay couples Thursday (Feb. 23), saying it will lead to social problems for years to come. “You turn their sense of reality upside down. It’s a social lie,” said the Rev. Tony Anatrella, a psychology professor and consultant at the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family in Rome.

Catholic Church considers gays; WCC Assembly concludes

In Friday’s RNS report Kristine M. Crane reports from Rome on a Catholic conference looking at the topics of homosexuality and sexuality: The Catholic Church does not and should not use the words “illness” and “abnormal” to describe homosexuality, according to the organizer of an international Catholic conference on homosexuality and sexuality. “These words are from the 18th century,” said professor Mario Binasco on Thursday (Feb. 23), speaking to the public at the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family in Rome. The church has come under attack, however, for language that appears to condemn homosexuality, he said. The Vatican last Nov.

Simon is humbled by `American Idol’ contestant

Quote of the Day: `American Idol’ Contestant Mandisa Hundley “I figure that if Jesus could die so that all of my wrongs could be forgiven, I can certainly extend that same grace to you.” -“American Idol” contestant Mandisa Hundley, responding to judge Simon Cowell after he made a critical remark about her weight. The contestant, who prefers to be known as Mandisa, is a worship leader at Christian women’s conferences. Quoted by Baptist Press, she is a former employee of the Southern Baptist Convention’s LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn.

Minister of Self-defense Melds Christianity, Karate

c. 2006 Religion News Service ADAMSVILLE, Ala. _ On a breezy Thursday night, the only sound at the front steps of Victory Christian Fellowship is the barking of a dog in the distance. It is here that Dustin Cornelius, an engineering analyst for Southern LINC Co., comes to wind down after a long day at the office. But Cornelius is not here for Bible study.

COMMENTARY: Shame on the Church of England, Yet Again

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) It has taken the Anglican Church _ the Church of England _ several centuries to overcome its colonialist record in many parts of the world including India, Pakistan, Kenya and the West Indies. Back then, Anglican missionary efforts were inextricably linked to British imperialism. It has also taken centuries for Anglicans to overcome their history of the “Star Chamber” proceedings in Britain that persecuted religious dissidents. Quakers, Roman Catholics, Methodists, Baptists and the Pilgrims all felt the bitter sting of England’s established church.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Federal Agency Settles ACLU Suit Over Religious Abstinence Program (RNS) The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to stop funding an abstinence program that included religious elements. The American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday (Feb. 23) that the settlement had been reached between its lawyers and federal officials in a case involving the Silver Ring Thing in Moon Township, Pa. “We are pleased that the government has agreed to stop using taxpayer dollars to fund the Silver Ring Thing’s religious activities,” said Julie Sternberg, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.