Benedict Transforms Papal Roadshow Into a Courteous Tip-toe

c. 2006 Religion News Service LAGIEWNIKI, Poland ÆÂ? The very sight of the snowy-haired pontiff sent dozens of teenaged school girls into a mild frenzy. “Benedict, we love you!” they shouted from the upper pews, hoping to illicit a glance from Pope Benedict XVI as he entered their church. Their cries for eye contact went unanswered.

Pope Pays Emotional Visit to Auschwitz

c. 2006 Religion News Service OSWIECIM, Poland ÆÂ? Pope Benedict XVI made an emotion-filled visit to the Nazi death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau on Sunday (May 28), closing out his four-day tour of Poland with a gesture aimed at healing wartime wounds ÆÂ? those of Poland and his own. Hours after celebrating an outdoor Mass before more than 900,000 faithful, the German-born pontiff walked among the red brick cellblocks of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the Nazis murdered more than a million European Jews and nearly 150,000 Poles.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Literal Belief in Bible Down 10 Points in 30 Years (RNS) A little more one quarter of Americans believe the Bible is the literal word of God, down 10 percentage points since 1976. According to a recent survey by the Gallup Poll, 28 percent of Americans believe the Bible is literally true, compared to 38 percent 30 years ago. The survey was conducted among 1,002 adults, aged 18 or older. Nearly half, 49 percent, said the Bible was the “inspired word of God,” while 19 percent called it an “ancient book of fables.” Only 3 percent had no opinion.

Rift Opens Among Evangelicals on AIDS Funding :

c. 2006 Religion News Service WASHINGTON ÆÂ? Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and religious broadcaster Pat Robertson may concur on many things, but one thing they do not agree on is how the U.S. government spends money to fight AIDS. As the world marks 25 years since HIV and AIDS first appeared, a clash among high-profile evangelical leaders over an international relief foundation threatens to take center stage. The dispute also lays bare a faultline among American evangelicals, who have been divided over the treatment and prevention of AIDS because of the disease’s perceived connections to homosexuality and sexual promiscuity.

The 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Laugh

c. 2006 Religion News Service LOS ANGELES ÆÂ? Comedian Gilbert Esquivel is the son of migrant farm workers, so he knows hardship. “You’ve heard of Army brats ÆÂ? we were Salvation Army brats,” he joked at a recent show.

Jokes from Christian Comics in `Thou Shalt Laugh’

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Christian comedians features in the upcoming movie “Thou Shalt Laugh” riff on subjects ranging from religion to every day life. The film is scheduled for release this fall. Jeff Allen: ÆÂ? Teenagers are God’s revenge on mankind.

COMMENTARY: The New Puritans

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When I consider the “New Puritanism” abroad in our land, I remember that some of my ancestors were English puritans who followed a firebrand Calvinist pastor to New Haven Colony but soon denounced New Haven as insufficiently rigorous. They went south to New Jersey, where they founded a settlement, New Ark, more suited to their extreme religiosity. The New World’s expansiveness had drawn my intolerant ancestors westward and away from the victim-status that feeds puritan zeal. No longer were they outcasts in England’s stratified Christianity, forbidden to enter certain professions, disdained by royalists and their establishment church.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Gay Marriage Foes Say Traditional Marriage Threatened by Divorce WASHINGTON (RNS) In the midst of vocal religious opposition to same-sex marriage, a few religious leaders say traditional marriage is under increasing threat from divorce. “If divorce were a religious disease, we would declare it a national emergency,” said the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals. “That is how seriously we regard the state of the American family today.” Cizik claimed that 38 million divorces have occurred since 1970, while the marriage rate has dropped by half since then. Cizik joined religious leaders, including representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention, at a news conference Thursday (May 25) to raise the alarm about threats to traditional marriage.

COMMENTARY: And Now, the Jesus Cartoons

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) In a culture fueled by the endless friction of provocation and outrage, the “Jesus cartoons” were inevitable. Eager to cause a stir, a student newspaper at the University of Oregon, The Insurgent, published a series of inflammatory cartoons in March lampooning _ or worse _ Jesus Christ and the Resurrection. The cartoons, most of which were gleefully obscene, were apparently unleashed in response to the decision by a competitor, The Oregon Commentator, to publish the Muhammad caricatures unveiled last September by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The Insurgent’s pretense, I suppose, was to “stir up discourse” and to show Christians how it feels to have your religion and deity degraded.

`Health Sharing’ Groups Offer Insurance Alternative

c. 2006 Religion & Ethics Newsweekly REMINGTON, Va. _ With health care costs spiraling and some 46 million Americans without medical insurance, a number of evangelical Christian organizations have been created to promote the voluntary sharing of medical costs. “According to the Bible,” said Dennis Reitz of Remington, “we’re to be bearing one another’s burdens. You know, sharing each other’s times of troubles in life, whatever that may be.

COMMENTARY: And Now, the Jesus Cartoons

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) In a culture fueled by the endless friction of provocation and outrage, the “Jesus cartoons” were inevitable. Eager to cause a stir, a student newspaper at the University of Oregon, The Insurgent, published a series of inflammatory cartoons in March lampooning _ or worse _ Jesus Christ and the Resurrection. The cartoons, most of which were gleefully obscene, were apparently unleashed in response to the decision by a competitor, The Oregon Commentator, to publish the Muhammad caricatures unveiled last September by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The Insurgent’s pretense, I suppose, was to “stir up discourse” and to show Christians how it feels to have your religion and deity degraded.

Pope Urges Poles to Help Revive Europe’s Churches

c. 2006 Religion News Service WARSAW _ Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass before a technicolor sea of umbrellas on Friday (May 26), urging Poles to uphold church teaching and resist a perceived wave of moral indifference and secularism washing across Europe. An estimated 270,000 Poles joined Benedict under steady rainfall in Pilsudski Square _ the same spot where the late John Paul II launched his historic challenge to Soviet communism in 1979. On that occasion more than 1 million Poles packed the square and its adjoining streets to hear the Polish-born pontiff. Standing at the foot of a towering metallic cross, Benedict challenged Poles to bear the torch of John Paul’s legacy of conservative values and absolute truths with the same intensity that allowed them to turn the tide of the Cold War.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Canadian Newspaper Retracts Story on Iran’s Color-Coded Badges (RNS) Muslims welcomed an apology from Canada’s National Post newspaper for a story alleging that Iran planned to make the country’s non-Muslim religious minorities wear special badges. Muslim groups, however, said the apology did not resolve bigger questions about what many Muslims see as the conservative newspaper’s habitual Islam-bashing. “It’s good they retracted the story. But still unresolved is the continued anti-Muslim slant of the Post in every story that runs about the Middle East or the Muslim community,” said Tarek Fatah, communications director of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a moderate advocacy group in Toronto.

Kentucky Wrestles With Religious Dates in Classrooms

c. 2006 Religion News Service LOUISVILLE, Ky. _ Kentucky’s state school board has apparently resolved a spat over historical date references in social studies classes, but not before the state’s governor, facing an uphill re-election bid, seized on the issue. And while the immediate controversy over the use of B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord”) may have subsided, related fights over the proper role of religion in public schools appear to be far from settled. Earlier this year, staff at the Kentucky Department of Education proposed substituting C.E. (Common Era) for A.D. and B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) for B.C. in draft curriculum guidelines for high school and middle school social studies classes.

One College, Six Faculty, Three Students

c. 2006 Religion News Service YPSILANTI, Mich. _ Talk about a faculty-student ratio. When Ave Maria College classes begin in the fall, the Catholic school will be one of the smallest colleges in the country: six faculty members, three students. One of those students, 21-year-old Bonnie Beales, isn’t sure what lies ahead.