c. 2006 Religion News Service GALLANT, Ala. _ Covered in dirt and sawdust, Roy Moore is spending this Saturday not on the campaign trail, but restoring a dilapidated barn that will one day house a horse for his wife. Using an old bucket for a seat, Moore sits down to explain that he doesn’t really like politics. It’s a peculiar statement from the man who wants to be Alabama’s next governor.
c. 2006 Religion News Service WARSAW, Poland _ Joseph Ratzinger was an 11-year-old with a budding interest in classical music and the Roman Catholic priesthood when the Jewish community of his hometown in southern Germany began to disappear. How clearly he remembers what led to their departure _ the smashing of windows, the flight of entire families and the deportation of others _ is not known. This Sunday (May 28), however, he will come face-to-face with such carnage when he passes through the gates of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz as Pope Benedict XVI. Unlike his predecessor, John Paul II, Benedict will not be entering the camp as a hero of anti-Nazi resistance during World War II.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) During the recent immigration rallies held throughout the country, I heard one young woman tell a TV interviewer she was “a proud member of the Mexican Diaspora living in the U.S.” Her use of the term Diaspora caught my attention and set me thinking how this ancient Greek word for dispersion, is used by many demographic groups in today’s highly mobile world. Millions of Chinese residing outside of China consider themselves part of a Diaspora. When Fidel Castro became the “maximum leader” of Cuba in 1959, a large number of Cubans fled their homeland and established a Diaspora community in Florida. Members of Eastern Orthodox Churches, especially Greeks and Armenians, frequently speak of their Diaspora communities.
Conservative Home-School College Confronts a Staff Exodus RNS’ Adelle Banks reports on a controversy at Patrick Henry College, where about one-third of the faculty is resigning, saying their academic freedoms have been violated. The full text of the article is linked above. Quote: “If you’re going to convince somebody of your position, you can’t just walk around shouting Bible verses,” said [Erik] Root, [a departing instructor of government], who is looking for a new job. “You have to give them a reason for what you believe.”
c. 2006 Religion News Service Vermont Catholic Church Protects Parish Assets in Trusts (RNS) The Roman Catholic Church in Vermont has placed each of its 128 parishes in charitable trusts, a legal strategy that church leaders hope will protect parish assets from being seized to settle sexual abuse lawsuits. As a result of the move, individual parishes now possess the legal titles to their property. The titles previously had been in the name of the statewide Diocese of Burlington. In a letter to the state’s Catholics, Bishop Salvatore Matano of Burlington wrote, “In such litigious times, it would be a gross act of mismanagement if I did not do everything possible to protect our parishes and the interests of the faithful.” Buildings owned by the Burlington Diocese have been valued at more than $405 million, according to an insurance appraisal.
c. 2006 Religion News Service JERUSALEM _ Augusta Victoria Hospital, a facility that treats Palestinian residents from the West Bank as well as some Arabs from East Jerusalem, has a million-dollar view from its perch atop the Mount of Olives. Built in 1910 by Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II, the stone building affords a heart-stopping vista of the Old City of Jerusalem, whose ancient walls gently slope into the contours of the hills and valleys below. Sunlight glints off the gold-topped Dome of the Rock, built on the contested Temple Mount. Yet even with its priceless panorama, Augusta Victoria, which is owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), has been on an emergency footing since January, the last time the cash-starved Palestinian Authority was able to pay its debts.
c. 2006 Religion News Service NEWARK, N.J. _ A moving crew unbolted the solid wooden pews from the floor of the chapel at Sacred Heart convent. The hallways were filled with mattresses, boxes and other personal effects of the eight Nigerian religious sisters who had called the 17,000-square-foot convent their home for the past decade. The sisters, all members of the order of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Mercy, were headed to an eight-bedroom home that they purchased with pooled salaries from their work in the community. A former drug haven, the three-family house was rehabbed to accommodate their move.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Kirk Franklin’s speaking voice sounds thick and kind of fuzzy, but let’s not get any rumors started about throat problems. Actually, the gospel triple threat _ performer, songwriter and producer _ says he just rolled out of bed and picked up the phone. This is his morning voice, his 9 a.m. voice, his haven’t-brushed-my-teeth-yet voice. Franklin, 36, promises that his vocal cords will be pushing out something quite different on his latest tour. “I’m fine,” he says.
c. 2006 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Alarmed by the rash of church fires that struck the South a decade ago, photographer Jason Miccolo Johnson felt driven to help preserve the vibrancy and history of the nation’s black churches. His 10-year project resulted in “Soul Sanctuary,” a hardcover book filled with images he photographed across the country of African-American congregational life. From baptisms to funerals, traditional to contemporary services, Communion to church suppers, he finds commonalities despite the range of denominations and locations of these churches. Johnson said he hopes his book of black-and-white photos will be a window into a world unseen by some _ and a reminder to others who live out the black worship experience every week.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) “The Da Vinci Code” has now entered movie theaters the way a large wet black Labrador dumbly but amiably invades a living room and seeks approval by shaking himself dry midst the retreating guests. In short, this movie, condemned as rabid by certain Vatican officials and fundamentalist preachers, is a large but harmless dog that needs to be petted rather than put down. This film is such a dog that it should not be rated by the MPAA, the Motion Picture Association of America, but the ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. After months of warnings by frightened religious leaders that the movie was the beast from the Apocalypse that would leap through the bronze doors of St.
c. 2006 Religion News Service Swiss Religious Leaders Launch Europe’s First Interfaith Council PARIS (RNS) Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders in Switzerland have inaugurated the country’s first interfaith council _ and possibly the first in Western Europe _ aimed at promoting dialogue, peace and understanding among the country’s three main religions. “The most important thing is not just the inter-religious dialogue _ this goes on all the time among churches and religious organizations on many levels,” said Thomas Wipf, president of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, and a member of the new council. “It’s also tackling the challenge of how to live together.” The new Swiss Council of Religions was launched Monday (May 15), and seeks to work together on thorny issues such as immigration and integration, and to try to understand religious sensitivities and priorities among its different members. It will also act as a representative body for the three faiths before the Swiss government.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A human rights group says disputed reports that Iran will force non-Muslims to wear color-coded badges will make it harder to investigate legitimate religious persecution and other abuses by Tehran’s hard-line Islamic regime. The author of the disputed report, Iranian-born writer Amir Taheri, is sticking by his story, which first appeared in Canada’s conservative National Post newspaper last week. Iranian officials, meanwhile, dismissed the report. The report evoked images of Nazi Germany when Jews were forced to wear yellow Stars of David in public.
c. 2006 Religion News Service Congress Approves Increase in Indecency Fines WASHINGTON (RNS) Social conservative activists are cheering a Senate vote last week (May 19) to significantly increase the penalty to radio and television broadcasters for airing “indecency.” Passed unanimously by a voice vote, the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act raises the maximum penalty to $325,000 for each violation. Currently, the Federal Communications Commission can fine a broadcaster $32,500 per incident. “This is a major victory for families,” said L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parent Television Council, a conservative advocacy group. In 2005, the House of Representatives passed legislation that could increase the fine to $500,000 per incident, after pop star Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” during a Super Bowl halftime show.
c. 2006 Religion News Service PARIS _ They came politely to St. Hippolyte Catholic Church one Wednesday afternoon: the middle-aged mason from Algeria; the onetime farmer from Mali; the two young Mauritanians who had fled drought and despair stalking their desolate country. And like a growing number of European parishes, St. Hippolyte let them in.
c. 2006 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ A Christian college focused on shaping home-schooled students for careers in public service will lose about one-third of its faculty after several professors at the young school charged their academic freedoms were violated. Administrators at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., which opened in 2000, called the professors’ claims “patently, categorically false” and said the school’s vision for classical liberal arts remains intact. “Contrary to insinuations by departing faculty, PHC has been, and remains, zealously committed to a rigorous study and debate of all ideas, and all schools of thought, as the success of our students in every realm of the public square dutifully attests,” the college said in a Saturday (May 20) press release. Departing faculty, on the other hand, say administrators have questioned their adherence to the Bible in writings and class discussions.