c. 2006 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ A fledgling alliance of Democrats and evangelical Christians is attempting to tackle global warming, motivated by the recent release of two documentaries on the subject, a solid scientific consensus and a growing concern over “creation care.” The Canadian documentary “The Great Warming,” narrated by pop singer Alanis Morissette and actor Keanu Reeves, got a screening in a cramped room on Capitol Hill before about 40 people Wednesday (June 28) afternoon. In the audience were several House Democrats, the director of the Sierra Club’s global warming initiative and the president of an evangelical school in New York City. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., spearheaded a discussion after the movie, prodding the group for ways to broaden a faith-based dialogue on global warming. “Why are politicians so far behind evangelicals on this?” Inslee asked.
c. 2006 Religion News Service Israel’s Chief Rabbinate Urges Jews Not to Hitchhike JERUSALEM (RNS) Israel’s Chief Rabbinate issued a ruling Thursday (June 29) forbidding Israeli Jews from hitchhiking after Palestinian militants murdered a young Israeli hitchhiker from the West Bank. Israeli Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar said that hitchhiking constitutes a potential danger to human life and is therefore prohibited by Jewish law. His ruling was announced just hours after the burned body of Eliyahu Asheri, an 18-year-old student, was discovered in the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank. Asheri had reportedly been on his way to school in the West Bank when he was kidnapped on Sunday (June 25).
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) With multiple dioceses and churches laying the groundwork to break away from the Episcopal Church, flashes of a full-blown schism within the 2.2 million-member church are heating up. Just this week, three U.S. dioceses that are disappointed with the church’s newly elected presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, separately asked to be put under the oversight of a foreign primate. The three dioceses _ Pittsburgh, South Carolina and San Joaquin, Calif. _ join the Diocese of Fort Worth, which made the same request on June 19, the morning after Jefferts Schori’s election as presiding bishop.
c. 2006 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday (June 29) bestowed a woolen mantle, known as a “pallium,” on three recently appointed archbishops from the United States to symbolize their new authority. During a solemn Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, Archbishops Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., George Niederauer of San Francisco and Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, knelt before the pontiff to receive their pallium. They were joined by 24 other prelates from four different continents.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Fifty years after starting his ministry in Lynchburg, Va., the Rev. Jerry Falwell will unveil a new 6,000-seat sanctuary for his Thomas Road Baptist Church on Sunday (July 2). “Very few people are blessed with the privilege of starting a ministry at age 22 and then 50 years later, at age 72, see the original dream become a reality,” Falwell said in an interview. “Our original dream, as we started the new church with 35 people, was to build a church and out from that church, a full-blown Christian education system from preschool through a Ph.D.” Falwell said he has fulfilled that dream with a 24,000-member church and Liberty University, which has grown from 154 students in 1971 to 23,000 residential and long-distance students. The church, which became affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1990s, also spawned a Christian day school with students from preschool through 12th grade and has long included a television ministry.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Two years ago, the Presbyterian Church (USA) adopted a resolution instructing its investments committee “to initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel.” That resolution blindsided many Presbyterians, and set off a firestorm of bitter criticism that culminated at the church’s recent General Assembly meeting in Birmingham, Ala. Former CIA Director James Woolsey, who attends a Presbyterian church outside Washington, warned delegates that divestment placed their church “clearly on the side of theocratic, totalitarian, anti-Semitic, genocidal beliefs.” The divestment scheme angered many Jews as well. Because the resolution singled out only one country by name _ Israel _ it was perceived as a one-sided attempt at financial coercion. The 2004 resolution also accused the Jewish state of being at the “root of the evil acts” carried out by both Israelis and Palestinians.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The authors of these three new works view the founders of the United State _ especially George Washington _ as men of faith. But after exhaustive research, they see that faith as being personally understood and lived out in different ways in the founders’ private lives and public statements: “Establishing that George Washington was a Christian helps to substantiate the critical role that Christians and Christian principles played in the founding of our nation. This, in turn, encourages a careful reappraisal of our history and founding documents. A nation that forgets its past does not know where it is or where it is headed.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) America’s founders were principled men who struggled with their personal convictions in crafting the structures and documents ensuring the nation’s tradition of religious liberty, according to three new books on the founders’ faith. Two of the books _ “Washington’s God: Religion, Liberty and the Father of Our Country” by Michael and Jana Novak and “George Washington’s Sacred Fire” by Peter A. Lillback _ portray the first American president as a serious though reserved Christian whose thoughts and actions were shaped by being a lifelong Anglican. The third, “American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation” by Jon Meacham, stresses how the founders viewed faith, and then applied it to create a country in which belief in God is a matter of choice, not coercion. The books debut at a moment when matters related to religion often polarize the nation, a reality the authors view as no accident.
Pope to Confront Growing Secularism During Trip to Spain Pope Benedict XVI travels to Spain next week to celebrate the fifth annual World Meeting of Families. As RNS’s Vatican correspondent Stacy Meichtry reports in this week’s full text article (linked above), there’s a lot at stake. Quote: Since the election of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in 2004, the Spanish government has overhauled laws affecting nearly every hot-button issue in the country. Gay marriage and adoption have been legalized. Laws on divorce, in vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia have been loosened.
c. 2006 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Solving the problem of poverty in America requires the cooperation of leaders and activists from across the theological and political spectrum, organizers of a conference said here this week. Organized by Call to Renewal and Sojourners, two Washington-based social justice groups co-founded by the Rev. Jim Wallis, the “Pentecost Conference” drew about 600 social activists to the nation’s capital to meet with politicians, network and unveil a new “covenant” that lays out a blueprint for eradicating poverty. Using events like this week’s conference, Wallis and Sojourners hope to draw religious and political leaders away from divisive issues like gay marriage and abortion to a new common ground against poverty. “In a time when political and social issues threaten to divide the church, many people of faith are coming together to affirm that justice for those who live in poverty is a deeply held religious commitment on which we are all firmly united,” the Sojourners’ “Covenant for a New America” reads.
Quote of the Day: Sister Mary de Paul “We’ve always felt very connected in a sense to our founders’ mother and father. Taking care of the deceased is an act of mercy, and it’s an act of our faith.” -Sister Mary de Paul of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, explaining why her order paid to move the remains of poet Nathaniel Hawthorne’s wife, Sofia, and his daughter, Una, from London to Hawthorne’s grave in Concord, Mass., after 142 years. The order of nuns was founded by Hawthorne’s other daughter, Rose. She was quoted by The New York Times.
c. 2006 Religion News Service Cardinal Says Stem Cell Researchers Don’t Deserve Communion VATICAN CITY (RNS) Roman Catholic doctors and researchers involved in stem cell research are unfit to receive Communion, a top Vatican cardinal declared Wednesday (June 28). The comments appeared to step up the Vatican’s opposition to stem cell research _ a stance that has been strongly criticized by scientists who believe the research could produce life-saving breakthroughs. In an interview with the Italian Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, reasserted his position that politicians who support legislation that defies church teaching on abortion should be denied Communion. Asked whether the ban also applied to stem cell researchers, Trujillo replied: “Certainly.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When the Space Shuttle Discovery lifts off this summer, some of its astronauts will already have been lifted in prayer by their congregations. In fact, one Houston-area church will simultaneously have two members in space. “It’s unreal,” said Pastor John Kieschnick of his Lutheran church that includes a Discovery flight crew member and an astronaut on the International Space Station. “We were just taken aback by that.” Meanwhile, an African Methodist Episcopal Church recently recruited local clergy for a special service to pray for its astronaut member, praying for specific space-related issues, from foam to favorable weather.
c. 2006 Religion News Service NEWARK, N.J. _ Defying national and international pressure, the Episcopal Diocese of Newark on Wednesday (June 28) announced that the slate of candidates for its next bishop will include a gay priest. A nominating committee announced that the Rev. Michael Barlowe, the congregational development officer in the Diocese of California, who lives with his male partner of 24 years, is among the four candidates to be on the diocese’s Sept. 23 ballot. Barlowe’s partner, the Rev. Paul Burrows, is an Episcopal church rector in San Francisco.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) There is no better place to forget that the United States is at war than in church. Three years after the invasion of Iraq, stories of bloody bombings and mounting casualties still top each day’s news, but remain conspicuously absent from the discourse of most neighborhood churches. For many of these congregations, the war in Iraq hits home only when they bury a soldier whom they last knew as a pimply member of the youth group with big dreams for the future. Until then, they may close their eyes and pray for peace, asking God to protect those in harm’s way.