RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Federal Judge Dismisses Suit By Air Force Critic (RNS) A federal judge in New Mexico has dismissed a lawsuit by an Air Force veteran who charged that the Air Force was unconstitutionally permitting evangelism by evangelical Christians at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. Senior U.S. District Judge James A. Parker of Albuquerque ruled Friday (Oct. 27) that Mikey Weinstein and other plaintiffs did not provide sufficient information to substantiate their claims against the military academy. “Plaintiffs never allege a personal link or connection to any alleged future Establishment Clause violations,” Parker wrote in a 16-page decision.

Immigration Fuels Hispanic Church Activity

c. 2006 Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly LAREDO, Texas _ In the packed sanctuary of a Hispanic megachurch, Latino evangelicals are praying for comprehensive immigration reform _ and for the political clout to make it happen. “If we just pray only and leave this place just doing that, it’s not going to make the greatest difference, because in this country that God has given us, the United States of America, the way to make our voice heard is at the ballot box,” the Rev. Mark Gonzalez of the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform tells the worshippers. Thousands of miles away, in Chicago, Latino Catholics are also praying for immigration reform _ and registering new voters after Mass. “They want to be part of that process that somehow will determine their lives and their future,” said the Rev. Claudio Diaz of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Lessons on Living From the Undead

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) As a kid, Kim Paffenroth would walk into a building, ponder the possibility of a zombie attack and think: What would I do? “There is planning that you can do for a zombie invasion, whereas you can’t really plan for vampires,” he said. “If there are really vampires, they’re going to get you because they’re fairly powerful things and they can just get you. But zombies, they’re slow.

U.S. Muslims Mobilize in 2006 Elections With Eye on 2008

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Congressional elections haven’t meant much to Saadia Chaudhry, who, at 30, has never cast a midterm ballot. But this year Chaudhry is excited about voting in her suburban Maryland district, even though she admits _ with a slightly embarrassed laugh _ that she’s not even sure who’s running. “I just know I’m voting for Democrats,” Chaudhry said. Muslim American voters like Chaudhry, angered by policies they say abuse their civil rights at home and kill and injure Muslims abroad, are expected to turn out in unusually high numbers this year, throwing their support overwhelmingly behind Democratic candidates, observers say.

Gay Marriage Issue May Rally Dispirited Evangelical Voters

c. 2006 Religion News Service NASHVILLE, Tenn. _ Carolyn Hickerson, a self-identified evangelical Christian, has distributed nearly 10,000 yard signs in support of traditional marriage in the suburbs outside Nashville. On Nov. 7, Tennessee voters will considerate a ballot initiative that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Muslim cleric Sheik Taj Aldin Alihilali

Quote of the Day: Australian Cleric Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali “If you take uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?” -Australian Muslim cleric Sheik Taj Aldin Alihilali, suggesting that immodestly dressed women provoke sexual attacks by men. The sheik later apologized, saying he was only trying to “protect women’s honor.” He was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Jefferts Schori Meets Archbishop of Canterbury (RNS) Just a week before Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold hands over leadership of the Episcopal Church to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the two bishops traveled to England to meet with the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion. In a 90-minute meeting Friday (Oct.27) with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the American bishops “affirmed the Episcopal Church’s commitment to the shared ministries of the Anglican Communion,” according to the Episcopal News Service. When she is formally installed on Nov. 4, Jefferts Schori will become the first woman in Anglicanism’s nearly 520-year history to lead a national church.

Something Wiccan This Way Comes

c. 2006 Religion News Service FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. _ Rebecca Walkoff knows that she could never pass a psychological test. “I hear voices,” Walkoff, 47, said as she enjoyed a cigarette outside her store, The Moon Willow, just off the Fayetteville Square. “I see visions.” Walkoff shrugged, her green eyes twinkling, and snubbed out the cigarette.

N.J. Lawmakers Cool to Gay Marriage

c. 2006 Religion News Service TRENTON, N.J. _ Half of New Jersey’s 40 state senators say they would not support a bill legalizing gay marriage, dimming chances for the state to become the second to recognize homosexual partners the same way it views husbands and wives. After the New Jersey Supreme Court on Wednesday (Oct. 25) directed legislators to adopt marriage or civil unions for same-sex partners, 20 of 26 state senators reached by The Star-Ledger said they would oppose a gay marriage bill; just three said they would support it. If none change their minds, the 20 “no” votes in the Senate would be enough to prevent a bill from passing the legislature.

Charles Darwin is Unmentioned Candidate in Ohio Race

c. 2006 Religion News Service CLEVELAND _ On his radio talk show last month, Pastor Ernie Sanders didn’t mince words about the importance of this fall’s race between State Board of Education member Deborah Owens Fink and her challenger, Tom Sawyer. “If you believe in God, creation and true science, vote for Debbie,” he intoned on his talk show, “What’s Right, What’s Left.” “If you believe in evolution, abortion and sin, you’ve got Tom Sawyer, right?” Sawyer and Owens Fink, who was a guest on the show with Sanders, are among 16 candidates vying for five of the 11 elected seats on the 19-member board. But the most important person in the election has been dead for 124 years. Charles Darwin, the 19th century British naturalist whose theory of evolution remains the bedrock of scientific thought today, has turned normally tepid board races into donnybrooks.

Something Always Beats Nothing

The ever-quotable Amy Sullivan -recently included on our list of the dozen most effective people in shaping the Democrats’ approach to faith and religion-has a piece in USA Today that argues the Democrats are losing the culture wars not because they take the wrong side, but often because they take no side at all. While Republicans offer the wrong prescriptions, they get the diagnosis right. And they win because most of the time, Democrats won’t admit that anything is wrong. In politics, as in most areas of life, something always beats nothing.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Survey: Half of Evangelicals Oppose Federal Funding of Religious Groups WASHINGTON (RNS) Half of the nation’s evangelical Christians do not support government funding of faith-based organizations, a survey shows. New data released Wednesday (Oct. 25) from the Baylor Religion Survey show that 50 percent of evangelicals, and 65 percent of the total population, think federal funding of religious organizations is inappropriate. Twenty-six percent of the total respondents surveyed said they agree with such funding.

Woman Bishop Set to Take Top Job in Episcopal Church: By DANIEL BURKE

c. 2006 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ At a ceremony filled with pomp and tradition, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will become the first woman in the Anglican Communion’s nearly 520-year history to lead a national church when she is installed as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church on Nov. 4. Seated on the bishop chair’s in Washington’s National Cathedral before what is expected to be an overflow crowd, Jefferts Schori, 52, will be handed the primatial staff, which symbolizes her guidance over the nation’s 2.2 million Episcopalians. Soon after her election, Jefferts Schori faced a mini rebellion from conservatives who said she is too liberal to lead the badly fractured U.S. church, and some who said her gender disqualified her from leadership.

Reactions to New Jersey Gay Marriage Decision

c. 2006 Religion News Service “The bottom line here is that the entire court said that there must be a remedy for the inequality that bars same-sex couples from marriage.” _ David Buckel, director of the Marriage Project for Lambda Legal “While it is true, from a Catholic perspective, that Jesus elevated this institution (marriage) to the level of a sacrament, this does not make marriage the creation of any religious community _ including the Catholic Church. … Even if marriage were a type of institution that could be redefined, it would not be up to a court to decide whether to redefine it.” _ Roman Catholic Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, N.J. “The New Jersey decision only involves the protection and benefits of civil marriage _ not religious ceremonies. This case does not affect religious institutions’ freedom to decide if they want to honor and recognize same-sex unions.” _ Joe Solomonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign “This is a plus for those of us who have been pressing for a constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to a union between a man and a woman.