Experts Doubt N.J. Ruling Will Revive Federal Gay Marriage Ban

c. 2006 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The New Jersey Supreme Court ruling protecting the rights of same-sex couples is likely to energize the religious right, but not enough to have a significant impact on the national debate over a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, experts said. “The ruling puts some wind back in the sails of social conservatives and will likely reinvigorate their drive for a national solution,” said David Masci, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. But Masci noted that the Republican-controlled House and Senate fell far short in efforts to approve a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage this summer. If Democrats pick up seats in next month’s election, chances of passage will become even more remote, he said.

Questions and Answers on N.J. Gay Marriage Decision

c. 2006 Religion News Service Q: What did the New Jersey Supreme Court rule? A: The majority said that while there is no “fundamental right to same sex-marriage” in New Jersey, it is unconstitutional to deny gay couples the same rights as married couples. Q: Does that mean gays can marry? A: No.

US Catholic Bishops to Meet

Catholic Bishops to Consider New Guidelines for Ministry to Homosexuals RNS’ Daniel Burke looks at the upcoming meeting of US Catholic Bishops, which will consider new pastoral guidelines for minstering to gays and lesbians, in this week’s full-text article, linked above. Quote: With one eye on those domestic controversies and another on Rome, the new guidelines are the bishops’ first attempt to forge a consensus on the role of gays and lesbians in the church.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Poll Shows Unease With Both Parties on Religion, Values (RNS) An increasing percentage of Americans believe that neither Democrats nor Republicans share their attitudes about the role of religion in politics, according to a new poll released Tuesday (Oct. 24). The poll also showed a drop in the portion of Americans who say the parties represent their values, with the GOP losing more ground than the Democrats. About 41 percent of Americans believe the Republican Party shares their views on religion in politics “moderately well” or “very well.” That’s an overall drop of 12 percentage points from one year ago.

COMMENTARY: The Myth of the (Fundamentalist) Barbarians at the Gate

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Father Andrew Greeley has a gift for seeing past the surfaces of the great “accepted truths” of our times _ those popular shorthand interpretations of the pundit class that are repeated so often that they are taken for granted even by people who should know better. Greeley’s latest project is the new book “The Truth About Conservative Christians,” written with sociologist Michael Hout, in which he examines the generally accepted cultural ideas about these well publicized and presumably fiercely fundamentalist believers. Some Americans see conservative Christianity as “embattled and thriving” as it defends religious and American core values against, as Greeley summarizes it, “the onslaughts of a secular and vulgar culture that will … undo both nation and culture.” Others see conservative Christians as “a dangerous juggernaut” filled with hypocrisy that wants to end our liberties and establish an American theocracy.

Odds Are Against Online Gambling Under New Law

c. 2006 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The party’s over at PartyPoker, but PokerStars is still open for action. Dozens of online casinos and millions of American gamblers, confronting a new federal law that makes what they do illegal for the first time, are angry, sad and reassessing their options. President Bush turned what had been at worst a legal gray area into a criminal enterprise when he signed legislation Oct. 13 that bans financial institutions from making payments on behalf of Americans to offshore online casinos.

Deliver Us From a One-Sided Film About Clergy Sex Abuse

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A scene near the end of “Deliver Us From Evil,” Amy Berg’s disturbing new documentary on clergy sexual abuse, should be burned into the mind of every Catholic bishop: Bob Jyono sits on a sofa beside his daughter Ann, 39, who was regularly raped between the ages of 5 and 12 by the Rev. Oliver O’Grady. He blurts out in anguish, “There is no God. I do not believe in a god. All right?” Ann bursts into tears, covering her face with both hands.

10 Minutes With … Pastor Becky Fischer

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Reaction to the new documentary “Jesus Camp” has been heated, to say the least. The film, which profiles evangelical Pastor Becky Fischer and her “Kids on Fire” summer camp in Devil’s Lake, N.D., shows children wailing in prayer, protesting abortion and praying in front of a cardboard cut-out of President Bush. Fischer predicts in the film that this display of religious fervor will have liberals “shaking in their boots.” Indeed, they have been. Fischer, who has been a children’s pastor for 15 years, never expected the film to generate such controversy.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Evangelicals Urge More Aggressive Action on Darfur WASHINGTON (RNS) President Bush should adopt an aggressive policy _ guided by faith, not politics _ to end the violence in Sudan’s western Darfur region, prominent evangelical leaders said Wednesday (Oct. 17). International and domestic politics have deterred Bush and other world leaders from ending the killings in Darfur, said the Rev. Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, a Washington-based progressive Christian network. When government fails to stop slaughter, “people need to step in and say we must be dictated by our conscience,” Wallis said.

Other Issues Facing the Annual Catholic Bishops’ Meeting

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) In addition to adopting new guidelines on ministry to gay and lesbian Roman Catholics, the U.S. bishops will take up several other items at their semiannual meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 13-16: _ Consider asking Catholics who “knowingly and obstinately” reject church doctrines to refrain from receiving the sacrament of Communion. _ Approve a brochure that promotes natural family planning. _ Consider reorganizing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, cutting 28 office positions and phasing out 35 more.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Poll Finds Muslims Lean Democratic, See War on Terror as War on Islam WASHINGTON (RNS) A new survey by an Islamic advocacy group suggests that America’s Muslim voters lean Democratic, and just over half fear that the war on terror has become a war on Islam. Pollsters asked 1,000 Muslims about their political views, religion and levels of social integration in the survey. The results were published Tuesday (Oct. 24) by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Boycott of eBay Targets Online Sale of Relics

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A coalition of Christians, angered by the marketing of deceased saints’ body parts over the Internet, is calling for a boycott of eBay until the company gets more vigilant about ending the practice. The Los Angeles-based International Crusade for Holy Relics (ICHR), an independent group with about 200 members, plans to begin its boycott on All Saints Day, Nov. 1. The group is also urging sympathizers to petition top eBay officers for stricter policies and practices.

Catholic Bishops to Consider New Guidelines for Ministry to Homosexuals: By DANIEL BURKE

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The nation’s Catholic bishops will consider new pastoral guidelines in November for ministering to gays and lesbians that affirm traditional church teachings on sexuality in the face of a quickly changing culture. Issues like same-sex marriage and civil unions, gay adoption and the clergy sexual abuse scandal were barely on the bishops’ radar screen in 1997, the last time the U.S. bishops addressed ministry to homosexuals in detail. With one eye on those domestic controversies and another on Rome, the new guidelines are the bishops’ first attempt to forge a consensus on the role of gays and lesbians in the church. “They grew out of a real concern from the bishops that they want to minister to homosexual Catholics and at the same time make sure that it’s done properly,” said the Rev. Tom Weinandy, executive director of the bishops’ Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices, which drafted the guidelines.