Talk, Talk, Talk

We were wondering when Terry Mattingly over at Get Religion would weigh in on our profile of the 12 people who are shaping the Democrats’ approach to religion. TMatt has spoken. Actually, TMatt got Mark Stricherz to critique the piece, and he concludes that the story “never tells us how the dozen religious Democrats live Scripture or the Talmud.” That is perhaps a fair criticism, but in our mind, seems to miss the point. When we set out on this project, we weren’t trying to measure the religiosity of any one person on the list, or rate them on some sort of personal piety scale.

Archdiocese Bars Priest at Center of Foley Scandal From Active Ministry

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The Rev. Anthony Mercieca, the priest at the center of the Mark Foley abuse scandal, has been removed from active ministry by the Archdiocese of Miami. Two days after his name surfaced in media reports, church and law enforcement officials confirmed Friday (Oct. 20) that Mercieca is the priest accused of sexually abusing former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., as a youth. Michael Edmondson, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County State Attorney, said Foley will not press charges against Mercieca.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Muslim Woman at Center of Veil Dispute Loses Case LONDON (RNS) A Muslim teaching assistant who was suspended from her job when she refused to stop wearing her full-face veil in the classroom has lost her claim that she was discriminated against because of her religion. An employment tribunal threw out the suit filed by Aishah Azmi, ruling that the standards set by the Church of England Junior School in Dewsbury were a “proportionate means” of making sure students “received the best possible instruction in the English language.” Students had complained that Azmi’s “niqab” veil, which concealed all but the eyes, hid her lips and made it difficult for them to understand her. The tribunal’s precedent-setting ruling is almost certain to fuel the controversy over veils because it gives schools in Britain the right to insist that Muslim staff remove the face gear. The issue first erupted when Jack Straw, a former member of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s cabinet, said Muslim women visiting his office should remove their veils.

Vatican Uses Islam Controversy for More Honest Dialogue

c. 2006 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ A month after Pope Benedict XVI’s address at the University of Regensburg in Germany sparked violence from some Muslims that sent Muslim-Christian relations into a tailspin, Vatican officials are embracing the controversy for accomplishing what decades of conciliatory gestures from Pope John Paul II could not: an honest, intellectual, public debate. The pope’s remarks on Islam have in many ways heightened tensions between the world’s largest religions as he prepares to visit predominantly Muslim Turkey at the end of November. But the address has also thrown into relief key issues that have been lurking beneath the veneer of Christian-Muslim dialogue for decades, if not centuries. On Monday (Oct.

Amish Newspaper Says `Thank You’

c. 2006 Religion News Service HARRISBURG, Pa. _ Every Monday for more than 30 years, the Die Botschaft newspaper has gone into the mailboxes of Amish subscribers nationwide. Filled with letters from correspondents across the country, the weekly publication prints information from the Amish, for the Amish. This week’s (Oct.

Excerpts From the Amish Die Botschaft Newspaper

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The following is an excerpt from the Oct. 16 edition of the Amish newspaper Die Botschaft (“The Message”). It was written by Enos K. Miller, whose grandchildren, 8-year-old Mary Liz Miller and her sister Lena, 7, were killed in a shooting at an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pa., on Oct. 2.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Religious Leaders Push Documentary on Global Warming WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious leaders are promoting a new documentary about global warming to raise awareness about environmental concerns among houses of worship. “The scriptural teaching gives us direction to be responsible for God’s world,” said the Rev. Paul De Vries, president of the New York Divinity School, who joined other evangelical leaders on a conference call with reporters Thursday (Oct. 19). “He made it good, and whatever we’ve done with it to mess it up, we ought to be trying to clean up and protect.” De Vries joined leaders such as evangelical author Tony Campolo and the Rev. Gerald Durley, an Atlanta civil rights leader, in drawing attention to “The Great Warming,” a documentary to be released in theaters nationwide on Nov.

COMMENTARY: A Story of Misplaced Faith

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) I have long maintained that America was a better place back when the fundamentalist Christians flocked to the Democratic Party. David Kuo’s book offers evidence to support that belief. Kuo is the author of “Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction.” It tells the story not only of Kuo’s rise to the position of special assistant to President Bush for faith-based initiatives but also of the rise of the fundamentalists within the Republican Party. This is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Muslim Athletes Learn New Discipline During Ramadan

c. 2006 Religion News Service TOMS RIVER, N.J. _ Their day begins in darkness shortly after 5 a.m. to make sure the meal is finished long before sunrise. For Nashwa Yosry, it is a bowl of Kix, a glass of milk and a small brownie. Tamir Dayya loads up with oatmeal, cereal, a peanut butter sandwich, a protein drink and a glass of milk. Mohamed Soliman has pancakes and cookies.

Methodists Hire Rabbi for Spiritual Renewal

c. 2006 Religion News Service COLUMBIA, Md. _ Each Thursday, staff members of the United Methodist Church’s Baltimore-Washington Conference gather at their offices here for a lunch-hour Bible study class. Lately, those classes have taken on a distinctly different tone. That’s because they are now led by a Jewish rabbi, part of an unconventional effort to bring to the conference what church officials admit is a much-needed infusion of spiritual renewal.

COMMENTARY: Saul Farber, A True Mensch

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) You always know when you meet a living legend. That’s how I felt about Dr. Saul J. Farber, one of America’s greatest physicians and medical educators, who died on Oct. 12 at age 88 in New York. I first met Saul in 1985 when New York Gov. Mario Cuomo appointed both of us to the state’s newly formed Task Force on Life and the Law.

Catholic Bishops to Tackle Gay Question

The always-on-top-of-things Michael Paulson at the Boston Globe has a preview of a proposed statement by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the church’s attitude towards gays and lesbians. The bishops’ previous landmark statement, “Always Our Children,” was received in 1997 by some conservatives as too accommodating. Looks like those critics might be more satisified with the proposed changes: The Catholic bishops of the United States, faced with ongoing controversy over the church’s posture toward homosexuality, next month will vote on a proposal that would condemn “scorn and hatred” of gays and lesbians but would also declare that gay couples should not be allowed to marry or adopt children, that baptizing the children of same-sex couples presents “a pastoral concern,” and that the church has the right to deny “roles of service” to gays and lesbians who are not celibate. Catholic bishops to define gay stance – The Boston Globe

A Thaw Among the Frozen Chosen?

Our friend Diana Butler Bass has an interview in Newsweek about evidence she sees that America’s “Frozen Chosen” mainline Protestant churches are undergoing something of a thaw. We have Methodists who engage in Celtic spirituality, Episcopalians who walk the labyrinth and Presbyterians who do reiki. You find Protestant churches engaging in the Benedictine rule or reading the ancient Christian fathers or practicing contemplative prayer. They’re mixing elements of contemporary culture with ancient spiritual practices.

Dems “Get Religion”

With the Help of a Dozen, Democrats Learn to ‘Get Religion’ Daniel Burke, Kevin Eckstrom and Peter Sachs profile 12 individuals who are helping shape the Democratic party’s approach to religion, in this week’s full-text RNS article, linked above. Quote: Party leaders have lamented that Democrats ceded the moral high ground to Republicans because they failed to articulate the values behind their policies. But now, a new generation of activists, strategists and scribes-some Democrats, some not-are helping the party to build relationships in the religious community, talk openly about spiritual journeys, and frame policies and platforms using moral terms.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Miami Archdiocese Urges Foley to Name Alleged Abuser (RNS) Former Florida congressman Mark Foley should name the Roman Catholic cleric who allegedly abused him as soon as possible to spare others from potential harm, the archdiocese of Miami said Wednesday (Oct. 18). “We don’t care how he reports the name, just report it,” said archdiocesan spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta. Church officials will immediately relay the name to local law enforcement, Agosta added.