Romney Once Tilted Left, Now Right, of Official Mormon Teaching

c. 2007 Religion News Service SALT LAKE CITY _ Presidential candidate Mitt Romney once sounded like a Mormon liberal. In his 1993 race for the U.S. Senate, the Massachusetts Republican spoke eloquently of abortion rights, protecting gays from discrimination and the possibilities of stem-cell research. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), which had disciplined some other church members for taking similar positions publicly, took no action against Romney. These days, Romney talks like a Southern Baptist.

Questions and Answers on the Anglican Meeting in Africa

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Top bishops from the Anglican Communion concluded their meeting in Tanzania on Monday (Feb. 19) with a challenge to U.S. Episcopalians to stop blessing same-sex unions and prohibit openly gay bishops or face consequences. The bishops, or primates, of the 38 member churches in the Anglican Communion gave the U.S. church a Sept. 30 deadline to answer the primates’ demands.

Group Aims to Shield Pastors From Pornography Addiction

c. 2007 Religion News Service GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. _ When Justin VanAntwerp wasn’t preaching the gospel, often he would look at images of naked women _ sometimes five or six times a day. “I became really good at lying and covering up my tracks,” said the 29-year-old former pastor of First Baptist Church in Lawton, Mich. “I never once got caught, but on the inside I knew it wasn’t right.” VanAntwerp’s 15-year battle with pornography addiction ultimately cost him his job and his marriage.

Project Tries to Give Troops Option to `Girlie Magazines’

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) It’s an effort to send more than 35,000 boxes of Christian reading material as an alternative to what one retired chaplain called “girlie magazines” _ and it all began with a request sent to the wrong location. An American soldier serving in Iraq had thought he was writing his hometown Christian bookstore, a branch of the larger LifeWay Christian Resources, to request reading material that was “uplifting and encouraging.” What the soldier didn’t know was that his request had actually reached the desk of the president of the company. LifeWay, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, then contacted Jimmie Miles, a retired military chaplain and director of education at Winfree Memorial Baptist Church in Midlothian, Va., to help follow up on this request. Miles helped local Baptist church associations get the new “LifeBox” project started.

COMMENTARY: Lent: A Serious Time for Serious Introspection

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) If I could wish you a “Holy Lent,” it would have two components: personal and communal. At the personal level, it is time to focus on the basics: prayer, study and self-examination. That means taking time away from normal pursuits _ sleep, work, play _ and giving time to God, even if you just sit and daydream. Faith happens when we let God in.

Anglicans Urge Panel to Resolve Disputes in Episcopal Church

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Top Anglican bishops concluded a tense five-day meeting in Africa Monday (Feb. 19) by calling for a new international council to solve disputes between liberals and conservatives in the Anglican Communion and its U.S. branch _ the Episcopal Church. At the heart of the meeting was the Episcopal Church’s progressive stance on human sexuality _ especially the 2003 election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. Theological conservatives, including Anglican leaders from rapidly growing churches in the “Global South,” have painted their American counterparts as heretics, and demanded they be reprimanded or excommunicated.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Biblical Translator Bruce Metzger Dies at 93 (RNS) Bruce Metzger, a revered biblical scholar who was both respected and sometimes criticized for championing the use of modern language in translating the Bible, has died at the age of 93. Metzger, a long-time professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and a towering figure for students who used to joke that he had actually written the Bible himself, died of respiratory failure Tuesday (Feb. 13) in Princeton, N.J. Metzger is likely to be best remembered as the editor of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, a work first introduced in 1989 and which eliminated many, though not all, of the Bible’s masculine pronouns. It became the standard text used in many colleges, seminaries and divinity schools.

Kids Assume the Lotus Position on the Path to Nirvana

c. 2007 Religion News Service BIRMINGHAM, Ala. _ On a Sunday afternoon at the Birmingham Shambhala Meditation Center in Avondale, children sitting on red cushions took turns talking about Buddha and discussed learning how to meditate. “I’m kind of crazy these days,” said Ashlin Duncan, 6, “and my mom says I should come here.” “I came here so I can be relaxed,” said Karen Hunt, 7. Added Jospheine Cleverdon, 7, “I want to be calm, to help other people be calm.” Several said they knew a little about Buddha.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Five Years Later, a Scandal That Remains Unresolved

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Five years ago, the Boston Globe published a series of articles that exposed the Catholic sex abuse and cover-up scandal, which soon burst onto the national stage. Eventually, church authorities admitted that more than 5,000 priests were exposed as molesters, and hundreds of bishops were exposed as complicit. But a new day has dawned, Catholic officials claim. “We’ve learned our lessons,” they tell us.

Why Is There a Baby Inside My Cake?

c. 2007 Religion News Service NEW ORLEANS _ A newcomer to this city walked in the bakery door one day holding a small doll in a little napkin. “She pulled me over to one side and said, `Son, I don’t want to make a big stink, but I found this in my cake,”’ remembers David Haydel Jr., a manager at Haydel’s Bakery. “I had to explain to her the whole scenario.” Welcome to southern Louisiana, where the many rich culinary traditions include the deliberate baking of foreign objects _ especially tiny plastic babies _ into cakes during Carnival. “And it’s expected!” says Sam Schelfo, owner of Gambino’s Bakeries.

Clipping the Hedges …

Bruce Tomaso, our friend over at the Dallas Morning News, has sparked some chatter by posting Ron Csillag’s Q&A with Chris Hedges, the author of “American Fascists.”

Presbyterians Face Defection to Evangelical Denomination

c. 2007 Religion News Service (RNS) A network of Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations has one foot out the door after voting en masse to build a new bridge with the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The New Wineskins Association of Churches says it’s tired of battling the PCUSA over theology and policy and has found a better fit in the EPC, a small denomination founded in 1981. “It’s huge,” said the Rev. Gerrit Dawson, a co-moderator of New Wineskins. “For years, conservative churches in the PCUSA have talked about what we should be doing …

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Professor Pulls Book With Controversial `Blood Libel’ Claim JERUSALEM (RNS) The author of a controversial new book that says a small number of Jews living hundreds of years ago may have ingested the blood of Christian children has asked his publisher to stop distributing the book. The book, “Easter of Blood,” by Italian Jewish professor Ariel Toaff, has resurrected charges of “blood libel.” Toaff said Thursday (Feb. 15) he wants to “re-edit those passages which comprised the basis of the distortions and falsehoods that have been published in the media.” Toaff teaches at Israel’s Bar Ilan University. His book has deeply upset Jews around the world, who say it spreads unsubstantiated and dangerous claims that a group of Jewish zealots living in the Italian city of Trento between the 11th and 14th centuries consumed the blood of Christian children to avenge widespread Christian persecution of the Jews.

Luther’s Spiritual Heirs Face an Uncertain Future

c. 2007 Religion News Service WITTENBERG, Germany _ Faced with declining membership, dwindling income and more demands to provide community services, Germany’s Protestants see an overwhelming stretch ahead of them. And so, in search of inspiration, some 300 church members returned here, the town where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in 1517, for a workshop to map out their future. Attendees brainstormed on media branding, structure, financing and how to make the church that Luther built viable for the 21st century. They met as part of a “Future Congress,” officially titled “A Church for Freedom: Perspectives for the Evangelical Church in the 21st Century.” “Freedom” seemed a part of every sentence uttered at this conference, but “finance” might have been a more appropriate catchword.

Confusion Reigns in N.J. Over State of Gay Unions

c. 2007 Religion News Service NEWARK, N.J. _ Donna Waliky and Lill Rimac of Rockaway Township are registered domestic partners. Steven Goldstein and Daniel Gross of Teaneck traveled to Vermont to form a civil union. Lianne Sullivan-Crowley and Julie Sullivan were married in Massachusetts before they moved to New Jersey. They are among thousands of same-sex couples in New Jersey who have formed some sort of union recognized by some government.