Editors: This is an updated version of story that moved April 16: : Scholar Finds Indian Roots to Go

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Jazz musician and Yale music scholar Willie Ruff, who uncovered the links between 18th century Scottish singing and black gospel music, has connected another group to the style: American Indians. A descendant of an Oklahoma tribe contacted him after learning about a 2005 Yale conference on line singing, an a cappella vocal form that originated in Scotland and is still sung in parts of the South. And this month, a second conference at Yale featured Muskogee Creeks singing with Baptist groups from Alabama and Kentucky. “Never in my experience have such widely divergent groups of people, coming from traditions so vastly different, been brought together under one roof around a gratifying theme like this,” said Ruff, who is black and a native of Sheffield, Ala.

COMMENTARY: No Time for Simple Answers

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When Americans gaze on the bodies of 32 students murdered on their idyllic Virginia Tech campus, our attention is momentarily diverted from reality TV to reality. We would rather not be confronted with the latter because our shared national mythology is that of Walt Disney, who repeatedly brought us stories of underdogs overcoming obstacles and good triumphing over evil. We still comfort ourselves with the words of 19th century political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville, who wrote, “America is great because America is good,” despite daily evidence to the contrary. As our lives fail to fulfill our mythology, we sedate ourselves with escapist entertainment.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Church of God in Christ Names New Presiding Bishop (RNS) The Church of God in Christ has chosen the pastor of a Los Angeles megachurch to be its new presiding bishop. Bishop Charles E. Blake was appointed April 10 as the seventh presiding bishop of the predominantly black Pentecostal denomination, succeeding Bishop Gilbert E. Patterson, who died March 20 of heart failure. Blake, 67, is the pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, a Los Angeles congregation with more than 24,000 members. Prior to being chosen presiding bishop, he served as first assistant presiding bishop under Patterson.

Southern Baptists Confront Their Own Sexual Abuse Scandal

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Five years after the clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted within the Catholic Church, Southern Baptists are confronting their own allegations of abuse and calls for greater steps to protect minors from predatory pastors. Although the Baptists seem to confront the issue on a smaller scale, media reports, activists’ pleas and recent actions by some within the nation’s largest Protestant denomination indicate what Catholic officials have long insisted: that sexual abuse is not a problem confined to their church. Consider: _ Two young pastors who have used their blogs to influence other Southern Baptists have authored proposals they hope will be considered at their annual meeting in June. One calls for a study on developing a database of Southern Baptist ministers convicted of sex abuse, and the other urges churches to “pursue every possible avenue” in vetting a pastor’s moral and ethical credentials.

Secret Files on Abusive Priests in Oregon Will be Released

c. 2007 Religion News Service PORTLAND, Ore. _ The Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., has agreed to release secret files on abusive priests as part of its $75 million plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection. The files, which won’t be made public until May, will paint the most detailed picture to date of what archdiocese officials knew about sexually abusive priests in Oregon during the past 50 years and what they did about it. Kelly Clark, a lawyer who represents dozens of men and women who have reached financial settlements with the archdiocese, said many of his clients could not be satisfied until the record of clergy sexual abuse in western Oregon was revealed.

When Obedience is Next to Godliness

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Struggling to train an unruly dog in your jam-packed life and think you’ve exhausted all resources? Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and start acting like a monk. For nearly 40 years, an order of Eastern Orthodox monks at the New Skete Monastery in Cambridge, N.Y., have funded their monastic lives by training the most stubborn of misbehaving dogs for thousands of frustrated families. The training benefits the pups, the families and maybe most of all the monks, who say the discipline and focus required for obedience training puts them in a deeper spiritual place.

Got a Catholic Question? Boy, 7, Has the Answers

c. 2007 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Among the faithful gathered at the 7 a.m. Mass at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Capitol Hill, one face in the front pew always stands out. James Higgins, 7, has been attending daily Mass since he was 3 years old. His parents, Stephen and Lauren, never have to drag him out of bed or away from his Lucky Charms to get him there either.

Pitcher or Pope?

Got a Catholic Question? Boy, 7, Has the Answers RNS’ Philip Turner profiles seven-year-old James Higgins, a Catholic boy who has attended daily Mass since he was three, and who has an encylopedic knowledge of the church and its history, in this week’s full-text article, linked above. Quote: “I have it in my heart to go,” said James, decked out in a blue sweat suit, a Red Sox jacket and cap. He’s currently undecided between a career with the Red Sox-or as the first American pope.

GOP Candidates Wooing 10 Influential Religious Conservatives

c. 2007 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ One day last January, Tamara Scott was leading her children through music lessons in her Norwalk, Iowa, home when the phone rang. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was on the line, wanting to talk politics. The children giggled when they heard Scott exchange her stern “Mom voice” for a more polite tone. But the call itself, which lasted about 40 minutes, wasn’t all that odd.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Evangelicals Ponder Roots of Virginia Tech Violence WASHINGTON (RNS) A number of prominent evangelicals conducted some public soul-searching Wednesday (April 28) as they groped for answers to Monday’s mass killing of 32 students and staff at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. “The Bible says `mourn with those who mourn’ and thus we do,” said the Rev. Richard Cizik, the National Association of Evangelicals’ vice president for governmental affairs. “We don’t understand. Indeed, we ask why.

Supreme Court Upholds `Partial-Birth Abortion’ Law

c. 2007 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday (April 18) upheld a controversial law that bans a procedure that critics call “partial-birth abortion.” The ruling on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 was hailed by abortion opponents as a step toward reducing abortions, and decried by abortion-rights supporters as more political interference in women’s reproductive health decisions. The 2003 law, which does not include a medical exception for the mother, prohibits the rarely used procedure known as intact dilation and evacuation. Opponents consider the procedure particularly gruesome. “We conclude that the Act is not void for vagueness, does not impose an undue burden from any overbreadth and is not invalid on its face,” concluded Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority.

10 Minutes With … Leslie Montgomery

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) In her book, “The Faith of Condoleezza Rice,” author Leslie Montgomery explores the spiritual side of the U.S. secretary of state. Montgomery traced how Rice grew up in Birmingham, Ala., in the faith-filled home of her parents during the turbulent civil rights movement. Based on interviews with those close to Rice and Rice’s speeches, Montgomery describes a hymn-singing woman who has bridged faith and intellect as her career took her from Stanford University to the White House. Montgomery talked about what she learned about Rice.

COMMENTARY: Into the Great Wide Open

c. 2007 Religion News Service BIG SKY, Mont. _ Go outside. Sometime today, walk out into the fresh air and just be for a few minutes. I realize, of course, that many of us are in the capricious it’s-summer-it’s-winter-it’s-summer-it’s-winter season that passes for spring in some places, and that outside is perhaps not the most inviting place to be.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Appeals Court Upholds Federal Law, Kosher Food for Inmate (RNS) An appeals court has affirmed a federal law protecting the religious rights of inmates, denying the state of Virginia’s second request that it be declared unconstitutional. The Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Ira Madison, a Virginia inmate who sued the state after officials denied his request for kosher meals. Madison claims he is a member of the Church of God and Saints of Christ and a Hebrew Israelite who is required to eat a kosher diet. Madison argued that the denial of the kosher meals violated a provision of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.