RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Gordon-Conwell Seminary President Resigns (RNS) The president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary has resigned “due to family considerations,” but will continue to serve as a professor on the school’s Charlotte, N.C., campus. James Emery White resigned effective June 30, the school announced Wednesday (May 16), “due to family considerations which resulted in his unanticipated inability to relocate as planned from North Carolina to Massachusetts.” White, the founding pastor of Mecklenberg Community Church in Charlotte, began serving as president last July 1, and had commuted to Gordon-Conwell’s main campus north of Boston. Haddon W. Robinson, 76, a professor of preaching at the seminary, will serve as interim president. White, 45, will continue to serve as a professor of theology and culture in Charlotte.

Pews Slow to Follow the Pulpit on Immigration Reform

c. 2007 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Lifelong Roman Catholic Raymond Ross and his church agree on one thing: The U.S. needs to change its immigration policies. From that point, their views sharply diverge. Strapped with a pistol and binoculars, Ross, 69, and a posse of fellow Minutemen spent four days last month patrolling an Arizona valley they say is heavily trafficked by illegal border-crossers from Mexico. When they spied a group of suspected undocumented immigrants, they called the U.S. Border Patrol,Ross said.

Falwell Obit

Jerry Falwell, Architect of Religious Right, Dies at 73 David Mark and Adelle M. Banks author this week’s full-text article (linked above), an obituary for Jerry Falwell. Quote: For many, Falwell represented the public face of evangelical Protestantism, particularly its involvement in politics. Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979 to lobby politicians to “reverse the politicization of immorality in our society,” he said at the time.

Are We Ready for a Mormon President?

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) As a teenager, spiritually educated in the Southern Baptist church and a conservative evangelical Christian school, I learned that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a cult, and that its members, the Mormons, most certainly were not Christians. I heard repeatedly about Mormons’ strange theological beliefs and about how to counter their evangelistic efforts with a response that Mormonism was a threat to “real Christians.” And I can recall vividly reading the book “The Kingdom of the Cults.” Chapter Six: The Mormons. The book outlined various Mormon “false teachings,” the most egregious (at the time) being the addition of other literature beyond the Bible. “The Book of Mormon,” “Doctrine and Covenants” and “The Pearl of Great Price” clearly violate, I was taught, the biblical prohibition against adding or subtracting anything away from Scripture.

House-Hunting Clergy Balance Personal, Professional Needs

c. 2007 Religion News Service ASHTABULA, Ohio _ The basketball hoop bends forward in front of the two-story where the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton raised two children, sent them to public schools and lived while she pastored a small church. Leaving will be hard, but as the new Lutheran bishop of Northeastern Ohio, Eaton wants a house closer to her new office and to the church where her husband, the Rev. Conrad Selnick, serves as pastor. And they want a home that makes the right impression for someone whose role is considered, in theological terms, as a servant of servants. Her lifestyle as the spiritual leader of a region that includes America’s poorest city is part of the church’s witness to the world, she said.

Brazilian Landowner Convicted in Killing of U.S. Nun

c. 2007 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ Lawyers representing the family of a slain American nun say Tuesday’s (May 15) conviction of a Brazilian landowner was a key victory, but have already set their sights on one more conviction, a “bigger fish to fry.” Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura was given a 30-year sentence for ordering the killing of Sister Dorothy Stang, 73, in 2005. The sentence in the two-day trial is the maximum penalty in Brazil, which does not have the death penalty. Moura’s was the fourth conviction in this case, which has been investigated and tried piece-by-piece for more than two years. But there’s more work to do, said Jeff Hsu, a lawyer with the Washington-based law firm Heller Ehrman.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service EU Leaders Meet with Christian, Jewish, Muslims Leaders BRUSSELS, Belgium (RNS) Top leaders of the European Union met Tuesday (May 15) with Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders to urge interfaith dialogue and find ways to protect “human dignity.” The meeting was the first to bring together the presidents of the three European Union institutions _ the Parliament, the Council and the Commission. It was the third organized by Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the EU Commission. The government and religious leaders agreed that protecting human dignity touches the “core of our values.” “Despite all our differences, we have a common basis: Human dignity, which we must defend,” said Hans-Gert Pottering, president of the EU Parliament. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who currently holds the presidency of the EU Council, said both sides tackled concrete themes like development, integration, immigration and conflict resolution _ especially in the Middle East.

Falwell’s Impact Felt Far Beyond Pulpit and Politics

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The late Rev. Jerry Falwell was known most as a pastor and conservative political activist, but his influence actually reached further _ sometimes in unexpected ways. The Southern Baptist preacher, who died suddenly Tuesday (May 15), left his mark on a range of institutions and issues in American society _ from megachurches to education, religious broadcasting to the state of Israel, and on the controversial debates about abortion, gay rights and free speech. Although fundamentalists have tended to set themselves apart from society, Falwell bucked that tradition _ sometimes with great force. “Falwell moved from being a separatist fundamentalist to being _ one hesitates to use the word about Falwell _ more of an evangelical,” said John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, “in a sense of wanting to be not of the world but very definitely in the world.” Here’s a look at seven areas where Falwell’s legacy may linger: X X X Education In 1967, Falwell created the Lynchburg Christian Academy, an evangelical day school, in his hometown of Lynchburg, Va.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service D. James Kennedy Shutters Two Political Centers WASHINGTON (RNS) Two conservative political centers founded by the ailing religious broadcaster D. James Kennedy have been closed, but one has reopened under new ownership. Kennedy’s Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries closed the Center for Reclaiming America and the Washington-based Center for Christian Statesmanship last month, spokesman John Aman said. He said the ministry’s board reached the April 26 decision in an attempt to “refocus ourselves as a media ministry.” Two weeks after it closed, the Center for Christian Statesmanship reopened under the auspices of Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion International, George Roller, the center’s executive director, said Thursday (May 10). From its headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries has aired sermons from his Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church on “The Coral Ridge Hour” television program and the “Truths That Transform” radio program.

When It Comes to Church Membership Numbers, the Devil’s in the Details

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The Southern Baptist Convention, with some 16.2 million members on the books, claims to be the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. But the Rev. Thomas Ascol believes the active membership is really a fraction of that. Ascol, pastor of the 230-member Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla., points to a church report showing that only 6 million Southern Baptists attend church on an average Sunday. “The reality is, the FBI couldn’t find half of those (members) if they had to,” said Ascol, who asserts his own congregation attendance swells to at least 350 every Sunday.

COMMENTARY: Expecting Too Much From Sunday

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Returning to Sunday parish ministry for four months has given me both a fresh appreciation of the basics and one caution to share with all who care about healthy churches. First the caution: I think many congregations expect too much from Sunday. They want Sunday to do all of their work, from welcoming the new to serving the old, from teaching to pastoral care, from community-building to business meetings. Sunday cannot bear that much weight.

Some Ask if Atheists Are the New Fundamentalists

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Despite its minority status, atheism has enjoyed the spotlight of late, with several books that feature vehement arguments against religion topping the bestseller lists. But some now say secularists should embrace more than the strident rhetoric poured out in books like Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and Sam Harris’ “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation.” By devoting so much space to explaining why religion is bad, these critics argue, atheists leave little room for explaining how a godless worldview can be good. At a recent conference marking the 30th anniversary of Harvard’s humanist chaplaincy, organizers sought to distance the “new humanism” from the “new atheism.” Humanist chaplain Greg Epstein went so far as to use the (other) f-word in describing his unbelieving brethren. “At times they’ve made statements that sound really problematic, and when Sam Harris says science must destroy religion, to me that sounds dangerously close to fundamentalism,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

Jerry Falwell, Architect of Religious Right, Dies at 73

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Jerry Falwell, the conservative preacher whose television ministry helped fuel the rise of the religious right, died Tuesday (May 15) after being found unresponsive in his office at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. He was 73. Ron Godwin, an executive vice president at the university, said Falwell was transported to Lynchburg General Hospital and pronounced dead at 12:40 p.m. “He has had a history of heart problems,” Godwin said in a news conference. Dr. Carl Moore, a cardiovascular specialist, said Falwell was found “unconscious without a heartbeat” about 11:30 a.m. Efforts to resuscitate him in his office, in an ambulance and at the hospital were unsuccessful.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Southern Baptist Nominated as Top Army Chaplain (RNS) A Southern Baptist has been nominated to serve as the next chief of chaplains for the U.S. Army. Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Douglas L. Carver currently serves as deputy chief of chaplains for the Army and would be the first Southern Baptist chaplain to lead the Army’s chaplain corps since 1954. The Defense Department announced Thursday (May 10) that Carver also has been nominated to be promoted to the rank of major general.

Reactions to Death of the Rev. Jerry Falwell

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Following are various reactions to Tuesday’s (May 15) death of the Rev. Jerry Falwell at age 73 in Lynchburg, Va. “Jerry Falwell was a close personal friend for many years. We did not always agree on everything, but I knew him to be a man of God. His accomplishments went beyond most clergy of his generation.