c. 2007 Religion News Service BATON ROUGE, La. _ Before he began climbing the ranks in the Louisiana Republican Party, gubernatorial front-runner Bobby Jindal, the conservative son of Indian immigrants, endured years of emotional and intellectual struggle as he left behind his family’s Hindu faith and embraced Catholicism. It’s a journey that is detailed in seven articles Jindal wrote between 1994 and 1998, and which are now the focus of intense controversy after the Louisiana Democratic Party launched a TV commercial accusing Jindal of insulting Protestants. While Jindal and his supporters have denounced the ad as lies and demanded that TV stations take it off the air, state Democratic officials have stuck by the spot and suggested that readers judge for themselves at http://www.jindalonreligion.com.
c. 2007 Religion News Service Court Says Minister Should be Rebuked for Lesbian Wedding (RNS) A mid-level court of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has overturned a lower court ruling and ruled that a lesbian minister should be rebuked for conducting a same-sex wedding ceremony. The 6-2 decision against the Rev. Janie Spahr was made on Saturday (Aug. 18), but Spahr and others involved in the case learned of it on Aug. 23.
c. 2007 Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly NEW ORLEANS _ Pastor R.C. Blakes has two flocks in two different cities. On Sunday mornings here, services are packed at his New Home Family Worship Center, which is working to get all of its ministry programs up and running two years after Hurricane Katrina. His other church is 300 miles away, in Houston, where hundreds of his former parishioners relocated. Earlier this month, he broke ground on a new church there to minister to their spiritual needs.
c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Should Christians call God by the name “Allah”? At least one Catholic bishop in the Netherlands, Tiny Muskens, thinks so. “Allah is a very beautiful word for God,” he recently told Dutch television. “Shouldn’t we all say from now on we will name God Allah?
c. 2007 Religion News Service LOS ANGELES _ Clad in matching blue and white warm-ups and worn black tennis shoes, 62-year-old Shin Lin teaches his weekly qigong class on a grassy lawn at a community center here. In gently sweeping movements, his students follow his lead, shifting in slow motion from one pose to another, arms out, palms down, knees bent. “Breathe in. Breathe out,” Lin instructs.
c. 2007 Religion News Service Graham Undergoes Colonoscopy to Treat Bleeding (RNS) After three episodes of intestinal bleeding, evangelist Billy Graham underwent a colonoscopy Wednesday (Aug. 22) to address his ailment. His doctor found an area of active bleeding and treated it with cauterization, officials at Mission Health & Hospitals in Asheville, N.C., said in a statement. “Mr. Graham was alert during the procedure, watching the monitor, talking with the physician and hospital staff, and asking them about their families,” the statement reads.
c. 2007 Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly WASHINGTON _ Two years after Hurricane Katrina, it may be that one of the most searching spiritual responses to the deluge and disaster has come not from a theologian but an acclaimed jazz musician. Trumpeter, composer and bandleader Terence Blanchard’s new CD, “A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina),” is being praised as a masterwork, a triumph, and one of the most important jazz releases of the year. Part of the reason is the message behind the music, and that message begins with the title, says Blanchard. How could something so devastating and terrible be God’s will?
RELIGION BEST-SELLERS (Editor’s note: This August list is compiled by Publishers Weekly magazine from data received from general independent bookstores, chain stores and wholesalers within the month of July. Copyright 2007 Publishers Weekly. Distributed by Religion News Service.) HARDCOVER 1. “God Is Not Great,” by Christopher Hitchens. (Twelve, $24.99) 2.
c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) This e-mail popped into my inbox this week: “Saw a movie I really, really enjoyed the other night. It’s an independent called `Once’ that was shot in just 17 days so it’s a little tough to find a theater. But it was worth the drive to Chicago for me and the Mrs.” It’s not unusual for friends to recommend movies they love, but what is interesting is to ask why that particular movie connected so deeply. Mitch volunteered his reason: “I was so happy with the ending that I wept a bit.
c. 2007 Religion News Service CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio Dozens of children chattered with excitement in a space where the faithful of the former Heights United Presbyterian Church once raised their voices in worship. The pews were gone, and the sanctuary had become the Heights Youth Club basketball court. Overseeing the gathering was not a preacher elevated above the congregation, but a former basketball player surrounded by kids eager to have a place to play on a warm summer day. What has not been lost in the transition is a sense of purpose and energy some even would say mission in this old brick building.
c. 2007 Religion News Service Council Sets Dates for Ramadan, But Not Everyone Agrees (RNS) A council of Islamic legal scholars in North America has revised a fatwa from last year that determines when Muslims mark major holidays and other important dates such as the start of Ramadan. According to the new changes made by the Fiqh Council of North America, Ramadan begins Sept. 13, while Eid ul-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the holy month, will be celebrated on Oct. 13.
c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) We are experiencing a peculiar sort of religious awakening in America. If the various Republican and Democratic candidates have not had recent conversion experiences, they have at least been moved to talk about faith. And they are doing so in ways we have not seen this early, this prominently in any recent presidential campaign. A political turn-to-God talk in itself is neither good nor bad.
c. 2007 Beliefnet (UNDATED) After losing a 1977 boxing match to Jimmy Young, George Foreman returned to the locker room and entered a dark place _ a place so dark he wouldn’t wish it on his greatest enemy _ where only the grace of God could save him. Not long after, he gave his life to God and became a Christian minister. Foreman’s recent memoir, “God in My Corner,” explores his spiritual transformation and the dark period of his life before he found God. Foreman also says that the “Rumble in the Jungle” _ the 1974 fight in Zaire in which he lost his heavyweight title to Muhammad Ali _ was one of the best things that ever happened to him.
c. 2007 Religion News Service WCC Proposes `Six Church’ Meeting to Parallel Korean Talks (RNS) The World Council of Churches has proposed a “six church” meeting to parallel and monitor the “six party” talks on nuclear and other issues affecting the Korean peninsula. The church meeting would involve religious leaders from North and South Korea as well as the United States, Russia, China and Japan _ the six governments that began meeting in 2003 after North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The talks had remained at a standstill until February, when North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear facilities in return for economic and energy aid. WCC General Secretary Samuel Kobia made the proposal for the “six church” talks in a speech to a conference in Seoul celebrating the centenary of the Korean Great Revival of 1907.
c. 2007 Religion News Service Vatican Starts Low-Cost Flight Service for Pilgrims VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican has its own bank, its own postal system, its own pharmacy and its own soccer tournament _ but until now, no official state-sponsored airline. That will change when the Holy See teams up with a small Italian charter company, Mistral Air, to launch a low-cost charter service to ferry pilgrims to many of the most important Catholic shrines, including Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal, Czestochowa in Poland and Santiago di Compostela in Spain. “The spirit of this new initiative is to meet the growing demand by pilgrims to visit the most important sites for the faith,” Father Cesare Atuire of the Vatican pilgrimage office, Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, told the Rome newspaper La Repubblica. Founded in 1981 by the Italian cinema actor Bud Spencer, Mistral Air functions mainly as a cargo transport service.