c. 2007 Religion News Service BLANCHARD, Mich. _ Amish farmers complain that the state Department of Agriculture is insisting they tag their cattle with electronic chips in violation of their religious beliefs. State agriculture officials say the radio frequency chips are necessary to track animal diseases and protect public health. But the Amish farmers say the chips’ 15-digit number is the Mark of the Beast warned of in the Bible’s book of Revelation.
c. 2007 Religion News Service Update: Woman Who Sought Sanctuary in Church Deported (RNS) U.S. officials deported illegal Mexican immigrant and activist Elvira Arellano Sunday (Aug. 19) in Los Angeles, days after she left her refuge at a Chicago church to launch a national immigration-reform campaign. Arellano, 32, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs officers “without incident” and transported to San Ysidro, Calif., where she was turned over to Mexican immigration officials late Sunday, ICE announced Monday. Arellano’s 8-year-old son, Saul, who is a U.S. citizen, was with her at the time of her arrest, federal officials said, and was left in the custody of her traveling companions.
c. 2007 Religion News Service MIDDLETOWN, N.J. _ Emily Blonski is on her knees, praying in a language she does not understand, holding a missal that is older than she is. But for 17-year-old Blonski, who travels 30 minutes every Sunday to attend the only Latin Mass around, what’s old is what’s new. “I don’t know what it is about the Latin Mass,” she says, moments after kneeling at the Communion rail to receive the sacrament the old way, on her tongue, not the new way, in her outstretched hands. “Going to the Latin Mass takes me away from everything going on nowadays.
c. 2007 Religion News Service South African Church Lauded for AIDS Work (RNS) A predominantly white congregation in South Africa has been awarded top honors for its fight against AIDS among blacks by two U.S.-based religious groups. Fish Hoek Baptist Church received the Courageous Leadership Award, a joint project by the Willow Creek Association (an extension of the Willow Creek megachurch near Chicago) and the Christian development organization World Vision. The South African congregation was selected from a pool of 100 entries and will receive $120,000 for its HIV-AIDS efforts. The award aims to honor local churches attempting to “meet the holistic needs” of impoverished communities around the world.
c. 2007 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ An evangelical entertainment troupe has abandoned plans to send a controversial video game in care packages to U.S. troops in Iraq. As a member of the Pentagon’s “America Supports You” program, Dallas-based Operation Straight Up planned to include copies of the apocalyptic video game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” in care packages for the troops. But those packages have been scrapped, according to a Pentagon public affairs officer who spoke on background because the Defense Department did not want to comment publicly about the decision. Operation Straight Up did not respond to repeated requests for comment, and its telephone numbers have been removed from the contact page on the group’s Web site.
c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A three-part CNN documentary, which begins airing Tuesday (Aug. 21) at 9 p.m. EDT, explores the beliefs and influence of what it calls “God’s Warriors.” “Whether Muslim, Christian or Jew, millions of people view the world through a religious prism,” correspondent Christiane Amanpour says in the opening segment from Jerusalem. “They want God back in their daily lives and back to the seat of power.” The ambitious series airs for three consecutive nights, and each two-hour segment focuses on a different faith. Reporting from six countries, Amanpour interviews scholars, religious and political leaders and many believers.
c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) QUAKERS AT A GLANCE ORIGINS: The Religious Society of Friends was founded by George Fox in England in the 1640s. NAME: They were called “Quakers” for the way their bodies moved, or quaked, under divine inspiration. BELIEFS: Early Quakers were Christians who thought their hierarchical churches were corrupt and spiritually barren. They believed the “inner light of God” was available to all believers.
c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) About 300 years ago in the Delaware River valley, a group of Christian idealists banded together to create a family-based agricultural society that valued individuals equally, regardless of race, gender or religion. In doing so, the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, essentially created America, according to syndicated columnist David Yount, author of the recently published book “How the Quakers Invented America.” “The liberty that Americans take for granted originated not in the minds of secular Enlightenment thinkers but from the application of the Quakers’ Christian faith,” writes Yount, himself a Quaker. As much as Quakers changed America, however, America changed Quakers, according to contemporary Friends. And William Penn, who founded the Pennsylvania commonwealth, might be bewildered by the variety of people practicing his faith today.
c. 2007 Religion News Service Christians Report Progress on Proselytizing Code (RNS) Efforts to establish a code of conduct to govern Christian churches’ missionary and evangelism efforts _ especially those aimed at other Christians _ took a major step forward when the World Evangelical Alliance said it would support such a pact. “We see this as a major step forward on the way to getting the code agreed on among organizations representing a huge body of Christians,” said Juan Michel, a spokesman for the World Council of Churches, which is heading up the project with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The code, expected to be finalized in 2010, would be directed at both inter-Christian evangelism and Christian mission to those outside the faith. The decision of the WEA, which has 233 evangelical churches in more than 120 countries, was announced at an Aug.
c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) In late May, Britain’s University and College Union (UCU), which calls itself the country’s largest academic association, voted “to consider” a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. A similar resolution was adopted in June by UNISON, the British public service trade union. It urged “concerted and sustained pressure upon Israel including an economic cultural, academic, and sporting boycott.” These actions sparked immediate criticism in Britain, but the negative reaction was especially intense in the United States. A boycott runs counter to everything free and open universities represent: sharing ideas, students, and faculty; cooperating on scholarly and scientific ventures, and upholding the hard-won principle of academic freedom.
Mormon Pitcher’s Game Improved After Time Spent in a Different Uniform RNS’ Daniel Burke profiles Baltimore Orioles rookie pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, a Mormon who gave up baseball to do missionary work in Spain, and is now back, and better than ever, in this week’s full-text article, linked above. Quote: Guthrie didn’t work out and lost 30 pounds in Spain. Still, when he returned to the states he was, somehow, a better pitcher. His fastballs were faster, his curveballs sharper and he had more control over where he threw the ball. “It’s really unexplainable, you know, in terms of maybe how the world would view it,” Guthrie said.
c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The Vatican is putting 1,000 solar panels atop its huge Paul VI Audience Hall, where Pope Benedict meets and greets thousands of pilgrims each Wednesday. The massive building costs a fortune to heat and cool, and the solar panels, once in place, will provide all the electricity necessary to maintain temperature and lighting, and then some. It is expensive, but they say the costs will be recouped in a few years. What a super idea!
c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) One hundred fifty years ago, a glorious September morning in the Utah mountains morphed into Mormonism’s darkest hour when a skittish militia opened fire on a wagon train, leaving more than 120 men, women and children dead in a flowery field. Now the “Mountain Meadows Massacre” is becoming more than a subject of somber reflection within tight-knit Mormon circles. Two new films and a forthcoming book aim to tell the nation what happened, why and _ perhaps most important _ whether the revered Mormon prophet Brigham Young ordered the killing to occur. At stake are not just the details of a tragic moment in pioneer history.
c. 2007 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ When the Rev. Bob Edgar announced that he was stepping down as head of the National Council of Churches, someone suggested that he might apply for the soon-to-be-vacant pulpit across the street at the historic Riverside Church. “But Bob,” his wife told him, “you only have one sermon in you.” So perhaps a better fit might be yet another position at the corner of West 120th Street and Claremont Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side _ the soon-to-be-vacant presidency at Union Theological Seminary, where Joseph C. Hough Jr. is retiring. As it turns out, Edgar, a former Democratic congressman, chose to return to Washington to head the public advocacy group Common Cause. Still, the departures of Edgar from the NCC, Hough from Union Seminary and the Rev. Jim Forbes from Riverside are leaving three venerable _ some might say vulnerable _ icons of liberal Protestantism with “Help Wanted” signs on their doors.