RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Vatican Says Food `Obligatory’ for Vegetative Patients VATICAN CITY (RNS) In an apparent response to the controversial death of a brain-damaged Florida woman more than two years ago, the Vatican on Friday (Sept. 14) declared it “morally obligatory” to feed patients in a “vegetative state,” even when their recovery appears impossible. A document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the highest doctrinal body in the Roman Catholic Church, stated that the “administration of food and water … to a patient in a `vegetative state’ (is) morally obligatory” even if “competent physicians judge with moral certainty that the patient will never recover consciousness.” The statement is apparently an indirect response to the case of Terri Schiavo, who died in March 2005 after her husband won a long legal fight to remove her feeding tube.

Episcopalians Head to High-Stakes Meeting in New Orleans

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The years-long strife in the Anglican Communion could reach a breaking point in New Orleans next week (Sept. 20-24) when Episcopal bishops consider a Sept. 30 deadline to change their church or face “consequences.” The Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, was given until the end of the month to state unequivocally that it will not ordain any more gay bishops or authorize rites to bless same-sex unions. If the U.S. bishops refuse, overseas Anglican archbishops have promised unspecified “consequences” that could drive the U.S. church from the communion or lead other Anglicans out the door.

COMMENTARY: On the Record With Maimonides and Ben Franklin

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) It was quite a surprise when two famous people recently jumped out of the history books to join me in a fascinating conversation. Here’s the transcript of the encounter between Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) and Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). Although they lived about 600 years apart, it’s clear they share many similar beliefs about the human condition. Franklin: I am honored to meet the great Rabbi Maimonides.

Wal-Mart Tests Bible Figures in a Sliver of the Bible Belt

c. 2007 Religion News Service HARRISBURG, Pa. _ Jesus and Moses were sold out, but you could still head to the checkout counter with Mary, Noah, David and a ferocious-looking Samson, packaged with Delilah in hot pink. The world of posable action figures has traditionally belonged to hulking heroes such as Spider-Man and He-Man. But this latest crop _ heroes and heroines from the Bible, on local Wal-Mart shelves since mid-August _ are a testament to central Pennsylvania’s proclivity for religion and Wal-Mart’s marketing savvy.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service No Public Memorials Scheduled for Amish School Shootings (RNS) The Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., will conduct no public memorials next month to mark the one-year anniversary of a massacre in an Amish schoolhouse that left five young girls dead and five more seriously injured. But the new school set up for the survivors, including the same teacher and additional students, is expected to close on Oct. 2, the anniversary, according to a statement Wednesday (Sept. 12) from the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee.


RELIGION BEST-SELLERS (Editor’s note: This September list is compiled by Publishers Weekly magazine from data received from general independent bookstores, chain stores and wholesalers within the month of August. Copyright 2007 Publishers Weekly. Distributed by Religion News Service.) HARDCOVER 1. “Reposition Yourself,” by T.D. Jakes. (Atria, $24.00) 2.

The Amish “Anabaptist Escalator”

Growth of Evangelicals Has Some Amish Leaders Worried RNS’s Daniel Burke examines challenges to the traditional Amish understanding of faith coming from an “evangelical uprising,” in this week’s full text article, linked above. Quote: With his talk of supernatural healings and events, [Steve] Lapp seems more at home-at least theologically-in Pentecostal churches than among the Amish. But he is just the most extreme example of an evangelical influence creeping into the Old Order Amish community, according to a number of observers. The trend may be most evident here in Lancaster County, which, with 25,000 members, is one of the world’s largest Amish settlements.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service AME Church Leaders Join Protest of `Jena Six’ Case (RNS) Top leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church have joined protests of the prosecution of six black teenagers in Jena, La., who have been charged with the alleged beating of a white schoolmate. “We in no way condone fighting … and would expect local school officials to equitably handle this per their administrative guidelines with suspension, etc.,” reads a letter signed by more than 150 bishops, general officers, pastors and members of the historically black denomination in a letter to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco. “The handling of this incident is not only an injustice to the six young men but deja vu of days we thought have gone by _ days when the lives of black persons were considered as chattel.” The AME Church’s Council of Bishops voted in August to take action on the issue involving the “Jena Six,” said Jackie Dupont-Walker, social action officer for the 2.5-million member denomination.

Sample Questions from 7th Heaven

c. 2007 Religion News Service CLEVELAND _ Got interfaith game? Seeking a fun way to help people learn about the faith of their neighbors, John Cooper, a mechanical engineer from Lincoln, Neb., created 7th Heaven, a board game that tests players’ knowledge of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The design is simple. A board contains spaces for two sets of cards.

10 Minutes On … The Iraq War

c. 2007 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ All eyes were on Capitol Hill this week as Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker made their much-anticipated report to Congress on the success of President Bush’s military “surge” strategy. When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, many theologians said the war failed to meet “Just War” criteria, a centuries-old moral framework meant to guide how nations wage war. But what are the moral considerations for exiting a war? Religion News Service teamed up with Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly to ask five ethicists to gauge America’s moral obligations to Iraq in light of the Petraeus report and Just War theory.

At Yom Kippur, a Simple Garment Shrouds Jews in `Holiness’

c. 2007 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ When Rabbi Amy Small arrives at the Beth Hatikvah synagogue in Summit, N.J., on Sept. 21, she will not follow her usual routine because Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins at sundown. In preparation for the special services she’ll lead that night, she’ll put on a white top and a white skirt. Then, she’ll reach for something she wears only on this most solemn day of the Jewish year, and on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

Game Seeks to Build Interfaith Understanding

c. 2007 Religion News Service CLEVELAND _ According to Islam, do humans carry the sins of their ancestors? What is more important in Judaism _ the self or the community? What does “70 x 7” refer to in the Bible? If you answered “no,” “the community” and “how often Jesus says we are to forgive each other,” you would be ahead in a new board game designed to promote interfaith understanding.

COMMENTARY: Missing the Boat on Mother Teresa

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Mother Teresa’s detractors are swarming again, led by atheist author Christopher Hitchens, whose dark diatribe against religion, “God is Not Great,” is especially critical of people who think God is, in fact, great. In 1995, Hitchens wrote a scathingly critical book about Mother Teresa called “The Missionary Position,” charging she controlled large amounts of money yet still provided sub-standard care to the poor. He was horrified she was not working to alleviate poverty, but rather sought to spread the gospel. Hitchens’ secular ears heard only what he wanted: her maddening (to some) insistence that secular means of addressing human suffering were not enough, and were none of her business.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Texas Court Strikes Down State Rules on Seminaries (RNS) A Texas court has struck down a state requirement that religious higher education institutions must meet specific standards before they can call themselves a “seminary” or use certain terminology to describe their degrees. The Texas Supreme Court ruled Aug. 31 in favor of HEB Ministries, which runs Tyndale Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. The state had fined the school $173,000 because it had not been authorized by a state educational board to grant degrees.

Extra Prayers During Ramadan Test Patience, Endurance

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Every night during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Kamran Riaz and his younger brother, Rehan, perform a sort of spiritual sound-check, each listening to the other’s recitation of verses from the Quran and offering corrections as needed. When the fine_tuning is complete, the Riaz brothers will leave their parents’ suburban Chicago home and lead congregations gathered for “Taraweeh,” special prayers performed only during Ramadan, which this year begins Thursday (Sept. 13). While Ramadan is most commonly associated with obligatory fasting, Taraweeh _ which Sunni Muslims believe was strongly recommended but not required by Islam’s Prophet Muhammad _ also is an integral Ramadan ritual.