indigestion over the Last Supper

Miller Brewing Co. has apologized for agreeing to sponsor San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair -specifically an ad that parodied the Last Supper with various and sundry sex toys. The annual Folsom Street event is the type of sexuality-on-public-display (“Get a Room!”) that makes many roll their eyes at the city by the bay. Organizers have covered up the ad while bemoaning criticisms of the poster. Here’s Miller’s response, by way of the Milwuakee Journal-Sentinel: “We deeply regret that we did not adhere to our own policies with regard to the Folsom Street Fair,” said Nehl Horton, Miller senior vice president, in a statement.

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c. 2007 Religion News Service Calif. rehabs inmates by fighting wildfires EL CAJON, Calif. (RNS) Former drug addict Christopher Williams is one of about 2,600 California felony prisoners currently battling the state’s monstrous wildfires. In years past, Williams said he could go long stretches without sleep while high on methamphetamine.

New film argues that Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) “For the Bible Tells Me So,” a documentary that seeks to make the case that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, is making the rounds at film festivals and screening in select cities. The 97-minute film weaves biblical analysis with the stories of five Christian families who learn that one of their children is gay. Two of the families are well known: former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, whose daughter Chrisy is a lesbian, and Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who made headlines as the church’s first openly gay bishop. The documentary traces each family’s experience of wrestling with how their child’s sexuality fits in with their moral and religious beliefs.

Pope’s plays find new life on off-Broadway stage

c. 2007 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ In 1987, Peter Dobbins wandered into a Christian bookstore in Dallas and picked up the collected plays of Karol Wojtyla, the Polish playwright-turned-priest who went on to become Pope John Paul II. Someday, Dobbins thought, he’d like to bring them to life on stage. After percolating for 20 years, Dobbins’ idea came to life last May when the Storm Theatre, the off-Broadway non-profit group he co-founded, kicked off the Karol Wojtyla Theatre Festival with “The Jeweler’s Shop,” followed by “Our God’s Brother.” Due to unexpected demand, the festival returned after a summer hiatus to Storm’s small theater just off Times Square this month with “Job.” It concludes in November with “Jeremiah.” Presenting John Paul’s plays proved a smart choice for the small theater; the festival’s first half took in 30 percent more in ticket sales than any other show over a five-week period in the Storm’s history. “I knew the idea would get a lot of attention, but I didn’t want to do it as a purely promotional thing,” said Dobbins, 47, who returned to the Roman Catholic Church, after a long period of estrangement, around the time he discovered the future pope’s playwriting.

Scaring the hell out of sinners …

Heather Donckel’s report on the Christian dilemma over Halloween-boycott it, ignore it or accept it-can be found over at USA Today. Money quote: “Sometimes we have to use extreme measures to save (God’s) people,” Cindy Cathcart said. “After all, if someone were in a burning house, would you quietly say, `Come out, you will die’? No. You would run in there with your arms waving and screaming to the top of your lungs, grabbing them if need be, to save them from an untimely death.”

Abp. Gregory Reveals Prostate Cancer

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory, arguably the highest-ranking black man in the U.S. Catholic Church, best known for steering the church through the clergy sex abuse crisis, tells his staff he has prostate cancer. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more.

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c. 2007 Religion News Service Okla. archbishop, priests resist anti-immigration law OKLAHOMA CITY (RNS) Archbishop Eusebius Beltran and a council of priests have joined a “Pledge of Resistance” against one of the nation’s broadest state laws restricting illegal immigration. The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizens Act, set to take effect Nov. 1, will make it criminal to transport, hire, harbor, house or conceal illegal immigrants.

Surrendering to God _ and the cops _ at church

c. 2007 Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly MEMPHIS, Tenn. _ Nineteen-year-old Edacious recently came to New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, but not to worship. Instead, she came to surrender. There was a warrant for her arrest on marijuana charges and she had come to church to turn herself in.

Humane Society recruits believers for animal rights

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Advocates at the Humane Society of the United States have long suspected God was on their side, and now they’re hoping his followers will join them. They’re focusing their fight on the most vulnerable creatures: factory farm hens and pigs crammed into cages so tight they can’t move, and boiler chickens genetically altered to grow so fast their limbs can’t support them. But too many religious people, they say, remain in the dark, not recruited as potential allies. “Very often …

For polyamorists, three’s not a crowd; it’s just the start

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) By day, he’s an Atlanta real estate investor, a self-described political conservative, a member of a Methodist church, the son of a Southern Baptist pastor. After hours, he’s known as “Mr. Big,” a columnist for His family _ a wife and five children _ lives with another couple, who have four children. Each husband is romantically involved with both wives, and vice versa.

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c. 2007 Religion News Service Faith groups hold screenings of anti-torture film (RNS) Jewish, Muslim and Christian houses of worship nationwide are sponsoring more than 500 screenings of a documentary investigating U.S. maltreatment of detainees as part of a new initiative led by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Congregations in all 50 states will view HBO’s “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” and participate in a nationwide “Spotlight on Torture.” The documentary, released earlier this year, is directed by Rory Kennedy, the youngest child of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. “The `Spotlight on Torture’ initiative is about faith congregations … speaking with one voice to say that torture is always wrong,” the Rev. Richard Killmer, executive director of the anti-torture campaign, said in a statement.

Unitarians try to raise profile with new ad campaign

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Proud of their liberal views, spiritual skepticism and religious diversity _ counting atheists, neo-pagans and Buddhists in their ranks _ Unitarian Universalists are not known as heavy-duty evangelizers. But with just 250,000 members nationwide and growth relatively stagnant at 1 percent a year, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is trying to raise its national profile with an unorthodox ad campaign _ the first in its 46-year history. “We’ve kept our light under a bushel,” said the Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris, the UUA’s director of congregational services. “I think this current national campaign really does reflect a shift for us in our passion and willingness to be more present.” The campaign, in conjunction with Time magazine, hopes to amplify the church’s voice on national issues, increase name recognition and inspire pride in the UUA identity.

COMMENTARY: `Who shall be confronted by fire and who by water …’

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Last month on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the haunting, insightful prayer “Oonatanah Tokef” was recited in synagogues. That ancient prayer includes these words: “… who among us in the New Year shall live and who shall die … who shall be confronted by fire and who by water …” It did not take long for the dreaded fire to arrive.

Some Christians torn on what to make of Halloween

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Cindy Cathcart was angry with God and on the brink of divorce and suicide on Oct. 30, 1998, when her nephew dragged her to “Hell House.” Though raised Lutheran, she had repeatedly refused her sister’s invitations to come to church and had no desire for a relationship with God. All of that changed as she walked through Hell House. Hell Houses are intended to literally scare the hell out of people.