Catholic Sound and Furor

An important exchange about Catholic engagement in public life occurred this week in the pages of the Washington Post. On Sunday, Joe Feuerherd reacted to the U.S. Catholic bishops’ recent statement on citizen’s civic responsibility, a related webpage, and recent statements by some individual bishops. He suggested that the thrust of those statements meant that the bishops think anyone voting for Barack Obama is condemned to hell — including Feuerherd himself, despite his status as a “pro-life, pro-family, antiwar, pro-immigrant, pro-economic-justice Catholic.” On first read, this will look like a convincing portrayal of the U.S. Catholic bishops being out to swing the presidential election to the GOP — at least to those who have not read their actual statement. That document is far more careful and nuanced than Feuerherd suggests — as pointed out in a counter-opinion published on Wednesday.

Dude, You Melted My House

This mayn’t have much to do with religion, unless we’re talking about the stewards-of-God’s-creation movement among some Christians. But anyway, The Press Association (?) is carrying a story with the Onionesque headline “Eskimos to sue over global warming.” The story, though, seems to be for reals. h/t Catholics in Alliance.

Pastor in Chief or Commander in Chief?

Those crazy kids over at the Interfaith Alliance have put together a little video homage of their Top 10 picks of the unorthodox ways faith has been injected into the 2008 presidential campaign. The clips, set to Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer,” highlights Mike Huckabee’s statement that the same power that turned loaves and fishes into a feast for 5,000 was powering his campaign, John Edwards’ confession of sins and John McCain’s assertion that the U.S. is a “Christian nation.” My favorite: when Huckabee says the Constitution should be amended to fit “God’s standards,” the Interfaith Alliance says, “Every time this clip is played, James Madison Roles Over in His Grave.”

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service Anglican Church of Canada facing defections over gay blessings TORONTO (RNS) Seven congregations have cut ties with the Anglican Church of Canada because of theological differences on blessing same-sex unions and related issues, adding to a wave of conservative defections. And the head of one breakaway group predicts more are on the way. Last weekend (Feb. 15-17), seven parishes voted to leave the national church to join with a South American archbishop.

The Bishops’ Daughters

This month, two Episcopal bishops’ daughters have articles in high-profile magazines. In the March 3 New Yorker, Honor Moore dishes family secrets about her father, retired Bishop Paul Moore of New York, a war veteran and liberal activist. He was the first Episcopal bishop to ordain a lesbian priest. Hear a podcast with Honor here. And in The Atlantic, former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold’s daughter, Eliza, has a piece on religious conflict in Nigeria.

Feds Investigate Obama’s Church

The IRS is investigating whether or not a speech Senator Obama gave at the Trinity United Church of Christ violated the church’s non-profit status. The UCC denies any wrongdoing claiming that they consulted their lawyers to ensure they followed the law. Yet, in a letter to the church ,the IRS expressed concern over articles on the church website and tables with Obama campaign staff outside the event.

Down Ticket in Indy

The 2008 election campaign, as we understand it, involves more than just the presidential race, and we hope to keep track of religious dimensions of other races, as these pop into view. First up (for us, at least) is the March 11 special election in Indiana’s seventh congressional district. It features Democrat Andre Carson running to fill his late grandmother Julia’s seat versus Republican Jon Elrod. Carson was raised by his grandmother as a Baptist, but after some spiritual wandering found his way to Islam. If elected he would be the second Muslim member of Congress following Keith Ellison, who since 2006 has represented Minnesota’s fifth (Twin Cities) district.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service Bush says faith-based initiative a success WASHINGTON (RNS) Seven years after President Bush launched his faith-based initiative, a White House report declares success in helping faith and community groups in each state receive government funding to aid the needy. “The Quiet Revolution,” released Monday (Feb. 25) by the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, reports that the Bush administration has helped train more than 100,000 leaders of faith and community groups on how to access funding and become more effective. Timed to the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, it includes a 53-page report highlighting the grants won by nonprofits _ religious and secular _ in each state.

Mission Group Leader Washes Feet to Repent for Past Exclusion of Blacks

SIM, or Serving in Mission, an international mission organization, has taken a step of reconciliation: apologizing for a past policy that excluded African-American missionary candidates from its ranks. In a “Together as One” statement, SIM USA director Steve Strauss recently wrote words of apology. “We knew that, in the past, some American mission agencies had not welcomed African-American missionary candidates,” wrote Strauss, whose organization is based in Charlotte, N.C. “As we examined our archives, we discovered that we were one such agency.” His words followed an apology statement adopted by the SIM USA board last summer, which said the practice was “adopted to comply with the wishes of the colonial governments which then controlled the African countries where SIM worked.” The practice, an unwritten policy, ended in 1957.

Couple urges truce in war between faith and science

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Last week, in a hotel 700 miles from home, my frustration with unreliable systems boiled over. While trying to access a bank account online, a security check made necessary by cheaters froze my account when I couldn’t remember the precise answer to a question. While trying to send e-mail, a filtering system made necessary by spammers blocked my own outgoing message. While confirming my flight home, I discovered that the airline had canceled my flight without informing me, and I would be lucky to make it home within two days.

Couple urges truce in war between faith and science

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The poster in Deborah Haarsma’s office at Calvin College bears the bold title, “Long, long ago in galaxies far, far away” _ appropriate “Star Wars” jargon for an astronomy professor. It shows photos of galaxy clusters spied by Haarsma and two of her students using one of the world’s largest telescopes last summer. “We were hoping to find about half a dozen galaxy clusters, but the universe told us that’s not what we’re seeing,” Haarsma says. “We found one galaxy cluster, which is pretty cool in itself.” When Haarsma says the universe told her what they were seeing, she’s not exaggerating.

At one key Ohio church, it’s `Obama time’

c. 2008 Religion News Service CLEVELAND _ The flavor and fervor of the civil rights movement hung heavy in the air on a chilly Sunday morning. Inside Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, a child played “We Shall Overcome” plaintively on her flute. From his pulpit, the Rev. Otis Moss Jr. liberally quoted from the well-known words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his friend and mentor. He asked all the registered voters to stand, and nearly every member of his congregation did.

“Saved” By Obama

Lots of religious-y type news on the campaign trail recently. On Sunday, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan called Barack Obama the “hope of the entire world.” According to the AP, Farrakhan repeatedly praised the Illinois senator before the crowd of 20,000, but never outright endorsed him. Comparing Obama to Nation of Islam founder Fard Muhammad, who, like Obama had a black father and a white mother, Farrakhan says “A black man with a white mother became savior to us. A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall.”