Exhibit sees echoes of ‘36 Olympics in Tibet fight

WASHINGTON-The protests over China’s human rights abuses as it prepares to host this summer’s Olympics underline a key fact: Sports and politics are supposed to remain separate, but rarely are. A new exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum outlines another stark example of when athletes become ambassadors: the 1936 Berlin Olympics, used by the Nazis as international propaganda to trumpet the strength, nobility and supposed “superiority” of the German people. The exhibit follows Germany as it tries to regain stature after its withering defeat in World War I. Germany won the 1936 Olympic bid in 1931, two years before Hitler came to power. But international debate on whether countries should boycott the games grew heated as Germany banned Jews and Gypsies from its teams, and racism and anti-Semitism in the country increased.

Juma Kariuki (right), a former street boy in Nairobi helps another boy (left) tell his story. Kariuki abused drugs while on the streets before he was rescued and rehabilitated by a church group. Photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Pagans find a sometimes uneasy home among Quakers

BALTIMORE-When his partner died in 2004, Kevin-Douglas Olive reached a crossroads in his faith. Even though he had been a Quaker for almost two decades and put his trust in Jesus, he began to explore other ways of tapping into the divine. “I had this experience of (my partner) after death, and he spoke to me and woke me up out of my sleep,” Olive says. “It freaked me out, because I really didn’t believe in that stuff; … my faith in God had disappeared when my partner died.”

Obama’s Religion, take 187

According to the latest Newsweek poll, just over half of Americans (52 percent) think Barack Obama is a Christian, 13 percent think he’s a Muslim, 9 percent think he’s something else, and 26 percent don’t know. Fewer non-white (48 percent) than whites (53 percent) think he’s Christian. Fully 16 percent of poor or working class whites think he’s a Muslim.

Wright Bites

I am struck with the absence of commentary on Bill Moyers’ interview of Jeremiah Wright. Yes, the thing aired Friday evening, and there’s a tendency for topical bloggers as well as MSM opinion writers to take the weekend off. But even so, this man spent weeks at the center of the national presidential campaign, and during the entire time said not one public word. What this looks like is nothing so much as embarrassed silence at the revelation that Wright is a soft-spoken, well informed, highly intelligent, astute and even reasonable guy–to be sure, with a radical idea or two, but whose conversational mode with an interlocutor like Moyers is–surprise!–not remotely like the viral sound bytes of an African-American preacher at full throttle. The one interview byte that has elicited attention is what has been taken as Wright’s put-down of Obama for being a politician.

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Anyone who pronounces on Jeremiah Wright without having seen Bill Moyers’ Journal last night doesn’t deserve a hearing. My mother-in-law–a nice 83-year-old Jewish lady–put it this way: “Rev. Wright was fantastic–after listening to 5 minutes of what preceded God Damn America I’m ready to join the church.” I’m not sure I’m quite that ready, but there can be no better answer to the question, posed repeatedly over the past weeks, of why Obama didn’t leave Trinity U.C.C. There are few clergy I’ve ever seen or heard more impressive–intellectually, spiritually–than Wright in this conversation. Judge for yourself.

Pagans find a sometimes uneasy home among Quakers

c. 2008 Religion News Service BALTIMORE _ When his partner died in 2004, Kevin-Douglas Olive reached a crossroads in his faith. Even though he had been a Quaker for almost two decades and put his trust in Jesus, he began to explore other ways of tapping into the divine. “I had this experience of (my partner) after death, and he spoke to me and woke me up out of my sleep,” Olive says. “It freaked me out, because I really didn’t believe in that stuff; …

Exhibit sees echoes of ‘36 Olympics in Tibet fight

c. 2008 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The protests over China’s human rights record and its treatment of Tibet as it prepares to play host to the 2008 Olympics underline a key fact: Sports and politics are supposed to remain separate, but rarely do. A new exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum outlines another stark example of when athletes become unwitting political ambassadors: The 1936 Berlin Olympics, used by the Nazis as international propaganda to trumpet the strength, nobility and supposed “superiority” of the German people. The exhibit, touring the United States since 1998, follows Germany as it tries to regain stature after its withering defeat in World War I. Germany won the 1936 Olympic bid in 1931, two years before Adolf Hitler came to power. But international debate on whether countries should boycott the games grew heated as Germany banned Jews and Gypsies from its teams, and racism and anti-Semitism in the country increased.

Exhibit sees echoes of ‘36 Olympics in Tibet fight

c. 2008 Religion News Service Southern Baptists report lowest baptism rate in a decade (RNS) The number of baptisms in Southern Baptist churches _ considered a key measure of vitality and evangelism _ dropped to its lowest level in a decade last year, the denomination announced. The nation’s largest Protestant denomination has highlighted its need to increase baptisms in recent years, with special emphases at annual meetings and a nationwide tour by a past president. But data gathered by the convention’s LifeWay Christian Resources show that baptisms have declined for the third straight year. In 2007, baptisms decreased by 5 percent to 345,941, compared to 364,826 in 2006.

Pastor and Politician

Direct Democracy’s Todd Beeton is shocked that the Obama campaign didn’t have Jeremiah Wright “on message” in tonight’s Bill Moyers’ interview. It’s clear that Wright did Obama no favor by saying that his Philadelphia comments about Wright were Obama being what he is–a politician rather than a pastor, speaking as a politician must. I’m not entirely sure that Wright thought he was dissing Obama. But the main thing is, why should anyone at this point think that anybody controls Jeremiah Wright? I can just see Obama reading that post and shaking his head in disbelief.

The Catholic Conundrum

E.J. Dionne and Steve Waldman are both in the field today with solutions to Obama’s “Catholic Problem.” The problem, and they’re both sort of aware of it, is that the nature and extent of the problem is not very clear. Yes, Obama had a discernible problem with white Catholics (as opposed to white Protestants) in PA. But not in Ohio. And anyway, the real issue is likely to be not how Obama does with Catholics vis-a-vis Clinton, but vis-a-vis McCain.

The fun part’s over; now the real work begins

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Even though three-quarters of the U.S. population is not Catholic, a pope’s arrival on U.S. soil always generates extraordinary media coverage because of our intense fascination with one of the world’s few working monarchies. I should also mention most devout Catholics whom I have met consider Benedict XVI the most important human being on Earth; he is, after all, the successor of St. Peter, the leader of Jesus’ apostles. I live in southwest Florida where I witnessed the genuine euphoria and excitement that Benedict’s visit generated for the fortunate Catholics who had obtained tickets for one of the papal events in Washington or New York.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service Top UCC leaders defend Obama’s church (RNS) Top leaders of the United Church of Christ are supporting Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, which has been under fire for sermons delivered there by Sen. Barack Obama’s former pastor. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who led Trinity for 36 years, has been heavily criticized for preaching sometimes inflammatory sermons that denounce the U.S. government. Small clips from sermons have been widely circulated on the Internet. Obama credits Wright with bringing him to Christianity and has attended Trinity for nearly two decades.