Rick Warren goes global

Already established as perhaps the most important voice in contemporary American Evangelical Christianity, Rick Warren last week pressed the button that he hopes will take his “brand” to the ends of the earth.

Nepal formally abolishes Hindu monarchy

The main palace in Nepal’s capital lowered the flag of the country’s royal family Thursday, a day after lawmakers abolished the world’s last remaining Hindu monarchy.

Famed geneticist to leave NIH

Francis Collins, the guitar-playing geneticist who mingled a belief in Christianity with a defense of evolution, said Wednesday that he would step down as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Protestant-Catholic-None

The latest Pew poll shows Barack Obama widening his slight lead among Catholics over John McCain since April from two to four percentage points, losing seven percentage points to McCain among Protestants, and increasing his margin over him among the unaffiliated by nine percentage points. The biggest shift came among white evangelicals, who now favor McCain over Obama 71-20, up from 65-32 a month ago. The current number represents the usual margin by which white evangelicals favor Republican presidential candidates over Democratic ones these days. So McCain’s evangelical problem, to the extent he has one, has only to do with motivating turnout. That could be a big issue, of course, but not as big as would be any evidence that Obama was picking up a significant new fraction of the white evangelical vote.

The Abortion Card

GOM wonders why John McCain, in seeking to firm up his evangelical support, hasn’t played the abortion card. After all, his record on abortion (with the not unimportant exception of his support for stem cell research) is as good as any pro-lifer could wish. The answer, I submit, is that abortion has become a much trickier political proposition for Republican candidates than it was in the days when the Supreme Court could be depended upon to uphold abortion rights. Now, the Roberts court is a good bet to overturn Roe v. Wade, thereby making abortion an issue for legislatures to deal with. By publicly emphasizing his opposition to abortion, McCain lifts it up as a voting issue in November, knowing that a majority of Americans do not want to ban the practice.

COMMENTARY: Finding faith on Facebook

c. 2008 Religion News Service

(UNDATED) What began with simple curiosity has, in a few short weeks, become something deeply meaningful. And it all happened on Facebook. Like many folks who skew more toward Generation X than Generation Z, I started my foray on Facebook as an exercise in ennui-abatement. I went looking for college and high school friends, more to see how many kids they had and whether they’d lost their hair than any higher purpose.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service New leader named for United House of Prayer for All People (RNS) An Augusta, Ga., pastor has been chosen as the new bishop of the United House of Prayer for All People. Apostle C.M. Bailey succeeds Bishop S.C. “Sweet Daddy” Madison, who served as bishop for 17 years, The Washington Post reported. Madison died April 5 at age 86. Bailey, who served as the church’s senior minister, is the fourth leader of the 1.5 million-member church.

Diaries shed light on unlikely would-be U.S. saint

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) It’s a sunny Sunday in 1938, and Dorothy Day is feeling less than saintly. Flies swarm around piles of garbage as “hopeless human beings” _ the drunks and the insane who visit the Catholic Worker house in Pittsburgh for food and shelter _ surround and oppress her. In her diary, Day laments her “great depression of spirits.” “Job is to hide it from others,” Day writes, “to accept it as penance, reparation, and to pray constantly for an increase in my heart of the love of God and man.” Over the course of the 20th Century, few people practiced a love of the divine, and the divine in others, as assiduously as Day. The Catholic convert, who co-founded the Catholic Worker movement 75 years ago on May 1, 1933, made “works of mercy” _ feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and comforting the sick _ the center of her life.

Nun, 93, preaches the gospel behind razor-wire fences

c. 2008 Religion News Service MUSKEGON, Mich. _ Sister Elizabeth Barilla rolled in a wheelchair past inmates playing basketball as a pleasant breeze blew across the campus of the Muskegon Correctional Facility and sun glinted off the razor-wire fences. The Dominican nun was impatient to arrive for her monthly 6:15 p.m. class teaching the Bible and Catholic doctrine to a handful of the 1,300 male inmates at the medium-security facility. She put on her nun’s veil as a long-haired inmate named Marc opened the door and greeted her graciously.

10 minutes with … Donald Cozzens

c. 2008 Religion News Service

(UNDATED) During his recent trip to America, Pope Benedict XVI attended a youth rally at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y. _ the same school where enrollment has dwindled to the point that no new prospective priests are enrolled next fall. As the U.S. church ordains its crop of some 400 new priests in the coming weeks, church leaders hope Benedict’s words of encouragement will inspire more men to consider the priesthood. The Rev. Donald Cozzens of John Carroll University, however, believes it will take a major change in Vatican policy on celibacy to revitalize the priesthood.