Time Poll Sez

More bad karma for McCain:Despite all the drama over Obama’s church and his former pastor’s inflammatory remarks, 40% said they felt he was more comfortable talking about his religious beliefs versus 34% for McCain. And in evidence that McCain has some work to do shoring up social conservative voters, when asked which of the candidates “is closest to your views on so-called values issues, such as abortion and gay marriage,” McCain edged out Obama by just a single percentage point 40% to 39%, even though 51% of respondents opposed gay marriage.

Guns and Bitter

After yesterday’s Supreme Court decision determining that the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to bear arms, John McCain seized on the moment to, ah, reference Barack Obama’s notorious remark about economically pressed white folks bitterly clinging to guns and religion:Unlike Senator Obama, who refused to join me in signing a bipartisan amicus brief, I was pleased to express my support and call for the ruling issued today. Today’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller makes clear that other municipalities like Chicago that have banned handguns have infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans. Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today’s ruling recognizes that gun ownership is an important right- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly. Fair enough. But it’s interesting that the dig did not include, among its additional referencing of individuals’ sacred First Amendment rights, the free exercise of religion.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service Communion to be served on the tongue, kneeling at papal Masses VATICAN CITY (RNS) In the latest sign of the Vatican’s increasing penchant for tradition, the pope’s master of ceremonies said that receiving Communion by mouth while kneeling would become the normal practice at papal Masses. Monsignor Guido Marini made the statement in an interview published in the Thursday (June 26) issue of the official Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. Receiving Communion in the hand while standing has become increasingly common over the last four decades, even at papal Masses; but on two widely noted occasions in recent weeks, Pope Benedict XVI has distributed the sacrament in the more traditional manner. Asked if “this (is) a procedure destined to become habitual at papal celebrations,” Marini replied, “I really think so.” Marini, who oversees all liturgies celebrated by the pope, noted that permission to distribute Communion in the hand constitutes an exemption, granted to national bishops’ conferences that request it, from the church’s “universal law.” Communion in the mouth, he said, remains the “norm valid for the whole Church.” According to Marini, the traditional method of distribution “better illuminates the truth of the real presence (of Christ) in the Eucharist, assists the devotion of the faithful, (and) introduces them more easily to the sense of the mystery.” Benedict has encouraged the revival of other traditional liturgical practices that have fallen into disuse, including Gregorian chant and the celebration of Mass by a priest facing the altar.

100 years later, Ahmadi Muslims face new challenges

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When Zahir Mian’s prayer clock rings to announce the sunset prayer, he politely excuses himself and performs his ritual pre-prayer ablution, unfurls a prayer rug towards Mecca, and prays like any Muslim. Mian, a 34-year-old IT manager, also fasts during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, reads the Quran every night, and when asked to help resettle Bosnian Muslim refugees, he didn’t blink an eye. “They were fellow Muslims, so there was an immediate connection there,” said Mian, whose home in suburban Boston is replete with rugs and wall hangings inscribed with Islamic calligraphy. Not all followers of Islam, however, would consider Mian a fellow Muslim.

Actors bring evangelical megachurch to life on stage

WASHINGTON-Beneath a large photo of Pikes Peak, six actors bounce on stage to Christian music and reel from scandal as they explore life in the center of the evangelical universe: Colorado Springs, Colo. “This Beautiful City,” which premiered this month (June) and heads to both U.S. coasts by 2009, captures the coffee shops and the worship music of New Life Church, the prominent megachurch perhaps best known for the sex-and-drugs downfall of its former pastor, Ted Haggard. The play is produced by The Civilians, a New York-based acting troupe that interviews its subjects and uses the material to create docudramas about them. They say they were overwhelmed by the scope-and especially the music-of the Colorado Springs megachurch.

Bibles to be available at China Olympics

LONDON-Despite controversy earlier this year, thousands of Bibles and Gospel booklets will be distributed to athletes and visitors at this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing-with the approval of the Chinese government.

Breakaway Catholic group rejects reconciliation deadline

VATICAN CITY-The leader of a breakaway group of conservative Catholics rejected a Vatican proposal for reconciliation, saying that last year’s revival of traditional liturgy by the pope does not go far enough to undo decades of modernization in the church.

Bush touts success of faith-based initiative

WASHINGTON-President Bush on Thursday (June 26) touted the successes of his initiative to partner faith-based and community organizations with government funds, calling it a key part of his presidency.

Actors bring evangelical megachurch to life on stage

WASHINGTON _ Beneath a large photo of Pikes Peak, six actors bounce on stage to Christian music and cope with scandal as they explore life in the center of the evangelical universe: Colorado Springs, Colo. “This Beautiful City,” which premiered here in June with plans for performances in Los Angeles and New York by 2009, captures the coffee shops and the worship music of New Life Church, the prominent megachurch perhaps best known for the sex-and-drugs downfall of former senior pastor Ted Haggard. The play was created by The Civilians, a New York-based acting troupe that interviews its subjects and uses the material to create docudramas about them. Members of the group say they were overwhelmed by the scope _ and especially the music _ of the Colorado Springs megachurch. “As a theater person, the theatrical experience of going to New Life is pretty astonishing,” said Steve Cosson, the director and co-writer of the play, who compared the church’s music to a U2 concert.

COMMENTARY: Troubles in the village

By now everybody has heard the sad tale about the pregnant teens of Gloucester, Mass. In a high school that usually records four pregnancies annually, this year they’ve already recorded 17. At least half of the girls reportedly made a pact to get pregnant and set out to find a sexual encounter to make this dream a reality. Finger pointing is in full swing, but if it takes a village to raise a child-doesn’t it stand to reason that it takes a village to destroy a childhood? The village will raise healthy children when the individuals in the village become healthy one at a time in community.

COMMENTARY: Troubles in the village

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) By now, everybody has probably heard the sad tale about the pregnant teens of Gloucester, Mass. In a high school that usually records four pregnancies annually, this year they’ve already recorded 17. None of the expectant mothers is older than 16. At least half of the girls, described as lacking in self-esteem and in need of affection, reportedly made a pact to get pregnant, and then set out to find a sexual encounter to make that happen.