Mass. moves step closer to expanding same-sex marriages

BOSTON- The state House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 29) voted to abolish a 1913 law that has the effect of preventing out-of-state gay couples from being married in Massachusetts unless they agree to move here.

Bush asked to press China on religious freedom

WASHINGTON -A federal religious freedom watchdog panel on Wednesday (July 30) asked President Bush to use his trip to the Beijing Olympics next month to speak publicly against abuses of religious freedom and human rights in China.

McCain, Obama urged to make poverty a priority

Nine faith leaders have banded together to urge Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain to present a 10-year plan to combat poverty when speaking at their national nominating conventions.

COMMENTARY: What happens at Lambeth doesn’t stay at Lambeth

When Anglican bishops unpack memories of their 2008 Lambeth Conference, one recollection they will handle gingerly is that of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, humbly accepting their standing ovation at its onset. That was before things got nasty. Anglicanism’s problems are on every religion’s laundry list. The constellation of Lambeth issues forms an interesting pattern. Catholics and other Christians might connect the dots and see an outline of their own controversies.

Police find dead woman in evangelist’s freezer as he preaches

MOBILE, Ala.-While Anthony Hopkins was leading a revival in a small church on the outskirts of Jackson, Ala., on Monday (July 28) night, the body of a woman, presumed to be his wife, was stuffed in a freezer at his house in Mobile, waiting to be discovered by police. Acting on a tip given by Hopkins’ eldest daughter, police said they knew where to look and what they were likely to find when they searched the house. Clarke County Sheriff’s deputies found Hopkins at the church in Jackson a short time later, still preaching and ministering to people in the crowd, according to the pastor of the congregation hosting the revival. It could be the last sermon he preaches as a free man. Hopkins now sits in Mobile County Metro Jail, charged with murdering his wife, 36-year-old Arletha Hopkins.

Body of balloonist priest found

Authorities have confirmed the discovery of the body of the priest who set off attached to 1,000 helium-filled balloons from a Brazilian port city to raise money to build a worship center for truckers, the Associated Press reports. The Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli, 41, left Paranagua on April 20 in an unusual fundraiser for a rest stop and worship center for truckers. He lost contact with his ground crew and a cluster of yellow, orange, white and pink balloons were found in the water a day later. Tugboat workers found the body off Rio de Janeiro in early July and a medical examiner said Tuesday that DNA tests confirmed the body was de Carli’s.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service Hagee vows never to endorse another candidate WASHINGTON (RNS) Speaking to more than 3,000 followers gathered here, Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee said the “vicious national media firestorm” over his inflammatory remarks about Jews and Catholics has not weakened his vocal support for Israel. “We’re stronger than we’ve ever been,” he said Tuesday (July 22) at the annual convention of Christians United for Israel, a group started by Hagee in 2006. “We’re here to stay, and we’re not going away.” Sen. John McCain rejected Hagee’s earlier endorsement after comments surfaced where the Christian-Zionist pastor denigrated the Catholic Church and suggested the Holocaust was God’s plan to push Jews back to Israel. Hagee has said those comments were taken out of context, and at his group’s Night to Honor Israel banquet, said the political slight from McCain’s campaign has not gone unnoticed.

Cheesus Christ appears in Missouri

That Mother Teresa cinnamon bun is sooo 1996. Now a Missouri woman claims she’s found a Cheeto that looks like Jesus. They call him Cheesus. Of course they do. (This vido is what they call the “raw feed.”

Young Jews experience sights (not sounds) of Holy Land

c. 2008 Religion News Service JERUSALEM _ When Kyle Edenzon showed up for his first day of Hebrew school as a young boy, his parents asked the teacher to place their hard-of-hearing son in the front row to better help him understand the lessons. “But as soon as they left, the teacher put me in the back and basically said, `You’re on your own,”’ said Edenzon, 21, of Northridge, Calif. “I was maybe 5 years old and cried hysterically. I didn’t go back till I was 11 or 12.” For many deaf and hard-of-hearing Jews, Edenzon’s experience unfortunately isn’t that unusual.

Catholic church tallies cost of Katrina damage

NEW ORLEANS-The Archdiocese of New Orleans has released its first comprehensive report on the economic damage caused by Hurricane Katrina: $288 million in damage to its vast array of schools, churches, housing and nursing homes.

Mahony says immigration must be top priority

WASHINGTON-Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, who heads the nation’s largest Catholic archdiocese, on Monday (July 28) urged presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain to make immigration reform a top-level priority.

British court rules for Sikh student’s bangles

LONDON-Britain’s High Court ruled Tuesday (July 29) in favor of a teenage Sikh student whose school who was banned from wearing a wrist bangle to school that she insisted was central to her faith.

COMMENTARY: Coming home from vacation

NEW YORK-Last Thursday, while walking a trail in Central Park, I felt so free and easy that I decided to run, rather than walk. I only ran a mile, but it was a revelation to discover that, after a 10-year vacation from running, I could still do it. On Friday, I added a second mile to my run and made a connection with faith. Many people are taking a vacation from faith. By any measure we can reasonably make-church attendance, signs of piety, strong personal ethics and workplace ethics, tithing-many people are trying to make it through life without God.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service Unitarians search for healing after deadly church shooting (RNS) Unitarian Universalist leaders say they will not allow a fatal shooting at a Tennessee church to deter their proud progressive teachings, even as police say those beliefs appear to be what prompted the deadly rampage. On Monday (July 28), one day after the shooting at a church musical that left two parishioners dead, church members began the process of healing with a candlelight vigil. “We’re here tonight to make sense of the senseless,” said the Rev. William Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, according to the Associated Press. A children’s choir ended the rain-soaked vigil by singing “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow,” a popular song from the production of “Annie” that was interrupted by gunfire on Sunday morning.