Muslims say they find welcome at Democrats’ party

DENVER-While presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama battles false rumors that he’s Muslim, Muslim leaders here say the Democratic National Committee is welcoming their rising profile in the party. As Democratic National Convention draws to a close tonight with Obama’s official acceptance of the nomination, faith has assumed a new prominence in the party’s proceedings. Just as Democrats have shone a spotlight on evangelical and and Catholic progressives, they’ve also highlighted the small-but-growing number of Muslim Democrats. Party bigwigs have attended American Muslim caucus meetings, Muslim leaders have bestowed benedictions on delegates, and Muslim congressmen have rubbed elbows with rank-and-file community activists. “The Muslim community in America is a surging political force,” said Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who last year became the first Muslim to serve in Congress.

Music to bond Katrina interfaith service

NEW ORLEANS-Representatives of New Orleans’ major faiths, and of some small local faith communities, will gather Friday evening to mark the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with a rare offering of common musical prayer rising from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Bahai and Sikh communities.

COMMENTARY: Census report shows the times they are a-changing

While politicians argue whether “change” is coming to America, there’s no doubt real demographic change is happening right now. What emerges from the Census report is an American population less and less linked to Europe as the U.S. becomes a truly multi-racial and multi-ethnic country. These changes will dramatically impact every aspect of national life: political, social, economic, educational, cultural and religious. The religious trends are well under way and visible. The sharp decline in membership among the mainline Protestant churches will accelerate.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service British court convicts Muslim man for involving teens in violent ritual LONDON (RNS) A British court has convicted a Muslim man of child cruelty for allowing two teenagers to flog themselves as part of a religious rite. Prosecutors accused Syed Mustafa Zaidi of ordering the boys to whip themselves with a bundle of chains fitted with curved blades _ a device known as a zanjeer zani flail. Such self-flagellation was described in court as part of a traditional ceremony commemorating the death in the seventh century of the Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein. Zaidi, a 44-year-old warehouse supervisor from Pakistan, testified that the youths, ages 15 and 13 at the time, had asked to take part in the ritual and insisted that “no one forced anyone.” The boys, whose names were not disclosed, said they had participated in such rites in Pakistan since they were 6 years old.

Holiness camps still draw a crowd

WADSWORTH, Ohio _ The rains came. Not for 40 days and 40 nights, but for 40 steady minutes, which turned the winding, dirt road leading to the Sharon Center Holiness Camp into mud and then caused it to flood. Not good for the opening weekend of camp meeting. For more than 100 years, the faithful have converged on these 17 acres of woods about 15 miles southwest of Akron to rest and recharge their spiritual batteries through daily worship and Bible study. They are not alone.

COMMENTARY: Census report shows the times they are a-changin’

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) While politicians argue whether “change” is coming to America, there’s no doubt real demographic change is happening right now. The Census Bureau recently reported that ethnic and racial minorities are rapidly growing in numbers. In just 15 years, the bureau predicts, the majority of America’s children under the age of 18 will be Hispanic, black, Asian, native Hawaiian and American Indian. By 2025, one in five Americans will be foreign born.

Film title in dispute

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked Warner Bros. to reconsider naming an upcoming film “Towelhead,” but the movie company does not plan to back down, reported “The title … is of great concern to us, since the word is commonly used in a derogatory manner against people of the Muslim faith or Arab origin,” wrote CAIR-LA executive director Hussam Ayloush. But Warner Independent Pictures responded by apologizing for “any offense that that is caused by this title” but remaining supportive of the title that was used by the author of the novel on which the film is based.

Brad Pitt, space Jesuit

The Washington Examiner carries news today that Brad Pitt has signed on to play Father Emilio Sandoz, a Jesuit priest who travels to some make-believe world, like Kyrgyzstan, but with more vowels. The movie is based on Mary Doria Russell’s novel “The Sparrows.” As usual, the Rev. Jim Martin asks the most pressing question: Is Pitt handsome enough to play a Jesuit?

Devotion in a forsaken land

(Matthew Streib is traveling across the country on his bicycle exploring religious sites that are inspiring and uniquely American. You can read more about his travels at BYRNESVILLE, Pa. – The term “ghost town” generally conjures up images of tumbleweeds and abandoned saloons, not picturesque green hillsides in central Pennsylvania. But other than ominous clouds of steam and carbon monoxide, nothing is left of the tiny town of Byrnesville, except the Virgin Mary. Byrnesville was demolished by the government in 1990s due to the dangerous conditions caused by an underground coal mine fire that started in nearby Centralia in 1962.

Pope slams crucified frog

I know a blog should add some value, but I just can’t improve on the headline that the Italian wire service ANSA chose for this story.