Friday’s religion round up

The nation’s Catholic bishops are mounting a last minute push to secure an anti-abortion amendment in health care legislation and Christian Scientists say spiritual care should be covered in the bill. Bernice King, the daughter of MLK, was elected president of the SCLC. Federal officials have met with Detroit-area Muslim leaders after the fatal shooting of a local imam. Lawyers for the man accused of killing a Kansan abortion doctor have asked a judge to prohibit prosecutors from barring religious jurors, and New York passed a law that lengthens prison sentences against people who attack abortion providers or their employees. The self-help guru involved in the sweat-lodge deaths has canceled his remaining 2009 seminars, a member of a Baltimore religious cult plans to plead guilty as an accessory after the fact in the death of a toddler, and police continue to look for the shooter of two Jewish men at a Los Angeles synagogue.

Archdiocese of Miami bans conservative Catholic movement

(RNS) The Archdiocese of Miami has banned the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative Catholic movement, saying it broke a promise to restrict its ministry to members and was “involved” in several schools without approval. In an Oct. 29 letter to Miami priests, Monsignor Michael Souckar, the archdiocese’s chancellor, said individual priests belonging to the Legionaries had been granted permission to work “but their ministry was restricted to their own members.” “Because the Legionaries of Christ have not abided by these restrictions, Archbishop (John) Favalora has barred them from any ministry in the Archdiocese of Miami,” Souckar said. Favalora also banned members of Regnum Christi, the Legion’s lay movement, from working in any archdiocesan entity, including parishes and schools, Souckar said.

King’s daughter to lead civil rights group

(RNS) The Rev. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has been elected as the next president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the civil rights organization announced Friday (Oct. 30). King will be the first woman president of the organization, which was co-founded by her father, and one of the first female leaders of groups known for civil rights work. Her brother, Martin Luther King III, led the SCLC from 1998-2003. The Rev. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, professor of African-American studies at Colby College in Maine, said King’s heritage played an important role in her gaining the post, but she has been known for her preaching and leadership.

Christian college bars `Milk’ writer from talking about gays

HOLLAND, Mich. (RNS) An Oscar-winning filmmaker can speak to Hope College students about his craft — but not gay rights, college leaders say. Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for original screenplay for “Milk,” is in the Holland area directing a new film, and students requested a screening followed by a forum discussion about sexuality. Black also was invited by the college’s English Department to speak to a screenwriting class. But leaders at the college, which is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, nixed the roundtable discussion.

Artist paints Jesus at center of American history

WASHINGTON (RNS) For centuries, Jesus has been a subject of choice for countless artists. But it’s fair to say that seldom has he been depicted quite like this. In artist Jon McNaughton’s “One Nation Under God,” Jesus stands front and center at the nation’s capitol, holding the Constitution and surrounded by historical luminaries like George Washington and contemporary archetypes such as “Mr. Hollywood.” Scroll over the image on McNaughton’s Web site and each of the characters in the painting is identified, along with a quick explanation of their role in the country’s public life. For example, there’s the “Supreme Court Judge,” who is hiding his face in shame, “as he considers some of the court decisions that have done great damage to our country.”

Married Anglo-Catholic priests?

If this is right, not so many. The pope’s personal ordinariate to the Anglicans would then permit existing married Anglican priests to be grandfathered in as married Catholic clergy, but you wouldn’t be able to be freshly ordained as an Anglo-Catholic priest. Which is to say, this wouldn’t be the same deal as the Eastern Rite uniates get–and the whole thing becomes a lot more ho-hum: Keep your Book of Common Prayer, your little liturgical doodads, and that’s about it.Update: Yep, that’s about it.

Wallis on abortion and health care reform

Over on Religion Dispatches, Sarah Posner cornered Jim Wallis on where he actually stands on abortion these days, and here’s what he told her:”I believe the best response to abortion is not to criminalize what, I
believe, is often a tragic and desperate choice; but rather to find
effective and proven solutions to reduce abortion. This is the common
ground possible between pro-life and pro-choice views.” This is not a response calculated to make pro-choicers very happy, and Posner isn’t. No question about it, Wallis doesn’t like abortion; he might even (after a few beers) call himself pro-life. But saying that you don’t want to criminalize it means that you think it should not be made illegal, because, duh, when you do something that’s illegal it’s a crime.

Benedictine Radicalism

Over at the WaPo/Georgetown kaffeeklatsch, Hoya gov prof Patrick J. Deneen (inspired by Dr. Robert Moynihan’s latest newsflash from Rome) argues that Pope Benedict (like the late Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire) is neither left, right, nor center, but a radical seeking to marshal a smaller, tougher, and more traditionalist Christianity against the barbarism of the present day. That doesn’t seem exactly a newsflash. The very name Benedict harks back to the author of the Rule that kept the house of the Western Church in order during what most people think of as the Dark Ages. (I’ll give myself a four-year-old footnote on the parallel.)But while the monks were doing their orderly thing during what medieval historians don’t call the Dark Ages, there were not a few hard-working bishops doing their best to maintain order in society at large. These were men of substance and education, and they were, in the earlier Benedict’s day, married (check out Gregory of Tours’ History of the Franks).

Gunman shoots, wounds two at Los Angeles synagogue

(RNS) Synagogues in Los Angeles were on high alert Thursday (Oct. 29) after a gunman shot two men heading to morning prayers in the city’s North Hollywood neighborhood. Two men were in the underground parking lot of Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue when they were shot by a man in a black, hooded sweatshirt, according to police. Both men were shot in the leg and the injuries have been described as not life-threatening. The shooting occurred around 6:30 a.m. PST, before morning prayers.

Physicians give chaplains a clean bill of health

(RNS) Science and faith may often clash, but a new survey suggests that most American doctors believe religion and spirituality can help patients. Published Monday (Oct. 26) in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the survey found that 90 percent of physicians are satisfied with spiritual services provided by hospital chaplains to their patients. While most doctors in the survey acknowledged that religion and spirituality help patients cope with illness, the study found that at least one-third of U.S. hospitals do not have chaplains, and many of those that do have chaplains don’t have enough to address all patient needs. Consequently, doctors play a crucial role in ensuring that patients have access to chaplains, the study said.

Westboro Church to protest military funeral in Ohio

PAINESVILLE, Ohio. (RNS) Followers of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church plan to protest outside the funeral of Lance Corporal David Baker here on Saturday morning. Baker, 22, of Painesville Township, was killed Oct. 20 while on patrol in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Shirley Phelps-Roper, one of the picket leaders for the Kansas church, said a team of seven to 10 protestors will follow state laws and not disrupt the service in their protest of this country’s tolerance of abortion, adultery and its participation in wars.

Lutherans ask forgiveness for 16th-century persecutions

GENEVA (RNS/ENI) Lutheran World Federation leaders plan to apologize for their ancestors’ 16th-century persecution of Anabaptists, religious reformers whose successors include Mennonites and the Amish. “We ask for forgiveness — from God and from our Mennonite sisters and brothers — for the harm that our forebears in the sixteenth century committed to Anabaptists,” says a statement adopted unanimously on Monday (Oct. 26) by the LWF’s council. The apology is now recommended for formal adoption by the highest LWF governing body, its assembly, meeting in Stuttgart, Germany, in July 2010. Anabaptists, whose originally pejorative name means “re-baptizers,” stressed the need to baptize Christian believers, including those who had been baptized as infants.

Women explore religious roots in new books

(RNS) When you’ve lived as the holiest of the holy, coming back to Earth can be an unpleasant re-entry. You enter the ranks of the unsaved only to find you have much more in common with the godless than you might have thought. Even if you never leave the ranks of America’s evangelicals, you might get the feeling outsiders think your only talents must be teaching Bible school and rocking babies. Being part of an American religious subculture is much more complicated than conventional wisdom would suggest. In two new engaging memoirs and one creative book of essays, women with deep evangelical roots mourn, celebrate and analyze their experiences in worlds replete with childhood witnessing, full immersion baptism and endless potluck dinners.

On hot-button issues, the UCC is anything but cold

CLEVELAND (RNS) When it comes to hot-button political issues, the United Church of Christ is anything but wishy-washy. Its new general minister and president, the Rev. Geoffrey Black, has delivered 17,000 petition signatures to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging health-care reform — including coverage for all and access regardless of ability to pay. Its outgoing president, the Rev. John Thomas, was arrested at the White House two years ago, trying to deliver 100,000 petition signatures against the war in Iraq. “The church has a long tradition of being involved in the large public issues of the day,” said Thomas, 59, of Shaker Heights, Ohio. “Going back to the 19th century, we supported women’s rights and the abolitionist movement.