Tuesday’s Religion News Roundup

An Episcopal parish in Baltimore is taking up the pope’s offer to cross the Tiber and become Catholics; looks like Catholic and Episcopal negotiators will wrestle over who can claim the property. The Chicago Sun-Times says the furor over the “Ground Zero mosque” and the aborted Quran BBQ in Florida is prompting American Muslims to vote in large numbers during next week’s elections. Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell sees God at work in her bid for a Delaware Senate seat: “I believe that prayer plays a direct role in this campaign,” she said. “I always ask people: ‘Please pray for the campaign. Please pray for our staff.

Voting the Prosperity Gospel

I know all of you have been waiting with bated breath for an update on how the country’s only Prosperity Gospel campaign has been going. That would be the AG race in Connecticut, in which GOP candidate Martha Dean is running on a platform of Freedom, Faith, and Fortune. Actually, I’d pretty much forgotten about Martha since I wrote about her back in August. But yesterday WNPR’s Colin McEnroe wanted to fold her into a discussion of religion and politics in this election cycle, so it behooved me to check and see how that platform is working out for her.The only public polling available of the state’s underticket races shows her trailing her Democratic rival, George Jepson, 28 to 40 percent. A couple of days ago, CT New Junky’s Susan Bigelow snickered:This year’s political sign crop is an interesting one.

Survey: 6 in 10 Protestant pastors disapprove of Obama

WASHINGTON (RNS) Six out of every 10 Protestant pastors say they disapprove of President Obama’s job performance, a LifeWay Research survey found. Researchers said of the 61 percent who disapprove of Obama’s work, 47 percent disapprove strongly. The survey, released Thursday (Oct. 21), found that 30 percent of pastors approve of the president’s performance (including 14 percent who strongly approve). Nine percent were undecided.

Pastor at center of aborted Quran burn gets a new car

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (RNS) Florida Pastor Terry Jones held the keys to his black 2011 Hyundai Accent for only a few minutes on Friday (Oct. 22) before handing them to a battered women’s advocacy group. Jones gave the car, which car dealer Brad Benson had decorated with two patriotic peace symbols, to the Jersey City-based Women Rising. The pastor received the car after Benson’s Hyundai dealership aired a radio advertisement poking fun at the pastor, promising to give him a new auto to use for a year if Jones promised not to burn a Quran. “It’s a brand-new car, which means that they’ll be getting use of it for many, many years,” Jones said after the exchange.

U.S. bishop says Jews have no `exclusive right’  to Israel

VATICAN CITY (RNS) A special Vatican meeting on the Middle East ended Saturday (Oct. 23) with a flare-up in Catholic-Jewish tensions, after an American bishop declared the Bible does not give Jews privileged rights to the land of Israel. “We Christians cannot speak of the `promised land’ as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people,” said Archbishop Cyril Bustros, a native of Lebanon who is currently a Melkite Greek Catholic bishop in Newton, Mass. “This promise was nullified by Christ,” Bustros said at a Vatican press conference marking the end of a two-week session of the Synod of Bishops. “There is no longer a chosen people — all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.”

Monday’s Religion News Roundup

Catholic Bishops from the Middle East summoned to Rome by Pope Benedict XVI demanded that Israel end its “occupation” of Arab lands. Benedict called on Islamic countries in the Middle East to guarantee freedom of worship to non-Muslims. Israel said the meeting was hijacked by enemies of the Jewish state. Some senior Israeli officials question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s requirement that any agreement with Palestinians must be preceded by their acknowledgement that Israel is a Jewish state, the NYT reports. Islamist movements have totally replaced political ones in the Middle East, reports the NYT. A American-born spokesman for al-Qaida urged Muslims living in the United States and Europe to carry out attacks there, calling it a duty and an obligation, according to the AP, and YouTube is defending policies that allow people like Anwar al-Awlaki to post videos.

Hollywood probes spiritual subjects without getting preachy

(RNS) The New Testament warns about trying to serve two masters. But lately Hollywood’s ordered up a rewrite. Moviemakers would prefer to have it both ways. And so multiplexes have been crowded with films that wrestle with spiritual questions even while battling for box-office attention. These aren’t tiny indies, like the evangelical films that sprang up after “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004.

Exhibit offers peak inside Vatican’s `splendors’

PITTSBURGH (RNS) The entrance to the Vatican Splendors exhibit evokes a part of St. Peter’s Basilica that few tourists ever see: the archaeological excavation beneath the altar, where the modest grave of St. Peter lies amid elaborate first-century pagan mausoleums. The choice of beginning with the grave of Peter, the first pope, reflects organizers’ hopes that the visit be a spiritual as well as aesthetic experience. “In a certain sense, Jesus Christ will walk with us through the exhibition. The other person who will walk with us is St.

Juan Williams meets the Religion Expert

JW: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country.  But
when I get on airplane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in
Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first
and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”Now, imagine the Senior Analyst on NPR’s All Things Religious:SA: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of writing I’ve done over the years about religious pluralism. But…when I run into a guy in a Roman collar and I think, you know, he’s identifying himself first and foremost as a Catholic priest, I get worried.

D’Oh! Homer not so Catholic, Vatican says

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Several days after the Vatican’s official newspaper reported that characters Homer and Bart Simpson are Catholic, the source of that supposed discovery has distanced himself from the cartoonish claim. “I wouldn’t say they’re Catholic, I would say they’re people of faith,” the Rev. Francesco Occhetta told the AFP news agency. “I would say that the Simpsons are open on the question of God.” An article in the Oct. 17 edition of L’Osservatore Romano ran under the headline “Homer and Bart are Catholic.”The news created buzz around the world, with heavy coverage by newspapers and blogs, and even a rebuttal from the show’s executive producer.

U.S. Sikhs urge Obama to visit Golden Temple, despite rumors

(RNS) American Sikhs are urging President Obama to visit the famed Golden Temple in India next month, despite his administration’s reported concern that wearing the headscarf required for entry will inflame false rumors that Obama is a Muslim. The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund said that if Obama did not visit the Golden Temple, a sacred site for Sikhs, he would add to anti-Islamic sentiments in America. “The religious site stands for many of the same ideals as America equality, universality and freedom,” SALDEF said in a statement. “In canceling his visit, President Obama emboldens those who seek to divide us based on race and religion. Sikhs have been often mistaken as Muslims because turbans, uncut hair and beards are articles of faith for men.

Israel a model (of sorts) on gays in the military

JERUSALEM (RNS) Israel, like the United States, is a largely secular society with deep religious roots. And Israel, like the United States, is home to vocal religious conservatives who frown on homosexuality. But Israel, unlike the United States, has allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for 17 years. In fact, they are required to. So, if Israel has found a way to allow gays in the military, can it provide lessons to the U.S. as it struggles with whether — and how — to dismantle Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell?

Friday’s Religion News Roundup

Breaking news: The Vatican priest who raised a few eyebrows by calling Homer Simpson a Catholic is backpedaling, saying “I don’t think that at all. I would say they’re people of faith.” Rev. Lovejoy can call off the vapors. POTUS has joined the chorus of adults (both gay and straight) telling gay teens that “it gets better.” A new PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll found that 3/4 of Americans link religious messages with negative views of gays and lesbians, and 2/3 see a link to the recent spate of teen suicides.