God gap update

The non-religious are a lot more likely to vote Democratic than the very religious are to vote Republican, according to the latest Gallup poll. Here’s the chart:In proportional terms, non-religious Americans are almost twice as likely to vote Democratic as Republican, while the very religious are just a bit more than 25 percent more likely to vote Republican than Democratic. The moderately religious are slightly more than 20 percent more likely to vote Democratic. The non-religious plus the moderately religious make up 60 percent of the electorate, equally divided.Update: As Pastordan tweets, “Dems don’t have a ‘religion problem,’ GOP has a non-believer problem.”

Enter Bachmann, stage right

Michele Bachmann, who’s no fool, presented herself as the leader of a a broad-based populist movement, not the paladin of right-wing Republicanism:The liberals, and to be clear I’m NOT one of them, want you to think the
Tea Party is the Right Wing of the Republican Party. But it’s not. It’s
made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who’ve never
been political a day in their life, libertarians, Republicans. We’re
people who simply want America back on the right track again.But that’s another one of Bachmann’s little fibs. According to Gallup,
over 60 percent of Tea Partiers identify themselves as conservative
Republicans; four out of five are Republicans of one sort or another.

Orthodox rally to rebuild Ground Zero church

NEW YORK (RNS) With cries of “Rebuild now! Rebuild Now!” parishioners and supporters of a Greek Orthodox church that was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks rallied at Ground Zero on Sunday (June 26) in hopes of resuming negotiations to rebuild the church. St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have been at odds for several years over the cost and exact location of the rebuilt church.

Faith-healing parents sentenced to 90 days in jail

OREGON CITY, Ore. (RNS) Brushing aside pleas for leniency, a county judge on Friday (June 24) sentenced two members of a faith-healing church to 90 days in jail and three years probation for failing to get medical care for their infant daughter. “Your prayers should complement, not compete with, proper medical care,” Clackamas County Circuit Judge Jeffrey S. Jones said in his brief and sternly worded comments to Timothy and Rebecca Wyland. A jury convicted the couple of first-degree criminal mistreatment earlier this month for not seeking medical treatment for their daughter, Alayna, when she developed an abnormal growth of blood vessels that left her nearly blind. Timothy Wyland was taken into custody and immediately started serving his sentence.

Israeli ambassador backpedals on wartime pope comments

(RNS) After strong criticism from the Jewish community, Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican backpedaled from his praise of the controversial wartime Pope Pius XII for his “actions to save the Jews” during the Holocaust. “Given the fact that this context is still under the subject of ongoing and future research, passing my personal historical judgment on it was premature,” Ambassador Mordechay Lewy said in a statement on Sunday (June 26). Lewy had said many Catholic institutions in Rome hid Jews from the occupying Germans during the mass arrests on Oct. 16, 1943, which led to the deportation of more than 1,000 people to Auschwitz. “It would be a mistake to say that the Catholic Church, the Vatican and the pope himself opposed actions to save the Jews,” Lewy said on Thursday.

Supreme Court to review obscenity policy

WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday (June 27) that it will examine whether the Federal Communications Commission has the right to ban “fleeting expletives” on broadcast TV. The case will review last year’s decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that rejected the FCC’s power to regulate the use of expletives and nudity in prime-time television. The FCC fined broadcasters for depicting a woman’s naked buttocks in a 2003 episode of “NYPD Blue.” The Supreme Court — which sided with the FCC in a similar case in 2009 — was urged by the Obama administration to review the decision, while several broadcasters — including Fox, NBC and CBS — petitioned to let the lower court’s decision remain unchanged. The conservative Parents Television Council praised the decision to review the case, saying, “Decency has been a fixture of federal law since the dawn of broadcasting, and despite the opinion of the TV networks and three judges in New York, it has not suddenly become an outdated relic.”

Dalai Lama to host 11-day peace festival in D.C.

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Dalai Lama will visit Washington next month for an 11-day peace rally that is being billed as “the largest gathering for world peace in history.” The July 6-16 “Kalachakra for World Peace” aims to “amplify the profound, unshakable commitment of (the Dalai Lama) to values such as love, compassion, wisdom and interfaith harmony,” according to publicity materials. The first day of the event will mark the Dalai Lama’s 76th birthday. Event activities include dancing, chanting of prayers and teachings by the Dalai Lama on Tibetan Buddhist principles. Like other events hosted by the Dalai Lama, Buddhist monks will create a colorful and detailed sand mandala, or mural, that will be swept away to illustrate the impermanence of life.

Monday’s Religion News Roundup

First the good news: Americans’ confidence in newspapers and television news has rebounded slightly, after mucking around at record lows for three years, according to a new Gallup poll. The bad news: churches are coming for our jobs. The Vatican on Wednesday will launch a news information portal that will aggregate information from its print, radio and television media in a one-stop-shop for Holy See news. Even the Romanian Orthodox Church, long known as a bastion of conservatism, is getting into the act, founding radio and TV stations, a news agency and a newspaper. Rep. Michele Bachmann says that she got a “sense from God” that she should run for president.

The Bishops Lose a Big One

It was tempting to say “Welcome to the Big Apple” last Friday night
after New York Archbishop Tim Dolan got his rear end handed to him by
parishioner Andrew Cuomo in re: same-sex marriage. But not since the
days of Nelson Rockefeller has the Empire State witnessed such astute
management of the legislative process as Cuomo displayed, and so His
Excellency can be forgiven for misunderestimating what he was up
against. Not that he’s likely to feel pleased with the performance of
the apparatchiks in the state Catholic Conference or, for that matter, Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and his monsigliere Kieran Harrington, to say nothing of those Evangelical and Orthodox Jewish auxiliaries. They were all outgunned and outmaneuvered, as Michael Barbaro makes clear in his fine behind-the-scenes account in the Times. For a pure expression of impotent rage, it’s hard to beat the tantrum that went out under DiMarzio’s name after the SSM bill passed:Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have
deconstructed the single most important institution in human history.

Born-Agains in Iowa

The top line on the new Iowa poll of Republicans is that Michele Bachmann has rocketed into a statistical tie with Mitt Romney for first place, while Tim Pawlenty, he of many visits to the Hawkeye State, is nowhere. At this point, anyway, the first-in-the-nation (Feb. 6) caucus is a two-person race; Romney (23 percent) and Bachmann (22 percent) are 12 points up on the third-place finisher, Herman Cain (10 percent).Among Tea Party supporters, who constitute a full 63 percent of respondents, Bachmann doubles Romney’s support, 29 percent to 14 percent. No particular surprise there. But among those identifying themselves as born again, Bachmann’s lead is only 20 percent to 17 percent.

Jewish concerns remain as Delta, Saudis deny discrimination

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Saudi Arabian embassy on Friday (June 24) denied as “completely false” reports that U.S. Jews would not be able to travel to Saudi Arabia under Delta Air Line’s planned partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines. U.S. Jewish groups had criticized Delta for next year’s planned addition of the Saudi airline to the SkyTeam network, a 14-member Amsterdam-based global alliance of air carriers. Some Jews and conservative activists were concerned that the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic law would prevent Jews from traveling to Saudi Arabia from the U.S., and criticized Delta for the partnership set to launch in 2012. “Rumors being circulated via the Internet regarding passenger flight restrictions on Saudi Arabian Airlines are completely false,” the embassy statement said. “The government of Saudi Arabia does not deny visas to U.S. citizens based on their religion.”

Israeli ambassador praises wartime pope

(RNS) In a conciliatory gesture regarding one of the most sensitive points of Jewish-Catholic relations, Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican praised the controversial wartime Pope Pius XII for his “actions to save the Jews” during the Holocaust. Mordechay Lewy made his remarks Thursday (June 23) at a ceremony honoring an Italian priest who helped protect Jews during the Nazi occupation of Rome. The ambassador said many Catholic institutions in the city had hidden Jews from the Germans during mass arrests on October 16, 1943. “There is reason to believe that this happened under the supervision of the highest Vatican officials, who were informed about” steps to protect Jews, Lewy said, according to the Reuters news agency. “So it would be a mistake to say that the Catholic Church, the Vatican and the pope himself opposed actions to save the Jews.

Report says Islamophobia on the rise

(RNS) A new report asserts that anti-Muslim prejudice has worsened in recent years, but argues the trend could be reversed with greater community outreach. The report, “Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States,” was released Thursday (June 23) by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender. While the report said there are no comprehensive figures to quantify the problem, anti-Muslim discrimination is broken into several categories, including hate crimes, workplace issues, schools, public accommodation, mosque vandalism and religious “profiling.” “When we say there are campaigns against Islam and Muslims, a lot of people dismiss it as conspiracy theories,” said Ihsan Bagby, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky and a CAIR board member. “But this proves that there are concerted campaigns against Islam and Muslims.”

China vows to ordain bishops without Vatican’s OK

(RNS) In a move likely to aggravate tensions with the Vatican, China’s state-run Catholic church announced on Thursday (June 23) that it may soon ordain more than 40 bishops without the approval of Pope Benedict XVI. According to the official Xinhua news agency, a spokesman for the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) said the church “faces an urgent task” of choosing bishops for more than 40 dioceses, and planned to do so “without delay.” For more than half a century, China’s 12 million to 15 million Catholics have been divided between the state-run CPCA and an “underground” church of Catholics loyal to the pope. In recent years, the Vatican and Beijing have tacitly agreed on a number of bishops acceptable to both sides. But last November, Joseph Guo Jincai was ordained the bishop of Chengde without papal approval, an event the Vatican called a “sad episode.”

Parochial schools not immune to bullies

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) Middle school is no picnic for a lot of students, but for Alec McGuire, it was intolerable. He transferred from one Catholic school to another in eighth grade to get away from another student whom he said harassed and ridiculed him. Whether making fun of his parents’ divorce or throwing a basketball at him, the student and his friends made Alec’s daily life miserable. “I could not take it,” said McGuire, now 18, who recently graduated from West Catholic High School in Grand Rapids, Mich.