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c. 1996 Religion News Service

President, Mrs. Clinton hit the road to stress the needs of the young

(RNS)-It was”children’s hour”Thursday (May 30) for the White House as President and Mrs. Clinton hit the road to talk about the plight of young people before audiences representing a diversity of America’s religious faiths.

The president, speaking before the Women’s International Convention of the predominantly African-American Church of God in Christ, urged his audience not to give up seeking solutions to the problems of teen pregnancy, teen drug use, and teen violence.

He voiced support for”community-based curfews”as a means of keeping young people off the streets and out of trouble.”Different cities have different ways of enforcing their curfews,”he said.”Some of them take a kind of punitive approach, Some of them … have gone so far as to find parents if the kids aren’t home.”But some have done much to go the other way to say that the parents can decide whether they want the curfew to apply to their children; they just have to decide and tell the police,”he said.

Clinton did not specifically endorse either option, but argued that”the evidence shows that wherever these curfews are in place, they are working.” While Clinton was in New Orleans addressing the Church of God in Christ meeting, his wife, Hillary, was in Los Angeles where she spoke to the Muslim Women’s League and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Earlier, with Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony at her side, she visited a Catholic-run shelter for homeless and runaway adolescents.

The Clinton administration is the first to have invited Muslims to the White House for a religious event. In February, Mrs. Clinton hosted a celebration that marked the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

In Los Angeles, Mrs. Clinton talked about the joys of parenting and the values shared across the religious spectrum.”The values that lie at the heart of your experience as Muslims-values of faith and of family and community and responsibility for the less fortunate-are values that are powerful,”she said.”And they are ones that you share in common with others of us, who also seek to honor and live by our values every day,”she added.

Earlier, with Mahony, she visited the opening of the Catholic-run Covenant House shelter, financed in part with a $1 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mrs. Clinton said the shelter represented the kind of partnership between nonprofits and government that can help solve the nation’s problems.

Thursday evening, speaking during the taping of a television program, Mrs. Clinton urged parents to boycott the products of advertisers who sponsor violent programming and urged parents to”turn off the television set”to protest such programming.”That’s the best way of of getting the attention of people who make the programming decisions.”

House panel votes for definition of marriage as union of a man and woman

(RNS)-A House Judiciary subcommittee voted along party lines Thursday to define marriage as”a legal union between one man and one woman”and to allow states to reject the validity of same-sex marriages performed in any other state.

Democrats charged that the drive to make same-sex marriage illegal under federal law was politically motivated and connected more to the upcoming presidential election than to any overriding national interest.

Republicans rejected the charge.”Don’t assume people are doing this for political profit,”said Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill.”Some of us believe that same-sex unions sanctioned by the government trivialize marriage and condone public immorality.” But Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., an openly gay member of Congress, rejected the argument that gay marriages demeaned or trivialized heterosexual marriages.

He said that he was sure Hyde’s marriage and the marriages of other members of Congress”are based on a deep love, a bond between two people. I don’t think I demean it. I don’t know how I could demean it. How does anything I do in which I express my feelings toward another demean the powerful bond of love and emotion and respect of two other people?”he asked.

The bill has been put on a legislative fast track in the House because of the fear expressed by some conservative lawmakers and advocacy groups that a court in Hawaii may soon act to legalize same-sex marriages.

The House bill must still be approved by the full committee and the full House. The Senate has not begun consideration of the proposal. President Clinton, who has voiced opposition to same-sex marriages, has indicated he is likely to sign legislation similar to that being considered in the House.

Update: Bodies of slain Trappist monks recovered in Algeria

(RNS)-The Algerian government said Thursday (May 31) that it has recovered the bodies of seven French Trappist monks who were kidnapped Feb. 27. The Armed Islamic Group (GIA) has claimed responsibility for the slayings.”The bodies have been identified by the (French) ambassador. They are in Algiers,”Reuters quoted French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jacques Rummelhardt.”The funerals will be held on Sunday at the church of Our Lady of Africa (in Algiers).” The seven monks were kidnapped Feb. 27. Last week, the GIA said it had cut the monks’ throats after the French government refused to negotiate the release of prisoners the militants wish freed.

Jose Ayala-Lasso, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called the slaying of the monks”odious.” In a statement released after the bodies were found, the U.N. official said,”This act cruelly hits the members of a religious community devoted to the cause of the weakest and … is a sad example of where hate and intolerance can lead.”

Florida governor vetoes school prayer bill

(RNS)-Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles on Friday (May 31) vetoed legislation that would have let students pray at voluntary events at junior and senior high schools.

In his veto message, Chiles, a Presbyterian, said the veto was a reluctant one because he personally favored prayer in the schools, the AP reported.

But he said listening to people who hold minority religious views gave him a different perspective.

The prayer provisions would have allowed district school boards to permit student-approved, student-led prayers at graduations, sporting events and voluntary assemblies.

Yoffie to be installed as president of Reform Jewish agency

(RNS)-Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie will be inaugurated as president of Reform Judaism’s leading body during a ceremony scheduled for Saturday, June 8, in New York.

Yoffie succeeds Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler as the head of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the 1.5 million-member Reform movement’s synagogue umbrella agency. Schindler is retiring after 23 years as president.

The 48-year-old Yoffie-who has been gradually taking over the UAHC’s leadership reigns since Schindler went into semi-retirement last December-will be installed during a late-afternoon ceremony at Congregation Shaaray Tefila on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

In a statement, Yoffie said his goal is to bring Reform Jews-among the most theologically liberal in the American Jewish community-closer to their traditional religious roots while also continuing the movement’s emphasis on social action.

Yoffie is the UAHC’s first president who was raised as a Reform Jew. Schindler and previous presidents were raised Orthodox and became Reform later in life

Welsh monks take to TV to preserve an old way of way

(RNS)-To remain in their world of silence, 16 Cistercian monks in Wales have had to become part of the outside world-at least for a few seconds at a time in between television programs.

Beleaguered by the effects of an oil spill and mad cow disease, the monks-who have taken vows of silence-are running advertisements encouraging people to visit the remote Welsh island of Caldey they call home, Reuters said.

First, the Sea Empress tanker spilled tons of oil off Caldey’s coast in February, deterring some of the 1,500 tourists each year who enjoy the boat trip to the island and purchase vegetables and other produce grown by the monks. Then, to raise needed funds, the monks decided to sell some of their prize herd of 100 cattle-just as Britain’s mad cow disease made such an effort futile.”We are forced to accept a certain level of worldliness if we wish to survive on our island,”the Abbot, Brother Robert, told Reuters.”We have a strict rule of silence-but we also have to live in the modern world.”

Quote of the day: Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago on practicing what you preach.

(RNS)-A year ago, Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a disease in which patients have about a 25 percent chance of surviving. One year after undergoing surgery, Bernardin has pronounced himself”cancer-free.”In an interview with the Chicago Tribune marking the anniversary, the cardinal reflected on his suffering:”In the more than 40 years I’ve been a priest, I’ve counseled people to have faith, to see the redemptive value of suffering, to look beyond the present moment. When the time came for me, I felt I had better practice what I preached all these years.”


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