We just got done celebrating Easter, and it's still three months until those annoying "Christmas in July" sales, but Weblog is sure that some stores are already selling ornaments for Christmas 2001. In any case, Christmas came early this year—for Christmas itself. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of a Cleveland attorney who argued that allowing Christmas as a state holiday violated the First Amendment. In 1999, you may remember, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott ruled against the case as well—in rhyme. It read, in part:
We are all better for Santa
The Easter Bunny too
And maybe the great pumpkin
To name just a few!
An extra day off
Is hardly high treason
It may be spent as you wish
Regardless of reason.
There is room in this country
And in all our hearts too
For different convictions
And a day off too!
(The full poem is available at the end of this 1999 Cincinnati Post article.) The lawyer, Richard Ganulin, said he was disappointed with the decision not to hear the case, but the Cincinnati Posteditorialized that it was the right way to go, calling his efforts "persistent, conscientious—and alas, misguided." "Giving people the day off work does not impose Christian beliefs on people of other faiths," the editorial said. "It merely shows a practical acceptance of existing culture."
Unitarians split, saying church is "extremely intolerant" of those who actually want to talk about God
Of all the things you could possibly call a Unitarian Universalist, "extremely intolerant" would be just about the worst. But at least two dozen dissidents who are leaving the church say that's exactly what it is. So they're leaving, and forming the American Unitarian Association. "An organization that believes in everything really in effect believes nothing," says David Burton, one of the founders. Most of the new members of the AUA, he says, are Unitarian Christians. "Jesus is central to their religion. In most UU congregations, if you got up and started talking about Jesus, you'd be run out on a rail. … The UUA [Unitarian Universalist Association] is extremely intolerant." Chief among Burton's other complaints is that the UUA is largely full of atheists and "almost devoid of religious content." Whether or not the UUA is "extremely intolerant," they're not letting the AUA form without a fight. "They're trying to steal our identity," UUA president John Buehrens tells The Boston Globe, "and they're not going to get away with it."
"You will be a vegetable"
"Imagine Luther Vandross jacked up on 10 espressos and dressed as a giant vegetable, and you have some sense of what we're dealing with here." That's Baltimore Sun columnist Kevin Cowherd's description of Kenny Carter, a.k.a. Peppy the Pepper at Rosedale Super Fresh. "He's a whirlwind of activity, cruising the aisles at warp speed, greeting customers, hugging old ladies, even singing to them." Carter, apparently, used to be a drug dealer and pimp until the day he heard God at church. "It was a very powerful worship," he tells Cowherd.
I was crying out in the middle of church: "Oh, God! Oh, God!" And suddenly I heard an audible male voice that said: "You will be a vegetable." … I looked around, thought I was going crazy! I began to worship again. I said: "Lord, speak to me." And I heard it again: "You will be a vegetable." I turned to my wife Paula and said: "I just heard from God." She said: "You did? What did he say?" I said: "I'm going to be a vegetable." And she just cracked up right there.
Yeah, you laugh. But if God told you to be a vegetable, would you have a bell pepper costume made, get a job at the supermarket, and sing "I'm Peppy the Pepper, how do you do? Welcome to Super Fresh, we love you!" to everyone who walked in the door?
- Faith-based battle on Capitol Hill | When President Bush decided to build a T-ball field on the White House lawn, he handed the job to his office on faith-based programs. Not that T-ball has anything to do with religion, but aides figured that a staff battered by criticism could use a unifying diversion. (Associated Press)
- Religion battle fires up in Washington | Congress began wading through the tricky details of sending tax dollars to religious groups this week, as supporters and opponents of the plan stepped up their lobbying efforts. (Associated Press)
- Church-based projects lack data on results | There is little reliable research proving the effectiveness of religious programs, and scant evidence showing which religious programs show the best results and how they stack up against secular programs. (The New York Times)
- Bush faith initiative praised, criticized | Republicans in Congress Tuesday praised President Bush´s faith-based initiative as needed welfare reform while Democrats, in the first hearing on the plan, criticized it as a back-door effort to undermine civil rights. (The Washington Times)
- Study: Black churches activism spotty | Study shows such activism more focused on voter registration and getting people to the polls than on shaping public policy (Associated Press and Baltimore Sun)
- Moon tries to connect with Black pastors | Controversy, theology keep some from Unification Church leader's D.C. appearance (The Washington Post)
- Native Americans blend cultural ancestry, Christian beliefs | Along with the drum and flute music, the Tribe of Christ members connect to their claims of Native American ancestry through jewelry, such as turquoise bracelets, feathered earrings and beaded necklaces. (Religion News Service/Fort Worth Star- Telegram)
- Lutheran bishops 'reminded' of their responsibilities | As St. Paul church readies to ordain lesbian pastor, church officials tell active and retired bishops they are to act "in conformity" with church laws. (Religion News Service/Fort Worth Star- Telegram)
- Missionaries' church casts net wide (The New York Times)
- Attack on missionaries called God's will | Friends, kin mourn loss, say divine hand guided incident. They are baffled by official accounts. (Los Angeles Times)
- Disaster unlikely to silence missionaries' message | Despite political unrest, disease and natural disasters, missionaries often disregard their own safety. (Knight Ridder. The Miami Herald)
- Baby was answered prayer for infertile mother | Peruvian missionary Veronica Bowers had long prayed for a daughter—but months after adopting her beloved baby girl, she and her infant were killed by the same bullet. (New York Post)
- A profession not for the faint of faith | It's hard enough for most Americans these days to understand why anyone would be a missionary. But when you bring children into the equation, as Jim Bowers and his late wife, Veronica, did in their Peruvian work, well, even sympathetic folks may scratch their heads. (Rod Dreher, New York Post)
- Stricken pilot's plea: 'Save us' (USA Today)
- Latest: Yahoo full coverage
Philadelphia minister shot:
- Preacher, 19, is mourned and praised | Nafes Johnson was honored during services at a S. Phila. church. He was killed Friday. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Also: Stray bullet kills Philadelphia minister (Associated Press)
- Also: Stray bullet kills Jr. minister | Nafes Johnson saw the drugs and violence all around him as he grew up in South Philadelphia—and he wanted nothing to do with it. (Philadelphia Daily News)
Missions and ministry:
- NASCAR races at God's speed | Ministry helps drivers keep faith amid the danger. (The Washington Post)
- Earlier: Max Helton: Bringing Christ to the track (Christian Reader, Mar/Apr 1999)
- The caped clergyman | Priest also aids his church as Priesto the magician (New York Daily News)
- Southern Baptists credit growth to evangelism (Associated Press)
Naked Jesus painting at JFK airport raises concerns:
- Blushing, then brushing, artist covers nude Christ | Several strokes of paint in the form of a loincloth have quieted the latest furor over controversial religious art in New York, this time in a new terminal at Kennedy International Airport. (The New York Times)
- Emergency Y-fronts flown in for X-rated Christ | New York fell victim to an outbreak of political correctness this week when an artist responsible for a giant painted relief in a soon-to-be-opened arrivals terminal at John F Kennedy Airport agreed to paint a white loincloth over a previously nude Jesus Christ. (The Independent, London)
- Why following the Jedi faith makes perfect census | In a galaxy much too close for comfort, dark figures are preparing to attack. (Tim Ferguson, The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Prayer of Jabez: Author tackles twin topics of materialism and religion | An Atlanta author has transformed an ancient Hebrew's cry for help into a Christian publishing phenomenon. (Cox/Chicago Tribune)
- Federal suit blames video-game makers for Columbine shooting | The families of several victims in the Columbine massacre have filed a lawsuit against companies that create violent video games and sex-oriented Web sites, claiming their products influenced the gunmen. (Associated Press/Freedom Forum)
- Columbine victim's story one of faith | Church hears parents of slain Colorado teen tell of her inner turmoil and tragic death. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Expert urges parents to embrace challenge of 'black sheep' kids | Difficult children be seen as providing the opportunity to fully realize the sacrifice, joy and rewards that come with being a parent, says Bruderhof writer (Chicago Tribune)
- Bush administration order halts stem cell meeting | NIH planned session to review fund requests (The Washington Post)
- Findings deepen debate on using embryonic cells (The New York Times)
- Rival forces heat up campus abortion debate | As rival forces in the abortion debate weigh the impact of the Bush presidency and prepare for expected battles over Supreme Court nominations, college students have become a prime target of mobilization efforts. (Associated Press)
- When will we act on Sudan's slave trade? | Millions of Americans have been made unknowing partners to the slave trade in Sudan because mutual funds or pension funds they hold contain Talisman stock. (Charles Jacobs, The Boston Globe)
- U.S. shamefully silent on Africa's slave trading | If there were ever an issue that deserved the attention of dedicated activists who can attract television cameras, congressional hearings and U.N. resolutions, the modern slave trade is it. (Cynthia Tucker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Michael Jackson to tackle child slavery | Singer travels to Sudan (BBC)
- Nigeria Muslims demand stricter Shari'ah enforcement | The National Council of Ulamas said Zamfara was the only one out the six states that have adopted sharia that had adequately applied the law. (Reuters)
- Christians told to leave faith or leave Bhutan | Christians in Bhutan, who make up only 0.33 percent of the population, are facing some of the strongest opposition and persecution they have ever experienced, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports (EWTN)
- Vatican OKs Armenian martyr | Also 26 Ukrainians killed by Communists after World War II (Associated Press)
- FBI: U.S. Priest in Kenya Committed Suicide (The Washington Post)
- FBI report on priest's death sparks row | Kenya's Catholic bishops will meet to discuss controversial conclusion of suicide. (Panafrican News Agency)
- Tying loose ends in Kaiser report | Any open-minded person who reads the report on Father John Kaiser's death - released in Nairobi on Thursday - will accept it, but rather grudgingly. (The Nation, Nairobi)
- Earlier: A Death in Kenya: Father John Kaiser (Special report, St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press)
- Till God us do part | Last week Jane Fonda and Ted Turner filed for divorce. Fonda has become a devout Baptist and Turner resented being number three in the marriage. They are not alone. (The Sunday Times, London)
- Illinois may require premarital education (Mark Brown, Chicago Sun-Times)
- Mrs. Cheney backs gay appointment | "A person who is gay should have every opportunity." (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Gays irked by Swift no on marriage | Not yet 24 hours into her tenure as acting governor of Massachusetts, Jane M. Swift slammed the door shut on same-sex marriages. And hard. (The Boston Globe)
Other articles of interest:
- Archbishop George Carey 'has learned' from the New Age movement (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- The new creationists | Seattle's Discovery Institute leads a national movement challenging Darwinism. (Seattle Weekly)
- All the Jonestown questions answered—except 'Why?' | But survivors of 1978 massacre provide crucial insight (The National Post, Canada)
- Man sentenced to life imprisonment for killing church volunteer | Tevarus Daniels was the second of two men to be sentenced for the 1999 murder of Donel Holmes. (WPLG, Miami)
- India's history goes more Hindu | Critics warn this month's decision to replace texts will push majority culture at the expense of others (The Christian Science Monitor)
- The enduring history of America [Er, shouldn't that be Armenia? -ed.] | This year Armenia will pass an extraordinary historical benchmark. In 301 AD, after 13 years in a narrow, dirt pit, St. Gregory the Iluminator was called, like Joseph and the Egyptian pharaohs, to tend to a king. (Linda J. Melconian, The Boston Globe)
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