Don't mail Christian materials to soldiers, says U.S.
The post office in Lenoir, North Carolina, told Jack Moody that he couldn't mail Christian comic books and a book of Bible verses to his son, who is stationed as an Army National Guardsman in the Middle East. U.S. rules prohibit mailing "any matter containing religious materials contrary to Islamic faith," a postal clerk explained.
"At a time when members of our armed forces are risking their lives as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, it is inconceivable that their own freedoms and those of their parents would be curtailed by the U.S. government in an effort to impose political correctness on our armed forces," said Rutherford head John W. Whitehead in a press release. "The U.S. Constitution does not bow to the religious intolerance of other nations."
No, says Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders, but there's no use in mailing items if they'll be confiscated by customs agents. "That's reality. Anything going to another country has to go through Customs," he told The Charlotte Observer.
"The local post office should have let Moody ship the books," officials told the Observer. "The restriction doesn't apply to religious materials sent to individuals overseas, the wording of the regulation has caused confusion, and the MPSA is reviewing the regulation to try to clarify it."
But the Postal Service agrees that the rule, adopted around the time of the last Gulf War, is too vague. "Any matter containing religious materials contrary to Islamic faith or depicting nude or seminude persons, pornographic or sexual items, or nonauthorized political materials is prohibited," it says. But what are "materials contrary to Islamic faith?"
"If nothing else out of this, we need clarification, obviously," postal spokesman Bill Brown told the Observer. "We will make sure we do get it clarified. We just want to do the right thing by our troops over there."
Church and state:
- Pastors' trip questioned | Watchdog group says it objects to church training on base (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)
- Also: Church event set for base stirs concern | An invitation to predominantly Southern Baptist pastors to participate in a military-themed motivational program for Christian evangelists offends some. (The New York Times)
- Teens sue school over Bible club | Kent students say they were barred from forming group (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
- Bible club leaders file suit over school ban | Two Kentridge High students claim violation of rights (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
- California man sues over his treatment at plaza | Kurt Van Gorden was arrested for leafletting on the Main Street Plaza last April during the church's general conference (The Salt Lake Tribune)
- Also: Man files lawsuit against city and church for plaza arrest (Associated Press)
- Deputy fired for refusal to remove pins | Cross, guardian angel symbols worn by Jimmy Denton seen as breach of policy (Springfield [Mo.] News-Leader)
- Also: Howell County deputy says he was fired over religious pins (Associated Press)
Politics and law:
- Christians must fight plans to make poor poorer | In light of the Ohio General Assembly's intentions for addressing the state's budget crisis, the least of our brothers and sisters are in dire need of the faith community to rise to meet this expectation (Rich Aronson, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
- Muslims protest Bush nominee | Groups say peace institute choice Daniel Pipes sends 'wrong message' (The Washington Post)
- An unholy alliance with the Christian right | With Christian friends like these close to the president's ear, the right-wing government in Israel does not need Jewish friends to rebuff political initiatives like the road map to put an end to the Israeli occupation of the territories (Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz, Tel Aviv)
- Business, Christian groups pose dilemma for DeLay | The second ranking Republican in the House's newer allegiance to business lobbyists has led to a rupture with old friends in the evangelical Christian community, allies who had a major impact on DeLay's career when few on K Street even knew his name (The Hill, D.C.)
- Despite critics' predictions, Christian school survives 25 years | Wise County Christian School continues to provide a religious-based education at a price average people can afford (The Coalfield Progress, Norton, Va.)
- Duke Divinity School students wanted more say in ethics codes | Some students of the Duke Divinity School wanted more of an opportunity to consider an ethics policy that, among other things, requires students and faculty members to live in "chastity." (Associated Press)
- President of Southwestern Baptist seminary is resigning | Kenneth Hemphill will join national effort to help churches 'build God's kingdom' (The Dallas Morning News)
- Also: Seminary president takes national post | Hemphill's decision surprised the seminary community (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)
- Prayer to be banned at school assemblies | Churches object to aspects of draft policy on religion (Sunday Times, South Africa)
- Schools follow religion rules | The No Child Left Behind Act puts districts' federal funding at stake (The Press-Enterprise, Inland Southern California)
Money and business:
- Corporate challenge: Faith-based groups use their investments to influence big business | The more than 300 member faith-based organizations have a combined investment portfolio of over $110 billion, which they attempt to use to good things in corporate boardrooms (The Star-Ledger, N.J.)
- Biblical names characterize construction company's houses | His houses all bear the names of books of the Bible, but as astute an entrepreneur as Marco Island entrepreneur Dan Dufault is, there's no commercial ploy involved here (Marco Island [Fla.] Eagle)
- Giving pop radio a lift | Christian band MercyMe notches Dove nominations, DJ praise (The Tennessean)
- Putting faith in music | A Mattapan church joins a growing trend as it gets down to business with a new gospel record label (The Boston Globe)
- Who's the best in today's Christian music? | Believe it or not, the least stressful thing about Gospel Music Week is the Dove Awards ceremony. At least that's what most Christian music artists say. (Mansfield News Journal)
- Mainstreaming contemporary Christian | Stacie Orrico is just like your average 17-year-old girl … who has seen a career as a Christian music star carry her to mainstream music success and center stage on MTV's Total Request Live (The Tennessean)
- Dove Awards to go on, but mindful of war | Despite genre's popularity, gospel telecast won't air live (Associated Press)
- Sign-language Bible to be made for video, DVD | When completed, it will be the first Bible of its kind in the world, according to the Japan Deaf Evangel Mission (The Japan Times)
- Religious book kept out of mail to U.S. soldier | N.C. father sues Postal Service to allow Bible verses in Mideast mail (The Charlotte Observer)
Faith and spirituality:
- Where is religion's spirituality? | The crux of the difference between religion and spirituality is this: While each religion subscribes to a unique body of beliefs, spiritual experience is the same for all people in all religions at all times (Mary Ford-Grabowsky, Newsday)
- Gossip: How telling tales affects us down to the soul | Often, exchange of information can take an ugly turn to a much darker side (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Resurrecting the church | The church, it is said, is only ever one generation from extinction - a precarious state in which it has notched up nearly two millennia. But many today consider its position as dire as almost any time in its existence (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
- You don't need to believe in God to learn from religion | The common messages of Christianity, Judaism and Islam are too valuable to be ignored (Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, London)
Clergy sex abuse:
- Lay group calls for New Hampshire bishop to quit | The New Hampshire chapter of a national lay Catholic group has called for the resignation of the head of the Diocese of Manchester and his deputy (The New York Times)
- Scandal called threat to free worship | Several legal scholars suggest that the legal system had overreacted and perhaps acted capriciously (The New York Times)
- Harvard doctor attends Vatican talks | Martin P. Kafka said the Holy See's approach to sexual abuse treatment ''is quite reasonable and very positive.'' (The Boston Globe)
- Church disunity in the priest scandal | Church solidarity is the latest victim in the sorry scandal of priests sexually abusing young children (Editorial, The New York Times)
Other stories of interest:
- Some see a blessing, others a curse in a visiting python | Traditional villagers revere the snake as a harbinger of good fortune. Others, notably church leaders, see it as a symbol of evil (Los Angeles Times)
- Snake handlers hang on in Appalachian churches | While few outsiders are drawn to the dangerous and controversial practice, some predict it's future is assured (National Geographic News)
- King talk overlooks the King of Kings | They talked about King's relationship to such historical figures as Du Bois, Gandhi, Bunche, Rustin, Shuttlesworth and Mandela. They didn't talk about King's relationship with another historical figure, Jesus. (David Waters, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)
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