Pastors warn Christian food and clothing bank not to be too Christian

Pastors warn Christian food and clothing bank not to be too Christian
It is called Lebanon County Christian Ministries, and it is operated by a coalition of churches in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. But as the food and clothing bank's board has tried to address people's spiritual needs along with their physical ones, it has run into trouble. And it seems that much of the trouble is from the pastors of the sponsoring churches.

The Harrisburg Patriot-News explains, "The organization's bylaws state that its ministry 'is a witness to our Christian faith,' but also says it welcomes 'the cooperation of others who wish to share in these ministries as an expression of their own faith commitment.'"

Commitment, however, may be too strong a word.

"A proposed 'faith statement' drawn up as part of a plan to meet clients' spiritual needs drew fire this summer from some ministers and church members," The Patriot-News reports. The statement was scrapped, and now the board is moving more slowly in its efforts.

"The Rev. Richard Luciotti of St. Mark's United Church of Christ said he's pleased the agency is rethinking the policy," says the paper. "He said the first faith statement was 'extremely narrow' and would have excluded some religions."

Excluding some religions from "Christian ministries"? Oh no!

Dwight Hein, pastor of Salem United Church of Christ said the member churches "believe LCCM's purpose 'is to serve those in need, not to proselytize or convert those in need.'"

Who's to say what kind of spiritual direction one should give, asks John Binkley of Trinity United Church of Christ. "What is the right spiritual direction of an organization that purports to be diverse and ecumenical?"

It's not like we want to prevent God-talk, explains Philip Guistwite of Zion Evangelical Congregational Church. But we want to be careful about "violating others' religious freedom."

Weblog doesn't know anything about this ministry, these churches, or these pastors. It may be that they have much more biblical convictions than The Patriot-News stories indicate. (A reminder: Weblog is a feature rounding up what's on the Web, so we don't do original interviews or reporting.) But it sure sounds like these pastors think offering people bread is only good if you're not offering the Bread of Life.

NPR station warns against advocacy, abortion group screams censorship

NPR station warns against advocacy, abortion group screams censorship
WUNC, the National Public Radio station in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is partially underwritten by Ipas. What's Ipas? Here's how the group described itself in its on-air announcement of the underwriting: "a Chapel Hill-based nonprofit that protects women's reproductive health and rights at home and abroad."

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Radio station officials recently became concerned about that description, saying the term "reproductive rights" is loaded language that would suggest the station is taking a position in the abortion debate. "The FCC prohibits public radio stations from airing underwriting announcements that advocate political, social, or religious causes," notes The News & Observer of Raleigh.

Ipas, predictably, is crying censorship. "We disagree with WUNC's decision and regret that they have taken such a reactionary position," executive vice president Anu Kumar says in a press release. "What concerns me is the chilling effect of the world we're living in."

Besides, says Kumar, reproductive rights doesn't mean abortion. "Among other things, it means the right to infertility treatments, the right to contraception, the right to information, the right to live free of rape and violence. In global forums, those meanings are universally understood."

Of course, all of those things could also qualify under the alternate phrase WUNC suggested, "reproductive health." And while Ipas's website does have items on these other issues, it's overwhelmingly concerned with promoting abortion.

No word on the controversy from the campus group Carolina Students for Life. If it ever sponsored some NPR programming, one wonders what the announcement might say.

More articles

Catholic bishops' meeting:

  • U.S. Catholic bishops agree to join new ecumenical group | The top hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States decided to join the broadest alliance of Christian churches in the country so far (The New York Times)
  • Bishops okay commitment to abuse reforms | Some victims and lay people said they saw evidence that the bishops were committed to their reforms, although lay advocates cautioned more changes were needed (Associated Press)
  • U.S. bishops join Christian forum | Marriage issues surface at summit (Chicago Tribune)
  • Cardinal defends his own | "Partisan forces" and the media are trying to pit U.S. bishops against one another, clerics are told (The Denver Post)
  • New U.S. leader: Catholic bishops have had it rough | Skylstad sidesteps issues of whether Catholic politicians who publicly dissent from church teachings on abortion should be offered Communion and the cost of the child sexual-abuse crisis (USA Today)
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  • Dioceses to self-audit on child protection | America's Roman Catholic bishops decided yesterday to scale back their method of sex-abuse compliance audits, replacing the independent field investigators who have visited dioceses for the last two years with a self-reporting system in which dioceses fill out questionnaires. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Catholic bishops' marriage initiative:

  • Catholic bishops launch marriage initiative | U.S. Catholic bishops on Wednesday launched an ambitious plan to promote marriage, an institution they see as being under extreme pressure, not specifically from those who favor homosexual unions but from the general difficulty of getting and staying married (Associated Press)
  • Bishops approve marriage initiative | The nation's Catholic bishops voted overwhelmingly yesterday to begin a pastoral initiative on marriage, saying deficiencies in the church's public witness on the subject plus the national debate on same-sex "marriage" compels them to act (The Washington Times)
  • Bishops okay plan to bolster marriage | Catholics to battle 'threats' of divorce, same-sex weddings (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Bishop Rodi joins push for Christian unity, marriage | Biloxi's Bishop Thomas J. Rodi joined a majority of American Catholic bishops Wednesday to approve joining Christian Churches Today, a new broad-based ecumenical group (The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.)
  • Catholic bishops initiate bid to bolster marriage | The nation's Catholic bishops embarked yesterday on an ambitious effort to promote marriage, using high-profile consultations with theologians, social scientists and Catholic couples to draft a pastoral letter (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


  • Pope health seen stable, eyes N. Ireland trip | Pope John Paul's health has stabilized recently, so much so that the Pontiff has expressed a desire to make at least two major trips abroad next year, including one to Northern Ireland (Reuters)
  • 16 churches for sale worth $28m | But valuations don't take all factors into account, assessors say (The Boston Globe)
  • Catholic priest to return to parishes | Has been on medical leave since viewing porn (Courier & Press, Evansville, Ind.)
  • Secrecy clouds Sullivan case | The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, by settling a sex-abuse lawsuit, tacitly branded the late Bishop Joseph V. Sullivan a sexual predator (Editorial, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)

The bishops & politics:

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  • Cardinal blames partisan forces in dispute | Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick blamed the media and partisan activists for unjustly attacking U.S. Roman Catholic bishops who spoke out this election year on whether dissenting Catholic politicians should receive Communion. He accused them of spreading internal dissension among church leaders (Associated Press)
  • Bishops avoid abortion showdown | Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington said yesterday that neither the Vatican nor the majority of U.S. bishops think the Roman Catholic Church should routinely deny Communion to politicians because of their stand on abortion (The Washington Post)
  • Bishops spilt on withholding Communion | Won't set policy for Catholic politicians who support abortion (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.)

Religion & politics:

  • Moral inferiority | S.F. Democrats have talked "values" for years, but it's all been empty talk. To make a national comeback, Demos need to concentrate on moral works (Matt Smith, SF Weekly, San Francisco)
  • Of church and state | Certainly, the church has every right to oppose gay marriage. It can use its political clout to lobby against it and urge its membership to oppose it. That goes without saying. But it makes for a very odd litmus test, one applied only to lawmakers of a certain religious faith (Adrian Walker, The Boston Globe)
  • One religious party is too many | The last thing the Democrats should do is forsake their duty to protect our Constitution (Susan Jacoby, Newsday)
  • Bush and the Christian Right on the rampage | The Christian Right's power is not in its numbers but in an overriding sense of purpose. Abortion rights can only be defended by returning to our proud principles, resurrecting the demand for "abortion without apology" and launching organizations that can mount a grass-roots counter offensive whenever Christian zealots mobilize--be it at the abortion clinic, the pharmacy or the Supreme Court (Sharon Smith, Socialist Worker)
  • GOP may go 'nuclear' on judges | Senate Republicans are considering taking the rare step of enacting a rules change to disable Democrats' ability to block Supreme Court nominees (CBS News)
  • Red state values, blue state values | Christian author Max Lucado compares the values of both kinds of Christians and talks about how to heal the nation (Beliefnet)

Arlen Specter:

  • Specter satisfies caucus concerns | Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said yesterday that Sen. Arlen Specter has addressed the concerns of the caucus and the Tennessee Republican signaled that Mr. Specter will be the next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (The Washington Times)
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  • The Specter spectacle | If prolifers are praying for his ouster, does that mean he's a prochoice savior? Not exactly. (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)


  • Abbott rules out public funds to fight abortion | Tony Abbott has belatedly ruled out using taxpayer-funded resources to help him agitate for changes to the Government's "status quo" stance on abortion. In Parliament yesterday, the federal Health Minister initially refused to guarantee that he would not use public resources to press his case for change (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Pill row raises fears on abortion | Feminists have persuaded the Democrats to delay a Senate debate on the banned abortion pill RU-486, fearing it would reignite the campaign to outlaw abortion (The Australian)

Same-sex marriage:

  • Same-sex marriage ruling one year later | Since the highest court in Massachusetts declared that the state constitution guarantees gays the right to marry, it's the intangible joys — not the material benefits — that newlyweds say they savor (Associated Press)
  • New gay political strategies | Timing is everything in politics: In America in 2004, gay marriage was not an idea whose time had come (James Driscol, The Washington Times)
  • Activists seek wider gay-marriage rights | Sticking to goals despite impact on US election (The Boston Globe)
  • Fewer gay couples seek marriage licenses | The number of gay and lesbian couples applying for marriage licenses has slowed to a trickle since a rush to the altar in the days after same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts on May 17, according to state records and a Globe survey of large cities and towns (The Boston Globe)
  • Fighting for gay rights in full cry | Councilwoman Christine C. Quinn says she feels "a sense of responsibility" to move the gay rights agenda as forward as possible (The New York Times)
  • A gay marriage milestone | One year after the Massachusetts imposition democratic process emerges the winner (W. James Antle III, The American Spectator)

Marriage & family:

  • Chile introduces right to divorce | Chile has become one of the last countries in the world to grant married couples the right to divorce (BBC)
  • Maryland churches to rally for marriage | A bipartisan group of Maryland lawmakers has organized more than 500 church congregations for a huge rally in Annapolis to lobby for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex "marriage." (The Washington Times)
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  • 'Stop wedding pregnant women' | The Bishop of South Rwenzori Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Jackson Nzarebende has cautioned the clergy in the diocese against wedding pregnant women and girls in church (The Monitor, Uganda)

Religion & morality:

  • Under the cover of Islam | from Amsterdam to Barcelona to Paris to Berlin, people incredulously ask me one type of question that I'm never asked in the United States and Canada: Why does an independent-minded woman care about God? Why do you need religion at all? (Irshad Manji, The New York Times)
  • Pell speech hurts efforts to boost ties, says Muslim | Catholic Archbishop of Sydney George Pell was undermining the Pope's efforts to build bridges with Islam, a leading Muslim said yesterday (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Blasphemy law revival upsets the Dutch elite | A proposal to revive a blasphemy law to calm sectarian tensions in Holland has outraged artists, writers and the political elite (The Telegraph, London)
  • What do you think of religion? | Interesting "man on the street" responses (Japan Today)
  • Be careful whom you tolerate | Tolerance was in effect a form of ceasefire. Holland has taken that consensus for granted. Liberty has turned into licentiousness, and tolerance for dissenters has become little more than rank relativism and nihilism (Jonah Goldberg, The Washington Times)
  • Secularism is no moral vacuum | Religion doesn't have a monopoly on ethics, and it's not the answer to our woes (Thornton McCamish, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

Church & state:

  • Congress votes to repair missions | The House earmarks $10 million to restore state landmarks. Critics protest the action (Los Angeles Times)
  • Town wasting money in high court appeal, legal experts contend | The town of Great Falls is likely fighting a losing battle in its effort to keep the name of Jesus Christ in its council meeting prayers, several legal experts say (The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C.)
  • ACLU: State violates decree | The ACLU of Louisiana claims the Governor's Office is violating a 2002 federal court agreement by using government funds to promote religion on its sexual abstinence Web site (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)

War & terrorism:

  • Pope condemns use of religion for violence | Pope John Paul II received Muslim, Orthodox Christian and Jewish religious leaders from Azerbaijan, calling their visit Thursday a symbol of tolerance and declaring that religion must never be used for violent aims (Reuters)
  • Nigeria lifts Plateau emergency | Nigeria has formally lifted the six-month state of emergency in the central highland state of Plateau (BBC)
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  • U.N. chief urges warning on Sudan fighting | Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the Security Council on Thursday to issue "the strongest warning" to the forces fighting in Sudan to bring an end to the civil wars there (Associated Press)

Religious liberty in U.S.:

  • Rumsfeld urged to 'defend' Scouts movement | A lawmaker and veterans are calling on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to reverse administration lawyers who agreed to warn military bases against officially sponsoring the Boy Scouts of America as part of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (The Washington Times)
  • Bell ringers blocked | Salvation Army concerned as some stores restrict access (Portsmouth Herald, N.H.)
  • Christian group sues for right to discriminate | Christian Legal Society said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday against Arizona State University officials that it should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of religious and sexual orientation (Associated Press)


  • Regents rethink rule | Faith-based group wants members to support tenets
  • 'Gay-straight' clubs in schools anger foes | Family groups and state lawmakers say "gay-straight" student clubs in the region — some even are operating at middle schools — promote homosexuality and encourage teens to be sexually active (The Washington Times)
  • Fate of Christian school hangs on safety violations | A private Christian school in Bradenton could be shut down if it doesn't address some serious public safety issues, according to Bradenton Fire Department officials (The Bradenton Herald, Fla.)
  • Men turn to God over G'town High violence | Several hundred men, perhaps as many as 1,000, answered the call from community clergymen to march to Germantown High School yesterday morning to pray for the students. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Creation theory gets boost | Schools should teach the biblical creation story alongside evolutionary theory, Family First chairman Peter Harris said yesterday (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Lawsuit against Ursuline denied | Teacher fired after she put her name on newspaper advertisement backing abortion rights (The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.)

Church life:

  • Seceding churches might be sued as 1 | Judge issues a stay until Dec. 9, when he'll make his decision whether to combine case against St. James with two others (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • Commission set to mediate for St. Andrew's officials, neighbors | Hoping to break the stalemate, a number of issues remain, such as maximum occupancy and hours of operation (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
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  • Even with revisions, church project too big | The proposed expansion of St. Andrew's Church is clearly a very emotional issue (Jim Carmack, Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • Group proposes building study site for clergy | Pilgrims' Peace Center's members are proposing a 20-acre campus with a church, chapel, offices, dormitories and classrooms north of Crystal River (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

Missions & ministry:

  • Goal is to make homelessness 'rare' | 50 agencies to develop 10-year plan (The Washington Post)
  • Graham comes full circle with mission | Billy Graham, 86, will speak about 30 minutes a day Thursday evening through Sunday in the 92,000-seat Rose Bowl — one of the biggest stadiums he's ever booked (Associated Press)
  • New balls for 'God's squad' | Genesis FC are not a typical football team (BBC, audio, video)
  • Ministry rethinks religious referrals | A coalition of churches that runs a food and clothing bank and serves free noon meals should tread carefully in presenting religion to clients, delegates from area churches told the board of directors Tuesday night (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)
  • Saints inspire, remind us of all that's left to be done | The lives of the saints challenge us (Peg Pfab, The Oregonian)

Mormon dialogue:

  • Anderson holds forums aimed at bridging Utah's religious divide | If Wednesday night's packed meeting is any indication, there is a groundswell of people who want to heal Salt Lake City's religious divide (The Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Utahns open up on 'divide' | Goal of forum is to bridge state's religion-based split (Deseret Morning News)


  • Ashcroft's last stand | If ever a man deserved the death penalty, it's Joseph C. Massino. And for once, Ashcroft is right (Richard Cohen, The Washington Post)
  • Reward offered for 'baby Jesus' | The South Australian Brewing Company has offered six cases of beer to anyone who can produce a Jesus figuring stolen from a nativity display (AAP, Australia)

Amish buggy manual:

  • By the book: Demand high for buggy manual | Pennsylvania's first instruction book for operators of single-horsepower vehicles, just off the presses, is as popular as cold lemonade at an August barn raising (The Sentinel, Carlisle, Pa.)
  • Earlier: Amish get drivers manuals | The Lancaster Highway Safety Council has introduced a driver's manual for Amish horse and buggy operators (Associated Press, November 10)
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Other articles of interest:

  • Christian-music artists return home | Band name changes, sound is slightly different but siblings' mission remains the same deck (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)
  • Shaker story throws drama, not caution, to wind | Like the religion he honors, Jim Lillie's humble musical play "Hearts to God" is a sincere exercise in simplicity, utility and faith (The Denver Post)
  • Prayer breakfast draws strong tech turnout | The guest speakers appearing before a sold-out breakfast of 600 tech executives usually hold forth on such topics as cable communications and early-stage venture funding. But on this they have a different topic: their spiritual journeys (The Washington Post)

Related Elsewhere:

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