Some churches: We've already prayed, Mr. President
"Not to be critical, but the president is a little late," Reginald Jackson, president of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, says in an Associated Press story about today's National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"While many houses of worship planned to participate, several others around the country said they had already held such services and would not join the president. Some said they were so angry over the government's sluggish response to blacks and poor people in New Orleans, who waited days for rescue, that they would not heed Bush's request," Associated Press religion writer Rachel Zoll reports.
Bush took part in a memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington.
"Through prayer we look for ways to understand the arbitrary harm left by this storm and the mystery of undeserved suffering," he says. "And in our search we're reminded that God's purposes are sometimes impossible to know here on Earth. Yet even as we're humbled by forces we cannot explain, we take comfort in the knowledge that no one is ever stranded beyond God's care. The Creator of wind and water is also the source of even a greater power a love that can redeem the worst tragedy, a love that is stronger than death."
More than 300 people gathered at St. Paul's Cathedral in London for a memorial service there, too.
U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi also issued a statement on the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, quoting Amos: "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."
"It is also through our prayers today that we are renewed and reminded of the work ahead," Pelosi said. "Our actions must reflect our words. Our deeds must be as bold as our prayers. If not, then we have made a mockery of the worshipful act of prayer."
On a related note, the White House website's "Ask the White House" forum today will have Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, answering questions about faith-based hurricane relief efforts, and, one imagines, the church-state issues being raised. When it's over (it starts at 2 p.m. Friday), you can read the transcript here.
The Anglican game
"Guess What the Anglican Leaders Really Meant" is a very popular game among a certain set of our readers. Why it's so popular, Weblog has no idea; the game certainly isn't very fun, the rules keep changing, and it just drags on and on and on. As a wise machine once said, it's "a strange game, professor; the only way to win is not to play."
But anyway, if you like to play, be sure to check out the all-new Nigeria version.
The Anglican Church in Nigeria's General Synod, which is very orthodox and represents the largest Anglican body in the world, has rewritten its constitution.
"All former references to 'communion with the see of Canterbury' were deleted and replaced with another provision of communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the 'Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament, and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church,'" says a press release.
Bush urges prayer after Katrina:
- Many churches heed Bush's call for prayer | But once again, several pastors said, the government was a step behind (Associated Press)
- 'Prayer can change things' | In the aftermath of natural disasters, people of every spiritual belief experience a multitude of emotions, religious leaders say (The Saginaw News, Mi.)
- Join in national day of prayer | Today, people who always pray each day will pray. Others will make a special effort to offer a prayer because this has been declared a national day of prayer by President Bush. (Editorial, The Bismarck Tribune, N.D.)
- Evacuees criticize Dream Center | Those in the shelter say they have been asked to consent to drug tests and room searches. A pastor calls the charge 'almost too crazy to respond to' (Los Angeles Times)
- Evacuees get faith foothold | At the gates of Camp Katrina, it has become a familiar sight: church vans coming and going, shuttling hurricane survivors to Wal-Mart, church services or the post office (The Denver Post)
- Church provides evacuees a haven | Members open their homes to aid displaced (Houston Chronicle)
- Schools stretched, Shreveport diocese seeks federal help | Schools stretched, Shreveport diocese seeks federal help (The News-Star, Monroe. La.)
- Congress passes new tax incentives to encourage donations | Provisions -- which would expire January 1, 2006 -- would in most cases apply to any charitable donations, not just gifts related to Hurricane Katrina (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)
- Where was God? | In the aftermath of cataclysms like Katrina, the old questions sometimes yield new answers (Nancy Gibbs, Time)
- Medford church's sign at odds with the time | A fundamentalist Medford church came under fire yesterday for posting a sign on its front lawn suggesting the death and destruction Hurricane Katrina wreaked on New Orleans was divine retribution (Boston Globe)
Religion & politics:
- Turning the pulpit into a political platform is a long tradition that should continue | I don't agree with what I believe to be narrow-minded views on such matters as gay rights. But I agree with the right of the right to preach about them (Herb Brock, The Advocate Messenger, Danville, Ky.)
- Be separate from them | Christians move to South Carolina with plans to secede (Philip Jenkins, The Wall Street Journal)
- Intelligible design| Intellectually, scientifically, even artistically, fundamentalism is a road to nowhere, because it insists on fidelity to revealed truths that are not true (Katha Pollitt, The Nation)
- Christianity's religion problem | We've entered a Sept. 11 era of religious fanaticism, making the role of religion in public life deeply suspect. At exactly the moment when the need for effective Christian leadership could not be greater, it remains difficult to find (Joseph Loconte, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
- What a friend we have in . . . Che Guevara? | By promoting a poster which makes the son of God look like Pol Pot in kindergarten, they have not only made the mistake of following a fashion which went out with the fondue, they have also invited uncomfortable parallels between two figures who have benefited posthumously from the power of propaganda. How could they have got it so wrong? (Lucy Bannerman, The Herald, Glasgow)
John Roberts hearings:
- Roberts sidesteps meaty issues for now | Chief Justice nominee John Roberts could not be pinned down this week on subjects like abortion and assisted suicide. Next month might be another story (Associated Press)
- Roe v. Roberts | If you're a conservative looking for a return to the good old days, you'll be disappointed with Roberts (Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post)
- 'I'm not an ideologue,' Roberts tells Senate panel | Saying that his loyalties are to the Constitution and "the rule of law," Roberts said that he had displayed no ideological bias during his two years as a federal appeals court judge and that he had, during 13 years in private practice, represented clients on all sides of contentious issues (The Washington Post)
- Pressed on compassion, Roberts defers to law | Liberals and conservatives came to opposite interpretations of Roberts's answers about compassion (The Boston Globe)
Mitt Romney says mosques should be tapped:
- Groups criticize Romney's comments | Massachusetts governor urged wiretapping of mosques and monitoring of attendees (The Washington Post)
- Romney's slip | A would-be president should know better than to slight Muslims, a vital foreign policy constituency (Editorial, The Boston Globe)
Religion & politics (non-U.S.):
- NCCK speaks of ignorance on draft constitution | The National Council of Churches of Kenya said majority of Kenyans were still in the dark regarding the contents of the Wako draft (The East African Standard, Kenya)
- Adams: Rioting won't stop disarmament | Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said Thursday four nights of rioting in Northern Ireland will not disrupt the Irish Republican Army's disarmament process (Associated Press)
- 'Pak must change anti-Christian laws' | A prominent Christian leader today urged Pakistan's government to abolish harsh blasphemy laws under which hundreds Christians are arrested each year, with most spending years in jails before being freed or convicted (India Express)
- Lawmakers override governor's contraception veto | Move will ease morning-after pill's availability (The Boston Globe)
- Saving Plan B from the zealots | The FDA has given politics a veto over science (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)
- Mass. lawmakers override contraception veto (Associated Press)
- Fertility ships to offer a way out to couples hit by tougher UK rules | Restrictions make Britain a big potential market (The Guardian, London)
- Memorial service held for fetuses found in garage | About 60 people gathered last night for an interfaith prayer service to remember the more than 300 fetuses whose remains were discovered in a McKeesport garage that had once belonged to a suspended funeral director (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- A world without Roe: What will it look like? | Many hard-liners who are spending their lives agitating to make abortion illegal can't imagine a world in which women are sent to jail for undergoing a medical procedure (Julia Null Smith, Austin American-Statesman, Tex.)
Kansas abortion debate:
- Lawsuits test Missouri on abortion restrictions | Law aimed at those who help teens go out of state (The Kansas City Star)
- Abortion rights group sues over new law | Springfield's only abortion provider forced to suspend procedures (Springfield News-Leader, Mo.)
- New abortion law brings immediate response | Gov. Matt Blunt couldn't wait to sign new abortion restrictions into law Thursday. Nor could critics of the legislation wait to challenge it in court (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mo.)
- Kline clarifies records request | Attorney General Phill Kline said Thursday that his office does not need identifying information of the women whose abortion clinic medical records he is seeking (The Kansas City Star, Mo.)
Church & state:
- Gonzales says Justice Dept. to fight for pledge | Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Thursday that the Justice Department will fight to overturn a federal court ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance can't be recited in public schools because it contains a reference to God (Associated Press)
- Church stops flat-tax proposal | Room to give: The statement from LDS leaders wants charitable deductions to be spared (The Salt Lake Tribune)
- Pledge of Allegiance primarily about patriotism | Reciting the pledge teaches discipline and keeps us mindful of the price of our freedom (The Clanton Advertiser, Ala.)
- Conservatives ascendant in Charles schools | Critics worry that shift on board opens door to religious emphasis (The Washington Post)
- Other Christian school leaders: No problems with UC | While one local Christian school has sued the University of California, alleging a bias against some classes in their college-preparatory curriculum, three other Southwest County faith-based schools say they have had little problem getting their schedules approved (The Californian, Bakersfield)
- Moscow Court considers Russian astrologer's case against NASA | Marina Bai accuses the U.S. space agency of upsetting the natural state of the universe by conducting an experiment that involved a probe impacting on a comet (MosNews)
- Doubt less | In California, evidence that the same-sex marriage doomsayers were wrong (E. J. Graff, The New Republic)
- Next, Massachusetts | For the second time in as many weeks, a state legislature has bucked the ugly trend of writing discrimination against gays into state law (Editorial, The Washington Post)
Lots of findings in sexuality survey:
- Survey finds more women try bisexuality | 11.5 percent of women, ages 18 to 44, said they've had at least one sexual experience with another woman in their lifetimes, compared with about 4 percent of women, ages 18 to 59, who said the same in a comparable survey a decade earlier (Associated Press)
- Married Americans remaining faithful | More than 90 percent of married Americans said they were faithful to their spouses in 2002, according to a new federal report on sexual behavior that includes data on men for the first time (The Washington Times)
- Nationwide survey includes data on teenage sex habits | The government's most comprehensive survey of American sexual practices delved for the first time into such sensitive areas as the prevalence of oral sex among teenagers (The New York Times)
- Study suggests shift in teen sex practices | A federal survey finds more than half of 15- to 19-year-olds have had oral sex, possibly as a safer alternative. But few report condom use (Los Angeles Times)
- Study: Half of all teens have had oral sex | Females and males report similar levels of experience (The Washington Post)
- Study: Sexual behavior and selected health measures: Men and women 15-44 years of age, United States, 2002 (National Center for Health Statistics)
Religion & homosexuality:
- Serving gays who serve God | The Unity Fellowship Church Movement is the only Christian denomination explicitly set up to serve gay, bisexual and transgender members of minority groups (The New York Times)
- Fiji church advertises its opposition to homosexuality | Fiji's Assemblies of God church has paid for an advertisement outlining its opposition to homosexuality (Radio Australia)
Vatican to survey seminaries for homosexuality:
- Gay Catholics criticize 'witch hunt' | A leading organization of gay Catholics is blasting the church for conducting what it calls a "witch hunt" aimed at gays (KMOV, St. Louis)
- Vatican to survey seminaries for homosexuality | Panel of bishops will also review more than 220 schools for faculty dissent (The Washington Post)
- Vatican bid to find gays in seminary stirs concern | An effort by the Vatican to look for evidence of homosexuality in Catholic seminaries is alarming gay rights advocates but is pleasing conservatives, who are hoping that Pope Benedict XVI will soon issue a ban on gay men as future priests (The Boston Globe)
- Vatican questions U.S. seminary life | A document distributed to faculty and seminarians at America's 229 Roman Catholic seminaries asks pointed questions about homosexuality, dissenting faculty members and aberrant theology (The Washington Times)
- Pope's visit to Turkey delayed | Turkey rebuffed a request for Pope Benedict XVI to visit in November, inviting him to come next year instead (The New York Times)
- Israeli rabbis urge pope on anti-Semitism | Israel's two chief rabbis met with Pope Benedict XVI and urged him Thursday to speak out against the destruction of synagogues that followed Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and other forms of anti-Semitism (Associated Press)
- Catholic Church recruits more student exorcists | The 10-week course includes sessions in exorcism rites, how to talk to the Devil, the tricks he uses to fight back and signs of the occult hidden in rock music and video games (The Telegraph, London)
- God, Inc. | It's hard to deny that behind every great deity, there's a pretty sound business plan (The Motley Fool)
- New hymn book puts strain on Christian shoulders | Pensioners are up in arms over a new church hymn book which they claim is too heavy to hold (Evening News, Edinburgh, Scotland)
- Church should humble itself, settle | A court victory would be a loss for faith (Editorial, News-Leader, Springfield, Mo.)
- Reincarnation no ground for excommunication | Can't read the article, but it sounds interesting (The Copenhagen Post, Denmark)
Missions & ministry:
- Layoffs in store for Focus | Changes will affect 79 employees who will be reassigned or laid off. In addition, 83 open positions will not be filled (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)
- Did Jews For Jesus succeed here? | Regional director Stephen Katz seems to be quite satisfied (Baltimore Jewish Times)
- Darfur talks start despite split | Government and rebel leaders from Sudan have begun the latest round of talks on the Darfur conflict (BBC)
- The shame of Darfur | One reason the Bush administration has not acted more forcefully is that the potent Christian groups involved in foreign affairsthose who anchored the religious coalition that compelled results in southern Sudan with unity and toughnesshave been fragmented in their response to Darfur (Allen D. Hertzke, First Things)
Religious freedom in UK:
- Clarke's draft bill proposes new offence of glorification | Defendants found guilty could face five years in jail; Liberty warns loose talk will become a criminal act (The Guardian, London)
- Methodist ministers targeted by racists | Police are investigating after a Methodist church was daubed with racist graffiti and received defaced Islamic leaflets through the post (The Times, London)
Television & film:
- Seinfeld who? NBC pursuing the heartland | NBC is using tactics evocative of a red-state presidential campaign to promote a new show aimed at a rural audience (The New York Times)
- Inspired by the movies, and buoyed by terror | "Devout Christians are the television minority group du jour" (The New York Times)
- How Sony courted Christian audiences for 'Emily Rose' | How does a movie that features a jailed priest, a young girl's convulsions, and a martini-swilling lawyer become a hit among churchgoers? (The Wall Street Journal)
- Whose God? | He views no religion with negativity, nor does he blaspheme any, but Bugalo Chilume vows never to render his worship to Jesus Christ, nor communicate his prayers through any other means, except his African ancestors (Mmegi, Botswana)
- Faithful must root out evil from scriptures | The claim of exclusivity my truth is the only truth is the principal culprit that triggers most of the violence in holy books and the jealous nature of their god. We must strike that spurious claim and others like it from all belief systems. Ridding religion of exclusivity means a radical reinterpretation of some of the central tenets of religious belief (Steve Gushee, Palm Beach Post)
- A future without religion | Sam Harris's best selling book The End of Faith, Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason launches a major assault on organized religion and points to it as the source of many of the problems of the world today (Amsterdam Forum, Radio Netherlands)
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