Today's Top Five
1. U.K.'s Minister for Women and Equality hounded on Catholicism
Devoutly Catholic British Labor MP Ruth Kelly is at the center of a national fight on homosexuality. Critics say that Kelly's religious views make her incapable of supporting equal rights for homosexuals in her new post as Minister for Women and Equality. Among the complainers is fellow MP Evan Harris, who told the gay U.K. news site PinkNews, "It doesn't help that the cabinet sponsor for gay rights who, through her religious views, does not support full equality."
Kelly told the same site, "People should be allowed to decide how they live their lives. I believe in a tolerant, diverse, multicultural society where everyone is protected from discrimination. I will fight discrimination, whether it be on the grounds of race, gender, disability or sexual orientation."
But it wasn't enough that Kelly said she would fight discrimination. For the last day or so, she has been hounded with one question: Does she believe homosexual behavior is sinful?
According to The Times, Kelly didn't respond directly, but turned the question around:
Is it possible to be a practicing Catholic and hold a portfolio in government. The answer is yes. Why? Because I am collectively responsible for Cabinet decisions, I firmly believe in equality and that everyone should be free of discrimination and I will fight to the end to make sure that's the case. I think everyone in society should be given the opportunity to fulfill their potential.
When asked again whether she thinks homosexual behavior is a sin, Kelly said, "I don't think it's right for politicians to start making moral judgments about people, it's the last thing I want to do or want to get into." The British press will likely be giving this saturation coverage for another day or so.
2. Belmont fight heats up
Belmont University in Nashville already had a fight on its hands when the school tried to amend its charter to allow non-Baptists to serve on its Board of Trustees. That fight got a lot hotter when someone discovered an agreement from the early 1950s that said donations from the Tennessee Baptist Convention to the school would have to be refunded if the convention ever lost control of the board. That would mean a loss of over $50 million. Yesterday, the convention turned down a $5 million offer from the school to sever tiesthen voted to fire the entire university board. It looks like the fight will now head into the courts.
3. Democratic candidate touts his Mormonism
While questions continue over whether Mitt Romney's Mormon faith would be a barrier to a presidential run, Nevada gubernatorial candidate Mayor Jim Gibson, a Democrat, seems to think that being a Mormon will help him. "Some Democrats are questioning the strategy of sending a four-page glossy mailer to voters that reproduces a short profile of Gibson from a Mormon newsletter highlighting his role as bishop and then stake president in the church, his family values and his missionary work in Peru," the Reno Gazette-Journal reports.
4. Lost gospel
"Season 1 was about surviving for 40 days in the wilderness. Season 2 has been devoted to figuring out the meaning of Dharma. And it really all comes down to a bunch of sinners who need to be saved. Now what do you think Lost is about?" The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Phil Kloer looks at the religion of ABC's popular drama and Lynnette Porter's growing profession as analyst of the show.
5. World Council of Churches to issue "code of conduct" for evangelism
"We hope that at the end of this study project, we will be able to propose a code of conduct that will affirm that commitment to our faith never translates into denigration of the other," says Hans Ucko, head of the WCC's Office on Inter-religious Relations and Dialogue. It could be troubling, given that the World Council of Churches isn't exactly known for its evangelistic fervor. But then again, when was the last time anyone actually read something put out by the WCC?
Quote of the day:
"We don't know what to think. We are distressed. This is ridiculous. Some minister ought to Of course, the ministers don't know, I guess, except the one who comes Monday night. And when he came last time, he had to leave. He could not have Bible study."
Betty Pridgeon, on her Spartanburg, S.C, apartment complex's ban on Bible studies in common areas, announced Monday night. A memo from apartment managers claimed, "Allowing religious ceremonies or displays of religious items in the property's common areas may create the appearance that Heritage Court prefers or limits one religion over another, or even that it prefers residents who are religious over those who are not. To comply with Fair Housing laws, Heritage Court must remain religiously neutral." Federal officials say that that's incorrect, and that the Bible study ban is, in fact, the violation of the law.
Sexual ethics | Life ethics | Crime | War and terrorism | Sudan | China | Politics | Church and state | Benny Hinn in Trinidad | Education | Da Vinci Code | Media | WCC evangelism code of conduct | Other stories of interest
- Kelly's views on gays questioned | Ruth Kelly has rejected claims that her religious beliefs mean she will not help gay rights in her new role of minister for equality (BBC)
- Also: Is homosexuality a sin? Minister for Equality refuses to rule it out | The newly appointed government minister responsible for equality is facing controversy after she refused to say whether she believed homosexuality was a sin (The Independent, London)
- Patterns of deceit raise concerns about teenage sex surveys | A new study raises questions about how much reliance should be placed on surveys about sexual activity among teenagers (The New York Times)
- N.Y. judge halts AIDS funding restrictions | A U.S. policy that forces groups fighting AIDS overseas to denounce prostitution in order to receive federal funding violates free speech rights, a judge ruled Tuesday (Associated Press)
- Doctors in revolt over legalising euthanasia | Doctors issued a united plea against legalising 'mercy killings' for the first time, before a crucial parliamentary vote (The Times, London)
- Also: Doctors oppose right-to-die law | Leading doctors have declared their opposition to proposed legislation which would allow patients to choose when to die (BBC)
- Court weighing state's rights in end-of-life case | Maine's highest court is considering a case that asks if the state has the right to make an end-of-life decision for a child in foster care, or whether that right remains with the child's parents (Portland Press Herald, Me.)
- Sex is essential, kids aren't | Why are 30% of German women choosing to go childless? Free will, baby (David P. Barash, Los Angeles Times)
- Dems' abortion problem | The absolutist pro-choice position on abortion is a political loser (Rich Lowry, National Review Online)
- Hitting rewind | Some scientists are in hot pursuit of ethically acceptable alternatives that do not involve the destruction of embryos (Thomas Berg, National Review Online)
- Priest's case likely to end up in jury's hands today | The high-profile trial of the Rev. Gerald Robinson is scheduled for closing arguments this morning (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)
- Yesterday: Priest's defense rests case | Closing arguments next (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)
- Also: Diocese got inside data on slaying probe | Letter reported police kept quiet about priest (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
- Slain student had found God, his friends say | Friends say Mark Stetson found God. Now police need to determine if that faith factored into his slaying (New Haven Register, Ct.)
- Also: Police seek assailant in shooting death of student (Hartford Courant, Ct.)
- Parishioners defend priest | Krikoris Keshishian, the longtime priest at St. Stephen's Apostolic Armenian Church on Tremont Street, was arrested Tuesday on charges that he molested a 12-year-old girl (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)
- Store owner's scissors scare robber | When a robber demanded money, Tim Davis refused to open the cash register Saturday at his family-owned Salt and Pepper Christian Store (The Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
- Police: 7 confess to beheadings | Seven suspected Islamic terrorists have confessed to beheading three Christian schoolgirls on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island, police said Wednesday (Associated Press)
- Also: Police arrest five for Poso beheadings (The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)
- Supreme Court turns down men's second case review | The Supreme Court has turned down a second appeal by three Christian men sentenced to death for helping to incite a sectarian conflict in Poso, Central Sulawesi, in 2000 (The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)
- Also: Indonesian court rejects review of Christian death sentences | Indonesia's supreme court has rejected a second attempt to review the case of three Christians sentenced to death over a series of sectarian attacks five years ago (Australian Broadcasting Corp)
- A child's hell in the Lord's Resistance Army | Years after she escaped Ugandan rebels, Grace Akallo fights to end a war (The Washington Post)
- World leaders urge rebels on Darfur peace | Eight foreign ministers led a U.N. Security Council meeting on Tuesday to demand that holdout rebels join the peace deal for Darfur and warned that the fate of the Sudanese region would be a test for the U.N. body (Associated Press)
- The talking cure | On Darfur, Bush has won support from all sides. But will that make Sudan a safer place? (Shmuel Rosner, Slate)
- The real problem with Darfur: Iraq | Thanks to the war in Iraq, sending a sizable U.S. force to Darfur is not an option. (Samantha Power, The New Republic)
- Security concerns | Why the Abuja agreement will not stop the Darfur genocide (Eric Reeves, The New Republic)
- Wondering what to do, what to say | Teaching Christian Theology in Sudan (Lauren R. Stanley, Knight Ridder)
- Dissident Chinese Christians plan talks with Bush | Chinese Christian dissidents critical of Beijing's controls on religion say they are scheduled to meet President George W. Bush in the White House this week to discuss freedom of belief in China (Reuters)
- Democrats seek details on Reed's White House visits | Abramoff's ties targeted in lawsuit (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Gibson discusses religion in 4-page campaign mailer | In an unusual move for a candidate in a Democratic primary, Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson sent a campaign brochure to voters emphasizing his Mormon faith (Reno Gazette-Journal, Nev.)
- Whom would Jesus endorse? | Evangelical turnout helps Michele Bachmann take the GOP 6th District endorsement (City Pages, Minneapolis)
- God does have a role in international policy | What makes Madeleine Albright's The Mighty and the Almighty especially gutsy and valuable is that its author is a self-identified sectarian liberal who researched, pondered and then went against the grain of many fellow travelers (Martin Schram, Scripps Howard News Service)
- Bush the evangelist? | Probes into Bush's political servitude to Christian dogma aren't conclusively damaging (William F. Buckley, National Review Online)
- Hutterite freedoms infringed upon | Legislation requiring Hutterites to have photographs on their driver's licences has been deemed a violation of their religious freedom (Calgary Sun)
- E-mail ran afoul of rules, not religion | "I'm quite sure," said retired Air Force Gen. Bentley Rayburn, "that absent one word, no one would ever know anything about this." The word is "Christian." (Jim Spencer, The Denver Post)
- No money from Govt, say Benny Hinn organizers | No government funding is being received for the upcoming Benny Hinn Miracle Crusade, the event's organizing committee has said (Trinidad and Tobago Express)
- Maha Sabha stands alone | No IRO call for Benny Hinn ban (Trinidad and Tobago Express)
- 'Forget Benny Hinn, go to the doctors instead' | The wife of the man who died soon after he was said to have been healed by American televangelist Benny Hinn seven years ago had this bit of advice for sick people who plan to attend Hinn's crusade this month: Visit a doctor instead (Trinidad & Tobago Express)
- Tennessee Baptists reject Belmont split | Churches decline $5M offer from university and vote to oust board (The Tennessean, Nashville)
- Teacher says she was fired over in vitro | Couple reportedly used their own eggs and sperm and none of the embryos were destroyed in the process (Associated Press)
- 'Potter' decision expected at next board meeting | The Gwinnett Board of Education's is expected to rule this week on the fate of the "Harry Potter" series on public school shelves (Gwinnett Daily Post, Ga.)
- Ne-Yo concert won by students canceled | A Catholic girls high school has canceled a concert by Ne-Yo because of sexually explicit lyrics on the R&B singer's first recording (Associated Press)
- Ban Da Vinci Code, says Philippine official | "I think we should do everything not to allow it to be shown," said Eduardo Ermita, executive secretary to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, expressing his personal opinion as a "devout Catholic." (Reuters)
- Don't be touchy, Cardinal | Forget the meek, the turning of the cheek: they're fighting celluloid with celluloid, brother (Camilla Cavendish, The Times, London)
- Panel rules against same-sex marriage ad | A three-judge panel Tuesday ruled unanimously against a conservative group that wants to air an advertisement about same-sex marriage as Maine's primary election approaches on June 13 (Associated Press)
- 'Lost' and found | Season 1 was about surviving for 40 days in the wilderness. Season 2 has been devoted to figuring out the meaning of Dharma. And it really all comes down to a bunch of sinners who need to be saved. Now what do you think "Lost" is about? (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Converting video games into instruments of God | A title based on the 'Left Behind' books embraces the medium's violent style. It may reach a new audience, but can it impart spiritual values? (Los Angeles Times)
- Vatican, churches work on conversion plan | The biggest challenges to the project will be highlighted by who will be absent: Pentecostal and evangelical-style congregations that often lead the drive for conversions around the world and represent the fastest-growing bloc in Christianity (Associated Press)
- Christian churches to work for code on conversion | The initiative, billed as a three-year study project, will be joined on the Catholic side by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (Reuters)
- WCC, Vatican to create guidelines on evangelization, proselytism (Catholic News Service)
- Bible study banned | Apartment complex says common areas can't be used for Bible studies (Herald-Sun, Spartanburg, S.C.)
- Praying for petroleum | Inspired by the Bible and prayer, John Brown sunk Zion Oil's first drill last year at a site where ancient tribal territories meet on a modern kibbutz. Conventional wisdom is that Israel is a dry rock in a sea of Middle East oil (The Christian Science Monitor)
- Gospel according to Osteen | What evangelical means, and whether wealth is bad (Today, NBC, video)
- O'Malley to refocus on Catholic-Jewish ties | Urges increase in links, dialogue (The Boston Globe)
- Going long for Jesus | It's no accident that pro sports often resemble holy revival meetings. Devout athletes who praise God are coached by evangelical ministries with ties to the Christian right. But many players and fans feel left out of the huddle (Tom Krattenmaker, Salon.com)
- Good Xians, bad Xians | And a few ways to spot the difference (Bill Cope, Boise Weekly)
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