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December 2008 Archives

Church Leaders Appeal for Cease Fire in Gaza

posted by akornfeld

Washington – U.S. and global Christian leaders are calling on Israel to implement an immediate cease-fire in the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip, while U.S. Jewish groups have largely defended Israel’s military campaign. Gaza officials say nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed, […]

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Icon Exhibit Hints at Thaw in U.S.-Russian Relations

posted by akornfeld

Clinton, Mass. – In this sleepy former mill town, where geopolitical tensions seem a world away, Americans are getting a fresh look at Russia through a lens that’s seldom made available on U.S. shores: the Russian sacred icon. Weekly attendance […]

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Atheists Sue to Erase God from Swearing-in

posted by akornfeld

Washington – A group of atheists is suing to bar prayers and references to God during the swearing-in ceremony of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama. Michael Newdow, along with 17 other individuals and 10 groups representing atheists, named Supreme Court Chief […]

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Poll: No Evidence That Recession Pulls People into Pews

posted by akornfeld

Washington – The economic recession has not led to an increase in attendance at U.S. houses of worship, according to Gallup pollsters. Despite anecdotal evidence cited in high-profile media outlets, Americans’ worship patterns have held steady in 2008, the Gallup […]

N.J. Says Complaint Over Civil Union Can Proceed

posted by akornfeld

Trenton, N.J. – New Jersey officials said Monday (Dec. 29) that a lesbian couple can move forward with their discrimination complaint against a Methodist group that refused to let them use an oceanfront pavilion for a civil union. Since the […]

Catholic School Teacher Fired for Marriage

posted by akornfeld

San Antonio – A teacher at a Roman Catholic school in San Antonio fired after she married a divorced man has filed a federal discrimination complaint. The principal of Central Catholic High School urged Marquis LaFortune, 25, a week before […]

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson Discusses Rick Warren and Proposition 8

posted by akornfeld

Openly gay New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson has spent the last five years seeking reconciliation with those who saw his election as immoral, unbiblical or, as one Nigerian archbishop put it, a “satanic attack on God’s church.” Yet […]

Focus on the Family Pulls Interview Over Beck’s Mormon Faith

posted by akornfeld

Colorado-based Focus on the Family has pulled an online interview with conservative television host Glenn Beck after concerns were raised about Beck’s Mormon faith. Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media and public relations for Focus on the Family Action, said […]

Sense of Optimism Fills This Year’s Kwanzaa Celebrations

posted by akornfeld

On Nov. 4, the day America elected its first black president, Bryan resident Velma Spivey said she quietly went into her bedroom, recited a prayer and cried. “It was a spiritual feeling for me,” she said. This week, as she […]

The Gifts That Keep on Giving

posted by akornfeld

It’s been a rough year. With the economy in tatters, many of us are looking at Christmas and Hanukkah with new eyes and wondering whether the season will be more merry than maudlin. The Bible talks about the blessings that […]

Experts Say Media Spread Myth of Holiday Suicides

posted by akornfeld

Chances are that grown-ups know the truth about the holiday season’s biggest myth — the one concerning a certain elf, his generosity and his peculiar mode of travel. But there’s another big lie that’s almost as pervasive. No, Virginia, suicides […]

Gallup: Americans See Religious Influence Waning

posted by akornfeld

Two-thirds of Americans think religion is losing its influence on U.S. life, a sharp jump from just three years ago when Americans were nearly evenly split on the question, according to a new Gallup Poll. Sixty-seven percent of Americans think […]

Hanukkah Gets (Almost) Hip

posted by akornfeld

Last week, Jill Miller Zimon, a writer from Pepper Pike, Ohio, attended her daughter’s school band concert. Four bands and orchestras performed. “All four played `Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah,”‘ said Zimon, laughing. “I thought I was going to tear my hair […]

Texas Report: Abuse Widespread in Polygamist Sect

posted by akornfeld

San Antonio – Nearly two-thirds of the families living at a polygamist group’s ranch – targeted in a high-profile raid last spring – had children who were abused or neglected, Texas child welfare officials said in a report released Tuesday. […]

Good Heavens: Vatican Rehabilitating Galileo

posted by akornfeld

Vatican City – Galileo Galilei is going from heretic to hero. The Vatican is recasting the most famous victim of its Inquisition as a man of faith, just in time for the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s telescope and the U.N.-designated […]

Polish President Visits Synagogue for Hanukkah

posted by nsymmonds

WARSAW, – Poland’s president has celebrated the start of Hanukkah with Warsaw’s Jewish community – the first time a Polish head of state has attended a religious service in a synagogue. The Jewish community is describing Lech Kaczynski’s visit Sunday […]

Pope Defends World Youth Day as More Than ‘Rock Festival’

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI defended the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day as a “great feast of faith,” rejecting descriptions and criticisms of the popular annual event as a mere “rock festival.” Benedict made his remarks on Monday (Dec. […]

Survey Detects Changes in U.S. Church Life

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) U.S. congregations have changed significantly in the last eight years, according to a new study, with them becoming more ethnically diverse, more technologically savvy and more informal in worship. Predominantly white congregations reported greater racial and ethnic diversity between […]

Virginia Judge Hands Conservatives Big Legal Victory

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) A Virginia judge ruled on Friday (Dec. 19) that three parcels of land belong to parishes that have broken away from the Episcopal Church, handing conservatives an important, if tentative, legal win. An 1867 state law, passed as Virginia […]

Jewish Women’s Group Cancels Convention, Citing Recession

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) The recession has forced Hadassah, the national Jewish women’s organization, to cancel its 2009 convention in New Orleans, a local Hadassah officer said. The organization’s national convention, once scheduled for mid-July 2009 typically would have attracted 1,500 to 1,800 […]

Vatican Calls for Homosexuality to be Decriminalized

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican on Friday (Dec. 19) called for the decriminalization of homosexuality, but said a proposed United Nations declaration on gay rights is vague and excessively far-reaching. The statement by the Holy See’s UN delegation was a […]

Architect of Religious Right Passes Away

posted by akornfeld

Washington – Paul Weyrich, a man who worked away from the limelight to galvanize conservative Christian political advocacy, died Thursday (Dec. 18). Weyrich, 66, co-founded the now-defunct Moral Majority with the late Jerry Falwell and served as the first president […]

Dalai Lama Talks of Complete Retirement

posted by akornfeld

Chennai, India – The Dalai Lama said Wednesday (December 17) the movement he has led for nearly five decades should now be guided by the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile. “I have grown old and already taken semi-retirement. It […]

New Health Regulation Permits ‘Conscience’ Exceptions

posted by akornfeld

Washington – A new federal regulation will allow healthcare workers to abstain from performing abortions or any service they object to on religious or moral grounds. The regulation, introduced Thursday (Dec. 18) by the Department of Health and Human Services, […]

Warren and Lowery to Deliver Blessings at Obama Inauguration

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) Megachurch pastor Rick Warren and civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery will deliver the invocation and benediction, respectively, at President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration next month (Jan 20). The roles of Warren, a best-selling author and leader of Saddleback Church […]

Georgia Judge Jails Muslim Woman Over Head Scarf

posted by nsymmonds

ATLANTA – A judge ordered the arrest of a Muslim woman who refused to take off her head scarf at a court security checkpoint. The judge ordered Lisa Valentine, 40, to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of court, […]

Madoff Scheme Hits Jewish Charities Hard

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK – Many of the investors allegedly swindled by Wall Street money manager Bernard Madoff are, like him, Jewish, and for many of them, contributing to Jewish causes is a crucial part of their culture. The effect of their […]

American Bible Society’s New President Begins Jan. 1

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) A longtime executive of evangelical organizations will become the new president of the American Bible Society on Jan. 1. The Rev. R. Lamar Vest, the current executive vice president of Global Scripture Ministries for the New York-based society, was […]

Bush Honors Hanukkah, Israel’s 60th Birthday

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush recognized Hanukkah on Monday while paying tribute to the nation of Israel’s 60th anniversary earlier this year. The story of Hanukkah recalls the miraculous victory of a small band of patriots against tyranny, and […]

First Muslim Congressman Makes Pilgrimage to Mecca

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) The first Muslim elected to Congress has become the first sitting member of that body to travel to Mecca for the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites. “It was transformative. It was a wonderful experience,” Rep. Keith […]

Younger Schuller Resigns from Crystal Cathedral

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) The Rev. Robert A. Schuller has resigned as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California after his father, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, said his son would no longer be the sole preacher on the church’s “Hour […]

Vatican Issues Instruction on Bioethics, In Vitro Fertilization

posted by nsymmonds

The Vatican on Friday issued the most authoritative and sweeping document on bioethical issues in more than 20 years, taking into account recent developments in biomedical technology and reinforcing the Roman Catholic church’s opposition to in vitro fertilization, human cloning, […]

Palin’s Church Seriously Damaged by Suspicious Fire

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) The Alaska evangelical church that former Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin calls home was severely damaged Friday (Dec. 12) by a fire that has been ruled suspicious by authorities. “Our building was damaged by a fire, and will […]

Parents in Faith-Healing Case Seek to Dismiss Case

posted by nsymmonds

PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) Lawyers for two Oregon City parents charged in the faith-healing death of their young daughter will ask a judge next month to dismiss the case. Lawyers for Raylene and Carl Worthington cite several reasons for requesting a […]

Religion Writers Name Election Top News Story

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) Religion reporters chose the 2008 elections and the controversy surrounding President-elect Barack Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as the top story of the year. Democrats’ outreach to faith communities, and the selection of GOP vice presidential candidate […]

Cardinal Avery Dulles, Oldest U.S. Cardinal, Dies at 90

posted by nsymmonds

Cardinal Avery Dulles, who left a prominent Protestant pedigree to become one of the nation’s most distinguished theologians and a prince of the Catholic Church, died Friday (Dec. 12) at the age of 90. Dulles, who was one of the […]

Traditionalist Spaniard Named to Vatican Liturgy Office

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Traditionalist Catholics will have a sympathizer in the new head of the Vatican’s liturgical office. Pope Benedict XVI has named Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, currently Archbishop of Toledo, Spain, as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship […]

Supreme Court Declines to Hear `Candy Cane’ Speech Case

posted by nsymmonds

SAGINAW, Mich. (RNS) The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal in a case involving a Michigan fifth-grader who tried to sell candy canes with a religious message at his school. The high court on Monday (Dec. 8) […]

Cizik, Under Pressure for Gay Comments, Resigns From the National Association of Evangelicals

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON — The top Washington lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals, who had already faced criticism for his embrace of environmental activism, resigned Thursday (Dec. 11) after signaling support for same-sex civil unions. The Rev. Richard Cizik, who had […]

Muslim Pilgrims Complete Annual Journey to Mecca

posted by nsymmonds

MECCA, Saudi Arabia – On foot and on the roofs of overflowing buses, Muslims poured into the holy city of Mecca for a final day of the hajj on Wednesday, many of them saying they felt reborn and cleansed of […]

Orthodox Jews Torn on Ethical Aspects of Kosher Foods

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK (RNS) Struggling with a kosher meat industry labor scandal that won’t go away, Orthodox Jews have begun publicly debating what role– if any — ethical standards should have on their eating habits. At a panel discussion Tuesday (Dec. […]

Calif. Bishops Reach Out to Gays in Wake of Prop 8

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) California’s top Catholic clerics are trying to sooth hard feelings over the recent passage of the state’s gay marriage ban, explaining the church’s support for the measure while attempting to assure gays and lesbians that they are “cherished members […]

Hajj Pilgrims Not Hopeful of Obama

posted by nsymmonds

MINA, Saudi Arabia – After pelting a symbol of the devil with stones, the Iraqi pilgrim knelt and prayed that one day soon all sorts of devils will be removed from his homeland – among them, that American forces will […]

Pope Cautions Against Blurring Lines of Religious Differences

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI praised collaboration with other faiths in pursuit of common social goals but cautioned against dialogue that could lead to blurring of religious differences. Benedict’s statement, released on Tuesday (Dec. 9), was addressed to participants […]

Bush Talks Faith, Won’t Say God Chose Him to Be President

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) President Bush says he prays in the Oval Office and his faith has changed his life but he can’t say if God chose him to be president, ABC News reports. “I just, I can’t go there,” Bush said in […]

Interim Russian Orthodox Leader Chosen After Alexy’s Death

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) Metropolitan Kirill, the Russian Orthodox leader of the provinces of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, has been chosen as the interim leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, following the death Friday (Dec. 5) of Patriarch Alexy II. Kirill, 62, was chosen […]

Conservative Anglican Primates Back New Province

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) Five Anglican archbishops have backed the introduction of a new Anglican province in North America, a significant, though unsurprising boost for the conservative-led initiative. “We fully support this development with our prayer and blessing,” said the archbishops, who are […]

Hajj Pilgrims Stone Devil, Celebrate Feast

posted by nsymmonds

MINA, Saudi Arabia – The young Iranian threw stones at symbols of the devil Monday and had his beloved black locks shorn – one of 3 million Muslims on the hajj pilgrimage performing rituals to symbolize rejection of temptation and […]

Russian Orthodox Leader Alexy II Dies at 79

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK — Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, who shepherded his church through the rubble of communism but was unable or unwilling to heal a longstanding breach with the Catholic Church, died Friday (Dec.5). He was 79. Alexy, the spiritual […]

3 Million Muslims in Mecca for Pilgrimage

posted by nsymmonds

MECCA, Saudi Arabia – Draped in white robes to symbolize purity and the equality of mankind under God, nearly 3 million Muslims from all over the world gathered Friday in Mecca, on the eve of the start of the annual […]

Reactions Split to New U.S. Anglican ‘Province’

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) Nearly everyone agrees that a conservative group of Anglicans broke new ground when they declared on Wednesday (Dec. 3) that they had founded a new North American province of the Anglican Communion. But further reactions to the new Anglican […]

Vatican Says No to Anti-Mosque Proposal in Italy

posted by akornfeld

Vatican City – A top Vatican official said Thursday Muslims should be allowed to build new mosques in Italy, where the country’s interior minister, citing terrorism fears, is pushing to ban such initiatives. On Wednesday Interior Minister Roberto Maroni a […]

Conservative Anglicans Issue Constitution, Laws

posted by akornfeld

Conservative Anglican leaders unveiled on Wednesday the constitution and laws for a new organization intended to replace the Episcopal Church as the American arm of the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide. The move is the most telling […]

Mumbai Jews on Edge After Attacks in India

posted by akornfeld

Mumbai, India – Mumbai’s tiny Jewish community feels itself under threat for the first time in hundreds of years in the wake of the deadly attacks by suspected Muslim militants that included a bloody two-day siege at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish […]

Jews, Muslims Plan Joint Memorial Tribute to Mumbai Victims

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK (RNS) In an effort to continue interfaith cooperation and prevent backlash against Muslims, Jews and Muslims are coming together here to memorialize the Jewish victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. Imam Mohammed Shamsi Ali and […]

Conservatives Form rival group to Episcopal Church

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK – Theological conservatives upset by liberal views of U.S. Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans formed a rival North American province Wednesday, in a long-developing rift over the Bible that erupted when Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop. The […]

Doctors’ Panel Won’t Rule on ‘Miracles’ at Lourdes

posted by nsymmonds

PARIS – An international doctors’ panel appointed by the Roman Catholic Church says it’s getting out of the “miracle” business at Lourdes. The panel will no longer judge whether pilgrims to the French shrine could have benefited from “miracle” healing […]

U.S.-Vatican Relationship to Shift Under Obama White House

posted by akornfeld

Vatican City – In the 24 years since the U.S. and the Holy See established full diplomatic ties, relations have never been closer or warmer than during the administration of President George W. Bush. The two sides broke over the […]

Money, Good Deeds Memorialize Jewish Victims in Mumbai Attacks

posted by akornfeld

New York – Pledges of money and mitzvot (good deeds) have poured into a Web site set up by the New York-based Chabad-Lubavitch movement in the wake of the massacre in Mumbai, India, that claimed six victims at Mumbai’s Chabad […]

Atheists Want God Out of Ky. Homeland Security

posted by akornfeld

Frankfort, Ky. – A group of atheists filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to remove part of a state anti-terrorism law that requires Kentucky’s Office of Homeland Security to acknowledge it can’t keep the state safe without God’s help. American Atheists […]

Orphan of Slain Rabbi in Mumbai Heads to Israel

posted by akornfeld

Jerusalem – “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” wailed little Moshe at a tearful memorial for his parents in Mumbai on Monday, before a plane carrying him, his caretaker and the bodies of the six Jewish victims of the Chabad House hostage siege […]

NYC Cathedral Damaged in 2001 Fire Rededicated

posted by akornfeld

New York – African drums boomed and pipe organ music swelled as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine opened for worship Sunday after years of cleanup from a fire that struck the world’s largest Gothic cathedral in 2001. The […]

On World AIDS Day, Bush Says US Effort Successful

posted by akornfeld

Washington – Marking World AIDS Day, President George W. Bush said Monday that his presidential initiative on the deadly disease already has met its goal of treating 2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. When the administration launched the President’s Emergency […]

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posted 3:10:30pm Nov. 05, 2013 | read full post »

Billy Graham: I know where I'm going
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posted 10:02:01am Oct. 24, 2013 | read full post »

Are All These Christians' Complaints of Persecution Just So Much Empty Whining?
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posted 2:41:26am Oct. 07, 2013 | read full post »

How can Christians defend themselves against today's random violence?
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posted 2:53:48pm Sep. 27, 2013 | read full post »

Does Sunday Morning Church Really Need All This Glitter, Showmanship and Gimmickry?
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posted 11:26:20am Sep. 20, 2013 | read full post »

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