"The Scriptures say: 'What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?'" presidential candidate Senator John Kerry told congregants at New Northside Baptist Church in St. Louis yesterday morning, quoting James 2:14. "When we look at what is happening in America today, where are the works of compassion?"
Kerry's speech at the mostly black church may have raised clapping hands in the pews, but also raised eyebrows in the Bush campaign. "John Kerry's comment .was. a sad exploitation of Scripture for a political attack," Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt told Knight Ridder.
The verse Kerry quoted is one of the standard Catholic biblical verses addressing the theological issue of faith vs. works. The classic Matthew Henry commentary on the Bible explains, "No doubt, true faith alone, whereby men have part in Christ's righteousness, atonement, and grace, saves their souls; but it produces holy fruits, and is shown to be real by its effect on their works; while mere assent to any form of doctrine, or mere historical belief of any facts, wholly differs from this saving faith."
"Passion" Confessions Continue
Another "Passion" viewer has confessed to a crime after seeing the movie, according to news reports. A 21-year-old Texas man confessed to the murder of his 19-year-old girlfriend in January. The death had been ruled a suicide.
Less gruesome "Passion" stories can be shared on the Miracles of the Passion website. "Did a miracle occur in your life that is a result of having seen and experienced the film...?" the site asks. Videotaped stories are being compiled for a documentary, "Changed Lives: Miracles of the Passion."
Church Sues Former Member
The Church of Scientology is in the news, and this time, it has nothing to do with Tom Cruise. The controversial church is suing one of its former members for $10 million.
Gerry Armstrong, now a critic of the CoS, told the San Francisco Chronicle that this is the sixth time the church has sued him. He says that the current suit stems from a 1984 lawsuit settlement in which the CoS paid him $515,000 after he signed a contract which promised that he would "maintain strict confidentiality and silence with respect to his experiences with the Church of Scientology." The contract stipulated he would be fined $50,000 every time he said something about the Church.
According to the Church, Armstrong has violated the agreement over 200 times, entitling it to about $10 million.
Kerry's Mass Media Op
Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry, who has come under fire from Roman Catholics for his position on abortion and other issues, attended Mass this past Sunday while on an Idaho ski trip--but made some embarrassing gaffes, according to the LA Times and other sources.
"Sunday morning, a caravan of sport utility vehicles swept into the parking lot at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, and Kerry and his wife--15 minutes late for Mass--ducked through the back door," reports the Times. The American Spectator says that Kerry, "not known to be a regular Mass attendee," went to his roped-off pew "noisily, fully outfitted for skiing, not dressed for a religious service." According to the Spectator, a Kerry advance staffer said the church visit was "just a media-op...We set it up with some reporters that we knew were going to be there."
Kerry, his wife, and a security agent received the Eucharist. The senator's fitness to receive the sacrament has been debated in Catholic circles as the Vatican and the U.S. Catholic bishops have cracked down on pro-choice politicians.
Should Kerry have received Communion? All political and ethical questions aside, an unofficial Catholic rule of thumb holds that late-arriving massgoers can receive Communion if they've made it to services before the gospel is read. This usually happens at about minute 15, as sleepy teens rushing off late to Sunday morning Mass know. Kerry, being between 11 and 20 minutes late for Mass, probably wouldn't have made it under the wire.