After more than a year of debate and negotiation, Harvard Divinity School has agreed to return a gift from a leader of the United Arab Emirates, at the Arab nation’s request. Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan had given a $2.5 million gift, which the school accepted in 2000, to establish a professorship of Islamic religious studies at the school.
The House of Representatives has approved a bill that would prohibit federal courts from ruling on the merits of a 1996 law that allowed states not to recognize gay marriages performed by other states. On July 22 the House adopted, 233-194, the Marriage Protection Act, which would tie the hands of all federal courts—including the U.S.
Advisory group would tackle constitutional questions
Aug 24, 2004
Senator John Kerry, who carries Democratic Party hopes for the White House, said he supports government funding of faith-based initiatives as long as they respect the separation of church and state and do not allow discrimination in hiring.
The outspoken dean of the Duke University Chapel, William H. Willimon, who once said “the greatest sin Christians can commit is boredom,” has been elected a bishop in the United Methodist Church. Many expect him to shake things up, or at the very least inject some humor into a denomination sometimes seen as stiff, rigid and highly bureaucratic.
Belated reconciliation: In 1525 Protestant Reformer Ulrich Zwingli preached against the Anabaptists, setting off persecution, exile and martyrdom of the more radical reform group. In June, representatives of these two Protestant groups met for a conference of reconciliation at the Grossmunster Church in Zurich where Zwingli was pastor.
After less than two weeks on the job, the Democratic Party’s first-ever director of religious outreach resigned suddenly after her public positions came under fire.
Brenda Bartella Peterson said on August 4 it was “no longer possible for me to do my job effectively” after the New York–based Catholic League issued three blistering press releases attacking her positions.
If you were among the 5.4 million viewers who made the premiere of Amish in the City a smashing success, supporters of the widely misunderstood Christian group want you to know that the show does not constitute educational programming.
Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry of Massachusetts capped a political convention that saw Democrats emphasizing faith and moral language. “In this campaign, we welcome people of faith,” Senator Kerry told a cheering crowd of about 20,000 delegates, guests and journalists in his acceptance speech at the late July convention in Boston.
Jerry Falwell is misleading churches into thinking they can endorse political candidates, two Washington-based watchdog groups warned in complaints to federal agencies. One critic noted that a Falwell associate declared that the IRS lacks the bite to prosecute churches that step over the line.
After the first-ever coordinated attacks on Iraq’s minority Christian population on the first Sunday in August, Muslim and church leaders alike condemned the car bombings, and observers wondered whether the terrorist strikes might have failed to achieve an apparent goal of creating religious division.
Calling the so-called “God gap” between Republicans and Democrats “a trivialization conversation,” New York clergyman James Forbes told an interfaith service in Boston during the Democratic convention that the two groups simply understand their religiosity in different ways.
The incumbent president of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has been reelected to another three-year term—essentially ending a long debate over his backing of a New York minister who took part in a post–September 11 event that some church leaders said violated LCMS rules against participation in interfaith and ecumenical services.
While the Bush-Cheney campaign defended the legality of urging churchgoing volunteers to turn over parish rolls for political organizing, Internal Revenue Service officials spelled out the ways that congregations could risk fines or the loss of their tax exemptions.
Seminarians preparing to serve as pastors are increasingly taking out low-interest government loans to pay educational costs, but researchers say that trend is dangerously compounding the struggles of fledgling ministers and small churches.
Divestment plans, support of messianic Jews caused tension
Aug 10, 2004
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), under fire from Jewish groups for its funding of messianic Jewish congregations and a move to divest from Israel, is appealing to members of both faiths to respect whatever “fragility of trust” still exists between them.