The hidden Jesus: After the end of the Japanese occupation of Burma in 1945, the minority population of Christians feared for their lives in the face of some Buddhist mobs. Myanmar theologian Anna May Chain said that during this time her family was taken in by friendly Muslims—the males were hidden in a mosque and the females were led from one safe house to another. Later they were sheltered in a prison where Buddhists jeopardized their own well-being by bringing them food, medicine and clothes. They finally found refuge in a convent run by Catholics, then considered “outsiders” by Protestants. At this very vulnerable time in the life of her family, said Chain, Muslims, Buddhists and Catholics were like Jesus to them, offering hospitality and charity (address at the World Council of Churches Ninth Assembly).
As criticism of the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina continues, praise of faith-based groups that have responded is providing new momentum in a campaign to expand federal funding of religious social services.
Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the site of a 1963 bombing that killed four girls, has become a national historic landmark. U.S. Secretary of Interior Gale Norton, speaking from the church’s pulpit, said the downtown church now serves as hope for churches destroyed recently in a string of arsons.
The appeals for visible church unity made at the recent World Council of Churches assembly in Brazil were not new, but the longtime obstacles remain a sore point for many—especially limits on celebrating communion in each other’s churches and the lack of a common date for Easter.
Evangelical historian MarkNoll, longtime professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, will leave for the University of Notre Dame at the end of this academic year. Noll’s books include The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, which criticizes evangelicalism’s tendency toward anti-intellectualism, and America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln.
Foreign and domestic funds for counseling and storm relief
Mar 21, 2006
United Methodist relief officials, chosen late last year by the U.S. to oversee a program to counsel hurricane victims that uses $66 million donated by foreign nations, recently announced that the denomination received more than $62 million from churchgoers during 2005 for storm relief and rehabilitation.
Reviving a religious issue from the last presidential election, a coalition of 55 Catholic Democrats in the House of Representatives acknowledged the “moral leadership” of the Catholic Church but said they will remain “in disagreement with the church” on some issues, including abortion rights.
A wide-ranging abortion ban recently passed by South Dakota is aimed ultimately at the U.S. Supreme Court. Members of the South Dakota House of Representatives gave final approval February 24 to the bill, sending it to the desk of Republican governor Mike Rounds, who signed it into law on March 6.
In an ongoing investigation of 2004 partisan politicking by churches and other tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, the Internal Revenue Service said that it found violations in 59 of 82 cases as of last month.
The United Methodist Church will not hold its large 2012 General Conference in Richmond, Virginia, because the name of the city’s minor league baseball team is racially charged, according to denominational officials.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to stop funding an abstinence program that included religious elements.
The American Civil Liberties Union announced February 23 that the settlement had been reached between its lawyers and federal officials in a case involving the Silver Ring Thing abstinence education group in Moon Township, Pennsylvania.
The best-selling novel by Dan Brown upset an international and predominantly lay Catholic organization as well as conservative Protestants, but with the movie version of The Da Vinci Code slated for mid-May, both offended groups are exhibiting mixed feelings.