The Internal Revenue Service has notified the United Church of Christ that it has opened an investigation into possible “political activities” connected with Senator Barack Obama’s speech at the denomination’s national convention last year.
Southern Methodist University trustees have officially agreed to house the George W. Bush presidential library, museum and public policy institute on its Dallas campus, despite objections from many United Methodists and alumni.
The board at the United Methodist–related university voted unanimously February 22 to approve an agreement with the Bush Presidential Library Foundation.
New England is heavily Catholic, the South is predominantly evangelical, the West Coast has the highest proportion of religiously unaffiliated folks. If you’re a Midwesterner, you’re living in the region that best reflects the religious diversity of the United States.
Say a prayer for java: It is not so unusual that Catholic authorities in Croatia have opened a coffee shop. What is unique is that their customers can pay for their caffeine fix with prayers. The café in Zagreb charges four “Our Fathers” for a cappuccino and five “Hail Marys” for a Coca-Cola, the most expensive item on the menu (The Week, February 22).
At the last biennial Presbyterian General Assembly, many gay-rights supporters along with many conservatives weary of decades-old fights approved a delicate compromise that kept the ordination standards of “chastity and fidelity” but allowed presbyteries to approve otherwise qualified gay and lesbian clergy candidates who morally objected to the rules.
Researchers at Oxford University have been given nearly $4 million to investigate the origins of belief in God. The money comes from the John Templeton Foundation, a U.S. nonprofit long interested in scientific investigations of religion.
Serene Jones of Yale University has been selected to be the first woman president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She will assume the presidency of the 172-year-old nondenominational seminary on July 1, succeeding Joseph Hough, who is retiring after serving since 1999.
The World Council of Churches, suddenly faced with criticisms of its general secretary, Samuel Kobia, who decided not to seek another five-year term, is searching for a new executive to take over the world’s largest ecumenical body next year.
A massive new study of the American religious landscape shows that Protestants are losing their majority share of the nation’s population and that the country’s broad religious diversity is accompanied by great shifts in religious affiliation.
The decision by 17 Danish newspapers to reprint a controversial cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad that caused rioting worldwide in early 2006 was condemned by the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Public Policy. Demonstrators in Amman, Jordan, reportedly burned Danish flags outside the Copenhagen embassy February 25 in a protest against the cartoon reprints.
Advice for fledgling authors: The late Aldous Huxley was often asked by aspiring writers for advice. Once, after reading a manuscript, Huxley gave this advice to its author: “You would do better, I believe, to leave the book for a year or two, forget it, then take it out, read it with new eyes and re-write it” (Times Literary Supplement, January 18).
The 7.9-million-member United Methodist Church is poised to become the next U.S. denomination to consider divesting from companies said to support Israeli military-security goals, a topic so controversial that it prompted the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to redefine its own divestment program two years ago.