Religion News Roundup – March 23, 2011

    Religion News

  • New York Rabbi Known as Innovator Is Picked to Lead Reform Jews: Reform Judaism, facing a recent decline in numbers and an uncertain future despite its stature as the largest movement in American Jewry, announced on Tuesday that its next president would be Rabbi Richard Jacobs, who is known for rejuvenating his suburban New York congregation.
  • Nepal’s Christians demonstrate for burial grounds: The country’s growing Christian minority, concentrated in the capital, has limited possibilities to bury its dead, especially since they have been banned from using the grounds of a nearby Hindu temple. Kathmandu’s Christians have traditionally buried their dead in a forest in the grounds of the Pashupati temple, one of Hinduism’s most sacred sites. But the body that administrates the UNESCO World Heritage temple forbade the practice in December, ruling that only Hindus could be buried there. According to 2007 statistics, there are 500,000 Christians in Nepal, but Operation Mobilization, a Christian organization, puts the number at 1,200,000.
  • Vatican tells UN that critics of gays are under attack: People who criticise gay sexual relations for religious or moral reasons are increasingly being attacked and vilified for their views, a Vatican diplomat told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday. “When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature … they are stigmatised, and worse – they are vilified, and prosecuted. “These attacks are violations of fundamental human rights and cannot be justified under any circumstances,” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said.
  • U.S. Catholics break with church on gay relationships: The latest research that finds many U.S. Catholics out of sync with their church’s teachings on personal morality is out. This time it’s a look at Catholics’ support for gay rights, in particular marriage and civil unions.
  • Apple pulls ‘gay cure’ iPhone app: Apple appears to have pulled an iPhone and iPad app promising “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus” after coming under fire from gay rights activists. More than 146,000 people signed a petition calling on Apple to remove the so-called “gay cure” app backed by Exodus International, a Christian group that describes itself as “the world’s largest worldwide ministry to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction”. University of Minnesota professor Dr. Gary Remafedi, director of the Youth and AIDS Projects and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, also protested the app. He wrote to Apple’s Steve Jobs the app “erroneously cites my research in support of claims that homosexuality can be changed. … Associating my work with that of the ex-gay ministry and other unfounded treatments is professionally injurious and grievous.”
  • A durable doomsday preacher predicts the world’s end — again: If preacher Harold Camping is right, that’s the exact date Jesus will return on May 21, 2011 and the righteous will fly up to heaven, leaving behind only their clothes. That will be followed by five months of fire, brimstone and plagues, with millions of people dying each day and corpses piling in the streets. Finally, on Oct. 21, the world ends exactly as the Book of Revelation says it will — with a bottomless pit, a lake of fire and, at last, a new heaven and new earth. Doomsday preachers come and go, but at nearly 90 years old, the spry Camping has managed to ignite a nationwide movement that has garnered national attention. [Note that Camping has never been right in his predictions, and that his interpretation of the Bible is based on wonky numerology instead of the use of sound, Biblical hermeneutics]
    Also Noted

  • Christian pole dancing class creating controversy: Women in the Houston area are pole dancing once a month … for Jesus. Yes, the dance moves once reserved for strip clubs are being embraced by devout, church-going women.
  • Inventor of ‘Note to God’ iPhone app awakens from eight-day coma: Allen Wright, the teen who invented an Apple iPhone application called “A Note to God,” awoke eight days after being struck by a hit-and-run driver on Sunrise Boulevard, his family and doctor said Tuesday.
  • Richard Bartholomew smeared and targeted by religious bigots: Richard Bartholomew, an excellent blogger who chronicles religious extremism, has been smeared by his enemies after his extensive exposing of vicious attacks on child ‘witches’ in Nigeria by Christian extremists
  • Unmarried Pastor, Seeking a Job, Sees Bias: Mark Almlie has been shocked, he says, at what he calls unfair discrimination, based mainly on irrational fears: that a single pastor cannot counsel a mostly married flock, that he might sow turmoil by flirting with a church member, or that he might be gay. If the job search is hard for single men, it is doubly so for single women who train for the ministry, in part because many evangelical denominations explicitly require a man to lead the congregation.
  • Could prayer be the ultimate therapy for anger?: Saying a prayer may help many people feel less angry and behave less aggressively after someone has left them fuming, new research suggests. A series of studies showed that people who were provoked by insulting comments from a stranger showed less anger and aggression soon afterwards if they prayed for another person in the meantime. The benefits of prayer identified in this study don’t rely on divine intervention: they probably occur because the act of praying changed the way people think about a negative situation, said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday March 23, 2011.
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