Jewish group issues warnings to schools about Christmas
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that advocates strict separation of church and state, has issued a "December Dilemma" pamphlet warning public schools about observing Christmas and other religious holidays.
Pamphlets are being sent to schools, and the league posted the text on its Web page. The U.S. Constitution, it says, prohibits "school-sponsored endorsement or promotion of religious beliefs of any kind."
Classes may discuss cultural aspects of religious holidays, according to the league, but shouldn't cover just one holiday or religion. December choral concerts should not focus on one holiday or present only religious music, the league says. It considers music that is prayerful in content just as improper as spoken school prayers.
The league says a student drama depicting the birth of Jesus "would be impermissible" due to the religious content, while a play about Christmas presents is acceptable.
United Methodists approve grant for National Council of Churches
The United Methodist Church finance agency approved an emergency grant of $400,000 to help bail out the financially troubled National Council of Churches, the Methodist news service reported.
In September, the council's other major funder, the Presbyterian Church (USA), provided a special $400,000 grant beyond regular dues.
Presbyterian News Service quoted the council treasurer as saying the ecumenical agency might have been forced to shut down without the Methodist money. Council leaders have cut staff and expenses, and say finances look more stable for 2001.
Orthodox leaders dubious about visits to Bulgaria, Greece
Sofia, Bulgaria Patriarch Maxim, leader of Bulgaria's Orthodox Church, has refused to invite Pope John Paul II to come to the Balkan country, even though Bulgarian government is eager for a papal visit.
A spokesman for Bulgaria's Holy Synod told The Associated Press that the patriarch declined to extend an invitation to the pope during a Nov. 25 meeting with the Vatican's top ecumenical official, Cardinal Edward Cassidy.
The pope would also like to visit Greece, where the Orthodox Holy Synod plans to discuss the matter. Last year the synod opposed any visit, and Greek churchmen indicate conditions may be worse now due to setbacks at recent international Catholic-Orthodox talks in Emmitsburg, Md.