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Archive for Saturday, April 20, 2002

Spirituality

April 20, 2002

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Nebraska court: Ministry assets must be in divorce

Cars, real estate and other property bought by an Omaha pastor in the name of his ministry must be included in his ex-wife's divorce settlement, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled.

A lower court judge had questioned the legitimacy of Union Oaks Ministry but said its status as a religious nonprofit barred the minister from awarding any of its assets to the wife.

The high court overturned that ruling April 12, saying the Rev. Melvin "Buddy" Medlock could not hide behind the church's nonprofit status to keep property from his ex-wife.

Medlock testified he taught Bible classes and did missionary work. However, court records showed little evidence he engaged in a religious ministry.

Union Oaks held assets of more than $1.3 million, including 10 cars and a motorcycle, according to court documents.

Medlock's wife, Linda, was left virtually penniless after their 1997 divorce.

Ten Commandments displays gain momentum in South

Charles Wysong believes God has stirred a fight in Tennessee.

As president of Ten Commandments-Tennessee, he represents a growing movement that aims to have the Ten Commandments posted on government property.

Supporters see their efforts as a way of encouraging morality and showing that U.S. law is grounded in biblical law, but civil liberties groups view Ten Commandments campaigns as an affront to the nation's fundamental principles.

Lawmakers primarily in the South continue to vote in favor of displaying the Ten Commandments.

The Alabama Legislature is considering a constitutional amendment to allow public schools to display them. The North Carolina Legislature approved a law last year allowing school districts to show historical documents, including the Ten Commandments.

In Tennessee, more than a dozen counties have approved Ten Commandments displays in the last year, including Hamilton County where the plaque serves as a backdrop for weddings, above.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1980 ruled that posting the Ten Commandments in schools amounted to an unconstitutional promotion of religion.

Book revisits personal faith

It's been 100 years since the publication of William James' classic work "The Varieties of Religious Experience," a treatise on the prevalence in American society of deeply personal religion over institutional practice. It's remarkable how "little dated" the book is, philosopher Charles Taylor said.

"Some of the detail may be strange, but you easily think of examples in our world that fit the themes James is developing," he writes in "Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited" (Harvard, $19.95).

The overall premise appears the same: For most Americans, spirituality is still a very private and varied thing.

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