This is from the Associated Press today:By JOHN MILBURN Associated Press Writer TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A religious freedom foundation has uncovered evidence it says bolsters its federal lawsuit claiming that the military is permitting widespread violations of religious freedom at installations across the country, including Fort Riley.The evidence is part of a lawsuit filed by Army Spc. Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation against Maj. Freddy J. Welborne and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.The evidence disclosed Tuesday includes several photos and videos of religious materials and activities at Fort Riley, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Fort Jackson, S.C.Examples at Fort Riley, where Hall is stationed, included a display outside his military police battalion's office with a quote from conservative columnist Ann Coulter saying, "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Another photo from Fort Riley shows the book "A Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam" for sale at the post exchange."These astonishing and saddening evidence which our foundation is making public today only further buttress our lawsuit filed in federal district court," said Mike Weinstein, an attorney in Albuquerque, N.M., and president of the foundation who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1977."The theme of that lawsuit, which we will show the federal judiciary, is a pernicious and pervasive pattern and practice of massive constitutional violations by the U.S. military command structure of the most basic constitutional religious freedoms guaranteed to our honorable and noble sailors, soldiers, Marines and airmen," Weinstein said.Fort Riley spokesman Maj. Nathan Bond said the matter was being referred to post commanders for investigation. He said it is the Army's policy to accommodate all religious beliefs to the extent they don't conflict with military missions."We do take this seriously," Bond said. "The things you have mentioned to me, if they are true, do not seem in line with the Army values of respect, and we will look into it."The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., in September, alleges that Welborne threatened to file military charges against Hall and to block his reenlistment for trying to hold a meeting of atheists and non-Christians in Iraq.Hall was serving his second tour in Iraq and has since returned to the United States. He is with the 97th Military Police Battalion out of Fort Riley.The suit also alleges Gates permits a military culture in which officers are encouraged to pressure soldiers to adopt and espouse fundamentalist Christian beliefs. It also alleges Gates allows a culture that sanctions activities by Christian organizations, including providing personnel and equipment.It also says the military permits proselytizing by soldiers, tolerates anti-Semitism and the placing of religious symbols on military equipment, and allows the use of military e-mail accounts to send religious rhetoric.The Pentagon has said that the military values and respects religious freedoms but that accommodating religious practices should not interfere with unit cohesion, readiness, standards or discipline.Evidence Weinstein made public Tuesday included a video, reportedly from Campus Crusade for Christ International, that shows Air Force cadets participating in religious gatherings at the Colorado installation. In interviews, cadets are interviewed say the ministry allows them to network and combat the isolation that they feel once the arrive as freshmen.Weinstein also said that Military Ministry, part of Campus Crusade for Christ International, was active at Fort Jackson with an effort called "God's Basic Training." Included in the evidence were photographs of soldiers posing with a rifle in one hand and a Bible in the other.Weinstein said the materials for the ministry's Bible studies teach soldiers that the U.S. military and government are instruments to spread the word of God.A spokeswoman for Campus Crusade for Christ International said officials with the ministry hadn't had a chance to review the evidence and declined to comment.Weinstein has previously sued the Air Force for acts he said illegally imposed Christianity on its students at the academy. A federal judge threw out that lawsuit in 2006.
Patricia Sprinkle thinks some women simply do too much."Women tend to be nurturers, either by nature or by training," she says. " Therefore, I find that women often do too much because other people impinge on our lives more than they seem to do on men's lives. You don't find many male lawyers wondering at 9 a.m. what they will feed the family for dinner. You don't find many male teachers missing school because of a sick child at home, or male executives trying to figure out how to care for one of their parents in their home."It is far more likely that a woman will care for her mother-in-law than that a father will devote his time to caring for his father-in-law. But the fact that we women tend to live our lives around other people's lives - spouses, children, parents, even employers - leads to stresses because we sometimes are so busy doing for others we forget to do the things we ourselves are called to do or yearn to do."[Sprinkle], a prolific mystery writer who also writes nonfiction books, will be in Lawrence Saturday for "Women Who Do Too Much," a one-day conference at [Heartland Community Church], 619 Vt.She also is speaking today and Friday at the [Heart of America Christian Writers Conference] in Overland Park.The Lawrence conference shares a title with one of Sprinkle's books. The first edition came out in 1992, with an update in 2002.It was based on her own experiences as an author and pastor's wife, as well as those of 14 other women.Sprinkle says she's given this workshop to a variety of church and business groups, and the book is available in four languages."This is an issue that I find touches women across economic, religious and cultural lines," she says. "Some of the stories in the current edition of the book are about women who changed their lives after working through the workshop."!Three points she has for making sure women don't "do too much":¢ "Don't rely on time-saving tips or efficiency manuals.¢ "Women do not need to learn to say 'no.' We need to learn to say 'yes' to things we are personally called to do. Once we know what we want to say 'yes' to, it is easier to say 'no' to other things.¢ "Women need to take time and silence to get in touch with the yearnings of our hearts. I firmly believe God plants those yearnings within us, and when we are moving in the direction of satisfying those yearnings, we lose most of our stress because we are in tune with who it is that we individually were created to be and do."For much of her life, Sprinkle has dealt with these issues as a writer and as a pastor's wife. (Her husband now works for a faith/health agency.) She's bemused by the expectations placed on the spouses of clergy, and how often she's asked how she balances her own career with her husband's"In one church we served, an elder asked precisely that question in the interview process," she says. "Do doctor's wives and lawyer's wives have to go through a job interview with their husbands? I replied, 'I have to write. That's what I am called to do, just as Bob is called to be your pastor.' The congregations knew that was who and what I am, so they seemed to do fine with it."In fact, I think it encouraged other women in the congregation to seek and live our their own callings."The conference at Heartland runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Cost is $20, which includes lunch, and scholarships are available. E-mail Lu Ann Nystrom at email@example.com to register._ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 832-7145._ : : http://www.af.public.lib.ga.us/Library/rte/sprinkle.jpg
Shawn Norris figures not much has changed through 100 years of Lutherans providing ministry on college campuses."Worship is still at the heart of what we do, with students learning and growing and serving as disciples," says Norris, director of Lutheran Campus Ministry at Kansas University. "We worship, eat, study and serve together. Obviously, the world has changed, but in looking back through the archives, there were prayer vigils for peace in the 1950s, vigorous discussions about faith and doubt in the 1940s and caroling and hot chocolate in the 1930s. Some things haven't changed."This weekend, more than 50 former KU students are expected back on campus to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the national ministry.The Lutheran ministry started in 1907 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. KU's ministry began in the early 1920s.Currently, the local ministry holds two worship services weekly (at 5 p.m. Sunday and 6 p.m. Wednesday), has a weekly study on Wednesday evenings, hosts graduate student lunches and does service projects. It also has an alternative spring break trip to New York City.Norris says about 25 students attend Sunday worship, held at Bethany House, 18 E. 13th St. About 100 students are involved throughout a semester, and Norris says many come from non-Lutheran backgrounds - or no faith background at all."We look at topics - baptism, the Bible, the church, worship, service, vocation - from the perspective that everyone has something to offer in the discussion, whether they've been in the church their whole lives, or atheists with questions who are there for the first time," Norris says. "I believe strongly that God has given all of us gifts and that we can learn from each others' thoughts, doubts and questions."The weekend's events include a reception at 4 p.m. Friday at Bethany House, followed by a 6 p.m. worship service at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H. Preaching will be Sue Rothmeyer, ELCA director for campus ministry. That's followed by a 7 p.m. dinner at Trinity.There also will be a football game-watching party on Saturday, and worship on Sunday.Norris says he's anticipating hearing stories from previous students in the ministry."I'm looking forward to learning about the history of this ministry from talking to alums and previous pastors," Norris says. "I have a number of questions of my own. I think learning about our history will help us to be a stronger ministry today."_ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at email@example.com, or 832-7145._
This from the Associated Press wire this afternoon:BALTIMORE (AP) - A federal jury on Wednesday awarded the father of a fallen Marine $2.9 million in compensatory damages after finding an anti-gay Kansas church and three of its leaders liable for invasion of privacy and intent to inflict emotional distress for picketing the Marine's funeral in 2006.The jury was to begin deliberating the size of punitive damages after receiving further instructions, although U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett noted the size of the compensatory award "far exceeds the net worth of the defendants," according to financial statements filed with the court.Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified monetary damages after members staged a demonstration at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags."A number of states have passed laws regarding funeral protests, and Congress has passed a law prohibiting such protests at federal cemeteries, but the Maryland lawsuit is believed to be the first filed by the family of a fallen serviceman.Snyder's suit named the church, its founder the Rev. Fred Phelps and his two daughters Shirley Phelps-Roper and Rebecca Phelps-Davis, 46. The jury began deliberating Tuesday after two days of testimony.The York, Pa. man claimed the protests intruded upon what should have been a private ceremony and sullied his memory of the event.The church members testified they are following their religious beliefs by spreading the message that the deaths of soldiers are due to the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.Their attorneys argued in closing statements Tuesday that the burial was a public event and that even abhorrent points of view are protected by the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and religion.The judge said the church's financial statements, sealed earlier, could be released to the plaintiffs.Earlier, church members staged a demonstration outside the federal courthouse, which is located on a busy thoroughfare a few blocks west of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, while passing motorists honked and shouted insults.Church founder Fred Phelps held a sign reading "God is your enemy," while his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper stood on an American flag while carrying a sign that read "God hates fag enablers." Members of the group sang "God Hates America,"' to the tune of "God Bless America."Snyder sobbed when he heard the verdict while members of the church greeted the news with tightlipped smiles._ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 832-7145._
Corpus Christi Catholic Church is about to break ground on a $3.6 million addition to its campus in West Lawrence.Church members will gather at 6:30 Thursday evening at the church, 6001 Bob Billings Parkway, for a ceremony kicking off construction.The new facility, which will be a free-standing building, will include a gymnasium, restrooms office and kitchen. The new building will serve both the Corpus Christi School and the church, says Yvonne Smith, the parish's development director.Once the gym is completed late next summer, students at the school will use it for physical education and for lunch time. The current cafeteria is too small for the 170 students currently enrolled in grades K-6.The gym also will allow church teams to have their own space for games. Currently, those teams are driving to Bishop Seabury Academy, 4120 Clinton Parkway, or venues in Kansas City for home games.Also, Smith says, "The kitchen will be large enough to be used as a parish-wide facility."Church members raised $4.3 million in a recent capital campaign for the addition. About $750,000 of the money helped pay down debt on the existing facility.The additional space also would help with a preschool that is tentatively planned to open in the fall, Smith says.No more additions to the church or school are planned for the near future, Smith says. However, long-term plans call for additional administration and classroom space for the school._ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at email@example.com, or 832-7145._
What would Jesus do today?It's a new spin on a question first posed in 1896 by Topeka minister Charles Sheldon in his book "In His Steps."Starting tonight, Topeka's public television station will begin airing a series of locally produced documentaries that examine contemporary issues through the eyes of scholars that Sheldon might have associated with today.The series, ["Beyond Theology,"] will be broadcast at 9 tonight with a re-broadcast at 3:30 Sunday afternoon. In Lawrence, the program will be on [KTWU], Sunflower Broadband Channel 11. At least 40 stations across the country also have agreed to air it.Dave Kendall, one of the documentary's producers, says the series started as a narrowly focused show on Sheldon and the "What would Jesus do?" question.In Sheldon's book, a minister challenges his congregation to ask that question of themselves before making any decision. The phrase has had a resurgence in the last 15 years, with "WWJD" frequently showing up on bracelets.Over time, Kendall says, producers realized they had enough information from their interviews with scholars to broaden their narrow approach to a 10-part series."It isn't a point-counterpoint sort of approach," Kendall says. "Frankly, I don't think you get very far with that. It ends up being rhetoric. The basic premise of this is if Charles Sheldon were alive today, who would he be conversing with? A lot of people think of WWJD as representative of a conservative approach, but he was really pretty liberal."Scholars featured in the series include Huston Smith, a theologian at Syracuse University; John Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopal bishop and author; author and theologian Karen Armstrong; and the Rev. Peter Gomes, a theologian at Harvard University's Divinity School.In addition to tonight's introductory episode, topics include church and state, the environment, pluralism in the United States and spirituality and religion."A lot of problems in the world today are perpetuated because of theological differences and people clinging to their own parochial views," Kendall says. "They're not willing to hear and accept other views. The idea (for the series) was to get beyond that, to get beyond the superficial trappings of belief systems to learn what they're all about."_ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 832-7145._ : http://ktwu.washburn.edu/productions/BT/ : http://ktwu.washburn.edu
Something of an anomaly will occur Sunday in Lawrence - a pastor under the age of 30 will be ordained.The Rev. Josh Longbottom, the 29-year-old associate pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt., has his ordination service scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday. He is a native of Manhattan and graduate of Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, Mo.The Journal-World wrote a [profile] of Josh and his brother JoJo back in September of 2006.Only 5 percent of pastors in the United Church of Christ - of which Plymouth is a member - are under the age of 40.And the issue certainly isn't limited to the UCC denomination. Other statistics:¢ The Presbyterian Church says 29 percent of its clergy are 55 years of age or older, and the median age of seminary graduates is 42.¢ The National Catholic Reporter says there are more American priests over age 90 than under age 30.¢ The average age for clergy is around 52, according to a Duke University study, with average age of ordination of 29. The oldest average age (59) among pastors was at historically black churches (which, incidentally, also had the youngest age of ordination at 24).So what can be done to increase the number of young people in religious leadership positions? Any theories?_ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at email@example.com, or 832-7145._ : http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/sep...
Going into its third year, Lawrence's Day of Prayer and Reflection might not be a huge religious rally.The convocation in South Park - where people of all faiths are encouraged to gather and talk about how their beliefs can help those in need - has drawn only about 20 people each of the past two years.But Steve Ozark, coordinator of the Lawrence Community InterFaith Initiative, which organizes the event, says he hopes people take time to think about the less fortunate quietly on their own - even if they decide not to gather with others."The important message is that everyone in Lawrence can think about, reflect, meditate or pray on this day however each of us chooses," Ozark says. "Everything that has ever happened in the world began with a thought, and many people focusing on the same issue together can be a very strong agent for change. Even more so with prayer."Specifically for the InterFaith Initiative, the group is looking for ways to help the poor in Lawrence. It has worked on emergency provisions, homeless issues and affordable housing.Those participating in the Day of Prayer and Reflection, which is Sunday, are asked to participate with their own faith communities over the weekend. Then, they can attend a 3 p.m. convocation Sunday at South Park.Several local leaders will speak on poverty issues, and then those in attendance can share their own thoughts on the day as well."People speak their heart," Ozark says. "I find it very inspiriting and motivating to keep moving forward in prayer and action."Ozark offers this assessment of why it's important for people of different faiths to interact on these issues:"By wrestling with the inadequacies and the injustices many people suffer here locally, we acknowledge that there is a need for change in our community where oftentimes people with wants are being put ahead of people who need, who strive just to survive."It is also healthy for us to get beyond our comfort zones, to come together with people we don't know from different faith experiences. I find it very valuable to meet and listen to people whose experiences are outside of my own faith journey."Many people find this intimidating or uncomfortable, but it's not when we have the purpose of fulfilling what all religions and faith teachings I've ever seen emphasize - to love your neighbor, to be charitable and to help those in need."_ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 832-7145._
This from today's [Wichita Eagle]:Apparently, Central Christian Church, Wichita's largest Protestant congregation, is facing some controversy over its decision to have former "American Idol" star Clay Aiken play a Christmas concert there.The National Enquirer reports this week that "the church received a lot of attacks" over the concert, and that the attacks were related to Aiken's sexual orientation.A church leader called the story "just absolutely false." According to the Eagle, a memo circulated to church leaders defended the concert, saying Aiken has spoken openly about his Christian beliefs, has a holiday CD with songs about Christ's birth and has said in interviews that he is not gay.Also in the memo: "Keep in mind, this is an 'outreach event.' Many of Clay's fans are Christians, however some may never darken the halls of a church, but for this one event."The concert is Nov. 26, and tickets range from $30 to $40._ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at email@example.com, or 832-7145._ : http://www.kansas.com/194/story/197882.html
The national outrage in South Korea over an art curator who allegedly faked degrees from Kansas University and Yale now apparently has religious implications.Shin Jeong-ah has been accused of faking degrees to get her jobs as art professor at Dongguk University and curator for the Sunggok Museum in Seoul.Now, according to a story by the Korean Yonhap News Agency, the scandal is creating strife in the Buddhist community in the country.A monk named Youngbae, who is in charge of a temple in Ulsan and chairman of the board of directors of the Buddhist-affiliated Dongguk University, is "suspected of having played a major role in hiring the disgraced Shin."Byeon Yang-kyoon, a former top presidential aide in Korea, also is suspected of offering financial support to Youngbae's temple in exchange for her employment. And another monk named Janguyn has claimed he was fired from his position on the board of directors because he opposed Shin's appointment.The Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the largest Buddhist group in South Korea that represents about 2,300 temples and 13,000 monks, says the media is undermining the community by reporting on the alleged financial arrangement."We urge the media to stop slandering the Buddhist community, misleading people as if the legally funded temples were illegally supported by the government," the group said in a statement."We regret that people perceive the Buddhist community as the mastermind behind the scandal involving Shin Jeong-ah. We call on the prosecutors to investigate the incident fairly and quickly to reveal what is truly going on."Meanwhile, another Buddhist group, Buddhist Solidarity for Reform, "also calls within the Buddhist community that the Buddhists need to reflect on themselves and change," according to the Yonhap News Agency report."This turmoil was created in the first place by the worldly conflicts and unrighteousness within the South Korean Buddhist community," the group said in a statement. "All the members of the board of directors of Dongguk University should make public repentance and resign. ... We propose the Buddhist leaders to form an independent, anti-corruption panel to maintain the unity and cleanliness of our community."Shin is accused of forging bachelor's and master's degrees from KU, and a doctorate from Yale. A KU spokesman has said Shin did attend KU but did not graduate. To read the full story on the religious implications involving the Shin controversy, visit the [Yonhap News Agency Web site]._ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 832-7145._ : http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2007/10/07/12/0302000000AEN20071005002400315F.HTML