The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors
Unitarians Search for Healing
After Deadly Church Shooting
BY TOM MURPHY ©2008 Religion News Service
nitarian Universalist leaders say they will not allow a fatal shooting at a Tennessee church to deter their proud progressive teachings, even as police say those beliefs appear to be what prompted the deadly rampage.
On July 28, one day after the shooting at a church musical that left two parishioners dead, church members began the process of healing with a candlelight vigil. "We're here tonight to make sense of the senseless," said the Rev. William Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, according to the Associated Press.
A children's choir ended the rain-soaked vigil by singing "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow," a popular song from the production of "Annie" that was interrupted by gunfire on Sunday morning.
According to Knoxville police, Jim D. Adkisson, 58, opened fire at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Police believe Adkisson, who is in police custody, acted alone. In a four-page letter found in Adkisson's car, the alleged shooter wrote that the attack was motivated in part by the church's liberal beliefs.
"Basically it indicated that he was upset because of his unemployment situation. It also indicated that he was not happy with the liberalism of that movement, and also felt that that was partly the reason he was still unemployed," said Officer Darrell DeBusk, a police spokesperson.
Adkisson's ex-wife was a former member of the church, the Associated Press reported.
According to Janet Hayes, a spokesperson for UUA headquarters in Boston, the Knoxville church had been active in pushing for racial justice, and recently began holding an event for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens. The attack, the first of its kind on a Unitarian church, has prompted an investigation by the FBI and local police. Under federal statutes, the attacks could be prosecuted as a hate crime if a religious motive can be proved.
The church, which has a membership of 460, will hold services next Sunday as scheduled. Although Hayes said some congregations nationally have become more alert in the wake of the shootings, Sinkford said Tuesday that they remain committed to their causes. "Let me assure you that we will not change our beliefs or compromise our demands for social justice," he said in a statement. "Fear will not prevent us from standing on the side of love, and we will continue to open our doors and our hearts to all people."
Court Again Blocks Internet Porn Law
The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals has again upheld a judge's decision to block enforcement of a congressional effort to protect children from Internet pornography.
A three-judge panel of the Third Circuit, based in Philadelphia, affirmed in a July 22 ruling a lower-court opinion permanently preventing enforcement of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). It marked the third time the court has endorsed a judge's preliminary or permanent injunction against the federal law.
The decision came a day after a three-judge panel of the same appeals court threw out a $550,000 indecency fine by the Federal Communications Commission against CBS Corp. The television network received the fine for its broadcast of the controversial 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that included the baring of one of singer Janet Jackson's breasts.
Enacted in 1998, COPA is intended to prohibit commercial websites from making sexually explicit material available to children under the age of 17, but it has never been enforced. In its latest ruling, the Third Circuit panel unanimously supported a 2007 decision by federal Judge Lowell Reed, who said COPA violated the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech. In agreeing, the appeals panel said the law is vague, overly broad and censors speech that is constitutionally protected for adults. The Third Circuit judges also agreed with Reed's opinion "that filters and the Government's promotion of filters are more effective than COPA."
The Archdiocese of New Orleans has released its first comprehensive report on the economic damage caused by Hurricane Katrina: $288 million in damage to its vast array of schools, churches, housing and nursing homes. Its insurance coverage provided just 35 cents on each dollar of damage, the church said.
Yet a combination of nationwide generosity, continuing FEMA reimbursements, insurance and a radical downsizing of the archdiocese appears to have left the regional church in position to rebuild on a smaller footprint, said Sarah Comiskey, the archdiocese's spokeswoman. "We are working with what we have, and confident we can work with FEMA to continue to meet our capital needs," she said.
On paper, the church faces a loss of about $105 million if it tried to restore all its property, said Jeffrey Entwisle, the archdiocese's chief operating officer. Archbishop Alfred Hughes' down-sizing plan foresees the closure of about 30 churches, significantly reducing the repair burden.
The day before the storm hit three years ago, the archdiocese counted about 491,000 Catholics; now about a fifth of those people are gone. About 8,000 fewer students now study in 21 fewer Catholic schools, the report said.
Methodists Back Plan For Bush Library at SMU
BY TIM MURPHY ©2008 Religion News Service
Despite continued opposition from progressive members of the United Methodist Church, the proposed George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University (SMU) overcame its last significant hurdle on July 17.
Delegates to the Methodists' South Central Jurisdictional Conference rejected a petition that would have blocked construction of the controversial complex on SMU's Dallas campus. SMU agreed last February to lease 36 acres that would house Bush's library, museum and an independent policy institute. "The South Central Jurisdiction expects the institute to function in a manner that protects the integrity of both Southern Methodist University and the South Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church," delegates said in an approved resolution.
The South Central Jurisdiction covers United Methodists in eight states, from New Mexico to Louisiana and north to Nebraska. Delegates to the Methodists' national convention voted 844-20 to refer the issue to the regional body for a final decision.
Thursday's vote brought to an end a saga that began last year when regional church leaders first approved the lease proposal. Last February, school officials approved a 99-year lease for the privately funded complex, which is expected to cost an estimated $500 million.
The plans have drawn criticism from liberal members of the church, who say the complex would compromise SMU's independence and promote ideas that conflict with Methodist teachings. "I think it's an unprecedented move by a conference of the United Methodist Church to subsidize a specific politically ideologically oriented point of view," said the Rev. Tex Sample, a retired pastor from Goodyear, Arizona. "I think we will rue the day that we did this."
In a letter to delegates, Sample cited Bush's embrace of domestic surveillance, his advocacy of the death penalty, and his support for the Iraq war as policies that directly contradict church values.
President Bush and his wife, Laura, are both United Methodists, and the first lady graduated from SMU in 1968.