Religion Roundup 10/17

Church of Christ hosts popular evangelical speakers on Sunday
Evangelists Max Craddock and Mike Tackett will speak on the keys to living in the Kingdom of God this Sunday through Wednesday at 16th and Pile Church of Christ.
Craddock and Tackett are speakers for the Christian television and radio program, “Key to the Kingdom,” taped in Merkel, Texas, near Abilene.
The evangelists will present Bible studies at 9 a.m. Sunday, followed by worship at 10 a.m. and a complimentary dinner. Sunday evening service will be at 6 o’clock. Services on Monday through Wednesday will be at 7 p.m.
“Our congregation is very concerned about the downward spiral of our society, and realizes the only hope is for Christians to really live like Christ, thus properly introducing him to the world,” said evangelist Jim Gammon of the church. “The congregation believes this is essential to prevent society from self-destructing.”

U.S. bishops issue new guide to Catholics on responsibility
WASHINGTON — America’s bishops on Monday urged Roman Catholics to exercise ‘‘political responsibility’’ and become active in the upcoming election campaign, saying those serving in public life bear ‘‘a particular responsibility’’ to apply the church’s moral principles.
The 8,000-word statement combines long-standing church concerns — abortion, aid for private school students, justice for the poor in America and worldwide — with current topics like gay marriage and the war on terror.
As in previous pre-campaign statements, the bishops say they are defining moral responsibilities, not endorsing any candidate or either party.
In a new emphasis, the bishops assert their right and duty to speak out while acknowledging they need to ‘‘rebuild trust’’ with measures to overcome the clergy sex abuse scandal.
The bishops say U.S. laws should protect marriage as ‘‘a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman.’’

Episcopal Church head scolded by Florida bishop
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The head of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, said Tuesday he will not attend a bishop’s consecration — an announcement that came days after Bishop Stephen Jecko of the Diocese of Florida criticized Griswold for his insistence on participating.
The spat between the Episcopal leaders gets back to an ongoing debate within the denomination over gay relationships.
Griswold, who has said the Bible does not forbid same-sex relationships, was to have joined the Nov. 1 Florida consecration of the Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard as bishop coadjutor. On Nov. 2, Griswold plans to consecrate the openly gay Canon V. Gene Robinson as New Hampshire’s bishop coadjutor.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine had withdrawn an invitation for the Episcopal diocese to use its largest church for the Howard ceremony because Griswold would officiate. The Catholics believe the Bible prohibits gay sex.

Seminary provides online statistics for all world religions
SOUTH HAMILTON, Mass. — An Internet data base launched last week by Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is the first to provide continually updated statistics and other information on all religions in each of the world’s nations.
By the center’s count, Christianity remains the world’s largest faith, claiming just under 2 billion adherents in 34,000 separate denominations. Islam ranks second with 1,186,000,000 followers and Hinduism third, with 804 million.
The center estimates there are 762 million atheists or nonreligious people.

Republican bill backs prayers at military academies
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Conservative Republicans in Congress are pushing a bill to safeguard the right of U.S. military academies to say prayers before meals.
The bill comes after the American Civil Liberties Union’s Maryland chapter wrote the Naval Academy questioning the legality of the prayer tradition, which may date from the school’s founding in 1845.
Annapolis has a chaplain lead prayer before lunches where attendance is mandatory. West Point has no mealtime prayers. The Air Force Academy pauses at lunch for a moment of silence.
Rep. Walter Jones Jr., a North Carolina Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, introduced the bill with 23 co-sponsors. No hearings have been scheduled.

Mormon teacher claims harassment over gay pride
NAMPA, Idaho — A Mormon teacher at a federal job training center has filed suit claiming religious harassment because he wasn’t allowed to object to government recognition of a Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.
Kenneth Gee, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said superiors at the Centennial Job Corps Center advised him to celebrate the month and sent Gee then-President Clinton’s proclamation about the month with the comment ‘‘Morality is simply the attitude we adopt toward people we personally dislike.’’
Gee said he notified the superiors he objected to receiving such material, on religious grounds, and was warned that his objection violated federal policy and could cost him his job.

Cowboy church makes ‘‘country folk’’ feel at home
BENTON, Kan. — A life-size cardboard cutout of Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger stands in the background of a stage with curtains made from red handkerchiefs, hung over horseshoe-shaped fixtures.
Not your normal worship setting, but this is the non-denominational Cowboy Church, which draws small but appreciative congregations to a theater at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper restaurant and show grounds.
Enthusiasts say hundreds of such churches are popping up nationwide, catering to ‘‘country folk’’ who might not be comfortable with ordinary religious trappings.
‘‘We don’t need all the thees and thous,’’ said white-bearded founder Dan Boyd. ‘‘People don’t say those King James prayers when they’re hurtin’.’’ He also thinks the 40-minute service and come-as-you-are approach make people feel comfortable.
The sermons stress ‘‘good, country values.’’ Many worshippers wear western garb and some keep their hats on throughout.
‘‘I love the country feel and the old hymns,’’ said Linda Harris of Wichita.
— Staff and wire reports