September 3, 2008

1524 RNS News 3

 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

Christian Charities Say Poverty
Should be Priority for Washington
BY TIM MURPHY                                                                 ©2008 Religion News Service
Christian aid organizations are calling on the federal government to make fighting poverty a national priority, in response to new economic data from the Census Bureau.
According to the bureau's report, released August 26, the percentage of Americans living below the poverty level remained statistically unchanged from 2006 to 2007.
During that same 12-month period the median income increased and the number of Americans without health insurance declined. The data did not take into account the nation's recent economic downturn. The Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, called the current poverty level "unacceptable."
"Let these troubling poverty statistics be a call to action for each of us," said Snyder. "We must demand that our current and future leaders give a much higher priority to the needs of the poor in their policymaking decisions."
The Rev. David Beckmann, president of the Christian anti-poverty organization Bread for the World, said the report fails to account for rising transportation and health care expenses.
"The current way we measure poverty in the U.S. is woefully out of date," Beckmann said. "(It) fails to capture the true extent of the hardship experienced by American families."
Pope Expresses Solidarity With Christian Victims in India
BY FRANCIS X. ROCCA                                                         ©2008 Religion News Service
Pope Benedict XVI on August 27 condemned sectarian violence in India and voiced his "solidarity" with Christian victims there. Benedict made his remarks during his weekly public audience at the
Violence in the east Indian state of Orissa broke out on August 23, when gunmen killed Hindu leader Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati. Police have blamed the crime on Maoist rebels, but Hindu extremists have retaliated by attacking Christian neighborhoods, including an orphanage. The fighting has left 11 dead.
"While I firmly condemn all attacks against human life, the sacredness of which demands the respect of all, I express my spiritual closeness and solidarity to the brothers and sisters in the faith so hardly tried," the pope said.
Benedict also appealed to "religious leaders and civil authorities to work together to restore ... the peaceful coexistence and harmony which have always been the distinguishing mark of the Indian society."
Most Americans Believe God Can Save Lives, Even if Doctors Can't
BY TIM MURPHY                                                                     ©2008 Religion News Service
A majority of Americans believe that divine intervention can trump doctors' advice in end-of-life cases, according to a new report published in Archives of Surgery.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, found that 57 percent of adults believe in the possibility of a miracle even after doctors have told them a family member's life can't be saved. Just 20 percent of trauma professionals felt divine intervention could save a patient. "Regarding medical futility, the results indicate that physicians can be reasonably sure they are trusted to make those decisions. However, they need to be prepared to deal with families who are waiting for a miracle," the report concluded.
The study was conducted in the summer and fall of 2005, just a few months after the public debate over whether to remove the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman whom doctors concluded was in a
persistent vegetative state.
Although 61 percent of respondents said that "a person in a persistent vegetative state could be saved by a miracle," only 11 percent said that they would prefer to be kept alive if given the choice.
Researchers surveyed 1,006 adults, and 774 trauma care specialists. Race, age, gender, and education level were weighted to reflect census data, but researchers did not report the religious affiliation of participants.
Israel Authorities Begin Digital Conservation of Dead Sea Scrolls
BY MICHELE CHABIN                                                                 ©2008 Religion News Service
Sixty years after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Israeli authorities have begun the process of conserving the precious pieces of ancient parchment through digital technology.
Israeli archaeologists said the project, now in its pilot stage, will employ the latest digital camera technology to image the thousands of fragments discovered in the late 1940s. The goal is to better preserve the brittle 2,000-year-old parchments and create an Internet databank accessible to everyone.
Buried deep inside caves in the blisteringly hot, dry Judean Desert for two millennia, the scrolls--which include the oldest written record of the Old Testament ever found--were discovered by Bedouin shepherds. Since them, scientists all over the world have worked to decipher the few intact scrolls and thousands of scroll fragments. So far, they have identified about 900 distinct manuscripts.
Imaging the scrolls in color and infrared will allow scholars to read scroll fragments not visible to the naked eye, said the Israel Antiquities Authority. Many of the fragments were found in poor condition; others deteriorated over time.
The preservation project is drawing on the expertise of imaging and database experts, including Greg Bearman, who was until recently the principal scientist at NASA's jet propulsion laboratory.