December 18, 2008

1535 RNS News

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

Palin’s Church Seriously
Damaged by Suspicious Fire

BY ADELLE M. BANKS                                                                              ©2008 Religion News Service
capThe Alaska evangelical church that former Republican vice-presidential nominee Governor Sarah Palin calls home was severely damaged December 12 by a fire that has been ruled suspicious by authorities.
“Our building was damaged by a fire, and will need repairs before we can resume worship there again, a spokesperson for the Wasilla Bible Church announced on its web site. “Praise God that no one in the building was injured, and pray for us as we rebuild.”
The congregation met Sunday at a local middle school and plans to worship there “until further notice,” a spokesperson announced.
The Anchorage Daily News reported that Palin’s office issued a statement the day after the fire. “Gov. Palin stopped by the church this morning, and she told an assistant pastor that she apologizes if the incident is in any way connected to the undeserved negative attention the church has received since she became a vice-presidential candidate on August 29,” it said. “Whatever the motives of the arsonist, the governor has faith in the scriptural passage that what was intended for evil will in some way be used for good.”
James Steele, chief of the Central Mat-Su Fire Department, said it was the biggest fire his department had handled this year, but did not immediately tie its suspicious origin to political motivation.
“We are definitely treating it as suspicious and as potential arson at this point,” he said. “Right now there’s no indication that we have that there’s any connection there. We just don’t have any leads at all as far as the intent or motive in this.”
He told the newspaper that the building, which is worth between $4 million and $5 million, sustained about $1 million in damage.
The Anchorage Daily News reported that Palin’s husband, Todd, and their children attended the service at the middle school but the governor did not because she was preparing to present next year’s state budget.
Survey: 1 in 10 Adults Are Caregivers

BY DAVID ROACH                                                                                                 ©2008 Religion News Service
Eleven percent of the people who participated in a LifeWay Research survey said they or an immediate family member are the primary full-time caregiver to an elderly parent or a special needs child, a statistic also show in two other national studies.
Approximately 14 percent of American children under age 18 have special health care needs, according to the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. That survey defined children with special health care needs as “those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition” and require health care beyond the amount required by children generally. Presumably not all children included in the survey require full-time care.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 36 out of every 1,000 Americans 65 and older live in a nursing home while 277 per 10,000 require home health care.
According to the LifeWay study, marital status and race signal the most significant differences in people’s status as primary full-time caregivers. People who are unmarried and living with a partner (18 percent) are acting as primary caregivers for elderly parents or special needs children far more than either married (11 percent) or single people (9 percent).
The online survey was conducted this fall using a national sample of Americans representative of the U.S. population in terms of gender, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, education, income, and region of the country. The survey used an online panel weighted to be representative of the population. The sample size of 1,580 provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +2.5 percent.
Younger Schuller Resigns From Crystal Cathedral

BY ADELLE M. BANKS                                                               ©2008 Religion News Service
The Rev. Robert A.Schuller has resigned as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California after his father, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, said his son would no longer be the sole preacher on the church’s “Hour of Power” television program.
In October, the elder Schuller said differences between the two men over the “direction and the vision” of the megachurch and its related television broadcast had led them to “part ways.” At that time, the younger Schuller remained as the church’s senior pastor while the elder Schuller hosted the broadcast and invited a range of guest speakers to the pulpit.
A statement on Crystal Cathedral’s Web site says its executive team has accepted the younger Schuller’s resignation and he remains a member of the Reformed Church in America, the denomination with which the church is affiliated. “It is expected that Robert will make an announcement soon regarding plans for his new ministry,” reads the statement. “The leadership and congregation wishes him all the best as his plans unfold.”
The Rev. Juan Carlos Ortiz, founder of Chrystal Cathedral Hispanic Ministry, has been named interim senior pastor. Crystal Cathedral spokesman John Charles said the elder Schuller’s role has not changed at the ministry. The pulpit is being filled by a rotation of pastors around the country, he said.
As of December 15, Charles said the younger Schuller had not yet announced his future plans.
Orthodox Jews Torn on Ethical Aspects of Kosher Foods

BY NICOLE NEROULIAS                                                                  
©2008 Religion News Service
Struggling with a kosher meat industry labor scandal that won’t go away, Orthodox Jews have begun publicly debating what role—if any—ethical standards should have on their eating habits.
At a panel discussion December 9 at Yeshiva University, four scholars presented a range of responses to accusations of illegal and underage labor used at Agriprocessors, an Iowa-based plant that produced about half of the country’s kosher meat and poultry.
Agriprocessors filed for bankruptcy in November; former CEO Sholom Rubashkin is in jail, awaiting trial on labor and bank fraud charges.
Orthodox Jews make up less than one-fifth of American Jews, but are the majority of those who keep kosher. Over the past year, many have balked at calls for boycotts against accused companies; Orthodox rabbis say they must ensure kosher food remains affordable and available, and don’t want to act prematurely if a major supplier has not been proven guilty.
Regardless of the claims against Agriprocessors, some rabbis continue to maintain that kosher certification has nothing to do with a company’s labor practices. Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America, compared workplace ethics and kosher laws to the relationship between personal hygiene and poetry. “A great poet might opt to not shower,” Shafran said, “but that bad habit doesn’t necessarily affect the quality of his writing.”
In contrast, Shmuly Yanklowitz, co-founder of the Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox Jewish social justice group, said visiting the terrified Agriprocessors workers earlier this year convinced him that fair treatment of workers must be a priority in kosher food production. “Where is our moral courage?”     he asked. “We’re fighting for the soul of the Jewish people.”
For now, most seem to cling to the middle ground, represented by Rabbi Menechem Genack, head of kosher supervision for the Orthodox Union, and Rabbi Basil Herring, head of the orthodox Rabbinical Council of America.
While agreeing that dietary laws do not technically include labor principles, and that government agencies are better equipped to investigate companies than a system proposed by the Conservative movement, they concluded that kosher certifying agencies should include some workplace stipulations in their contracts—if only to reclaim the perception that their food adheres to a higher standard.
“We have to act with due consideration, we have to always put the ethical and moral at the top of our agenda but to do so in a way that brings about, rather than defeats, the goals that we need to achieve,” Herring said.