November 13, 2009

1531 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

Religious Progressives Decry
Health Care Abortion Amendment

BY ADELLE M. BANKS                                                                                           ©2009 Religion News Service

capProgressive religious leaders are criticizing the House for passing a health care reform bill that includes an amendment designed to eliminate government funding of abortion.
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pennsylvania, and Brad Ellsworth, D-Indiana, prevents federal funding of abortion in insurance programs created by Democrats through health care reform. It was adopted November 7 by a vote of 240-194.
"We come together to condemn the passage of the Stupak amendment, which if passed by the Senate will effectively deny coverage for abortion services to women covered by the new federal health care plan," reads a joint statement from Catholics for Choice, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Clergy Network, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing.
"We are appalled that religious leaders intervened to impose their specific religious doctrine into health care reform, not recognizing that women must have the right to apply or reject the principles of their own faith in making the decision as to whether or not abortion is appropriate in their specific circumstances," the statement reads.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops lobbied the House hard to include the anti-abortion amendment.
The amendment was hailed by conservative leaders, including Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who called its passage "a huge pro-life victory for women, their unborn children, and families." Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, described it as "the only bright spot in an otherwise troubling government-run health care package put forth by House Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi."

Muslim Groups Condemn Fort Hood Violence

BY ADELLE M. BANKS                                                                                      ©2009 Religion News Service

Muslim groups quickly condemned the shootings by a Muslim suspect that killed 13 people Thursday (Nov. 5) at an Army base in Texas.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, a psychiatrist who treated soldiers at the Fort Hood base, is accused in the attack that also wounded 30 people. He survived and is hospitalized.
"No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence," said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council for American-Islamic Affairs. "The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted our nation's all-volunteer army that includes thousands of Muslims in all services."
Awad cautioned against backlash towards Muslims, noting that the suspect's motives are not yet known.
"We urge all Americans to remain calm in reaction to this tragic event and to demonstrate once again what is best about America -- our nation's ability to remain unified even in times of crisis," he said.
Mahdi Bray, executive director of Muslim American Society Freedom, expressed his organization's "shock" and "deep sadness" about the attack in a letter of condolence to the base commander.
"This unprovoked and unconscionable act of violence against American military personnel and civilians alike is utterly reprehensible, and against every tenet of faith and morality," he wrote.
Hasan frequently attended prayer services at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, when he worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington before moving out of the area.
"He was a very quiet and private person. I can't say that people knew him very well other than attending prayers," Arshad Qureshi, chairman of the mosque's board of trustees, told The Washington Post. "He did not go out of the way to engage people. We have thousands of people who come through to pray; he was just one of them."
The mosque was established in 1976 and offers a variety of community services, including a medical clinic.

British Anglican Group to Convert to Catholicism

BY FRANCIS X. ROCCA                                                                                  ©2009 Religion News Service 

A group of conservative Anglicans in Britain announced that they would convert to the Catholic Church under new arrangements designed to accommodate Anglicans upset with their church's growing acceptance of homosexuality and female clergy (See related story).
Representatives of the British province of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) voted unanimously last week to pursue "corporate reunion ... with the Holy See," according to a statement posted on the group's website.
The TAC claims to have 400,000 members worldwide, though its British branch has only about 20 parishes, according to published reports.
The resolution is apparently the first formal move by any group to accept the Vatican's offer, announced in October, to permit the establishment of special national dioceses for former Anglicans.
Anglican clergy who are already married will be eligible for ordination as Catholic priests (but not bishops) within the new structures, which will permit the use of traditional Anglican music and prayers.
The new Catholic dioceses, called "personal ordinariates," will be set up by national bishops conferences in response to local demand, following guidelines that the Vatican is expected to release shortly.