Author Archives: Samantha Freda

Belief Bytes: Thursday’s Religion news Roundup

Here is your Religion News roundup for today:

By Daniel Burke

c. Religion News Services 2012

Reprinted with permission

The Gallup poll released yesterday suggests that Mitt Romney still has an “evangelical problem,” argues our own Mark Silk.

But Sarah Posner notes that “non-religious” voters comprise 1/3 of the electorate.

What’s a candidate to do? I, for one, would like to see this poll Slow Jammed.

Jewish Americans like Mormons and Muslims more than they like the “Christian right,” according to Public Religion Research Institute’s recent Jewish values survey.”

Read the rest of the article here.

-Samantha Freda, Wilmington Faith and Values news intern

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Belief Bytes: Wednesday’s Religion News Roundup

The Rev. Joel Osteen. Photo via RNS.

Here is your Religion News roundup for today:

By David Gibson
c. Religion News Service 2012
Reprinted with permission

“It’s official: Mitt Romney is a Christian. Joel Osteen tells me so.

Osteen is also set to sell out Nationals Park for a prosperity prayer rally this Saturday.

Billy Graham has a different take: “Instead of serving God, we serve money and things – and they end up controlling us.”

The “God gap” persists, and Romney has the “very religious” by 17 points over President Obama and Obama has the “moderately religious” by 14 points and the nonreligious by 31 points.

Joe the Plumber, newly-minted Republican candidate and born-again Christian, puts himself in the first category. He also says he doesn’t question Barack Obama’s faith and says those who do are not being Christian! To which he adds this charitable reading:

“After Barack Hussein Obama suddenly cast-off his Muslim roots, rejected his mother’s disbelief in God, turned tail on the Islam of his early life and converted to Christianity – BLAM – he’s elected President. Anyone who believes the two things are not connected is being disingenuous at best. I don’t know how or when it happened, whether when he was partying at college or five minutes before he first decided to run for office, but it doesn’t matter – he came to Christ and he is my brother.”

Thanks, bro.”

Read the rest of the article here.

-Samantha Freda, Wilmington Faith and Values news intern

Belief Bytes: Tuesday’s Religion News Roundup

A piece of the Buddha’s skull is on display in Hong Kong, the first time the relic has been shown outside mainland China. Photo courtesy of RNS.

Here is your Religion news roundup for today:

By David Gibson
c. Religion News Service 2012
Reprinted with permission

“Suspected child abusers in Orthodox Jewish circles shouldn’t have their names revealed because of the “tight-knit and insular” nature of the community, argues Brooklyn’s DA.

Charles Hynes said Orthodox communities are so familiar that identifying the suspects would likely identify the victims.

Oklahoma authorities are investigating whether the executive director of The Voice of the Martyrs, an international Christian ministry, killed himself amid allegations he’d molested a 10-year-old girl.

Jews in Hollywood are standing by Mel Gibson despite his past, ahem, issues with anti-Semitism and his current brouhaha with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas over their “Judah the Maccabee” project.”

Read the rest of the article here.

-Samantha Freda, Wilmington Faith and Values news intern

Belief Bytes: Monday’s Religion News Roundup

Here is your Religion New’s roundup for today:

Noah mosaic. Courtesy of RNS archives.

By Daniel Burke
c. Religion News Service 2012
Reprinted with permission

“Lots of interesting obits and encomia over the weekend for Chuck Colson, the Watergate felon turned evangelical advocate for prisoners.

A church-state watchdog filed a formal complaint with the IRS alleging that the Catholic Diocese of Peoria violated rules barring tax exempt organizations from opposing political candidates when Bishop Daniel Jenky compared President Obama to Hitler and Stalin.

University of Notre Dame faculty have drawn up a petition asking for Jenky to resign from the university’s Board of Fellows if he is unwilling to publicly and “loudly” renounce “this destructive analogy.”

Some Liberty University students and alumni are protesting plans to have Mitt Romney deliver the commencement address next month. “Liberty University should have gotten a Christian to speak not someone who practices a cult,” said one student.”

Read the rest of the article here.

-Samantha Freda, Wilmington Faith and Values news intern

My FAV Word: Rev. Cheryl Walker and the “Freedom from Fear”

Samantha Freda

By SAMANTHA FREDA
WilmingtonFAVS news intern

Before meeting with the Rev. Cheryl Walker, I knew very little about Unitarian Universalists, beside a vague understanding of the belief system’s liberality and tolerance of many different forms of spirituality.

An image from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship foyer. Photo by Samantha Freda

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wilmington is a humble-looking building on Lake Avenue. In its foyer is the symbol of  the flaming chalice (the primary symbol of Unitarian Universalism) within two overlapping circles, signifying the union of different faiths and acceptance of nontraditional religious concepts or interpretations.

The organization of Unitarian Universalism was in the combining of both the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America, which existed separately of one another until May 15, 1961, when the Unitarian Universalist Association was formed.

Universalists, whose belief in universal salvation—that a loving God would not eternally damn anything it created—came into conflict with some traditional Christian concepts. Unitarians exercised faith based in reason, living by a principle that one should not have to believe in something they can not reasonably find to be true. Both came out of the Christian faith, though their beliefs and teachings are drawn from many different sources.

Walker, spiritual leader of UUFW for the past three years, led me into her office where we quickly fell into a casual conversation on the nature of this fellowship.

“I didn’t always do this,” Walker said, speaking of her days working in applications development at Merrill Lynch on Wall Street.

“During the day I was helping to make people more money who had enough but wanted more. Then at night, I was volunteering to feed homeless people. I finally just realized that, these two things I did every day were opposing each other. It had to be one or the other,” she said.

The Rev. Cheryl Walker. Photo by Samantha Freda

Though she was raised as a Muslim and still values many aspects of Islam, Walker found both her logical side and her spiritual yearnings were satisfied by the Unitarian Universalist philosophy.

“We’re a model for how religious pluralism goes,” she told me as she read off some of the texts from which she writes sermons: the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible, the Quran, the Upanishads, The Book of Mormon, even a text on aboriginal ideas.

Walker is currently teaching from a book called “Freedom From Fear: Finding the Courage to Act, Love, and Be” by Forrest Church. Church recognizes how guilt, worry, anxiety and dread are associated with the body, intellect, conscience, emotions and soul.

Besides the natural instinct inherent in physical fear, the book says the rest of the effects connected with fear cause distortions in perspective that limit our quality of life. Church attempts to encourage readers to realize their own strength and overcome their fears.

Walker has given sermons based on this book.

“We need not think alike to love alike,” Walker said, concluding our meeting with a quote from 16th century Unitarian preacher, Francis David. The simple phrase captures an essential aspect of Unitarian Universalism, a belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, while maintaining a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

Belief Bytes: Friday’s Religion News Roundup

Peoria Bishop Daniel R. Jenky. Photo via Religion News Service.

Here is your Religion News Roundup for today:

By David Gibson
c. Religion News Service 2012
Reprinted with permission

“Nuns on the run? The Vatican’s crackdown on the main leadership organization for women religious continues to generate wide interest, and sympathy for the sisters.

The Rev. Jim Martin’s Twitter campaign on their behalf is going viral: #WhatSistersMeanToMe

Canon lawyers say the nuns may not have many legal options for keeping the Leadership Conference of Women Religious viable.

Pope Benedict could make their life easier, but does this takeover mean he’s reverting to form?

Read the rest of the article here.

-Samantha Freda, Wilmington Faith and Values News intern

Belief Bytes: Wednesday’s Religion News Roundup

Graphic from Religion News Service

Here is your Religion News roundup for today:

By Daniel Burke
c. Religion News Service 2012
Reprinted with permission

“CNN reports that many Mormons say the LDS church is growing friendlier toward the LGBT community.

The Catholic bishop of Cleveland says he will reopen 12 churches whose closings were reversed by the Vatican after appeals from parishioners.

Belief in God increases with age, Reuters reports.

The Jesuits are $14 million richer after selling a rare, 900-year-old Gospel.

Read the rest of the article here.

-Samantha Freda, Wilmington Faith and Values news intern

Belief Bytes: Tuesday’s Religion News Roundup

Here is your Religion News roundup for today:

By Kevin Eckstrom

c. Religion News Service 2012

Reprinted with permission

“Some Republicans have a message for Mitt Romney: be more, not less, Mormon.

Southern Baptist policy guru Richard Land, already under fire for racially charged remarks in the Trayvon Martin case and then for lifting those remarks from someone else, apologized. But he’s also claiming “media bias,” saying he was “mugged” by The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.

News flash: teen pregnancy rates are down, but not in the Bible Belt, where they are among the nation’s highest. Researchers say religious opposition to birth control has something to do with it, but it’s probably got more to do with issues of class, poverty and education.

After Missouri-Synod Lutherans set a major Supreme Court precedent with a case on employment discrimination last year, ELCA Lutherans won’t get their day in court after the Supreme Court turned down a sexual harassment case brought by a former church music director against a Maryland pastor. Who knew Lutherans were so litigious?”

Read the rest of the article here.

-Samantha Freda, Wilmington Faith and Values news intern

Belief Bytes: Thursday’s Religion News Roundup

Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas and Mel Gibson. Courtesy of RNS.

Here is your Religion News Roundup for today:

By David Gibson
c. Religion News Service 2012
Reprinted with permission

“Mitt Romney needs Christian conservatives and this morning he got the endorsement of the Susan B. Anthony List, a prominent pro-life group that had strongly supported Rick Santorum.

Another convert to Romneyism, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land, tells CNN the media will make his Mormonism an issue.

But Land had some advice for Romney: “If the media persists in trying to get you to defend…some of the more exotic beliefs of Mormonism, you turn it around on them and pummel them around the head and shoulders with the Constitution and say there is no religious test for office and for you to inject my religious beliefs into this campaign is un-American.”

Mitt is making history for Mormons, but how historic is his prospective nomination for the United States?”

Read the rest of the article here.

-Samantha Freda, Wilmington Faith and Values news intern

Belief Bytes: Wednesday’s Religion News Roundup

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Here is your Religion News roundup for today:

By Daniel Burke
c. Religion News Service 2012
Reprinted with permission

“As you likely know, Rick Santorum quit his campaign yesterday, which means that Mitt Romney is poised to become the first Mormon presidential nominee from a major political party.

The SLT reports on the historic outcome and says that some Mormons are bracing for a backlash.

To the conspiracy-minded, a white horse has raced his way into Ketucky Derby contention.

Santorum gave a faith-laced concession speech, in which he called his campaign a ‘miracle’ and his daughter’s weekend hospitalization ‘a Passion play our family.'”

Read the rest of the article here.

-Samantha Freda, Wilmington Faith and Values news intern