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Religion News

Rivergate to host end times seminar

Rivergate will host a seminar entitled "Understanding the Times" with speaker Jim Maher on Feb. 27 and 28 at 7 p.m. The seminar is designed to help Christians gain new insight concerning end times and view the events through a different lens. Maher serves directs the Israel Mandate at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Mo. He is the author of several books on Israel and the end times.

Rivergate is located at 188 Garfield St. Please call 482-2546 or visit www.rivergateaog.org for more information.

Boston College adds cross to classrooms

BOSTON — Boston College officials have quietly placed crucifixes in every classroom and Christian artwork around the Roman Catholic university's campus, stirring some faculty complaints.

The Jesuit school made the additions during winter break, part of a trend among Catholic universities and colleges attempting to affirm their Catholic identity through symbols and curriculum changes.

While Boston College students have been mostly supportive, a handful of faculty protested to the administration. Some unsuccessfully circulated a petition asking to have crucifixes removed.

Biology professor Dan Kirschner, faculty adviser for the school's chapter of the Jewish student group Hillel, said the school is being "insensitive" to people of other faiths.

Maxim Shrayer, chairman of the Slavic and Eastern languages and literature department, said the religious symbols run "contrary to the letter and spirit of open intellectual discourse."

Not all faculty agree. The Rev. John Paris, a Jesuit priest who teaches bioethics, said the criticism amounts to "the narrow and bizarre musings of a few disgruntled folks."

Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn said the artwork reinforces the school's Catholic mission. He said there have been no complaints from students, about 70 percent of whom are Catholic.

Female rabbi to lead Reform assembly

NEW YORK — Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, who leads a small congregation in suburban Chicago, will become the second woman to head the rabbinical assembly of Judaism's liberal Reform movement.

Dreyfus, 57, is to be installed as president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis on Feb. 28 in Jerusalem and will begin her tenure in Israel. The group represents nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis.

Since 1998, Dreyfus has served as rabbi of B'nai Yehuda Beth Sholom in Homewood, Ill. She said in a statement that one of her priorities will be reaching out to younger Jews.

"Many of them are very involved in religion and their Jewish lives but do not belong to congregations," she said. "Some are involved in their own groups and online communities. We need to embrace and adapt to this young generation, as they are potentially the future of the Reform movement."

Three of the four main U.S. rabbinical associations will be led by women when Dreyfus begins her tenure.

'Alternative theories' evolution bill fails

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate's Education Committee has narrowly defeated legislation that would have allowed classroom discussion of alternative theories to evolution, along with other topics where science conflicts with religious or moral viewpoints.

The vote was 7-6 against Sen. Randy Brogdon's Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act.

Brogdon, a Republican, said science teachers in his district fear retribution for bringing up alternative theories on a wide range of subjects, such as evolution and stem cell research.

Sen. Richard Lerblance, a Democrat, called the measure a subterfuge that would lead to teaching of theories based on religious viewpoints and not science.

"Senate Bill 320 is a wolf dressed in sheep's skin," Lerblance said, predicting it was a first step toward teaching intelligent design in Oklahoma schools.

"This is the biggest case of window dressing that I've seen" and "a direct slap at education," Lerblance said.

The theory of an intelligent design to the universe and life has been advanced to counter court rulings prohibiting the teaching of creationism as science.

Good Friday school proposal questioned

LAWRENCE, Mass. — A public school superintendent's proposal to make up a snow day by holding classes on a religious holiday, Good Friday, is causing a stir.

Lawrence School Superintendent Wilfredo Laboy recommended Good Friday, which falls on April 10, as a date for making up one of five days lost because of bad winter weather this school year.

"A lot of students go to school that day," Laboy said. "I hope we don't appear to be sacrilegious in that way, but we don't have a lot of days."

The proposal did not sit well with a union representative or members of the school committee who objected on various grounds to holding classes on the day Christians commemorate Jesus Christ's crucifixion.

"I may not be the greatest Catholic, but I do go to church," said James Vittorioso, a committee member. "I think it's a disgrace."

Another committee member, Martina Cruz, said she was concerned many students would be absent anyway because they would go to church with their families.

— Staff and wire reports