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Andersen Blames Baptists, Gays in Church, UBE Boycotts Cinci

Andersen Blames Baptists, Gays in Church, UBE Boycotts Cinci

In Today's Edition:
  • Andersen Denies Role in Baptist Foundation Collapse
  • Union of Black Episcopalians Boycotts Cincinnati Based on Racial Issues
  • Study Shows Gay Men More Active in Religious Organizations 
  • Little-Mentioned Storms Require Long-Term Response
  • Other Headlines at a Glance

Andersen Denies Role in Baptist Foundation Collapse ... The Associated Press (AP) reported Wednesday that an attorney for Arthur Andersen told a jury the accounting firm is not at fault in the collapse of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona. Instead, said the lawyer, the "conspiracy of silence" among the organization's employees caused the failure.

According to AP, a liquidation trust for the foundation sued Andersen, claiming the firm "ignored warnings signs of foundation fraud, including whistle-blowers and a series of newspaper articles." The suit alleges that Andersen concealed "huge losses on financial statements that would have alerted investors to the foundation's troubles." If such problems had been brought to light, said the trust, it could prevented "the largest nonprofit bankruptcy in U.S. history."

Five former Baptist foundation officials have been indicted by an Arizona grand jury on fraud, racketeering and theft, according to AP. Three others have pleaded guilty to fraud and are helping with the continuing investigation.

The foundation was founded in 1948 as "a nonprofit religious group to raise money for Southern Baptist causes." When it filed for bankruptcy in 1999, said AP, some 13,000 investors lost close to $570 million.

Union of Black Episcopalians Boycotts Cincinnati Based on Racial Issues ... According to a report from the Episcopal News Service (ENS), Bishop Herbert Thompson, Jr. of Southern Ohio issued a statement May 1 expressing his "regret" at a decision by the board of the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) to boycott Cincinnati for its annual meeting and conference in July.

The UBE board voted not to go to Cincinnati because of racial tensions and what the board called a failure by the city's leaders to address them "in any meaningful way." The decision was announced in a letter dated April 11. The Southern Ohio chapter of UBE had offered to host the 2002 meeting in Cincinnati at the 2000 meeting. But the national board noted that since 1995, over a dozen young black men have been killed by Cincinnati police. The shooting of Timothy Thomas on April 7, 2001, touched off three days of rioting and protest by the black community.

"UBE leadership appears to have based this decision on past press reports rather than the extraordinary progress this city has made in recent months," Thompson said. "Over the past year, Cincinnati citizens have worked together for meaningful change aimed at achieving racial equality and dismantling barriers that limit opportunity.

Study Shows Gay Men More Active in Religious Organizations ... A new study found that gay men are "significantly" more active in religious organizations than heterosexual men or lesbians and male and female bisexuals, when controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, reports Darren E. Sherkat, a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University. The Hartford Institute for Religion Research summarized Sherkat's findings on its web site: http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/quick_question19.html

Skerkat found that lesbians and female bisexuals have very low rates of religious activity. In contrast, he said, gay men attend church "without having to be dragged to services by female partners-as is the case for heterosexual men."

According to Hartford, Sherkat speculates that the differences found in the study suggest "gay men may avoid the risk of eternal punishment by gravitating towards religious consumption-much like heterosexual women do." In contrast, lesbians appear more like heterosexual men in their religious activity. The study contends that lesbians are more like men in their acceptance of risks of divine eternal sanctions. Skerkat also suggests that "gay men may find succor in a male oriented religion where salvation is attained through devotion to a male god (Jesus)."

Little-Mentioned Storms Require Long-Term Response ... In the past few weeks, North American communities have been hit by a number of disasters that didn't receive a high amount of media coverage. Despite the lack of public knowledge about these storms, their impact has been devastating for many people. The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee is helping disaster survivors in these areas find hope for the future.

Tornadoes tore through Southern Illinois, Southern Missouri and Maryland; rivers flooded in Northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Tennessee; and fires ravaged acres of land in Colorado. The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee's Disaster Response Services (CRWRC-DRS) has volunteers across the country who have been trained to respond to disasters. Among these volunteers are regional managers who are now busy monitoring disaster sites. They will be working with local interfaith groups to determine how CRWRC can be involved in helping.

CRWRC-DRS specializes in helping low-income families and people without insurance to recover and rebuild their lives after a disaster. Moreover, CRWRC-DRS is committed to helping communities through the long-term phase of their disaster recovery. This means that CRWRC-DRS volunteers are still active on disaster sites - rebuilding and repairing homes - years after the disaster has occurred. Right now, CRWRC-DRS volunteers are in North Carolina building homes for low-income families and the survivors of 1999's Hurricane Floyd. For more information, visit www.crwrc.org.

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