Saturday, November 12, 2011


From New Orleans-

Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) at the University of New Orleans (UNO)

Adrian Madriz, the Episcopal Campus Ministry Coordinator, told me the main objective as a religious group at the University of New Orleans is to get as many students involved in community service as possible and to promote sustainable community development. According to Adrian, many students have benefited from ECM's presence: from the students who they provide a free lunch to every week, to the students who found platforms on which to become engaged in the community through ECM's various service initiatives, and to the students who come to ECM and find a listening ear at all hours of the day.

ECM and its student volunteers have been involved in projects such as building houses with Habitat for Humanity, maintaining community gardens, feeding the homeless at the New Orleans Mission, preparing food for Second Harvest, tutoring young children at the All Souls Community Center, canvassing with the Orleans Public Education Network, and helping countless schools in the area with various maintenance tasks.

Here's Adrian's response to my question about the partying aspects of college student life: "We address the partying life in the sense that partying excessively can be a distraction from their greater mission - we have to put others' needs before our own as much as humanly possible." This was followed by more of a blunt statement by Adrian: "Obviously one cannot credibly claim they are too busy for service work if they spend eight hours a week getting drunk." He went on to say, "We try to advocate an awareness of the utility of one's time and that time spent doing selfish acts is time taken away from selfless works."

More here-

Parents angry at Anglican convent abuse claims

From South Africa-

The parents of 24 children removed from an Anglican convent in New Hanover in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands are up in arms. They accuse government of removing their children from the facility without their consent.

The children were taken away after reports emerged that they were being abused. But government has rejected the claim.

Sibusisiwe Majozi is one of many angry parents. She says social workers refused to place her two children in homes, and she then turned to the convent. Majozi claims she frequently visited the convent and was satisfied with the children's well being. She is now demanding answers from government.

"I was so upset because no one told me anything. These children were staying there for a long time. There was nothing wrong," explained Majozi.

More here-

Landmark Houma church is rebuilding

From Louisiana-

The Rev. Craig Dalferes led members of his congregation in prayer Friday on the church lawn, in the shadow of a white tent.

“Let the whole world know that things that were cast down will be raised up,” he said. “Things that are old are being made new.”

A year ago Friday, historic St. Matthew's Episcopal Church and part of its nearby school building burned to ash in a sudden midnight fire.

“It's weird to stand here where the church was for a service. It's sad,” Dalferes said, as children trooped out from the temporary buildings that house their classrooms. “But at the same time there is joy in it because of the opportunity to make things new.”

As the church remembers the tragedy, it is pushing toward the future.

“Obviously, we wish the church had never burned because of all the history and all the memories that were in it,” said Julie Steigner, who heads the committee raising money for the rebuilding. “But at the same time, this gives us an opportunity to make something new, something exciting.”

More here-

Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry goes green

From Georgia-

Religion is going green.

A spiritual-based trend in being good stewards of the environment – using less electricity and recycling, for example – has found its way to Columbus.

Beginning several years ago, Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry started the process of making its new home green. For most of its 30-plus years, the social services non-profit was housed in part of the Girl Scout hut in Lakebottom Park. It didn’t have to worry about utilities because it didn’t own the building.

But then a home became available on Lockwood Avenue in midtown.
“When we bought this house, it occurred to me that this house should be green,” said Vicky Partin, missioner of the CVEM.

In 2008, the ministry applied for a grant from the Mildred Fort Foundation. It was intended to be for sustainability, maintenance and renovations of the 75-year-old house.
Before CVEM bought it, the house had been renovated for preparation for sale. For instance, a new heating and cooling system had been installed.

Read more:

Next bishop of Washington Episcopal Diocese hopes to strengthen church’s voice

From The Washington Post-

Mariann Budde, who on Saturday will become the first woman installed as Washington’s top bishop, spoke with The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein this week:

Q: What’s the framework for an outsider understanding your election and what it says about the Episcopal Church in 2011?

A: I’d start by talking about the renewing and rebuilding of the core structures of mainline religion. . . . These are potential channels for people in this country to connect to transcendence and the spiritual basis of life we call God . . . in a way that our forebears, and certainly the generations just before us, took for granted and assumed would always be there . . .

I was elected because I’ve spent most of my time in one context: a church that needed to be rebuilt . . . What do you keep? What do you throw away? Those are really challenging questions.

More here-

Also here-

Friday, November 11, 2011

Church members give blessed shawls to veterans

From Central PA-

Veterans Day might not be a holy day, but it holds deep meaning for the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.
The Rt. Rev. Nathan D. Baxter, a Vietnam veteran and head of the diocese with 66 parishes in 24 counties, said it reminds him of the giving nature of those who serve their country.

Baxter said he was delighted when members of his diocese and the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem brought handmade pocket prayer shawls to veterans Nov. 10 at the Veterans Hospital in Lebanon.

The shawls were blessed in a Veterans Day ceremony in the chapel, then distributed to veterans.
“These shawls have been lovingly made by members of both dioceses,” Baxter said. “When I was a soldier alone on a base or deep in the jungle, the small gestures such as a letter, photo, prayer card or small care package had great value for my soul.”

The Rt. Rev. John P. Croneberger, assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, and the Rev. William Alford, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Harrisburg and St. Andrew’s in the Valley in Susquehanna Township, blessed the shawls.

Baxter recalled a fellow veteran once telling him, “All gave some, some gave all.”

Bay Village church loses building, plans weekend move

From Ohio-

The congregation of St. Barnabas Anglican Church will hold services in their 61-year-old building for the final time Nov. 13 after losing a legal battle with the Episcopal Church over ownership of the property.

About 250 parishioners will leave the colonial-style church at about 10:30 a.m., following an abbreviated worship service, to walk nearly one-mile to the Bay High School auditorium, which will serve as their sanctuary beginning Nov. 20. Once there, they will hold a reception to introduce the congregation to their new home. The auditorium may serve as the church’s primary place of worship for the next three to five years as the congregation looks into constructing a new church building.

The church’s offices and some weekday services will be housed temporarily at Bay Presbyterian Church, located at Lake and Columbia roads.

St. Barnabas was founded as an Episcopal church, but the congregation voted about four years ago to separate from the Episcopal Church over disputes regarding interpretation of the Bible and certain basic tenants, including details of Jesus’ resurrection.
“We couldn’t even agree on who God is,” said the Rev. Gene Sherman, who leads the local congregation.

More here-

New Episcopal bishop inspired by 'progressive Catholics'

From National Catholic Reporter-

I love telling people that I recently interviewed the new Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C., who will be consecrated on Saturday, because many ask, quite innocently, "Oh, who is he?"
Then they discover that the new bishop is not a "he," but a "she." Her name is Rev. Mariann Budde, and she comes to Washington from Minneapolis.

Her election as bishop bolsters yet again the thesis of my recent book, Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling.

Women continue to rise to new levels of leadership in the world of religion. As a Catholic, however, I find myself echoing the prayer: "How long, O God, how long" until we can celebrate such an event? Meanwhile, I rejoice with my Episcopal sisters and brothers.

Rarely have I interviewed a religious leader as impressive as Budde. She built a small, struggling parish in Minneapolis into a growing, vibrant spiritual community. In person, she comes across as a deeply spiritual woman: caring, articulate, knowledgeable, democratic in spirit, with a sense of where she hopes to take the diocese.

Later in the interview, I asked her about early influences in her life, and it did my heart good to hear her say that "progressive Catholics" were a major influence in her life in the 1980s. She was referring to those who opposed the Reagan wars in Central America and the folks in the Catholic Worker Movement. She actually lived with homeless people at a Catholic Worker house in Rochester, N.Y. She later related to a Catholic Worker community in Tucson, Ariz., a city where she also found local Methodists inspiring. She says she was moved by the willingness of both to identify closely with the poor.

More here-

Vero Beach's Trinity Episcopal Church members giving thanks for new organ

From Florida-

When the congregation of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Vero Beach hears sweet sounds coming from its organ at Thanksgiving services, it will have the Community Church of Vero Beach to thank.

The 1896 vintage pipe organ, built by Clarence E. Morey of Morey & Barnes of Utica, N.Y., was purchased from the Community Church for Trinity's David Lord Chapel. Neither church would disclose the sale price, but the appraised value of the organ is about $100,000.

The organ was disassembled Thursday to prepare for moving and will be reassembled on Saturday by church volunteers under the supervision of Trinity's organist and choirmaster Jason Hobratschk.

"The organ suits our chapel aesthetically," said Hobratschk. "We're so excited that we get to preserve a piece of history and keep it right here in town."

More here-

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kunonga responds to dossier on abuse of Anglicans in Zimbabwe

From Zimbabwe-

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has come and gone, but the challenges facing Anglicans in Zimbabwe for the past four years remain unresolved. This is chiefly because the Archbishop is responsible for problems rocking the church, not only in Zimbabwe, but the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop’s visit to Zimbabwe and the presentation of dossier of “alleged abuses”, to President Mugabe, has raised more questions than answers. It boggles the mind why Zimbabwean bishops would wait for so long to appraise their own President of the alleged “abuses” and “persecution.”

Surely, why would they watch Bishop Kunonga “killing,” “harassing” and “persecuting” people whilst waiting for Rowan Williams to come and “confront” their own president over the abuse of their own “Church people?”

Why would they watch the Zimbabwe Republic Police (Z.R.P.) “harass” and “persecute” their priests and congregations? For four years without appraising their leader of this “illegal,”; “unwarranted” and “unprofessional” behaviour?

More here-

Anglican Church's Peter Catt backs gay civil unions at Queensland parliamentary hearing

From Australia-

THE Anglican Church of Australia's Very Reverend Peter Catt says a same-sex marriage Bill would not deny or denigrate the legitimacy of marriage.

Addressing the parliamentary hearing on same-sex marriage on behalf of the church's social responsibilities committee, Dr Catt said civil unions instead extended the liberties of same or opposite-sex couples.

"I really don't see that this impinges on marriage at all," he said.

He said children were better off in a relationship with good values, which included gay couples, and said bad marriages actually did more to undermine the institution of marriage.

Mr Catt said he had been touched by the level of support from the community after publicly backing gay unions, which he believed was "to some extent ... putting my neck on a chopping block".

This afternoon's debate turned to those who backed the gay partnerships Bill, with many saying the legal protection was imperative to prove the legitimacy of the relationship in situations such as emergencies.

More here-

Orthodox Christian iconographer in Boise is part of an ancient tradition

From Kansas City (but from Boise)

Matthew Garrett makes a living from the tip of his paintbrush.

The 34-year-old paints nearly every day, re-creating scenes from the Bible and heavenly images of the risen Jesus, Christian saints and angels on wood and canvas. He carries forward the ancient tradition of Orthodox Christian iconography in a modest West Boise, Idaho, house that he shares with his wife, Lisa, and her cat, Cecelia.

Garrett has been commissioned by individuals and churches all over the country over the past 17 years, finding jobs through old-fashioned word-of-mouth and through his website. His work is in several churches, among them, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Boise.

With a parishioner's donation, the church commissioned an icon of the Martyrdom of Stephen. After 40 days of prayer, the church unveiled the 3-by-4-foot icon at its 49th anniversary celebration in September.

"It is splendid. ... I think a lot of people in the parish were moved by how beautiful it was," said Father David Wettstein of St. Stephen's.

Iconography isn't part of the Episcopal tradition, but it's not uncommon to find icons in Protestant churches, Wettstein said. He sees icons as "windows to Heaven." "They teach us about holy living and holy lives," Wettstein said. "A lot of people learn best visually, or their hearts are captured visually by painting.

Read more:

Pauli Murray To Be Honored with State Historic Highway Marker

From North Carolina-

Pauli Murray's contributions to North Carolina history will be memorialized when her official state historic marker is unveiled at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at the corner of Carroll and West Chapel Hill Streets. An advocate for human rights and social justice, Murray grew up a few blocks from the marker site in the home of her grandparents Richard and Cornelia Fitzgerald.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell will proclaim Pauli Murray Day in Durham as he is joined by members of the Fitzgerald/Murray family, Southwest Central Durham neighbors and representatives of the Pauli Murray Project to dedicate the marker. "Pauli Murray is well deserving of recognition by the state of North Carolina as a tireless champion for human rights," says Barbara Lau, director of the Pauli Murray Project, part of Duke's Human Rights Center. "Placing this marker near her childhood home makes it a source of pride for her neighborhood and a beacon for young people who want to make a positive impact on the world."

More here-

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Haitian bishop presides over service here, receives gift for fallen cathedral

From Pittsburgh-

After an earthquake shattered Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, only rubble remained of Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, including its renowned biblical murals and attached schools.

On Wednesday, Bishop Jean-Zache Duracin of the Diocese of Haiti was at Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside to receive gifts from the 31 parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, which has pledged to help rebuild the fallen cathedral.

He preached at Calvary's All Souls Eucharist, commemorating not only the dead of that parish but the 300,000 victims of the Haiti earthquake.

After the disaster, Bishop Duracin said, "we had to remind people that God is with us at all times in all circumstances. ... He was with us in the rubble. He was with those who had a chance of escape from death, and he was with those who have been killed. We have to tell people they have to prepare their souls, their mind and their strength when there are so many things we cannot control."

The cathedral was "not only a place of worship but also the cultural patrimony of all Haitians. It was a monument, it was a symbol of hope, love, courage faith and conviction. If we rebuild the cathedral it will be a sign of our resurrection."

Gana advises NASS on passage of bill to stop same sex marriage

From Nigeria-

A former Minister of Information and National Orientation, Professor Jerry Gana, on Tuesday, called on the National Assembly to quickly pass a bill forbidding same sex marriage describing the act as ungodly and immoral.

Gana, who stated this in Abuja while delivering a lecture entitled: “Moral issues within the divine commonwealth: Family, Business and Politics,” at the maiden Divine Commonwealth Conference organised by the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, called on church leaders to support the legislators in passing the bill into law.

He noted that same sex marriage was a threat to the civil society stating that if such act was not stopped, it could make God to forsake Nigeria.

The former minister called on christians to continue to shine the light of God through their ways of life so that darkness would disappear from the nation.

He added that for Nigeria to be a better place, good governance should be promoted and a government that can provide basic social amenities should be put in place.

Earlier, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, The Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, called on christians in Nigeria to see themselves as one and defend their common faith adding that they should earnestly be involved in the search and promotion of the well being of the world around them.

More here-

Bahamians celebrate city's 150th anniversary

From The Bahamas-

ON SATURDAY, the city of Nassau and the Anglican Diocese celebrated their 150th anniversary -- one as a city, the other as a cathedral. The status of the two was established from the same letters patent issued from Westminster in the reign of Queen Victoria. The date - November 4, 1861.

It was on that date that Christ Church parish of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands were created as a separate diocese with Christ Church Cathedral becoming its cathedral church.
It is recorded that Dr Charles Caulfield was consecrated the first Bishop of Nassau at Lambeth Palace, London, and arrived in Nassau in May, 1862.

"The Letters Patent were proclaimed with much ceremony on the steps of the public buildings by the Provost Marshall, and were read in Christ Church Cathedral in the presence of a large number of parishioners and government officials," according to Anglican church records.
We are told that church and state celebrating their anniversary on the same day this weekend was cause for a lively -- and at times heated -- discussion on one of the morning radio shows yesterday. It is understood that the host of the show was adamant that the church was ill advised to celebrate its anniversary on the same day as the city because of the hallowed tradition of separation of church and state. By so doing, he claimed, it became an Anglican celebration, excluding too many Bahamians of other persuasions.

More here-

Pearland teens reflect on lessons from night spent in a box

From Houston-

Just what were 125 Pearland teenagers up to when they spent the night Nov. 5 in cardboard boxes?

Their stay in a cardboard city at St. Andrews Episcopal Church was to bring awareness to homelessness and raise funds for Family Promise of Clear Creek, an affiliate of the national organization Interfaith Hospitality Networks. But the teens, who were in grades 7-12, also said they gained something, too.

Despite kicking her small box all night and waking up hungry, 15-year-old Pearland High School sophomore Rebecca Monts said the event was a good way to bond with her friends over something they all enjoy doing - helping others.

"I can see how it could get tiring and frustrating sleeping in a box every night," Monts said of those who are forced to live in makeshift shelters. "It's not fun for them. I don't think they ever adapt to it."

More here-

Free Cafe Helps Struggling UCLA Students Eat

From Los Angeles-

An off-campus cafe housed in St. Alban's Episcopal Church near UCLA provides free meals and snacks to students, no questions asked. Most days, the only question for many students, such as UCLA senior David Velazquez, is books or food?

"I will have to buy a book online and I won't have money for food, so that is where you have to make those tough decisions... we have other siblings that my parents can't afford to give me, you know, like thousands of dollars. They are almost making like poverty wages," said the 21-year-old.

"The students at this point are not paying for anything. All the food is donated or fund raised through the support of the St. Albans Church, the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church Diocese," said Jeanne Roe Smith.

Smith officially serves as the United Methodist Campus minister at UCLA and helps run 580 Cafe. She says it began after a conversation about the increasing financial stresses on students. It has now been open full time for nearly two years. The cafe is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and receives 30 to 40 students each day. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the cafe serves hot meals working with Meals On Wheels West LA and its provider St. Vincent's Meals On Wheels.

More here-

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Move to rebuild Cathedral

From New Zealand-

Anglicans have taken the next step in the process to rebuild their shattered Christ Church Cathedral.

The Anglican Diocese submitted initial drafts of its plan to make the city's quake-damaged icon safe to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority late yesterday afternoon.

Cera required cathedral authorities to come up with a "make-safe" plan before further options for the building, such as a complete demolition or partial rebuilding, could be considered.

Dean Peter Beck confirmed the plans submitted to Cera included the "minimum amount of demolition" needed to allow the safe removal of "treasures and taonga" from the building. He expected engineers engaged by the cathedral would provide the "best possible advice" to enable the diocese to decide on the future of the building.

More here-

Maryland Sisters Are First Episcopal Order to Become a Catholic Religious Community

From Baltimore-

A group of religious sisters in Maryland is believed to be the first U.S. Episcopal order to become a Catholic religious community.

On Nov. 1, the All Saints Sisters of the Poor professed their perpetual vows at the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.

Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, received the sisters into a newly erected diocesan priory at a special Mass on the feast of All Saints.

The 10 sisters had been part of a religious community within the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.
After seven years of discernment, they contacted the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2008 to inquire about the possibility of entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.
The sisters were accepted into the Church individually on Sept. 3, 2009.

Their chaplain, Father Warren Tanghe, also entered the Catholic Church and is now a priest for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Read more:

Vatican’s top ecumenist assesses ecumenical progress, future prospects

From Catholic Free Press-

The Vatican’s top ecumenist offered a frank assessment of recent ecumenical progress and future prospects in a Washington talk Nov. 3.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Swiss-born president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said different types of divisions affect Catholic relations with the Orthodox churches and with those that were born from the Protestant Reformation, but both can be resolved with dialogue.

He also criticized the “anti-Catholic attitude” displayed by some Pentecostals and said Catholics must resist a temptation to adopt the “sometimes problematic evangelical methods” of those churches.

The cardinal spoke at The Catholic University of America before an audience of about 100 people, including Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, who serves as university chancellor. The title of his talk was “Fundamental Aspects of Ecumenism and Future Perspectives.”

Cardinal Koch said progress toward Catholic-Orthodox unity became nearly “shipwrecked by the problem” of differences over papal primacy.

More here-

St. John’s Church donates $6,000 to New Hartford’s Neighbor to Neighbor initiative

From Hartford CT-

Proceeds from a charity auction hosted by St. John’s Episcopal Church during Sept. will provide $6,000 for emergency relief to New Hartford-area residents through the “Neighbor to Neighbor” initiative.

Neighbor to Neighbor is a community assistance fund developed to provide financial assistance for residents of New Hartford who may need some help. Several community agencies and local churches have come together to pool resources that can be used to provide temporary relief for those in need.

Examples of assistance provided are payment of utility bills, payment for oil, or payment for medical expenses. Assistance is available once a year.

“These are challenging economic times for many people,” says The Rev. Salin Low, Rector of St. John’s. “We are pleased to be able to support this community initiative and are grateful to our members and friends whose generosity helped make it possible.”

More here-

Monday, November 7, 2011

Maori reject Anglican covenant

From New Zealand-

A proposed Anglican Communion covenant that might have been used to discipline churches which ordain gay bishops and priests has been rejected by the Maori Anglican church.

Members of Te Runanganui o te Pihopatanga of Aotearoa (the Maori Anglican Church) gathered at Te Papa-i-o-uru Marae, Ohinemutu, in Rotorua at the end of last week for a biennial meeting at which the covenant was discussed.

The covenant idea surfaced following the 1994 ordination of an openly gay bishop by the American Episcopal church.

That sparked the biggest convulsions the Anglican Communion has seen in recent years.

In the face of that uproar, The Archbishop of Canterbury set up a commission to look at ways that the Anglican Communion could stay together in the face of conflicts.

The New Zealand church's media officer Lloyd Ashton said one of the ideas that commission came up with was an Anglican Covenant. He said the covenant was proposed as something that Anglicans the world over could agree on, that would bind them together, that prescribed a way of resolving conflicts - and which spelt out disciplinary procedures if a province was found to be "acting up".

more here-

Every window tells a story at Grace and St. Stephens

From Colorado Springs-

When Spot Holmes steps into Grace and St. Stephens Episcopal Church downtown, the windows are always the first things she notices.

Some are towering two-story high windows taking up almost an entire wall of the gothic building. Others are small and hidden high in the rafters. Depending on the angle of the sun, there is always something newly illuminated– perhaps a face of a saint, or an angel or a small symbol almost hidden among the colors and shapes.

To Holmes, those windows aren’t just art, they’re history. One of the glass artists at the church also made more than 3,000 windows at Yale University. One window, which depicts several stories of healing in the Bible, was dedicated in 1906 to a local doctor who came to Colorado Springs to help tuberculosis sufferers. Another window was commissioned by a former pastor in memory of his late 2-year-old daughter.

“They are all full of history,” said Holmes, who helped research a new book, released Sunday, titled the “Windows of Grace and St. Stephens Episcopal Church.”

The book tells the story of each of the windows of the church. It’s full of pictures that show the hidden details that easily could be missed.

Read more:

The lobsters are coming to St. Thomas Episcopal Church for Lobsterfest

From Alabama-

Like lobsters? You’re in luck The lobsters are coming and St. Thomas Church will be full of delicious lobsters, pork, ribs and more Saturday.

In addition to delicious eats, supporters can look forward to an entertaining day. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., you can pick up your food, enjoy live entertainment, crafts and games for kids. A silent auction featuring jewelry, vacations, antiques, spa treatments and more will also be part of the fun.

Lobsterfest proceeds fund medical missions to Honduras. These missions provide basic medical care for the village of Delcias del Norte.

More here-

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Who should repair the National Cathedral?

From Seattle-

In another political aftershock from the summer's rare East Coast earthquake, a bid to secure federal aid for the damaged Washington National Cathedral is drawing criticism from those who say it runs counter to separation of church and state.

District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray is seeking $15 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for repairs to the cathedral, which was seriously damaged in the magnitude-5.8 quake that shook the East Coast Aug. 23.

Joseph L. Conn, director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, blogged on the organization's website: "Asking the taxpayers to pick up the tab sets a very bad precedent and jeopardizes a critically important edifice that protects us all: the wall of separation between church and state."

The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Washington-based Interfaith Alliance, agreed.

"The United States government should not be using the money of taxpayers who affiliate with many different religions — or no religion — to build, repair or maintain religious institutions."

More here-