House approves peyote for ceremonial use by American Indian tribes

Published Aug. 13, 1994|Updated Oct. 7, 2005

The House on Monday approved a bill protecting the religious use of the hallucinogen peyote by American Indian tribes. The bill, approved on a voice vote, would write into law protections that now exist in federal regulations and the laws of 28 states. Similar legislation is pending in the Senate. The measure makes lawful the use, possession or transportation of peyote by an Indian for ceremonial purposes. No Indian may be penalized or discriminated against because of the sacramental use of peyote, the bill specifies. Peyote is a small, spineless cactus that grows in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and in northern Mexico, and has been used by American Indians for sacramental purposes for some 10,000 years. It is used by about 50 Indian tribes in the United States, largely through the Native American Church of North America. While federal regulations have protected such use, the Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that the constitution's religious freedom provisions do not in themselves provide that protection, and that specific legislation was needed.

Catholic diocese offers program for trouble marriages

The Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg is sponsoring a program for married couples who are on the verge of separation or already separated. The program consists of a full weekend and six consecutive Saturdays. Each Saturday program lasts four hours. The next program begins Sept. 9-11 at the Franciscan Center in Tampa, 3010 Perry Ave. All faith denominations are welcome. Registration is $55, plus a requested donation for the weekend room and board. No one will be turned away because of lack of funds. To register or receive information, call the Rev. Harry Brown at the Family Life Office, 345-3338.

Penny drive launched to save endangered church in Baltimore

BALTIMORE _ Parishioners at St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church are hoping pennies from heaven will provide the $500,000 needed to make repairs to the 121-year-old church. After Mass on a recent Sunday, parishioners opened a drive to raise at least $500,000 _ much of it in pennies _ for desperately needed repairs. They hope such a sum will convince the Archdiocese of Baltimore that their 300-member church should be taken off the "endangered list" of 16 churches targeted for reorganization or closure. "It would sure give us a better position of negotiating from," said Erich W. March, campaign chairman. He said the church chose pennies because "it's a cultural phenomenon; people hoard pennies." Parishioners will ask neighborhood stores to set up penny collection jars and also will stand outside the church every Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to accept donations. Harbor Bank of Maryland will count the money and keep the account. "If you close this church, you have a dead community," said Eddie Fentress, 66, who lives around the corner from St. Ann's.

Massachusetts pastor who breached what he preached resigns

WORCESTER, Mass. _ An evangelical pastor who preached about the ills of alcohol has resigned his ministry after being arrested on drunken driving charges while returning from the Foxwoods casino resort in Connecticut. "The reason that I am submitting (the resignation) is that I want you to practice what I preach. I am so sorry that I have failed you," the Rev. John K. Wibley told his congregation at the First Assembly of God Church Sunday. Wibley was pastor at the church, which has one of the largest Assembly of God congregations in New England, for 16 years. He was arrested Aug. 2 just outside Worcester on his way home from the Ledyard, Conn., casino and was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and failing to stay within marked lanes.

Clergy becoming boosters of organ donations in Kentucky, Indiana

LOUISVILLE, Ky. _ An agency that obtains donor organs for Kentucky hospitals is winning over clergy. "The fact that medical science has been able to reach a point where donation is possible is something God does not have a problem with," said Andreas Price, 29, who got a kidney transplant in 1989. He is now associate minister of Joshua Tabernacle Baptist Church in Louisville. The number of organ donors of all races in Kentucky and southern Indiana increased from 55 in 1990 to 88 last year, according to the non-profit Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates. Ministers say progressive black congregations now consider organ donation the highest act of charity. "Since the body returns to dust from which it came, it's a shame that organs go to decay," said the Rev. M. McNeill Dowdy, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition of the Louisville chapter of the NAACP.

Site of Methodist missions agency narrowed to five cities

DENVER _ A United Methodist committee has narrowed to five the number of cities under consideration as a new site for the church's huge missions agency, which is currently located in New York. Chosen Tuesday as possible sites for the church's General Board of Global Ministries, which employs 480 persons and has an annual budget of $103-million, were Denver, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington and Chicago. The task force narrowed the list of potential sites after reviewing detailed demographic information on each of the 23 finalist cities. Plans call for the site selection committee to choose one city from among the five finalists by September 1995, and make a recommendation to the 1996 General Conference, which will make the final decision. Among the 18 cities removed from the list of potential sites at the meeting here were Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle.

_ Compiled from Times wires