Re­li­gion Briefs United Methodist Pub­lish­ing House lays off 30

Sales have been drop­ping for years

The Covington News - - RELIGION -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The United Methodist Pub­lish­ing House has laid off 30 of its 1,000 em­ploy­ees due to de­clin­ing sales and ris­ing pro­duc­tion and la­bor costs.

Also, 20 or so va­cant jobs will not be filled to save money, ac­cord­ing to Neil Alexan­der, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the pub­lish­ing house.

Sales have been drop­ping for sev­eral years, while health care and other costs have in­creased. Also, an out­side ac­tu­ary made a mis­take in es­ti­mat­ing fu­ture pen­sions ex­penses, leav­ing the agency with a bill $700,000 higher than ex­pected, Alexan­der said.

Man­u­fac­tur­ing costs have also risen, as have ex­penses for the pub­lish­ing house’s Nashville of­fice, its dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter and its 70 Cokes­bury book­stores.

Among the agency’s prod­ucts are Sun­day school, vacation Bi­ble school and Scrip­ture study ma­te­ri­als, along with church and clergy sup­plies.

The agency is self-sup­port­ing, fi­nanc­ing its op­er­a­tions with its own rev­enues, and re­ceives no money from the gen­eral funds of the de­nom­i­na­tion. The United Methodist Church has nearly 8 mil­lion mem­bers in the United States, and an ad­di­tional 3.5 mil­lion church mem­bers over­seas.

Hate-crime ar­rests in Qu­ran des­e­cra­tions

NEW YORK — A 23-yearold man was ar­rested on hate­crime charges af­ter he threw a Qu­ran in a toi­let at Pace Univer­sity on two dif­fer­ent dates, po­lice said.

Stanislav Sh­mule­vich of Brook­lyn was ar­rested July 27 on charges of crim­i­nal mis­chief and ag­gra­vated ha­rass­ment, both hate crimes, po­lice said. It was un­clear if he was a stu­dent at the school. A mes­sage left at the Sh­mule­vich home was not re­turned.

Mus­lims view the Qu­ran as a sa­cred ob­ject and con­sider mis­treat­ing it as an of­fense against God. The re­li­gion teaches that the Qu­ran is the di­rect word of God.

In the Pace in­ci­dent, a teacher found the Is­lamic holy book on Oct. 13 in a toi­let on the lower Man­hat­tan cam­pus. A stu­dent dis­cov­ered an­other book in a toi­let on Nov. 21, po­lice said.

Mus­lim stu­dents ac­cused the school of not tak­ing the in­ci­dent se­ri­ously enough at first. Pace clas­si­fied the first des­e­cra­tion of the holy book as an act of van­dal­ism, but univer­sity of­fi­cials later re­versed them­selves and re­ferred the in­ci­dent to the New York Po­lice De­part­ment’s hate crimes unit.

The in­ci­dents came amid a spate of van­dal­ism cases with re­li­gious or racial over­tones at the school. In an ear­lier in­ci­dent on Sept. 21, the school re­ported an­other copy of the Qu­ran was found in a li­brary toi­let, and in Oc­to­ber some­one scrawled racial slurs on a stu­dent’s car at the Westch­ester County satel­lite cam­pus and on a bath­room wall at the cam­pus in lower Man­hat­tan. Po­lice did not con­nect Sh­mule­vich to those in­ci­dents.

Pace Univer­sity has 14,000 stu­dents on its cam­puses in New York City and sub­ur­ban Westch­ester County.

Shambo the bull dead, re­li­gious ten­sion not

LON­DON — A Hindu monastery in a quiet cor­ner of Wales seems an un­likely lo­cale for dis­sent. But the seizure of Shambo the bull from Skanda Vale and his sub­se­quent slaugh­ter un­der­lined the dif­fi­cul­ties Bri­tain faces in ac­com­mo­dat­ing its wide ar­ray of reli­gions.

Hin­dus, Mus­lims and Chris­tians have seized on the Shambo case to com­plain that the gov­ern­ment is in­ter­fer­ing in their spir­i­tual lives.

Shambo was taken away from the monastery on Thurs­day at the end of a long and pub­lic bat­tle be­tween Hin­dus who re­vere bulls and au­thor­i­ties who said he must be killed be­cause he had tested pos­i­tive for tu­ber­cu­lo­sis.

Of­fi­cials said they had to pre­vent the dis­ease’s spread. The monks ar­gued that Shambo could be ef­fec­tively iso­lated and claimed the death sen­tence tram­pled on their re­li­gious rights.

More than 100 devo­tees prayed and chanted in front of the bull for hours, try­ing to pre­vent au­thor­i­ties from tak­ing him; po­lice even­tu­ally had to drag some away.

Chris­tians have also com­plained of state in­ter­fer­ence in their spir­i­tual lives.

Some groups crit­i­cized a court de­ci­sion this month ban­ning a teenage girl from wear­ing a “chastity ring” at school. They were also up­set over a Bri­tish Air­ways di­rec­tive that a flight at­ten­dant could not wear a cross where it was vis­i­ble to pas­sen­gers.

The Guardian news­pa­per com­mented Fri­day that the Shambo case was “ut­terly dis­as­trous” for the gov­ern­ment’s im­age.

“Images of burly po­lice of­fi­cers car­ry­ing off Hindu wor­ship­pers, cut­ting their way into a tem­ple and lead­ing off a healthy­look­ing bull for slaugh­ter do not play well,” it said.

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