Faith Digest: Bible tops America’s bookshelf

The Bible is the favorite book of all time for American adults, regardless of demographic group, according to a new 2008 Harris Interactive Poll. Researchers said it’s rare to find such consensus among Americans, regardless of gender, education level, geographic location, race, ethnicity or age. Yet, more than 2,500 Americans who responded to an online poll agreed the Bible is their No. 1 favorite book. The poll also found political affiliation did not affect reading preference. Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike agreed on the Bible and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind as their top two favorite books. Other top five choices were Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and The Stand by Stephen King. Rounding out the top ten were The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

Former bishop elected Paraguay president. A former Roman Catholic bishop was elected president of Paraguay after being criticized by his church for running for the office. Fernando Lugo, 56, defeated the Colorado Party, which had reigned in the country 62 years. The Vatican opposes clergy members holding political office and had demanded that Lugo halt his political pursuits. Lugo said he resigned from the church and no longer must follow its laws. His five-year term begins Aug. 15.

Judge torches pot smoker’s religious claim. Robert George Henry told a Pennsylvania judge smoking marijuana is vital to his efforts to connect with God. But 10 seconds after Henry finished testifying, Judge Edgar B. Bayley dismissed a motion Henry filed seeking to avoid prosecution on drunken driving and drug possession charges on religious grounds, claiming the U.S. Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion includes drug use. Henry joined the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry, which promotes marijuana use for religious enlightenment, and was ordained as a minister of the Universal Life Church after his arrest. He argued that if children can drink wine during Holy Communion, he should be able to smoke pot in his search for God.

National observance includes fly-over prayers. On the National Day of Prayer, petitions to God will be made from the ground and from the air. Plans for the annual observance, on May 1, include private pilots who intend to fly and pray over all 50 state capitols. Tens of thousands of events, organized through a Colorado-based task force, will be held in churches, on courthouse steps and in parks. Organizers range from military members to teenagers. For the first time, the event will be marked at a memorial chapel in Shanksville, Pa., which commemorates the 9/11 crash site of United Flight 93. Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias is the 2008 honorary chairman. He will address observances on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon. The National Day of Prayer was established by Congress in 1952 and is observed on the first Thursday of May.
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