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In Brief

Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page B09

Atheists Question Honor for Pope

Two atheist groups have found fault with the government's decision to lower the U.S. flag in honor of Pope John Paul II.

The president of American Atheists called on President Bush to rescind his order that flags at the White House and other public buildings be flown at half-staff. The request was not honored.

"It's inappropriate for the American flag to be lowered as a salute to a foreign religious leader," Ellen Johnson, head of the Parsippany, N.J.-based organization, said in a statement. "The flag should represent all Americans, and not all Americans believe that the pope deserves such a special, government-sponsored recognition."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation had a similar reaction to an executive order by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) that both the U.S. flag and the state flag be flown at half-staff at state buildings and military installations until sunset yesterday, the day of the pope's funeral.

"Let's reserve the honor of half-masts for true American heroes," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Madison, Wis.-based foundation, in a statement.

The Wisconsin governor's executive order mentioned Bush's directive and called the pontiff "an inspirational spiritual leader" who "made a significant impact on social issues and was a champion of peace."

Bush's order, which said the flags should be lowered "as a mark of respect," applied to a wide range of public buildings and grounds, including military posts, naval stations and vessels and U.S embassies abroad. It also ended yesterday at sunset.

-- Religion News Service

Amish Split on Time

Some members of northeast Ohio's Amish community are among remaining holdouts who refused to move their clocks forward an hour when daylight saving time began.

This leaves the Amish in Geauga County and parts of two other counties operating on two times. Those who spring ahead an hour with most of the rest of the nation are said to be on "fast time," while those who don't change live on "slow time."

Sometimes, time zones differ from street to street and house to house.

About 10 of Geauga County's 90 Amish church districts choose not to change. Bishops, guided by tradition, decide.

"We've always lived on this time, and there's no reason to change," said a bishop at one of the 10 slow-time districts outside Middlefield, the hub of Geauga County's Amish settlement. The man, quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, asked that his name not be used in accord with Amish tenets.

Numerous Amish families with outside business dealings moved their clocks forward.

One dairy farmer said he adjusted to synchronize with milk truck schedules. "There's good and bad with it," he said, "but it does make life easier in some ways. There's a lot less figuring."

The Amish shun modern conveniences such as electricity, telephones and car ownership and do not embrace new ideas easily.

-- Associated Press

Falwell Improves

The Rev. Jerry Falwell was released from the hospital Wednesday after a stay of more than a week to recover from respiratory arrest.

"He's received a very positive bill of health right now," said Ron Godwin, president of Jerry Falwell Ministries. "He's been feeling well enough to go home for the last several days, but they kept him there in order to run tests."

Falwell, 71, the chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg and founder of the Moral Majority, entered Lynchburg General Hospital in Virginia on March 28. He had been on a ventilator but greatly improved during his hospital stay, his second in less than two months. He had spent 13 days in the hospital with pneumonia in late February and early March.

-- Religion News Service


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