Jews Oppose Adding
Daylight Saving Time
Observant Jews are expressing concern over legislation in Congress that would extend daylight saving time by two months, saying that the late sunrises would affect their ability to pray in the morning and still reach work by 9 a.m.
The provision, which sets daylight saving time between March and November instead of April and October, was approved Tuesday by a House-Senate conference committee. The committee met to finalize the energy legislation package Congress will present to the president by Aug. 1.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism had written a letter to the committee members, explaining that an extension of daylight saving time would place a hardship on observant Jews.
According to Jewish law, certain prayers, including the prayer recited each day by people in mourning, cannot be recited without a minyan, or a quorum of 10 members, present. Further, those prayers, which last 30 to 40 minutes, cannot be recited before sunrise.
Under the proposed extension, sunrise in the month of November would come between 8:30 and 8:45 in most locations, said Mark Waldman, director of public policy for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Waldman said that he did not believe the legislation intentionally levied this hardship but that nonetheless it was something he wished the committee had considered.
Supporters of the provision say that a longer daylight saving period would save 100,000 barrels of oil each day by extending daylight hours into the afternoon and requiring less energy for businesses to stay open.
-- Religion News Service
To Mormon Hearing
An Australian scientist who wrote a book saying DNA evidence contradicts ancestry claims in the Book of Mormon faces disciplinary action in a separate case that could bring excommunication from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Simon Southerton said he has been ordered to a July 31 hearing before church leaders in Canberra, Australia.
Southerton's book "Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church" uses DNA data to argue against Book of Mormon teachings that ancient America's inhabitants descended from Israelites.
Yet Southerton, a plant geneticist in Canberra, faces charges of adultery, not heresy. He acknowledges an affair five years ago, after separating from his wife, but contends church authorities are using that against him while the more difficult apostasy charge is "obviously the major issue."
Southerton said church authorities never mentioned adultery when they visited him recently, instead bringing up his book, abandonment of the church in 1998 -- though he technically remains a member -- and postings on the www.exmormons.org Web site.
-- Associated Press
For Christian Park
A circuit court judge has ruled in favor of full tax exemption for the Holy Land Experience, a Christian theme park in Orlando.
The park was developed by a nonprofit ministry called Zion's Hope. It was granted only limited exemptions for administrative and education facilities. The Orange County Property Appraiser's office denied the group's broader exemption request in 2001, arguing that the park was a tourist attraction, not a church.
Now Judge Cynthia MacKinnon has ordered full exemption, saying Zion's Hope "is using the property to spread what it considers to be God's word to many people at one time," whereas the purpose of Disney World, for example, "is indisputably to make money."
MacKinnon said the park's $35 admission didn't preclude it from being a nonprofit because museums charge fees as well. She also ruled that Orange County violated the group's due process rights by failing to explain why it denied exemptions.
Orange County Property Appraiser Bill Donegan said his office is considering an appeal.
-- Associated Press