U.S.Notes & Quotes

Street-Side Dialogue in Hollywood

A group of North Hollywood Catholics didn't like the idea of a conference called “Ex-Catholics for Christ,” held at the local Grace Community Church—so they went to the Church to protest.

The protest became a heated debate, according to an L.A. Times article printed in the Sunday, Nov. 9 paper. [T]he rhetoric between the opposing Christian groups was anything but mild as Bible-carrying adherents squared off in curbside theological debates.

“You just totally messed up the Bible,” Harout Kouyoumdjian, 19,… [a] Protestant, told Michael Murphy, 26, a Catholic from Huntington Beach who was trying to explain Communion rites.

'‘Catholics do not believe in the Bible. Catholicism is not bringing people to truth,’ said Kouyoumdjian, a Grace Community Church member and conference participant.

“That's not true,” Murphy replied. “We just have a teaching authority.”

"The purpose of the ex-Catholics conference is to encourage Roman Catholics to renounce their Church and to lead them into the Protestant fold, according to attendees.…

“We're here to witness for our Church,” said protest organizer Jim Graves, 32, of Irvine. “They are inaccurately representing our creed. This is a mild protest of the inaccurate information they are offering about the Catholic Church.”

Washington Unites Northern Irish

The Sunday, Nov. 9 Washington Post told the story of a group of Protestant and Catholic men from Northern Ireland who have found unlikely common ground: a crime-ridden DC neighborhood.

“If Eugene Branagan and Ivan McCready crossed paths in Northern Ireland, they would eye each other warily, check [for] … tell-tale signs of [religion] and be ready to bolt at the first hint of trouble.

“Instead, there they were last week at a construction site in Anacostia, hoisting bags of cement together … teasing each other and roughhousing with half a dozen other Irish trainees—some Protestant, some Catholic who are in this country to help build homes for the poor.

“Before, I never would have [kidded] someone like Ivan for fear of offending him, but here we can slag each other about being Protestant or Catholic without expecting the other person to get mad,' said Branagan, 18, a Catholic potato farmer and a participant in Tearing Down Walls, a 10-week program sponsored by Habitat for Humanity and two other non-profit groups.”

The program is meant to help jobless Catholic and Protestant men from Northern Ireland to acquire skills—while becoming more accepting of one another. The program has one unintended effect: its participants long for the safety of Northern Ireland.

“Other than political crime, there is very little crime in Ireland,' Branagan said. ‘People keep asking us if its dangerous back there, but unless you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, I think you have a far greater chance of getting killed in Washington or New York.”