Weekly religion rail, with items on the cancellation of an online pageant featuring nuns, a steel cross installed in Pennsylvania to honor 9/11 victims, and more.

An Italian priest who had planned an online pageant for nuns has canceled the project after a public outcry criticizing the idea.

According to wire reports, the Rev. Antonio Rungi said he was misinterpreted and had no intention of putting sisters on a beauty catwalk.

The "Miss Sister 2008" contest was to start in September on a blog run by Rungi. Under the original plan, nuns would fill out a profile including information about their life and vocation as well as a photograph.

The contest drew criticism from the association of Catholic teachers, which said it belittles the role of nuns, who have dedicated themselves to God.

Rungi said the pageant was misinterpreted as a physical thing, and that he wanted to emphasize attributes including spirituality, social awareness, charity and other qualities.

Steel cross installed near Flight 93 site in Pa.

A cross made out of steel from the World Trade Center was dedicated near where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, in Shanksville, Pa.

The 2-ton, 14-foot high cross sits on a concrete base just a few miles from where the plane crashed into a field. According to wire reports, the cross made a 311-mile journey from Brooklyn accompanied by hundreds of motorcyclists, many of them current or retired New York firefighters.

Flight 93 was the only one of the four planes hijacked that day that did not reach its intended target, believed to be in Washington, D.C. Investigators believe the hijackers crashed the plane into the field as passengers rushed the cockpit.

Survey Says

Some Americans are having a change of heart about mixing religion and politics. A new survey finds a narrow majority of the public says churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters.

Four years ago, just 30 percent of conservatives believed churches and other houses of worship should stay out of politics. Today, 50 percent of conservatives express this view. -- Pew Research Center

Good Book?

“It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It” by Craig Groeschel

When Craig Groeschel founded LifeChurch.tv, the congregation met in a borrowed two-car garage, with ratty furnishings and faulty audiovisual equipment. But people were drawn there, sensing a powerful, life-changing force Groeschel calls “It.”

What is “It,” and how can you and your ministry get -- and keep – “It”? Combining in-your-face honesty with off-the-wall humor, this book tells how any believer can obtain “It,” get “It” back, and guard “It.”

Groeschel provides profile interviews with Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Tim Stevens, Mark Batterson, Jud Wilhite and Dino Rizzo as he challenges churches and their leaders to maintain spiritual balance.

Get to Know … Don Miller

Don Miller (born 1971) is a best-selling American author and public speaker based out of Portland, Ore., who focuses on Christian spirituality as "an explanation for beauty, meaning and the human struggle.”

Miller is recognized for his feelings that Christian faith should be a relationship, rather than a formula. He writes in “Searching for God Knows What” that too many Christians act like the Bible is a sort of math textbook, rather than a long story of God's involvement with people through friendships with Biblical figures like Adam, Abraham and Moses.

His emphasis on the Bible as a narrative has made his writings popular with many involved in the emergent church conversation, a movement whose participants seek to live their faith in modern society by emulating Jesus Christ irrespective of Christian religious traditions.

In addition to his books, Miller also serves as the founding director of The Burnside Writers Collective, a group of spiritual writers who contribute to an online magazine.

The Word

Liberation theology: The interpretation of religious faith from the perspective of the poor, oppressed and victimized. It seeks God in a world of injustice. Found most often within Christianity. – www.religioustolerance.org

Religion Around the World

Religious makeup of Georgia

Orthodox Christian: 83.9 percent

Muslim: 9.9 percent

Armenian-Gregorian: 3.9 percent

Catholic 0.8 percent

Other: 0.8 percent

None: 0.7 percent

- CIA Factbook

GateHouse News Service