This Week, Faith Is on the Front Page

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama made back-to-back appearances Sunday night at CNN's "Compassion Forum." In other news, the Pope arrives Tuesday for a six-day visit to the U.S. and the Dalai Lama is in Seattle.

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BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, we are live from the NPR Studios. This is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, running fools. I'm Alison Stewart.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

And I'm Rachel Martin. It's Monday, April 14th, 2008. Ali, did you have a good weekend?

STEWART: I had a great weekend.

MARTIN: Why?

STEWART: Got the taxes in. I was number two in line at the post office on Saturday morning.

MARTIN: Now that is a victory.

STEWART: That was exciting. Saw "The Bank Job," a great movie. If you are looking for a sort of an interesting, provocative, gotta-pay-attention movie, because there is not a lot out there, this British film, "The Bank Job," so great. Based on a true story.

MARTIN: That's the guy from "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."

STEWART: I believe it is. Yes.

MARTIN: A little crush on that guy.

STEWART: It's just a - go see it. That's all I'm going to say. Go see it. And managed to build a baby crib.

MARTIN: You are so productive.

STEWART: We were productive.

MARTIN: I didn't do anything productive. I went out to dinner three times because it was beautiful in New York. Everyone was out and about. It was like a street party. I got to eat outside for the first time this season.

STEWART: I love that spring is here.

MARTIN: Spring has sprung.

STEWART: All right. We've mentioned running fools, who are they? It's not me, I know that.

MARTIN: The London Marathon was yesterday, and you might be thinking, London Marathon? Who cares about that? Well, you should care, because there was an American in that race who placed fifth. And then you say, fifth? That's lame. It's not. It was the fastest time by an American ever.

An American-born marathoner, we should say. There is a naturalized American citizen who has bested that record. We are going to talk about that race, American Ryan Hall, why he came in the way he did, and we are also going to talk a little bit about the Boston Marathon, coming up next week.

STEWART: Also, it's Monday, means we have a little bit of sports talk with BPP Monday Morning Quarterback and my husband, Bill Wolff. Managed to squeeze in a little bit of couch time. That Masters thing went on and on. Good thing I like him, because that thing went on and on and on.

We'll talk about why Tiger couldn't make it happen, and also what's up with the Detroit Tigers? They're supposed to be the team to beat this year, and they just keep getting beaten. So, we'll discuss that a little bit.

MARTIN: Also, an Assisted Listen, I am really looking forward to this segment, actually, on the new album from Erykah Badu. Sasha Frere-Jones with the New Yorker talked with Alison about Miss Badu's new album "New Amerykah (4th World War)."

STEWART: Listened to it all weekend, so good. We'll also get today's headlines in just a minute. But first...

Faith is on the front page today. The Dalai Lama, the Pope and the Democratic presidential candidates walk into a bar, except in this case, the bar is the news. So, let's go with the candidates first.

MARTIN: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama made back-to-back appearances last night at CNN's so-called Compassion Forum in San Francisco. Clinton used the platform to criticize Obama's comments last week at a San Francisco fundraiser. He said that small town Pennsylvanians who are economically frustrated may tend to, quote, "cling to guns or religion."

(Soundbite of speech)

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): Someone goes to a closed-door fundraiser in San Francisco and makes comments that do seem elitist, out of touch, and frankly, patronizing.

STEWART: Obama acknowledged that his words were quote, unquote, "clumsy," but insisted he was being mischaracterized.

(Soundbite of speech)

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois): What I was referring to was in no way demeaning a faith that I myself embrace.

MARTIN: Both candidates last night also stressed the importance of faith in their personal lives and political beliefs. On the issue of abortion, Clinton said she believes the potential for life begins at conception, while Obama said he had yet to reach a conclusion on that question.

STEWART: Moving on to the Pope. He arrives tomorrow for a six-day visit to the United States. He'll be Washington, D.C., where he'll meet with President Bush, and in New York City, where he'll visit Ground Zero, and celebrate Sunday Mass at Yankee Stadium.

MARTIN: Yesterday, during his Sunday blessing at the Vatican, the Pope asked for prayers before his journey.

(Soundbite of speech)

Pope BENEDICT XVI: Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you all to pray for the success of my visit so that there may be a time of spiritual renewal for all Americans.

MARTIN: And as you might expect, there is a lot of demand for tickets to see his Holiness. Even with 46,000 free tickets available for anyone in Washington, D.C., for the Washington, D.C., Mass alone, the archdiocese of Washington warns that scalpers are selling tickets on eBay and Craigslist. The archdiocese says a mass is a sacrament, and you can't sell a sacrament. They are sending cease-and-desist letters to online sellers and promising to match IDs and tickets at the entrances to events.

STEWART: And not everyone is thrilled with the Pope's itinerary. Some in Boston are concerned he is snubbing that city in order to avoid addressing the Church's recent priest sex abuse scandals. Terry McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org, said yesterday the Pope can't escape this issue.

(Soundbite of press conference)

Mr. TERRY MCKIERNAN (President, BishopAccountability.org): We would like to call the Pope's attention to the fact that some of the men he is going to meet are actually sexual offenders.

STEWART: The Vatican has said Pope Benedict will discuss the scandal during his U.S. visit in an effort to heal wounds, but meetings with sex-abuse victims are not on the Pope's public schedule.

MARTIN: And one more stop to make on this religion round up. The Dalai Lama is also in the U.S., in Seattle for a compassion conference. The religious leader spoke yesterday about recent riots in Tibet and protests against the Beijing Olympics. He said his representatives are in private talks with the Chinese, but that the two groups seem to be chanting different mantras.

(Soundbite of speech)

THE DALAI LAMA: We are not seeking independence. We are not seeking independence. We are not seeking independence. This is our mantra. The Chinese government mantra, Tibet is part of China. Tibet is part of China. Tibet is part of China. That is the Chinese government's mantra.

STEWART: The Dalai Lama leaves Seattle tomorrow. You can keep up to speed on any of these stories at npr.org. Let's get some more of today's headlines.

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