African-American Pentecostal leaders to seek "tradition" from Vatican

More than 50 black Pentecostal church leaders from 27 denominations will make a pilgrimage to the Vatican "to recover some of the ancient Christian traditions embodied in the Roman Catholic Church," reports The Chicago Tribune. "We come with a fervor and a fire they may be missing, but they come with an order and structure we may be missing," says Bishop Larry Trotter, senior pastor of Chicago's Sweet Holy Spirit Full Gospel Baptist Church.

"Christians are becoming extinct in the Holy Land," says group

The Washington-based Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation is launching a campaign to convince Protestant and Catholic Americans that Christianity is disappearing from Israel as Palestinian Christians emigrate from the area.

Virginia Senate approves moment of silence

A bill requiring public schools to observe a minute of silence during which "no other activities shall be performed" at the beginning of every school day is expected to sail through the Virginia House. To avoid the promotion of religion, the bill allows the time "for meditation, prayer or reflection." A Washington Post follow up article says most students will find it meaningless. (See also the Associated Press coverage.)

Bill Bradley announces he's a theist!

Coverage of presidential candidates' religion continues as Newsweek looks at the four frontrunners' faiths, public and private. Even Bill Bradley finally answers the question: "Do I believe in God? The answer is yes." Fortunately, religion writer Ken Woodward also looks at why the issue is so important this year.

Does God care about the Superbowl?

In a story somewhat similar to a recent Christianity Today article, online magazine Slate offers an excellent look at football theology. Interviewing the necessary pundits (Athletes in Action, Muscular Christianity author James Mathisen, etc.), David Plotz offers an article that neither caricatures nor demeans the question or the Christians who've tried to answer it. And he's quick to remind readers that "few evangelicals accept the 'Jesus in the Backfield' theology." (In a related story, James Fallows compares St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner and George W. Bush for Beliefnet.)

Washington Times sides with GOP in chaplain dispute

(Then again, the Times sides with the GOP in almost everything … ) In an unsigned editorial, the Times says House Democrats should lay off the allegations of anti-Catholicism: "Democrats who cry about Republican prejudice should be reminded that through the effort of two Republicans—President Ronald Reagan and Sen. Richard Lugar—the United States first established diplomatic ties with the Vatican, against the wishes of Protestant groups. How is that for anti-Catholic bias? … You don't accuse anyone of religious discrimination until you have proof. And there is none here." In a related story, the Associated Press ended up running two stories November 2 on the controversy. The first was linked in an earlier Weblog, but the second is better because it notes how a routine declaration, honoring Catholic Schools Week, has become a politicized in the wake of the debate.

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Clinton urges religious tolerance at National Prayer Breakfast

As he has at previous prayer breakfasts, Clinton invoked Northern Ireland and the Middle East as symbols of hopeful efforts to ease religious rivalry around the world. In fact, comparing today's Associated Press report with last year's transcript, one wonders how much recycling went on in the speechwriting room. Still, this year's breakfast apparently lacked last year's fireworks, when some religious leaders pulled out in protest of the invitation of PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

South Korean pastor kidnapped to North Korea?

Kim Dong-Shik was evangelizing in the northeastern Chinese city of Yanji City, Jilin, when he disappeared. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul speculates he was kidnapped and taken to North Korea.

More on Anglican 'civil war'

Is there an Episcopalian leader who hasn't commented on this yet? The search is on, as the Associated Press and New York Times issue extensive and excellent reports on the latest developments—and why it's happening. (The NYT article, "Consecrations of U.S. Bishops by Episcopal Officials Overseas Challenge Church Hierarchy," by Gustav Niebuhr, has expired, but is available at the paper's archives area if you're willing to pay $2.50.)

Italian Catholics bluntly criticize Christian-Muslim marriages

Mixed marriages should be examined "more rigorously," Monsignor Ennio Antonelli, spokesman for the Italian Bishops' Conference said in a statement Wednesday. Parish priests should be more reluctant to marry such couples, he said, and should focus more on "converting Muslim immigrants to Christianity." There are about 600,000 immigrants from Islamic countries in Italy.

Magician reveals secrets of weeping statue

Alfredo Barrago, a professional illusionist acting on behalf of the Italian Committee for Investigation of the Paranormal (ICIP), made a statue of Mary in Rome weep on command. The statue has been crying tears of blood off and on for the last five years., attracting thousands of devotees. Giovanni Pannunzio, a member of ICIP, says the group did so because "we are trying to show that tricks like this devalue religion, making it look like a cheap form of superstition." The Times of London story lists five ways to fake a statue's tears of blood.

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Bush goes to Bob Jones University

Almost every media outlet noted that George W. Bush used the word conservative six times in less than a minute. But less similar were their identifications of Bob Jones University: "a fundamentalist Christian college that prohibits interracial dating" ( Los Angeles Times), one of the best-known fundamentalist Christian venues in the state ( Boston Globe), "conservative" ( Washington Post), "a bastion of Christian conservatism" ( New York Times), "a school where women can't wear pants and interracial dating is banned," ( New York Post, which notes, "Bush said he disagrees with that ban."), Most complete goes to the Associated Press: "The Christian university lost its tax-exempt status in the 1970s for refusing to admit blacks. It now accepts black students but still bans interracial dating." The wackiest moniker comes from The Financial Times, which calls Bob Jones University "spiritual home of Christian conservatives." Uh, not quite.

Maryland Senate prayer discriminates against Hindus …

Remember a couple years ago, when Maryland State House opening prayers came under attack for being too Christian (ending with "in Jesus' name," for praying for forgiveness against abortion, etc.)? Apparently those days are long gone. Here's how Finance Committee Chairman Thomas L. Bromwell prayed on Thursday, according to The Washington Post: "Lord. God. Yahweh. Jesus. Buddha. Allah. Whatever your name is. Whatever color you are. Whatever gender you are. You know these people. You know that they are good. Pray for 'em. Thank you." Actually, they prayer is online, if you want to hear it.

Random House buys Harold Shaw Publishers

Harold Shaw Publishers, currently based in Wheaton, Illinois, will relocate to Colorado and become an imprint of Random House's WaterBrook Press unit. "The majority of Shaw's employees will not be joining Random," reports Publishers Weekly, which notes Random House wants to increase its share of the Christian book market.

Schuller's "Hour of Power" turns 30 this Sunday

Only "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation," and "Sixty Minutes" have aired longer, says the Crystal Cathedral's press release.

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