At least a dozen Christians lynched in Nigerian mob hysteria
Some stories Weblog takes note of are practically reruns. For example, if you've read one story about the ACLU suing over a posting of the Ten Commandments, you've read them all. But Weblog hasn't ever seen a story quite like this one before. Hundreds of members of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, a charismatic Christian sect that's apparently quite big in Nigeria, met for their annual convention in the western Nigerian town of Ilesa, Osun. During the convention, many went evangelizing door-to-door. Suddenly, one man came running out of his home, shouting that the evangelists had used black magic to make his genitals disappear. Apparently that claim, as outrageous as it sounds, really shook up the neighborhood. The community immediately turned into an angry mob, destroying the evangelists' vehicles and burning eight of the church members to death. Sadly, even though this story seems like a freak instance, the BBC reports that it's not uncommon: "The Osun state police commissioner Ganiu Dawodu, who dismissed claims of organ disappearance, told the BBC that the mob killings started two weeks ago and has swept though six main towns in the state including the university town of Ife and the state capital of Osogbo."

In midst of hostility to public religion, a resurgent interest
Robert L. Bartley, editor of The Wall Street Journal, used his weekly column this week to discuss the importance of religion in America's history. "Religious impulses, to recall the obvious, were implanted at the very founding of the American colonies," he writes. "From time to time these impulses have surged to lay a moral basis for later political developments." In his short amount of space, he recalls the Puritans, the Great Awakenings, the importance of religion in the abolitionist movement, and other important moments in America's religious history. The point of all of this, of course, is to note that "For a half-century now intellectual life and the courts have been profoundly hostile to religion in any public manifestation. This is a sorrow, for it represents the republic turning its back on its own heritage." But there is hope: "At the turn of the century, there seems to be a budding interest in religion both spiritual and temporal. … These signs of a new secular interest in religion are intriguing and must be healthy." He also refers to Christianity Today's article on the academic success of overtly Christian historians as one of these signs.

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Can I get an amen? NO! Not yet!
Norway's Aftenposten newspaper reports that the Mona community church in Sandane, Sogn og Fjordane, had an 88-hour prayer service, operating nonstop from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. The paper reports that they were trying to get in the Guiness Book of World Records. Because, you know, that's a good reason to pray for that long. Too bad all those monks in the early church, reported to have prayed and meditated for so long that birds nested on them, didn't have such a motivator.

More Stories


  • Ministers voice doubts on Jesus | One in five Church of Scotland ministers does not believe in the Bible's description of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, a central tenet of Christian faith. (The Sunday Times, London)
  • Bishops voice a firm belief in the Resurrection | Two-thirds of diocesan bishops in the Church of England answered "yes" to the question: "Do you believe in the physical Resurrection of Christ?" (The Times, London)
  • A child's Easter | Most Christian educators advise concentrating on the Resurrection—not the Crucifixion—of Jesus when talking to young children. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
  • The many quests for the 'real' Jesus | Ever since the dawn of the Enlightenment, Western Christian scholars have been trying to throw the churchified Jesus out the window and replace him with a more appealing figure. Yet there's a catch: For the current generation of liberators to believe they are breaking new ground, they must forget that previous scholars did the same thing. (Frederica Mathewes-Green, Los Angeles Times)


  • Doubting the story of Exodus | Many scholars have quietly concluded that the epic of Moses never happened, and even Jewish clerics are raising questions. Others think it combines myth, cultural memories and kernels of truth. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Earlier: Did the Exodus Never Happen? | How two Egyptologists are countering scholars who want to turn the Old Testament into myth. (Christianity Today, Sept. 7, 1998)
  • Is nothing sacred? | The Bible, of course, is the direct source of Jewish dietary laws. But to the owner of a Florida company that makes and sells nutritional supplements, it is also a cookbook (The New York Times)
  • Hand-lettering of Bibles proves illuminating | Dallas artist's 13-year project predates Minnesota scribes' effort (The Dallas Morning News)


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Church life:

  • An uprising in the pews: Kneeling falls from favor | More and more congregations nationwide are deciding to stand for what they believe (USA Today)
  • Local Baptist churches vote to form new group | Representatives of 18 Southern Baptist churches are upset that two gay-supportive churches remain members of the Atlanta Baptist Association (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • A life less ordinary | On his tenth anniversary as Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey talks about his unpromising schooldays, his nonstop routine and how he 'sees Christ' in former rivals (The Times, London)
  • Archbishop of change | How Carey has overcome the forecasters of doom (Editorial, The Times)
  • Clever clergy | Church attendance is falling but not the high academic standards and commitment expected of students working towards ordination (The Guardian)
  • Minister tends flock of business leaders | John H. Huntington is the first "missioner to Silicon Valley" of the Episcopal Church (San Jose Mercury News)
  • Leading clerics to quit over remarriage | Leading Church of England traditionalists have confirmed plans for a breakaway group over the hotly disputed issue of the remarriage of divorcees. (The Observer, London)
  • What is the Church to do, for God's sake? | The Anglicans will have to choose between two voices as they struggle to regain moral authority (Anthony Howard, The Times, London)
  • Congregation X rocks the mission | Cornerstone markets new-time religion (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Church torn by ultimatum over tithing | In the stern tones of a bill collector, the letters sent to nearly half the members of the Holy Tabernacle Church of God in Christ Apostolic offered its members a worldly choice: Pay up or get kicked out. (The Boston Globe)


  • Bishop censures congregation | After months of debate, Bishop Charles Maahs, head of the Lutheran synod in Missouri and Kansas, censured Abiding Peace Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Mo., for ordaining Donna Simon, a lesbian, to serve as its pastor. (Chicago Tribune)
  • President reaches gay conservatives | Quiet effort has them hoping for fuller role (The Sun, Baltimore)
  • Bush leaves GOP door ajar for gays, lesbians | President Bush's choice of a gay man to head the White House AIDS office is the latest sign of a warming trend between gays and the Republican party. (USA Today)
  • Gay union foes doubt if Massachusetts Attorney General should try case | Conservatives cite Tom Reilly's frequent support of gay causes in questioning are questioning his commitment to defend the state against a lawsuit brought last week by seven gay and lesbian couples seeking the right to marry in Massachusetts (The Boston Globe)
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Pop culture:

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  • Belmont's hiring policy challenged | The president of Baptist school says a group of professors will have a tough time persuading him to recommend that trustees change a policy governing faculty members' religious beliefs. (The Tennessean)
  • A 'college' about Christ | Shiloh Bible Institute offers free programs of study for those 'born again' (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


Columbine, two years later:


Low-power radio:

  • Who killed micro radio? | Reports of the death of Low Power FM radio at the hands of Congress are greatly exaggerated. Low Power FM was already a corpse. (Thomas W. Hazlett, ZDNet)
  • Earlier: The FCC brings low power to the people | Small Christian stations get most of the dial (U.S. News, Mar. 19, 2001)

Abortion law:

  • High court turns away challenge to abortion clinic-access law | The court, without comment yesterday, refused to hear Gregg v. U.S., turning down the protesters' argument that Congress overstepped its authority to regulate interstate commerce when it enacted the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. (Associated Press/Freedom Forum)
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Other stories of interest:

  • In God's Country | From presidents to prostitutes, religion flows like a river through Philippine lives, offering a bizarre mix of old-style faith and sometimes bloody violence (Far Eastern Economic Review)
  • Belgium hosts genocide trial | The trial, which is expected to last up to six weeks, will focus on the killing of thousands of ethnic Tutsis hiding at a Roman Catholic convent and health center near the southern town of Butare in late April 1994. (BBC)
  • It's time to feed the 'Christianised' to the lions | Christians who have become "Christianised" are restricting in their congregations the "abundant life" and love that Jesus said would be hallmarks of those who followed him. (Paul Mitchell, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Metro residents use faith to weather cool economy | Industry slowdown, layoffs inspire many to lean on religion (The Detroit News)
  • World Relief moving to Baltimore | Move may encourage other aid and relief organizations to move to city (The Sun, Baltimore)
  • Thousand-year chime | Along with religion, we have lost a sense of eternity. Enter Brian Eno's clock of the future. (The Guardian, London)
  • Imprint on Shroud of Turin could be priest | Researchers at Bradford University say image is likely that of Jacques de Molay, the head of the Knights Templar who inspired Robert the Bruce to win Scotland's independence (The Scotsman, Edinburgh)
  • Slaves to religion | From my engagement my father refused to see me. He died without being reconciled. What kind of religion is that? (Edwina Currie, The Times, London)

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