Harry Potter, evangelistic tool
Christianity Today got a lot of angry letters—make that is still getting a lot of angry letters—for calling the Harry Potter series "a Book of Virtues with a preadolescent funny bone" and for subsequent articles on the books. Now Christian author Connie Neal is about to feel the pain. "I thought I was reading the book to explain to my kids why they shouldn't read it," she tells Religion News Service. "Once I had made [the] distinction for my kids about the fantasy world versus our real world, I realized these books were so rich and really had lessons that directly connected to the Bible." Her new book, What's a Christian to Do With Harry Potter? describes how she finds the series to be "one of her greatest evangelization tools." For Christianity, that is, just in case you were wondering.

Bus crash sends 35 Young Life campers to hospital
A bus rolled off a Colorado highway Friday, injuring nearly all of its passengers: 45 teens and leaders from a Minnesota chapter of Young Life, a Christian youth outreach program. At last report, two of the teens were still in serious condition at Denver-area hospitals. The driver of the bus has been charged with 45 counts of careless driving causing injury and other charges, but friends, family, and his employer say that's ridiculous. "It was an accident, and he was really a hero, but you're not hearing or reading anything about that," the driver's son says. "He did a lot to help. He pulled kids out of the bus, rescued them." Likewise, the bus company says that police treatment of the driver "is not right," but they're also defending themselves against charges that the rear brakes were out of adjustment and that the bus was two months overdue for inspection. Police explain that the driver was arrested because it would be difficult to file charges once he returned to Minnesota; the charges, said a state trooper, may be dropped if crash investigators determine there were other reasons for the accident. Young Life spokesman Pep Jackson said the group had specifically requested the bus driver, whom had driven them on a previous trip. "He loves kids, and the kids love him," Jackson said. "Our people are concerned about him and how this will affect him." In the meantime, the Christian youth, most now reunited with their families, say they want to finish their trip to Young Life's Frontier Ranch.

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Episcopal Church battles:

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Church and State:

Religion and politics:

Life ethics:



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  • Religions divided over gays in clergy | Gays and lesbians in the clergy continue to declare their sexual orientation and many demand ordination with no commitment to celibacy (The Seattle Times)
  • Compromise keeps gay pastor in ministry | Mark Williams will be allowed to continue ministering to his North Seattle congregation for now, but only under the supervision of an interim pastor (The Seattle Times)

Bible and theology:


Church life:

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Black church:

  • The tough love miracle | America's black community leaders are driving down crime by mixing faith with attitude (The Sunday Times, London)
  • Black preacher helps Bush find inner peace | Kirbyjon Caldwell's emergence as the only black figure in a very select group of presidential friends reflects both an intriguing private relationship and a potentially explosive political trend. (The Sunday Times, London)


Denominational life:

Mormon Olympics?

Other stories of interest:

  • Robertson's bid to build power plant is rejected | Energy Commission says proposed electric plant would be too small for fast-track approval (Los Angeles Times)
  • Unfair game: Scientologists get their man | Keith Henson file an international human-rights claim after he's found guilty of a single misdemeanor count of interfering with a religion (LA Weekly)
  • Music festival attracts thousands | Celebrate Freedom has become one the largest one-day Christian music events in the country (Associated Press)
  • Policy on military women assailed | Rutherford Institute's John Whitehead asks Bush administration to reconsider a military policy that requires female enlisted personnel stationed in Saudi Arabia to wear traditional Muslim head-to-toe clothing at all times when they leave the military base. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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