Florida'a adoption notification law under fire
The state of Florida requires that mothers who want to give their children up for adoption must notify the child's father. That sounds awfully family-friendly, doesn't it? But the law goes further: mothers who don't know who the father is must place a newspaper advertisement announcing she plans to do so. The National Post of Canada reports, "It requires that they publish details of every sexual encounter that could have caused the pregnancy, along with names—if possible—and descriptions of the men, in the local newspaper where the incident took place, so any men who may be the father and want to contest the adoption can come forward."

And that, say critics, is not only ridiculous, it's anti-life. Lawyers fighting the law claim mothers are choosing to have abortions rather than submit to such embarrassment. Just how bad is this law? Find another abortion-related issue where Jerry Falwell and the National Organization for Women have joined forces.

"Gov. Jeb Bush, who allowed the legislation to become law without his signature, supports a system that allows men who believe they might have fathered a child to put their name in a confidential registry that must be checked during adoption proceedings," reports the Associated Press. The St. Petersburg Times notes that 30 other states already have similar registries.

In other adoption news, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that unmarried couples—including homosexual couples—can legally adopt children.

Drew University gets the finger of evangelist George Whitefield (maybe)
What Drew University librarian Ken Rowe knows is that in a donation of rare Methodist books and engravings was a human finger, along with a note that it belonged to George Whitefield, the Methodist evangelist who launched the Great Awakening. Is it really Whitefield's digit? No one knows.

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The Qur'an:

  • To read the Qur'an | The public firestorm over the University of North Carolina's decision to ask that incoming students read a book about the Qur'an is a peculiar display of enthusiasm for ignorance (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  • The right decision on a book | The religious right runs some Muslim nations, which harbor neither academic freedom nor religious tolerance - virtues that members of America's religious right tried to dilute at the University of North Carolina (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

  • Critical questioning of Qur'an lacking, could curb abuse | The critical study of Muhammad and the Qur'an lags far behind the comparable study of Jesus and the Bible, and such study could help Islam adapt to modernity, a number of scholars of the religion say (The Washington Times)

  • Earlier: What Is the Qur'an? | Researchers with a variety of academic and theological interests are proposing controversial theories about the Qur'an and Islamic history, and are striving to reinterpret Islam for the modern world. This is, as one scholar puts it, a "sensitive business." (The Atlantic Monthly, Jan. 1999)
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Missions and ministries:


  • The comeback dads | Men who have stumbled in parenthood work together to build themselves into better fathers (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • Movement to reclaim family time goes national | A group of frazzled parents in Wayzata, Minn., made national headlines two years ago when they called for a community-wide "time out" to the incessant demands of their children's extracurricular activities (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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Pop culture:


  • Press and religion: a new dynamic | The press in two major instances has demonstrated its capacity to force religion to reckon in democracy's public square how it measures up to its own ideals (Stephen Burgard, The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Thought for the day challenges religious offering | You might think God is on the rocks, judging by the indignant reaction that greeted last week's attempt to smuggle an atheist into the Thought for the Day studio (Kirsty Milne, The Scotsman)

  • Christian broadcasters defiant | Two Lebanese stations won't apply for licenses until Information Ministry amends media law to include a section that regulates religious television and radio (The Daily Star, Lebanon)

  • N.Y. shock jocks fired in wake of church sex stunt | Transcript suggests sex was merely simulated, but it's still unclear. (The Washington Post)


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  • Minnesota high court reinstates lawsuit against former minister | Legal scholar says justices' ruling in marriage-counseling suit puts clergy at risk for being sued for performing their normal duties (Associated Press)

  • Judge rules for priest in tape case | A judge ruled Wednesday that an Episcopal priest did not have a duty to inform a woman that a meeting with her estranged husband, former Gov. Ray Mabus, was secretly being taped (Associated Press)

  • Till dearth of cash do us part | A homeless woman is suing the Catholic Church for $25 million because Father Owen Crowe forgot to sign her marriage certificate 52 years ago (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Church life:

  • Some churches stop passing collection plates | Departure from traditional offering comes as churches try to distance themselves from scandals and welcome visitors (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Church officials oust members who filed lawsuit | Six members of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church who are suing church leaders over alleged financial wrongdoing were voted out as members late Thursday night (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Earlier: Church members' suit called 'unbiblical' | Members of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church may be kicked out for filing a lawsuit over alleged financial mismanagement (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Southern Baptists enforce doctrine | Top Southern Baptist leaders are using their financial clout to shape the actions and priorities of other Baptist groups (The Washington Times)

  • Twin Cities church votes to leave ELCA | After fighting over including the denomination's examination of homosexuality, abortion and mission development., North Heights Lutheran will join Alliance of Renewal Churches (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • Lutherans luring Hispanic Catholics? | Priests and parishioners in Chicago say they're being tricked into Lutheran baptisms (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Cultural conversion | Pentecostal services hold special allure for traditionally Catholic Latinos (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)


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  • Beamer is an author second | Sept. 11 widow says being a mom comes before her memoir Let's Roll!, which is to be released this week (USA Today)

  • Surfers Bible rides wave of success | Three months on, the Surfers Bible, the word of God as recast for pleasure-seeking surfies, is about to go into its third print and has attracted interest in Europe, Japan, South Africa and the U.S. (The Weekend Australian)

Clergy sex scandals:

Other stories of interest:

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