Salem's gobbles up Crosswalk
Megabroadcaster Salem Communications, which owns (or is about to own) 83 radio stations, CCM communications (which publishes Christian magazines), and many other Christian media properties, is about to own one more: Assuming Salem's board and Crosswalk's shareholders approve the action, Crosswalk will operate under Salem's (which mainly offers streaming audio from Christian radio programs). "This acquisition will help us better deliver our ministries' and advertisers' messages to the faith-based audience, and gives us the economies of scale to take advantage of the Internet's continued growth," Salem president and CEO Ed Atsinger said in a press release. It's unclear from both the Salem and Crosswalk press releases exactly how and will work together, but there are clues. Crosswalk president Scott Fehrenbacher says Salem will "leverage the value of the Crosswalk brand," and Atsinger says Salem will leverage "the operational infrastructure of our existing Internet business," which suggests that the company may use the infrastructure of OnePlace and the URL and branding of Crosswalk. Who knows? When LifeAudio/ bought, they scaled down the latter's operations but kept both sites running.

In related news, USA Today reports on the continued woes of bankrupt Beliefnet. "The staff of 69 is down to 12," writes Janet Kornblum. "Even the janitors are gone; staffers take turns cleaning the bathrooms." The site has cut back radically on its original content, but hopes visitors won't notice (we notice). Site founder Steven Waldman blames much of the site's problems on its efforts to build a massive online store and a site builder for houses of worship.

Calvin College communications professor Quentin Schultze has a different explanation of the site's problems. "Religious sites, like other sites, need to have a cheering section of people who think it's important. When a site is so broad-based, it's very hard to get that support. That's the problem BeliefNet was destined to have from the beginning. I just don't think they're going to overcome that."

Waldman says the site's traffic proves otherwise: "We are going to be a profitable company and we're going to be around for a long time."

United Methodist Church dismisses case against gay pastor
The United Methodist Church dismissed a complaint against Mark Edward Williams, pastor of Seattle's Woodland Park United Methodist Church. The denomination's Pacific Northwest Conference Committee on Investigation "found there was not reasonable cause to forward this matter for a church trial," it said in a press release. In other words, it said there wasn't enough evidence to pursue the matter.

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Hmm. We're talking about Mark Edward Williams, who stood up at the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference a year ago and said he was a "a practicing gay man"? Even Williams's supporters in the church think that's odd. "Figure that one out," church spokeswoman Scarlett Foster-Moss told the Seattle Times "cheerfully."

This specific case is over; it can't be appealed. But expect conservatives in the church to be pretty upset. No commentary yet, though, at places like Good News or United Methodist Action.

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