As U.S. promotes abstinence at U.N. children's summit, ACLU sues program for promoting religion
At the United Nations Special Session on Children, the United States is one of the only countries opposing encouragement of abortion and promoting abstinence, says Reuters. At the opening session, U.S. Health Secretary Tommy Thompson said the U.S. continues to support "healthy behaviors and right choices" for children by "strengthening close parent-child relationships, encouraging the delay of sexual activity and supporting abstinence education programs." Speaking more specifically about that last point, he said, "As President Bush has said, abstinence is the only sure way of avoiding sexually transmitted disease, premature pregnancy and the social and personal difficulties attendant to nonmarital sexual activity."

Another delegate, USAID Assistant Administrator for Global Health Anne Peterson, told reporters, "It's not the only answer and it's not the answer for every youth, but it is a clearly a very strong protective factor that many youth are willing to do and really does make a difference."

It's not the most controversial point of the meeting. Only the U.S. and Somalia have refused to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the U.S. says it infringes on parents' rights. (President Clinton signed the convention but never submitted it to the Senate.)

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union plans to file suit against the state of Louisiana for an abstinence education program. The complaint this time isn't the usual claim that abstinence education is ineffective and puts teens at risk—it's that it's too effective—in promoting religion. "With $1.6 million in federal funds annually, the suit contends, Louisiana has spent money on 'Christ-centered' skits, religious youth revivals, and biblical instruction on purity," reports The Washington Post. "One group used the Christmas story of the Virgin Mary to teach abstinence, and the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette spent grant money organizing prayer sessions at abortion clinics."

Governor's aide Dan Richey, coordinator of the abstinence education program, told the paper, "We do not advocate in any way, shape, or form a nonsecular component with any of our contracts. Out of 70 contractors, if one or two or three or four have incorporated the abstinence message with their faith-based message, well, those things happen."

Heresy trial ends when heretic resigns
Remember Andrew Furlong, the Church of Ireland's Dean of Clonmacnoise who faced a heresy trial for denying that Jesus is God, the son of God, or savior of the world? It seems the trial is now off, as he's decided to step down from his ecclesiastical posts. "I have always grieved when I left a parish but I am also grieving for the Church of Ireland because I feel it is missing out," he told The Irish Independent. Indeed, it is missing out. As this was only the second heresy trial in 130 years, the dying church had an opportunity to take a stand for orthodoxy.

Article continues below

More articles

Sexual ethics:

Polls, surveys, and studies:

Article continues below

Church & state:


  • DeLay proves to be a thorn in Bush's side | House Whip refuses to soften party's conservatism (Financial Times)

  • DeLay Diplomacy | Crass political reality is that Republican Whip is also an evangelist (Mary McGory, The Washington Post)

  • Clergy tell senators support depends on cloning ban | A broad coalition of Christian clergy yesterday urged the Senate to quickly pass a bill banning the cloning of human embryos for any purpose, and warned senators that this vote would be crucial for pro-life constituencies in upcoming elections (The Washington Times)


Missions & ministry:

Church life:

  • Rifts growing among local Presbyterians | Orlando is fast becoming the staging area for an all-out holy war pitting Presbyterian against Presbyterian (Orlando Business Journal)

  • 'Obscene' masts anger parishes | An initiative by the Church of England to raise £24 million by hiring out steeples for use as mobile phone masts has provoked opposition among parishioners angered by the commercial exploitation of churches. (The Times, London)

Article continues below

Holy Land:

  • America's new Christian Zionists | The Jewish lobby has long been perceived as a powerful influence on US foreign policy but Israel has found new support from American Christians (BBC)

  • Give me shelter | For Palestinian gunmen, the Church of the Holy Nativity offers more than a physical refuge. Sanctuary law may be history, but it exists in spirit (The London Independent)

  • Under siege, fiercely longing for peace | Palestianian Christians are tired of the Church of the Nativity standoff (The New York Times)

  • Evangelicals, Jews build bridges | Israel isn't the only issue where they're working together: religious freedom, debt relief and other issues also bind them together (Samuel G. Freedman, USA Today)


Clergy abuse scandal:

  • Jesus' response? Don't ask Newsweek | The Newsweek article could be written off as just one more example of poor journalism, one more broadside against Christian values, if it didn't so accurately illustrate how our culture's moral values have been systematically dumbed down. (Tim Swarens, The Indianapolis Star)

  • With too much to lose, Congress holds its tongue | In the halls of Congress, where lawmakers are eager to offer opinions and hold hearings on virtually any topic, the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has generated a startlingly unusual reaction: dead silence. (The Boston Globe)

  • Focus on gay priests may be a powder keg | In the midst of the Catholic Church's widening sex abuse scandal, the relative abundance of gay men in the priesthood--a fact that for years was mostly ignored—has suddenly set off a divisive debate among American Catholics. (Chicago Tribune)

  • Bishops must balance civil, canon law in sex cases | America's Catholic leadership may talk of zero tolerance for sex offenders in the priesthood, but bishops have a 100% problem with shedding such men (USA Today)


Related Elsewhere

What is Weblog?

See our past Weblog updates:

May 8 | 7 | 6
May 3 | 2 | 1 | April 30 | 29
April 26 | 25 | 24 | 23 | 22
April 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15
April 12b | 12a | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8
April 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1