Samaritan's Purse dissed again
Parents in the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta, want the Samaritan's Purse program Operation Christmas Child banned from public schools, reports the CBC. The program, which is in 1,100 Canadian schools and thousands of other sites in the U.S., U.K., Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, and Finland, asks students to pack a shoebox full of gifts for kids in developing countries. But some parents say it's all just a ploy for proselytizing.

"They're not just flying into a country and dropping boxes to whatever little child is standing there wanting this box," Rita Sirignano told the radio network (audio). They're really pressuring the children into conversion. "If I wanted my child to be proselytizing … I would send him to a Christian school," she said.

Samaritan's Purse spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht says Sirignano is missing the point. "In countries that we have been given permission to do so, we do tell these children we are Christians and that we are compelled by the love of God to do this and we want to bless these children," he said. About 6 million shoeboxes will be distributed in 100 countries on six continents.

We've been here before. In March 2001, The New York Timesinaccurately criticized Samaritan's Purse, saying that while workers aided earthquake victims in El Salvador with government funds, they found time to "preach, pray, and seek converts among people desperate for help."

Call the hate crime police. Between this and the coverage of slain missionary Bonnie Penner Witherall, it's clear that many people see aid and relief work motivated by Christian mission as a force for evil, not good.

GOP agenda: Abortions, faith-based initiative, abstinence, and fatherhood
"With Democrats no longer blocking their way in the Senate, President Bush and Republican congressional leaders plan a more vigorous push on their social policy agenda by trying to limit abortions, provide greater support to religious groups, and increase funding for sexual abstinence and fatherhood programs, according to White House officials and key lawmakers," The Washington Post reported on Monday's front page.

"The only places where these ideas are considered bad are on the two coasts," says Senate Majority Leader-elect Trent Lott. "Where the meat is in the sandwich, the rest of America, these are pretty mainstream ideas."

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans
Weblog will be on vacation Thursday and Friday for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. We'll be back Monday.

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Christians and Israel:

Persecution and violence:

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  • An assault on secularism | The Tamil Nadu government's bill against religious conversions is an assault on secularism, a basic feature of the Constitution, which was championed by the pioneers of the Dravidian movement.  (Aladi Aruna, Frontline, India)

  • Also: Extremists try to crush untouchable leap of faith | Conversion will not immediately guarantee a better life but that does not seem to worry the dalits of Gurgaon, who are more concerned about leaving a system they see as oppressive (The Scotsman)

  • New Belarus law codifies rising religious repression | The new law outlaws regular meetings of worshipers of any faith not registered with the state, and strictly limits the places where even registered faiths can hold services (The New York Times)


Church and state:

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  • Ohio union agrees to honor religious objections | Facing religious discrimination charges, an Ohio teachers union has agreed to send a member's dues to a charity because the union's social advocacy violates her religious beliefs (The Washington Times)

What Would Jesus Drive? campaign

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Sexual ethics:

Sex abuse scandals:

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Church life:

Missions and ministry:

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  • Good deed called into question | He's not stealing that shopping cart. It's his ministry (The Troy [Ala.] Messenger)

  • The children's crusade | Hotel Chaplaincy Australia (HCA), a 500-strong team of young Bible-literalist Jesus-freaks, is out to temper the savage heart of the annual schoolies bacchanal on the Gold Coast (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Pentecostal pastors float new Christian association | A new Christian body, Pentecostal Christian Association of Nigeria (PCAN) has been inaugurated to unite Christians and address what the leaders call the problem of confusion, disillusionment, loss of faith and exploitation in churches in the country (This Day, Lagos)

  • Solomon Islands Health Ministry rejects religious criticism | Rejects calls to ban campaigns promoting the use of condoms as a means to avoid sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies (Radio Australia)

Money and business:



Pop culture and music:

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  • Also: Bill 'will damage music in churches' (The Times, London)

  • Engaging God with music | In a curious way, many American Protestants are in the process of going back in liturgical history to pre-Reformation times, becoming increasingly passive in worship where their forebears had been active (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)

  • Hymns' role after 9/11 disasters | "Hymns of Hope and Healing" is based on the 11 September terror atrocities and tells the story behind a number of timeless hymns which have provided hope and inspiration to people working at Ground Zero (BBC)

Other articles of interest:

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