Cobb County adopts new evolution policy
The Cobb county school board voted last night to allow the teaching of alternate origins of species theories. Many of this morning's headlines on the vote announce that creationism is now allowed in the district's classrooms. The Associated Press says, "Ga. school district OKs creationism." CNN: "Ga. school board OKs teaching creationism."

This is exactly the interpretation of the board's actions that board chairman Curt Johnston apparently worried about when writing the board's only statement after making its decision. He said:

We seem to have been caught in the middle of a dispute between various parties who apparently want to use our curriculum to promote their own views. We expect teachers to continue to teach the theory of evolution. We do not expect teachers to teach creationism … Religion has no place in science instruction. The purpose of this policy is to foster critical thinking among students to allow academic freedom consistent with legal requirements to promote tolerance and acceptance of diversity of opinion and to ensure a posture of neutrality toward religion.

The new policy admits that evolution and other theories of origins are regularly debated and challenged in the science community. Thus, it allows teachers to show this debate in order "to foster critical thinking among students, to allow academic freedom consistent with legal requirements, to promote tolerance and acceptance of diversity of opinion, and to ensure a posture of neutrality toward religion."

In a broad-based curriculum, the policy reads, the "discussion of disputed views of academic subjects is a necessary element of providing a balanced education, including the study of the origin of species."

The much-anticipated board vote comes after a parent sued the district for distributing science books with disclaimers. Stickers inside the books warned that evolution should be critically evaluated because it is a theory and not a fact.

When the school board looked at its old policy on evolution instruction, discussion turned to amending it to include other theories. At the time, Johnson said the board wanted to provide open discussion in the classroom. His hope was that the policy would clarify for teachers what they could discuss.

The parent suing the district reacted to the new policy by saying, "I'll see you in court."

Other evolution stories:

  • Adam Vs. evolution | Creation scientist argues Earth about 6,000 years old (Tribune Star, Terre Haute, Ind.)

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  • Darwinism debate fails to evolve | If Columbia College wished to provoke emotion over creationism and evolution in school curriculums, its public "Dinner With Darwin" couldn't have satisfied many appetites. (The Chicago Tribune)

House passes abortion bill protecting hospitals
The House of Representatives has approved a bill that would allow hospitals and insurance companies to deny to perform or pay for abortions without the threat of losing federal funds. The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (H.R.4691) passed on Wednesday in a 229-189 vote mainly down party lines.

"This bill provides important protections for the conscience rights of healthcare professionals and providers," said Dr. David Stevens, executive director of the Christian Medical Association in a press release. "No one should be forced to violate their conscience by being coerced to take part in abortion."

The bill amends 1996 legislation (42 U.S.C. '238n), which gave health care entities protection against anti-discrimination suits if they declined to train in or perform abortions. The weakness of this legislation was vague language. In application, it has often only covered residency programs and training—and not healthcare professionals or hospitals themselves.

The bill is also significant for Catholic hospitals that merge with secular hospitals. Abortion groups have pressured the staff of the new institution to provide abortions because they were formerlyavailable at the secular hospital.

Focus on the Family calls this a major victory at a crucial time for pro-life advocates. However, observers don't expect it to survive the Democrat-held Senate. The bill may not even reach the Senate floor this year.

Before the House vote this week, President Bush endorsed the bill: "This legislation makes clear that they may not be subjected to discrimination by the federal government, or by any state or local government … because they oppose or choose not to participate in abortions or abortion training."

Other stories on abortion include:

  • The choice Nicole had to make | Nicole Appleton, former singer with all-girl group All Saints, has co-authored a book with her sister Natalie, in which she deals in some detail with the events surrounding her own abortion. (The Scotsman)

  • Abortion pill slow to win users among women and their doctors | Two years after the abortion pill was introduced in the U.S., abortion providers say that only a small percentage of women seeking abortions are using it. (The New York Times)

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Discussions on physical abuse and punishment
Three extreme cases of beating children have created new discussion of physically punishing youth. One case is a trial in Toronto against a nun who regularly beat children. While the cases of two mothers who recently beat their children in public are more about irrational temper than physical punishment, they have been the subject of interesting columns—especially the case of Madelyne Gorman Toogood. She beat her daughter in a department store parking lot (and was recorded by a security camera).

Columnists are discussing when a child should be pulled from a home, the tendency to rationalize sins, and when individuals should interfere in troublesome situations. In The Chicago Tribune, Focus on the Family's vice president of medical outreach gives a qualified endorsement of spanking.

Darby Christopher wrote this week for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution that cases like Toogood's have taken away the "gray areas" of parenting. "A parent either treats their offspring with the utmost patience and respect at all times," she writes. "Or abuses them, necessitating their removal from the home."

She argues that all parents lose their temper and the public needs to look at itself. Christopher writes:

As a culture, we are like the religious zealots who came to Jesus wanting to stone a woman caught in the act of adultery, only now we have a woman caught losing control and striking her child. To paraphrase Jesus' response, if there is a parent among us who without fear or hesitation would allow the world to view all of their parenting moments on videotape, may he or she cast the first stone.

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Berkeley study:


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Other religions:

Interfaith relations:


  • The legacy of Abraham | He is beloved by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Can this bond stop them from hating one another? (Time)

  • Also: Writing a new book of Abraham | Why Fieler believes that this figure's legacy could help unite the three religions (Time)

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Church life:

  • Church bucks trend toward informality | While a growing number of congregations nationally are relaxing dress codes and forsaking formal worship spaces, leaders of a Charlotte megachurch have begun preaching about honoring God by how you look and act (St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Charlotte Observer)

  • The mind and faith | For Christians, study is essential to a fully developed spirituality (Editorial, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo)

  • Some drawn to 'centering' prayer | One of its gurus, a Trappist monk named Thomas Keating, once was an abbot in Spencer, Mass. Keating, who now lives in Colorado, founded the practice, or rather resurrected it — he says contemplative prayer was practiced in medieval monasteries — 30 years ago (The Boston Globe)

  • A new generation of worship | Many parishes now offer family-centered programs, a fresh view of the Gospel (Springfield [Mo.] News-Leader)

  • Spiritual seekers often shun churches | Traditional religions inadequate, they decide (The Columbus Dispatch)

  • PowerPoint: Preachers' latest sidekick | More pastors are clicking their way through sermons (Religion News Service)

  • Even for Baptists, Sunday has grown less restful | It's a touchy topic, judging from telltale omissions in an Aug. 26 article on the plank for the Baptist Press news service (Associated Press)

  • Greek Orthodox Cathedral is reaching beyond ethnic roots | St. Sophia Church and its Latino neighbors are finding a unity of spirit that was long lacking (Los Angeles Times)

Christians and Israel:

  • Our Christian friends | The growing popularity of the annual Jerusalem march among Christians worldwide is a testament to the rising support Israel enjoys in various Christian quarters, particularly among Evangelicals in the United States (Editorial, The Jerusalem Post)

  • Christians show support for Israel | Some urge Sharon to be tougher with Palestinians (Associated Press)

Politics and law:

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Persecution and violence:


Church and state:

  • 'God' dropped from Honolulu Police Department oath | The department acts in response to a complaint that the language did not comply with the state Constitution (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

  • One nation under God? | Pledge case opens another front on separation of church and state issue. (Associated Press)

  • School district drops religious-speech ban | A Texas school district has revised a policy that caused an employee to be censured for using her office e-mail to send President Bush's proclamation that designated May 2 as the National Day of Prayer 2002 (The Washington Times)
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Other stories of interest:

  • Board Games' higher calling | Instead of buying up Boardwalk in "Monopoly" or climbing Gumdrop Mountain in "Candyland," players are saving lost souls in "Redemption" and wading through gefilte fish in "Kosherland" (Fox News)

  • Religion News in Brief | Anglican schism, praying Americans, Jim Bakker, Christians opposing Fred Phelps, and other stories (Associated Press)

  • Eritrea's 'spiritual father' dies | Since the early hours of this morning, Eritreans have gathered at the main Orthodox church in Asmara to pay their final respects to Abuna Filipos (BBC)

  • The unchurched | A new study puts Washington as the second most irreligious state. I'm not so sure. (David Klinghoffer, National Review Online)

  • Investigating history | A Tampa police veteran digs into the department's past to compile stories of historic proportion (St. Petersburg Times)

  • Pat Robertson praised in Quad Cities | Television host talks about prayer at breakfast meeting (Quad Cities Times, Davenport, Iowa)

  • Eviction of loud Christians overturned | Two Christians accused of frightening neighbors by praying too loudly in their apartment have had their eviction notice overturned (Canadian Press)

  • William Tyndale: A martyr's memory heals old wounds | Bible-translator brings Catholics, Protestants together (The Japan Times)

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