New Zealand government body wants Christian videos on homosexuality banned
In January, Weblog noted a few occurrences in which some critics and agencies sought to censor several films made by Christians. Now comes a more egregious example. A committee of the New Zealand parliament, wants to ban Christian films because they're critical of homosexuality.

The committee was critical of a 2000 decision by the Court of Appeal of New Zealand that allowed the distribution of two 1989 videos from the American company Jeremiah Films, calling them "hate speech" in violation of the country's Human Rights Act. Since the court supported the films, the parliamentary committee wants the law changed so that Christian films critical of homosexual practice can be forbidden.

The films don't appear to be the kind that will win many awards (or, for that matter, converts). Still, as Stephen Franks of the libertarian group ACT New Zealand tells The Dominion Post, "A vibrant free society needs robust debate on every issue. Censorship is justified when it is about putting age ratings on films or stopping child pornography but not when it tries to close down debate on issues that people feel strongly about."

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War with Iraq:

  • Pope has zeal, but no answer on Iraq question | He calls for "noble diplomacy" and "honest dialogue," but does not say what should happen if diplomacy and dialogue fail, as they have so often over the 12 years of international confrontation with the Iraqi regime (Marcus Gee, The Globe & Mail, Toronto)

  • The pope and the president | One person, George W. Bush, will decide whether there will be war. (Editorial, Des Moines Register)

  • Peace activist implores Pope to be `ultimate human shield' | `Only person' who can stop Iraq war. Helen Caldicott sets up the campaign (The Toronto Star)

  • Bush and his God are scary in Europe | "The God thing" replaces "the Israel thing" as the latest European attempt to figure out why the Americans are so eager to go to war in Iraq (Richard Reeves)

  • Bush, the Bible, and Iraq | What scares so many people outside the U.S. is the President's religious, apocalyptic rhetoric. Is he really ready for Armageddon? Not likely (Stan Crock, Business Week)

  • Baptist leader says Iraq war would be 'self-defense' | The president of the Southern Baptist Convention supported President Bush's call for war with Iraq on Thursday, saying it would be "self-defense and protective and preventive of future problems." (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

  • Dangerous waters | Will the U.S. nurture an Islamist Iraq? (Paul Marshall, National Review Online)

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Church life:

Missions and ministry:

  • People of faith do good works | It was Christians who built hospitals, helped the mentally ill, staffed orphanages, brought hope to prisoners, established 100 of our first 110 American universities, and spread literacy (Randy Beaverson, Juneau Empire)

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Church and state:

  • Sometimes a flag should make you a bit cross-eyed | A church's sanctuary is the wrong place for the American banner—or that of any other nation. (J.R. Labbe, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

  • Keeping God in the pledge | The intrusion is minimal enough that these references shouldn't be altered. Neither should the pledge (Editorial, The Oregonian)

  • 9th Circuit didn't diminish God | God has made more comebacks than Michael Jordan. Every time we think he has vanished from the public arena, he manages a return (Bill Cessato, The Wichita Eagle)

  • Ten Commandments challenge awaits ruling | The challenge involving a deposed Ten Commandments display at the Rutherford County Courthouse has been delayed until a federal appeals court rules on a nearly identical case from Kentucky (Associated Press)

Politics and law:

  • Confessions | With an intense lobbying campaign, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick managed to kill in 48 hours a proposed Maryland law that would require priests to report suspected child abuse they heard about in the confessional (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  • Pawlenty salutes faith-based initiatives | Gov. Tim Pawlenty took to the pulpit Thursday night at the NAE convention to endorse President Bush's efforts to funnel public money into faith-based social-action programs (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Also: Wooddale fitting host for evangelicals | When Gov. Tim Pawlenty welcomed the nation's leading evangelical Christians to the Twin Cities on Thursday, he did so in the sanctuary of his home church (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

  • Angel of the apocalypse | Texas is Bibles and guns, patriots and born-again Christians, righteous folk who believe in just retribution for murderers, whether in Dallas or Baghdad (Sydney Morning Herald)
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Persecution and violence:

Science and health:

Columbia and NASA:

  • Faith strong within NASA ranks | Faith is strong among NASA's astronauts, engineers and researchers (The Orlando Sentinel)

  • Small voice amid wreck speaks of life | The pieces of Columbia had barely floated to Earth when self-appointed messengers of God began to declare that the space shuttle's destruction was an act of divine retribution (Jonathan Gurwitz, San Antonio Express-News)

Pop culture:

  • Saints before soaps on Italian TV | While reality television shows are attracting large audiences in countries around the world, in Italy that format is taking second place to another ratings grabber - religious fiction (BBC)

  • Neighborhood menace | Mr. Rogers would have had nothing but kind words for the Rev. Fred Phelps (Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Mel Gibson's unholy Sunday | Mel Gibson is furious at The New York Times over a story that will depict him as a pope-hating, conspiracy-minded cultist (New York Post)

  • Also: Actor Mel Gibson takes up traditional Catholicism | After waging war against what they see as radical changes made by the Vatican, Catholic traditionalists have a new weapon: star power in the person of actor Mel Gibson, according to an article to be published on Sunday in the New York Times Magazine (Reuters)

  • Also: The greatest story, newly told | Mel Gibson on "The Passion," and the passion behind it (Raymond Arroyo, The Wall Street Journal)
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  • Swing low, sweet chariot | Miraculously, slaves plucked real inspiration from their masters' religion (The Christian Science Monitor)

Other religions and interfaith relations:

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Money and business:

  • Tax reform a moral issue, professor tells churches | Since publication of her 112-page article in the fall 2002 Alabama Law Review attacking the state's tax system on theological grounds, Susan Pace Hamill has spoken to about a dozen churches and many civic groups, making the case that Christian morality cries out for tax reform (The Birmingham News)

  • Religion motivates expat donors: Study | The study—for which 150 Indian Americans in Washington, DC were surveyed—found that Christians contribute more frequently and in higher amounts than Hindus (, India)

  • Christian retail on a mission | Specialty Christian stores have more competitors than ever (The State, S.C.)

Life ethics:

Sexual ethics:

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  • Wheaton grub rates all A's with students | For four consecutive years, Wheaton has landed at the top of a list ranking campus food compiled by The Princeton Review Guide: The Best 345 Colleges (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Wheaton College changes behavior 'pledge' | In the world of evangelical colleges, it was a moment to remember—a shift on roughly the same level as a single-sex school turning into a coed institution (Associated Press)

Prayer and spirituality:


  • Ministers express aversion to slots | The gambling world has a saying that "the house always wins." But what many church leaders in Washington County fear is that the losers will be the people of Maryland, both financially and spiritually. (The Herald-Mail, Hagerstown, Md.)

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Other stories of interest:

  • Religion News in Brief | Black church statistics, historic religious buildings in Pittsburgh, Disciples of Christ leader retires early, and other stories (Associated Press)

  • Morality amid technology | Gadgetry's brave new world tests our virtue (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Europe needs to remember religion | The "old" Europeans can become young again if we manage to rediscover a balance of reason and faith - if we counter the exuberance of Christian zealots in the New World with the wise insight of their history, and if we fight the inhuman excesses of Islamic extremism rather than showing cowardly tolerance (Heinz-Joachim Fischer, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

  • Village churches take fight for stolen brasses to U.S. | Parishioners at two churches in East Anglia have taken on America's museum establishment by demanding the return of three priceless tomb brasses stolen from the churches' flagstone floors in the 19th century (The Guardian, London)
  • Scotland is no longer Christian, says Pope | He said young people were beset by declining morals and indifference to religion, blaming the "powerful forces" of the media and entertainment industry (The Herald, Glasgow)

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