The dumped priest who wouldn't go away
According to Qatar News Agency, President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw have all been forever banned from the Church of the Nativity, which tradition holds is the site of Christ's birth.

The ban is a protest against "the aggressive war these leaders have waged against Iraq," a priest named Father Panaritus told the news agency. "They are war criminals and murderers of children. Therefore, the Church of Nativity decided to ban them access into the holy shrine forever."

Don't be quick to believe the story. For one thing, a Google search for Panaritus turns up absolutely nothing, suggesting that this priest isn't someone with a lot of clout. (Islam Online spells it Banar Teyous, but that comes up empty, too.)

For another, the ban was initially reported as coming from Attallah Hanna, whom Islam Online calls "spokesman of the Orthodox Church in the Holy Lands." Liars. The Greek Orthodox Church has long distanced itself from Hanna, who was famously quoted as supporting Palestinian suicide bombers. He still has supporters in the church, but he's not the spokesman for anything but himself—but that won't stop the Arabic press from calling him the spokesman for Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land.

Islam Online also has a report from Hanna calling for U.S.-led soldiers in Iraq to "defy the orders of their commanders, refrain from striking Iraqi buildings, lay down their weapons, and go home." And he's particularly upset with Congress's call for a national day of humility, prayer and fasting. "The Senators and the Congressmen should better take the decision of pulling the barbaric and invading troops from the Iraqi territories," he said. "No matter how long they pray, God will rebuff their prayers, because they are supporting mass killing and terrorism, particularly in Palestine and Iraq. One should first purify himself/herself from arrogance and haughtiness to make God accept his prayers."

Episcopal bishop says Jesus was a sinner
In an Easter message in the April issue of The Pennsylvania Episcopalian (pdf, see p. 2), the local bishop writes that Jesus was a sinner. "This is what causes fear - Jesus forgives sins," Charles Bennison Jr. writes in "The Challenge of Easter." "He claims the authority of God in doing so. His resurrection vindicates his claim. He acknowledges his own sin. He knows himself to be forgiven. His call is to preach repentance and forgiveness."

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For those who have forgotten, the Bible repeatedly teaches that Jesus "committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth."

Conservative Anglican writer David Virtue responds to Bennison in his Virtuosity newsletter. He notes that the bishop isn't orthodox on several points, but that this one is particularly egregious. "The bishop has written a Visigoth Rite of marriage for both heterosexuals and homosexuals; failed to affirm basic doctrines of the Christian Faith such as the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only way of obtaining salvation, the authority of Scripture and more. … The truth is there is no historic parallel in contemporary ecclesiastical history for the bishop's latest outrage. While a number of bishops publicly repudiate the efficacy of the atonement, deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, scoff at the Virgin Birth and much more, no bishop has publicly stepped forward and said that Jesus himself was a sinner."

More articles

Religious response to Iraq war:

  • Prelate reassures Catholic soldiers | Service in Iraq war sanctioned (The Washington Post)

  • Area clergy cope with Iraq war | Though Crofton ministers are supporting U.S. troops in Iraq, they say the war has challenged them to reconcile devotion to country with their devotion to God (The Capital, Annapolis, Md.)

  • Clerics, laity disagree | Antiwar rhetoric rings from many U.S. pulpits, but the people in the pews support President Bush's policy in Iraq. U.S. Christians back war with Iraq by about a 2-to-1 margin (The Washington Times)

  • Conscientious objector numbers are small but growing | Antiwar groups say that an increasing number of military personnel are calling antiwar hot lines to say they do not want to fight in Iraq for religious, moral or political reasons (The New York Times)

Iraq relief efforts:

God and America:

  • Do God and country mix? | Some congregations embrace expressions of patriotism while others are more reserved (The Dallas Morning News)

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End times speculation:

Historical Iraqi sites:

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Fears of religious backlash from war:

Other stories on war or Iraq:

  • Iraq's place in the Bible | In a recent story in the Wall Street Journal, writer David Klinghoffer argued that the region we now know as Iraq has more claim on the title "Land of the Bible" than present-day Israel (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • Identifying when race, faith are relevant | When Sgt. Hasan Akbar was accused of rolling grenades into the tents of his superiors in Kuwait, killing and wounding fellow Americans last month, one of the fragments sent hurtling into war coverage was this volatile question: When do you identify someone by race or faith? (Keith M. Woods, The Poynter Institute)

  • AWOL soldier seeks sanctuary in church | Fort Hood soldier Ralph Padula tried for months to obtain conscientious objector status (Austin American-Statesman)

  • A letter from the frontline | "We take action against our enemies and against the enemies of humanity. That leads to a momentary peace because true peace will not come until the return of Christ." (CPL Bryce D. Mitchell, Benton [Ark.] Courier)

  • Iraqis detained in Mexico sent to San Diego to seek asylum | Chaldeans entered Mexico illegally (Associated Press)

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History and artifacts:

Sexual ethics:

Clergy sex abuse:

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Life ethics:

Politics and law:


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Pop culture:

  • Mel's Jesus not everybody's messiah | Moviemakers know that a dose of pre-release controversy can work wonders for their films at the box office. But even such modern marketing techniques don't quite explain the flak Mel Gibson is drawing over the film he is making based on the final hours in the life of Jesus (Chris McGillion, The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Some churches want schools to ban 'Harry Potter' | Activist Antonio Rivera did not specify which churches, but described them as "Reformed Protestant" (New Haven Register)

  • Vegetables dish up story of Jonah | Giving children the chance to enjoy stories from the Bible with the help of a bunch of animated edible plants is a prime goal of Big Idea Productions (The Washington Times)

  • Chapel jitters for Russell Crowe | Crowe has made the building a nondenominational place of worship, embracing many different beliefs from Christianity to Maori lore and the ancient Nordic religion represented by Odin's cross (Sydney Morning Herald)

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