A year after a member of the Canadian Parliament proposed a bill that Christians say could censor Scripture, the mainstream media are finally catching up.
New Democratic Party MP Svend Robinson, sponsor of the hate crime bill, says there's no way a pastor would be prosecuted for preaching against homosexuality on the basis of the Bible.
"There's not an attorney general in the country anywhere at any level who would consent to the prosecution of an individual for quoting from the Bible," he told a House of Commons committee, according to Reuters. "An attorney general who tried something like that would be run out of town on a rail."
But just because the attorneys general wouldn't prosecute doesn't mean it wouldn't be illegal. Five months ago, a Saskatchewan court ruled under a different human rights law, that a pastor's quoting of Leviticus "exposes homosexuals to hatred."
Chimpanzees are human, say Wayne State University scientists
After finding 99.4 percent correlation between "key genes" in humans and chimpanzees, scientists from the Wayne State University School of Medicine say it's time to start monkeying with taxonomy. Chimpanzees, they say, should be considered humans and placed in the Homo genus under the Hominid family. They're currently part of the Pongidae family, which include other apes.
But the researchers' argument seems to suggest that it's humans who should be moved, not chimps. "We humans appear as only slightly remodeled chimpanzee-like apes," says the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Anatomy professor Morris Goodman, one of the study's authors, admits that part of his motivation for the change is political advocacy. "The loss of the [wild] chimp and gorilla seems imminent," he says. "Moving chimps into the human genus might help us to realize our very great likeness, and therefore treasure more and treat humanely our closest relative."
Well, now that we've decided that fetuses aren't really human, there's some extra room in our definition anyway. Come on in!
New Sweden church poisoning:
- Police: Poisoner did not act alone | Authorities say two or more people were involved in a plot to poison members of a New Sweden church last month, and they have narrowed their focus to six to 10 parishioners as possible suspects (Portland Press Herald)
- Police eye suspects in church poisonings (Associated Press)
- Amesbury woman is queried in arsenic case (The Boston Globe)
- At least two people poisoned Maine church, say police (Reuters)
- Ongoing investigation weighs heavily in New Sweden | Almost three weeks after the nation's worst case of mass arsenic poisoning, the stoic residents of tiny New Sweden remain mystified, anxious for answers about who committed the crime and why (Portland Press Herald)
- Antidote from WWI aids New Sweden victims | Eighty-five years later, a drug created to counter gas attacks is being used to treat arsenic poisoning. (Portland Press Herald)
Faith and spirituality:
- Finding grace on death row | My mother hated my father for giving her AIDS. I blamed them both, until a visit with a brutal murderer taught me to forgive (Diana Keough, Beliefnet)
- Evangelism's place in Christianity | If Christianity is to thrive into the new millennium, it seems clear that it will do so only if it responds in the same way it has in previous periods of history, and that is by a deep and searching commitment to evangelism (Gregory Elder, Redlands Daily Facts, California)
- Just because bad things happen it doesn't mean there's no God | Whoever said that God is good as good human beings are good? (The Times, London)
Bible and theology:
- A heated debate flares in Unitarian Universalism | The president of the Unitarian Universalist Association sparked quite a reaction when he asked members of the noncreedal movement to reclaim "a vocabulary of reverence." (The New York Times)
- Need a scapegoat? How about a demon? | Chances are you have a demon or two (Robert Kirby, Salt Lake Tribune)
- Christian archaeologist digs into Bible meaning | Author, scholar Jim Fleming speaks at local church conference (The Huntsville Times, Ala.)
- Abusing our power | Do Christians sanction cruelty to animals? (Charles Colson, Breakpoint)
- Earlier: Taming Beasts | Raising the moral status of dogs has created a breed of snarling, dangerous humans (Charles Colson, Christianity Today)
- Being stingy with God | Tithing dropped by 62 percent in 2002, says Barna Research Group (UPI)
- News reports illustrate brutality of a 'rite of passage gone awry' | Hazing is alarmingly prevalent in schools and churches (Religion Journal)
- Church joins university 'milk round' in hunt for young vicars | The Church of England is planning to compete with Britain's largest corporations by taking part in the university "milk round" as it attempts to recruit young vicars (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- A Christian community falters | Loss of leader, governing body hurts group formed in Boston (The Boston Globe)
- Silence of the Quakers | Heartland Friends is the largest of several unprogrammed Quaker groups in Wichita and the only one to have its own meetinghouse (Wichita Eagle)
Clergy sex abuse:
- Accused cleric put on leave | Thomas David James has been superintendent of the church's Northwest district for the past 2 1/2 years (The Oregonian)
- Auditors reexamine church sex abuse | Lay Catholic panel wants assurances dioceses are cleaning up scandal (The Washington Post)
- His People and his shame | A sex scandal involving a church leader considered a pillar of moral virtue has rocked the His People Christian Church in Goodwood, which strongly backs traditional family values (Norman Joseph, Cape Argus, South Africa)
- Alleged victim recounts rite to drive out demons | David Leonard, now 60, joins others in push to extend statute of limitations in clergy sex abuse cases (Times Union, Albany, N.Y.)
- Churchman 'raped and sexually assaulted his flock' | Douglas Goodman sexually assaulted four woman as he took advantage of his position as a father figure and spiritual leader, said prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis (PA News, U.K.)
- Many Catholic dioceses fight abuse claims | They have been challenging claims from alleged victims and resisting prosecutors' demands for personnel files, arguing both violate the constitutional separation of church and state (Associated Press)
- 1 in 5 teenagers has sex before 15, study finds | The report, an analysis of studies conducted in the late 1990's, offers a comprehensive look at the sexual activities of 12- to 14-year-olds (The New York Times)
- Gay rights a hot topic in Lutheran churches | This month, three metro-area ELCA churches have taken on three big debates (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
- Also: Two Lutheran churches in Twin Cities extend a hand to gay Christians (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
- Also: Gays and religion: Where some major denominations stand (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
- Church mired in debate over ordaining gays | Homosexuality in the church has divided the nation's largest Presbyterian body for 25 years, and the issue shows no signs of going away (The Denver Post)
- Church moves to defend new 'gay rights' bishop (PA News, U.K.)
- Church of England's gay rights advocate is made a bishop | Jeffrey John's appointment "will cause shock to many evangelicals," says Reform's Rod Thomas (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Movie stars need God more than ever | Pastor John Bright Anodebe of Star World Fellowship has now written and produced a movie which he says is a "great explosion" (Vanguard, Nigeria)
- TV networks clean up 'family hour' programs | "Dramatic decrease" in sexual content was the first decline noted by Parents Television Council in its eight-year history (The Washington Times)
- File under Rock/Pop | When X-Men is more Christian than gospel music (Mark Gauvreau Judge, Breakpoint)
- Mexico's Mennonite rocker bucks tradition | Martin Thulin does not practice the religion, but he flaunts his Mennonite roots when he performs, wearing traditional dress including denim overalls and a wide-brimmed hat (Reuters)
- Newspapers fall short on religious accuracy and context, study alleges | Stories about religion rarely discuss its beliefs, values and practices, says Curt Smith (CNSNews.com)
- Religion in American newspapers: A critique and challenge (Curt Smith, University of Rochester)
Interfaith relations and other religions:
- Islam is hardly the only religion with extremists | Yeah, sure, some Muslims kill people. But Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell said bad things about Islam, and that's just about as bad! (Anant Rambachan, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)
- Haitians say ancient religion is often misunderstood | Though Catholicism is the dominant organized religion in Haiti, voodoo is widely practiced in the country (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)
- Conservatives ask Christians to learn more about Islam | America's religious leaders have been "stuck on two extremes of over simplification," said Diane Knippers, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (Canton Repository, Ohio)
- In pond project, Christians and Muslims plant seeds of tolerance | Dallas Central Mosque and Arapaho United Methodist Church have opened their doors to one another and begun collaborating on community service projects (The Dallas Morning News)
- 100 dalits convert to Christianity in Bhojpur | Sources said the conversions were in protest against discrimination by powerful upper caste Hindus (Rediff.com)
- St. Thomas Aquinas embraces other religions | Catholic school learns strength of diversity (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
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