No commentary today. It will return on Monday.

Religious discrimination:

  1. House passes jobs training bill | Religious groups that receive federal funds to provide job training services could refuse to hire workers with different beliefs under legislation the House passed Thursday (Associated Press)

  2. US quietly eases rules for faith-based groups | The nation's leading job training program told to allow faith-based organizations to use ''sacred literature,'' such as Bibles, in their federally funded programs (The Boston Globe)

  3. New law will ban religious or sexual discrimination | Case law forbids workplace discrimination against Jews and Sikhs, and the legislation extends similar protection to Muslims (The Independent, London)

  4. Cross over a cross | Overreacting to an employee's religious jewelry (Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  5. Also: Pennsylvania teacher's aide suspended for cross (The Washington Times)

Politics and law:

  1. Dobson: No plans to bolt GOP | But he's still upset that few Republicans supported Santorum (

  2. Prayer breaks tradition | Prayer Breakfast invocation, usually a minute-long prayer for God's blessing on the meal, lasted an estimated 15 minutes and evoked hot-button political issues such as abortion and homosexuality (Northwest Herald, Crystal Lake, Illinois)

  3. Religious wrong | God's role in the Republican assault on the environment (Hartford Advocate, Conn.)

  4. No time to get squeamish | Too many Americans have already died of AIDS to allow research to wither because some Americans get the willies from terms like "anal sex." (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times)

Battle over Oregon's suicide law:

  1. Oregon defends assisted suicide law | Says U.S. Justice Department has no right to interfere with doctor-assisted suicide in Oregon because states have historically regulated the practice of medicine (Associated Press)

  2. Also: Oregon, U.S. battle in court over assisted suicide (Reuters)

  3. Also: Clash in court over Oregon's law on suicide | U.S. argues it has the right to stop physicians from letting the terminally ill have lethal doses of controlled drugs (Los Angeles Times)

Life ethics:

  1. Laci Peterson's kin back fetal protection | Legislation that would make it a crime to kill or injure a fetus while committing certain federal offenses against the mother received a strong endorsement yesterday from the family of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner (The Washington Times)

  2. Conn. Supreme Court: Fetus is body part | Ruling angers both sides of the abortion debate (Associated Press)
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Sexual ethics:

  1. The implications of waiting until 'I do' to do it | Sophomore Matt McDonald and his girlfriend Hannah Renk got married in his dorm room in October (The Review, University of Delaware, link via Obscure Store)

  2. Let's talk about sex | When the teenagers at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church tell their friends what they're learning in Sunday school, they get some interesting reactions (The Washington Post/Charlotte Observer)

  3. There's no such thing as premarital sex | As long as a couple intends to "sign" their marital love in a marriage contract (like baptism, a public sign of a personal, spiritual reality), then a sexual relationship can be affirmed as good, if not yet ideal (Daniel Harrell, Regeneration Quarterly)

  4. Also: Changing hearts | Harrell is right about one very important thing: Our current approach to sex is out of date (Roberto Rivera, Breakpoint)

  5. State ban on gay marriage upheld | A Marion County judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit seeking to lift a ban on gay marriages in Indiana (The Indianapolis Star)

  6. Gay marriage inevitable, Canada's Liberals told | Court rulings close door on other options, internal party memo says (The Ottawa Citizen)

  7. Gay pair: Baptism involves faith, not politics | Cabarrus group has severed ties with McGill Baptist over ceremony (The Charlotte Observer)

  8. Also: McGill Baptist's pastor was surprised by church's ouster | Ayers says he did not anticipate furor over baptizing gay men (The Charlotte Observer)

  9. Also: What is Cabarrus Baptist Association? (Charlotte Observer)


  1. Poison mystery widens after a suicide note | Police had said that a congregant's suicide note tied him to the arsenic poisonings at a Maine church, but now they are wondering if someone else was involved (The New York Times)

  2. Also: Suspect's cousin saw no troubling signs | Daniel Bondeson was in good spirits and scheduling social engagements in the days before he shot himself and became a suspect in a fatal arsenic poisoning at his church, he says (Portland Press Herald)

  3. Staines murder accused acquitted | This is the third time Dara Singh has been acquitted in a criminal case, but he's still on trial for murder (Indo-Asian News Service)

  4. Task force joins probe of fires at houses of worship | Sprinklers extinguish a blaze at an Encino synagogue in the fourth such incident in 11 days (Los Angeles Times)


  1. 'Garden of Eden' devastated under Saddam | In the purported Garden of Eden, lifeless trees stand amid trash, patches of dry grass and salt-encrusted mud—the remnants of once-lush marshlands (Associated Press)

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  1. Shia clergy push for Islamist state in Iraq | Majority sect builds up power base and ridicules western 'liberty' (The Guardian, London)

  2. Williams: no thanks for Iraq victory | The Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed his unwillingness to conduct a thanksgiving service for the end of the war in Iraq, fearing that it could appear triumphalist (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  3. Christians in despair over Shiite gains | In Iraq, a hope for true religious freedom is eclipsed by worries about newly assertive Muslim groups (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Religious freedom in Iraq | Few places on earth draw upon a richer religious heritage, and a sense of this mosaic underscores the enormity of America's task (Associated Press)

Social justice:

  1. Accommodation or abolition? | Solutions to the problem of sexual trafficking and slavery (Donna M. Hughes, National Review Online)

  2. Church answers runway prayers | Bishops join village battle to halt expansion of Heathrow (The Guardian, London)


  1. Three Indiana schools get $13.8m to wage peace | Church colleges have record of promoting alternatives to war (The Boston Globe)

  2. Texas heads to daily moment of silence in schools | Texas' more than 4 million public school students could soon start their day with a pledge of allegiance to the U.S. and state flags and a minute of silence where they can exercise their 'Constitutional right to pray.' (Reuters)


  1. University of Arizona to test power of prayer to help heal | Patients undergoing open-heart surgery will be the target of special prayers, to see if they will ease their pain and speed their healing. But they won't know if anyone is praying for them (Arizona Daily Star)

  2. Poll: 'Secularists' are mostly young | Most live on West Coast and are liberal, according to Gallup research (Religion News Service)

Pop culture:

  1. 'Matrix' world is all-consuming in mythology, mysticism | The film was really an amalgam of religious faiths disguised as an action flick (USA Today)

  2. Also: The Gospel according to Neo | Theologians and pop-culture experts see 'The Matrix' as a phenomenon shaping public opinion about religion (The Christian Science Monitor)

  3. 'Raves' for clean values | After hours of dancing, the kids here thirst for hydration and hunger for spiritual fulfillment. It's a rave—Christian-style (The Washington Times)

  4. Net effect | Click all ye faithful (Foreign Policy, link via Relapsed Catholic)

  5. Schlock of ages | The problem with Christian rock (Mark Gauvreau Judge, Breakpoint)

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  1. Two rappers tell a positive message | Lee Prince and Kevin Warr have proven themselves as the group 4th Soil. They're a part of a larger group called Southern Christian Klique (KPOM, Arkansas)

  2. Sinead plans to teach religion | "As well as being a religion teacher my plan is to work as a 'visiting' church singer" (

Missions and ministry:

  1. Tending his flock | Evangelist spreads message of faith 'when the world is in turmoil (San Diego Union-Tribune)

  2. Also: 54,000 admire an aging Graham (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Also: Religious shop gearing up for Billy Graham | Following Billy Graham's mission in San Diego, Berean Christian Bookstore is expecting a run on religion (KFMB, San Diego)

  4. 'Jesus' videos arrive in Roanoke for distribution throughout valley | Nearly 100,000 videos will go out (The Roanoke Times)

  5. Spreading the word | Local woman sneaks bibles into China (Pahrump Valley Times, Nev.)

Church life:

  1. Baptist power struggle lands on campus of Mars Hill College | Faculty members have voted 72-0 against a search committee's pick for president (Asheville Citizen-Times)

  2. Williams date splits evangelicals | The Church Society wants the Church of England Evangelical Council to withdraw an invitation to the Archbishop of Canterbury to speak later this year (The Times, London)

  3. For heaven's sake be quiet | A church minister who was fined over the racket made by his congregation's singing, clapping and loud music has lost a bid to overturn his conviction (Reuters)

  4. Kirk facing 'huge' budget cuts | The Church of Scotland must make "huge" budgetary cuts of at least £2.3m over the next five years, according to its latest finance report (BBC)

  5. Hundreds of British churches to be wiped off the map | In an act of cartographic deconsecration, the Ordnance Survey is to remove from its maps symbols of churches that are no longer used as places of worship (The Times, London)

History and artifacts:

  1. Hutterite history, culture explored | Senior center planning trip to colony (Aberdeen [S.D.] News)

  2. Dead Sea Scrolls coming to capital | Exhibition starts in December at Museum of Civilization (The Ottawa Citizen)

  3. Bone (box) of contention: The James Ossuary | Did this limestone box—the focus of heated controversy—once hold the bones of Jesus' brother? (Skeptical Inquirer)

  4. Star-gazers pinpoint the hour Jesus died | Liviu Mircea and Tiberiu Oproiu from the Astronomic Observatory Institute in Cluj, Romania, said yesterday that research carried out using a computer program checked against Bible references showed that Christ died at 3pm on Friday, April 3, 33 AD, and rose again on Sunday, April 5 at 4 a.m. (The Herald, Glasgow)

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  1. Also: Astronomers 'pinpoint time and date of crucifixion and resurrection' (Ananova)

  2. Preserving Samaritan speech | The Samaritans, arguably the people with the best press in the New Testament, have a big problem: not only have they shrunk to a miniscule community, but their language is threatened with extinction (UPI)


  1. How to find a church 101 | Carmen Renee Berry's new book, "The Unauthorized Guide to Choosing a Church," will be read. But will it help? (Kristen Campbell, The Mobile Register, Ala.)

  2. The Word of God, written by committee | Adam Nicolson's book takes on the daunting task of explaining the process behind the creation of the King James Bible (The New York Times)

Faith in the newsroom:

  1. The faith connection | The news events of the last 18 months have shown us that religion reporting is important, and it's becoming even more so (Diane Connolly, Poynter Institute)

  2. Past as prologue? | Many religion-beat veterans are proud of their work but feel like Rodney Dangerfield in their newsrooms. Editors say they know religion is news, but religion-beat stories seemed too boring, or too controversial, to warrant dedicated coverage (Terry Mattingly, Poynter Institute)

  3. Confessions (and counsel) of a religion writer | I looked like a big, fat loser to all the people whose zoning decisions, elections, sit-ins, and scandals I'd covered (Deborah Caldwell, Poynter Institute)

Britain's saint:

  1. Which saint is best for England? | St George should be replaced as England's patron saint by St Alban, according to a poll of BBC radio listeners released on Monday (BBC)

  2. St Alban slays St George to be our favorite saint (The Daily Telegraph, London)


  1. PETA removes pro-vegetarian billboard that upset some Christians | Had a picture of a squint-eyed pig next to the words: "He Died For Your Sins. Go Vegetarian." (Associated Press)

  2. Earlier: PETA sign equates pig with Lamb (News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)


  1. Stirring the pot | Despite mounting criticism, Carlton Pearson says everyone—even the devil—may be saved (The Dallas Morning News)

  2. Earlier: Called to Account | Tulsa Pentecostal pastor defends his universalism before bishops (Christianity Today, Apr. 30, 2003)

Tony Blair:

  1. Unease as Blair lays soul bare | Kamal Ahmed assesses the political fallout of Blair's declaration of faith in 'his Maker' (The Observer, London)

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  1. Thank God for politicians who take their cue from above | Faith will have taught Blair and Bush humility, conscience and responsibility (Michael Gove, The Times, London)

Other stories of interest:

  1. Wish you were here | Evangelicals blast Graham for past remarks on Islam, but say they regret he didn't have a chance to defend himself (World)

  2. Casino ethics | What do religious traditions say about gambling? (Dale Buss, The Wall Street Journal)

  3. Abusing our power | Do Christians sanction cruelty to animals? (Charles Colson, Breakpoint)

  4. Clergy confab examines religion's role in conflict | Martin Marty, others weigh in on fundamentalism and the religious response to strangers (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  5. Moscow may help pave way for papal visit | Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday that Moscow would be willing to help arrange a high-level meeting that could lead to the first visit by a pope to his country (Associated Press)

  6. Religion news in brief | Pope names successor for troubled Dublin archdiocese, small congregations are key to Episcopal Church's growth, and other stories (Associated Press)

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