It's a tradition!
Ah, Christmas in mid-November. A time when stores are pushing aisles of decorations and Bing Crosby CDs but haven't yet started playing the yuletide tunes over the PA system. A time when forward-thinking Midwesterners string up the lights while they clean out the gutters. And a time when Samaritan's Purse again faces criticism for its popular Operation Christmas Child. Actually, criticism of Samaritan's Purse is becoming like Christmas at Hallmark stores: It's not just a seasonal thing anymore.
Frankin Graham's organization already saw some backlash last month, when the South Wales Fire Service dropped its support, saying the program was too religious.
Now, from merry olde England, come complaints that up the ante: the problem with Operation Christmas Child isn't that it's religious, critics say, it's the particular kind of religion that Samaritan's Purse promotes.
"A particularly toxic version of Christianity it is," Giles Fraser, a Church of England vicar and Oxford philosophy lecturer, wrote in Monday's edition of The Guardian. "This is the same outfit that targeted eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall and was widely condemned for following US troops into Iraq to claim Muslims for Christ … Across the U.K., children in multicultural schools are being encouraged to support a scheme that is, quite understandably, deeply offensive to Muslims." The relief effort, he says, amounts to nothing more than " promoting Christian fundamentalism through toys."
Samaritan's Purse has faced this kind of thing before. Last Christmas the debate was largely limited to Calgary. In March 2001 The New York Times criticized the charity, wrongly saying it mixed government aid funds with "seek[ing] converts among people desperate for help. And over the last year, Samaritan's Purse was the focus of much vitriol for its efforts to bring aid to Iraqis (see CT's recent article on what really happened when the ministry went to the country).
This latest round of attacks seems to be the most venomous yet. In a letter to the Guardian, Muslim Association of Britain spokesman Anas Altikriti called Operation Christmas Child "emotional and humanitarian blackmail." And Weblog has never seen SP accused of racism before.
It's all complete nonsense. Leftists' attempts to make Graham and Samaritan's Purse into anti-Islam boogeymen would the equivalent of trying to claim that Mr. Rogers was a radical gay activist.
Graham hasn't commented yet, but Samaritan's Purse U.K. executive director David Vardy earlier told the BBC that the ministry goes "to strenuous lengths" to make sure that evangelistic literature isn't included in the more than 6 million gift-filled shoeboxes sent to children in 95 countries. "Our leaflets which we give to anyone who wants to send a shoebox, contain specific guidelines on what to put into a box and what not to put into a box," he said.
Very clearly we tell people not to put in any literature that is of a political, religious, or racial nature. Furthermore, we actively check every box we receive and remove any such literature which we find.
Where it is appropriate, and in approximately half of the distributions it is not, a booklet of Bible stories, in the language of the country is offered separately from the shoebox. There is no obligation whatsoever on any child to receive a booklet.
The shoeboxes are given without discrimination and unconditionally to children regardless of their nationality, political background or religious beliefs.
At least one local Operation Christmas Child organizer, Bob Evans of Tameside, Manchester, is fighting back more directly against the accusations. Here's what he told the Tameside Advertiser:
We're not a fundamentalist organization, and I am insulted by the claims that our annual appeal is racist. Every shoebox is given unconditionally to children no matter what their ethnic background.
Our Christian partners in some countries do offer a small booklet with each shoebox but the youngsters are under no obligation to take it.
By spreading these rumors, people like Mr. Marshall are trying to deprive these underprivileged children of the only Christmas gift they're likely to receive this year.
I'm not a bitter person but this kind of whispering campaign does upset me. Our volunteers work hard to put a smile on the face of children who have suffered a great deal of pain and loss in their lives so far. There is no ulterior motive.
Samaritan's Purse's explanation is true, but that doesn't mean the lies about the organization will stop. There are still 41 more criticizing days until Christmas.
Mixing root beer and religion
One of the joys of Colorado ski country—apart from, you know, the great snow and runs—is the constant witness of an A&W stand along I-70 in Fresco. For the last several years, the restaurant has posted Bible verses on its 30-foot sign. A few weeks ago, however, the sign went blank.
But they are getting into it, and told the Summit Daily News that the reason it went blank (and now simply says "open") is that the A&W headquarters told the couple to stop quoting Scripture.
"We're in the restaurant business. We sell hamburgers and hot dogs and don't want to offend any of our customers, and we expect the same from our franchisees," A&W spokeswoman Virginia Ferguson told the paper.
The Drubenstedts are complying—for now. They say the verses will soon return, saying there is nothing in the franchise agreement barring such messages, nor prohibiting the Messianic Jewish evangelistic literature inside.
"We're not going to give up our Constitutional and religious freedoms," said Reuben, who is also pastor of Congregation HaShem, the local Messianic Jewish community. "I don't make my living selling hamburgers, that's just an aside to why I am here. It's not just about the money. This is God's restaurant."
They take that concept seriously: Profits go to missions, and employees are encouraged to engage in evangelism (and are given time off for Bible study, worship services, and other Christian activities).
The paper suggests that the corporate office was responding to complaints from local Jewish residents, and the local Anti-Defamation League says it has raised the issue over whether "the business fall[s] under the laws regarding public accommodation" and is "concerned for the rights of the employees who work there." (It could be worse: At least one pundit is suggesting that Messianic Jews be sued for "fraud.")
Synagogue of the Summit president Heidi Dickstein, however, says some of her parishioners are overly sensitive. "We've certainly noticed the Bible quotes, but most of the people I know have mostly just giggled over them," she said. "They have the freedom of speech and freedom of religion, just like everyone else in this country. We as Jews see evangelism as a sin, but we will support to the ends of the Earth the Messianic Jewish people's rights guaranteeing their freedom of religion and their freedom of speech."
Uh, yay? By the way, perhaps some other Jews can weigh in on that whole "evangelism is a sin" thing. Was Jonah right all along?
Politics and law:
- Continent wrings its hands over proclaiming its faith | Europeans ask if God and Christianity ought to be a part of the European constitution (The New York Times)
- Crescenta Valley Town Council members-elect part of another flock | Three are also congregants at Mormon church in La Crescenta but say it's only coincidence (News-Press, Glendale, Calif.)
- A memorial to politics | The National Park Service, responding to intense conservative criticism, is hoping to unveil next month what a spokesman said was a "more balanced" version of a video that has been shown since 1995 as part of an exhibit at the Lincoln Memorial. The current one implies that Lincoln would have supported abortion and gay rights (The Washington Post)
- Pledge backed in Dover | Two abstained from a vote that prompted a wide range of opinions (York Daily Record, Pa.)
- Trees at root of Trinity lawsuits | In a countersuit, the broadcaster claims neighbors damaged ficus trees to force removal (Daily Pilot, Costa Mesa, Calif.)
- For Bush, a light moment on a painful topic | At the BMW auto manufacturing plant in Greer, S.C., President Bush could not resist a quip about his history with compulsive drinking (The New York Times)
- Towey to talk about faith-based initiatives | White House director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is from city (The Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)
- Jails for Jesus | President Bush wants faith-based programs to take over social services. But what happens when evangelical Christians try their hand at running prisons? (Mother Jones)
- Qur'an controversy at One Police Plaza | Installation of Islam's holy book stirs debate about separation of church, state (Newsday)
- Group critical of God resolution | Measure would create intolerance, NCCJ says (The Knoxville News Sentinel)
- Unhappy in class, more are learning at home | At least 850,000 children nationwide are schooled at home, up from 360,000 a decade ago, according the Education Department (The New York Times)
- Jupiter Christian school defends expulsion of gay student | Says he violated school policy when he talked to other students about his sexual orientation (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
- Also: Jupiter Christian School: Student's mother broke 'contract' | Mother of expelled in August for being was required to go to arbitration rather than sue (The Jupiter Courier, Fla.)
- Students stage All-State chorus protest | Students from Rapid City Christian High School withdrew from a weekend performance of the All-State Chorus and Orchestra, saying the words in a piece commissioned for the chorus clashed with their Christian beliefs (Associated Press)
- West Palm parent protests devil mascot at middle school | Kenneth Locklear has offered to pay to rid the school of any banners or representations of the devil mascot (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
- Judge orders security bond for voucher plan | State is appealing ruling of unconstitutionality (The Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)
- Mohler remade Baptist seminary | Ten years after becoming president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, R. Albert Mohler Jr. has fulfilled the wildest dreams of his supporters — and the deepest fears of his detractors (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)
- Judson students experience reality of what it's like to be homeless | Thrown together with cardboard and wood planks, makeshift shacks dotted the Elgin campus of Judson College Tuesday evening (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)
- Spanking minister says he'd do it again | Jury found him not guilty in the so-called "holy spankings" of two boys (New Haven Register, Conn.)
- Earlier: Minister used 'holy rod' to keep kids in line | A Superior Court jury decided Monday that a Beacon Falls pastor didn't commit a crime when he spanked two young boys on their bare buttocks with a belt (New Haven Register, Conn.)
- Also: Minister acquitted of assault in spankings of two boys | Jury of six deliberated for an hour and a half (The Day, Conn.)
- Also: Connecticut minister acquitted of assault (Associated Press)
- Pastor is off the hook | A relieved Oliver - who could have faced up to 22 years in prison if convicted - stood outside the courthouse afterward with about a dozen supporters, who hugged and cried (Middletown Press, Conn.)
- Earlier: Brothers describe pain of spankings (New Haven Register, Conn.)
- Caribbean clergymen robbed at gunpoint | They were at a meeting to discuss crime and violence (Jamaica Gleaner)
- Minister gets life in prison for killing wife, child | Henry Hayes killed his wife and daughter because they threatened to ruin his chances of becoming a pastor at a "mega-church" in Long Beach, prosecutors said (Associated Press)
- Pastor's sentence must be reduced | Haywood ``Don'' Hall may have been pastor of the Greater Ministries International Church, but a federal appeals court says he was not in a position of trust when he and other church leaders bilked investors of more than $500 million (The Tampa Tribune)
- Jury convicts Floyd men of conspiracy | The charges stem from the sale of timber off land Christian survivalists did not own (Roanoke Times, Va.)
- Religious freedom gaining more attention | In the bleak business of monitoring religious rights violations, there is good and bad news (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
- Hindu backlash | Is India's Hindu nationalist government taking steps to rein in its own hardliners? (Time Asia)
- Orissa MLAs demand inquiry into mass conversion | Several members in the Orissa Assembly on Monday expressed grave concern over reports of alleged mass conversion into Christianity in Jajpur district and demanded an inquiry into the matter (PTI, India)
- Chinese province shuts temples, churches, group says | Authorities closed 392 temples and the churches was part of a campaign against "key members of illegal religious groups" (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
- Also: PRC closes 100s temples, group claims (Reuters)
- Coptic cathedral in Cairo hosts Ramadan Muslim prayers | The dusk prayer was held before the annual "iftar," the banquet which breaks the daytime Ramadan fast, offered by the Coptic patriarch, Pope Shenuda III (AFP)
- Faithfully polite | Mind your manners when attending another faith's religious services (Press of Atlantic City, N.J.)
- Also: Proper behavior in houses of worship (Press of Atlantic City, N.J.)
- US pastor warns anti-Semitism growing fast | "Global anti-Semitism is growing unlike anything I have seen in my lifetime," John Hagee said (The Jerusalem Post)
- Pakistan court sentences man to death for blasphemy | Police said Niaz Ahmed, who has the right to appeal, was convicted on Tuesday of using "abusive language" against Mohammad (Reuters)
- A rising tide of Muslims in Italy puts pressure on Catholic culture | The tension between the two worlds was apparent last month in an uproar over school crucifixes (The Christian Science Monitor)
- Stamp not very appropriate during times like these | At issue: A U.S. Postal Service stamp honoring the Islamic holiday Eid (Various readers, Daily Pilot, Costa Mesa, Calif.)
- Earlier: Someone's putting her foot down about a stamp | Eid stamp is boiling the blood of some of our most respected local residents (Daily Pilot, Costa Mesa, Calif.)
War on terrorism:
- Christian Arabs possible attack targets | As details emerge about the victims of last weekend's bombing, many observers believe their profile made them targets for the suspected al-Qaeda attack (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
- How to win the religious wars | Neither the bullet nor the ballot box will remove the religious terrorist threat (Oliver McTernan, The Guardian, London)
- Methodist bishops eye security issues | Plans for the discussion include debates on "the validity of phrases such as 'war on terrorism,' " civil liberties concerns and the U.S. role in confronting terrorism (Religion News Service)
- Lutheran leader advocates peace | Bishop Mark Hanson visits SR to honor Bethlehem church centennial (Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.)
- Quakers promote immigrant rights | Citing an increase in abuses since the Sept. 11 attacks, the group is asking those who have been victimized to step forward (Los Angeles Times)
- A race against time | A federally funded disability advocacy agency has begun an investigation into possible neglect and abuse of Terri Schiavo; her husband is in court to again remove her feeding tube. And a respected forensic pathologist is concerned about the events in 1991 that resulted in her present condition (Nat Hentoff, The Washington Times)
- Judge rejects Bush effort in Schiavo case | A judge Friday rejected an effort by Gov. Jeb Bush to dismiss a challenge to the law that allowed him to order that a severely brain-damaged woman be kept alive over her husband's objections (Associated Press)
- Women divided by new abortion law | Critics of new statute say president shows willingness (Tri-Valley Herald, Pleasanton, Calif.)
- Abortion is shaping up as key '04 election issue | The airing of a rights group's ad in Iowa and New Hampshire is the latest indication that an old debate topic will be back on the table (Los Angeles Times)
- Discussing the morality of capital punishment | Few debates are more emotional than a discussion on the morality of capital punishment. Yet the topic is also one that's been subject to marked shifts in public opinion in recent decades (The Christian Science Monitor)
- Public outrage prompts ban on baby sex selection | "Family balancing" will not be allowed, inevitably leading some parents to head for the United States, where sex selection is practiced (The Guardian, London)
- Also: Baby gender selection ruled out (BBC | video)
- Doyle vetoes marriage bill | Assembly gears up for attempt to override decision on defining union (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- Also: Wisconsin governor vetoes marriage bill | Jim Doyle says state law already clearly prohibits same-sex marriage and the legislation was "mean-spirited" (Associated Press)
- Rebel bid to outlaw gay ordination | Reforming Alliance of the Uniting Church of Australia wants the question put to individual congregations, which it believes will overwhelmingly reject gay ministers (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
- Monument from hell | Make room for a Matthew Shepard hate monument in a town square near you (Emily Bazelon, Slate)
- Gay Catholics act up | Confronting the bishops from within the church (The Village Voice)
- Two local churches remove 'Episcopal' from name | The churches now refer to themselves as St. Peter's Church in Uniontown and Christ Church in Brownsville. After their names, both add they are "a parish of the Anglican communion'' (Herald-Standard, Uniontown, Pa.)
- A spiritual house divided | Split: Members of St. Timothy's Episcopal Church upset by the installation of an openly gay bishop form a new congregation (The Baltimore Sun)
- Episcopal clergy meet to discuss gay crisis | Clergy from the Episcopal Diocese of Middle Tennessee gathered behind closed doors in Murfreesboro to discuss a growing crisis in the national church (WKRN, Nashville)
- Supporting B.C. churches right thing to do, says bishop | Yukon's Anglican bishop says he has no regrets taking steps that almost led him to being punished by church leaders (CBC)
- African provinces cut links with New Hampshire | Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria are some of the Anglican Provinces in Africa that have publicly severed ties (African Church Information Service)
- In U.S., as in Africa, Gene Robinson has tested ecumenical relations | In Anglican-Catholic ecumenical relations, there is always an obstacle to unity. And much of it has to do with gender and sexual-morality issues (The East African Standard, Nairobi, Kenya)
- The church should solicit state support against homosexuality | Christianity faces the biggest challenge from homosexuality because of its tendency to tolerate pop culture (Asuman Bisiika, New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)
- Bishop Senyonjo backs gay clergy | A retired bishop of the Church of Uganda has broken ranks with his institution and defended the consecration of the first gay bishop (The Monitor, Kampala, Uganda)
- Vanishing Zurbarans and a holy black hole The financial crisis in the Church of England (The Independent, London)
- Archbishop Nkoyoyo warns on scholarships | He says some of the scholarships are meant to lure people into homosexuality (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)
- Fighting talk from Holy Corner | The former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway is almost 70, but his desire to learn is undiminished and he is still crossing swords with the religious establishment (The Scotsman)
- WorldAlone movement comes to Austin area | If the WordAlone Network hasn't caused something resembling conflict, it has at least created a rift (Austin Daily Herald)
- Citing complaints, church cancels peace luncheon | Several complained about atheist communist speaker (Associated Press)
- Christ's disciples | With recent controversies in the Christian churches, such as claims of priests abusing children and the ordination of homosexuals, the new generation of clergy has much confronting it (The Washington Times)
- Worshippers flock to Raleigh | Churches with downtown addresses are growing, defying a trend toward flight to suburbia (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)
- Fire destroys supermarket and a church in Harlem | Calvary Christian Fellowship drew its congregation from across the city (The New York Times)
- A stained-glass window, once lost, now found | Packed away in boxes and seemingly untouched sat an antique stained-glass window taken three months ago from a house in Secaucus, N.J. (The New York Times)
- Church standing firm as culture shifts | Presiding Bishop Gilbert Earl Patterson, leader of the Church of God in Christ, is determined to lead his flock down the holiness path laid out by the denomination's founder almost 100 years ago (Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.)
- Russians laud Ivan the not so terrible | Loose coalition presses Orthodox Church to canonize the notorious czar (The Washington Post)
- 'Methodist Cathedral' celebrates founder | Duke Chapel has been called the "Methodist Cathedral," but it never felt more like it than on Sunday afternoon (Herald Sun, Durham, N.C.)
- Cathedral £4.5m in debt after millennium fiasco | The cathedral's national faith center was closed two years ago after disappointing attendances, with only 62 people turning up during its opening week (The Guardian, London)
- Old traditions, new challenges | Slavic church members fled persecution but now struggle with acculturation (The Oregonian)
Missions & ministry:
- On a mission from God | Philip Smethurst is training young adventurers to spread Christianity to the planet's wildest corners (Outside)
- Mobile ministry Jews for Jesus brings Messiah message | The team's purpose beyond one-on-one evangelizing is to educate churches about Jews and encourage them to witness to and pray for Jewish friends (The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W.V.)
- Student evangelists stress positivity | Many students walking or biking through White Plaza yesterday afternoon witnessed a display of Christianity very different from the one presented by two evangelists last Thursday afternoon (The Stanford Daily, Stanford U.)
- Red Cross under fire for shop ban on Jesus | The British Red Cross was criticised today for "banning" Jesus from its shops for fear of offending minority faiths. (PA, U.K.)
- Speaker: Faith can parry racism | Church work can beat bias, John Perkins says (Green Bay Press-Gazette, Wis.)
- Group helps church families aid the mentally ill | Virginia Interfaith Committee of Mental Illness Ministries works to teach Christians how to help those suffering from mental illnesses (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)
- Pastors bring counsel, conversation to the family table | Anyone who's visited New Community Church services in Marshall Middle School more than once probably has heard Senior Pastor Hollis Haff joke about his "office" at the nearby King's Family Restaurant (Ruth Ann Dailey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Protesters challenge citizens group at Lion's Den | Allegations of invasion of privacy, having children involved in Operation Daniel and calling people's homes and jobs are some of the reasons the group protested last night (The Abilene Reflector-Chronicle, Tex.)
- Shreveport bishop takes reins | Hoyt to guide liberal alliance of U.S. churches (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)
- Redefining omniscience | Theologians who contend that God doesn't know the future face fervent criticism—and expulsion from evangelical group (The Washington Post)
- Cracking the moral code | Scientists, politicians, financiers, doctors, civil servants, the clergy … it seems we don't believe in anybody any more. But in an increasingly secular society, how can we rekindle our faith in the common good? (Iain Macwhirter, Sunday Herald, Glasgow, Scotland)
- Picture this: Drawings for every verse of Bible | Project begun in '02 has 35,403 yet to go (Religion News Service)
- For God's sake | Teens open their wallets for a new breed of pop-culture Bible (Fortune)
- Religion books | Jeff Sharlet reviews Alan Wolfe's The Transformation of American Religion, Don Lattin's Following Our Bliss, and Mark Oppenheimer's Knocking on Heaven's Door (The Washington Post)
- Lunch with "Left Behind" author | Jerry Jenkins wants me to know that he's not an anti-Semite (Debra Pickett, Chicago Sun-Times)
- Hard times change life for new author | Bob Blair's Courage to Change gives readers a step-by-step guide on embracing change and becoming all God wants them to be (Peninsula Clarion, Kenai, Alaska)
- Churches find 'purpose' with book's help | Last month, over 4,000 churches began a 40-day campaign to explore the ideas about faith and the meaning of life presented in Rick Warren's bestseller, The Purpose-Driven Life (Fox News)
- Also: 'Purpose-Driven' movement | Best-selling book triggers wave of Bible studies as churches examine their strengths and weaknesses (Knoxville News Sentinel)
The Da Vinci Code:
- 'Da Vinci Code' generates discussion | Commenting on The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown's best-selling novel, has become virtually unavoidable (Leo Sandon, Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)
- Family-friendly Jesus sparks discussion | While the ranks of those who firmly believe Jesus was married are relatively thin, those willing to discuss such a thing seem to be growing (Kristen Campbell, Mobile Register, Ala.)
- Unexpected selections in a sacred program | George Steel's unconventional program at St. Paul's Chapel at Columbia University on Saturday included works by John Zorn, Varèse and Carl Ruggles (The New York Times)
- P.O.D. soldiers onward after lineup change | Breakup turned uncharacteristically nasty for a band that built a following on its Christian world view (USA Today)
- Also: 'We're Christian but our music isn't' | P.O.D. isn't the only band that with religious members that don't generally sing about their faith (USA Today)
- Tuning in to a higher power: Divine intervention hits pop culture | Humans are on easy speaking terms with God, with other heavenly emissaries or with the departed. It happens on television ("Joan of Arcadia," "Tru Calling"), in movies ("Bruce Almighty") and books ("The Five People You Meet in Heaven.") (The Columbian, Wash.)
- For God's sake, kids, Jesus isn't a profanity | "This generation of school-age children is the first with no residual memory, no image of church that they are rejecting - they have no reference points at all," says Ruth Powell, a researcher for the National Church Life Survey (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Thank the Lord for a religious show reflecting society | The Sword and The Cross, as the title succinctly implies, is an investigation of the history of religious conflict in Scotland, a subject that stretches from the arrival of the first missionaries from Ireland or Roman Britain all the way through to last month's Old Firm derby (The Scotsman)
- 'Gospel' truth—The Bible fails as a screen play | While narrator Christopher Plummer has a perfectly lovely voice, showing is almost always preferable to telling when it comes to film (The Orlando Sentinel)
- Apocalypse wow | God vs. Satan in NBC's end-of-the-world skein (Variety)
- Haunted Hollywood | The much-anticipated final entry in the Matrix trilogy, Matrix Revolutions, a disappointing film roundly and justifiably lambasted by critics, provides evidence that the story of Christ continues to haunt the most unlikely of communities (Thomas Hibbs, National Review Online)
- Artist offers computer blessings | Users can put their heads against their computer screens before printing out a certificate promising happiness (BBC)
- Also: God in the machine? | An art project launched by Tate Online today will guide visitors through a three-step ritual, which includes placing the forehead to the computer screen on a spot marked X (PA, U.K.)
Money and business:
- Charity money funding perks | Beyond the enormous paychecks some foundation trustees take, the Globe has uncovered evidence of charitable assets being used to pay rent for plush office space and health club dues and to buy luxury cars, Persian rugs, and fine art (The Boston Globe)
- Also: Some charity funds used for perks, travel (Associated Press)
- Integrate religious, moral traditions | The ethics of business (Frederick M. Denny, The Denver Post)
- Baptists cut budget as giving declines | The steepest decline in giving by Texas Baptists in two decades led to a sharp 14 percent budget reduction for the state convention (Houston Chronicle)
- Christian Expo brings blend of faith, creative retail | Vendors sold bookmarks and teddy bears with verses from Scriptures, sweatshirts praising Jesus and other religious paraphernalia (The Virginian-Pilot)
- Chaplains enter the workplace | Firms say religious representatives help ease employees' stress (Chicago Tribune)
- Capitalizing on Christmas | America's celebration is China's windfall (The Washington Post)
- Saying no dice to slots | Voters in a number of states last Tuesday emphatically rejected big-time gambling propositions (Editorial, The Washington Post)
- South Carolina Baptist Convention opposes gaming | South Carolina Baptists passed resolutions at their convention Tuesday in support of placing the Ten Commandments or Christian symbols in public places and against the Catawba Indians creating more gambling venues in the state (Associated Press)
- Casino plan transforms pastor into activist | Assembly of God leader Chip Worthington campaigns for RP 'family lifestyle' (Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.)
- Groups say priest shortage requires changes | The main proposed change: letting them marry (USA Today)
- Transit riders won't get a peek at this ad | The Toronto Transit Commission has rejected an ad for a fledgling online music service that depicts a young woman wearing a nun's habit and crucifix — and showing her midriff (The Toronto Star, via Relapsed Catholic)
Other stories of interest:
- Georgia Christians plan apology to Cherokee for 1800s removal | "We, as a group of Christians here, feel it's important that someone apologize for the sins of our fathers," said Mary Ellen Childree, a volunteer helping with the event. "Basically, it's just saying we recognize this happened." (Asheville Citizen Times, N.C.)
- Erasing of gender roles is sad goal of feminism | Now that I am older and, I hope, wiser, I believe that it is not feminism that will liberate women, but Christianity (Lorraine V. Murray, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Remembering their sacrifices | Christians are like soldiers on a spiritual battlefield, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told a gathering Tuesday at a Veterans Day chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)
- Religious leaders to debunk myths about donating organs | Traditionally, religion has been the No. 1 reason people give for not donating, but all major religions either actively support organ donation or leave the decision up to the individual (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)
- New Age explores the happiness of pursuit | Critics object to equating New Age thinking with religion, but its practitioners treat it with the same reverence and enthusiasm as traditional faith, if not with the same sense of mutual responsibility (David Yount, Naples Daily News, Fla.)
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