PBS/U.S. News & World Report survey of evangelicals has some surprises
Evangelicals have been surveyed many times over, so it seems unlikely that another survey will turn up anything new about who evangelicals are and what they believe.

Even surveys that repeat the basics can be helpful to non-evangelicals who have mistaken views about such believers. But a new survey commissioned by PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and U.S. News & World Report magazine has some results that many evangelicals will find surprising.

Many of the results really are predictable—in fact, some go to the heart of what it means to be evangelical. "White evangelicals hold a conservative set of religious beliefs about the interpretation of the Bible and salvation from personal faith alone," the survey says (it breaks out white evangelicals from African-American and Hispanic evangelicals, though the survey shows the same can be said for evangelicals as a whole). "They are also deeply committed to their religious imperative to spread their faith."

Evangelicals incorporate their faith into daily life; they volunteer, give to charity, are concerned with moral values, oppose gay marriage, and tend to be politically conservative. They don't really attend megachurches (only 14 percent go to churches with more than 1,000 members) and aren't enthusiastic about a federal marriage amendment (a majority say the issue is best left to the states). For the most part, we've heard that before, but much of it bears repeating.

Here's some numbers you haven't seen:

The media often look to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to speak on behalf of all evangelicals, yet less than half of all evangelicals themselves (44%) have a favorable view of Falwell, and only a slight majority (54%) view Robertson favorably. In contrast, evangelical leaders Franklin Graham and James Dobson are both viewed favorably by 73% of all evangelicals, and Pope John Paul II is viewed more favorably by all evangelicals (59%) than either Falwell or Robertson.

On the political front, John Kerry is viewed favorably by 23 percent of evangelicals (18 percent of white evangelicals), and Bush by 61 percent (69 percent of white evangelicals).

There are interesting findings on the culture-wars front, too:

There are notable discrepancies between how evangelicals think members of the wider society view them, how they view themselves, and how society says it views evangelicals. A strong majority (72%) of all evangelicals feel the mass media are hostile to their moral and spiritual values. Almost half (48%) believe that evangelical Christians are looked down upon by most Americans. And 75% of all evangelicals say they must fight to make their voices heard. In contrast, less than half (46%) of non-evangelicals think evangelicals must fight to be heard, and only 35% of non-evangelicals think Americans look down on evangelicals.
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They may feel mistreated, but when it comes to challenging actual persecution in hostile nations, white evangelicals say it's not as important as making America strong:

White evangelicals prioritize the "strength" issues when it comes to the United States' foreign policy agenda. In this way, their political attitudes seem to be more influenced by their political conservatism than the altruism of spreading their faith or doing God's work abroad. When it comes to international priorities, they think first of those that will keep America safe from foreign aggression. Homeland security and the war on terrorism are the top priorities for white evangelicals, rather than reaching out to the disadvantaged or even protecting the rights of religious minorities such as Christians in other countries.

With more than 150 questions, there's much more to this survey, and both Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and U.S. News & World Report will be looking more deeply at the numbers and what they mean, starting with this weekend's PBS broadcast (check local listings). Religion & Ethics Newsweekly's web site has posted the survey results (PDF | DOC), the questions (PDF | DOC), and the methodology (PDF | DOC).

Look out below
While Weblog rejoices in the Resurrection on Easter Monday, professionally it's is always a day of trepidation, since the world's mainstream media inevitably break out loads of religion stories. This year, with The Passion, marriage debates, and other major religion stories, it's almost unbearable. There are many important news stories below, including persecution against Christians in Indonesia, Vietnam, and China (hey, white evangelical folks, religious freedom abroad really is an important issue), ELCA abuse trial and settlements, and the religion angle of the Iraq hostages.

Indonesia | China | Vietnam | Religious freedom | Terrorism | Iraq | Rwanda and Sudan | Nigeria | Israel | Crime | Abuse | Life ethics | AIDS | Politics | Church and state | Church life | Easter | Catholicism | Pope John Paul II | Jesus | Archaeology | The Passion of The Christ | Film | Television | Music | Art | Books | Media | Business | Popular religion | Youth | Education | Missions & ministry | Mormonism | Atheism | Spirituality | Sexual ethics | Same-sex marriage | Other stories of interest

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Indonesian church attacked:

  • Gunmen attack Indonesian church | Seven people have been wounded in a shooting at an Easter church service on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (BBC)

  • Seven hurt as gunmen attack Poso church | Two unidentified gunmen stormed into a church in the troubled region of Poso on Saturday night, firing a hail of bullets at a congregation attending an Easter sermon and injuring seven, including a four-year-old girl (The Jakarta Post)

  • Elite police personnel arrive in Poso | More than 300 additional paramilitary police arrived in the religiously-mixed regency of Poso, Central Sulawesi, on Monday after an new attack on a church over the Easter weekend injured seven Christians (The Jakarta Post)

  • Christians blast police over Easter shooting | The protest was swiftly staged by residents in the predominately Christian town of Tentena around one hour after the attack on Tabernacle Church in Kilo village, Poso Pesisir subdistrict, which injured seven people including a four-year old girl (The Jakarta Post)

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  • Communists seize 'underground' bishop | The Vatican has issued a forthright condemnation of the Chinese authorities after a Catholic bishop was seized from his home outside Beijing and thrown into a secret detention centre over Easter (The Telegraph, London)

  • Chinese dissidents meet for Easter lunch | Only some in the group are Christians, but members use Christian holidays to disguise political forums as religious gatherings (Associated Press)

  • Going global with God | Chinese Christians are hoping to spread their message to the Muslim world (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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  • Vietnam's Central Highlands in lockdown | Vietnam's Central Highlands remained sealed off Monday by police and security officials following protests by hundreds of ethnic minority Christians over Easter weekend (Associated Press)

  • Update: U.S. seeks access to Central Highlands | The United States has asked the Vietnamese government to allow it into a volatile area in the Central Highlands where police silenced protests by ethnic minority Christians over Easter weekend, an official said Tuesday (Associated Press)

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Religious freedom:

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  • Church leaders denounce evils of terrorism | The evils of terrorism and genocide were denounced by Church leaders yesterday, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, saying the Resurrection showed that God valued every human life (The Telegraph, London)

  • British Muslims hit back at archbishop of Westminster | The Muslim Council of Britain hit back at the archbishop of Westminster for saying Muslim leaders were not doing enough to denounce activists who carried out attacks "in the name of Allah" (AFP)

  • Earlier: Cardinal criticizes Muslim 'silence' | The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has echoed criticism of Muslim leaders for not doing enough to denounce acts of terrorism (BBC)

  • Heed not the fanatics | Only by rebutting fundamentalism in all its forms can we stop ourselves being plunged into a new Dark Age (Will Hutton, The Observer, London)

  • Waistlines as frontlines | Apparently, we could be at the start of a religious war with those of the Islamic faith (Jimmy Breslin, Newsday)

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Iraq hostages:

South Korean missionaries released in Iraq:

  • Detained South Korean missionaries released | The group had been stopped at a checkpoint on a road from Amman, Jordan, to Baghdad, and were held for about nine hours (Associated Press)

  • S. Korea keeps plan to send troops to Iraq | The missionaries were released unharmed Thursday after they pretended to be doctors and nurses and even gave their captors massages, the Foreign Ministry and one of the missionaries said (Associated Press)


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Rwanda and Sudan:

  • Remember Rwanda, act on Sudan | The memory of Rwanda is a call to conscience in Sudan. There are other reasons, though, to be worried about the conflict there (Editorial, The Washington Times)

  • Rwanda's lesson: 'Never again' | As much as our American presidents say "Never again" with heartfelt passion, the reality too often has been, "Yes, again," to mass killings (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune)

  • Where is the world? | It is probably news to most Americans, but in the far western region of Darfur in Sudan, the killings, abductions and organized rapes have become what Mukesh Kapila — the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan — says is "the world's greatest humanitarian crisis, and I don't know why the world isn't doing more about it." (Nat Hentoff, The Washington Times)

  • Rwanda's resurrection of faith | Pews were packed Sunday with Easter worshipers, many of whom had left after the church's role in the 1994 genocide (The Christian Science Monitor)

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  • Christian group quits peace talks with Muslims in Kaduna, Nigeria | An umbrella group representing various Christian churches in Nigeria said on Friday it had pulled out of peace talks with Muslims in the volatile northern Nigerian state of Kaduna after accusing Islamic militants of mounting a new spate of attacks on Christians across the north (IRIN)

  • CAN, JNI trade accusations over Makarfi riots | Christian, Muslim groups addressed separate press conferences in the state, accusing each other of incitement (Vanguard, Lagos, Nigeria)

  • Before another bloodbath | We are worried about the frequency of these riots which often claim lives. More worrisome is the failure of the Nigeria Police to bring any of the culprits to justice (Editorial, P.M. News, Lagos, Nigeria)

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Israel denies priests entrance:

  • Hounded out of the Holy Land | Israel has refused to renew the visas of more than 100 members of the clergy and church volunteers in what the Christian churches are claiming is part of a conspiracy to reduce their numbers in order to preserve the Jewish identity of the state of Israel (The Scotsman)

  • An Easter story in Jerusalem: Israel accused of discriminating against Catholic priests | Senior Catholics in Rome and Jerusalem said yesterday the delays breached an agreement between the Vatican and Israel in 1993 guaranteeing the rights and freedoms for the Church in the holy land (The Independent, London)

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  • Opening statements set in Lutheran trial | A regional Lutheran synod is the only remaining defendant in a civil lawsuit filed by 14 people allegedly molested by a former pastor with a questionable past (Associated Press)

  • Earlier: Judge approves Lutheran abuse settlement | A judge approved and sealed a settlement Monday involving the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and 14 alleged sex abuse victims who claim church officials ignored warnings about an errant minister who was later convicted of molesting boys (Associated Press)

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Life ethics:

  • Is Unborn Victims of Violence Act a good law? | Religious leaders respond (Los Angeles Times)

  • Fantasy doctors meet bioethics | We inhabit a time and place in human history rife with irresistible scientific experimentation that threatens to outrun the ability of traditional morality to regulate it (Suzanne Fields, The Washington Times)

  • Abandoned babies not homeless for long | Perhaps because of the extensive media coverage of those rare cases, abandoned babies find permanent homes within weeks, often without many legal hurdles (The Washington Post)

  • In cloning debate, a compromise | While the United States debates whether marriage is limited to one man and one woman, a presidential panel has waded into an equally controversial area with a reasonable-sounding proposal: Procreation should be limited the same way: to a sperm and an egg (The Christian Science Monitor)


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  • Bishop in South Africa targets AIDS | They say statistics can be misleading, but you can't understand Bishop Kevin Dowling's decision to pick a fight with Vatican theology without a few statistics on HIV and AIDS from his South African homeland (The Boston Globe)

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  • Christian response to AIDS glacially slow | Christian groups claim to have the best prescription for AIDS prevention: marital fidelity and abstinence before marriage. As the pandemic overtakes developing countries, they will be forced to confront how poverty influences people's options and actions (Carol Lowes, The Toronto Star)

  • Promiscuity 'fuelling HIV spread' | More needs to be done to persuade people to have fewer sexual partners, according to leading HIV experts (BBC)

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Australian politics:

  • In God they trust | God is appearing in more and more places around the Federal Parliament, and among all sorts of people (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Religious right crams into Lib branches | A push by right-wing religious groups to increase their numbers in the NSW Liberal Party has led to allegations of branch-stacking and greater prominence for a more conservative social agenda (The Sydney Morning Herald)

International politics:

  • Ireland ups the pressure on Constitution talks | Following a commitment by EU leaders to finish the Constitution by 18 June, the Irish EU Presidency has started to apply some public pressure (EU Observer)

  • Quelling the flight from the church (tax) | Germans can lower their taxes by leaving their church. Now a Christian Democratic politician has proposed incentives for church tax payers, in the hopes that people will stop leaving in droves (Deutsche Welle, Germany)


  • Jesus' homeland security | As Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lifegiver, we are more preoccupied with body counts than with a life-preserving plan for peace (Jean Lowrie-Chin, Jamaica Observer)

  • Packed pews can tip party scales | Religious attendance predicts voting preference (Detroit Free Press)

  • Our side needs a Higher Power | The liberal refusal to privilege the very heritage that makes us tolerant, compassionate and progressive is, ironically, jeopardizing our security (Barbara Kay , National Post, Canada)

  • Heath returns to league duties | The executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine returned to work Monday after a one-month suspension, and said he expects that in the future, he will be more cautious in his decision-making (Portland Press Herald, Maine)

George Bush:

  • President Bush issues Easter message | Jesus' life and teachings continue to speak to every generation, and Christians believe his miraculous Resurrection provides hope for the future and offers us the promise of new life (White House)

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  • Fundamentally, Bush works on faith | It's not so much that Bush thinks God is on his side; rather, he wants to be on God's side and make the correct moral choices (Peter Schweizer and Rochelle Schweizer, Los Angeles Times)

  • A new meaning for 'bully pulpit' | There is no precedent in American history for the Bush administration's determination to infuse government with a highly specific set of religious values (Susan Jacoby, Los Angeles Times)

  • Can this marriage be saved? | The prospect of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is leading Log Cabin Republicans to question whether they can support George Bush in November (The New York Times Magazine)

John Kerry:

  • Can Kerry keep the Catholic vote? | Experts say election could hinge on whether Democrat can capture Mass appeal (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Kerry falls foul of US Catholic leaders | Former altar boy John Kerry was heading towards a confrontation with the leadership of the Catholic church in America yesterday after he defied calls to refrain from the sacraments and took communion on Easter Day (The Guardian, London)

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Church and state:

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  • Judge rejects Amish zoning law appeal | A judge Thursday rejected an Amish man's appeal of a zoning law barring him from keeping a horse on his land, but urged another Amishman to seek an exemption from the "arbitrary" and "unreasonable" rule (Associated Press)

  • Amish break somber stereotype at quiet Fla. resort | Welcome to Pinecraft, a little-known getaway for the horse-and-buggy set that defies their somber stereotype (Religion News Service)

Church life:

  • Methodist group wants gay pastor removed | A group of United Methodist pastors in Georgia has banded together to protest what may become the most volatile issue at their upcoming General Conference—a church jury's decision to acquit a lesbian pastor (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Baptist rift reconcilable? | The Southern Baptist Convention is threatening to break with the world's largest Baptist body over complaints that the Baptist World Alliance is too liberal (The Washington Times)

  • Three reasons to stay an Anglican, for all its follies | The first reason is that it is the Church. My own doubts - often so extreme as to be outright denials of the whole Christian religion - are merely the thoughts passing through my head at any one particular time. There is a bigger thing than me: Christianity itself, the whole Christian history of the past 2,000 years. (A.N. Wilson, The Telegraph, London)

  • Church finds wealth of culture in Fremont, plans to reach out | Conference to focus on understanding, enjoying community diversity (The Argus, Fremont, Ca.)

  • Gregg Matte, 33, elected to lead First Baptist |After a four-year search for a new pastor, Houston's 22,000-member First Baptist Church elected a 33-year-old college minister as its new spiritual leader Sunday (Houston Chronicle)

  • Pastor revives Hazelwood Presbyterian | In 3 years, church grows from 10 worshippers to 90, bringing community to life (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Ousted from her church but not silenced | Amy Hitt is being punished by Amissville Baptist Church for committing the sin of gossiping (Marc Fisher, The Washington Post)

  • Archbishop calls for 'church for all' | The Archbishop of Wales called for a church which welcomes people from all backgrounds as he delivered his Easter sermon (BBC)

  • A grave matter, indeed: The graveyard is chockablock | Hundreds of churchyards across Britain are facing closure because there are too many dead people and not enough places to put them (The New York Times)

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  • Sea baptism for two teenagers | Two teenagers were baptized in the sea off Swansea on Easter Sunday (BBC)

  • Easter prayers for God's grace | Under vaulted ceilings and colorful umbrellas, in a plain parking lot and an historic sanctuary, Gulf Coast Christians gathered Sunday to proclaim their belief in Jesus' Resurrection (Mobile Register, Ala.)

  • Waxing spiritual | Today, most Christians in North America view Easter Monday as an afterthought, a day to recover from the heavy feasting on ham and turkey the day before. But it wasn't always just a day to do the dishes and relax before returning to work (J. Kelly Nestruck, National Post, Canada)

  • Find Easter joy wherever you look | With soldiers still in harm's way and so many New England families walking behind flag-draped caskets, the pain and sacrifice of Good Friday seems ever harder to see beyond (Editorial, Boston Herald)

  • A matter of life and death? | The resurrection is at the heart of Christian faith. But did it really happen? Whether Christ's body physically rose from the dead or not, the event is profoundly significant (Catherine Lucas, The Times, London)

  • Downtown churches celebrate as one | Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ, Central Christian, Roberts Park United Methodist and St. Mary's Catholic churches join for Easter (The Indianapolis Star)

Easter celebrations:

  • Four ways from Sunday | From early morning to late afternoon, the region celebrated Easter in its own unique ways (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.)

  • Easter rites with joyful noise | Casual and creative defines some services, such as those at the O.C. Fairgrounds and another on an L.A. state beach (Los Angeles Times)

  • In Mexican town, Holy Week rituals persist | Easter week in the southern Mexican town of Taxco means Catholic masses, family gatherings and above all, atonement. Emulating Christ's final days, residents parade through this mountain village, bearing giant thorny crosses on their backs. Nearly the whole town turns out for the spectacle, though not all residents subscribe to this display of Catholic faith (Morning Edition, NPR)

  • Easter service held under big top for circus workers | The spotlight shone on the ring, a trapeze dangled from above, and the crowd in the circus tent cheered, but it wasn't for lions or jugglers. It was for Jesus. (The Daily Reflector, Greenville, N.C.)

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Easter sermons:

  • A bright show of the faithful seeking a day's peace on Easter | The celebration of Easter unfolded with joyous services in remembrance of Christ's Resurrection and with pulpit appeals for understanding in a fragmented world. (The New York Times)

  • Christians crowd in | The pews, aisles and doorways at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on Rhode Island Avenue NW were packed yesterday with the devout who came to Good Friday worship services celebrated by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington (The Washington Times)

  • Sermons at Easter urge tolerance, inclusion | Stand in solidarity with all faiths, archbishop says; Christians should `voice outrage' over vandalism (The Toronto Star)

  • Christian leaders struggle with world problem of terrorism | The Easter messages of Christian leaders yesterday were filled with foreboding about a world infected with terrorism and made calls for love and compassion to conquer wickedness (The Guardian, London)

  • Call for unity as faithful mark Easter celebrations | At the All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi, Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi asked leaders to listen to the wish of Kenyans by calling a referendum to debate the draft constitution (The East African Standard, Nairobi, Kenya)

Meaning of Easter:

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  • Easter's parade | With the garden bursting into life after a long cold winter, Monty Don looks for the beauty in its rebirth (The Observer, London)

  • Harnessing Easter's symbolic power | Easter provides an opportunity to rebuild our lives (Chris Fotinopoulous, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • True meaning of Easter | Like many other religious holidays - Diwali, Christmas and Idd - Easter has over the years become more and more commercialised to the point where the true spirit of the season is obscured (Editorial, The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Holy days can bring us together | In a year of religious controversy and a week when the world seemed to spin out of control, Easter and Passover remind us that we may yet find something common in our differences and some light on the increasingly dark international path we share (Editorial, The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Losing Easter:

  • Easter highlights changing spiritual landscape | The religious message of Easter is diminishing in importance for many Swiss, with some turning towards other faiths and beliefs to satisfy their spiritual needs (Swiss Info)

  • We believe in Easter, but not in going to church | Britain is still seen as a Christian country by more than three fifths of the public, according to a poll for the Easter weekend (The Times, London)

  • Sorry vicar, I go off message around Easter | Those of us who aren't religious find ourselves confused at Easter. We feel a need to mark time by annual festivals but we don't want to dance naked up a hill with an amorous goat chanting pagan tosh (Jasper Gerard, The Times, London)

Easter in the Holy Land:

  • Orthodox Christians celebrate holiday | A sea of candles and torches illuminated Christianity's holiest shrine, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, as thousands of pilgrims participated in Saturday's holy fire ceremony, a key ritual of Easter Week (Associated Press)

  • Pilgrims crowd Jerusalem holy sites | Despite concerns about violence, thousands of Christians spend Easter where they believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected (Los Angeles Times)

  • Hundreds of Christians gather for Easter service in Jerusalem | Hundreds of Christians gathered for the Easter service Sunday at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, led by Latin patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabah (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)

  • Palestinian Christians barred from Easter pilgrimage | For thousands of Christians from nearby Bethlehem, it means another year barred from praying at Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is built on the site where it's believed Christ died and then rose again (AM, Australian Broadcasting Corp)

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Sunrise services:

Easter and Pascha:

Greek Easter:

  • Easter rocket war hits Greek isle | Every Easter Sunday on the small Greek island of Chios a fireworks war breaks out between two rival parishes (BBC)

  • The power of the Resurrection | For Greeks, whether they be religious or not, Easter is the holiday they celebrate even more than Christmas, with its message of hope and redemption (Editorial, Kathimerini, Athens, Greece)

Maundy Thursday:

  • Rev's yearly ritual is quite a feet | First, as the Rev. James Forbes explained it, the sole and then the soul (Charles W. Bell, New York Daily News)

  • Some Catholics show anger at all-male foot washing | About 70 men and women stood outside the Cathedral of Christ the King in Buckhead on Thursday to protest Archbishop John Donoghue's recent instructions that only men should be allowed to take part in the solemn rite of foot washing (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Faithful decry foot-washing ban of women | About 100 men and women gathered outside Atlanta's Roman Catholic cathedral Thursday to protest the archbishop's exclusion of women from the Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual (Associated Press)

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  • Gay man sues Catholic church for withdrawing job offer | The case is believed to be the first to use same-sex discrimination laws which came into force late last year (The Independent, London)

  • Vatican exhibit breaks record | With just one week left, Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes, the blockbuster exhibition at the Cincinnati Museum Center, has become the most popular exhibit in Cincinnati history (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

  • Where lost are found, so is a child | Another funeral Mass at Our Lady of Loreto Roman Catholic Church had ended by late morning, and now this worn place of worship was all but deserted. Save for one inconspicuous person on a pew in the far back, near the wicker baskets used for Sunday collections (The New York Times)

  • Monk works in good company | Keyspan corporate ombudsman Kenny Moore is a former Catholic monk (CBS News Sunday Morning)

  • Secrecy at Catholic schools frustrates parents and teachers | Outrage over firings and closings reflect a more particular anger, a sense of powerlessness among some parents and parishioners who feel that the church, especially in light of the sexual abuse scandals of the last two years, should be more considerate, if not downright grateful, for their loyalty (The New York Times)

  • Bishop's 'social' wedding warning | A Catholic bishop has warned priests in his diocese that it "did not make any sense" for couples who did not attend church to seek church weddings (The Belfast Telegraph)

  • Ireland's changing religious face | Now less than 90% of the population call themselves Roman Catholic (BBC)

Miracles and relics:

  • Owner: Virgin Mary statue weeps again | A statue of the Virgin Mary that has been drawing crowds since 2002 when it apparently began weeping rose-scented tears has started crying again, in the week before Easter, its owner said Sunday (Associated Press)

  • Looking for miracles | If Mary Virginia Merrick is to become Washington's first saint, her devotees need to find someone like Joey Peacock (The Washington Post Magazine)

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  • Christianity relics exhibit draws crowds | This past weekend, more than 12,000 people waited in line in St. Louis to catch a glimpse of relics on display in a rare exhibit showcasing fragments of artifacts said to be linked to the final days of Christ (Fox News)

Marginal Catholics:

  • Who are the 'real' Catholics? | Some traditionalists may want to shun pro-choice Catholics like John Kerry. But a pragmatic approach won't harm a church still trying to deal with pedophile priests (Melinda Henneberger, Newsweek)

  • New heretics test church boundaries | It's best to leave to God to judge who is good and who is not (Andrew Greeley, Chicago Sun-Times)

  • New church risky move for pastor | William C. Hausen is breaking away, risking excommunication and a pension earned over 40 years as a Catholic priest, to form Christ Hope Ecumenical Catholic Church (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

  • Priest may be forming breakaway church | Catholic leaders issue stern warning (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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Pope John Paul II:

  • The Pope: Texting the good word | Feeling out of touch with your faith? Pope John Paul II's offering a remedy: a daily text message to America's most tech-savvy Roman Catholics (Newsweek)

  • End 'logic of death' in Iraq, Mideast, Pope says | "May (humanity) find the strength to face the inhuman, and unfortunately growing, phenomenon of terrorism," he said in his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message (Reuters)

  • Reject terror's 'logic of death,' Pope urges | Under heightened security, Pope John Paul II used his Easter message on Sunday to plead for the world to unite to overcome terrorism (The New York Times)

  • Pope's directive expands duties | Even if some disagree with the pope's teaching, he has brought more clarity to difficult, end-of-life issues (Editorial, The Cincinnati Enquirer)

  • Pope addresses faithful after Easter | After days of tiring ceremonies, Pope John Paul II delivered a brief speech Monday on the Virgin Mary and wished the faithful a "Happy Easter" (Associated Press)

  • Pope paints his bleakest picture | The Pope yesterday appealed for mankind to "find the strength" to curb terrorism (The Telegraph, London)

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  • A most virtuous death | A full-page frontispiece of a 13th-century volume of readings for saints' days shows Jesus being crucified not by Roman soldiers or Jewish authorities or even the sins of humanity — but by virtues (The New York Times)

  • Jesus the social reformer? It makes nice fiction | The Jesus Seminar's ideas are objectionable, not just to conservative believers, but also to a number of secular liberal scholars (Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

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  • Many scholars look unfairly upon Bible | I recently watched about half of the recent three-hour ABC special "Jesus and Paul." These programs can be interesting and educational to watch, but not for the reasons you might think (Wally Morris, The Journal Gazette, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)

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Shroud of Turin:

1,400-year-old Christian Saxon king's spoon discovered:

  • Spoon reveals Saxon king as early Christian | A silver spoon from the grave at Prittlewell was found to have a Christian cross engraved in its bowl, along with an inscription in Roman characters (The Times, London)

  • Prittlewell prince, a bard and gambler | The Christian prince buried 1,400 years ago in what became Southend-on-Sea may have been a bard - and a gambler (The Guardian, London)

  • Christening spoon found in grave of Saxon king | The spoon was discovered alongside a lyre and copper box for holding relics in the burial chamber of the so-called Prince of Prittlewell, a high-ranking aristocrat who lived in Essex 1,400 years ago (The Telegraph, London)

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The Passion and Easter:

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The Passion:

  • Oman approves screening Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" | The Gulf state of Qatar also gave the film the green light but Bahrain has banned it on the grounds that it violates Islamic law, which prohibits depicting the prophets (AFP)

  • 'Passion' strikes a chord in Hong Kong | Christian revival is under way in Hong Kong this weekend, with at least 20,000 people gathering to reflect on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus—not in the churches, but in the cinemas (UPI)

  • The Passion | Extreme sacrifice and extremism (Editorial, The Times, London)

Passion and history:

Passion and revival:

Passion marketing:

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Passion on location:

Passion and movies:

Passion violence:

Passion blockbuster:

  • 'Passion' reclaims top box-office spot | Many Christians made "The Passion of the Christ" a part of their Easter weekend, lifting the crucifixion saga back to the top box-office spot with $17.1 million (Associated Press)

  • Holy Week pilgrims flock to 'Passion' | It's now the eighth-highest-grossing film of all time (The New York Times)

  • Global masses flock to 'Passion' | Weekend estimates for markets handled by Icon Film Distribution, Gibson's sales company, were unavailable, but 20th Century Fox, which controls sales rights for Latin America and Asia, reported a weekend take of $9 million from 16 countries, which raised the Fox foreign gross for "Passion" to $58 million (Reuters)

  • Easter congregations rise as The Passion proves a blockbuster | Jonathan Petre finds reactions differ sharply over Mel Gibson's brutal and gory portrayal of the Crucifixion (The Telegraph, London)

  • Passion breaks records in Italy | The film took 1.22m euros (£804,000), beating the record held by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King which took 1.11m euros (£732,000) in a day (BBC)


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  • Aramaic sheds light on familiar prayer | The congregation at University Presbyterian Church has spent the Lenten season learning to sing the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic, the ancient Middle Eastern language spoken by Jesus (Associated Press)

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  • Court test of KOCE sale begins today | Judge could rule that the Coast Community College District must sell its Public Broadcasting Service station to the Daystar Television Network, the world's second-largest Christian broadcaster (Los Angeles Times)

  • The resurrection of Stanley "Tookie" Williams | By focusing on the notorious co-founder of the Los Angeles street gang, The Crips, F/X's Redemption, an original film, asks us if we believe that a death row inmate can be redeemed (Africana.com)

  • BBC axe falls on Catholic cartoon | The BBC has retreated under sustained pressure from the Roman Catholic Church to drop an "offensive" television cartoon, which features corrupt cardinals and an infantile Pope on a pogo stick (The Times, London)

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  • Gospel music gains fans in France | Evangelical protestant Gospel music is surprisingly popular in traditionally Catholic France. Winning converts and inspiring new trends, it's a hit both in churches and in stores (Morning Edition, NPR)

  • Casting Crowns gamble builds on Provident's success | Instead of the positive, uplifting radio-friendly songs of praise and worship, Casting Crowns has edgy songs that border on controversial (The Tennessean)

Madonna to sing on Sunday in Ireland:

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  • Religious book sales show a miraculous rise | The American Association of Publishers claims that last year saw a 50 percent rise in the sale of religion books over the previous year (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Cracking the Da Vinci Code | What is it about this record-breaking work of fiction that has touched our society's spiritual nerve? (Leslie Scrivener, The Toronto Star)

  • Among the believers | A former nun, Karen Armstrong lost her faith while studying at Oxford and then spent years trying to build an alternative career as an academic and TV presenter. For a time she was seen as a professional controversialist, condemning the Catholic church. But her writing and reflections on world religions have given her a new purpose following the September 11 attacks (The Guardian, London)

  • Assets: Christian comics find redemption for up to $500 | Jack T. Chick has been practically giving away his pocket-sized Christian comic books for 40 years, but some fans are willing to redeem certain titles for as much as $500 (Reuters)

  • 'The purpose-driven life' | Godly Synergy: How a religious advice book is filling the pews … with more book buyers (The New York Times Magazine)

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  • Spirituality joins sex, shoes in women's magazine | The British edition of Cosmopolitan, the glossy bible of sex and shopping for the single girl, has launched a new monthly column on spirituality (Reuters)

  • AARP magazine looks to adopt a younger face | Editor in Chief Hugh Delehanty says the idea that simply being alive during Woodstock or the Vietnam War bonds tens of millions is absurd. "The biggest shared experience people in their 50s have is probably evangelical Christianity," he says (The Journal Gazette, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)

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  • Finding splendor in the 'Grass' | Gossip columnists were once taken to task if they presumed to mention the name of God or talked about religion or discussed Jesus Christ. But Mel Gibson has changed all of that for the entertainment press (Liz Smith, Newsday)

Lou Sheldon accuses columnist of faking interview:

  • Minister accuses Breslin of fabricating an interview | The leader of a conservative lobbying group who was quoted by the columnist Jimmy Breslin in Newsday yesterday as suggesting that homosexuals "proselytize'' by kidnapping unsuspecting men from their families said that the quotations had been fabricated and that he had never met Mr. Breslin (The New York Times)

  • Jimmy Breslin's long-term memory | The Rev. Lou Sheldon says the Newsday columnist "faked" an interview with him for a column (Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post)

  • Breslin, round 2 | Newsday columnist says he wrote about Sheldon comment earlier, then says he didn't, then says he did (Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post, third item)

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Popular religion:

  • God talk is everywhere | Nearly 40 years after Time magazine posed the question "Is God Dead?" signs of His resurrection are everywhere (Newsday)

  • Christ, pop icon | Music man Andrew Lloyd Webber got it right. Jesus Christ is truly a superstar in America, especially these past few months (Contra Costa Times, Ca.)

  • Marketing the passion of faith | How do you feel about using marketing as a tool to boost attendance to services or at least attract more attention to your faith? Religious leaders respond (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

  • Marketing helps church grow | Last week, about 1,800 people watched the church's 20/20 Drama Ministries perform "When Justice Meets Mercy," a portrayal of how Jesus Christ might have saved someone from the electric chair (The Tampa Tribune, Fla.)

  • Christianity gains pop culture appeal | The big-money success of 'The Passion of the Christ' sparks wider interest in religious-themed entertainment (The Baltimore Sun)

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  • Religion Today: Ave Maria's dreams | The nation's first new Roman Catholic university in four decades, Ave Maria University only has 122 students. But its leaders are aiming high (Associated Press)

  • Embracing a public school future | More Alberta Mennonites finishing high school (The Edmonton Journal)

  • Mother challenges school over plaque | When the mother of an 11th-grader filed a federal lawsuit to have it permanently removed, the plaque grabbed the attention of students, parents, lawyers and the community (The Kansas City Star)

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Missions & ministry:

  • Interfaith group fights for compassion in suburbia | There's a surprising phenomenon unfolding in Plano. Some residents are hungering to connect with others. And they're organizing around issues of social justice (William McKenzie, The Dallas Morning News)

  • 'Get your praise on' | At these new booze-free nightclubs, DJs spin and patrons shake in the name of Jesus Christ. No dirty dancing allowed (Newsweek)

  • Are you sinning comfortably? | These days, it's good to be bad — you're just living life to the full. Even if you're rotten to the core you're absolved, because science lays the blame on genetics. So is sin obsolete, and do we need a new code to curb our wicked ways? (Bryan Appleyard, The Sunday Times Magazine, London)

  • Clergy say new privacy rules making hospital visits difficult | The new privacy rules, passed last year, changed things for clergy, as many hospitals interpreted the rules to mean they could not release lists of patients by religious affiliation (Associated Press)

  • Church leaders see more young people seeking faith | Church leaders in Myrtle Beach say they are seeing children, teens and twenty-somethings worship in a surprising revival of faith (Associated Press)

  • Forget politics. It's about the music | What is it that American congregations do to draw and engage so many people? And what has been the major driving force behind this nation's resilient congregational life? (US News & World Report)

  • Evangelical Christians reach out to Muslims | Plans include Morocco concert (The Washington Post)

  • Another plane crashes | An aircraft crashed Sunday afternoon near Nakuru in Rift Valley Province, injuring four evangelists, including two Americans (Kenya Broadcasting Corp.)

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Latter Day Saints:

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  • Atheists get cold greeting in Colorado | Governor Bill Owens and Mayor Lionel Rivera declined to extend an official welcome to the Atheist Alliance for its national convention this weekend, and attendees said they felt slighted (Associated Press)

  • True non-believers | In California, one convention so over God (The Washington Post)

  • A Godless nation this Easter? | Yes, our democracy is evolving and we are open and accepting to that evolution. But let us not allow the evolution to turn into a careless revolution or even an unintended erosion of the principles by which we live and we are governed (John Carey, The Washington Times)

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  • Religion in the News: Brazil's religious challenge | For the first time in 500 years, Brazil's Roman Catholic Church is fighting for its turf. Materialism is one rival, an energized evangelical movement another. But the worst enemy is an increasingly indifferent population (Associated Press)

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  • Times poll: More than half of us pray daily | But stats are still lower than elsewhere in the country (The Seattle Times)

  • Faith alive, but church-going lags | Overall, church attendance in the United States hasn't grown in years and might be sliding, according to several studies and polls (The Arizona Republic)

  • More Christians seek quiet relief in the practice of solitary piety | What's emerging is a heightened interest in individual exercises of piety, as well as a rediscovery of the "desert fathers and mothers" tradition of breaking away for periods of hermitlike solitude and one-on-one spiritual guidance (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Finding my prayer voice | Commentator Heather Lende explains how she struggles with the best way to pray (Morning Edition, NPR)

  • Easter facts and fictions | I have long since abandoned the idea that the gospels' accounts of the resurrection constitute "proof" in Josh McDowell's sense (Martyn Percy, The Guardian, London)

  • Believer or not, let's just get along | The faithful are not more moral and the faithless are not more intelligent (Pamela Bone, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Christian leaders bless the city | The sky was overcast before Pittsburgh's Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant bishops and church leaders began their annual Holy Saturday blessing of the city atop Mount Washington (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Millions use the Net religiously | 64 percent of the 128 million Internet users in the United States use the Internet for religious or spiritual purposes (San Jose Mercury News, Ca.)

  • Every last one of us is involved in mankind | If Mel Gibson's images were to many sensitive viewers too terrible to watch, they were no worse than reality. Reality today. Christians believe that what men and women do to each other, good or bad, they do to Christ (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)

  • The odds are on God | Unwin's theory on the timeless dilemma of God's existence suggests that, even if He or She is not around, He or She still commands plenty of attention (Tony Stephens, The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • University of Rochester/Zogby International study asks consequences of disobeying one's religion | More than three in five (60%) American born-again Christians, American Catholics and Korean Christians, more than 80% of Peruvian Catholics and Hindus, and over 95% of Muslims say they will suffer negative consequences if they disobey their religion (Zogby)

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Gay mag on conservative's son:

  • Outing Out magazine | My son, Jamiel Terry, was paid $5,000 by Out magazine to write a story about being Randall Terry's homosexual son. I am still in a state of shock (Randall Terry, The Washington Times)

  • My prodigal son, the homosexual | I am still in a state of shock; I have been grieving for days. My son, Jamiel Terry, was paid $5,000 by Out magazine (to appear April 20, 2004, on newsstands) to write a story about being Randall Terry's homosexual son (Randall Terry, WorldNetDaily)

  • Excerpt: A rising son | When your father is famous for fighting abortion and same-sex marriage, how can you possibly come out? Jamiel Terry tells us (Out)

Sexual ethics:

  • Churches urge teen 'Faith' in abstinence | So far, nine churches such as Redemption Ministries have agreed to open their doors one night a week for local teens to have a meal, find a mentor and have a "meaningful discussion about life goals" (The Washington Times)

  • U.N. gay policy is assailed | Dozens of nations object to Annan's directive to offer benefits to staffers' same-sex partners (Los Angeles Times)

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Gay marriage:

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  • Holy matrimony | The most important gay marriage battles will be fought in the pews (Emily Bazelon, Slate)

  • Acceptance of gays rises among new generation | But a slim majority of Americans still oppose adoptions by same-sex couples and favor a constitutional ban on homosexual marriage (Los Angeles Times)

  • Unable to marry, unable to stay | Exposing the plight of gay binationals (The Washington Post)

  • Distinctions drawn | The civil rights movement and the issues that fostered the need for such a movement are unique and cannot be compared to the battle for homosexual rights (Alvin Williams, The Washington Times)

  • 'Gay Marriage': Vows | The average American views same-sex marriage as a bad idea whose time has come (The New York Times Book Review)

  • In South, issue of gay marriage exposes hate and fear | Last month, Rhea County commissioners moved to ban homosexuals from living in the county, but rescinded the motion two days later after an outpouring of opposition (Chicago Tribune)

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Other stories of interest:

  • Redskins' Gibbs keeps the faith | Strong Christian beliefs provide foundation for coach (The Washington Post)

  • Religion news in brief | Griswold on why ECUSA has gay bishops, U.S. Catholicism adds 150,000-plus adult converts this Easter, Mormons celebrate church's continuing growth, Fourth candidate enters race for Presbyterian executive, and Baptist children's homes tussle with Tennessee over church attendance (Associated Press)

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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