Scientologists awarded half a million dollars in suit against critic
The Church of Scientology sued former church official Gerry Armstrong for $10 million, saying he had violated a 1986 legal settlement by repeatedly speaking out against the group and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. (Armstrong got $800,000 from the religious group in that settlement after he claimed he was being bullied by Scientology officials.)

Marin Superior Court Judge Lynn Duryee didn't award punitive damages, but ordered Armstrong to give back the settlement money.

"Because a previous judgment had already awarded the church $300,000 from Armstrong—who cited bankruptcy and did not pay it—Duryee ordered the defendant to pay the church another $500,000, or equal the amount the church had paid him," the Marin Independent Journal reports.

Armstrong says he still2/17/2005 1:44PM won't pay. "Never," he said. "I will outlast them." He also promises to keep criticizing Scientology. "When you can silence someone about a religion, just imagine," he said.

Armstrong's lawyer says Judge Duryee "made a deal with the devil," and said the case isn't really about Armstrong's 1986 settlement. "This suit is really directed at other people who might be inclined to speak out," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's a PR ploy to keep other people silent."

Scientology officials want Armstrong imprisoned.

"This wasn't contempt of the church, this was contempt of the court," lawyer Andrew Wilson told the paper. "He needs to be put in jail not because he spoke out but because he thumbed his nose at the court."

More articles

Religious freedom:

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  • It's Christian bells vs. Muslim prayer calls | Hamtramck Muslim community members' request to amend the city noise ordinance so mosques can use loudspeakers for a call to prayer has divided some residents along religious lines (Detroit Free Press)

Vietnam Christians protest oppression:

  • Vietnam accused of rights abuses | The New York-based group Human Rights Watch has accused Vietnam of repressing a minority Christian community in the Central Highlands (BBC)

  • Vietnam beefs up checkpoints in restive highlands | Police and soldiers increased road checkpoints in two central Vietnam highland provinces where ethnic minority protests erupted at the weekend, and officials said on Wednesday no one had been killed in the unrest (Reuters)


War and terrorism:

  • Hard-line chaplain saves soft side for troops | The Islamic extremists waging war on America think they are going to heaven to make love to dozens of virgins after they die. Lt. Col. Mike Tarvin, the 2nd Infantry Division chaplain, believes they will burn in hell for their sins. It's a typically forthright statement from the chaplain who gave up preaching at the Christian Church of the Disciples of Christ in Hutchins, Texas, three years ago to serve his country in South Korea (Stars and Stripes)

  • Mission defends Fr Carlos | Guido Oliana, the head of the Comboni Missionaries in Uganda, has advised security agencies to follow the law if they want to deport Carlos Roderiguez (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)

  • Bali bomber says he has no regrets over deadly attack | Bali bombing mastermind Imam Samudra boasted he was a winner from his death row cell Wednesday and said he was looking forward to entering a virgin-filled paradise as a reward for killing Christians (AFP)

  • Grim vigil as Mississippi town awaits word | Churchgoers from Calvary Baptist Church, where Iraq hostage Thomas Hamill is a member, were taking shifts in a round-the-clock prayer chain (The New York Times)

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Crusaders' sack of Constantinople, 800 years later:

  • Vartholomaios deplores fanaticism | Meanwhile, Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyons, took the opportunity of today's 800th anniversary since the sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders to write to Vartholomaios apologising for this «affront to all Christians seeking unity (Kathimerini, Athens, Greece)

  • Vartholomaios forgives Catholics for sack of Constantinople in 1204 | "We cannot forget that tragic day for Constantinople and for our Patriarchate but we forgive … and we accept with satisfaction the expression of their regret and the reassurance that the West will never again undertake such an abomination against the Christians of the East," Vartholomaios said (Kathimerini, Athens, Greece)

Missions & ministry:

"Cheap" Christianity in Africa:

  • Kobia faults Christians in Kenya | Kenya's and Africa's first secretary general of the World Council of Churches Rev Samuel Kobia has faulted what he says is a cheap brand of Christianity fast taking root in the country (The East African Standard, Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Cleric flays attitude to Christianity | Recent claims that Nigerians were the most religious people in the world last week received knocks from a man of God, who argued that there were more fans of Christ than followers in the country (This Day, Lagos, Nigeria)

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  • Are black people more religious? | Don't jump to conclusions (Jabari Asim, The Washington Post)

  • Enriched by a change of faith | With signature American pragmatism, at least one-third of U.S. Christians now leave the faiths of their childhood to strike out for greener pastures (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  • Choosing a faith | Converts drawn to Christianity, Judaism (The Ann Arbor News, Mi.)

  • Oh, and happy, uh, holiday | Religion as a social phenomenon is a trip through the looking glass. Nothing seems to exist without its contradiction (Dan Carpenter, The Indianapolis Star)

  • In a way, Michigan is next to heaven, survey concludes | Seven of 10 Michiganders think their ultimate destination is heaven, according to a poll (Detroit Free Press)

  • In all honesty … a culture of lies | It is one of the few points all world religions agree on: Lying is wrong. So how is it that in the United States, the most religiously observant of industrialized nations, lying is so pervasive some scholars have called America's a "culture of dishonesty"? (ReligionLink)

Controversial Colorado legislature prayer:

  • Politically charged prayer criticized | A Catholic priest mixed politics with prayer in the Colorado legislature Tuesday, asking God to make lawmakers "the antithesis of John Kennedy" and use their faith in public office (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Colo. lawmakers urged not to emulate JFK | A Roman Catholic priest caused a stir on the House floor Tuesday when he urged lawmakers to let religious faith guide their votes and "be the antithesis of John Kennedy" (Associated Press)

  • The Rev. Bill Carmody's prayer | The full text of what the priest really said (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

Religion & politics:

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  • Westminster awaiting a high-stakes verdict | Three school trustees passed compromise language on discrimination to fit their Christian beliefs, and if it doesn't fly with the state, funding's in jeopardy (Los Angeles Times)

  • Also: School gender bias fight taken to the brink | A board majority in a small Orange County school district on Monday risked millions of dollars in funding and a possible state takeover by voting to hold firm to its view that a California antidiscrimination policy violates Christian principles (Los Angeles Times)

  • Bible class backer has second thoughts | Audrey Bassett told the Board of Education on Monday that she's changed her mind after taking time to dissect the proposed "Bible in History and Literature" elective class (The Saginaw News, Mi.)

  • Religious education concerns parent | Children should not have to choose a religious preference in front of school mates. Let's not use religion as a way of dividing our children (Mollie Bryan, The News Leader, Staunton, Va.)


  • Baker turns page | Authors flying into Grand Rapids to meet with Baker Book House Co. executives often were shuttled to its retail store in Kentwood rather than the company headquarters six miles away, in Ada (The Grand Rapids Press)

  • Growing with God | In his best-selling book, "The Purpose-Driven Life," author Rick Warren looks at human existence and asks the big question. Why are we here? (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)



  • Jesus' image goes from meek to mighty | Hard times are spurring faithful to redefine Christ, experts say (Chicago Tribune)

  • No easy answers | It's useful to think about not only the various Christian understandings of Jesus but also how other religious traditions view him (Bill Tammeus, The Kansas City Star)

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  • Did Jesus really exist? | A respected theologian says New Testament history was lifted from paganism (Canadian Press)

  • Jesus Christ | Choose your own savior (Chris Suellentrop, Slate)

The Passion:

  • 'Passion' soundtrack certified gold | The album sold 500,000 copies in February, says Integrity Media (Associated Press)

  • Is Mel Gibson changing his tune? | 'Songs Inspired by The Passion' CD a tender contrast to film (SF Gate)

  • Pirated 'Passion' videos sold at Holy Week | Street peddlers who traditionally hawk palm-thatch holy crosses, incense and ceramic religious statuettes outside churches during Holy Week had a new item that was outselling all others this year: pirated videos of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" (Associated Press)

  • The greatest story never told | Why Mel Gibson's next film project has to be The End (Alex Heard, Slate)

  • Critics fail to crucify Jesus again | Despite attacks on its sincerity, Mel Gibson's movie has renewed the faith for many (Miranda Devine, The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Area pastors hope 'Passion's' message continues past Easter | One hopes Jesus' message of tolerance, acceptance and love, not division, "we're right, you're wrong" condemnation and the scapegoating of those who are different, that will linger long after the lilies wilt (Susan Paynter, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • 'The Passion' fuels debate over the violence of the crucifixion | An inventory of symbols associated with three of the world's great religions would list objects of beauty and light. For Judaism, a star. For Islam, the crescent moon. For Buddhism, the lotus flower. The symbol of Christianity is an instrument of torture and death (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)

  • Also: Theories try to explain reasons for Jesus' death | Jesus' death has been understood by Christians principally as an act of reconciliation between God and humanity. How it affects this reconciliation has been articulated in various ways through the centuries (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)

  • Christ the movie: A passion for cash? | Whatever the arguments about the artistic merit or the theology of "The Passion of the Christ" there's no doubt that the film's been very good business indeed (BBC)

  • Teens put 'Passion' into radio show | They say real men don't cry, but Valley Christian High School sophomore Chris McElhatton isn't ashamed that that's what he wanted to do when he saw Jesus on the cross in "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's film about the crucifixion (San Jose Mercury News, Ca.)

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Church life:


  • Mass. diocesan worker quits in complaint | Michael Graziano, head of communications for the Springfield Diocese and a former diocesan spokesman who often fielded questions about priests accused of sexual abuse, has resigned after being accused of sexual misconduct (Associated Press)

  • Archbishop says young people need mentors | Young Roman Catholics need mentors at a time when their faith is being challenged in the wake of the church's sex abuse scandal, Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley said Tuesday (Associated Press)

  • Plummer submits to 'Fathers' for Showtime | Veteran actor Christopher Plummer is set to star as Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law in "Our Fathers," Showtime's adaptation of David France's book about the sexual abuse scandal in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church (Reuters)

Poll on evangelicals:

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Gay marriage & homosexuality:

  • Law exceeds city's power, lawyer says | He told the Pa. high court that Phila.'s same-sex benefits are an illegal attempt to redefine marriage (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Earlier: Pa. high court hears arguments on city same-sex partner benefits | The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments today in a case that challenges a key city gay-rights ordinance (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • A firm voice against gay marriage | For Colo. lawmaker, it's an article of faith (The Boston Globe)

  • Rogue billboards cause a stir | A flap over a series of signs that condemn homosexuality is the talk of a town that's home to gay people and conservative Christians alike (The Baltimore Sun)

  • State Senate okays putting proposal to ban gay marriage on ballot | The Senate gave final approval to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, putting the issue on the November ballot for voters to decide (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Finding a compromise: Friendship Covenants | This would allow two friends, " regardless of whether or not they are involved in a sexual relationship with one another" to enter into a contractual relationship that would carry with it a package of kin-like and spouse-like privileges and benefits: the right to be involved in medical decisions and funeral arrangements, the right to inherit if the partner dies intestate, etc (David R. Carlin, Narragansett Times, R.I.)

  • Marriage amendment is needed | Someone suggested we "celebrate commitment wherever we find it." That high-sounding statement ignores religious directives about homosexuality and flies in the face of human history (Steve Crain, The Pilot, Pinehurst, N.C.)

  • Oklahoma abides by out-of-state adoptions by gays | Oklahoma's attorney general recently decided that when a child is born in that state and adopted in another state by a same-sex couple, Oklahoma must recognize the adoption and issue a birth certificate listing both homosexual partners as parents (The Washington Times)


  • Israel accused of confiscating church land | In a letter to President Bush, leaders of the Holy Land Christian Society accused Israel Tuesday of confiscating land from religious groups to make room for a barrier Israel is building into the West Bank (Associated Press)

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  • What the good book says: anti-Semitism, loosely defined | Merriam-Webster found itself on the defensive recently over a 40-year-old definition of "anti-Semitism" in its Third New International Dictionary (The New York Times)

  • David Samuels interview | The inscription on the side of the James ossuary was widely translated as "James son of Joseph brother of Jesus." Now the ossuary is being called a fake. David Samuels' article "Written in Stone" is in the April 12, 2004 issue of the New Yorker magazine (The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC)

  • In Israel, a new highway leads to an ancient Christian past | A Christian community from the Byzantine era, dating from either the fifth or sixth century, presented itself just to the west of bustling Highway 2, and right in the middle of the planned interchange on the southern edge of Netanya (The New York Times)

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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.
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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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