Christian leaders rally behind Nigeria's decision to ban miracles on religious TV
While the FCC cracks down on "indecent" broadcasts here in the states, Nigeria is facing a broadcasting bust of a different kind. The country's National Broadcasting Commission recently announced that it would essentially ban the broadcast of miracles on network television.

Last week, Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper described the action as a "crackdown on those who carry unverifiable claims on radio and television, as such practices prey on the sensibilities of the Nigerian people." This week (as well as in an earlier article), the same paper describes it as a "ban on televised religious miracles," and notes that it takes effect April 30.

While some Nigerian pastors are decrying the act as an inappropriate invasion of the state into religious matters, leaders of large Christian bodies in the country tell the paper that they approve.

"I will support the ban," said Joseph Ojo, national secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. "The issue of miracles, I was saying the other day, that if not addressed quickly, will be worse than the case of the [fake drugs]." (Weblog isn't familiar with that case.) "I am not saying they should stop TV evangelism," he continued.

No, but let them preach the Word. Let them forget about this frivolous, 'this man was blind … ' I am not saying there is no miracle. I believe in miracles; I have seen many miracles. God has used me to do many, but I'm against the way they are using some to exploit the poor masses of this country.

"The miracle aspect is not the most important aspect of religion," said Sunday Mbang, prelate of Nigeria's Methodist Church and former president of the Christian Association of Nigeria. Many televangelists, he says, "use this miracle for something else [such as] popularity [or] money. Sometimes I am ashamed myself when I look at some of these religious bodies with a lot of houses. Some of their leaders even fly in private jets and they tell me that if Jesus Christ were here, he would have flown in airplanes. So this is my problem."

Gabriel Osu, director of social communication for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, told the paper that the rule was "good riddance to bad rubbish." He said, "I am not saying that I don't believe in miracles. In fact, my life is a miracle. But my concern is that it is being bastardized."

Newswatch, a Nigerian magazine, has a cover package with articles on miracles and the broadcasting ban, but they're only available to subscribers.

Article continues below

More articles

Indecent media:


  • Priest gets probation in $50,000 theft from Long Island church | A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced Wednesday to five years probation and ordered to make full restitution after admitting he stole $50,000 in parishioner donations from a Long Island church, a prosecutor said (Newsday)

  • Priest pleads guilty to stealing millions | Singaporean Catholic priest pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing 5.1 million Singapore dollars of church funds during an eight-year crime spree (AFP)

  • Church music director surrenders to N.Y. police | Michael Pavone, former music director of a Geneva Catholic parish, is in custody in Buffalo on charges that he stabbed and beat to death a man there in 1999, authorities said Tuesday (Chicago Tribune)

  • Killer confessed in church: prosecutors | During the March 14 Sunday service, 21-year-old Glen Miles rose to confess to a murder in front of the Holy Rock congregation, according to Cook County prosecutors (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Bishop in Mass. puts abuse suits on hold | The new head of the Springfield Diocese said Wednesday clergy sex abuse lawsuits and complaints will be put on hold for six weeks while church attorneys try to reach a settlement with lawyers for alleged victims (Associated Press)

Religious freedom:

  • Martyrs in Vietnam | On the eve of Easter celebrations in Vietnam, what our organization had been announcing but the international community has been ignoring took place (Daniele Capezzone and Matteo Mecacci, The Washington Times)

  • Christians demonstrate against Caritas housing | group of angry Christians demonstrated outside the Lahore Press Club on Wednesday against the Caritas Housing Scheme, whose officials they alleged were looting the poor (The Daily Times, Pakistan)

  • Bishop arrested in China reported freed | Authorities freed a Catholic bishop in China after 10 days, a religious news agency said (Associated Press)

Religion & politics:

  • Kerry meets with D.C. archbishop | Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has questioned Kerry's support for abortion rights, which contradicts church teachings (Associated Press)

Article continues below
  • Church should leave Kerry alone | If Communion is ever refused to Kerry, it should also be withheld from any of those bishops and archbishops who covered up the sins of their priests against innocent children and from any cardinal who still refuses to utter a word of censure against his criminally complicit brothers in the hierarchy (Dick Ryan, Newsday)

  • Bush: America's Ayatollah | Some people might consider the president's rhetoric religious drivel and others might find it stirring, but whatever it is, it cannot be the basis for foreign policy, not to mention a war (Richard Cohen, The Washington Post)

  • Christians count in Korean elections | The role of Christians in local politics was questioned last Easter weekend when people who had gathered to worship in the streets of downtown Seoul were suspected of carrying a political message (The Korea Herald)

Church & state:

  • Petition for Christianity in the Constitution | Around three quarters of a million citizens from the 25 member states of an enlarged EU have signed a petition calling for a reference to Christianity to be made in the Constitution (EU Observer)

  • Red flag raised on peace pole | Accepting this seemingly harmless gift could still leave the city wide open to problems from other groups looking to donate and post messages at City Hall. Better to say no thank you and play it safe. (Editorial, Independent, Huntington Beach, Ca.)

  • A soap opera with sobering overtones | The long-running Westminster School District Board of Trustees soap opera nearby offers some lessons that can be instructive in Newport-Mesa, not just to deal with possible future conflicts but in such current issues as the nature of invocations at local City Council meetings (Joseph N. Bell, Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Calif.)

  • Justice Department joins Muslim head scarf lawsuit | In what one supporter called "a ground- breaking step," the Justice Department has been allowed to join a lawsuit supporting a Muslim girl suspended for wearing a head scarf to school (The Oklahoman)

  • Florida opens first faith-based prison for women | The nation's first faith-based prison for women opened in a Tampa-area detention center Wednesday, a month after a similar program began for men (Associated Press)

  • Cleric kicks against taxing churches | A man of God has spoken against any plan by the Nigerian government to impose tax on churches and mosques (P.M. News, Lagos, Nigeria)

Ten Commandments case expensive:

  • Monument case costly | State must pay $549,430 in Ten Commandments suit (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

Article continues below


African Anglicans debate accepting U.S. funds:

  • African bishops mull 'gay' funds | Anglican church bishops in Africa are meeting in Kenya to decide whether to continue receiving money from western churches that ordain gay bishops (BBC)

  • African Anglicans debate U.S. funding | The shock waves of last year's ordination of an openly homosexual bishop in the United States reverberated in Kenya yesterday, as Anglican leaders from across Africa began meeting to discuss whether to keep accepting crucial funding from the U.S. Episcopalian Church (AFP)

Homosexuality and religion:

Church leaders protest S.F. gay marriage mayor:

Article continues below

Gay marriage:


  • Parental rights and the pledge | The Pledge case is also part of the ongoing struggle within society over a non-custodial parent's rights in the event of divorce or estrangement, particularly in the cause of fathers' rights (Wendy McElroy, Fox News)

  • 'Please don't call me hateful' | I am against the redefinition of marriage. Not because I am proud, or hateful or uneducated but because I believe that marriage is a sacred institution that was given to us by God, and it is not ours to tamper with (Marcus Dorsey, The Oregonian)

  • From his promarriage fervor comes a pillar of Bush policy | What started as a charming personality quirk, with candidate Bush trying to fix up singles on his campaign plane, has become a defining issue in the 2004 presidential campaign (Peter S. Canellos, The Boston Globe)

Article continues below
  • Getting out | Divorce was once all but unthinkable in Asia, but now it's become almost standard. And these days it's women who are doing most of the dumping (Time Asia)

  • The marriage savers | Does couples therapy really work? The divorce rate says no, but a new breed of therapists offers hope (Time Asia)

  • Marriage, society | Have you heard anyone say: "Marriage is not the business of government"? This sounds great until one considers that the disintegration of the family — built upon marriage — is the driving engine behind many of our most serious social problems (Matt Daniels, The Washington Times)


  • Saint who covered up for child abusers | The Roman Catholic church's mishandling of paedophile scandals among its clergy is not a modern phenomenon but has been going on for hundreds of years, a new book, published today, reveals (The Guardian, London)

  • Scientists find new face on Turin shroud | Italian scientists have found a matching image of a man's face and possibly his hands on the back of the Turin shroud, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ (Reuters)

  • Patriarch accepts apology from the Pope | During a visit to Greece in 2001, John Paul apologized for the attack on the city, today's Istanbul, which was looted by Catholic Crusaders. The apology had long been sought by Orthodox (Associated Press)

  • Back from the ruins: An £80m rebuilding of Dresden's jewel | The Frauenkirche in Dresden was reduced to rubble by bombing in 1945. This week, the last stone block was put in place for the reconstruction of the German baroque masterpiece (The Independent, London)

Church life:

  • Minister dies from snakebite at Easter | A preacher bitten by a rattlesnake as he handled it during an Easter service at a rural church died after refusing medical treatment, authorities said (Associated Press)

  • New 70-acre campus appeals to Christians | Traffic backed up for a mile in each direction recently when The Chapel, a contemporary non-denominational kid-friendly Christian church, celebrated its grand opening at the new 70-acre campus in unincorporated Grayslake (Lake Forester, Ill.)

  • Procession of prayers | Statues, flags mark appeal to spare North End parish (The Boston Globe)

  • Major Christian churches begin 50-day prayer for ethnic harmony | Major Christian churches in Taipei launched a prayer drive yesterday in an effort to promote social harmony in the wake of the bitterly fought March 20 presidential election. (Central News Agency, Taiwan)

Article continues below

Pope John Paul II:


  • Parking lot 'Jesus' causes stir in Albany | Albany officers received a call at about 3:25 p.m. from someone complaining about a man dressed as Jesus, covered with fake blood, being scourged by another man with a rope in a 14th Avenue parking lot near Safeway and G.I. Joes (Corvallis Gazette Times, Ore., via Obscure Store)

  • Sand sculptures of Jesus spark inspirational novel | Roger Powell didn't know exactly how or why, but he knew there was something he had to do: make a sculpture in the sand of Jesus. A big sculpture. One that would require, oh, about 35 tons of sand for starters. (The Toledo Blade)

  • Selling Jesus | To the dismay of the diocese, a Catholic church takes its marketing cue from evangelicals (Cleveland Scene)


  • Christian radio looks to global broadcasts | An international Christian radio station based in Western Australia's Kimberley region has ambitions to broadcast to more than half the people in the world (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

  • Holy box office! | Thérèse, in the tradition of The Passion (Leonardo Defilippis, National Review Online)


  • The greatest story ever sold | The latest of the "Left Behind" novels, "Glorious Appearing," has been a phenomenal success at the book stores (60 Minutes II, CBS)

  • Adolescent Fervor | Schaeffer's talents land on biographical fiction (Metro Pulse, Knoxville, Tenn.)

  • Restored Bible lifts spirits at burned church | Charred by flames, soaked by firefighters' hoses and restored to life in a university library, the pulpit Bible of Virginia Dale is bound for its rightful place (The Denver Post)

World's oldest worker retires:

Jobless call on St. Expeditus:

Article continues below
  • Jobless Brazilians turn to Catholic saint for help, WSJ says | Jobless Brazilians are turning to St. Expeditus, a formerly obscure figure in Roman Catholic tradition who has become the object of cult-like devotion for help in urgent causes, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Brazilians (Bloomberg)

Online religion:

  • Getting religion | Faith goes online, advertisers find attractive demo (MediaPost)

  • Online to God with an internet service | The world's first "three-dimensional" internet church service, complete with gothic arches, wooden pews and a congregation of cartoon characters, is to be launched next month (The Telegraph, London)

  • Glimpse inside the virtual church | The preacher, congregation and prayers will be real enough. Only the building will be virtual - but this 3D church could be a taste of things to come (BBC)

Related Elsewhere:

Suggest links and stories by sending e-mail to

What is Weblog?

Check out Books & Culture's weblog, Content & Context.

See our past Weblog updates:

April 14 | 13 | 12
April 8 | 7 | 5
April 2 | 1 | March 31 | 30 | 29
March 26 | 25b | 25a | 24 | 23 | 22
March 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15
March 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8
March 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1
and more, back to November 1999

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.
Previous Weblog Columns: