Mayors' Prayer Breakfast canceled after mayors pull out
Last year, the Mayors' Prayer Breakfast of Washington County, Oregon, became a small controversy. This year, it became a much larger one. And while the controversy grows, the prayer breakfast itself is now dead.

At a Beaverton City Council meeting last May, councilor Cathy Stanton noted the prayer breakfast, scheduled two days later. "She explained this was sponsored by a group of businessmen in the area and not by any local jurisdiction," say the minutes for that meeting. "She noted anyone was welcome to attend."

But councilor Fred Ruby found the invitation "concerning," and said it was inappropriate and unconstitutional for city officials to promote attendance at the breakfast. The meeting itself, he said, was "insensitive to non-Christian citizens" and probably illegal.

The following week, after the prayer breakfast had taken place, the debate continued. This time, it was new resident and local United Church of Christ pastor Mary Sue Evers who complained. "She said Jesus offered a whole-hearted inclusion and acceptance, and she believed to exclude others in his name was not to be as Christian as possible," say the minutes. "She suggested in this community many forms of spirituality could be honored, and she hoped events like this would be inclusive of all the diversity in Beaverton."

As it turns out, this had been Ruby's concern all along. Responding to another citizen's challenge to his comments the previous week,

Ruby said he originally was concerned because the Mayor's Executive Assistant was on the planning committee for the event and he observed promotional posters for the event posted in City Hall.  He said he resolved the issues with the Mayor; the Mayor assured him city staff had not worked on the program on city time.  He said the Mayor had instructed staff to remove unauthorized posters.  He said he accepted that the program met the requirements of the Constitution; whether or not it violated the spirit of the Constitution was a subject of principled differences of opinion.  He said the most important issue was that the program should reach out to all faiths in the community.

Let's summarize. Critics of last year's event conceded that the prayer breakfast was not a government-sponsored event. However, they wanted to pressure the Christian group to change its theology, which accepts ecumenical but not interfaith prayer.

Forcing the issue
This year, that pressure escalated. Beaverton Mayor Rob Drake, citing "controversy about the event's inclusiveness last year," invited a local Jewish rabbi to offer the event's opening prayer, and a Muslim leader to offer the closing prayer.

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The organizers, the Beaverton-Tigard Chapter of the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship & Concerned Citizens, voted 7-to-1 to rescind the invitation to the Muslim.

"The Muslims are not part of the Judeo-Christian tradition," communications director Peter Reding told The Oregonian. Board members, he said, were uncomfortable with the idea of praying to Allah.

"It's just broken my heart," Drake said. "I thought we had found openness and the ability to honor diversity."

Drake, who was scheduled to speak at the breakfast, said he wouldn't attend at all. This was followed by similar withdrawals from other mayors and city officials throughout Washington County. Another speaker, Oregon Air National Guard Col. Garry Dean, also pulled out.

"The Oregon National Guard does not and cannot support an organization that excludes others based on religion," said spokeswoman Misti Mazzia. "When it comes to any discrimination against anyone, that's a no-brainer in the military."

The third speaker, local business leader Steve Hanamura, said he'd keep his commitment, but reluctantly. "You guys are wrong in what you did, but I'll stand by you," he told the event organizers.

When it became clear that few, if any, mayors would attend, the board canceled the event altogether. "The purpose of the event is gone," explained registrar Roy Dancer. Other prayer events in the city scheduled that day (May 5 is the National Day of Prayer) will continue. It may not happen next year, either, he said. "It's in limbo. If it's going to be held next year, some fences need to be mended."

'Vitriolic' explanations
Drake said he received about 600 responses at City Hall about his decision to withdraw. "And you can count on two hands the negative comments," he said. "I appreciate the community's outpouring of support for diversity, tolerance, and understanding."

Ah, yes. Diversity, tolerance, and understanding. That is, a diversity that doesn't include people who believe the Muslim Allah is not the Christian God, a tolerance that says Christians must pray with Muslims, and an understanding that doesn't see why a non-governmental prayer event sponsored by a Christian organization doesn't include prayers from all faiths.

The controversy will likely continue, since it's clear that this debate got quite heated. When breakfast spokesman Peter Reding explained that "everybody is invited to come to the breakfast," but that the breakfast has a "Jewish-Christian tradition only on the dais," the executive director of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon called those comments "vitriolic." Diversity, tolerance, and understanding, indeed.

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The Oregonian, which has already published many opinion pieces on the debate, piles on in an editorial today. "The event itself was divisive," the paper says. Mayor Drake and others who withdrew "deserve praise. … They have taken a stand for Washington County residents of all faiths."

Well, except for those who believe that not all faiths are equal when it comes to praying to God Almighty.

The paper says the organizers were wrong to call the event a mayors' prayer breakfast "because it gives the erroneous impression that this is an event that has the full support of elected officials, which it plainly does not."

Of course, the organizers may have thought that a breakfast meeting organized with the intent of praying for mayors, with a mayor speaking at the event, might have warranted the title.

Still, The Oregonian (which, by the way, does not have the full support of Oregon's state government, despite its title) says the prayer breakfast organizers are free "not only to worship as they see fit, but also to behave in ways that many others would find offensive, or at least rude."

But apparently the newspaper has absolutely no qualms with government officials telling religious believers how they should pray and to which deity those prayers should be directed. The paper also seems to be untroubled by the fact that Mayor Drake, not the breakfast organizers, took it upon himself to invite the Muslim leader.

One thing is clear: this county and its officials certainly do need prayer.

More articles

Abortion rights activists protest:

  • Hughes defends remarks on abortion rights march | Presidential adviser Karen Hughes responded yesterday to criticism that, in a television interview, she had compared participants in Sunday's abortion rights march in Washington to terrorists, calling that interpretation "a gross distortion" of her remarks (The Washington Post)

  • Hundreds of thousands march for abortion rights | Hundreds of thousands of abortion rights supporters protested Bush administration policies in the nation's capital (The New York Times)

  • Abortion rights marchers decry global setbacks | Protesters hold one of the biggest rallies seen in Washington as they seek to renew a movement hit by years of reversals in the U.S. and abroad (Los Angeles Times)

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  • Antiabortion rally confronts huge march | Groups trade accusations, insults along Pennsylvania Avenue (The Washington Post)

  • Abortion-rights march targets Bush | Abortion-rights activists turned out by the hundreds of thousands Sunday, packing the National Mall with a sea of pink signs and a warning to the White House that they will go to the polls in November (Chicago Tribune)

  • A family's march to redemption | Three generations join abortion rights rally in honor of woman who died (The Washington Post)

  • Among the pagan ladies | One could call the Sunday "March for Women's Lives" a festival of paganism, but that's probably not fair to ancient pagans (George Neumayr, The American Spectator)

  • "Abort Bush" | The activists at the March for Women's Lives take partisan shots--and extol the joys of abortion (Erin Montgomery, The Weekly Standard)

  • Bush beware on abortion issue | The huge outpouring at the pro-choice rally on Sunday should send a signal to George W. Bush that he's in more trouble than he thinks (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive)

  • We're f*****' feminists! | An angry gathering in Washington (Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online)

Other abortion issues:

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  • Teachers battle NEA over politics | State affiliates of the National Education Association, a sponsor of last weekend's pro-choice March for Women's Lives, are fighting members who have invoked federal antidiscrimination laws against the union's use of their dues to support abortion, contraception and homosexuality (The Washington Times)

  • Teresa: Abortion ends a life | Teresa Heinz Kerry says she's pro-choice but believes abortion is "stopping the process of life," it was reported yesterday (New York Daily News)

Life ethics:

  • White House to pull support for conference | The Bush administration is scrapping plans to sponsor a major global health and reproductive rights conference that features liberal advocacy groups, including several pro-choice organizations and (The Washington Times)

  • Pharmacists' moral beliefs vs. women's legal rights | The American Pharmacists Association maintains a two-part policy (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Cases test law giving legal rights to fetuses | A state law grants a fetus full legal status as a person, allowing prosecutors to charge two counts -- and perhaps the death penalty -- against someone who kills a pregnant woman (Houston Chronicle)

  • Church backs condom use | The Church of Uganda says it supports condom use among the youths to control the spread of HIV/Aids (The Monitor, Kampala, Uganda)

Catholic politicians & communion:

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  • Cardinal weighs sanctions for politicians | Roman Catholic politicians who advocate policies contrary to church teaching on abortion and other issues may risk sanctions that fall short of denial of Holy Communion, the head of a U.S. bishops task force examining the problem said Tuesday (Associated Press)

  • Vatican rules out liberalized liturgy | A senior cardinal says politicians who support legal abortion must be denied Communion (Los Angeles Times)

  • Should politicians obey their church's doctrines? | Should religious leaders press politicians more to adhere to their faith's teachings, including going so far as to bar them from church institutions and sacraments? Religious leaders respond (Los Angeles Times)

John Kerry & the Roman Catholic Church:

  • Vatican cardinal signals backing for sanctions on Kerry | Francis Arinze said in a news conference in Rome yesterday that a Roman Catholic politician who supports abortion "is not fit" to receive communion (The New York Times)

  • Kerry is given communion despite stand on abortion | The Paulist Center's Father Joe Ciccone paid no heed to the admonition from Rome (Los Angeles Times)

  • Kerry's Catholic problem | When Mr. Kerry and other Catholic politicians say they accept church teaching but selectively deny it when it comes to abortion, they place the state above the church and man above God (Cal Thomas)

  • Vatican ought to give Kerry some more room | The Bible doesn't give us a point-by-point political platform. Instead, it offers a set of principles, such as ensuring justice for the poor, loving one's neighbor as one's self and sowing peace. It is up to us to determine how those ideals translate into politics (William McKenzie, The Dallas Morning News)

  • Abortion issue pushes Kerry's faith to fore | A cardinal's stance against Communion for Catholic officials who back abortion rights sets off a political and religious furor (Los Angeles Times)

Religion & politics:

  • G.O.P. Senate race in Pennsylvania heats up | Patrick Toomey's campaign plans to tap into a statewide network of anti-abortion groups and evangelical churches to energize his supporters. At the forefront of the effort is Focus on the Family's James Dobson (The New York Times)

  • Religion has growing role in election | Bush, Kerry camps track faith, morality issues (San Diego Union-Tribune)

  • Their will be done | Frontline explores the impact of George W. Bush's born-again Christianity on his presidency (Newsday)

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  • For God's sake | The strong influence of the Christian right on US policy will only increase if George Bush wins a second term (Philip James, The Guardian, London)

  • 'The President of Good & Evil': Find the moral | Peter Singer is led, on issue after issue, to a double conclusion: Bush's views are not intellectually defensible, and his behavior shows he doesn't believe in them anyway (The New York Times Book Review)

  • Evangelicals adapt to change | Many here cite misunderstandings (Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, N.Y.)

  • Reflections on U.S. religious wars | We're at war, all right, but not just against terrorism. We're fighting an even more massive and ultimately divisive conflict: our internecine battle over America's religiosity and the extent to which we want our secular laws dictated by certain religious beliefs. (Bonnie Erbe, Scripps Howard News Service)

  • Bishop accuses FO of unlawfully buying church used as embassy | A church of England bishop yesterday accused the Foreign Office of unlawfully buying a church and compound used as the British embassy in Algiers (The Telegraph, London)

  • India ruling party plays down Hindu roots | But the Hindu agenda remains deeply embedded in BJP politic (Associated Press)

  • Politics, piety, and the Catholic vote | Personal piety and religious observance are not prerequisites of national leadership (Editorial, National Catholic Reporter)

  • Faith on trial for candidates | Catholic officials' abortion litmus test spawns questions on propriety (The Denver Post)

  • Flawed theological position on the war | Bush is not "theologian in chief" -- although it appears that that may not be entirely clear to him (James L. Evans, Mobile Register, Ala.)

Religion & politics in Zambia:

Religion & politics in Europe:

  • Europe's new age of enlightenment? | With the 10 new EU member states, the religious map of Europe is also changing dramatically, bringing aboard Catholics, the Orthodox Church and Protestants. What role do churches play in these countries today? (Deutsche Welle, Germany)

  • Church leaders speak out against BNP | Christian leaders in the north of England have told worshippers to deal an electoral blow to the "racist" British National Party (BNP) in the run-up to European elections (Reuters)

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Ten Commandments & the pledge:

  • Christian organization wants church in state | Texas Rally's purpose is to uphold the acknowledgement of God as the source of laws in the United States and break down the wall between church and state. Concerned Americans in Action rallies and educates Christians to protect their rights (The Allen American, Tex.)

  • Moore brings argument for 'Christian America' | America has been "deceived" into forgetting that this is a Christian country whose laws are based on the word of God, the former chief justice of Alabama told a group of conservative Christians Friday night (The Advocate-Messenger, Danville, Ky.)

  • Will Moore play a role in November? | Though he hasn't said it yet, my hunch is that Moore will soon announce that he is running for president on the Constitution Party ticket (Todd Kleffman, The Advocate-Messenger, Danville, Ky.)

  • McDermott omits 'God' from Pledge | Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, yesterday did not say the words "under God" as he led the House in its daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance (The Washington Times)

Dinner prayer at VMI permanently blocked:

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Muslim prayers in Detroit:

  • Hamtramck okays prayer call over heated objections | Unanimous vote passes measure; critics cite privacy (The Detroit News)

  • Hamtramck prayer okay prompts outrage | The Hamtramck City Council's unanimous approval Tuesday night of a plan to allow the Muslim call to prayer to be broadcast on loudspeakers five times a day in Arabic has outraged many of the city's Polish Catholic residents (Detroit Free Press)

  • The muezzin's call in Hamtramck | If city leaders truly want to encourage the American melting pot, they should probably prohibit all outdoor noise offenders, bells and chants, and leave any exhortations to soap-box orators (Barrett Kalellis, The Washington Times)

  • Cultures collide in diverse Hamtramck | Uproar over Islamic call to prayer pits tolerance, tradition (The Detroit News)

Religious freedom:

  • Canadians allow Islamic courts to decide disputes | Sharia gains foothold in Ontario  (The Washington Post)

  • Christian group alleges "violation" Constitutional right | Alleging threats to security and freedom of churches, institutions and individuals in India, the Federation of Indian-American Christian Organisations of North America has charged the "right wing extremist" Hindu bodies as also BJP-led government with "violation" of Christians' Constitutional right to religious freedom (PTI, India)

  • Southeast Asia's persecuted Christians | Religious persecution is one growing crisis that should not be overlooked by Washington and the West (Editorial, The Washington Times)

  • Amish man returns to Canada | An Amish man from Canada who had challenged a United States policy requiring him to submit his photograph with his application for citizenship has returned to his family home in Ontario after federal courts refused to let him stay in the United States while his lawsuit proceeds (The New York Times)

  • Earlier: Amish man loses emergency appeal to stay in U.S. | A Canadian man living in Pennsylvania is told he may not stay in the United States while he appeals immigration rules requiring a photograph with his citizenship paperwork. Daniel Zehr is Amish, and he says his faith forbids having one's picture taken because of the Bible's prohibition of graven images (All Things Considered, NPR)

  • Jehovah's Witnesses banned in Moscow | A local court in Moscow bans the Jehovah's Witnesses from practicing their religion in Russia's capital, saying that followers of the religion endanger public health and "inflame religious divisions." But Jehovah's Witnesses say they are victims of religious discrimination (Morning Edition, NPR)

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War & terrorism:


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  • Cleburne church vandalized | At Crossroads Baptist Church at 110 N. Caddo, vandals knifed a computer monitor, littered the floor with glass, threw books from shelves, poured water throughout the area, knocked sound equipment off counters and dumped a second computer onto a floor, a police report states (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Born-again thief raided churches | A serial burglar who claimed he had found God after doing a course in Christianity turned on the people who helped him and plundered a string of churches (Reading Evening Post, England)


  • Sexually abusive priest to stand trial | A judge ruled Monday there is enough evidence to hold a trial on prosecutors' bid to keep child-molesting former priest James Porter locked up indefinitely as a sexually dangerous person (Associated Press)

  • Award in Lutheran case could be reduced | As much as $25 million of a nearly $37 million jury award in a sexual abuse case could be covered by an earlier settlement. (Associated Press)

  • Priest cleared of charges | A retired Rancho Cucamonga priest who had been under investigation for sexual abuse before prosecutors declined to press charges can return to the ministry, officials with the Diocese of San Bernardino said (Los Angeles Times)

  • Woman tells of sex assault as she read the Bible at beauty spot | Detectives in Edinburgh are hoping an appeal on BBC Crimewatch may help them catch the sex attacker (The Herald, Glasgow, Scotland)

Religion & education:

  • When religion in schools meant spilled blood | For two months in 1844, Philadelphia was torn by riots. Nativist mobs marched on Irish Catholic neighborhoods; Irish residents fired from rooftops. Two Catholic churches and whole blocks of the city were attacked and burned. More than 20 people died (The New York Times)

  • Religion in schools | If, as is strongly hinted at, the executive insists that religious observance must continue in non-denominational schools to be within a broadly Christian context, it will be flying in the face of moves in England to recognise the increasingly secular nature of British society (Editorial, The Herald, Glasgow, Scotland)

  • A film on school board fracas by one who's close to subject | Documentary on Westminster's war over gender, bias, and religion is being made by the sympathetic son of a criticized trustee (Los Angeles Times)

  • Religious materials banned for B.C. home schooling | Home-schooling parents are fuming after the B.C. Education Ministry ordered thousands of them to stop using faith-based materials -- or any other "unofficial" resource -- when teaching their children at home (Vancouver Sun)

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Church buildings:

Church life:

  • Christian churches growing in Russia | In St. Petersburg, home to 4.5million people, there are only about 8,000 who regularly attend evangelical or Protestant churches. A larger number identify themselves as Russian Orthodox, but most are atheists or agnostics (Lincoln Journal Star, Neb.)

  • Church sign reveals unfortunate bigotry | I was surprised at the message at Socastee Original Freewill Baptist Church (Kerry Cook, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.)

  • City's hunt for comical clerics | The nation's self-styled comedy capital is looking for gurus who can raise a giggle or clerics who have their flocks rolling in the pews (BBC)

  • Bats put congregation in a flap | A church which dates back more than a thousand years may be forced to close after an invasion of rare bats (BBC)

  • Closing parishes could complicate wedding plans | The Archdiocese of Boston is calling on priests to assist brides and grooms whose weddings must be relocated because of upcoming parish closings (Associated Press)

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  • House of worship offers gays sanctuary, support | What started as a group of people who met casually at a couple's home once a week to sing and pray became a full-blown church (Al Día, Dallas)

  • Church moves to organize, build | Religious leaders are working on a legal framework that would unite thousands of born-again Inuit Christians in a new Canadian church (CBC North, Canada)

  • Patriarch brings out his big stick | The badly soured relations between the Church of Greece and the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians took a dramatic turn for the worse on Saturday when Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios threatened to solemnly censure Archbishop Christodoulos if he goes ahead with controversial plans to elect new bishops today for three northern Greek sees. (Kathimerini, Athens)

  • Growing town crowding in around church | For more than a century, the fieldstone house of worship at Route 66 and North Main Street has stood as a spiritual haven for generations of Christians (The Hartford Courant, Conn.)

Anglican Communion:

  • Episcopal leader offers 'inclusionary' service | The Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr., Episcopal bishop-elect of Ohio, is planning an "inclusionary" consecration service tomorrow in Cleveland in which priests and bishops have been invited to take part in a procession with their wives, husbands, children, and "partners" (The Toledo Blade)

  • What women want | Anglicans continue to constrain the ministry of women clergy (Judith Maltby, The Guardian, London)

  • Episcopalians in R.I. seek foreign ties | Upset about the ordination of a gay bishop, a local group gathers to guild a connection with Anglicans overseas (The Providence Journal, R.I.)

  • Kirk dilemma: two million believers, 240,000 worshippers | A new report yesterday highlighted the membership difficulties facing the Church of Scotland, now at its lowest point at 571,000 (The Herald, Glasgow, Scotland)

Gay Anglican dean opposed:

  • Gay row dean attacks prejudice in church | Sermon points out that slavery was defended on the basis of scripture (The Guardian, London)

  • Campaign begins against gay dean | Blair accused of trying 'to move church in more liberal direction' (The Guardian, London)

  • Gay cleric faces new pressure to step down | A group of more than 40 evangelical clergy and laity in the diocese of St Albans said that they were "dismayed" by the appointment of Jeffrey John to the post as Dean of St Albans (The Telegraph, London)

  • Gay cleric storm brews | Prominent clergyman Reverend Robert Donald has said he is "disturbed" by the appointment of gay cleric Jeffrey John to the post of Dean of St Albans (This is Local London)

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United Methodist Church:

  • Methodists see U.S. 'racism' as members' visas denied | Leaders of the United Methodist Church accused Washington of "racism" on Tuesday after dozens of African and Asian church members were barred from attending a special conference of the third-largest Christian denomination in the United States (Reuters)

  • Methodists urge civility ahead of debate on gays | The United Methodist Church pleaded on Tuesday for civility and respect as its members prepared to debate church policy on homosexuality, an issue that threatens to tear apart the third-largest U.S. Christian denomination (Reuters)

  • Methodists to vote on building in D.C. | A long-standing dispute over the use of the Methodist Building on Capitol Hill will be put to a vote this week when United Methodists gather in Pittsburgh to revise their church bylaws (The Washington Times)

  • For her traditional beliefs, she plays politics in pews | Patricia Miller is a devoted Methodist. She's also devoted to keeping the denomination from relaxing its view on homosexuality (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)


  • The end of the Pius wars | It was a long and arduous struggle, vituperative and cruel, but, in the end, the defenders of Pius XII won every major battle. Along the way, they also lost the war (Joseph Bottum, First Things)

  • Pope lays down law with recipe for perfect Mass | The Vatican has issued new guidelines on the celebration of Mass in a bid to stamp out what it sees as abuses that have been creeping into the most important rite of the Roman Catholic liturgy (The Independent, London)

  • Catholic group asks for married priests | Representatives of priests in at least nine dioceses, from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Long Island, have announced the birth of a new nationwide effort to allow married men in the Roman Catholic clergy (The New York Times)

  • Pope puts six people on path to sainthood | Among the six was a paralyzed lay woman, Alexandrina Maria da Costa of Portugal, who the Vatican says lived the last 13 years of her life eating only the bread and wine of Communion (Associated Press)

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  • Vatican appoints nun to senior post | Sister Enrica Rosanna, an Italian nun, was appointed to the post of under-secretary at a Vatican department called the Congregation for Consecrated Life (Reuters)

  • Storied convent soon will go silent | After 122 years, Monroe-based order will shutter Detroit home (Detroit Free Press)

  • Nuns becoming a rarity in Catholic schools | Family's memories reflect a steady decline of religious since mid-1960s (The Times, Munster, Ind.)

  • The last sister | The principal of St. Andrew the Apostle School is retiring, marking the end of century-long tradition of nuns at the school (The Times, Munster, Ind.)

  • Vatican's Swiss Guard keys into 21st century | The Swiss Guard, whose members in their Renaissance uniforms make a picturesque show of protecting the Pope and the few hundred other residents of Vatican City, has entered the modern world, by courtesy of the US company Motorola (The Independent)


  • Mormons open temple doors to share beliefs |One of the hottest tickets in New York right now is just off Broadway: a tour of a new Mormon temple. It's a rare glimpse of the architecture of a unique, often-misunderstood religion, a sense of the sacred expressed in light and mirrors and enveloping silence (USA Today)

  • Some businesses see Utah as not welcoming | Some employers and politicians — mostly Democrats — are warning that Utah's Mormon conservatism is driving away business (Associated Press)

Prayer for sick illegal?:

  • When calls for prayer trample personal privacy | Disclosing details of members' health could pose legal problem for churches (The Washington Post)

  • Law prompts new guidelines | The implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, in April 2003 raised questions about religious communities' practice of publicizing members' illnesses (The Washington Post)

Prison ministry:

Missions & ministry:

  • Graham dedicates centre | Evangelist Franklin Graham was in Calgary yesterday to officially dedicate a $9-million headquarters for two Christian organizations, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada and Samaritan's Purse Canada (Calgary Sun)

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Missions in Afghanistan:

  • Bishop's interfaith aid mission | The Bishop for Birmingham revealed that his father raised two orphan Muslims as he flew off to lend his support for interfaith aid projects in Afghanistan (Birmingham Post, England)

  • Bishop visits Afghan aid workers | The Bishop of Birmingham is to visit Afghanistan as part of an inter-faith mission to support religious aid workers (BBC)

Nontraditional ministry:

Christian business:

  • Tough going for little stores | For years, Christian stores found a comfortable niche. But these entrepreneurs are disappearing, even as Christian retail sales soar (The Arizona Republic)

  • Values have values | Robert Cooper, a former investment banker who owns Bisson Moving and Storage, is a founder of CLIMB, Christian Leaders in Maine Business. Cooper and Bisson employees developed a core set of values they try to bring to the workplace: competence, respect, integrity, stewardship and service (Portland Press Herald, Maine)

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  • Harry Potter's new rival | 'Shadowmancer' is a Christian option for fantasy readers (The Baltimore Sun)

  • 'The Spiral Staircase': Goodbye to God. Also hello | The chief accomplishment of Karen Armstrong's memoir is not the revision of a historical cliche. It is, rather, the creation of a self (The New York Times Book Review)

  • Having a devil of a time selling your book? Try this | Apparently a spiritual angle is as good for sales as it is for souls (Henry G. Brinton, The Washington Post)

  • Believe it or not | Making a patriotic case for those of little faith. Christopher Hitchens reviews Susan Jacoby's Freethinkers (The Washington Post)

  • Writing for Godot | The Bible foretold it. The war in Iraq proves it. The end is near, says Christian activist and best-selling novelist Tim LaHaye, and he's writing as fast as he can (Los Angeles Times)

  • The attack on secularism | The new book "Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism," by writer and social critic Susan Jacoby, is a historical work but it is also an unabashed polemic on an acutely topical issue: the role of religion in public life in modern-day America (Cathy Young, The Boston Globe)

  • Living with purpose | A philosophy of faith and service moves hearts and minds (Chicago Tribune)

  • The First Crusade by Thomas Asbridge | How can you love your enemy and kill him? Contrary to our modern assumptions, finds Murrough O'Brien, Crusader knights worried about such a paradox (The Independent, London)

The Bible:

  • What would Jesus read? | While there have been other teen Bibles, none of the old crop relied so heavily on pop culture to sell their message or addressed girls and boys separately (U.S News & World Report)

  • In love with the word | Adam Nicolson paints a compelling portrait of Jacobean England in his history of the making of the King James Bible, Power and Glory (The Guardian, London)

  • Publishers work overtime to lure turned-off youths to the Bible | For many of today's teens, the Bible, human history's most important book, is so "yesterday." Ignorance abounds, and worsens with each generation. Blending spiritual, cultural and profit-making motives, publishers are cleverly attacking that gap, repackaging and sugarcoating Scripture with add-ons and hot formats. (Associated Press)

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Left Behind:

  • Sacred mysteries: What's all this about Rapture? | Belief in The Rapture in its dispensationalist sense might seem harmlessly eccentric. But it is notable that, from the Marcionists of the second century to the Fifth Monarchy Men of the 1660s, obsessive and individualistic interpretation of apocalyptic Scripture has led to the splitting of Christians into sects - and not seldom outbreaks of blinkered violence (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)

  • Left Behind author still 'stunned' | An interview with Jerry Jenkins (The Arizona Republic)

  • Up, up, up with people | They feel fine. 'Rapture ready' crowd predicts end of the world (The Village Voice)

The Code breakers:


  • A producer's record crop | T Bone Burnett has mined a mountain of roots music (The Washington Post)

  • Integrity gaining power in Christian entertainment | Many business announcements in Nashville's entertainment industry have involved downsizing and consolidation. But one company has brought good news to town — in more ways than one (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Modern-day messiah | Michael Tait and the cast of '!Hero' tell the tale of Jesus with a contemporary edge (The Tennessean, Nashville)


  • Making it all right for psalm | Welcome to televangelism, British style (Financial Times)

  • Lighten up about those TV lesbians | Television relies on stereotyping to communicate and The L Word is no different (Jo Chichester, The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • What? Morals in 'South Park'? | Depending on whom you asked, "The Passion of the Jew," proved that the show's still got it or that it's made a comeback or that it's better than ever. In any case, it was good (The New York Times)

  • Crossan examination | John Dominic Crossan has been a popular guy recently (Milford Daily News, Ma.)

Nigeria bans televised miracles:

  • No ban on religious broadcast, says NBC | National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has refuted rumours making the rounds that it has placed a ban on the broadcast of religious programmes on radio and television stations, describing it as "deliberate misinformation and ploy to fan the embers of religious sentiments capable of causing disaffection among the populace" (This Day, Lagos, Nigeria)

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  • Why FG banned miracle broadcast—NBC | The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has assured Nigerians that the recent ban on miracle broadcasting does not translate to ban of broadcast of religious programmes on radio and television stations as is believed in certain quarters (Daily Trust, Abuja, Nigeria)

  • Yisa, NBC boss:We won't allow anyone to deceive Nigerians | Director-General of the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Dr. Silas Yisa has said that his commission has an axe to grind with TV stations which fail to regulate the religious messages aired on their stations by religious bodies to conform with the NBC Code (Vanguard, Lagos, Nigeria)

  • As NBC threatens miracle preachers: The bitter war persists | Till today, the controversy rages on in Nigeria as many ask the propriety or otherwise of the NBC stopping those television preachers. Or on how it is able to distinguish between fake and real miracle preachers (Vanguard, Lagos, Nigeria)

  • Okotie: Nobody can stop us | Evangelist and Pastor of Household of God, Reverend Kris Okotie in this encounter reacts to threat of ban on miracle preachers on television (Vanguard, Lagos, Nigeria)

  • My advice to miracle preachers, by Okonkwo | Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria President, Bishop Mike Okonkwo has said that the PFN as an umbrella body of all pentecostal churches in Nigeria is concerned that members who engage in miracle claims should do so with proof in order not to endanger the credibility of the body (Vanguard, Lagos, Nigeria)

Film & art:

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The Passion:

  • `The Passion' puts some believers on the outside | Some Christians They prefer not to view the film, because of its violent and gory nature or its traditionalist orientation, but feel pressure from pastors and other Christians to go (Chicago Tribune)

  • The Times: Mel's cross to bear | Though dedicated to fairness, the New York Times has relentlessly lashed Mel Gibson and his hit film and denigrated its defenders (Peter Bart, Variety)

  • Box office miracles are hard to repeat | But with the success of 'The Passion,' you can bet Hollywood will try (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Kintop to harp on faith to sell Christ's Passion in India | In a bid to make Mel Gibson's controversial movie "The Passion of the Christ" a big hit in India, its distributors plan to mobilise the opinion of the Christian clergy in the country (PTI, India)

  • Gibson's idiotic vision | Is The Passion anti-Semitic? It's hard to say, because it's difficult to take this film seriously (Lysiane Gagnon, The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Jesus film stirs passions of Arab Christians and Muslims | While Christian Arabs, including Palestinians, are examining questions of faith, many Muslims appear to be taking an interest because of an upsurge in anti-Israeli feelings now sweeping across the Middle East (Scotland on Sunday)

  • Gibson`s `Passion` is hot in Kerala | It's expected to do better than Titanic (Sify, India)

  • 'The Passion' -- and its controversy -- lives on | It's breaking box office records at home and abroad, still sparking controversy, and some folks say it's even triggering a few miracle (Jim Jones, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Israel cinema to show Passion | An art house cinema in Israel will show The Passion of the Christ after commercial distributors in the Jewish state refused to handle it (BBC)

Prayer & spirituality:

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Search for Noah's Ark:

  • Noah's Ark quest heads for Turkey | American and Turkish explorers are hoping to discover traces of Noah's Ark on the slopes of Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey (BBC)

  • Spark of Noah's ark | Israel is the nation most often mentioned in the Bible. But do you know which nation is second? It is Iraq (Robert N. Mullins, The Seattle Times)

No impeachment for judge's custody ruling involving former lesbian couple:

  • Lawmakers back off on judge's impeachment | Colorado lawmakers today soundly rejected a plan to impeach Denver District Judge John Coughlin because of his ruling in a child custody case involving a lesbian couple, saying he apparently made the best decision possible (Associated Press)

  • Earlier: Extremists have judge in their sights | If the legislature destroys a quarter-century of exemplary jurisprudence to satisfy the anti-gay agenda of extremists, it won't be any God most of us recognize (Jim Spencer, The Denver Post)

  • Panel refuses to impeach judge | Anti-homophobia ruling had raised cry of illegal activism (The Denver Post)

  • Judge's job is spared | House panel drops impeachment effort tied to custody case (Rocky Mountain News)

Gay marriage:

  • Proposal to leave weddings to churches | A proposal is put forth in Massachusetts that would take the state out of the marriage business altogether. Couples, of any sexual orientation, could receive civil unions from the state, but actual marriage would be left to religious institutions (All Things Considered, NPR)

  • 1 of 3 in California favor gay marriage | The state is more open to the idea than the nation as a whole, less likely to see issue in moral terms (Los Angeles Times)

  • Move to block gay couples who marry overseas | As Canada and some US states push ahead with laws allowing gay marriage, the Federal Government is planning to "put it beyond question" that such unions would not be recognised in Australia (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Gay marriage debate simmers in Ohio | The mayor of Cleveland Heights, one of Ohio's most liberal cities, works closely with gay-rights activists. Yet looking ahead to Election Day in this crucial swing state, he has blunt advice for them on the topic of gay marriage: Tread lightly (Associated Press)

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  • Oklahoma to vote on marriage amendment | Supporters of traditional marriage claimed a victory in Oklahoma last week, while supporters of homosexual "marriage" made headway in California (The Washington Times)

  • Gay rights group taps conservatives | The Human Rights Campaign is working to defeat the proposed federal marriage amendment through a multimillion-dollar effort that includes taking advantage of the division among Republicans over the issue (The Washington Times)

  • The many meanings of marriage | As Oregon considers same-sex unions, religious leaders, anthropologists, historians and others add perspective (The Oregonian)

  • Living a lie no longer | It's probably the most difficult thing they've ever had to do … how local homosexuals in heterosexual marriages overcame denial to follow their hearts (The Tribune, San Luis Obispo, Ca.)

  • Holy war over gay marriage: Should government take sides? | Government has no business promoting one religious view of marriage over all others (Charles Haynes, First Amendment Center)

  • These United States | Will same-sex marriage lead to incest and polygamy? Let's hope so! (Julia Gorin, The Wall Street Journal)

Gay marriage opposition:

  • Thousands protest legalizing same-sex marriage | Asian Americans, Christians rally in Sunset District (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Conservative ads focus on gay marriage | To date, the references have been made gingerly, so much so that commercials typically mention preserving the "sanctity of marriage" or "protecting marriage" rather than opposition to gay marriage (Associated Press)

  • Gay 'marriage' ruling contested | A bipartisan group of Massachusetts lawmakers yesterday filed a lawsuit challenging the authority of the state's highest court to legalize same-sex "marriage" through its rulings (The Washington Times)

  • Same-sex ban needed | We want to explain the convictions we hold regarding same-sex marriage/civil unions, the constitutional amendment in question, and why we hold these convictions (Terry Fox and Joe Wright, The Wichita Eagle)

Gay rights:

  • Anti-gay T-shirts spark suspensions | In response to "Day of Silence," some students wore shirts saying, "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." Another said, "Homosexuality is a sin."  They were suspended for violating a dress code that prohibits clothing "offensive to any race, religion, or gender" (Watauga Democrat, Boone, N.C.)

  • TUC loses gay rights appeal | Trade unions have lost their High Court battle for a ruling that new equality regulations are flawed because they fail to protect lesbian and gay workers from discrimination by "faith-based" employers (The Scotsman)

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Homosexuality & religion:

More articles:

  • Poll shows support for slot machines | A new poll of Cleveland voters shows 70 percent support placing slot machines at Ohio racetracks, with profits funding education initiatives, but considerably less support further gambling expansion (Coshocton Tribune, Oh.)

  • Last victim of Christmas flood found | The remains of 11-year-old Edgar David Meza were 15 miles from a church campsite in the San Bernardino Mountains where 14 were killed (Los Angeles Times)

  • Director aspires to more for Ichthus | Festival organization reaches out in new ways (Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky.)

  • Jews just aren't prepared for all this love | Have you ever had people you've just met tell you that they love you? It happens to me all the time (Geoffrey Dennis, The Dallas Morning News)

  • Racial divide still strong in religion | But some say situation is just a result of choice (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Saved by the church bell | In a bid to diversify, carmaker AMO ZIL began producing church bells, capitalizing on a revival of religion in post-Soviet Russia and a shortage of bells after most were destroyed decades ago when the Bolsheviks seized power (The Washington Times)

  • New Pew Trusts merging works into one body | The Pew Charitable Trusts are pulling their major polling, research and information projects into a single organization to save on administrative costs (The New York Times)

  • Petrarch - the poet who lost his head | Italian who defined the sonnet at centre of medieval whodunit (The Guardian, London)

  • Religion news in brief | Split over gays looms before Methodist meet, Judge bans Boy Scouts' use of public land, European Christianity celebrated, Presbyterian Court rejects dues penalty (The Washington Post)

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What is Weblog?

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

See our past Weblog updates:

April 27 | 26
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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.
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