World's press caves in to speculation

Did you hear that they discovered the cave of John the Baptist? It's in all the papers (691 Google News links so far). The Associated Press, which claims an exclusive on the story, calls it "potentially a major discovery in biblical archaeology."

No one is more excited than British/Israeli archaeologist Shimon Gibson, who uncovered the site.

"I am now certain that this cave was connected with the ancient cult of John the Baptist. Indeed, this may very well be 'the' cave of the early years of John's life, the place where he sought his first solitude in the 'wilderness' and the place where he practised his baptisms," he said. "For the first time, we can point to a spot and say it is highly likely that this is where John the Baptist was baptising and undertaking his rituals. That is amazing."

Elsewhere, he's quoted as saying "The site we've uncovered is seemingly the connecting link between Jewish and Christian baptism." And "John the Baptist, who was just a figure from the Gospels, now comes to life." And ""In addition to John the Baptist, there's a possibility that Jesus used this cave as well."

A press release explains it all. "Tradition holds that John was born and raised in the area and that his mother Elizabeth hid with her infant son in a cave to escape the child slaughter commanded by King Herod. There are several churches in the area dedicated to John or claiming to be sites from which he conducted his ministry … "

Oh wait. This is a press release from April 2000. Huh. But surely the finding that it's John the Baptist's cave is new, right? Uh, not really. The Charlotte Observer suggested as much on its front page back in Easter 2000. And the latest details aren't too new for Gibson to have a book on the shelves this week detailing the find, calling it "the first archaeological evidence of the historical reality of the Gospel story." The subtitle says the archaeological discovery "has redefined Christian history."

Wow! What, pray tell, was in the cave?

Carvings of images of John the Baptist, for one—including a figure that appears to depict his beheading. Oh, but they're from the Byzantine era, apparently carved by fourth and fifth century monks. And none of them have inscriptions describing the site as the cave of John. But Gibson's team also found first century pottery shards! Oh, but they also found 250,000 other shards, some as early as the second century B.C.

Um, but it's a really cool find, right? You bet, Gibson told Reuters. "Nothing like this has been found elsewhere," Gibson said. "It is the first time we have finds from the early baptismal period … It is an amazing discovery that happens to an archeologist once in a lifetime."

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Well, if you're Shimon Gibson, you get enough amazing discoveries for multiple lifetimes. He discovered a first-century leper—a huge find, given that many scholars had argued that leprosy didn't really exist in Jesus' day and that his healings were of other skin ailments. And then there was his discovery of a shrouded corpse, which Gibson said "could be that of a witness to Christ's crucifixion" and proof that the Shroud of Turin is a fake. And then there was his highly publicized warning that the Temple Mount was in danger of imminent collapse. And his findings on the "real" Via Dolorosa. And all that is just in the last few years.

Weblog isn't suggesting that Gibson is making stuff up. He's a noted archaeologist, not some hack. But given the controversy about the last time someone claimed to have "the first archaeological evidence of the historical reality of the Gospel story," a bit more skepticism is in order these days. (Speaking of the James Ossuary controversy, Biblical Archaeology Review has a series of updates, including a Duke professor's assertion that a third of the inscriptions in the Israel Museum are fakes.)

Skepticism is especially in order when James Tabor, Gibson's partner in the dig, says there's "no proof that John himself actually used the cave," according to the CBC. Tabor is a bit more hopeful in an interview with The Charlotte Observer, saying the cave is "associated with the early followers of John, and possibly (with) John."

Still, Jordanian archaeologists have Gibson beat—they say they've got John's head itself. Oh, and there's University of Hartford (Conn.) archaeologist Richard Freund, who was reported to have found John's entire skeleton. Wait. I thought that was at the Umayyad Mosque … Well, at least we know where his father is buried, right?

More articles

Florida vouchers unconstitutional:

  • Florida court rules against religious school vouchers | In a 2-to-1 decision, the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee found that the "vast majority" of students with vouchers used them to enroll in the kind of "sectarian institutions," or religious schools, that are barred from receiving state money under the Florida Constitution (The New York Times)
  • Fla. voucher law ruled unconstitutional | The 2-1 decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal upholds a ruling by a trial judge saying the state constitution forbids the use of tax money to send youngsters to religious schools (Associated Press)
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  • Don't Blaine Florida | Scholarships for public school students run into an old anti-Catholic roadblock (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)
  • Florida court declares school vouchers illegal | A Florida appeals court ruled yesterday that Gov. Jeb Bush's school voucher program violates the state's constitution, which bars using tax dollars to send students to religious schools (The Washington Times)


  • Seminary in Pasadena has plans to expand | The Fuller campus will put in 700 housing units, a prayer garden and a performing arts center if the $79-million project is approved by the city (Los Angeles Times)
  • Judge orders juvenile official to pay legal fees for Heartland Christian Academy | A federal judge has ordered a Missouri juvenile officer to pay more than $800,000 in attorneys' fees and expenses to a northeast Missouri school for troubled youths (Associated Press)

Life ethics:

  • Court refuses to revisit assisted suicide | The White House wanted the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to throw out its ruling backing the law, which allows doctors to help hasten the death of patients (Associated Press)
  • Court won't rehear attempt to block assisted-suicide law | Ashcroft is expected to ask the Supreme Court to take case (Statesman Journal, Salem, Ore.)
  • 'Miracle babies' seized in Kenya | Police in Kenya have seized 11 "miracle babies" for DNA tests after allegations of child trafficking (BBC)


  • Few bypass abortion rule | Judges can override parental-notification law, but not many teens try (The Denver Post)
  • Call for national law to regulate abortion | Two Victorian medical experts have called for abortion to be regulated by a single national law that applies to all stages of pregnancy and protects against prosecution (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

Stem cells:

  • Stem cell battles | Just as the debate was heating up, two developments suggested that the Democrats were right to call for expansion of this important research (Editorial, The New York Times)
  • Stem cell issue splits voters, poll says | Forty-five percent of the 534 likely voters questioned about Proposition 71 said they supported the proposal, and 42 percent said they were opposed. Thirteen percent were undecided. (Associated Press)
  • Why lines must be drawn | Stem cells present a complex moral issue. Shame on Democrats for polarizing it (Charles Krauthammer, Time)
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  • A stem-cell defection | A congressman educates (Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review Online)
  • First, do no harm | I've got some news for my tribe of pro-life conservatives: You cannot be true to our principles and support federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research (Rod Dreher, The Dallas Morning News)
  • Bringing in the clones | Claims to the contrary, Bush never banned stem-cell research (Terence P. Jeffrey, The Washington Times)

Religion & politics:

  • Methodists dominate big tickets in 2004 election | Commentator Gustav Niebuhr, a professor of religion and the media, has noticed something interesting this election season. President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards are all Methodists. He explains what that could mean for this mainline religious movement (All Things Considered, NPR)
  • Candidate in 'spiritual battle' | Presidential drive attracts fringe support, much scrutiny (The Washington Post)
  • Once-conservative Ore. city edges leftward | Not much common ground exists between the two sides squaring off over a gay rights ordinance in Bend, except this: They all agree that 10 years ago, there would have been no fight to pick (Associated Press)
  • Canadian revenue agency warns churches to be silent during election or lose charitable status | Extraordinary abuse of influence by Liberal government (LifeSiteNews, Canada)
  • Hopefuls sidestep religion | In a year in which the personal faith of candidates has assumed an unusually high profile, both men in Colorado's nationally significant U.S. Senate race will likely confront the risks and rewards of explaining how their shared faith influences their positions (The Denver Post)
  • Sikhs may miss White House function | Participants have been asked not to bring their "Kirpans" with them (UPI)
  • Daley aide offers voice for black churches | Charles Bowen, the mayor's ambassador to African-American clergy, has spent 14 years balancing the city's political and spiritual issues (Chicago Tribune)
  • Red and blue churches | Is religion more influenced by our politics than the other way around? (Melinda Henneberger, Newsweek)
  • Catholic vote is key for Bush, Kerry | Many faithful fit in undecided group (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)
  • Group to watch liberal churches | Coalition created by famed atheist's son forms group to monitor liberal churches for tax violations (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)
  • Partial pivot | Every election seems crucial at the time, but the stakes really are higher than usual this year (Marvin Olasky, World)
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Bush campaign & religion:

  • On the road, Bush fields softballs from the faithful | Bush campaign officials readily say that they carefully screen the crowds at "Ask President Bush" sessions. The result is often a love-in with heavily Christian crowds (The New York Times)
  • Known for discussing faith, Bush moderates his message | The president aims to appeal to mainstream voters while keeping his religious base happy (Los Angeles Times)
  • GOP grapples over 'big tent' | Republicans who back gay rights and abortion rights want to be heard at the convention (Johanna Neuman, Los Angeles Times)
  • Reading, writing &right-wing politics | This fall, conservative Christian homeschoolers will hit the campaign trail for George Bush and other candidates who support their political agenda. Why aren't liberal homeschoolers following suit? (The Boston Globe)

Kerry campaign & religion:

  • Kerry's piety is doubted | More than the others, he's criticized by some in his church (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Faith vs. reason | Kerry needs to win over swing voters. But getting inside their heads may be as much a job for a therapist as a campaign consultant (Eleanor Clift, Newsweek)

N.J. Governor resignation:

  • Imperfect unions | If only Governor McGreevey had been allowed to marry another man, none of this would have happened (Jonathan Rauch, The New York Times)
  • Gay smokescreen | N.J. governor scandal is really about patronage (Editorial, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • His religious attitudes have been questioned | Gov. James E. McGreevey's resignation speech referenced a correlation of his leadership with his religious beliefs and faith, an issue that had previously placed McGreevey at odds with Catholic Church leaders (Courier News, Bridgewater, N.J.)

Same-sex marriage:

  • Gay marriage becomes a swing issue with pull | Both social conservatives and gay rights groups say their debate is becoming increasingly intertwined with the presidential election (The New York Times)
  • Activist, schmactivist | There is probably nothing I can do or say to convince you that the words "activist judge" have no more meaning than the words "hectic smurlbats" (Dahlia Lithwick, The New York Times)
  • Ruling leaves gays unsure of benefits | Many gay and lesbian couples were left wondering Friday what will happen to the benefits they briefly received, such as family insurance discounts and medical coverage (Associated Press)
  • Left at the altar | I would rather see homosexual advocates win by pushing a bill through the legislature, or by persuading Californians to vote their way in a new a ballot initiative, than to win in the courts (Debra J. Saunders, The Washington Times)
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  • A blow for the rule of law | For all the bitter tears shed on the courthouse steps by gays and their supporters, the court made a simple point: Government officials, like Newsom — and New Paltz's mayor, Jason West — do not have the right to unilaterally defy a law they personally disagree with (Editorial, New York Post)
  • Until courts do us part | The importance of same-sex marriages in San Francisco was never chiefly legal, which is why gay-marriage foes are mistaken when they claim a great victory (Editorial, The Washington Post)
  • 'An obligation to act' | San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is a man who likes to make things happen (The Boston Globe)
  • Gay couples' covenants with each other and God exist, regardless of church attitude | We choose the word "covenant" or "covenanted union" instead of gay marriage because the majority of the lesbian and gay community do not want these ceremonies to be "hetero-imitative", and hetero marriages are riddled with the stigma of divorce and patriarchy (Pieter Oberholzer, Cape Times, South Africa)

Same-sex marriage in Australia:

  • Gays plan High Court rights fight | Gay rights groups are considering a High Court challenge to new laws banning gay marriage, but the Federal Government is not concerned (The Australian)
  • 'Same-sex marriage ban not decent and not fair' | The backlash against the ban on same-sex marriages has begun, with 400 protesters marching in Sydney yesterday demanding the federal bill be repealed (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Marriage amendment in Louisiana:

  • Judge clears vote on marriage | Louisiana's Sept. 18 vote on a constitutional marriage amendment was given a pass yesterday by one district judge, but faces a court challenge later this week by another judge who already has ruled that it should be struck from the ballot (The Washington Times)
  • Gay marriage suit 'premature' | Court refuses to bar vote on amendment (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)
  • Judge halts vote on same-sex marriage | Amendment may be taken off Sept. 18 ballot; state appeals (The Times-Picayune, Aug. 14)


  • Husbands, pray aloud with wives | Why is it that men find it so hard to pray out loud with their wives? (Terry Pluto, The Beacon Journal, Akron, Oh.)
  • Judge denies divorce: Adultery not enough | Says husband's admission of affair is not sufficient to end 17-year marriage because wife resumed sexual relationship with him (Newsday)
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  • Theological college calls for pre-marital counseling | The Methodist Davuilevu Theological College will ask the church to endorse the right for ministers to check that all courting couples undergo pre-marital counselling and be confirmed members of the church before conducting their marriage service (Fiji Times)

Sexual ethics:

  • Sex scandal rocks Montana town | Christian Financial Counseling leader Richard A. Dasen Sr. alleged to have paid women more than $1 million (The Washington Post)
  • Austria sentences 'porn' priest | The man, identified as Piotr Z., 27, was given a six-month suspended jail sentence for downloading hundreds of images from the internet (BBC)
  • Also: Seminary pupil avoids jail for child porn | A former Catholic seminary student from Poland was convicted of possessing child pornography yesterday and received a six-month suspended sentence (The Independent, London)
  • Labor bid to block net porn | All internet service providers would be forced to block hard-core pornography reaching home computers under a radical plan to protect children being pushed by federal Labor MPs (The Australian)

Michael Jackson visits LA church:

  • Michael Jackson makes surprise visit to LA church | Jackson, who wore a dark blue velvet jacket with a gold armband on one sleeve, went to the First AME Church on Sunday, appearing with his attorney, Tom Mesereau Jr., brother Randy and comedian Steve Harvey (Associated Press)
  • Church support | Michael Jackson makes surprise visit to church on eve of court showdown with district attorney in molestation case (Good Morning America)


  • Sex abuse alleged at Va. Baptist camp | Four youths charged at Northern Virginia Baptist Center (The Washington Post)
  • Jailed priest accused of molesting sees bail lowered | Michael Wempe will be freed if he agrees not to perform priestly duties and wears an electronic monitor. He faces 20 years on charges (Los Angeles Times)
  • Head of N.M. parole board fired | Bob Martinez failed to notify eight molestation victims of a former priest that the man had a parole hearing (Associated Press)


  • Police defend stopping minister | A black minister who was stopped and handcuffed by police last month broadly matched a resident's description of a suspect accused of attempted car theft, Milton Police Chief Kevin J. Mearn said yesterday (The Boston Globe)
  • Tribunal hears claims of Satanic cult | A former police officer, who had changed sex from a man to a woman, was assaulted and had her property vandalised because she was a witch, a tribunal was told yesterday (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
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  • Parrot's death latest threat to woman in prayer case | About a dozen pagans gathered at Town Hall on Monday to show support for Great Falls resident and Wiccan Darla Wynne. Last week, Wynne returned home from dinner with a friend and discovered one of her parrots had been beheaded and his heart cut out, she said (The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C.)


  • Reaction mixed over Cardinal Law's duties | About two months after Cardinal Bernard Law was appointed to run one of the most famous churches in Rome, congregations in the Eternal City are reacting with a mixture of compassion and horror at receiving spiritual guidance from the former archbishop of Boston, the Roman press reports (The Washington Times)
  • Bishops plant seeds on the political field | Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput spoke to a packed house at Braun's Bar and Grill in Denver on Friday night as part of "Theology on Tap," an outreach targeting young adults (The Denver Post)
  • Church marks diverse history | Hundreds gathered beside Copiague for the Our Lady of the Assumption for an outdoor Mass presided over by Bishop William F. Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in English, Polish, Spanish, and Latin to celebrate its anniversary and the diverse community it has come to serve (Newsday)

The Pope:

  • A pilgrim among pilgrims at Lourdes | By making it clear that the Pope is not on a state visit, the Vatican hopes to avoid straining relations with secular France (The Guardian, London)
  • Job description for the next pope | (Foreign Policy)
  • John Paul in the twilight | He still aims high, even if he has been laid low by his afflictions. (Tom Fenton, CBS News)

Closing Catholic churches:

  • Catholic elementary school survives | The closing of St. Joseph Parish means all the buildings -- the church, convent, rectory, and school -- will be shuttered this week (The Boston Globe)
  • Closing parish offers up its light | Church in Salem hosts final Mass after 131 years (The Boston Globe)
  • Catholics hold mass protest in Boston | Members of 82 parishes targeted for closure take part in a rare outdoor service to urge a change in archdiocese's policy (Los Angeles Times)
  • With one voice | Thousands protest church in public Mass (The Boston Globe)
  • A Mass of healing on Boston Common | Why would lay persons want to sponsor a Mass on Boston Common -- a historic event -- in the midst of the turmoil that has characterized the Catholic Church in recent times? (John Hynes and Sheila Connors Grove, The Boston Globe)
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  • Parish mourns its treasures | Church slated to close worries what will become of art (The Boston Globe)

Church life:

  • Ancient hymns come alive in Pa. church | A historic church in Welsh Run rang with hymns that probably were sung there by its first congregation in the 1700s (The Herald-Mail, Hagerstown, Md.)
  • Lutherans discuss homosexuality | The denomination is scheduled to make a decision in 2005 regarding whether to bless same-sex unions and to ordain, commission, and consecrate persons living in committed same-sex unions. Then in 2007 it will adopt a social statement on human sexuality (The News-Item, Shamokin, Pa.)
  • Anglicans drop lay presidency | The Sydney Anglican diocese has backed down on a move to pass laws to allow lay people to administer the bread and wine during church services (AAP, Australia)
  • These Christians Radically rethink what a church is | In the emerging movement, small is beautiful and creativity in worship is key (Los Angeles Times)
  • 113-year-old Manor church to close | On Sept. 5, the Unity Evangelical Lutheran Church will cease to exist, a victim of changing times and a dwindling membership (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
  • Korean church welcomes new pastor | Peter Song takes over after a 10-year tenure at one of the largest churches in Korea (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)
  • History, fears fan flames of distrust | The battle for the soul of St. Stanislaus may continue for a while (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • Grapevine church's valet service is thriving | Sometime in the spring, the 600-member Abundant Life Church added a little country club chic to its doorstep: valet parking (Ft Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)
  • Cardinal asks councils not to shun Jesus on his birthday | One of Scotland's religious leaders is to attempt to reverse the secular tide by urging councils to "re-christianise" Christmas (Scotland on Sunday)

Church buildings:

  • Controversy over church condo proposal | Some homeowners in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood want to stop plans for a proposed high-rise. The 64-story skyscraper is planned for a piece of land owned by Fourth Presbyterian Church along Michigan Avenue at Delaware Place (WLS, Chicago)
  • Church bells ring after 60 years | The sound of church bells has been heard in a "ghost" village for the first time in 60 years (BBC)
  • Notre Dame hit with anti-Semitic graffiti | Anti-Semitic graffiti, including a sign saying "death to Jews," was found Saturday scrawled on the grounds of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris (Associated Press)
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Pastors as McDonald's workers:

  • Vicars told to try the McDonald's approach | Vicars should learn from the "have a nice day" philosophy of organizations such as McDonald's and greet people who visit their churches like highly valued customers, says a study (The Telegraph, London)
  • The gospel truth | An Anglican priest, the Rev Alison Gilchrist, has published a booklet suggesting that churches should emulate the "meeting and greeting" techniques of the commercial world. On the face of it, this is an idea to make the blood run cold (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)


  • Greek Orthodox Church aims for Olympic revival | As the Olympics return to their home country, the Greek Orthodox Church and the government are making an effort to show the country is cosmopolitan when it comes to religion (Deutsche Welle, Germany)
  • They flocked from Games | Church holds sway on this day (The Boston Globe)
  • Russian Orthodox leader snubs pontiff | The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church emphasized Friday that Pope John Paul II is not welcome in Russia, reiterating that an icon the pontiff once hoped to return personally in a conciliatory gesture is a copy of a revered 16th-century work (Associated Press)


  • I had to have faith | Few children take religion as seriously as I did. For the love of God, I cleaned and scrubbed (Jennifer Traig, The New York Times Magazine)
  • Peyote, Indian religion, and the issue of exclusivity | What makes someone a member of a religion? (The New York Times)
  • The many delicate issues of spirituality in the office | With Americans spending so much time on the job, some of them are finding ways to bring spirituality to the office (The New York Times)
  • Summer is a time to warm to religion | Some people find they can connect to God at the beach or in the mountains (The Baltimore Sun)
  • Seeing & believing | Visions of Mary, other such 'miracles' put faith - and science - to the test (The Dallas Morning News)


  • Nonbelievers focus on here and now | The 60 or so members of Humanists of Northeast Florida — who attend monthly meetings at the Ormond Beach Public Library and enjoy each other's company and intellectual stimulation — embrace a range of world views (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)
  • A heartening response from atheists | The flood of e-mail, letters and phone calls provoked by my last piece in which I "came out of the closet" as an atheist, calls out for a response (Robyn E. Blumner, St Petersburg Times, Fla.)
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  • Earlier: I'm an atheist - so what? | Though I was brought up in a religious faith, it was at a very young age - preteen - that I realized I had no belief in God and no amount of indoctrination was going to change that (Robyn E. Blumner, St Petersburg Times, Fla., Aug. 8)

Church & state:

  • Big debates surround monuments | It is sad, really, that those who want to put up these monuments and use government property to "advertise" Christianity assume that anyone opposed to the idea on the grounds of separation of church and state is either a flaming atheist or a lukewarm, cowardly believer (Ina Hughs, Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)
  • Faithful flock to former Ala. icon | Missing from Saturday's two-hour event was the controversy that surrounded the monument after Moore commissioned an artist to create the stone for his courthouse rotunda (The Denver Post)
  • Star of Hope may join county in Bible dispute | Demonstrators continue their vigil to support display (Houston Chronicle)
  • Church opens doors to politicians in Stark | The separation of church and state took a day off Sunday as about 20 candidates for local offices set up shop in First Christian Church to press the flesh (Canton Repository, Oh.)
  • Not everybody's 'amen' is the same | Let's not pretend that a town council meeting is a gathering where all people do — or must — believe the same with respect to religion (Allen Brill, The State, Columbia, S.C.)
  • Charity's funds cut over religious links | Welsh Assembly Government officials are unhappy at the way Christianity is promoted at Teen Challenge centres in Wales (The Western Mail, Wales)

Religious freedom:

  • Iraqi Christians leave their country en masse after deadly church attacks | Forty thousand Iraqi Christians have left Iraq since a wave of church bombings killed at least 10 people two weeks ago, Iraq's displacement and migration minister said in press remarks (AFP)
  • Lost on the way to the City of Jonah | A missionary gets shot at in Gaza (Husein Mashni, Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • Muslim fanatics protest Bonnke's crusade | Religious extremists have struck again, this time in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital where a mob chanting Islamic slogans marched through the streets to protest against four- day crusade by world famous Christian evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke (Daily Champion, Nigeria)
  • Two Christians embrace Islam in Gojra | A young Christian along with his fiancée converted to Islam here on Monday (Pakistan Tribune)
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  • Religious discrimination appears on the rise | At the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, we are finding that religion is increasingly involved with practices in the workplace — as well as in education, public accommodations and other areas — that lead to charges of religious discrimination (Velma Korbel, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)
  • Clover targets storefront churches | Some leaders in this Bible Belt town are saying they've had enough of storefront churches popping up downtown and are pushing an ordinance to stop new churches from opening and keep others from expanding (Associated Press)

Sri Lankan anti-conversion bill fails:

  • Sri Lanka monks dealt anti conversion bill blow | Sri Lanka's all monk political party was dealt a blow by the country's supreme court here Tuesday when it ruled that a planned legislation by the party was inconsistent with the country's constitution (Xinhuanet, China)
  • Sri Lanka's controversial anti conversion bill fails | Sri Lanka's controversial anti conversion bill can be made law only if it gets the support of two thirds of MPs in Parliament and is approved by the people at a referendum, according to the ruling on it by the Supreme Court Tuesday (Tamil Net)

Burundi refugee massacre:

  • Burundi survivor tells of massacre | Pasteur Edouard Ruhanga is one of those who survived the massacre of refugees in Burundi. More than 150 people were killed, including his sister (BBC)
  • Survivors tell of Burundi massacre | Hundreds wandered silently through devastated alleyways at Gatumba refugee camp in Burundi on Sunday, trying to make sense of a massacre of almost 160 men, women and children (The Mail & Guardian, South Africa)

War & terrorism:

  • Holy terror | Religion isn't the solution -- it's the problem (Sam Harris, Los Angeles Times)
  • Religious band of brothers | The holy men of the Dorchester (Rachel Zabarkes Friedman, National Review Online)


  • In Darfur, the UN veto is proving as deadly as the gun | Only a transfer of power to the general assembly will end this misery (David Clark, The Guardian, London)
  • Doing our part to help Sudan | It is with a deep sense of sadness and concern for my beloved in the Darfur region of the Sudan that I once again share their human catastrophe (Angelique Walker-Smith, The Indianapolis Star)


  • Plateau State of Emergency: So far so good? | Since President Olusegun Obansanjo declared a State of Emergency in Plateau State on May 18 and appointed an Administrator to oversee the affairs of the state, a lot has been happening in an effort to restore peace to the State (Vanguard, Nigeria)
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  • Kano police allay fears on religious riot | Police in Kano yesterday allayed fears over rumour of impending outbreak of ethno-religious riot in the state (This Day, Nigeria)


  • I will not shut up, says Archbishop Pius Ncube | Archbishop Pius Ncube, the controversial head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bulawayo, says he will not keep quiet as long as President Mugabe's government and his ruling Zanu PF are forcing millions of Zimbabweans into exile, while scores of others are dying of hunger (Zimbabwe Standard)
  • Zimbabwe churches hit by new crackdown | Churches and aid groups warned that a proposed law to regulate non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe effectively criminalizes aspects of Christian charity work and deprives millions of impoverished Zimbabweans of aid (PA, U.K.)
  • Zim churches condemn bill | Bill requires that all charitable organizations register with the state under stringent conditions and bans overseas funding (News24, South Africa)

Bus crash kills 34 El Salvador church members:

  • Bus crash kills 34 in El Salvador | A bus careened off a mountain highway and toppled into a ravine in eastern El Salvador on Saturday, killing 34 people and injuring 24 others, authorities said (Associated Press)
  • El Salvador bus disaster kills 35 | The bus is said to have been carrying members of an Assemblies of God Church group when it crashed near Carolina, about 130km from the capital, San Salvador (BBC)

Indian Christians:

  • After Dhananjoy, will it be Dara Singh? | With the hanging of rapist-murderer Dhananjoy Chatterjee in Kolkata, the focus has shifted to another killer facing the death sentence in Orissa for the murder of an Graham Staines and his children (IANS, India)
  • Years after church damage, tempers simmer in village | Six years after a church used by tribals here was partly destroyed by a mob, tempers are once again rising in Sadadpada village in Nashik district's Peth tehsil (The Indian Express)
  • John Dayal: " People have rejected the ideology of hate" | The Christian leader speaks about the Indian elections and the country's future (Sathyadeepam, India)

Missions & ministry:

  • Family solutions | Religious leaders are focusing on the need for greater reverence on the part of young people who are quick to pick up a gun, and greater vigilance on the part of their parents (Editorial, The Boston Globe)
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  • Convoy of Hope reaches 6,200 | Free groceries and services distributed in Ogden (The Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Protesters rally against church prison support program | A group campaigning for reform at Hobart's Risdon Prison say a new prisoner support program to be run by the Anglican Church will not provide the services at-risk inmates need (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)
  • Churches try TV to reach today's 'visual culture' | Fredericksburg Methodists and other churches plan to run TV ads in effort to fill pews (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)
  • Rabbi plans to preach Jesus under the big top | 4-day event starts tomorrow in Toledo (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)
  • A spiritual adviser's on-duty guidance | Over the past seven years, the Rev. Jon Widing has gained the trust and respect of Avon's police officers as he carved out his role as the department's official chaplain (The Hartford Courant, Conn.)
  • Conversion outreach plan stirs outrage | Jews for Jesus trains 600 for street work (The Washington Post)
  • Prayer walkers appeal for well-being on FSU campus | Against the backdrop of new students moving into dorms at Florida State University, members of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry met at the college for a Sunday afternoon prayer walk (Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)
  • Diary from a mission | Excerpts from the diary James Coleman kept for the Democrat during his mission trip to South Africa (The Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)

Hurricane Charley:

  • Storm-battered worshippers gather in Fla. | The Rev. Scott Borden survived Hurricane Charley by huddling in a small closet and praying as the storm passed over his home, then hit his nearby church, leaving the sanctuary in tatters (Associated Press)
  • Faithful seek light in storm's dark aftermath | Parishioners trickle into local churches seeking solace or simply electricity and air conditioning (The Orlando Sentinel)

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July 23 | 22 | 21 | 20 | 19
July 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12
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: