Democrats' senior adviser for religious outreach quits amid "under God" controversy

Democrats' senior adviser for religious outreach quits amid "under God" controversy
The Catholic League's William Donohue is no fan of the "religion outreach" leaders for the Democratic Party and the Kerry campaign. Weblog earlier noted that he went too far in painting Mara Vanderslice, Kerry's director of religion outreach, as an extremist. But we've got to admit that the Democrats' new senior adviser for religious outreach, Brenda Bartella Peterson, was an odd choice for the position. As Donohue, The Washington Times, and a few other conservative outlets note, she was part of a interfaith group in February that filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court, asking it to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

"Are they out of their minds?" Donohue asks rhetorically. "Would they hire a gay basher to reach out to homosexuals?" Peterson's appointment, he said, suggests "that either no one bothers to vet candidates for religious outreach or the elites making the choices are anti-religious."

Now wait a second. Again, Donohue is going way too far, and his "gay basher" comparison is ridiculous. Peterson is, after all, an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and was executive director for the Clergy Network for National Leadership Change (a group whose sole purpose is to rally religious leaders against President Bush's re-election). Her credentials are far deeper than Vanderslice's, who was more pulled into the position with the Kerry campaign simply because she knew where phrases like "least of these" come from. She's not anti-religious. Let's get that straight.

What she is, apparently, is against using religious language for patriotic purposes. Her amicus brief states, "'I pledge allegiance to …. one Nation, under God' is either a serious statement of religious faith, or it takes the name of the Lord in vain."

That indeed puts her against many supporters of the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as the judgment of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But it's pretty similar to what Christianity Today recently said in an editorial. Saying that the name of God without "religious freight," as O'Connor put it, is to take his name in vain. But unlike Peterson, we said that "under God" is an acceptable contemporary reference to religion. Peterson suggests that students are pledging allegiance to God each morning, and that it's unconstitutional for the government to ask them to do so. Not so: They're pledging allegiance to the nation, and that nation is described as being under God.

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So Peterson is wrong, but she's not anti-religious. And she's still an odd choice for the position. Americans are overwhelmingly against taking "under God" out of the Pledge, for whatever reason. An April Gallup poll showed 91 percent support. 91 percent! Mom and apple pie don't poll at 91 percent. And religious Americans are even more supportive than the general public. The Democratic National Committee says Peterson's job is to "act as liaison to religious organizations and will encourage people to let their faith inform their participation in democracy." Wouldn't you think that they'd want someone in that post whose work so far has been to promote religion in the public sphere rather than oppose it?

In theory, that's where Peterson stands. The Daily Camera of Boulder, Colorado, paraphrases her as saying, "Many liberals are so leery of violating separation of church and state that they intentionally keep their faith out of their politics. And that's a mistake."

But what would faith-informed politics look like? Only a few quotes of hers on this subject appear online:

"We plan to go all over the nation," she told PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. We plan to have a religious Web page on the DNC site and to let people of faith be heard. To let them know that their voice can say, 'We think the federal budget is a moral document. We think that there are issues in this campaign that have a theological underpinning.'"

And those theological underpinnings are?

"The basic foundation of all the faiths is the command to love your neighbor and care for your brother and sister," she told The Daily Camera. "All of these issues have to do with caring for each other. … Even paying taxes is a way of loving your neighbor."

That's as specific as it gets. Does the Democratic Party really want to communicate that its religious values come down to paying taxes? Aren't they trying to downplay the whole party-of-higher-taxes thing?

Donohue may have overstated his case against Peterson, but he was right about Kerry's acceptance speech line, "We welcome people of faith. America is not us and them." "It used to be the other way around—people of faith were the core of the Democratic Party who welcomed non-believers to the table," Donohue said. "Now it's been reversed. Kerry's use of the words 'us' and 'them' is even more striking: He literally aligned the most active Democrats with the faithless and then tagged the faithful as the outsiders."

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The party's hiring of Peterson was a step toward changing that, even if promoting taxes and taking "under God" out of the Pledge were unlikely to attract people of faith to Kerry. Her real asset would have been communicating theological underpinnings of key issues to the party leadership.

But that's not going to happen. "As of today I am resigning my position as the director of religious outreach because it is no longer possible for me to do my job effectively," she told Religion News Service yesterday (the article isn't available online, but The Washington Post has a brief summary—scroll down to the third item). "I continue to believe, as do leading faith leaders across this country, that John Kerry should be the next President of the United States and that John Kerry's values of opportunity, family, and responsibility are America's values."

That's the second feather of sorts in Donohue's cap. When he criticized Vanderslice, the Kerry campaign shut her up, and she hasn't been heard from since. Now Peterson is actually gone, and unlikely to be replaced (why didn't they just hire Amy Sullivan in the first place?). Even if they were imperfect choices, do religious Republicans really want such religious Democrats silenced—even before they have really said anything?

Washington Post calls for censorship

Washington Post calls for censorship
Part of Peterson's amicus brief focused on the nature of schools. "This case is not about whether government can request this mixed patriotic and religious pledge of adults," says the brief. "It is about whether government can request it of children in the public schools. Nowhere has this Court been more sensitive to government's obligation of religious neutrality than in the public schools."

Yesterday, The Washington Post editorial page took that a step further: "Parents should be able to send their children to public schools without fear they will be proselytized," the paper said. And so, the editorial argues, the Montgomery County school board should "stick to its guns" in forbidding Child Evangelism Fellowship's Good News Clubs from sending flyers home with students.

The problem is that the Supreme Court has set many precedents saying that however you treat one extracurricular club, you have to treat all of them in the same manner—even religious groups. (The Court's main decision in this area, in fact, specifically dealt with a Good News club.)

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Fine, says the Post. We disagree with the courts in this matter, but if that's the way it's going to me, ban 'em all from sending home flyers. Better to forbid all groups from communicating through classrooms than to "transform teachers into agents of evangelism, and convert schools into seedbeds of faith."

The Post doesn't consider the possibility that by treating religion as a taboo—really, the only taboo—the schools would be making a much more serious statement about the subject.

This can't be right

This can't be right
Speaking of censorship, would someone who knows this story please help. Because it sure seems like Britain just went jackboot. This from The Times of London (quoted more extensively than normal since nonsubscribers outside the U.K. can't read the full text):

An evangelist who considers homosexuality an "abomination" has been arrested after police and passers-by in Salisbury, Wiltshire, objected to the tone and the volume of his preaching.
John Holme, 44, a computer software salesman, was released without charge on police bail pending further inquiries, after his car and trailer were seized as he bellowed his divine message through the streets of the cathedral city at the weekend.
Mr. Holme, who is married with two children, was asked to tone down the volume of his sermon as he drove through busy streets in his car and trailer berating homosexuality as a wicked perversion.
He declined, pleading his human rights, but was arrested when a police officer noticed that his trailer bore the slogan: "God says; if you reject Him you may become homosexual."
Wiltshire police confirmed yesterday they had stopped a man after complaints from the public about his method of preaching, and about a sign on his trailer which many found offensive.
He had declined to withdraw the sign and was arrested under the Public Order Act.

The story goes on to note that Holme never preached any kind of violence and kept preaching in his cell. But did Salisbury police really arrest this guy because of what was written on his trailer? Granted, his is not the standard exegesis of Romans 1:18-32, but he's more or less in tune with what Paul wrote. Is the slogan so horrific that the government deems it necessary to jail those who proclaim it?

Like I said, that can't be what really happened. Can it?

More articles

John Kerry:

  • Kerry talks openly about faith and guns | With his political enemies trying to portray the Massachusetts senator as an aloof Boston Brahmin, Kerry's campaign is putting a bigger focus on common values that he shares with average Americans — fishing and hunting, family and faith (Associated Press)
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  • Kerry and the religion thing | For a real glimpse of how difficult the religion thing is for Kerry, take a look at the Democrats' checkered efforts to hire a director of religious outreach (Maggie Gallagher)
  • Kerry's sister angers abortion foes | A Catholic antiabortion group sharply questioned the propriety of John F. Kerry's sister, Peggy Kerry, giving a speech to "a campaign crowd of feminists" in Boston and telling them that, if elected, her brother would overturn various Bush policies -- such as barring funds for U.N. population control efforts (The Washington Post)
  • Pastor defends inviting Kerry to speak at church service | The Reverend Ronald Logan of Greater Grace Temple in Springfield, Ohio, told his congregation, "I don't believe in abortion. I don't believe in gay marriage. But if two men are married to each other and they come in here, I will minister to them" (Associated Press)
  • Kerry woos faithful at Springfield church | Congregants' early misgivings give way to warm reception (The Columbus Dispatch, Oh.)
  • Kerry stops in Springfield | Standing at the altar of a Springfield church, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry told the congregation of 1,000 that God's work in America remains undone (Springfield News Journal, Oh.)
  • Earlier: Congregation candidates are visiting is large and diverse (Springfield News Journal, Oh.)
  • Earlier: Kerry, Edwards to visit Springfield church (Springfield News Journal, Oh.)

Democratic National Convention:

  • Sounds like a winner | Kerry made the first explicit step any Democratic presidential candidate ever has to open the door of the party to people of faith (Amy Sullivan, The Washington Monthly)
  • 'Paradise Lost' for the modern day | Pitt Harding argues that the gathering in Boston was quite similar to the first and greatest convention of them all: the assembly of the fallen angels in "Paradise Lost" (The New York Times, third item)
  • Talk about getting religion! | The Democrats will be strongly religious--right up till November 2 (John Leo, U.S. News & World Report)

Bush courts Catholics:

  • In Dallas stop, Bush ardently defends faith-based initiatives | Tapping moralistic themes, president's message connects with Knights of Columbus crowd (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Bush courts Catholics with promises on social issues | President Bush promised on Tuesday to fight in a second term for conservative social causes from banning gay marriage to limiting abortion rights, in an appeal for Roman Catholic voters to support him over John Kerry, a Catholic (Reuters)
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  • Bush tells Catholic group he will tackle its issues | President Bush told an effervescent crowd of 2,500 Catholics at the annual convention of the Knights of Columbus on Tuesday that they have a friend in the White House who will work with them to restrict abortion, provide vouchers for parochial schools and champion a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman (The Washington Post)
  • Bush touches base with his core supporters | A socially conservative Catholic group cheers as the president reaffirms his stands on abortion, same-sex marriage and the Pledge of Allegiance (Los Angeles Times)
  • Full text: President discusses compassionate conservative agenda in Dallas (White House)
  • Bush sets out on campaign swing | President Bush is making a fresh appeal to Roman Catholic voters (Associated Press)
  • Bush arrives in Dallas | He'll court Catholic voters at Knights of Columbus convention (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Bush talks to an appreciative Catholic crowd | President Bush appealed to Roman Catholic voters on Tuesday in a speech to the Knights of Columbus and an array of the church's most powerful cardinals (The New York Times)
  • Winning Catholic voters not so simple anymore | Loyalties divided, but group's numbers count (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
  • 'Catholic Vote': Are candidates courting a myth? | Pa. seen as a major battleground (Philadelphia Daily News)


  • The politics of religion: Who gets paid, and who gets played? | Politics and religion have always been the opposite sides of the same coin, influencing people (Karl B. Johnson, Minnesota Spokesman-Record)
  • D.C. slots initiative is dealt a blow | Elections board rejects petitions (The Washington Post)
  • Take back the faith | The best contribution of religion is precisely not to be a loyal partisan (Jim Wallis, Sojourners)
  • The bishops' questionable questionnaire | The questionnaire to candidates makes no distinction between life issues -- clearly of primary importance to Catholics -- and particular policies that the conference supports on issues as wide-ranging (and non-binding) as rural development, housing, and immigration (Deal Hudson, Crisis)
  • Scared to talk politics in church? | You don't need to be partisan to be prophetic (Brian McLaren, Sojourners)
  • Sierra Club walking into a messy fight | Fresh off of its successful battle to secure passage of a bill to preserve the Highlands, the Sierra Club is now taking on God (Fred Snowflack, Daily Record, Parsippany, NJ)
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  • The true meaning of Christianity | I don't like how the rising tide of conservatism in national politics is trying to redefine Christianity and claim it as an ally (Barrie Hartman, The Denver Post)
  • Separate religion, politics at all costs | I intend to vote my convictions, but I'll leave my church out of it, and I hope I will not base the future of my country and the free world on just one issue (Jack Moseley, Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark.)
  • 'Merger' makes for one-party church | Ronnie Floyd's stump speech from the pulpit July 4 represented the natural progression of the Republibaptist movement. It should have surprised no one (John Brummett, Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark.)
  • Mixing church and state can damage both | When religious people begin to believe that they are the kingdom, this is the beginning of the end (James Wellman, The Seattle Times)

Other election matters:

  • Falwell will teach conservative advocacy | Beset by groups questioning his ministry's tax-exempt status for urging President Bush's re-election, the Rev. Jerry Falwell will hold a seminar next month to train conservative pastors "not to be intimidated by left-wing thugs" (Associated Press)
  • Coors' stance on gays attacked | The Christian Coalition of Colorado has targeted Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pete Coors in a mass-mail campaign that accuses him of supporting the "radical homosexual agenda." (The Denver Post)
  • Republican candidate admits supporting eugenics | The Republican congressional candidate James L Hart has acknowledged that he is an unapologetic supporter of eugenics, the fake science that resulted in thousands of people being sterilised in an attempt to purify the white race (The Independent, London)

Government meeting invocations:

  • Invocation invokes brimstone | Angry e-mails beset City Hall the day after an atheist opened a City Council meeting (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
  • Keeping the faith: County leaders debate prayer ruling | Local council and religious leaders' reactions to the ruling are mixed, ranging from approval to indignation (The Island Packet, Hilton Head, S.C.)

Church and state:

  • Spain considers financing for major religions | Officials say that one intention is to subsidize mosques to make them less dependent on money from militant groups abroad (The New York Times)
  • Mugabe law will curb church and charities | The Zimbabwean government has drawn up legislation to curtail the activities of charities, church groups and other non-governmental organizations (The Guardian, London)
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  • Bible display foe says she got hate mail | Trial to decide if monument at courthouse goes or stays (Houston Chronicle)
  • Display's backers call U.S. a Christian nation | But they testify the Bible at the courthouse is a personal tribute (Houston Chronicle)
  • Church group sues for library use | A religious group sued Contra Costa County on Friday, saying its civil rights were violated when members were barred from meeting in the Antioch branch of the county's public library (Contra Costa Times, Ca.)
  • Capitol flag under fire over cross | Walk into the Capitol offices of Gov. Jeb Bush's top lawyer, and one of the first things you'll see is a small American flag with one significant difference: Instead of just stars and stripes, there's a bright white cross emblazoned over the blue field (Palm Beach Post)
  • Related: The story behind cross-flag story | The article conveyed legitimate public-interest issues. Editors did not overplay it. (C.B. Hanif, Palm Beach Post, Fla.)
  • Hindu temple to challenge state judge on religious grounds | Hindus accuse a state judge of violating the separation of church and state by intervening in the temple's affairs (The New York Times)

Ten Commandments:

  • Ex-judge appeals to court to reclaim job | A former Alabama chief justice who refused a federal court order to move a Ten Commandments monument claims he was ousted for "professing a belief in God" and is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court (Associated Press)
  • Ala. Ten Commandments monument opens tour | The Ten Commandments monument banished from Alabama's state judicial building began a national tour on the back of a flatbed truck on Saturday — starting outside the courthouse where the teaching of evolution was put on trial almost 80 years ago (Associated Press)
  • Ten Commandments monument draws more than 200 to rally | Rally honors a two-and-a-half-ton, granite Ten Commandments monument that spent two years in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building (The Greeneville Sun, Tenn.)
  • Scopes trial site lures Moore monument | Tennessee tour stop not without run-in with atheist lawyer (The Huntsville Times, Ala.)


  • Lawsuit says women were misled to delay abortions | A federal lawsuit accuses a man who operated a service listed in the phone book under "abortion services" of false advertising, fraud and trademark infringement (The New York Times)
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  • Also: Judge cuts phone at sham abortion clinic | A man accused of running a sham abortion clinic and tricking women in order to keep them from getting abortions was ordered Wednesday to disconnect his phone and stop giving advice (Associated Press)
  • Public shift on abortion: Abbott | Health Minister Tony Abbott believes there may be growing community support for banning late-term abortion (The Australian)
  • Pro-life groups protest 'evil' Bill | An estimated 400 000 foetuses have been legally aborted between 1997 and 2004, a Christian advocacy group told Parliament's health portfolio committee on Tuesday (SAPA, South Africa)
  • New abortion rules spark protest | Anti-abortion campaigners have condemned new guidelines which confirm doctors can help girls under 16 to have an abortion without involving parents (BBC, video)
  • Also; Secret abortion for girls under 16 | Doctors can give abortions to children without telling their parents, the Government said yesterday as it issued new and explicit advice on treating unwanted pregnancies among under-16s (The Telegraph, London)
  • Also: Guidelines revive row over 'secret child abortions' | The row over whether parents should be automatically told of a child's abortion was reignited today. It follows new government guidance to doctors and health workers on providing advice on contraception, sexual health and abortion to under-16s (PA, U.K.)
  • An abortion deception | If Tony Abbott wants to campaign to help children with special needs, feminists will fall in behind him (Catharine Lumby, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Abortion activists seek choice for medics | Changes to 1996 legislation aim to cut red tape and allow registered nurses to perform termination procedure (Business Day, South Africa)
  • Activists' truck brings arrest, rights dispute | A box truck emblazoned with campaign slogans and larger-than-life images of aborted fetuses has ignited conflict between opponents of abortion and the Connecticut state police (The Hartford Courant, Conn.)
  • Anti-abortion protesters allege police harassment | State police say the slow-moving truck on Interstate 95 that was displaying large graphic photos of aborted fetuses drew so much attention that it posed a public safety concern (Associated Press)
  • Abortion amendments under fire | If proposed amendments to the country's abortion legislation are passed, nurses will be allowed to conduct complicated abortion procedures, a provision the country's largest nursing organisation has warned against (The Mercury, South Africa)
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  • Abortion is science's grim story | That fetuses are humans cannot be denied, thanks to technology (Miranda Devine, The Sydney Morning Herald)

Right to life:

  • Patient wins right-to-life ruling | Leslie Burkehas won his legal challenge to prevent doctors withdrawing life-prolonging treatment (BBC, video)
  • Analysis: Right to life ruling | A patient has won his legal battle to ensure that doctors do not withdraw nutrition against his wishes when he is no longer able to communicate (Geoff Adams-Spink, BBC)
  • Dying man wins treatment fight | A patient who is terminally ill with a degenerative brain condition said he was "ecstatic" yesterday after overturning doctors' guidelines that could have allowed him to die of thirst (The Telegraph, London)
  • Whose life is it anyway? | Burke is to be congratulated for persevering with a difficult case against a formidable weight of medical opinion, as is Mr Justice Munby for setting broader and more humane criteria as to whether a patient should live or die (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)
  • Right to life | Should a doctor or a lawyer guard death's door? (Editorial, The Times, London)

Life ethics:

  • Stem cell research awaits shifting tide | Ronald Reagan, as his son Michael wrote recently, was against creating human embryos for the sole purpose of harvesting their inner stem cells. Yet from his vantage point in the heavens -- free of politics and the strife of Alzheimer's disease -- maybe he would agree with culling stem cells from embryos that are in-vitro fertilization leftovers and join with others in questioning a glaring double standard (Ann Parson, The Boston Globe)
  • Making the case for stem cells | Inland scientists step into pundits' shoes on Ron Reagan's speech (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)
  • Who lives, who dies | The point at which premature life can be saved is overlapping the time it can be legally terminated (Peter Ellingsen, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Beware the push for human cloning | We should not allow scientists to tinker with the very essence of human life (Brian Harradine The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • 2-child bill splits churches | While the Roman Catholic Church has vowed to lobby against House Bill 16 or the measure providing for the adoption of the two-child policy being pushed in Congress, other religious movements like the Evangelicals have expressed support for it (Today, ABS-CBN, Philippines)

Social justice:

  • In the line of fire | To protect relief workers, the United States must publicly espouse their political neutrality (John S. Burnett, The New York Times)
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  • Has the church dropped the emancipation struggle? | The church's influence over the lives of Jamaicans is both marginal and decreasing (Ian Boyne, Jamaica Gleaner)

Canadian churches and refugee sanctuary:

  • Fix the system, leave churches alone | Canada's minister of citizenship and immigration is asking churches to stop harbouring deportees in a practice she deems "using the churches as the back door to enter Canada" (Editorial, Summerside Journal Pioneer/Toronto Star)
  • Sanctuary 'sometimes the only way,' churches say | Offering sanctuary to refugees who face dangerous deportations is "not our first choice," but a prominent Canadian church leader says it is sometimes the only way "to exercise the obligation to love and the duty to care" (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
  • Canadian refugee process flawed — church leaders | Canadian religious leaders squared off with the federal government on Wednesday, saying that providing church sanctuary to refugees facing deportation was sometimes necessary because the immigration system is badly flawed (Reuters)


  • 'Realism' and Darfur | The reasons for non-intervention had better be as powerful as the astonishing numbers (Editorial, The Washington Post)
  • Sudan masses defiant over Darfur | Tens of thousands of people have marched through the Sudanese capital Khartoum to protest against any Western intervention in war-ravaged Darfur (BBC, video)
  • Beware calls for a military response to Sudan | Tarzan-style occupation would be disastrous for the people of Darfur (Guy Rundle, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Darfur abuses continue, UN says | Sudanese government officials are still seeking to force displaced villagers in the Darfur region to return to their homes, United Nations aid workers say (BBC)
  • Sudanese protest against threat of intervention | Tens of thousands of Sudanese marched on the U.N. headquarters in Khartoum on Wednesday in protest at the possibility of Western military intervention to deal with a humanitarian crisis in the western region of Darfur (Reuters)
  • Priest seeks end to genocide in Sudan | Speaker seeks U.N. intervention, just as in Kosovo (South Bend Tribune, Ind.)
  • Q&A: The crisis in Darfur | Simon Jeffery explains the background to the humanitarian crisis gripping Darfur, in western Sudan (The Guardian, London)
  • A passion for peace | Even as atrocities in western Sudan have drawn the world's focus in recent months, there are signs of hope elsewhere in the nation, which has been ravaged by civil war for three or four decades (Sojourners)
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Sri Lanka:

  • Supreme Court to determine constitutionality of Anti-Conversion Bill on August 6 (Daily News, Sri Lanka)
  • Church visited by Pope defies Sri Lanka's religious debate | Devotees of different creeds flock to the St. Anthony's Church even as the predominantly Buddhist nation grapples with proposals to outlaw "unethical conversions". (AFP)
  • Conversion battle reaches a climax | The unethical conversions debate took a new turn last week, when 22 petitions were filed in the Supreme Court citing the proposed Anti-Conversion Bill as a violation of Article 10 of the constitution (The Sunday Leader, Sri Lanka)

Religious liberty:

  • On the road in China: Prostitution, religion resurface | As Communist grip loosens, sex trade, churches emerge (Morning Edition, NPR)
  • Possible amendments in blasphemy laws at western countries' behest: Fazl | Addressing the largest Muslim gathering in Europe Muslim scholars including Maulana Fazlur Rahman termed allegations of Muslim involvment in terrorism as baseless and denounced the anti-Islamic attitude and killing of Muslims by the some western countries (Pakistan Tribune)


  • He preaches God and country | Chaplains like Tom Webber are not allowed to carry weapons or engage in combat, although the appearance of battle-readiness is a cultivated quality (The Orange County Register, alt. site)
  • Troops join church mission to Romania | A team of churchgoers from the New Testament Baptist Church — including active-duty personnel from RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall — will visit Romania in August to provide children with a Vacation Bible School (Stars and Stripes)

Christians and Muslims in Africa:

  • Enemy's enemy | Evangelicals v. Muslims in Africa (The New Republic)
  • Nigeria says 258,000 still displaced after killings | More than 258,000 people are still displaced from religious clashes in Nigeria that killed hundreds of people in the central state of Plateau three months ago, officials said on Wednesday (Reuters)


  • When the Koran speaks, will Canadian law bend? | The Islamic Institute of Civil Justice wants to apply Shariah in Canada to settle disputes over property, inheritance, marriage and divorce (The New York Times)
  • Muslims fear Christian 'war against Islam' | Muslims worldwide fear Christians are waging a "war against Islam", Malaysia's leader said, blaming the campaign against terror for increased tensions between the religions (AP)
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  • Church leader criticizes Islam | A religious leader from Norwich was today widely condemned after he branded the Islamic faith "evil" (Evening News, Norwich, England)

Iraq church bombings:

  • Iraqi Christians flee, eyeing Australia | Iraqi Assyrian Christians have been fleeing across Iraq's borders and applying for Australian visas fearing a rise in Islamic sentiment threatens their safety (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Sometimes a war can get personal | If you were sitting in a pew at St. Paul Assyrian Chaldean Church in Hollywood over the weekend, the news from Iraq was up close, personal and dreadful (Wesley Pruden, The Washington Times)
  • Arabic press condemn church bombings | The bombing of five churches in Iraq on Sunday has received universal condemnation in the regional Arabic press (BBC)
  • Chaput: Bombings reveal spirit in Iraq | Panel likely to discuss attacks on churches (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
  • Many Christians flee Iraq, with Syria the haven of choice | Attacks on Iraq's tiny Christian minority have been steadily increasing since late spring, and many people are now fleeing the country (The New York Times)

Islamic terrorism:

  • Ex-U.S. hostage testifies in Philippines | Missionary Gracia Burnham, from Wichita, Kan., testified at a local court last Thursday, but because of security reasons journalists were allowed only Monday to monitor the audio and video recordings of her appearance, during which she relived a yearlong nightmare in southern Philippine jungles (Associated Press)
  • Palestinian militants strike hostage deal | Three foreign church workers briefly kidnapped (Associated Press)
  • Martyrs, virgins, and grapes | New scholarship on the Koran may help move Islam away from fundamentalism. (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times)
  • Religion's role is central to this conflict | It's more than a little ridiculous, three years after 19 Muslims flew airplanes into buildings for the greater glory of God, to see a government panel direct Americans to think about the central role that religion plays in this war. But I'm glad it did, because our continued refusal to come to terms with the essentially religious nature of the conflict prevents us from devising effective plans to combat the enemy (Rod Dreher, The Dallas Morning News)
  • Top aides beg Christians to forgo Mideast | With thousands of South Korean Christians on their way to Jerusalem to attend an annual peace gathering, the ministers of foreign affairs and defense issued a plea yesterday asking their countrymen not to venture into "dangerous regions." (JoongAng Daily, South Korea)
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Missions & ministry:

  • Do you believe in trying to convert people of other faiths? | Readers respond (The Washington Post)
  • Ministry offers a hand on the path from prison | Pastor provides guidance with the voice of experience (The Washington Post)
  • Saints deliver | The contest was a game of softball. The real battle was for souls. The location was well-groomed diamond in the main yard at Ulster Correctional Facility, a medium-security state prison located in upstate New York (Newsday)
  • Changing with the times | Rather than spending their entire lives spruiking the gospel in far-flung places, the new missionaries are often ordinary Australians on a working holiday (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Church group stranded by airline | Safety problems ground plane (The Washington Post)
  • Ex-Beach partyers find higher calling: Church | The first South Beach hipsters are older now, a little wiser, and often grateful to have escaped the 1990s relatively unscathed. They've found a new hot spot: church (The Miami Herald)
  • Wheels and the Word | Skateboarding ministry rolls into the coliseum (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)
  • Skateboarding is not a sin | Church reaches the 'out' crowd on its level with a park (The Dallas Morning News)
  • On a wing and a prayer | Globetrotting evangelist Dr KA Paul fights evil around the world from his personal Boeing 747. He's helped bring peace to Liberia, and he's still working on Iraq (The Independent, London)
  • God's pilot fills sky with religious, happy messages | When asked what he does for a living, Jerry Stevens says he's a skywriter. His employer, he adds, is God (Palm Beach Post, Fla.)

Luis Palau in St. Paul:

  • Evangelist Palau gets a St. Paul welcome | Globe-trotting evangelist Luis Palau officially brought his Christian festival to the Twin Cities Monday with a flourish inside the State Capitol, complete with an official welcome from Dan Bostrom, president of the St. Paul City Council (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • Pat Boone kicks off run-up to Palau festival | More than 3,000 people heard venerable singer and part-time preacher Pat Boone, former Minnesota Gov. Al Quie and the Southern gospel sound of the Chancellors quartet Sunday night in the first large kickoff event leading up to this weekend's Luis Palau Twin Cities Festival (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • State's spirituality intrigues evangelist | Luis Palau prepares for upcoming visit (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)
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  • Religious fest to descend on city | Thousands expected to rock Capitol during two-day event (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)
  • Religious event on state property: Legal ground is solid | When it comes to use of the State Capitol grounds in St. Paul, the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union sees the Luis Palau Evangelical Association as no different than abortion opponents, Democrats or white supremacists (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)


  • Elite priests deployed for Olympic spiritual needs | Elite snipers, soldiers and biochemical experts will keep athletes' bodies safe from harm during this month's Olympic Games, but for matters of the soul, elite priests from the Church of Greece are set to take over (Reuters)
  • Carson High graduate finds coaching success at Azusa Pacific | School has three athletes, representing three different nations, at the Olympics (The Record-Courier, Carson City, Nev.)
  • Crossfire evangelists seek global audience at Olympics | Crossfire Ministries evangelists Randy Shepherd and Jamie Johnson are heading for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece (Citizen-Times, Ashevlle, N.C.)
  • Pastor's Olympic 'vision' spurs debate | An Oslo pastor from an evangelical Christian movement claims he had a vision in May that the upcoming Summer Olympics in Athens would result in a "bloodbath." The pastor's remarks have sparked criticism from other Christian leaders and even a local bishop (Aftenposten, Oslo)
  • Vatican sets up sports department | The Vatican announced the initiative Tuesday, pointing to the millions of people who will follow the Olympics in Athens this month as proof of the important role sports plays in today's world (Associated Press)
  • Also: Pope aims to restore faith in sport | A Vatican department devoted to returning morality to sport was announced by the Pope yesterday (The Times, London)
  • Also: New Vatican office to put soul back into sports | Bless me Father, for I have committed a foul in the penalty area (Reuters)

Pop culture:

  • Standup for the Lord | How funny can a Christian comedian be? (The New Yorker)
  • Reporter's noteboook: Jesus is my homeboy | Christian retailers can teach us a lot about the cache of religious cool (Jewsweek)
  • Finding their religion | Stephen Baldwin is merely the latest in a long line of stars who've found religion, and through it, personal transformation (Chicago Sun-Times)


  • A sacred sound may fall silent | Churches struggle to find organists as instrument's popularity declines (The Washington Post)
  • Gospel concerts silenced | It is not very often that complaints are made to the police or promoters about gospel events and concerts disturbing the peace. Lightning has struck twice in Kingston over the last few months (Jamaica Gleaner)
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  • Oak Ridge Boys unplug for new 'Journey' | Even after more than three decades together, the Oak Ridge Boys still revel in trying something new (Reuters)


  • A charismatic evangelist casts film's Next Big Thing: Jesus | Evangelist offering a new episode in drama of Jesus Christ, movie star (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
  • Churches to take ticket orders for movie | Those wanting to watch Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion of the Christ will have to get their tickets through the churches (The Star, Malaysia)
  • Has 'Passion' enriched people's faith? | Moviegoers' response mixed on whether film had a positive or negative effect (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)
  • 'Blob' director Irvin Yeaworth dies at 78 | "The Blob" was an experiment for Good News Productions, which later became Valley Forge Films. The company focused on religious fare, hoping to make feature films. The studio complex was sold in the 1970s (Associated Press)
  • Also: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. | Director Irvin S. "Shorty" Yeaworth Jr., best known for helming 1958 sci-fi cult pic "The Blob," died in a car accident July 19 in Amman, Jordan (Variety)
  • Documentary touts faith of daredevils | In a new video titled Livin' It, Hollywood actor Stephen Baldwin switches gears and gets behind the camera to direct a documentary about 11 "core sports" athletes who grind, nollie, kickflip, flair, and occasionally "case the jump" (crash) on skateboards and BMX bikes (Toledo Blade, Oh.)


  • 'Amish' -- exploitation or an education? | Does this series exploit Amish people and their beliefs? Religious leaders respond (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • What would Rachel say? | Bawdy banter made "Friends" a hit. Now it's landed the show's scriptwriters in court. (Harvey A. Silverglate, The Wall Street Journal)
  • Davey and Goliath to the rescue | Lutherans hope that a couple of TV characters from long ago can instill timeless values in kids today (The Orlando Sentinel)


  • Author's visit focuses on Van Gogh's spiritual side | Kathleen Powers Erickson's "Eternity's Gate: The Spiritual Vision of Vincent Van Gogh" has sparked an interest in Van Gogh's religious influences (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)
  • 'I was like Gollum … then I found God' | It was nearly four years ago that artist Peter Howson came face to face with Jesus Christ (The Scotsman)
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  • Faithful follow authors' work | An author with a built-in audience is just what today's publishers are looking for — a shot a better sales (The City Paper, Nashville)
  • A code for dark times | The modern world is a terrifying place. Small wonder adults are taking refuge in fantastical and mystical novels (Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, London)
  • The passion of Jimmy Breslin | Kenneth L. Woodward reviews The Church That Forgot Christ (The Washington Post)
  • Breslin's church, too, couldn't shoot straight | R. Scott Appleby reviews 'The Church That Forgot Christ' (The New York Times)
  • Graham writes from the heart | Ruth Graham says she spent years hiding behind a mask she felt pressured to wear. Not pressure from her family, she says, but from herself (Sacramento Bee, Ca.)
  • A funny thing happened on way to disbelief | A theologian at Oxford University explains why atheism's appeal has faded (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Debunking 'Da Vinci' | "The Da Vinci Hoax," by Carl E. Olson, editor of Envoy, a Catholic magazine, and Sandra Miesel, a trained medievalist and veteran Catholic journalist, is the latest and perhaps the most thorough (amply sourced and footnoted) and engrossing of the many anti-Brown books that have emerged as sales of "The Da Vinci Code" itself have soared (The Washington Times)
  • Sociologist looks at family violence among evangelical men | The less they attend church, the more likely evangelical husbands and fathers will physically abuse their spouses and children, says author and University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox (Religion News Service)


  • Juggling Jesus: the laughs and the fishes | A new exhibition at the Edinburgh Fringe is about to challenge the artistic traditions of centuries, and depict a Christ full of the joys of life (Sunday Herald, Glasgow)
  • Also: Yes, it's Jesus and they're not having a laugh | A group of 28 paintings of Jesus laughing, smiling and having fun is the centrepiece of a five-day extravaganza of dance, music, art and discussion aimed at displaying positive images of the Messiah (Evening News, Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Jesus did marry Mary Magdalene, author says | Margaret Starbirplans to present research backing theory (The Tennesean, Nashville)


  • Sin's a laugh till someone's hurt | The seven deadly sins are a quaint historical curiosity but cultivate them and they can be deadly not just for the sinner (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)
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  • Fire and brimstone | It is not exactly a warm, fuzzy message of inclusion. This Texas pastor offers wimp-free Christianity. "God sends good people to hell," "Every other religion is wrong" and "Homosexuality is a perversion" are just a few of the chapter titles in the Rev. Robert Jeffress' new book, "Hell? Yes!" (The Washington Times)


  • When Bible study is controversial | Student Bible clubs are said to be growing in popularity (CBS Evening News)
  • Court okays religious references in schools | Schools can't refuse to accept fund-raising messages solely because they refer to the Almighty, a federal judge ruled Monday (East Valley Tribune, Mesa, Az.)
  • Pa. home schooling oversight challenged | In cases being closely watched by home schooling advocates across the country, two Pennsylvania families have filed lawsuits under the state Religious Freedom Protection Act challenging the state's home school reporting requirements (Associated Press)
  • Home schooling is on the rise | Almost 1.1 million students were home-schooled last year, a 29 percent increase since the last government survey in 1999 (Associated Press)
  • PBS chooses Homeschooling | PBS has teamed up with leading home schooling publication Homeschooling Parent Magazine to promote PBS' on-air and online educational content (Broadcasting and Cable)
  • Christians cry foul over inequities of federal funding | Christian schools are expected to double their numbers by 2020, the Senate inquiry examining funding for schools has been told (The Australian)


  • Discerning divine designs | Clerics, scientists, architects connect neural stimulation and faith (The Washington Post)
  • Science and religion | Noted author Ian Barbour talks about these often warring worlds (Grand Forks Herald, N.D.)
  • Evolution-design debate rages on | Scientists say nothing new has been added to the design claim (Salina Journal, Kan.)


  • Plan for rink on Puritan graves protested | Residents whose Puritan forebears are buried in what is now the last remaining section of Worcester's historic Common are outraged over a city plan to build a skating rink on part of the site, saying it violates a century-old promise to maintain the land with "respect and dignity" (Associated Press)
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  • Crusader-era skeleton discovered in Jaffa | A human skeleton dating back to the 12th-century Crusader era was discovered recently in Jaffa during excavations carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)


  • A new breed of priest | Marcos Gonzalez, like others ordained under Pope John Paul II, is devoutly conservative, a stark contrast with those of the Vatican II era (Los Angeles Times)
  • In spite of it all, st. Christopher hangs in there | Decades ago the Vatican downgraded the saint, calling stories of his life 'legendary.' But for many, items with his image are still talismans (Los Angeles Times)
  • Pell's conservatism adds fuel to the fire of Catholic disharmony | Australian Catholics are at odds over how to practice their faith in the modern world (Paul Collins, The Sydney Morning Herald)

Boston church closings:

  • Parishioners want closing explained in more detail | Parishioners at Sacred Heart in Watertown are fuming that the archdiocese plans to shutter their church in November, just a year after it has undergone $1 million in renovations (The Boston Globe)
  • Church closings kindle anxiety over future uses | Some have asked; others have demanded a voice in future use of the property (The Boston Globe)
  • Anger sends parishioners elsewhere | Many choosing church under Archdiocese of Worcester (The Boston Globe)

Vatican statement on families and feminism:

  • Vatican fears feminism threatens families | The Vatican on Saturday denounced feminism for trying to blur differences between men and women and threatening the institution of families based on a mother and a father (Associated Press)
  • Vatican letter denounces 'lethal effects' of feminism | Document outlines formula for man-woman relationships (The Washington Post)
  • Women criticize Vatican document on feminism | Women have reacted with anger and amusement to a Vatican document on feminism, with some saying the Catholic Church is run by men who live in a time warp and want to keep women in their place (Reuters)
  • Feminists embrace Vatican's declaration | "A small step for man, but a great step forward for womankind" is how the Federal Government's sex discrimination commissioner, Pru Goward, has described Pope John Paul II's latest pronunciation of the role of women and work (7:30 Report, Australian Broadcasting Corp.)
  • Is the Pope a feminist? | The Vatican's statement about the role of women has been greeted with worldwide astonishment. But there's no reason to despair — this could be the best thing that has happened to feminism in years (Germaine Greer, The Guardian, London)
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  • Fury over Vatican blaming feminism for breakdown of family | A Vatican document blaming feminism for the breakdown of the family and the advent of homosexual marriage prompted a furious debate as it was lampooned by opponents and welcomed by the Roman Catholic Church's traditionalists (The Independent, London)
  • Vatican attacks radical feminism | The Vatican has published a document designed to address "distortions" generated by radical feminism (BBC, video)
  • Vatican document rejects combative feminism, seeks 'active collaboration' for men and women | Document recommends cultivation of 'feminine values,' but bars the door to women priests (National Catholic Reporter)
  • Full text: Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the world (Vatican)
  • Press release: Bishop Gregory praises new Roman document (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)


  • Wis. court tosses church sex abuse claims | Ten people who claimed a Milwaukee priest sexually assaulted them decades ago waited too long to file civil complaints against the church, a state appeals court ruled Friday (Associated Press)
  • Boston ex-cardinal's Rome flock shrug off his past | Cardinal Bernard Law, who was forced to resign as archbishop of Boston over a sexual abuse scandal, held his first public mass on Thursday since taking up a prestigious new post in the Italian Church (Reuters)
  • Ex-priest pleads guilty to abuse | Case involving 2 male teenagers occurred in 1950s (The Boston Globe)
  • Details from secret priest files disclosed | L.A. Archdiocese had resisted turning over the material on clerics accused of sex abuse (Los Angeles Times)
  • Woman sues religious order, alleging abuse by nun | Suit claims acts at orphanage (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)


  • Meth lab found in N.D. church | Pastor Dave Sobek said he was not surprised upon hearing that Brewer had been arrested after turning the church kitchen into a meth lab (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • Cleric agrees to face charges in Texas | People of many faiths voice their support for El-Mazain (San Diego Union-Tribune)
  • Prof. was a loner, loved victim | Claremont's Harold Jackson apparently killed female friend and himself. He was a professor of early Christianity and Greek (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Ontario, Ca.)
  • Swedish pastor sentenced for slaying | A 32-year-old pastor was sentenced to life in prison Friday for using cell phone text messages he said were from God to convince his former nanny to kill his wife (Associated Press)
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  • Priest, nun convicted after 'sex act' in car | A Malawian court convicted a Catholic priest and a nun of disorderly conduct Thursday after they were caught engaged in a sexual act in a parked car with tinted windows (Reuters)
  • Two to plead guilty in Pa. corruption case | Investigators contend that Corey Kemp looted a fund that was supposed to pay for church renovations (Associated Press)
  • At service for girl, a prayer for youth | Funeral brings call to stop the killing (The Washington Post)
  • Church sends children to make streets safer | For the last three years, about 20 children between the ages of 10 and 13 have been commissioned to go into the community and invite people to make the neighborhood safer (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Nigeria discovers 50 possible cult victims | Police in eastern Nigeria discovered skulls and corpses of more than 50 people in shrines where a secretive cult was believed to have carried out traditional ritual killings, a police spokesman said Thursday (Associated Press)
  • Altar boy murder probe documents released | Danny Croteau and his teenage friends thought the parish priest was "cool." He let them thumb through the Playboy magazines he kept under the driver's seat of his convertible and always made sure there was enough leftover Communion wine for them to share (Associated Press)

Church discipline:

  • There's no one choice in Communion | One of the quickest ways to start an argument among Christians of various denominational stripes is to discuss Communion (Jim Ketchum, The Times Herald, Port Huron, Mi.)
  • Communion barred to abortion supporters | Roman Catholic bishops in three Southeastern dioceses said Wednesday they will deny Communion to lawmakers who consistently support abortion rights unless the dissenting politicians publicly recant (Associated Press)
  • Bishop requires lay people to sign oath | "Affirmation of faith" tells lay ministers and cantors that, if they want to continue in their roles on the altar, they must accept the church's teachings opposing abortion, contraception, gay relationships and other issues (Associated Press)

Church life:

  • Church amnesty bins result in return of loot | After Pastor Derek Rust preached a sermon on stealing, he gave parishioners an opportunity to give back stuff they had swiped (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)
  • Choir chief fired for backing gay marriage | A church choir director who wrote a newspaper opinion piece supportive of gay marriage was fired after church officials took issue with the article (Associated Press)
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  • Free Kirk split goes to mediation | The dispute between the Free Church of Scotland and a breakaway group had been expected to go to the Court of Session in the autumn (BBC)
  • Supersize churches booming | There's nothing threatening about the megachurch. You are much less likely to get fire and brimstone than coffee and a bagel (C.W. Nevius, San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Vintage services boost worshippers | St. Josaphat is latest Detroit church to revive past (Detroit Free Press)
  • Vicar will launch naked calendar | A Gloucestershire vicar is to launch a nude calendar in his church after a group of 13 women posed naked to raise money for rape victims in Rwanda (BBC)
  • Pastor prays for revamp of chapel fallen by wayside | It was founded for the lonely, homeless and abused by Ted Noffs and the Uniting Church in 1964. But 40 years later, the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross has itself fallen by the wayside (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Take a pew at God's cafe, sit back and savor a sermon | The continuing decline in numbers in the Anglican Church has prompted calls for leaders to consider potentially radical changes in the way the church ministers to the faithful, including implementing cafes in churches (The Sun-Herald, Sydney, Australia)
  • Beer & Bibles | Guten tag! Pastor comes from Germany to bring a far-flung flock back to church (The Miami Herald)
  • Underused Harlem church, elegant and endangered | St. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church, at 262 West 118th Street, is in danger of being destroyed (The New York Times)
  • Episcopal parish on chopping block | Growing church may close as funds from traditionalists drop (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
  • Murals tell Bible stories to children | Children's imaginations are running wild as they pass by three new murals of Bible stories inside East Evangelical Free Church near Andover. (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)
  • Church is setting itself a tall order | Providing meaningful and effective witness in the 21st century is a tall order, given that practising Christians are becoming a minority in Europe (Alf McCreary, The Belfast Telegraph)
  • Christian theology, Indian tradition blend at church | Members dedicated to history (Associated Press)
  • Zahl bids goodbye at Advent | Dean credited for growth of city's largest Episcopal church (The Birmingham News, Ala.)
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  • Pinehurst message debate | When one guts Christ unique claims from the heart of Christianity, there isn't much left to preach, except behavior modification and social action (Steve Crain, The Pilot, Pinehurst, N.C.)


  • Developer says he plans to buy Heritage USA | Former PTL ministry resort to be redeveloped for homes, businesses (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)
  • Also: Developer to buy former Bakker resort | Earl Coulston announced Friday that his company, Coulston Enterprises Inc. of Fort Mill, S.C., has agreed to buy another 942 acres of the 2,000-acre Heritage USA from Malaysian United Industries, the international conglomerate that has owned the resort since 1992 (Associated Press)

The simpler life:

  • Clergyman in Church of England resigns | Archbishop of York Dr. David Hope, the Church of England's second-most senior clergyman, said Sunday he had resigned his post to become a parish priest (Associated Press)
  • Archbishop of York to swap riverside palace for ministry in a local parish | David Hope, the Archbishop of York and second in the Church of England's hierarchy, yesterday announced that he is resigning his high office next spring to end his ministry as a vicar in a Yorkshire parish (The Guardian, London)
  • Archbishop seeks the simple parish life | The Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, is to abandon the trappings of high office, including a medieval palace and a chauffeur-driven car, and return to the more simple life of a parish priest (The Telegraph, London)
  • Archbishop stands aside to be a humble parish priest | The Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, announced yesterday that he is to retire five years early to return to his roots and serve as a stipendiary parish priest (The Times, London)
  • Archbishop of York quits for future as parish priest | Dr Hope has found himself at the centre of the deepening crisis in Anglicanism and the threatened schism over the issues of gay priests and women clergy (The Independent, London)
  • Related: 'Take a stand on gay clergy' traditionalists urge successor | A new Archbishop of York must stand firm on the divisive issue of gay clergy, traditionalists in the Church of England said today (PA, U.K.)


  • Maine couples sign up as domestic partners | Dozens of same-sex couples filled out domestic partnership forms and paid $35 to be entered in a new state registry that went into effect Friday (Associated Press)
  • Gay group urges Wolf to return foe's donation | An Arlington-based homosexual-rights group is criticizing a donation to U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf's campaign from a California millionaire who supports "biblical law" (The Washington Times)
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  • Petitions seek vote on gay marriage | Foes say they have signatures to force issue onto ballot (The Columbus Dispatch, Oh.)
  • Labor backs ban on gay marriage | Gay marriage will be made illegal in Australia before the federal election after Labor yesterday said that it would support the Government's proposed ban (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Also: Labor wedded to gay marriage ban | The gay and lesbian lobby has accused federal Labor of betrayal, after the shadow attorney-general, Nicola Roxon, told a gathering of Christians her party's views on homosexual marriage were identical to the Government's (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Delaying the inevitable | Passing a court-stripping amendment wouldn't prevent state courts from legalizing same-sex "marriage" within their own jurisdictions (Editorial, The Washington Times)
  • Article III, Section 2 and the wobbly wall between church and state | While discrimination will not be inserted into the Constitution anytime soon, lawmakers have a found a way to subvert the usual checks and balances, while using this provision as battering ram against constitutional freedoms, civil liberties and the wall separating church and state (Maureen Farrell,
  • 'God … author of marriage' | Springs bishop urges protection of man-woman union (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

Missouri state constitutional marriage amendment:

  • Missouri vote sparks action by gay activists | This week's vote backing a traditional-marriage amendment in Missouri has galvanized homosexual rights groups, which already were gearing up to work "as hard as we can" to put Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry in the White House (The Washington Times)
  • Message of voters in Missouri against gay marriage leaves backers discouraged | Opponents of the amendments said that they were distressed, even hurt, by the outcome in Missouri, but that they planned to study exactly what had happened in the brief months of campaigning there to learn which strategies had worked and which failed (The New York Times)
  • Gay marriage ban in Mo. may resonate nationwide | After an overwhelming vote to ban gay marriage in Missouri on Tuesday, both sides said yesterday that an issue that has gained little traction in Congress appears to be resonating with the American people and could play a growing role in this year's congressional and presidential elections (The Washington Post)
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  • Missouri voters approve gay marriage ban | Missouri voters solidly endorsed a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a decision that was closely watched by national groups on both sides of the battle (Associated Press)
  • Missourians back ban on same-sex marriage | Missouri became the first state to answer what has become a growing question since same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts (The New York Times)
  • Missouri voters ban same-sex marriage | The bellwether state's overwhelming rejection precedes similar ballot measures in 10 states (Los Angeles Times)
  • Missouri marriage amendment wins handily | A state constitutional amendment to define marriage in Missouri as the union of a man and woman cruised to a lopsided victory last night (The Washington Times)
  • Gay marriage outlawed in Missouri | Tuesday's poll could set the tone for similar votes taking place in up to 12 other US states this year (BBC)

Gay marriage in Washington:

  • Seattle judge clears way for gay marriage | A judge ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage violates Washington's constitution, but no licenses will be issued to gay couples until the state Supreme Court reviews the case (Associated Press)
  • Gay marriage backed by local judge | Ruling a major first step, but state top court must weigh in (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • High-court fight looms over gay marriage | For now, a ruling that same-sex couples can marry has little practical effect (The Seattle Times)
  • Judge says plaintiffs know what making commitment means | Ruling lauds "model citizens" (The Seattle Times)
  • Mixed feelings greet judge's decision | An issue often cast in black-and-white took on some surprising shades of gray on a day some local gays and lesbians called "historic" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • Same-sex union ruling sets stage | In a ruling commendable for its readability as well as its cogent reasoning, King County Superior Court Judge William Downing has presented the Washington Supreme Court with the sound legal foundation for allowing same-sex marriage (Editorial, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • A fair-minded ruling for marriage rights | To limit the benefits of marriage to heterosexual couples is to compromise a right of individuals to marry and harm the state's interest in families and children (Editorial, The Seattle Times)
  • Judge backs same-sex marriage | A Washington state law that bars gay unions is unconstitutional, a lower court rules (Los Angeles Times)

Other articles of interest:

  • Interview with inspirational Joni Eareckson Tada | At 17, a diving accident left her quadriplegic, too paralyzed to even act on suicidal urges. And then, a miracle. She's finds faith in God that's done so much more than help her survive. And now, she sees her tragedy as a blessing (Larry King Live, CNN)
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  • Earlier: A Heaven-made Activist | Joni Eareckson Tada is driven forward by hymns of praise and her sovereign God (Christianity Today, Jan. 9, 2004)
  • The media's fear of God | The American people know how religious the President is. The real question is, do most reporters realize just how "fervent" the American public is? (The American Enterprise)
  • What would Jesus view? | A dramatic Passion Play. A collection of ancient Bibles. A model of ancient Jerusalem. Camels and sheep. Movies and musicals (Palm Beach Post)
  • Evangelical divergence | Protestantism surges in Catholic Brazil, but it differs from U.S. kind (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Tiger, briefly on the loose, causes collision | Circus animal strolls by church choir picnic (The New York Times)
  • When a spiritual and romantic quest leads to the web | Amid,, and, Buddhist dating service Dharmadate launches (The New York Times)
  • Rescuers free Colo. hiker pinned by rock | "We were praying the whole time," Greg Curtis said. "To God be the glory" (Associated Press)
  • Mormon Church's oldest apostle dies | David B. Haight, the eldest member of a high-ranking body of the Mormon church, died of natural causes Saturday at age 97 (Associated Press)
  • An entrepreneur of ministerial training | Few people drop scriptural citations and business terms like ''branding" in the same breath. But the Rev. Nick Carter, the new president of Andover Newton Theological School, is not your garden-variety career theologian (The Boston Globe)
  • 95-year-old nun is France's favorite woman | The title of France's favorite woman was awarded last week - to the bewilderment once again of the country's film and television elite - to a 95-year-old nun who spent much of her life living alongside rubbish sweepers in the slums of Cairo (The Observer, London)
  • Presbyterians' shameful boycott | The Presbyterian Church (USA) has committed a grievous sin (Alan M. Dershowitz, Los Angeles Times)
  • In the language of Jesus | Turkey's Christian revival has a message for Iraq's own communities (The Guardian, London)
  • God at work: Business embracing faith | More companies nationwide find benefits in promoting a religious context in the workplace (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
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  • Pastor preaches good sex | A Devon, Alta.-based pastor and his wife have taken their sermons out of the church and into the bedroom in a bid to help couples "understand and meet each other's sexual needs" (Calgary Sun)
  • U.S. won't override AIDS drug patents | The government is refusing to take steps to in effect force down the spiraling price of an important AIDS drug, saying such an unprecedented move isn't allowed by federal law (Associated Press)
  • Shuttlesworth elected SCLC president | The troubled Southern Christian Leadership Conference concluded its convention Wednesday with the surprise election of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, its 82-year-old interim president, to a full one-year term next year (Associated Press)

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