Too much religion speak at the convention? Too little?
The basic storyline in many media outlets goes like this: The keynote speakers at the Republican National Convention aren't nearly so conservative as the delegates or the party "base" of religious conservatives (or, for that matter, the candidate). Most religious conservative leaders are fine with that, saying that putting them up on the podium would draw few swing voters.

"The Republican Party is already cast as being captive of the Religious Right, so why aggravate it?" explains the National Association of Evangelicals' Rich Cizik in today's Washington Times.

But some delegates and others are frustrated. "I think they're making a mistake," Pastoral Congressional Prayer Conference head Rod McDougal told The Boston Globe. "We didn't realize they were going to eliminate and censor everything about God. … They need some people of faith up there."

"Since Republicans actually love God-talk, it stood to reason that their convention would be a veritable revival meeting," says Beliefnet editor Steven Waldman. "Instead, it's been more like an ACLU retreat, at least in terms of the use of religious rhetoric from the top speakers. None of the marquee acts on the first two nights so much as threw in a Bible passage. Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were downright Pentecostal compared to John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger."

Still, away from the marquee acts, there's been plenty of God talk. Check out, for example, Sen. Elizabeth Dole's remarks, which didn't make prime time:

Two-thousand years ago a man said, "I have come to give life and to give it in full." In America I have the freedom to call that man Lord, and I do. In the United States of America we are free to worship without discrimination, without intervention and even without activist judges trying to strip the name of God from the Pledge of Allegiance; from the money in our pockets; and from the walls of our courthouses. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. The right to worship God isn't something Republicans invented, but it is something Republicans will defend.

Slate's Chris Suellentrop notes that Mississippi congressional candidate Clinton LeSueur made a significant change from his brief prepared remarks. Instead of saying, "The very foundation of this country is faith," which appeared in the version of the speech given to reporters, LeSueur said, "The very foundation of this country is Christianity and faith in Jesus Christ." (John Kerry, by the way, also changed a remark from the prepared text of his convention speech. Instead of saying, "I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve," he said. "I don't wear my own religion on my sleeve.")

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And then there was yesterday's invitation-only "Family, Faith, and Freedom Rally," which included Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who promoted the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, action in Sudan, and "winning the culture war." Ralph Reed was another speaker, and the Associated Press reports that Jerry Falwell and Tony Perkins attended the meeting but didn't speak. The New York Times focuses on the rally's private nature and no-press-allowed rule, but The Washington Times didn't seem to have any trouble getting in.

Of course, Christian music acts are a staple of this convention, but they're getting little media attention. Weblog has no idea if they're singing songs about faith, whether implicitly or explicitly.

Riverside Church's James Forbes says he sees one area where there's too much religion coming from the platform: He says the design is full of cross imagery. "I believe it is an image of two crosses," he told The Washington Times (second item). "This is an unusual and inappropriate use of religious symbols in a political campaign." Apparently he's talking about the lectern, but convention spokesman Mark Pfeifle said the idea "sounds like a Rorschach test." Hey, we're supposed to see Jesus everywhere, right?

There's lots more on religion and the convention over at Waldman's Beliefnet blog, including a noteworthy exchange with Marvin Olasky about his controversial column about the "once-born Kerry" vs. the "twice-born Bush." Amy Sullivan was an important read during the Democratic convention, but she's abandoned the religion watch this time around.

Preacher and broadcaster Stephen F. Olford dies of massive stroke
Stephen Olford, who pastored New York's influential Calvary Baptist Church from 1959 to 1973 and hosted the Encounter radio and television broadcasts, died Sunday after a massive stroke, Olford Ministries International reports.

"Stephen Olford was indeed a theological giant, a great Christian leader and a preacher without peer," Southern Baptist pastor Adrian Rogers told Baptist Press. "His impact on evangelical preachers is absolutely without dispute. He has left for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ an incalculable treasure of preaching materials."

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More on the Republican Convention | Religion & politics | Homosexuality | Episcopalians & Anglicans | Church life | Church buildings | Catholicism | Pope returns icon | Abuse | Crime | 'Miracle babies' | Camp counselor murders | Abortion | Life ethics | Terri Schiavo | Sudan | War & terrorism | Muslim scholar banned | Education | Books | Music | Theater & film | The Passion | Jews | Missions & ministry | Spirituality | Business | Zimbabwe | More articles

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More on playing down religious conservatives at the convention:

  • Conservatives take back seat at Republican convention | The U.S. Republican Party is presenting a moderate image at its national convention but conservatives who dominate the party say they are happy to stay in the background, confident that President Bush will take care of their interests if he wins the election (Reuters)

  • Make the party all-inclusive again | Instead of catering to the radical right and dividing America, the president and the GOP should pursue a hopeful agenda that unites Republicans around unifying issues like cutting taxes, strengthening homeland security and winning the war on terror (Patrick Guerriero, The Boston Globe)

  • Religious conservatives go mainstream | Today, they're not only in the tent, they occupy a big chunk of the bleachers — and they make up a significant portion of the South Carolina delegation here for this week's convention (The State, Columbia, S.C.)

  • Christian right, sure of payoff should Bush win, is backstage in New York | At conventions past, the religious movement's leaders would have been upset by such a slight, but not this year (Newhouse News Service)

  • Far right not thrilled about being left out | The "people of faith" are here, although you might not know by watching the convention coverage on television (Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post, Fla.)

  • Bauer wishes core values had prime-time pull | Now for some reason, analysts have suddenly determined that philosophical diversity is important. A strategy that earned admiration in Boston is being viewed with skepticism in New York. (John Kass, Chicago Tribune)

Catholics and the convention:

  • Mass kicks off Catholic events at RNC | Roman Catholics who back President Bush held the first of their daily Masses Sunday during the Republican National Convention, highlighting their presence as the candidates vie for the Catholic vote (Associated Press)

  • GOP woos critical voting bloc: Catholics | The drive to win over Roman Catholics is in high gear at the Republican National Convention, with daily Masses, a private briefing from the party chairman and a special hospitality suite in the convention hall (Associated Press)

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Convention prayer:

  • Cardinal to offer prayer | Cardinal Edward M. Egan, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, will deliver the closing benediction at the Republican National Convention, the archdiocese said yesterday (The New York Times)

  • Disability advocate delivers benediction | Joni Eareckson Tada, an Agoura Hills woman who has built an international Christian foundation to help the disabled took center stage Monday during the opening day of the Republican National Convention (Los Angeles Daily News)

  • Max Lucado's benediction (Republican National Convention)

Bush's faith:

  • On faith, Bush is an open book | There was a time, before he ran for president, when George W. Bush did not wear his religion on his sleeve. (Wayne Slater, The Dallas Morning News)

  • Faith has positive effect on the country | George W. Bush is a religious fanatic hell-bent on imposing his view of God's will on the world. At least, that's what some journalists and academics would have us believe, including University of Washington Professor David Domke (John G. West, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • Bush gets religion into government by stressing faith | Bush has done far more than Reagan ever dreamed to use the power of "a higher calling" to attack society's problems (Marsha Mercer, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  • GOP is mixed on abortion; Bush isn't | Jennifer Blei Stockman, national co-chairwoman of the Republican Majority for Choice, had the challenging task of trying to finesse the incendiary abortion issue this week (Diane Carman, The Denver Post)

  • Bush 'faith' still reeling them in | The documentary is called "George W. Bush: Faith in the White House." It had its premiere yesterday afternoon in a small, third-floor conference room at a midtown hotel (Paul Vitello, Newsday)

Republican platform:

  • Social conservatives wield influence on platform | Republicans approved a platform against legalized abortion and gay marriage, reflecting the clout of social conservatives (The New York Times)

  • Clashing cultures in N.Y. | Praise the Lord and pass the party platform (Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe)

  • Monument fight a platform loss | The platform expected to be ratified today doesn't take a firm stance on the public display of the Ten Commandments, despite the urgings of 21 Alabama delegates who focused on that issue in their campaigns for a spot at the New York gathering (Associated Press)

  • TV abets religious desecration, says GOP | As part of their 2004 platform, Republicans charge the media with sterotyping religious faith, suggesting they have a bias that plays into desecration of houses of worship and religious objects (Broadcasting & Cable)

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Compassionate conservatism:

  • George W. Bush: Compassionate war president | The publisher of The Weekly Standard explores the moral and Biblical roots of Bush's foreign and domestic policies (Terry Eastland, Beliefnet)

  • Upbeat Republicans revive Bush theme of compassion | Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, one of Mr. Bush's rivals for the nomination in 2000, offered a blunt defense of the party's stance against same-sex marriage, abortion and secularism (The New York Times)

  • Compassionate conservatism's future | The future of compassionate conservatism might depend on the results of the conflict between secular theoreticians and those who see the desperate ground-level needs (Marvin Olasky, The Boston Globe)

Other articles on the convention and faith:

  • Club of the most powerful gathers in strictest privacy | Three times a year for 23 years, a little-known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country have met behind closed doors at undisclosed locations for a confidential conference, the Council for National Policy, to strategize about how to turn the country to the right (The New York Times)

  • A separate peace | Michael Reagan vows his Republican convention speech won't fuel a family feud (Los Angeles Times)

  • God bless America | US Republicans wasted no time in drawing God to their cause on Monday as they peppered the opening of their party convention here with a heavy mixture of political pieties and gospel music (AFP)

  • A Democratic son repents | His father was a governor, but when Doug Gardner found religion, he also found the Republican Party (Newsday)

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More on Republicans and religion:

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  • Request for church rosters seen as encroachment | If the Bush campaign tries to obtain church membership directories in Kentucky, they're going to face opposition from religious leaders across the political and theological spectrum (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

Religion & politics:

  • Reed confirms fees from Indian casino lobbyists | Ralph Reed, Southeast regional chairman of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign and former executive director of the Christian Coalition, confirmed on Sunday that he accepted more than $1 million in fees from a lobbyist and a public relations specialist whose work on behalf of American Indian casinos prompted a federal investigation (The Washington Post)

  • The varieties of political religion | Bush's evangelicalism fits our thirst for fervent faith and second acts. But Kerry's religion is no weaker for being different (Alan Wolfe, Beliefnet)

  • In Congress, religion drives divide | Polarization of political parties strengthened by differences in faith affiliation (The Washington Post)

  • Faith takes a large role in this election | Poll finds voters accept candidates' talk of religion (Houston Chronicle)

  • Religion and politics in Utah | In Utah politics, there is a different kind of religious right. (Associated Press)

  • Bringing religion into politics can backfire | The president said on Sunday that his politics and policies were "dictated by faith." But there was no backlash from secular-minded liberals, maybe because the president in question was not President George W. Bush, but rather ex-president Bill Clinton (James P. Pinkerton, Newsday)

  • Bishop urges voter scrutiny of candidates | As Democrats and Republicans work hard to woo Catholic voters for the presidential election, Greensburg Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt is warning his flock to be wary of their "intellectual sleight of hand." (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

  • The politics of religion | More than 40 Christian leaders and 40,000 faithful citizens have signed a petition declaring that "God is not a Republican … or a Democrat" and arguing that the Religious Right has gone too far in seeking to politicize religion (Editorial, The Capital Times, Madison, Wis.)

  • God & politics | Ever since George Washington said a prayer at the nation's first inaugural, religion and elections have been closely linked (Newsday)

  • Red and blue religion? | Faith leads the devout to different sides of political divide. Joseph Hough and Gary Bauer discuss the election (The Dallas Morning News)

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  • Pulpit power | Colorado Springs, home to a handful of influential religious leaders, more than 100 Christian organizations and a stalwart conservative base, will play a major role in the 2004 presidential election (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

Democrats & religion:

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Religion, politics, & homosexuality:

  • Donnie McClurkin, ready to sing out against gay 'curse' | Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who has detailed his struggle with gay tendencies and vowed to battle "the curse of homosexuality," said yesterday he'll perform as scheduled at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, despite controversy over his view that sexuality can be changed by religious intervention (The Washington Post)

  • Cheney daughter's political role disappoints some gay activists | Mary Cheney, the daughter and chief campaign manager of Vice President Dick Cheney, draws controversy because of her sexual orientation (The New York Times)

  • Issue tilt for the GOP | Abortion is rapidly taking a back seat to same-sex "marriage" as the hot issue of the day (Tom Bray, The Washington Times)

  • A subtle struggle in Africa | Gays gaining some ground, but many still persecuted; Young pastors use Ugandan church (Toronto Star)

Same-sex marriage:

  • Schlafly is still making her point, unabashedly | If anyone has helped conservatives nail down the plank in the Republican Party platform opposing same-sex unions, it is this octogenarian stalwart, who emerged as a pivotal force this week behind language supporting a constitutional ban on gay marriage (Los Angeles Times)

  • Clergy rallies against gay 'marriage' | Black ministers from across the country rallied Saturday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to support a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual "marriages" (The Washington Times)

  • Court picks tied to gay agenda | Opposition parties are accusing Prime Minister Paul Martin of packing the nation's Supreme Court with homosexual-rights supporters little more than a month before it must consider the legality of same-sex "marriage." (The Washington Times)

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  • Gay marriage could affect swing state vote | Pollsters and analysts disagree how much impact voters on these ballot initiatives will have in their states — unless the presidential race gets very close. If it does, they say the edge would go for the GOP (Associated Press)

  • Marriage isn't a right intended for all | All men are created equal, but not all things were created for all men (Douglas Frederick, News-Leader, Springfield, Oh.)

  • Gay minister scared by hard stance | A gay Hamilton church minister who supports the Civil Union Bill says the hardline stance of people such as Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki scares her (NZPA, New Zealand)

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Episcopal church demands property from breakaway parishes:

Episcopal church & homosexuality:

  • Same-sex compromise sought | Episcopal panel suggests taking a breather from fight over gay blessings (Rocky Mountain News)

  • Bishop to set gay-clergy policy | Colorado Episcopal Bishop Rob O'Neill says he will develop clear policies about gay and lesbian clergy and halt already rare same-gender blessings in response to a task force's call for "a time of restraint" on sexual questions (The Denver Post)

  • Episcopalians discuss church rift | Church hosts forum on division stemming from gay bishop's affirmation (Carolina Morning News, Bluffton, S.C.)

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Archbishop of Canterbury:

  • Archbishop shows frustration over church's divisive homosexuality row | Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, yesterday voiced his frustration at the divisions that have racked the Church of England, and the worldwide Anglican communion which he also leads, over the issue of homosexuality (The Guardian, London)

  • Archbishop says he's failed to live up to expectations | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday described his sense of failure at "not living up to people's expectations" since he moved from Wales nearly two years ago (The Times, London)

  • Muslims can go to heaven, says Archbishop | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday vented his frustrations with the Church factions warring over homosexuality and also reminded Christians that they did not have a monopoly on the afterlife (The Telegraph, London)

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Church life:

  • Spreading the word in opposing territory | Without making a value judgment on the PCUSA's actions, what stance should religious groups take in its relations with other faiths, particularly ones whose beliefs are different? Religious leaders respond (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

  • A rebirth for Beverly church | Worshipers start parish as gift in Dominican Republic (The Boston Globe)

  • Kirk closes book on Jerusalem | Jerusalem — William Blake's hauntingly Anglophile anthem — has fallen foul of the Church of Scotland hierarchy because it is seen as too much of a homage to the Auld Enemy

  • God of small things | Why is there a dog under the choir seat and an eagle on the lectern? What is the point of gargoyles? Richard Taylor on how to read a church (The Times, London)

  • Yes, people go to church | Going to church is tremendously popular. You'd think by the way people talk that hardly anyone goes to church, but the people doing the talking are usually ones who don't go (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)

  • Bishop heralds Korean role | Wisconsin clergyman will become the first Korean leader of the United Methodist congregations of northern Illinois (Chicago Tribune)

  • Shedding light on local saint | A few days before the 1998 Labor Day storm, Marcia Pierce Steele described her hopes for a Syracuse memorial to the Episcopal Church's first Native American saint (The Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.)

  • Ousted elders fight church | A Presbyterian church has stripped three elders of their duties until they "clarify their relationship" with a mostly-Samoan breakaway faction that worships in a garage (The New Zealand Herald)

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Church buildings:

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  • 3 new priests from Nigeria reflect U.S. Catholic trend | All the new priests joining the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson this year are from Nigeria, reflecting nationwide growth in the number of foreign-born Catholic clerics serving in U.S. dioceses (The Arizona Daily Star)

  • Grace eases pressure in time of transition | Parishes welcome those who lost one (The Boston Globe)

  • Critics: Priest up for sainthood a sinner | The Pope has called him the apostle of California and he's being considered for sainthood, but if some teachers and Native American activists have their way, Father Junipero Serra will be remembered more as a sinner than a saint (Fox News)

  • Weymouth parishioners stage sit-in to protest closing | Angry and grieving parishioners at St. Albert the Great have begun a sit-in prayer vigil to protest the closing of their parish by the Archdiocese of Boston, and vowed yesterday to remain inside the church indefinitely (The Boston Globe)

  • Update: Protest continues at Weymouth church | The around-the-clock vigil at St. Albert the Great continued yesterday as parishioners vowed to stay in the church even though it is scheduled to be closed at noon today by the Archdiocese of Boston (The Boston Globe)

  • Also: Mass. Catholic parishioners stage sit-in | Although the archdiocese had planned to close St. Albert's at noon Wednesday, officials have decided to hold off to avoid a confrontation with the parishioners who have stationed themselves there (Associated Press)

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Pope returns icon to Orthodox church:

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Catholicism & abuse:

  • Priest abuse payout may be costly | Total damages against L.A. Archdiocese could hit $1.5 billion, says an attorney for alleged victims. Church lawyer questions that figure (Los Angeles Times)

  • Also: Calif. church may pay $1.5 billion to settle claims | People who say they were sexually abused by priests could receive more than $1.5 billion in damages from The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles -- more than any other U.S. diocese has paid, an attorney for more than 100 alleged victims said on Sunday (Reuters)

  • Also: Calif. church abuse claims may cost $1.5B | Lawyers for hundreds of alleged victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests estimate that their clients' claims could cost the Archdiocese of Los Angeles more than $1.5 billion, the largest amount ever paid out by a diocese, according to court documents (Associated Press)

  • Fissures in a grand church | St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church is already scarred and scandalized by allegations of abuse against five parish priests. Now it's split over whether the pastor, Msgr. John A. Alesandro, who has been at St. Dominic's for two years, should continue to serve (The New York Times)

  • Diocese puts a lawyer in charge of its hot line | The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn has set up a hot line for people to report sexual abuse by a priest. But a church-appointed lawyer will take the calls (The New York Times)

  • Diocese agrees to fund advocate for abuse victims | Bid for grant made in Springfield (Associated Press)

  • Church let sex abuse priest work with children | A Roman Catholic priest who was allowed by the Church to carry on working after he admitted assaulting a teenage boy was sentenced to four years yesterday for a catalogue of sex offences against two young brothers (The Times, London)

  • Sex offender priest in court | The Roman Catholic diocese of Westminster last night apologised to the male victims of a priest jailed for four years after it became clear that he had been allowed to resume his duties after admitting an earlier incident of sexual abuse (The Guardian, London)

  • Church officials were warned about S.J. priest | What hierarchy knew and when being questioned in abuse cases (San Jose Mercury News, Ca.)

More abuse:

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'Miracle babies' charges:

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Camp counselor murders:

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  • Thousands in New York rally for abortion rights | Organizers estimate that 25,000 activists join the march across the Brooklyn Bridge. More protests are to come (Los Angeles Times)

  • Portugal bans Dutch abortion ship | Portugal has refused permission for a Dutch "abortion ship" to enter its territorial waters (BBC)

  • Portugal vows to use force to keep Dutch 'abortion ship' out (AFP)

  • Abortions at record level, despite better contraception services | The number of abortions in England and Wales rose to a record 181,600 last year, raising doubts about the effectiveness of the government's strategy for improving contraceptive services (The Guardian, London)

  • Abortions hit record 37,000 for teenagers | A total of 37,043 terminations took place among girls of 15 to 19 in 2003 - higher than the 36,018 recorded for the 25-to-29 age group (The Telegraph, London)

  • Anti-abortion demonstrators found guilty | Though 'it's difficult to restrict freedom,' municipal judge rules, ordinance restricting protests is constitutional. (Associated Press)

  • High abortion rate dismays experts | High abortion rates could partly be blamed on a stalled push for female empowerment and on young women taking the gains of the feminist movement for granted, according to Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Beyond birth control | Ultimately, the issue of sustainable population is not about abortion but whether women and children in the world's poorest countries will live or die (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

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Life ethics:

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  • Priests protest over 'living wills' | Hundreds of Roman Catholic priests have united today to protest against a government Bill that they claim will legalise euthanasia (The Times, London)

  • Parents in fight to keep their baby alive | The parents of a premature baby were yesterday preparing to challenge doctors who have said they will not resuscitate their child when it develops life-threatening breathing difficulties (The Telegraph, London)

  • President Bush's bioethics panel has little influence | The council, three years after its creation, has become an afterthought -- with little impact on public debate and virtually no discernable influence on Congress or its creator, President George W. Bush (The Boston Globe)

  • Cloning experiment condemned | A cloning scientist yesterday rejected accusations that his work was exploitative, unsafe and socially unacceptable (The Guardian, London)

  • "Conscience" clauses allow US corporate providers to refuse care | Refusal clauses" and "conscience exceptions," which allow US doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers to refuse to provide certain types of health care to patients, are being extended to hospitals, insurance companies, pharmacies, and managed care companies (British Medical Journal)

  • Don't ignore stem-cell issue | I was a human embryo. So were you. Genetically speaking, each of us, since the moment of conception, has been a unique individual. These scientific facts should provide serious doubts about embryonic stem-cell research and human cloning (Raymond J. Keating, Newsday)

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'Terri's Law' argued in Fl. Supreme Court:

  • Comatose woman's case heard by Florida court | Florida's highest court scrutinized a special law passed to keep a brain-damaged woman alive against her husband's wishes (The New York Times)

  • Florida justices start review of right-to-die case | 'The essential question here is: Who is entitled to make a decision on something so personal and private as whether to use life support?' (Los Angeles Times)

  • Court hears case of brain damaged woman | Florida's Supreme Court justices Tuesday suggested the Legislature did an end run around the court system by passing a law that let Gov. Jeb Bush order the reinsertion of a brain-damaged woman's feeding tube (Associated Press)

  • `Terri's Law' faces supreme scrutiny | Florida's Supreme Court justices questioned the reasoning of both sides in the Terri Schiavo controversy Tuesday morning as they moved closer to deciding whether Gov. Jeb Bush violated the state constitution by acting to keep the brain-damaged woman alive (The Tampa Tribune)

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  • Sudanese militiamen disarm, say they not Janjaweed | Five hundred Sudanese militiamen in government service disarmed in western Darfur Friday at a ceremony attended by U.N. envoy Jan Pronk, but denied they were Arab Janjaweed irregulars blamed for killing, raping and looting in Darfur aimed at African villagers (Reuters)

  • U.N. Sudan deadline passes | Aid workers missing, Sudanese government appeals for "reasonable decision" (Associated Press)

  • Search for Darfur aid workers | United Nations security officers are hunting for eight aid workers missing in a rebel-controlled area of Darfur (BBC, video)

  • Sudan's 'lost boys' in America | Sudan's lost boys have found a home in America (BBC)

  • Soldiers face death after refusing to bomb Darfur | Fifteen armed men in blue uniforms guard the metal stairs leading to the Sudanese court. Among the people massed at the bottom, only those who look official and scream loud enough are let through, pushing their way past the soldiers (The Telegraph, London)

  • Sudan crisis galvanizes 'coalition of conscience' | The coalition unites liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, Nobel laureates and former presidents, civil rights leaders, human rights advocates, evangelical Christians and other faith-based activists and entertainers (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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War & terrorism:

  • Police confirm pipe bomb blast at stem-cell lab | An explosion that blew out a number of windows at a Boston-area laboratory specializing in stem-cell research was caused by a pipe bomb, local police said on Friday (Reuters)

  • Pastor renews attack on Islam | A controversial Norwich pastor has used the third anniversary of the World Trade Centre bombings to renew his attack on the "evil" of Islam (Evening News, Norwich, England)

  • Huge security for Putin's Mt Athos trip | Fears of a possible attack by Chechen rebels at one of Orthodox Christianity's holiest sites have also led to 40 of Putin's personal bodyguards already arriving to secure the area and set up two-and-a-half tons of telecommunications equipment (Kathimerini, Athens)

  • Fear factor keeps wary tourists away from dangerous holy site | Once a place where Palestinian Christians welcomed thousands of pilgrims a year, the birthplace of Jesus is now mostly deserted (The Bradenton Herald, Fla.)

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French hostages & headscarf ban:

  • France won't meet demand to stop ban on head scarves | The demand that France revoke a law banning Muslim head scarves in public schools came from a militant Islamic group holding two French journalists in Iraq (The New York Times)

  • French hostage crisis adds tension to headscarf ban | The kidnapping of two French journalists in Iraq has injected new tension into France's debate over banning Islamic headscarves in schools just as Paris was hoping for a smooth start to the school year this week (Reuters)

  • French cling to hope that reporters are alive | French, Muslim and Arab leaders clung to hope on Wednesday that diplomatic efforts would save the lives of two reporters held hostage in Iraq amid uncertainty over their fate (Reuters)

  • Hostages urge France to repeal its scarf ban | The French government made clear that it would not allow the fate of the hostages to interfere with the new law (The New York Times)

  • French hostages urge end to head scarf ban | The French government prepared for crisis talks Tuesday to save the lives of two journalists held hostage in Iraq, while aides to rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for the release of the reporters as a deadline set by their kidnappers neared (Associated Press)

  • Anxious France accelerates bid for Iraq hostages | An anxious French government accelerated its diplomatic bid to save two French reporters held hostage in Iraq on Tuesday as a fresh kidnapper deadline neared for Paris to scrap a ban on Muslim headscarves in schools (Reuters)

  • On the line in France | No matter how different American and French conceptions of religious freedom may be, no democracy can permit terrorists holding a knife to the throat of a kidnap victim to annul domestic laws that have been passed according to constitutional rules (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  • Divided France unites over hostages | Muslims join in condemning Iraq militants, who vow to kill pair over scarf ban (Los Angeles Times)

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Muslim scholar banned:

  • The ban on a Muslim scholar | Tariq Ramadan is a Muslim Martin Luther (Paul Donnelly, The Washington Post)

  • Too scary for the classroom? | As a professor and a Muslim, I make no apologies for my critical look at both Islam and the West (Tariq Ramadan, The New York Times)

  • Scholar under siege defends his record | Tariq Ramadan responds point by point to the `unfounded allegations' of a critic (Chicago Tribune)

  • A Muslim scholar's exclusion | Homeland Security thinks Ramadan is dangerous, it should say so--and offer whatever evidence it can produce. If not, it should let him in (Editorial, Chicago Tribune)

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  • Academics, newspaper protest revocation of Islamic scholar | More than a dozen US academics added their voices to the chorus calling on US authorities to reinstate a visa for the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan. (AFP)

  • Denied a visa, scholar won't teach at Notre Dame | Agreeing to a request from the Homeland Security Department, the State Department refuses to issue a visa to a Muslim European professor hired by Notre Dame. Swiss citizen Tariq Ramadan was to lead research on religion, conflict and peace building at the university (All Things Considered, NPR)

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  • Area Catholic schools grow, bucking trend | Catholic education in the region is expanding -- with the Archdiocese of Washington opening its first new elementary school in Montgomery County in a decade and hundreds of students heading to parochial schools under the D.C. voucher program (The Washington Post)

  • Some Catholic profs balking at toeing line | College theologians must get approval from the cardinal (Chicago Tribune)

  • Does the state have a right to monitor? | Who owns the children, and who therefore should oversee their education - the parents, the state, or God? (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Many D.C. school vouchers go unused | 290 students forgo $7,500 tuition grants (The Washington Post)

  • District addresses new policy | Board discusses new graduation policy, maintains prayer at meetings (Bethany Beach Wave, Del.)

  • Falwell finds right match at Southwestern Baptist | When the Rev. Jerry Falwell strode to the podium at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary this week, he got a tumultuous welcome. It was only the most recent milestone in the sharp turn to the right that the 3,000-student Fort Worth seminary has taken in recent years (Jim Jones, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Poised to fly | Christian college opens doors Monday in Rocklin (The Sacramento Bee, Ca.)

Sex Ed.:

  • Sex row divides church and state | Behind Cardinal Keith O'Brien's provocative denunciation of the state of sex education in Scotland is an implied threat of almost Biblical proportions, a vision of the nation's parents taking the church's lead and rising up as one to smite the executive, yea even unto the next election (The Herald, Glasgow, Scotland)

  • Churches split over sex education | Controversial proposals to reform sex education in Scotland have divided the Catholic Church and the Kirk (BBC)

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  • Cardinal blasts sex education | The leader of Scotland's Roman Catholics will this week launch the biggest campaign against a Scottish executive policy since the repeal of section 28, claiming that new sex education proposals amount to "child abuse" (The Times, London)

  • Ignorance not bliss in complexity of sex | Teenagers need education, not virginity vows, to make informed choices, (Emily Maguire, The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Da Vinci Code:


  • Move over, Confucius | Joshua Kurlantzick reviews David Aikman's Jesus in Beijing (The New Republic)

  • Powerful portrait of Anne Hutchinson is marred by proselytizing | "American Jezebel" makes good reading these days, as our government tries to foil radical Muslim puritans who would kill nonbelievers in the name of their religion (The Boston Globe)

  • Professor's book to reach wider audience | Gregory S. Clapper, professor of religion and philosophy at the University of Indianapolis, has just seen his successful book about John Wesley translated into Chinese (The Indianapolis Star)

  • In the name of God | George Bush really is doing God's work - according to the Rev Evans' best-selling book, that is (The Guardian, London)

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  • Teenagers get down with Jewish rock | Many in the community recognize the popular genre's power in teaching young people the value of their culture and making them feel that it's cool (Los Angeles Times)

  • Rapper Ma$e making a musical resurrection | Five years after he stunned the hip-hop world by giving up a multiplatinum career for a religious career, Pastor Mason Betha is still talking about a resurrection — this time, a music one (Associated Press)

  • The 50 Cent savings plan | I understand that employing the talents of 50 Cent, even for ulterior motives, is for many conservative Christians akin to kissing the Devil. But I am aware of the grim statistics concerning young black men. (John W. Fountain, The Washington Post)

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  • Brit's a Pope star! | Kabbalah fan will wed Catholic Kev in remote Malibu monastery (3am, U.K.)

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Theater & film:

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The Passion on DVD:

  • Passion and animation | Other Jesus DVDs out besides Gibson's (Time)

  • The passion of the priest | A Toronto-area priest who was spiritual adviser to Mel Gibson during filming of the controversial movie The Passion Of The Christ has been suspended by Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic for saying Latin masses for a traditional Catholic splinter group (Toronto Star)

  • 'Passion' and what it inspired in South Park | The "South Park" episode "The Passion of the Jew" may not be the most sophisticated rebuttal to Mel Gibson's film, but it is certainly a highly satisfying one (The New York Times)

  • Will 'The Passion' continue on DVD? | The disc version of Mel Gibson's blockbuster, due in stores today with no extras, is being watched closely to see how its popularity compares with the theatrical release (Los Angeles Times)

  • Distribution of Luke's Gospel spurs mixed reaction among faiths | Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is being released on DVD Tuesday, and churches again are linking evangelical efforts with the blockbuster film about Christ's final hours (Houston Chronicle)

  • 1-day figures due for 'Passion' DVD sales | Total one-day sales figures were expected Wednesday for the DVD of Mel Gibson's biblical epic, which has already sold about 2.4 million copies (Associated Press)

  • 'Passion' DVD release gets off to brisk start | DVD copies of Mel Gibson (news)'s unlikely blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ" went on sale on Tuesday as distributor Fox Home Entertainment reported initial shipments to retailers running 20 percent ahead of projections (Reuters)

  • Pitching 'The Passion' | The film's release on DVD and VHS is expected to stir Oscar buzz early (The Orlando Sentinel)

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  • Mitzvah envy | $40,000 delivers fun and even a few friends--without the bother of any Hebrew (Chicago Tribune)

  • Taking the plunge into biblical Hebrew | I learn to read with my tongue, as well as my eyes. Sometimes this doing -- reading aloud -- leads me to understand what I think I do not know (Katherine Brown, The Washington Post)

Jews for Jesus:

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Missions & ministry:

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  • Poverty and health | A combination of deft government incentives and a strong economy may have reduced overall poverty. But the people at the very bottom are being forgotten (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  • America's hell-hole jail finds God - and redemption | From the banks of the Mississippi, violent convicts are preaching religious conversion (The Observer, London)

  • Short-term missions give lasting hope | Many who participate in trips to help the less fortunate discover that they, too, benefit from the experience (The Indianapolis Star)

  • Using faith to benefit community | Belief in a higher power often motivates people to reach out to others and help guide them toward fuller lives (Battle Creek Enquirer, Mich.)

  • Religious organizations near, far lead relief effort | As expected, houses of worship throughout the South Shore area immediately initiated disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Charley hit (Tampa Tribune, Fla.)

  • Liberals take umbrage at soup kitchen 'photo op' | Because Republicans were doing this, a collection of indignant liberals, some of them from the neighborhood, engaged in the ultimate protest: picketing a soup kitchen because they consider the kitchen volunteers uncharitable (Dennis Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Trip to soup kitchen feeds debate on services | Although it was part of a national effort to position delegates from every state in a service project and alert the media, Alabamians found themselves in a decidedly unscripted event helping the city's neediest residents, working side-by-side with Democrats, and debating the role of religion and government in providing social services (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  • Family Faith Festival draws 15,000 | Thousands ignored the reading of "hot!" on the temperature gauge on Saturday and came out to participate in and show support for the third annual Family Faith Festival held in downtown Lodi (Lodi News-Sentinel, Ca.)

  • Churches hop to work after Charley | Christians helping people find food, shelter and more (The News-Press, Fort Meyers, Fla.)

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  • Divine profits | The Christian-related entertainment culture is growing in popularity and growing the profits it creates (The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS)

  • Fashion of the Christ! | Fashion was reborn and revived when The Anointed Upper Room Models graced the catwalk of the Upper Room Christian Entertainment Centre recently in Nashville, Mandeville (The Jamaica Observer)

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  • A humble African cleric fiercely protects his flock | A Roman Catholic archbishop has begun an all-out assault on the president of Zimbabwe, who has dismissed him as "an angry, evil and embittered little bishop" (The New York Times)

  • Church body rapped | The Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe has come under fire from some of its members who are accusing the Christian umbrella organisation of meddling in partisan politics (The Herald, Harare, Zimbabwe)

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More articles:

  • Pentecostalists attract Muslim asylum seekers | The Pentecostal Church has created a controversial revival movement among Muslim asylum seekers in the greater Oslo area. In the past six years 16,000 refugees have visited the white wooden church in Sandvika, a suburb in Bærum just west of the capital. Some asylum center leaders say the church is tricking their visitors (Aftenposten, Oslo)

  • Defining stigma | The definition of stigma and what constitutes the phenomenon has emerged as an issue of contention within the Christian fraternity against what is accepted by political authority as the true working definition (Mmegi, Botswana)

  • Scrolls' origins at issue | After a decade of excavations at the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, two Israeli archaeologists are ready to challenge the traditional view that the Essenes were members of a pious, ascetic sect who spent their days transcribing the famed biblical texts (The Washington Times)

  • Athletics-religion mix can near a constitutional line | For some devoutly Christian coaches, faith can't be separated from their leadership (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Move boosts mainstream Protestants' media reach | Mainline Protestant churches have long lagged behind the televangelists who now dominate television and radio. But one Atlanta-based radio/television ministry has just made a bold move to help Protestants compete with the Benny Hinns and Pat Robertsons of the broadcast world (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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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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