Send in the clones

Send in the clones
The British government approved of human cloning for stem-cell research (but banned it for reproduction) in 2001. Yesterday, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority gave the first license to actually go ahead and do it.

Suzi Leather, chairwoman of the regulatory body, said the license was granted "after careful consideration of all the scientific, ethical, legal and medical aspects of the project. … This is an important area of research and a responsible use of technology. The HFEA is there to make sure any research involving human embryos is scrutinized and properly regulated."

Pro-life groups are trying to figure out if they can mount a legal challenge to the experiments.

"This is a deplorable step down the slippery slope," said Jack Scarisbrick, chairman of the pro-life charity Life "We should be ashamed of it. Stem cells from adults are likely to be just as good, if not better. The reason for seeking this is probably as much about power, forbidden fruit and breaching taboos as curing diseases."

Who's going to the Republican convention?

Who's going to the Republican convention?
Ralph Reed told the Associated Press yesterday that invitations to the Republican National Convention "just started going out to evangelical figures, but he would not release any names." The rest of the AP story says that Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson haven't yet been invited. Well, um, maybe that's because invitations just started going out?

The AP story is titled, "Top Evangelicals Still Await GOP Invite," but Rachel Zoll knows better, quoting the recent PBS/U.S. News survey of evangelicals that shows few evangelicals consider Robertson and Falwell their leaders. Graham? Definitely. (But what about the just-as-popular Jim Dobson?)

Everyone's favorite religion-and-politics scholar, John Green, says the Republicans don't need to invite these guys anyway. "Evangelicals are likely to be strongly represented at the convention, but within the ranks of the GOP and the Bush campaign," Green said. "Key movement leaders, like Ralph Reed and Gary Bauer, may well attend, but as party leaders, not evangelical figures."

Or as Christian Coalition president Roberta Combs puts it, "We'll have a huge presence there. We have the president."

Well, okay, so they'll also have Michael W. Smith.

Christianity in China

Christianity in China
Wow, like, Bibles are so rare in China that people are paying HK$850,000 (US$ 109,000) for copies of it. Oh, wait. That's not what this story says.

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The Passion of Saladin

The Passion of Saladin
The New York Timespreviews a movie that won't be out until next May, but it sounds pretty cool. It's a period action-drama directed by Ridley Scott and starring Orlando "Legolas" Bloom. Oh, and it's about killing Muslims. Or Christians. Or at least it's about the Crusades. The Times, predictably, suggests that now may not be the best time for Hollywood to release a movie about the Crusades, what with us fighting a war against Islam and all. (What? We're not fighting a war against Islam? Then what's the problem? Oh … I see.)

Not to worry. "For a movie about holy war, Kingdom of Heaven has surprisingly little religious oratory, or even religious content," reports Sharon Waxman. "The only overtly religious figures are extremists: marauding Knights Templar on the Christian side and murderous Saracen knights on the Muslim side."

So the good guys are the ones who don't care about religion, and the bad guys are the ones who do. What's to worry about? Sounds great!

By the way, The Telegraph beat the Times to this story by eight months, with a very different take.

American media is speaking Christian fundamentalese, says University of Washington professor

American media is speaking Christian fundamentalese, says University of Washington professor
"In a time of crisis, the certainty conveyed by what I call 'political fundamentalism' put forward by the administration silenced the Democrats and had great appeal to the press," University of Washington associate professor of communication and adjunct professor of political science David Domke says in a school press release. "And yet with so many around the globe expressing a different view, the press failed its readers by uncritically echoing these fundamentalist messages."

What? The American press went all fundamentalist? When? The press release explains:

In all but one of Bush's 15 national addresses between 9/11 and the end of major combat in Iraq, for example, he cast the campaign against terrorism as a simple struggle of good (America) vs. evil, according to Domke's book. And in four of the speeches, Bush issued explicit declarations that administration policies and goals were in line with divine powers.
Yet only two of the 326 post-speech editorials in 20 leading newspapers challenged the religiously derived notion of good vs. evil, and none questioned the president's statements about God's will. …

Ah, yes. Believe in good and evil and you're a fundamentalist. Gotcha. Yes, we must certainly rid the world of the concepts of good and evil. After all, that's what got us into trouble in the first place. Or something. Ooh! There's more!

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The coverage, Domke found, gave uncritical voice to four key fundamentalist messages from the administration:
1) Simplistic, black-and-white conceptions of the political landscape.
2) Calls for immediate action on administration policies as a necessary part of the nation's "calling" and "mission" against terrorism.
3) Declarations about the will of God for America and for the spread of U.S. conceptions of freedom and liberty.
4) Claims that dissent from the administration was unpatriotic and a threat to the nation.
"These messages were rooted in a religiously conservative worldview," Domke said, "yet they were often framed by both the administration and the news media to emphasize a sense of nationalism.
"That made the fundamentalist approach attractive, or at least palatable, to the press and public," Domke added, "in a period when Americans were trying to understand what had happened and why."
It was not until nearly two years after 9/11 that the administration relinquished its full-court religious press, Domke said, and the news media began to question their role in helping the administration to control public discourse.
"All of this came at great cost to democracy and the public," he said, "both of which were roundly ignored by the administration as it pursued a religiously grounded vision of America in the 21st century."

Got it? Only fundamentalists, after all, use words like "mission." And only a fundie (or a raving bigot) would want to proselytize some "U.S. conception of freedom and liberty" abroad. Only an extremist could look at the political landscape and conceive that terrorism is wrong. Shame on the media for ruining democracy so. Thanks, Dr. Domke!

More articles

Church & state:

  • White House pledges to back Catholic group | President Bush's top adviser on faith-based programs assured Catholic Charities Maine Thursday that the White House is ready to battle local government when it comes to funding religious groups (Portland Press Herald, Maine)
  • Church, state, and deities | Should religious leaders invited to say the invocation at a government meeting be allowed to refer specifically to their faith, whether it be Christian, Jewish, Muslim or others? Religious leaders respond (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • Judge: Remove Bible from court display | Federal Judge Sim Lake said the county should be exercising religious neutrality and "not be seen as endorsing Christianity" (Associated Press)
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  • County to appeal Bible ruling | Courthouse has been ordered to remove the display in 10 days (Houston Chronicle)
  • SC attorney general joins Great Falls' appeal over prayer to specific god at meetings | South Carolina has again joined the Town of Great Falls' appeal of a federal court's order preventing the town from mentioning the name of Jesus Christ in prayers at town meetings (WIS, Columbia, S.C.)
  • State of grace | South Carolina could be destination for Christian exodus (Good Morning America, ABC)
  • Atheist invoked mostly anger, because he followed wrong example | If a firm believer in the nonexistence of God ever gets a crack at delivering the invocation at a government meeting around here, I hope that atheist does better than the one invited to a Tampa City Council meeting (Tom Lyons, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.)
  • Misuse of office or attack on faith? | State official denies misconduct allegations (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Election 2004 & religion:

  • Faith moving to center stage | Televangelist Kenneth Copeland, speaking last week at a conference at the Fort Worth Convention Center, made clear the consequences of sitting out the 2004 presidential election (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)
  • Churches see an election role and spread the word on Bush | The Bush campaign is trying to rally conservative churches and their members to help turn out sympathetic voters this fall (The New York Times)
  • Faith's role at polls gets closer look | A growing awareness that religious commitment is a key indicator of how people vote has both major political parties jockeying for the support of the faithful (The Denver Post)
  • Schism widens in battle over pulpit politics | A fight is erupting this election season between conservative churches and liberal watchdog groups that are going to the IRS and accusing ministers of violating the law if they speak out about political issues and candidates (The Washington Times)
  • Promise Keepers push voter sign-up | The president of Promise Keepers launched the organization's first national voter registration drive Friday, calling on Christian men to "demonstrate the citizenship of believers and participate in our nation's affairs" (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

Religion & politics:

  • Christian youths targeted for votes | A Montgomery, Ala.-based organization is trying to lure 2 million evangelical Christian youth to the ballot box in November by setting up voter-registration tables at summer Christian music festivals (The Washington Times)
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  • Jesus wouldn't do that | Trent Franks is no fiscal conservative. And he's the worst kind of Christian (Phoenix New Times)
  • In God, Americans are trusting more | There's a resurgence of religion in politics south of the border (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
  • The DNA of social gospel | Traces of social gospel DNA can be found almost anywhere that religion mixes with American politics—in President Bush's religion-based initiative and his talk of "compassionate conservatism," for instance, as well as in Senator John Kerry's effort to close the "God gap" by preaching how values must be manifest in actions and not just slogans (The New York Times)
  • Can I get an "amen"? | Hostility toward religion in law and politics (Shannen W. Coffin, National Review Online)
  • When faith and politics meet | Rendering unto Caesar (Melissa Rogers, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)
  • Can a candidate be too conservative in Bush country? | Arlene Wohlgemuth's alliance with Christian fundamentalists, staunch conservatism and infighting among Republicans may work against her in her race for the Texas congressional seat that represents Crawford (Associated Press)
  • Invoking Christ as the God of War doesn't jibe with what I was taught | Not a day goes by that someone on this planet isn't invoking God or a higher power for the purposes of war or some other self-enriching scam (Roberto Rodriguez, The Capital Times, Madison, Wis.)
  • Blessed are the peacemakers | Evangelicals try to wrestle Jesus out of the grip of the so-called Christian right (Los Angeles City Beat)

Free speech:

  • Paxtang couple's sign sparks free-speech fight | Colman and Frances Wessel say they won't remove their sign from their home, even though they face a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)
  • Earlier: Couple's sign asserts beliefs | When the Wessels recently asked Paxtang Borough Council whether the pro-life sign on their front porch was "OK," council members said they have to study the matter (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa., Aug. 3)
  • Ofcom to legalize CB radio sermons | It's a big ten-four for religious broadcasting as the new media regulator announced plans yesterday to legalize religious broadcasts on CB radios (The Times, London)
  • Attacks from church hurt Mwanawasa | President Mwanawasa yesterday told the Oasis Forum that he feels hurt when Church leaders speak against him in public (The Post of Zambia)
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Stem cells:

  • No fishes or loaves but Kerry sees the miracle of stem cells | John Kerry is not quite campaigning for the White House on a promise to help the crippled walk and the blind see, but his effort to make stem cells a key issue comes close. And it's a debate that is proving surprisingly potent (Roy Eccleston, The Australian)
  • Kerry takes on issue of embryo research | Campaign broadens challenge to include president's commitment to science (The Washington Post)
  • Revelation of the nerds | The religion of stem-cell research (William Saletan, Slate)
  • Romney's wife supports 'ethical' stem cell work | The wife of Governor Mitt Romney, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, said she favors stem cell research if it is done ''morally and ethically" (Associated Press)
  • The (political) science of stem cells | Far from banning research, Bush is spending record amounts of money (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)
  • Stem cell muddle | From what you have heard or read, you could be forgiven for believing that Laura Bush delivered a speech this week on stem cell research. She did not (Richard Cohen, The Washington Post)
  • From science fiction to unproved fact | The race to clone has attracted hoaxers, mavericks and a UFO cult, but even the more reputable attempts have been problematic (The Telegraph, London)

Life ethics:

  • Woman on trial for delivering cocaine to her unborn child | A surprisingly difficult case (Sherry F. Colb, Findlaw)
  • Fertility laws frustrate Italians | Italy now gives embryos the same rights as citizens (BBC)
  • Siblings split over ending life of mother | Stroke victim's living will does not preclude withholding food (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)


  • Proposal to curb free abortions angers Italy | A senator in Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party caused outrage across the political spectrum yesterday by proposing a law limiting free abortions to one per woman, after which they would be charged (The Guardian, London)
  • Lift the family planning gag | This week marks the 20th anniversary of a profound and misguided change in US foreign policy: the Reagan administration's "global gag rule," which was first announced at an international family planning conference in Mexico City in August 1984 (Marty Meehan and Gloria Feldt, The Boston Globe)
  • Women's rights can sometimes be wrong | Feminism's slick slogan of "my body, my choice" won't always cut it. Somewhere in there is the death of a baby. And it has taken a pro-choice film-maker to force a reality check on feminism's holy grail (Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian)
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  • The archbishop is wrong on abortion | Male church leaders should stop presuming to tell women how they should behave (Muriel Porter, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Abortion film makes little impact | The controversial British documentary featuring an abortion that was shown on the ABC on Sunday night failed to raise much interest from the viewing public (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • No, the Catholic Church isn't being hypocritical for going after liberal politicians | None of those who advance the death penalty and (Iraq) war issues as somehow analogous to abortion, and thus equally worthy of condemnation by the Catholic episcopate, seem to have taken the time to open the most recent Catechism of the Catholic Church (Timothy Furnish, History News Network)
  • Contrary to bishops' critic's view, Bible has lots to say on abortion | No fewer than 39 Bible texts are listed in anti-abortion materials from America's largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. Although most praise the value of life in general, 11 address life in the womb (Associated Press)
  • Court censors anti-abortion protest for sake of traffic flow | 8th Circuit allows classic 'heckler's veto' instead of blaming motorists who stopped, blocking road, after seeing graphic posters (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)


  • Steps for saving lives in Sudan | Action must be taken while there is still reason to act (Bill Frist, The Washington Post)
  • Plan of action | What would military intervention in Darfur look like? You might be surprised (David L. Englin, The New Republic)
  • New violence deepens Darfur crisis | Helicopter attacks, raids on refugee camps and rapes carried out by Sudanese forces and Arab militiamen have worsened an already desperate situation in Darfur, humanitarian and rights groups say (Reuters)
  • The rape of Sudan | Terrorism against women and girls (Donna M. Hughes, National Review Online)


  • Battle of the true faiths | It's Islam vs. Christianity at ye olde Speakers Corner (Newsweek International)
  • Economics and Islam | Islamic economic principles may sound like just what the Middle East needs. In practice, however, the situation is more complicated (The New York Times)
  • Can tolerant Canada tolerate sharia? | While no one here expects the increasing use of sharia to lead to some of the more radical rulings associated with Islamic law — stonings or amputations — critics worry that the rights of women are being sacrificed for the sake of multiculturalism (The Christian Science Monitor)
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Sri Lanka conversion bill:

  • SC to communicate determination of anti conversion bill to president and speaker | After two days deliberation on the determination of the "Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion," counsel for both parties, yesterday, concluded their submissions before the Supreme Court (Daily News, Sri Lanka)
  • Religious freedom in Sri Lanka | Militant Buddhists are attacking Christian churches and threatening the freedom of religion in South Asia (Claudia Winkler, The Weekly Standard)

Hong Kong:

  • Soothing Hong Kong with symbols | Bible exhibit is latest gesture by Beijing since April decision to stifle democracy (The Washington Post)
  • Hong Kong has highest abortion rate in developed world | Almost a third of all pregnancies are terminated there (AFP)

Religious freedom:

  • Christians challenge to church ban | Christian groups in mainly-Muslim Indonesia are planning legal action over laws barring them from building new churches (AAP, Australia)
  • Burundi Anglican head escapes capture by rebels | Burundi's top Anglican church official fled a foiled kidnapping attempt blamed on the extremist Hutu Forces for National Liberation, a Protestant pastor said on Monday (Reuters)
  • 'Discriminatory' religion decree condemned | Christian organizations have agreed on a plan to file a class action against the government for maintaining a joint decree on the construction of places of worship (The Jakarta Post)
  • Teachers complain about exorcism | Twice Glenn Rasmussen, pastor and head of the Skjærgårdsskolen at Fevik outside Grimstad, has tried to free his employees from evil spirits (Nettavisen, Oslo, Norway)
  • Tourists must now declare religion | The Interior Ministry is investigating why forms tourists must fill out before entering Israel have begun requiring visitors to list their religion (The Jerusalem Post)
  • Syria becoming haven for Iraqi Christians | Even before the church bombings, Christians reporting harassment by Islamic fundamentalists had begun streaming out of Iraq (Associated Press)
  • Report faults U.N. council on rights abuse | The U.N. Security Council may be "indirectly encouraging" human rights abuses around the world as part of its campaign to halt the spread of international terrorism, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (The Washington Post)
  • Parivar activists stop bus carrying tribal Christians | A group of Sangh Parivar activists on Monday forcibly stopped a Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation bus taking tribal Christians from Banswara to Ajmer near the Chittorgarh railway station alleging that they were being led to a conversion ceremony (The Hindu, India)
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  • Nigeria woman gets death sentence for rejecting idol | A woman who rejected her nomination to serve a local deity in Nigeria's southeast Enugu state on the grounds of her Christian faith, has been sentenced to death by worshippers of the idol, the private Comet newspaper reported today (The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)
  • 'Converted' Christian families return home | A group of people who had left their village in Orissa after they were ostracised for changing their religion have returned home amid tight security (Orissa.Net, India)

Witches & wiccans:

  • A Wiccan wins one in South Carolina | Perhaps Darla Kaye Wynne's troubles will ease now that the 4th U.S. Circuit has ruled in her favor. Then again, maybe not (James J. Kilpatrick, The State, Columbia, S.C.)
  • Transgender witch claims life ruined | Olivia Watts is taking on Casey mayor Rob Wilson under Victoria's new religious vilification laws, claiming he incited hatred against her pagan religion when he outed her as a witch in a 2003 press release (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)


  • Nuns' group won't listen to abuse victims at conference | A Silver Spring-based organization representing Roman Catholic nuns has declined to allow several people who say they were sexually abused as children by nuns to address a national gathering of sisters (The Washington Post)
  • Aide's conduct leads to priest suspension | Roman Catholic priest has been suspended while the Portland diocese investigates his involvement with a former church volunteer charged with sexual assault (Associated Press)
  • Church told to release files on priests | In what lawyers suing the Roman Catholic Church over sexual abuse allegations claim is a major victory, a judge Friday ordered Northern California bishops to turn over personnel files on 40 priests accused of molesting children (Los Angeles Times)
  • Judge okays abuse charges against priest | A judge ruled Monday that a priest accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in the 1970s can be put on trial, even though Pennsylvania normally bars prosecutors from bringing charges in sex assault cases that are more than a few years old (Associated Press)
  • Church reveals new abuse approach | The Anglican Church in South Australia will today reveal a proposed resolution process for victims of child sexual abuse (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)
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  • Women wed Jesus in ancient rite |There are about 150 American "consecrated virgins," a Catholic vocation almost as old as Christianity itself, and about 1,500 worldwide (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • Writer Jimmy Breslin takes on Catholic Church | The columnist for New York's Newsday newspaper, who has had TV series built around his life and is credited with revolutionizing journalism with his unique in-your-face writing style, says enough with all that "saint/sinner" stuff (Reuters)
  • A Mass on the Common | The Voice of the Faithful Mass planned for Sunday is a reminder that the fight against spiritual impoverishment takes place on many fronts (The Boston Globe)
  • Catholic survey criticized as partisan | An issues questionnaire sent to the presidential candidates by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is being criticized as a partisan misrepresentation of church teachings for emphasizing immigration and broadcast regulation over abortion and stem-cell research (The Washington Times)
  • Nigerian Catholics told to be modest | In his latest circular letter to parishes, the Archbishop of Lagos, Cardinal Anthony Okogie, under the heading "nudity", calls on priests not to allow in church what he calls "fashions promoting lust and immorality" (BBC)
  • Eve is Adam's 'vital' helper | What the media didn't understand about the Vatican's letter (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)
  • Prison during Inquisition to become museum | A 17th-century prison in Sicily where hundreds were tortured during the Inquisition is being turned into a museum, featuring the anguished graffiti of those once tormented there (Associated Press)
  • Website offers prayer by proxy for Pope's visit to Lourdes | Want to be part of Pope John Paul II's pilgrimage to the French "miracle" town of Lourdes but can't make the trip? A religious website is offering prayer by proxy and long-distance candle lighting (AFP)

Closing Catholic churches:

  • In St. Pius's closing, Hyde Park takes hit | Questioning church authority goes against the St. Pius ethos. But the survival of their parish is at stake, so quietly, "reverentially," as some parishioners put it, they are protesting (The Boston Globe)
  • 10 of 82 parishes fight archdiocese on closure plans | Despite long odds against success, at least 10 of the 82 parishes that the Archdiocese of Boston plans to close are challenging Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley's decision by attempting canon or civil law appeals, by seeking intervention from local or state officials, or through protests and prayer (The Boston Globe)
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  • Man in the middle | Pastor directs closing of his church while supporting the fight to keep it open (The Boston Globe)
  • Weymouth church hires law firm | Unlike the three churches that have closed so far under the reconfiguration plan of the Archdiocese of Boston, St. Albert the Great is fighting back (The Boston Globe)
  • Parishioners play waiting game with church closings | Parishes marked for closure by the Boston Archdiocese say church officials are moving too slowly and hampering their ability to challenge the decisions (Associated Press)

Church buildings:

  • Cathedral accuses company of negligence in 2001 fire | The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine says that a defective surge suppressor it produced had caused the five-alarm fire that gutted the north transept and gift shop of the Episcopal cathedral on Dec. 18, 2001 (The New York Times)
  • At Fauquier church site, unearthing a colony's past | Every Saturday during the summer, anyone who wants to can comb through the 18th-century remains of Elk Run Anglican Church and participate in archaeological study usually reserved for experts (The Washington Post)
  • Yorba Linda church holds sway over city, critics say | To hear some residents tell it, the city's leaders are so cozy with the most powerful church in town that they afford it special treatment, most recently in the form of a 55-year "sweetheart" lease on 33 acres of prime real estate for a Christian high school (Los Angeles Times)

Church life:

  • Lewis hands surfers 'never on a Sunday' warning | Many residents on this God-fearing island would prefer that the 'Bondi beach brigade' would have the decency to leave their boards tied firmly to the roof rack on a Sunday and spend the day in worship, rest and reflection (The Observer, London)
  • The fruitful Vineyard Church | Branch out and be fruitful. That is what a vineyard is supposed to do. And that is what the 500 members of The Vineyard-South Shore in Rockville Centre believe they have done (Newsday)
  • Roll over, Martin Luther | Long the dominant faith affiliation in the U.S., Protestantism may no longer boast a majority (Time)
  • Job as pastor safe for now, judge orders | The Rev. Earl Harris will remain as pastor of Harrisburg's St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, at least until a church vote in October (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)
  • Earlier: Minister fights to keep his pulpit | A prominent Harrisburg pastor is in court today fighting to keep his pulpit after his congregation voted to oust him (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)
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  • Southern Baptists look to brighten image, president says | The new president of the Southern Baptist Convention said Monday that his denomination must re-emphasize evangelization if it wants to reverse a troubling slump in baptisms and brighten its public image (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.)
  • Queen ends 50-year church tradition | The Queen broke with tradition yesterday when she attended a different Scottish church (The Telegraph, London)
  • Converting churches | Willow Creek Association targets seekers (Tampa Tribune, Fla.)
  • Aspiring to a big impact | It will have a spire taller than Big Ben and space for 1,900 church-goers. Plans for Nottingham's largest church will be submitted to the city council tomorrow (Evening Post, Nottingham, England)
  • Navy officer sentenced after wearing unearned medals | Capt. Roger Edwards is also an ordained Episcopal priest at St. Andrew the Fisherman Church in Mayo, and could lose his right to serve as priest as well (Associated Press)
  • Methodist leader resigns from chair of Fiji church body | The reasons behind Laisiasa Ratabacaca's resignation are yet unclear (FijiLive)

Bishop asks to ban racist hymn:

  • Ban this racist hymn, says bishop | A Church of England bishop has called on churches to ban the singing of I Vow to Thee, My Country, one of the best known hymns, because he says it is heretical and has racist overtones (The Telegraph, London)
  • Anglican bishop wants 'heretical, racist' hymn to be banned | The Bishop of Hulme, Stephen Lowe, said the hymn -- sung at the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997 -- was contributing to a rise in nationalism (AFP)
  • Call to ban 'nationalistic' hymn (BBC | audio)
  • Not so bellicose | We wonder if the bishop has actually studied the words of the hymn (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)

Messianic Jews:

  • Messianic Jewish community responds to General Assembly's divestment action | As the only Messianic Jewish community in relationship with the Presbyterian Church (USA), Congregation Avodat Yisrael urges the denomination to pursue justice for both Palestinians and Jews and to abandon policies that target one party in the conflict (The Layman)
  • Jews for Jesus to hit streets of D.C. | Dozens of evangelists with Jews for Jesus will hit the streets of Washington starting next week for a monthlong campaign at Metro stops, downtown areas and college campuses aimed at the Washington area's 215,000 Jews (The Washington Times)
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Missions & ministry:

  • Methodist ghosts take God to China | Decades after they died, a tiny group of British Methodist missionaries has inspired a revival of Christianity that is spreading across China (The Times, London)
  • Prison system adopts program from best seller | Maryland's Division of Correction is adopting a nondenominational personal-growth program for Christian inmates based on Rick Warren's "The Purpose-Driven Life" (Associated Press)
  • Daily she says, 'I can't,' then finds she can | Joni Eareckson Tada, paralyzed since age 17, has spent 25 years aiding disabled people around the world through her ministry (Los Angeles Times)
  • Women of Faith 'irrepressible' at gathering | Thousands of Christian women filled the MCI Center to recharge their spirits and reaffirm their faith in God (The Washington Times)
  • Ex-nuns form communal home | ElderSpirit Community is dedicated to communal living and a serious exploration of the human spirit. It's no "'Leisureville" (Associated Press)
  • Humanitarianism under fire | All too often, the day opens with news of yet another tragic attack on humanitarian aid workers, and by extension, the principles of humanity, impartiality, and neutrality that define our work (Jan Egeland, The Christian Science Monitor)
  • God stopped at Soham | The fact that Christian women and men are prepared to travel with the broken and bereaved can be a source of comfort to them; and it can help direct them beyond us to God, the ultimate source of comfort, help and hope (Tim Alban Jones, The Guardian, London)
  • Plano-based concept sweeping nation | Plano-based Women of Faith figured if Oprah Winfrey could do it, so could they (The Allen American, Tex.)

Ten Commandments:

  • He enjoys inflating ideals of the Big Ten | "Those aren't mattresses," the reverend says. "They are the inflatable Ten Commandments" (Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times)
  • Monument barred in Ala. | "Roy's Rock" is rolling into Colorado on the back of a flatbed truck (The Denver Post)


  • Exploring mysteries of ancient history | GWU students take part in dig at Megiddo, where King Solomon might have lived (The Washington Post)
  • Digging up the Bible | A new cadre of Bible scholars and archaeologists, some with an overtly political agenda, has argued that the great Israelite kingdom, depicted in the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, never really existed (Forward)

Same-sex marriage:

  • The people from Missouri | The political implications of a vote on gay marriage. (William F. Buckley, National Review)
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  • The issue that dare not speak its name | The candidates won't be able to avoid the gay marriage debate (The Weekly Standard)
  • Unforeseen side effect of gay marriage | I don't know if gay marriage will have all the bad effects predicted by conservatives, but it's already having one they didn't foresee: driving them stark, raving mad (Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune)
  • Same-sex 'marriage' in the Quad | A generation gap exists on the issue of same-sex "marriage." Much of Generation Y supports it, while most of their Baby Boomer parents oppose it (Julie Gunderson, The Washington Times)
  • An early test for same-sex 'marriage' | One activist lawyer in Florida is pushing ahead on his own to force states to recognize same-sex "marriages" in Massachusetts and elsewhere by challenging federal law, contrary to the wishes of the nation's largest groups supporting homosexual rights (The Washington Times)
  • "A Caste System for Marriage" | John Kerry, fair-weather federalist (Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online)
  • ALP ban on gay marriage remains | The Labor caucus voted for a third time yesterday to ban gay marriage, but a backlash by the Left produced a promise to review the status of gay relationships under a Latham government (The Australian)

Same-sex relationship & child custody:

  • Custody case puts civil union on trial | States' differing laws complicate same-sex couple's fight over child (The Washington Post)
  • Court: Former lesbian couple must share child custody | Attorneys filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court Wednesday challenging a judge's ordering Cheryl Clark to share custody of an adopted daughter with her former lesbian partner (Associated Press)

Sexual ethics:

  • Teen sex column draws volatile reactions | It's always interesting to see how readers of different philosophical persuasions react to a particular subject, and the volume of e-mail made it doubly so after a recent column lamenting the casual sexual encounters that have apparently become commonplace in teenage social life (Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe)
  • Seminary shut over porn scandal | Bishop Klaus Kueng said the seminary in St Poelten, near Vienna, had veered away from its mission to train young men into the Roman Catholic Church (BBC)
  • Group calls for Hubbard's resignation | $2.2 million investigation by Mary Jo White cleared Hubbard of sexual misconduct (Capital News 9, Albany, N.Y.)
  • Psychiatrists scoff at Blair's arguments | Say there is absolutely no link between dress code and the criminal act of rape (Jamaica Observer)
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Economy & work:

  • Nonprofit jobs fail to keep pace | While a rebounding local economy is causing charities to hire more help, it appears not to be benefiting trade associations, labor unions and political groups as much (The Washington Post)
  • The atheist sloth ethic | Why Europeans don't believe in work (Niall Ferguson, The Telegraph, London)
  • The virtue of idleness | From the Bible on, moralists and nags have promoted the benefits of hard work and early rising. They are mistaken (Tom Hodgkinson, The Guardian, London)


  • Three killed in Florida church bus crash | A church bus filled with teens was hit by an SUV and ran off a highway, plunging into a canal and killing three people, police said Sunday (Associated Press)
  • Nearly 1,000 mourn slain Georgia couple | Nearly 1,000 mourners gathered Monday for the funeral of a suburban Atlanta couple allegedly stabbed to death by their 15-year-old granddaughter and her girlfriend (Associated Press)


  • T.D. Jakes talks relationships | One of America's most popular preachers came to the Westchester County Center last night and said he wasn't going to preach (The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y.)
  • Two blue-blood theologians switched sides on belief in the Bible's personal God | Gordon D. Kaufman rejected him, Alister McGrath embraced him (Associated Press)

Canada & religion:

  • In God they trust | Gulf grows between Canada, U.S., on religious issues (Victoria Times Colonist, British Columbia)
  • The leading religion writer in Canada … Does he know what he's talking about? | Tom Harpur says there is no evidence that Jesus of Nazareth ever lived. Wha? (W. Ward Gasque, History News Network)

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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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