In two separate attacks, gunmen emptied an Armenian and a Chaldean church today before setting off explosives, damaging both churches. Three people were injured according to the Associated Press. No one was killed.

"Smoke poured from the Armenian church and flames could be seen inside the Chaldean church … It was not clear how many people had been in the churches when they were attacked but the number was apparently not large," Reuters reports.

It has been nearly a month since the last attack on churches in Iraq. "At least eight people were killed in two church bombings in the capital on Nov. 8, and a car bomber attacked police guarding the hospital where the wounded had been taken."

Last weekend, Yonadem Kana, the leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Iraq and a member of the Iraqi National Council, told the Associated Press that the Assyrian Democratic Movement would be sending 1,500 people to Baghdad to protect Christians from attacks.

"We do not want to transform our movement into a militia," Kana said. "But if needed, we can arm more than 10,000 people."

"We will not accept that our people's ethnic and religious background be used as a card in the hands of foreign forces to interfere in Iraq and to prolong the occupation," Kana said.

More Articles:

Iraqi Christians | Anti-Semitism | Islam | Nigeria | Indonesia Religious freedom conference | Religious freedom | North Korea | Christianophobia | UCC ad | British religious protection bill | Religion & politics | Religion & politics opinion | Churches & politics | Marriage & family | Same-sex marriage | Lesbians in ministry | Missions & ministry | Christmas | Hanukkah | Judaism | Bethlehem | Christmas ministry | Banning Salvation Army's bell-ringers | December dilemma | Religion & education | Teaching evolution | Church & state | Church life | Orange County Diocese settles abuse claims | More abuse | Other religions | Fraud & crime | Money & business | People | Film & theater | Music | Books | Miracle sandwich | Sports | California's stem cell program | More articles

Iraqi Christians:

  • Gunmen attack Armenian, Chaldean churches in Mosul | Gunmen attacked two churches in the tense northern Iraqi city of Mosul Tuesday, in the latest violence directed against one of Iraq's several religious and ethnic groups, witnesses said. (Reuters)

  • Christians may take up arms | More than 1500 members of an Iraqi Christian group have gone to northern Iraq to try to protect Christians following attacks on churches in Baghdad and Mosul, the leader of the group said pm Saturday. (News24, South Africa)

Article continues below


  • Attacks against Australian Jews up 50% | Annual report by Jewish organization in Australia released today, said figure included physical assault, property damage and direct face to face harassment. (Maariv International, Israel)

  • Austrialia attacks against Jews increasing | Attacks against Jews have increased in Australia, a report by a major Jewish organization released Sunday showed. (Associated Press)

  • Report finds anti-Semitism in Australia | Most people would like to think of Australia to be an inclusive, tolerant country, but a new report has revealed a dark underbelly. (AM Monday, ABC Online, Australia)


  • Minister urges imams to speak French | One in three of France's imams don't speak French, the country's interior minister said in an interview published Tuesday, proposing initiatives to help Islamic religious leaders better adapt. (Associated Press)

  • Thai Muslims still see chance of ending bloodshed | Despite almost daily attacks on Thai checkpoints and outrage over the recent deaths of 78 Muslims in Thai military custody, outward signs of extremism are strangely absent from daily life in the country's South, home to nearly 6 million Muslims. (Reuters)

  • Millions of Muslims attend gathering in Bangladesh | Participants listen to sermons at assembly aimed at promoting peace and harmony. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Africa rejects Al-Qaeda's radical Islamism | In Africa, an estimated 414 million Muslims, 48 percent of the population, had celebrated Eid al-Fitr. The estimated 335 million Christians, 39 percent of the population, and the remaining percentages of animists and other believers wished good fortune to their Muslim neighbours. However, Non-Muslim Africans may have concerns that religious violence was part of a radical agenda for the holy period. (The Independent, Banjul)


  • Why the church won't beg for debt relief for Nigeria | While he was Bishop of Abuja, many referred to him as a NADECO bishop and even now that he is in Lagos as the Methodist Archbishop of Lagos, Dr. Sunday Makinde does not hide his feelings about national issues, which was why he got that sobriquet. Recently, he spoke on the state of the nation. According to the cleric, who disagrees with President Olusegun Obasanjo's request for the Church to join African leaders to campaign for debt cancellation, says there cannot be national progress until there is a sovereign national conference. (Vanguard, Lagos, Nigeria)

Article continues below
  • Obasanjo's last chance to save Nigeria | The rights of Christians in the predominantly Muslim north must be equally protected as the rights of Moslems in the predominantly Christian south. Shari'a laws being adopted or practiced in some states can not be allowed to apply to non-Moslems or Moslems that do not subscribe to them. (Nigeria World, Nigeria)

Religious freedom conference in Indonesia:

  • Religious summit opens in Indonesia | Religious leaders from 13 countries gathered in the heartland of Indonesia's al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah group to discuss how to combat sectarian extremism. (AAP)

  • Transcend religious affiliations, Malaysian scholar says | A Malaysian scholar and peace advocate has called on Muslims and Christians in the world to unite against the aggressive war currently waged by imperialist powers led by the United States. (Minda News, Philippines)

  • Bringing great faiths together | It may be a talking shop, but as talking shops go few could be more important than the interfaith summit being cohosted by Australia this week in Java. (Editorial, The Australian, Australia)

  • Dialogue on interfaith co-operation opens in Indonesia | Approximately 125 religious representatives from 10 different faiths from ASEAN countries, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and East Timor have gathered for a dialogue on Interfaith Co-operation. (Viet Nam News Agency, Vietnam)

  • Religion can fight terrorism says Indonesia | President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has called on all religions to rise up against terrorism and show that faith could be a force for peace. (Reuters)

  • RP delegation joins 14-nation interfaith conference in Indonesia | A 10-member delegation from the Philippines participated yesterday, Dec. 6, in an international conference on unity and harmony among secular and religious leaders from 14 countries led by Indonesia and Australia. (Manila Bulletin, Philippines)

  • Indonesian president urges all religions to help fight terrorism | Indonesia's President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has called on all religions to rise up against terrorism and show that faith can be a force for peace. (Radio Australia, Australia)

Article continues below

More religious freedom:

  • 3,000 Egyptian Copts protest Mubarak's neglect of Coptic persecution | A Coptic priest's wife has been abducted by Muslim extremists, prompting nation-wide demonstrations by more than 3,000 Copts in various parts of Egypt. The demonstrators-including the clergyman and fifty hunger-strikers-have denounced President Hosni Mubarak's neglect of the recent escalation in anti-Coptic hate crimes. (Assyrian International News Agency)

  • Deep interest in religious persecution in North Korea | National Association of Evangelicals' (NAE) Vice Chairman Rich Cizik stated that the conservative and evangelical American Christians are deeply interested in North Korea's religious persecution. (Donga, South Korea)

  • Open Doors takes coordinating role with prayer for the persecuted church | Open Doors USA, the oldest on-going ministry to the Persecuted Church, has now taken over the coordinating role with Prayer for the Persecuted Church (PCC). (Christian Post, Calif.)

  • U.S., Indonesia and religious tolerance | Like America, Indonesia is overwhelmingly religious, although the nature of the state is not admittedly secular. Both America and Indonesia guarantee freedom of religion, and therefore the challenge is quite the same: How to uphold religious tolerance? (Jakarta Post, Indonesia)

  • The lure of Allah | Changing your religion is a dicey business, especially when fundamentalism - in its many guises - threatens to polarise communities and lead to violence and death. Yet being part of a world that lives in fear of more terrorist bombings and al-Qa'ida has not stopped conscientious individuals from taking the plunge from Christianity to Islam. (James Murray, The Australian, Australia)

Article continues below
  • Abu Sayyaf kidnapper killed | Troops killed a member of the Abu Sayyaf Muslim kidnap gang and captured four others in a raid in this southern Philippine city, officials said Sunday. (AFP)

  • Amnesty China arrests, jails human rights defenders | Human rights defenders face arrest and torture in China, and the European Union should raise the issue at a summit with Beijing's leaders this week, Amnesty International said in a new report Monday. (Reuters)

  • Wade invites Bush to Muslim-Christian summit | Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said on Monday he had invited US President George W Bush to a Muslim-Christian summit he suggested at the United Nations in September. (Agence France-Presse)

Human rights in North Korea:


Banned UCC ad:

  • Networks wimp out on church commercial | The only reason I can see for CBS' and NBC's rejection of the ad is that after a year of emotional battles over same-sex marriage, a presidential campaign marked by ugly ads, and revelations about the role that moral values played in George W. Bush's re-election, the networks are more paranoid than ever about offending anyone. And the fact that this is an administration that panders to religious conservatives is probably influencing them as well. (Sheryl McCarthy, Newsday, NY)

Article continues below
  • God would not choose sides, period. | Gracie Allen, a long-dead comedienne and wife of George Burns, is a surprising choice to hang a church campaign on. But her words perfectly illuminate the difference between progressive, evolving Christianity and fundamentalist, unyielding Christianity. (Susan Ager, Detroit Free Press)

  • Tolerance up to a point | Church ad deserves an airing, but not applause (Editorial, Boulder Daily Camera)

  • Actions are louder than the Word | Two networks, CBS and NBC, reportedly declined to air a 30-second commercial spot by the United Church of Christ, deeming it too controversial. I expected Christian armies to mobilize at this demonstration of religious intolerance, their voices rising in indignant unison. (Michael Paul Williams, Richmond Times Dispatch, Va.)

  • Congregational Church doesn't sing 'Come some of ye faithful' | Through the centuries, the Christian Gospel has always been one of extravagant welcome, but it turns out that, today, those who do not now attend Christian churches often think of "church" as a place more interested in keeping people away than in inviting them in, more interested in constructing barriers than in breaking down the dividing walls of hostility. (South Coast Today, Mass.)

  • CBS, NBC pull ad showing gay pair | When two major television networks banned an advertisement by the United Church of Christ this past week, local parishioner Debby Ronnquist decided to look on the bright side. (Portsmouth Herald News, NH)

Britishreligious protection bill:

  • Tories not amused by Blunkett's bill | The Conservative party joined a group of comedians, actors and civil rights campaigners today in opposing government plans to make incitement to religious hatred an offence. Rowan Atkinson is launching a new coalition of comedians, writers and academics today to oppose such legislation, in the name of free speech. (The Guardian, UK)

  • Religious hatred law is no joke, says Blackadder | Rowan Atkinson, the Blackadder comic, is to warn MPs that a Bill outlawing the incitement of racial hatred could undermine free speech and stop comedians making fun of religion. (Daily Telegraph, UK)

  • Law to safeguard religion is no joke, warns Blackadder | Measure to protect Muslims puts free speech in jeopardy, MPs told (The Guardian, UK)

  • Atkinson defends right to offend | Rowan Atkinson defended the right of comedians to poke fun at other people's religion last night as he joined the campaign against Government plans to create a new offence of incitement to religious hatred. (Telegraph, UK)

Article continues below
  • Blackadder's deadly serious attack on 'religious hate' bill | Rowan Atkinson, the star of the TV series Blackadder, took centre stage at Westminster yesterday when he led a coalition of comedians, writers and academics in opposition to a new Government bill designed to punish extremists who incite religious hatred. (The Scotsman, UK)

  • Lords preserve us | Those who have seen the notorious sketch in which he plays the Devil - sorting the damned as they arrive in Hell - will easily see why Mr Atkinson fears that such a law would lead to censorship by the back door. Satirists are duty-bound to offend people of all religions and none. Many others, though, might welcome legal protection for religious sensibilities. (Editorial, Telegraph, UK)

  • Comic leads campaign against religion bill | Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson will lead a coalition of comedians, writers and academics today in opposition to a new Government Bill designed to punish extremists who incite religious hatred. (The Scotsman, UK)

  • Britain's 'Mr. Bean' attacks religious hatred bill | British comedian Rowan Atkinson—creator of the hapless "Mr. Bean''—attacked a planned law outlawing incitement of religious hatred Monday, saying it would curb free speech and humor. (Reuters)

Religion & politics:

  • Bush, blacks and values | Moral issues help president gain African-American votes (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Ind.)

  • Backers keeping faith in Keyes | Traditionalists say state in need of his activism (Chicago Tribune)

  • Politics of faith complex | The media has been focused on the role of moral values in the November elections, but area and academic religious leaders say the real debate is more nuanced than political parties. (Rocky Mount Telegram, NC)

  • Maher still charged up about politics | George Bush and Co. were still the main target. "I don't hate America," Bill Maher said, "I'm embarrassed it got taken over by cretins." He hit all the hot points: drug laws, abortion, stem cells, Christianity—"It's very nice to have an imaginary friend," he said. (Boston Globe)

  • Ukraine crisis brings out people of faith | Three Roman Catholic nuns decided it was time to see Independence Square, where for more than two weeks the supporters of Viktor A. Yushchenko, the opposition candidate for president, had been demonstrating, often in below-zero temperatures. (International Herald Tribune)

Religion & politics opinion:

Article continues below
  • Church needs a pulpit, not a stage | How did the narrow-minded, sharp-tongued, boorishly-behaved Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton become the leading spokesmen for 2,000-plus years of Christianity and 200-plus years of American cultural history? (David Waters, Commercial Appeal, Tenn.)

  • The V-word (values) | The Gospel according to the Religious Right (Rick Mercier, Star Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas)

  • Democrats may be responsible for losses because they abort their own voters | Any good coach will tell you that the lifeblood of an athletic program is its ability to recruit new players. A respectable program will develop those recruits, but if there isn't a steady stream or readily available source, the prospects of success diminish greatly. This is one of the current problems the Democratic Party faces. How so? The Democrats are aborting their own voters. (Joshua Dwyer, The Battalion, Texas A&M)

  • Self-righteous spew venom — not facts | I think I'd feel a little better about the Jefferson County Pro-Family Coalition if it would just describe itself as what it really is: "Confused Christians Who Hurt Others." (Bob Hill, Courier-Journal, Louisville)

  • Living in the Bronze Age? | Having become something of a cult icon on the Internet, Bageant, a senior editor at the Primedia History Group, is one of scores of left-wing writers whom I could have quoted on the terrifying (for them) power of conservative Christians in America. (Don Erler, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas)

  • 'Christian Democrats' take a stand | I am outraged by the scorn we received at church functions and at civic outings by Republicans in our area who conducted an "in your face" campaign against good Christians in favor of their own candidates, some of whom have had their own ethical and legal problems. These folks have no claim on moral superiority. (Ann Thompson, Cincinnati Enquirer)

  • The 'Christian extremism' of the center | Most people believe Bush stood for the values they hold. These aren't extremist positions; they're fundamental. (Marty Andrade, Minnesota Daily, Minn.)

  • Remember our roots, even the less pleasant ones | What I don't accept is that this bastard union of Christianity and U.S. government is desirable. (Mike Jones, Minnesota Daily, Minn.)

  • Liberals more than caricatures | I guess it's easier to point out flaws of liberals than to discover good deeds of conservatives. (Amanda Holman, Minnesota Daily, Minn.)

  • Save us from the politicians who have God on their side | These American hijackers have made the world a more dangerous place (Max Hastings, The Guardian, UK)

Article continues below

Churches & politics:

Marriage & family:

  • 'Til death do us part | Getting married young is getting old fast, but experts say it can work (The Independent Journal, Fla.)

  • The new red-diaper babies | People are marrying later and having fewer kids. But spread around this country, and concentrated in certain areas, the natalists defy these trends. Politicians will try to pander to this group. They should know this is a spiritual movement, not a political one (David Brooks, New York Times)

Same-sex marriage:

  • Gay marriage proponents decry claims | Proponents of same-sex unions told a judge that arguments over whether marriage is designed to foster procreation and whether gays make good parents are irrelevant to their case. (Associated Press)

  • Expect court appeals and efforts in the court of popular opinion | Seven out of 10 voters in 13 states have rejected same-sex marriage in 2004. Every state that has put the issue before voters has added a prohibition on same-sex marriage to the state constitution. What can we expect now from advocates of same-sex unions? (Allentown Morning Call, Penn.)

  • Religion is personal; law universal | A generation ago, many Americans claimed that it was against the will of God for people of differing races to be married. And after too much anguish over the issue, a very similar situation has come to bear concerning gay couples. You'd think we had learned nothing. (Patrick North, Centre Daily Times, Penn.)

Lesbiansin ministry:

  • Ministry punished for lesbian pastor | An urban ministry that aids the poor and homeless had its official recognition removed by Lutheran church officials in a dispute over an associate pastor who is in a lesbian relationship. (Associated Press)

  • United Methodists move to defrock lesbian | In the second ecclesiastical trial of a gay Methodist minister in less than a year, a jury of 13 clergy members in eastern Pennsylvania convicted a fellow pastor of violating church law by living in a lesbian relationship and ordered her defrocked. (New York Times)

Article continues below

Missions& ministry:

  • Continuing her mission | Woman collects Christian books for Africa (Fort Wayne News Sentinel, Ind.)

  • Salvation Army teaches man life lesson | Today, he is a retired Salvation Army Major, who returned to New Bern with his wife, Adrienne, after the two served nearly 40 years in Salvation Army ministry from Kentucky to Texas and Georgia. (New Bern Sun Journal, NC)

  • Prayer vigil puts focus on violence | Faith community gathers to kick off 48-hour event (The State, S.C.)

  • Pastor ministers to Enid's Korean community | Assigned to Enid Korean United Methodist Church in 2001, Park is the ninth pastor since 1981 to reach out to the Koreans in the community. He estimates there are 100 Koreans currently living in Enid. (Enid News & Eagle, Okla.)

  • Asian Americans flock to see Billy Graham | Fifty-five years ago, Dr. Billy Graham became nationally famous when the Hearst Newspapers described how a young evangelist and his team were attracting huge audiences and winning many followers of Jesus Christ in tent services in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. History repeated itself last month when a crowd in excess of 80,000 people, many of them Asian Pacific Americans, filled Pasadena's Rose Bowl nightly for a four-day crusade. (Pacific News Service, Calif.)

  • Enrollment on the rise at seminary | God is calling more and more people to Christian ministry, according to the head of Ohio's largest seminary. "We're experiencing several trends in our country related to this movement of God," Ashland Theological Seminary President Frederick Finks said. "More people are experiencing what we refer to as 'the call to ministry.' " (Mansfield News Journal, Ohio)


  • It's OK to be sad this time of year | It took me a long time to realize this, but a big part of what makes Christmas Christmas is the way sadness holds hands with happiness this time of year. (Dolph Tillotson, Daily News, Galveston, Texas)

  • St. Lucia Day means fresh rolls, Swedish coffee in Lindsborg | In Lindsborg, the Christmas season doesn't really start until the residents have celebrated St. Lucia Day. (Wichita Eagle, Kan.)

  • Traditions keep Christians focused during holidays | Some people in the Columbia area are finding that their religious faith — whatever it may be — is the perfect balm to soothe the stress, the bustle and, yes, the sadness that can sometimes come with the holiday season. (The State, S.C.)

  • Brilliant seasonal dinnerware lends sparkle to the holiday table | The plant started out as a pagan symbol sacred to Saturn. At the Saturnalia festival, Romans gifted one another with holly wreaths. Centuries later, early Christians decorated their homes with holly to avoid being persecuted. Eventually holly became associated with Christmas. In fact, Christmas trees in pre-Victorian times were holly bushes. (Chicago Tribune)

Article continues below
  • Let holiday spirit embrace all faiths | Every December, millions of Americans are busy not observing Christmas. Yet, they go through a dilemma that is as old as the first Christmas celebration in this country: They're left out of the big national party that celebrates a distinctly Christian event that also happens to be an official American holiday. (Abraham J. Peck, Portland Press Herald, Maine)

  • Silent Night dates back to 1818 | On Christmas Eve 1818, a small church in the obscure Austrian village of Oberndorf was filled with the melodious sounds of "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!". It was the first time this simple message of heavenly peace, a song that would become an anchor of modern Christmas celebrations, was ever heard. (Andrew Hind, York Region Era Banner, Canada)

  • Demeaning of Christmas | There is enough mushing together of what should be clearly defined seasons. (Editorial, Boston Globe)

  • So who was the real Jesus? | He's the reason we celebrate Christmas but there is little that can be known for certain about Christ's life - including His skin colour. (Belfast Telegraph, UK)

  • Bethlehem and Nazareth looking for lots of dedicated walkers | "In the Holy Land (Nazareth and Bethlehem) are 60 miles apart," said Fran Dreisbach of Williams Township, a member of the pilgrimage planning committee. "Here we have an opportunity in just 10 miles to replicate the journey of the holy family of Mary and Joseph." (Express-Times, Penn.)

  • City lines up busy Christmas calendar | Combining Santa and traditional carols with belly dancing and Chinese opera may seem unusual but it's all on the festive calendar as Melbourne's Christmas celebrations begin. (The Age, Australia)

  • Religious, cultural celebrations many during holiday season | As Christians celebrate the Christmas holiday season, other congregations and organizations throughout the area will hold traditional religious and cultural celebrations. (Hagerstown Morning Herald, MD)

  • 'Tis the Seasons | To be sure, Christians gearing up for Christmas drives the holiday spirit in the Twin Counties. But similar traditions also are important to area Muslims during Eid ul-Fitr and local Jews during Hanukkah. Gift-giving, family gatherings and special meals are significant aspects of both Hanukkah and Eid ul-Fitr. (Rocky Mount Telegram, NC)

Article continues below
  • Their first taste of Christmas | New Canadians introduced to festive traditions (Edmonton Journal, Canada)

  • Under the festive spell | Tradition Matters - Advent in Slovakia is a time to protect oneself against "dark forces" (Slovak Spectator, Slovakia)

  • Holiday displays take over neighborhoods | New companies are cropping up with elaborate, automated decorations and the computer equipment to coordinate them, giving anyone with a wallet the ability to create scenes similar to a theme park. (Associated Press)

  • A festive fiasco engulfs city | Sydney's Christmas crisis turned to farce yesterday as it emerged the stars in our busiest shopping mall didn't work, a retailer erected a vulgar window display and the Sydney City Council was forced to defend claims it was hiding decorations in a locked storeroom. (The Daily Telegraph, Australia)



  • A synagogue in Westchester takes a joyous walk home | For the 15 months since their synagogue suffered a four-alarm fire, congregants of the Bet Am Shalom Synagogue here have been praying on a borrowed basketball court. (New York Times)

  • You don't have to be Jewish to love Jdate | Dominick Coppola, 22, a real estate salesman from Brooklyn, is looking for a confident, intelligent and open-minded woman who shares his love of walks in the park, sushi and home cooking. He had some luck meeting women through Internet dating sites like, but they were rarely good matches. Then he found what he now considers an online gold mine — JDate, a Web site that bills itself as "the largest Jewish singles network." (New York Times)

Article continues below


Christmas ministry:

Banning Salvation Army's bell-ringers:

  • Salvation Army dealt blow by Target ban of bell ringers | The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia may have a tough time meeting its Red Kettle Campaign goal this year. One reason is that it boosted the goal to $750,000 from $712,000 last year. But a bigger factor is Target Corp.'s decision to ban Salvation Army bell ringers from its properties. (Philadelphia Business Journal)

  • Macy´s, Target, cards: Cultural correctness´ | The longtime New York-based department store, which has branches in Texas, decided this year to drop any reference to Christmas and just say "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" on its advertising - in store and otherwise. (Editorial, Plainview Daily Herald, Texas)

  • Making noise about bell ringer bans | The bells have been quelled at Target. But Mervyn's is embracing a sound of the season. A holiday tradition has sparked a hullabaloo over bell ringers, with corporations and some conservative Christian groups choosing sides. (The Dallas Morning News)

Article continues below

December dilemma:

  • Carolers defy religious ban | Hundreds of Christians sang yuletide carols at a holiday parade Friday night in defiance of rules forbidding them from entering floats with a Christmas or religious theme. (Washington Times)

  • Float joins '04 parade of religious disputes | The drama in Denver over a church float that never was and a twinkling Christmas message caps a year highlighted by similar disputes over a blockbuster film about Jesus' final hours, the place of faith in the election booth and a struggle to define moral values. (Denver Post)

  • Malta-born franchise owner made to remove nativity scene from Sydney store | An Australian fast-food chain came in for criticism after head office management ordered the Malta-born franchise owner of a Sydney store to remove a nativity scene from his counter which included a model of baby Jesus, Mary and the Magi, a very traditional scene in Malta. (Malta Independent, Malta)

  • Raleigh church uses purse strings to push for 'Merry Christmas' | Does your religion dictate where you do your holiday shopping? Members of the Upper Room Church of God in Christ say it should. Last month, it placed a full-page ad in The News and Observer challenging Christians to only shop at businesses that include the greeting Merry Christmas in their holiday advertising or in the store. The ad has stirred up a lot of different opinions and emotions. (News 14 Carolina)

  • Silent Night, Holy Night | It's easy to get caught up in the flurry of the season, and we sometimes forget that the Christmas story tells us Jesus Christ was born in the silence of the night. At the Listening Center in Laguna Niguel, Calif., retreats are held in which people learn to nurture silence as a spiritual practice. Silence, or contemplative listening, is listening to God and exploring relationship with Source. (Fort Smith Times Record, Ark)

  • Atheists, not Muslims, are anti-Christmas | It was one of those extremely rare moments when I found myself agreeing with John Howard. Asked what he thought of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore's reported plans to make Sydney's Christmas celebrations low-key and generic, the Prime Minister slammed them as "silly", "ridiculous" and "political correctness from central casting". (Waleed Aly, The Australian, Australia)

  • No good deed goes unpunished | First Selectman Paul Santoro has been the target of any number of snide remarks because he insisted on separating church and state during a town Christmas tree lighting. (The Day, Conn.)

Article continues below
  • A question of faith for a holiday parade | A local evangelical Christian church called the Faith Bible Chapel sought but failed to get permission for a religious-themed float with a choir singing hymns and carols. By coincidence, Denver's mayor chose this year to change the traditional banner on the roof of the City and County Building. "Merry Christmas" was out. "Happy Holidays" was in. Like a spark in dry tinder, the result was a flare-up that caught even some church leaders by surprise. (New York Times)

  • Deck the dreidel | Many interfaith couples solve 'December dilemma' with bi-religious observances (Boca Raton News, Fla.)

Religion & education:

  • Sing a song of bigotry | No doubt that much of the animus toward religion that permeates public schools is "justified" with the excuse that it makes some people "uncomfortable." But is "discomfort" an educational standard? Are we to refrain from subjecting students to anything uncomfortable? (Arnold Ahlert, New York Post)

  • School's inclusive Christmas excludes Christ | When children who attend the McHenry County school gathered in the gym last week to brighten friends and parents with holiday cheer, they sang of lighting candles for Hanukkah, gave their rendition of a Jamaican folk song and even did their lists for Santa. But their songs never mentioned Christ or the Christmas story--an omission that drew swift criticism from Christian groups pushing public schools to remember the meaning of Christmas. (Chicago Tribune)

  • 'Save Christmas' crusader targets wrong enemy | The Alliance Defense Fund and I claim to have common cause: We want to save Christmas. But while representatives of the fund say they want to save Christmas from the American Civil Liberties Union, I want to save it from ignorance--specifically the brand of alarmist ignorance peddled by the Alliance Defense Fund when it attacks the ACLU. (Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune)

  • Plaintiff in UNC Quran lawsuit says effort made a point | He was one of the three incoming freshmen who sued the university in the summer of 2002. Wampler is the only plaintiff to speak publicly. The other two students have remained anonymous and never met during the lawsuit process. Their goal was to try to block UNC's required summer reading program for all new students: a book about the Quran, the Islamic holy text. In the lawsuit, Wampler was identified only as "John Doe No. 1" and described only as an evangelical Christian. He was never identified publicly. (Myrtle Beach Sun News, SC)

Article continues below
  • ASU group sues school over policy | State universities require signing of non-discrimination statement (Arizona Republic)

  • God, American history and a fifth-grade class | Steven J. Williams, an evangelical Christian who teaches fifth grade at a public school in Cupertino, Calif., is fast becoming a folk hero among conservative Christians. In an affluent town in a region identified with the liberal elite, Mr. Williams has single-handedly turned the Declaration of Independence into a powerful tool for the Christian right in its battle against secularist teaching of colonial history, thrusting God and Christianity into the very same history lesson as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. (New York Times)

Teaching evolution:

  • A who's who of players in the battle of biology class | Besides a desire to be seen as soldiers in a challenging and important war, the two leaders and other activists on various sides of the debate over evolution in public schools share other similarities: They're fully committed and, in some cases, well-funded. (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Fresh challenges in the old debate over evolution | About half the students he teaches to become middle school science instructors—and to teach evolution themselves—believe that God created the Earth 6,000 years ago, he said. Scientist friends tell him not to teach those students because anyone with those beliefs "shouldn't teach." But he tells them it is his job to make sure that his students understand evolution, not believe it. (Washington Post)

Church & state:

Article continues below
  • Leaving Jesus Christ out of politics imperils America | I am convinced we have a situation in the United States today that mirrors several of the circumstances we saw affecting the late 1850s. Specifically, there is little evidence of our political leaders publicly acknowledging Jesus Christ as the rightful Lord of our country. (David Dickerson, News-Leader, Missouri)

  • When religion gets trashed for politics' sake | Simplistic explanations about presidential elections are just that, simplistic; they fail to encompass the vast complexity of our nation's diversity, or the sometimes wise, sometimes ignorant, motivations of voters. (Sandra M. Rushing, Roanoke Times, Va.)

Church life:

  • After girl's death, a church's embrace helps heal its body | Kristen Grote, a precocious and beloved 3½-year-old, was found lifeless in her family's car on the church parking lot. Her father, associate pastor Doug Grote, had inexplicably forgotten to take her into the church's day care center when he came to work (Mark Holmberg, Richmond Times Dispatch, Va.)

  • Community Church's jubilee | the day the congregation - a small group of Christians from different backgrounds and denominations - worshipped for the first time in a donated structure on Kirchoff Road known as "the Barn." The church on Sunday celebrated the 50th anniversary of that first service with a number of activities, including a recreation of the automobile caravan that first brought worshippers to the Barn 50 years ago. (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • Ohio church collapses after Sun. service | The walls of a church fell about 90 minutes after the last of Sunday's worshippers left, causing the roof to drop onto the pews and pulpit, officials said. (Associated Press)

  • Preaching by committee | More pastors use group approach, multimedia presentation (Washington Post)

  • Growing: Movement is new form of evangelism | As we enter the 21st century, a vital new expression of Christianity is growing in the United States and worldwide. This movement even has a name. It is called "the Emergent Church." (Tony Campolo, Winston-Salem Journal, NC)

  • Christian love sure isn't what it used to be | I was just enjoying watching the people get ready when I noticed a sight I'd never seen, a homeless man sitting in church. It wasn't but a few minutes later when I saw a police officer walk up to the fellow and ask him to leave. (Matt Shackelford, South Mississippi Times, Miss.)

Article continues below
  • Church is imploding, says Archbishop of York | The Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, has warned that the Anglican church is on the brink of "implosion" over the divisive issues of the ordination of homosexual clergy and women bishops. (Telegraph, UK)

  • Parishioners won't give up or get out | Members of St. Albert the Great in Boston are coming up on the 100th day of a sit-in to save the Roman Catholic church from being closed down. (Los Angeles Times)

Orange County Diocese settles abuse claims:

  • Orange County diocese settles sex abuse cases | The Roman Catholic diocese for suburban Orange County has agreed to settle claims from 87 people who say they were sexually abused by priests and other church employees with a sum that reportedly would exceed the record $85 million paid by the Archdiocese of Boston last year. (Washington Post)

  • A bishop's bold move | Tod D. Brown's role in settling O.C. abuse cases points out his contrasts with Cardinal Mahony. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Healing signs in O.C. abuse ordeal | Bishop Brown and parishioners laud moves toward reconciliation after a huge settlement. (Los Angeles Times)

  • $100M clergy abuse deal brings some relief | A record-breaking, $100-million clergy sex abuse settlement between the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and 87 plaintiffs brought some measure of relief to long-suffering families Friday, but legal experts differed over whether the blockbuster deal would help resolve a huge backlog of cases in California. (Associated Press)

  • Calif. bishop 'at peace' after settlement | The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange told parishioners Sunday that he can finally sleep through the night now that he has ended a long and at times bitter legal battle by agreeing to the nation's largest settlement for victims of sexual abuse by clergy. (Associated Press)

  • California diocese settles abuse cases; record sum is seen | The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County has reached a record settlement with 87 victims of abuse by priests and lay employees, agreeing to the largest payment ever made by the church in cases involving sexual misconduct, parties involved in the talks said. (New York Times)

  • Diocese settles abuse cases for record amount | The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County, Calif., has reached a settlement with 87 victims of abuse by priests and lay employees that includes the largest payment ever agreed to by the church. (New York Times)

Article continues below
  • Calif. bishop 'at peace' after settlement | The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange told parishioners Sunday that he can finally sleep through the night now that he has ended a long and at times bitter legal battle by agreeing to the nation's largest settlement for victims of sexual abuse by clergy. (Associated Press)

More abuse:

  • Diocese in Spokane files for bankruptcy | The Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, saying it did not have the money to cover lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by clergy. (Associated Press)

  • Diocese's deal raises the bar across U.S. | The Roman Catholic Church in O.C. will provide an average $1.1 million per alleged sexual abuse victim, a record that will influence talks nationwide. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Finding strength in pain | Outside court, men and their families share stories of childhood abuse, forging a bond with other victims after years of silence. (Los Angeles Times)

Other religions:

  • Leader of Christian Science church resigns | The head of the Church of Christ, Scientist, has retired after 12 years as the church's top official, church officials announced. (Associated Press)

  • Mormon choir cancels overseas trips | The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has canceled its planned tour of northern Europe next year because of concerns about terrorism, and the choir will instead tour the Northwest. (Associated Press)

  • Delving into the world of botánicas | Spiritists engage in a panel discussion on the services they offer from the religious supply stores, the focus of a UCLA museum exhibit. (Los Angeles Times)

Fraud & crime:

  • Internal thefts have hurt a number of churches across country | When authorities charged the Rev. Joseph W. Hughes with stealing more than $500,000 from the Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Rumson, most parishioners expressed shock that a crime such as this could happen in their church. Those parishioners are not alone. (Asbury Park Press, NJ)

  • Despite ongoing fund raising, finances lagged | On Nov. 4, Hughes, who was pastor of the parish church and school for the past 16 years, was arrested and charged with stealing more than $500,000 from church accounts—much of it siphoned from golf outings, fund-raisers and raffles, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. (Asbury Park Press, NJ)

  • Pastor decried after child's arms severed | Long before Dena Schlosser took a blade to her baby's arms, her parents had begun to worry. In the years after she moved to Texas with her husband and children, their gentle, dependent daughter had become increasingly isolated. And, according to her stepfather, she was dangerously consumed by a self-described prophet and his church. (Associated Press)

Article continues below
  • Nigeria priest wanted in Texas | A priest accused of sexually abusing a mentally retarded girl in South Texas fled to his native Nigeria a few days before a warrant could be issued for his arrest and prosecutors have not tried to force him back to face charges, according to a published report. (Associated Press)

  • Conmen work in mysterious ways | Moral values are in the spotlight these days, for con artists as well as solid citizens. State regulators are concerned that scam artists are cranking up affinity fraud by preying on churches. (Athens Banner-Herald, Ga.)

Money & business:

  • Bank fuses faith and finance | At the heart of the debate is Riverview, where the bank's "pastor," Chuck Ripka, and his staff pray with customers in his office and even at the drive-through window. A copy of the Ten Commandments hangs in the foyer and a Bible is buried in the foundation. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

  • Holy orders | Kerry Williams is unpacking a box of new stock that has just arrived from Argentina. She unwraps a small statue of the Virgin Mary. "This is supposed to change colour with the weather," she explains. Today it's dull and rainy and the Virgin looks suitably glum. (The Age, Australia)


  • Cosby brings message of change to Mass. | The comedian - who has become known for talking serious and tough about problems faced by blacks, pushing for young people to stay in school and calling for parents "to do more parenting" - was on almost an evangelical roll. (Associated Press)

  • Habitat for Humanity founder pushed aside | In a characteristic act of frugality, Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller hitched a ride to the Atlanta airport with a female staff member to save the organization a $75 shuttle ride. That ride ended up costing him - and Habitat - a great deal more. (Washington Post)

  • Nuzum devotes his life to God | Seth Nuzum never had any doubt what he wanted to do with his life. Even as a child, Nuzum knew he wanted to spread the word of God and be in ministry. The church runs in his family. His father, Rick Nuzum, a former center for the Green Bay Packers, is now a pastor in Ohio. (Middletown Press, Conn.)

Film & theater:

Article continues below
  • Sex, conspiracy and suicide: Just another day at church | There are good priests and bad priests, and in "Conspiracy of Silence" there is no in-between. John Deery's modest drama is one big, obvious argument against the vow of celibacy for Roman Catholic priests, but it has heart. (New York Times)

  • They've got those Upper West Side, not Jewish enough blues | It is said that God works in mysterious ways. Daniel Goldfarb's new play, "Modern Orthodox," which opened last night at Dodger Stages, suggests that he is not above employing obnoxious ones, too. (New York Times)



  • What? Bridget Jones with no sex or booze? | Bridget has found religion. In the latest publishing phenomenon, young, single women in their twenties continue to chronicle their search for Mr Right in the time-honoured diary format. The daily calorie count continues unabated, but alcohol units are zero, cigarettes nil. As for sex, it's a gift to be cherished and not for the gratification of the unmarried, so the best place to find a man who is caring rather than caddish is the Bible study class. (The Herald, UK)

  • Holy Smoke | What were the Crusades really about? (New Yorker)

  • 'Spirit and Flesh': Say amen, somebody | Last year two books called anti-Catholicism the last acceptable prejudice. But like anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism isn't really acceptable in polite America. At least when it comes to religion, the last acceptable prejudice is anti-fundamentalism. Paradoxically, this bias draws both its justification and its power from the rhetoric of religious tolerance: If fundamentalists can't tolerate gay people and atheists, then why should we tolerate them? (New York Times)

  • 'The Reformation': Fanatics all around | An old New England school joke had it that the Puritans left England for America so they could live their religion in freedom and force others to do likewise. The irony is cruel, and whatever laughter it still provokes rises from the fact that we live in different times. In the world of the Puritans and their foes, God had an overwhelming presence in everyday life, and all dissent from any orthodoxy was punished. (New York Times)

Article continues below
  • Baptist school movement finds converts | Christian schools growing as interest in faith-based education spreads (Associated Press)

  • Amazing Grace | The extraordinarily suspenseful beauty of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead. (Slate)

  • Author compiles Hanukkah customs | Handbook inspired by 16th century Yiddish almanac (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • The secret history of the Knights Templar in America | Two British authors write that the Gnostic beliefs of the Knigths Templar were passed down through the Founding Fathers. (Beliefnet)

  • Christian novel is a fair tale | Martin Clark, a Virginia judge who writes on the side, has become known as the John Grisham for the thinking, drinking man. (Detroit Free Press)

  • 'Left Behind' and the consequences of bad theology | Dispensationalism is the theology presented in the "Left Behind" series of books that have been recent best-sellers. It is a system of theology that purports to order God's overall timetable for world events. Understanding why this "gospel" is bad news for America is one step toward restoring this country's sanity. (The Oregonian)

Miracle sandwich:

  • Faithful see God in all creation | From a young age, Catholics are trained to recognize the extraordinary in the ordinary. Indeed, Mother Teresa of Calcutta is said to have instructed her nuns in the Eucharist's vision-enhancing quality. Practice in seeing Jesus in it pays off in the ability to see his presence in less likely places, such as in the hungry, the homeless, the criminal. (Thomas Ryan, Miami Herald)

  • Revelations | Will a grilled cheese sandwich bearing a likeness of the Virgin Mary meet the Roman Catholic church's criteria of a divine apparition? (Washington Post)


  • Danny's big fight is with his conscience | According to Danny Williams it won't be a fist that ends his boxing career. It will be his faith. Since embracing Islam five years ago Williams has gone countless rounds with his conscience. His dilemma is reconciling proficiency in a sport based on violence with a religion that preaches one man should not use his hands to harm another. (Evening Standard, UK)

  • The fighting Christian | In the last year, Rocky Thompson has embraced Christianity. If that seems like a profound contradiction, given his almost 1,500 career minutes of penance in the penalty box - that's a lot of sin - Thompson understands. (Edmonton Sun, Canada)

Article continues below
  • Gridders win a delay of game | A team of pint-sized football players from Fontana that refused to play in a championship game on Sunday, when some teammates would be in church, has persevered. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Chiefs missing out on blessings | Even Kansas City's football faithful have been shaken lately. A loss last week, prayer requests notwithstanding, effectively ended the season. And, it brought a long-standing debate back to the fore: Does God watch football games? Does He take sides, blessing one team to the exclusion of another? (The Kansas City Star)

California's stem cell program:

  • Stem cell initiative challenged | Scientists, educators and patient advocates gathered yesterday to begin figuring out how to distribute $3 billion in state funding for stem cell research, but it quickly became clear the job will be controversial. (San Diego Union Tribune)

  • Creating $3 billion stem cell agency no small feat | Californians voted by a wide margin last month to pass a landmark $3 billion initiative to fund stem-cell research. That may have been the easy part. Now, a state agency must be created from scratch to decide who gets the money from Proposition 71 and who will benefit financially from any scientific breakthroughs produced from the huge, taxpayer-funded gift. (Associated Press)

Other articles of interest:

  • Researcher pulls his name from paper on prayer and fertility | A prominent researcher at Columbia University has pulled his name from a controversial study of prayer's effect on fertility, the university says. (New York Times)

  • Christian radio, coming to a station near you … | Ian Worby has a dream. He wants Christian radio "to be in every house in Australia". While that might sound far-fetched, the grassroots empire he runs from the Brisbane suburb of Underwood is gaining ground at an amazing pace. (The Age, Australia)

  • Mystics can pocket a million - when pigs can fly | A sworn enemy of superstition, Canadian-born magician James Randi has thrown down the gauntlet to mystics, promising $1 million to anyone who can prove supernatural powers or a phenomenon beyond the reach of science. (Reuters)

  • Sect took out loans ahead of 'doomsday' | For more than a decade, a 9,000-member polygamist sect that believed civilization was about to end was borrowing money like there was no tomorrow. (Associated Press)

  • Churchgoers' bus crashes; 21 killed | A bus carrying evangelical Christians to a religious meeting in Guatemala crashed and hurtled into a ravine, killing at least 21 people, officials said. (Los Angeles Times)

Related Elsewhere:

Suggest links and stories by sending e-mail to

What is Weblog?

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

See our past Weblog updates:

December 6
December 3 | 2 | 1
November 24 | 23 | 22
November 19 | 18 | 17 | 16
November 12 | 11 | 10
November 5 | 3b | 3a | 2 | 1
October 29 | 28 | 27 | 26 | 25

October 22 | 21b | 21a | 18b | 18a

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