Religious conservative leaders to Bush: Back FMA or lose election
Upset that President Bush hasn't used stronger language to condemn gay marriages in San Francisco and Massachusetts, leaders of conservative Christian political organizations say they might as well let John Kerry win the election. That's the jist of a story in today's Washington Times.

The chief critics seem to be Sandy Rios and Robert Knight, both from Concerned Women for America.

"[The Bush campaign] can't possibly guarantee a large turnout of evangelical Christian voters if he does not do what is morally right and take leadership on this issue as he did on the [Iraq] war" Rios said. "The strength of this president is in his convictions, but our people do not admire his indecision and lack of leadership on an issue so basic as the sanctity of marriage."

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made a very similar prognostication: "Social conservatives coalesce around strong leadership. That's what motivates and energizes them. And on their core issues, the leadership from the White House is not there right now." American Family Association founder Don Wildmon (who says Bush has "a major problem" with evangelicals), Christian Coalition activist Sadie Fields, and Gary Bauer are also quoted with critical marks, as is an unnamed "prominent evangelical leader" who says he's "just furious over what's going on in California and over what the President is not doing in California."

It looks like all those names are from what's called the "Arlington Group," a coalition of about 20 conservative religious political organizations that is pushing for a federal marriage amendment that would ban civil unions as well as homosexual marriages.

But while many of these groups have made gay marriage their top agenda item for this election year, the Times says they're upset by other issues too, where they say the Bush administration has wilted: pornography, abortion, funding of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Leave No Child Behind education bill, judicial nominees (they're upset about Bill Pryor and Bush's promise not to use a prolife "litmus test").

We've been here before, and it's all part of the political game. A candidate's core constituency is always going to complain that they're not getting enough, or not being paid enough attention, or that one comment (or lack thereof) is going to cause people to change parties or to stay home in protest. It's a way of keeping the candidate in line. In this case, it's an effort to get Bush to make a strong statement of support for a constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

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But the each of these quotes tiptoes around the issue: Are these activists making a threat, or are they just playing pundit? Are they saying, "Religious conservatives aren't happy with Bush," or are they saying, "We're not happy with Bush, and we're going to do something about it"? If it's the former, then let's hear some numbers; let's get some polling data; let's call John Green. If it's the latter, why not take the gloves off? None of the quotes suggest that any of these organizations will work against Bush if he doesn't support the Federal Marriage Amendment. Ask yourself: why not? Could it be because these groups really don't want to see Bush lose to a guy who called the Defense of Marriage Act "unconstitutional, unprecedented, unnecessary and mean-spirited" and called the bill's supporters gay bashers?

You know what happens to the kid who keeps threatening to take his ball and go home? Eventually the other kids let him.

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Gay marriage | Sexual ethics | Teen pregnancy | These kids today | Anglicans | Church life | Missions & Ministry | Lent | Bible | The Passion of The Christ | Film | Art | Music | Books | History | Christian TV | Christians and media | Pat Robertson | Culture | FCC | Business | Elevate 2004 | Education | Church and state | Roy Moore and the Ten Commandments | Religion and politics | Life ethics | Human cloning | Abortion | France headscarf ban | Islam | Christians in China | Christians in India | South Korea | Africa | Pastor's faked kidnapping | Night prayer ban in Kenya | AA pilot | Catholicism | Catholic/Orthodox relations | Abuse | Other articles of interest

San Francisco gay marriage:

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  • flocking to San Francisco to get married, whether they'll be granted the rights and privileges that come with marriage is up in the air (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Top state Dems criticize S.F. mayor | Politicians try not to anger voters
    50% of Californians oppose same-sex unions (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Some gay folks are saying 'I don't' or 'not now' | They worry about legal issues or are leery of marriage (San Francisco Chronicle)

Gay marriage in Chicago:

  • Daley on gay marriage: 'no problem' | Mayor Daley said Wednesday he would have "no problem" with County Clerk David Orr issuing marriage licenses to gay couples—and Orr said he's open to a San Francisco-style protest if a consensus can be built (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Daley backs gay marriages, but can't give licenses | Mayor Richard Daley on Wednesday stepped into the fray over gay marriage, saying he has a "very open mind" and voicing support for a concept that is causing controversy from Massachusetts to California (Chicago Tribune)

More on gay marriage and other homosexuality issues:

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Sexual ethics:

  • With this hubris | If the courts uphold San Francisco's flagrant violation of the law, what possible rational basis will there be for denying all sorts of other unconventional — and most would argue, immoral — unions? (Linda Chavez, The Washington Times)

  • Programs teach local teens that sex can wait | Aim for Success, an abstinence program, educates teenagers at Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Stafford County (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)

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  • Cardinal criticizes 'obsession with sex' | Children's health and happiness are under threat from society's obsession with sex, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, warned yesterday (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Cardinal attacks sex in the media | Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said he suspected "more often than not" that there was "no real context" to the presentation of sex in the media (BBC)

  • Teens 'overexposed' to media sex | A federally funded research project has found that children and teens are constantly exposed to sexual images in the media, but warned that no conclusions can be drawn yet about any effects on their sexual attitudes and behavior (The Washington Times)

Brazil sex parade:

  • Brazilian group to tone down sex in parade | Grande Rio — whose carnival theme "Let's Wear the Little Shirt, My Love," slang for using a condom — will modify the explicit decorations on its floats, including a giant Adam and Eve copulating and sexual positions from the Kama Sutra, prosecutor Andrea Rodrigues Amim said (Associated Press)

  • Samba safe sex message draws ire (BBC)

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Teen pregnancy:

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These kids today:

  • Young people believe in more than 'sex, love and heads must roll' | Young people today, although they may not be overtly Christian or attend any church, understand and value the spiritual dimension of their lives, because they recognise that is how we are created (Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Toledo boy is a pulpit powerhouse | Jacob Thomas Matthew Walters, 12, said he doesn't know how or why, but he is convinced that God called him to be a preacher (The Toledo Blade)

  • Hudson teen speaks out by going silent | Sarah Cochran is taking a vow of silence until she can raise $1,000 of the $4,200 she needs for a monthlong mission trip (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  • Christian singles scene | Forget night clubs and bars. A growing number of single Mid-Southerners are turning to a higher power to meet people (WMC, Memphis)

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Episcopal and Anglican division:

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Other Anglican issues:

  • TV priest backed over calendar | Reverend Christine Musser, 48, who took over the seaside parish of Boscastle last year, revealed on Wednesday that she had received letters calling for her to resign after backing the calendar (BBC)

  • Priests lock horns to debate the finer points of lay ministry | They may share a common devotion to a higher being but yesterday two Anglican priests let down their guards for a spirited debate on a controversial break in tradition (The Maitland Mercury, Australia)

  • Married vicar is suspended over 'naked photograph' | A country vicar has been suspended after shocked parishioners reported that a naked picture of him had been posted on an internet dating website (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Vicar in court over church revamp | Reverend Nigel di Castiglione has appeared before a Church of England court accused of relocating a font, laying a carpet and removing pews without permission of the diocese (BBC)

  • Hispanic Episcopalians poised to make history | The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which represents 187 churches north of the James River, is negotiating to purchase a former Baptist church in Falls Church and convert it into a full-fledged Episcopal church for Latinos in Northern Virginia (The Washington Post)

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Church life:

  • Religion Today: The end of the Brownsville Revival? | nation's longest-running Pentecostal revival — which attracted throngs of crying, singing and shaking believers at its height — is rumbling on these days, but at a slower pace than it once did and now without the preacher who had led it since the beginning (Associated Press)

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  • New job: Lay minister, no Greek required | Churches cultivate less-skilled pastors in rural areas or to serve city immigrants in languages like Swahili (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Sycamore church fire started by lone ember | The explosive fire that destroyed a Sycamore church Feb. 9—one that federal officials say is the largest of its kind they've seen—apparently started with an undetected ember left from a small fire the day before, officials said (Chicago Tribune)

  • Local church puts faith in celebrity religion | Overland Park's First Family Church is the church home of national and local celebrities, and brings many others to its sanctuary (The Johnson County Sun, Kan.)

  • Church leader hit by amnesia |Paul Taylor's wife of 22 years, Raija, said his memory was gradually returning but what happened to the Brisbane businessman after he left work last Thursday night remains a mystery (AAP, Australia)

  • Orthodox Churches oppose Greek-Catholic patriarchate | All the 15 Orthodox Churches of the world evaluate negatively the prospects of the creation of a Greek-Catholic patriarchate in Ukraine (Itar-Tass)

  • What's in a name? Today it's a lawsuit | These days, denominations aren't just organized groups of Christians. They are incorporated groups of Christians with charters, boards and bylaws, legal rights and privileges, fiduciary duties (David Waters, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.)

  • Southern Baptists may change name | Church not just a regional body anymore, leader says (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Church must remove sign, judge rules | Size, use of colored lights violate code (The Washington Post)

  • The answer is really easy | Sometimes, there's a simple solution. It may not be easy, it may be a hardship, but it is simple. Such is the case with the lingering problems between the city and Praise Christian Center. (Editorial, Independent, Huntington Beach, Ca.)

Hip religion:

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Missions & Ministry:

  • Southern Baptists bring New York their gospel | To reach jaded, materialistic New Yorkers, missionaries are adapting to the local culture, by giving away free candy bars or doughnuts on wintry street corners, for example, or by applying fuzzy New Age lingo to a Sunday worship service (The New York Times)

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  • Cheerleader for God | The metal amplifier is gone, but the unbridled energy and humor remain. The difference is that the 49-year-old Kandi Anderson is now cheerleading for God (Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.)

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  • Two take cross on journey to church | The sight of two men carrying a 13-foot-long cross through the streets of Elgin's east side may have reminded Christians of the upcoming Lenten season (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • Pancake paradise - it's all in the mix | Shrove Tuesday was begun by early Christians as a way of using up the dairy products and eggs that would not last the 40 days of Lent (The Scotsman)

  • Faithful prepare for Ash Wednesday | Ash Wednesday brings the start of Lent, a 40-day fasting period that ends with Easter (Rancho Cucamonga Voice, Ca.)

  • Live lightly for Lent | Emulating a 40-day fast by forgoing cakes is pointless. Instead try showing the world a sweeter disposition (Susie Boyt, The Guardian, London)

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  • The next testament | If the Bible were being compiled for the first time right now, what would we put in it? Making the case for a NEW New Revised Standard Version (Cullen Murphy, The Atlantic Monthly)

  • Scholars: Crucifixion details are sketchy | The dearth of information about Jesus' Crucifixion makes it impossible to describe the event in accurate detail, as Mel Gibson attempts to do in his new film, "The Passion of the Christ," biblical scholars and anthropologists say (Associated Press)

  • Framing an eternal Christian debate | Crucifixion: After all this time, the death of Jesus has the power to alter certitudes and animate the faith of his followers (Christopher M. Leighton and Rosann M. Catalano, The Baltimore Sun)

  • How Jesus died still a hot topic | Scholars debate role of Jews in crucifixion (Religion News Service)

  • From Alabama to the Grand Canyon, US battle over the Bible knows no respite | The long-running cultural war between religious conservatives and secularists may very well move from the Ten Commandments monument in Alabama to these majestic cliffs overhanging the Colorado River (AFP)

  • Mary Magdalene in a fresh light | The biblical figure is riding a new wave of interest, propelled by feminism, research and pop culture (The Orlando Sentinel)

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The Passion of The Christ:

  • Actor: 'Christ' may set language trend | "It could be a trendsetter in Hollywood," Caviezel joked Wednesday. "Next year, you may see comedies, thrillers, even musicals in Aramaic." (Associated Press)

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  • 'His blood be on us': Mel Gibson and Matthew 27:25 | If the verse meant only the Jews bear responsibility for Jesus' death, it would overturn Christian theology (David Klinghoffer, Beliefnet)

  • P.R. guru quits over 'Passion' | Susan Blond - the public relations powerhouse who is also an Orthodox Jew - has quit representing Heeb magazine because she was so offended by a 10-page photo feature mocking Mel Gibson's controversial movie "The Passion of the Christ" (New York Post)

  • The Passion of Mel Gibson | The central problem with the film is that it is not the story of Jesus' life. It is the story of his death (Ivor Davis, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles)

  • 'Jesus' nail sale | Replicas of the nails used to hang Jesus on the cross have become the red-hot official merchandise linked to Mel Gibson's controversial new movie, "The Passion of the Christ." (New York Post)

  • In light of film's violence, churches preach discretion | Ministers and counselors are urging parents to use discretion before allowing their children to view the movie (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • A Passionate debate | James Rudin complains (Hannity & Colmes, Fox News)

  • Clergy hoping to allay film fears | Letter to Jews about 'Passion of Christ' is 'act of brotherly love' (The Denver Post)

  • Jews make case versus Mel's movie | Coming soon to a synagogue near you: "The Passion: The Counteroffensive." (New York Daily News)

  • 'Passion' (contd): A timid debate | The treatment of "The Passion of the Christ" on both PAX and NBC underscores the timidity with which television handles tricky subjects (The New York Times)

  • Mel's maligners | Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is provoking religious slights—on Christians (George Neumayr, The American Spectator)

  • A different perspective on 'The Passion' | Biola's Craig Hazen says film may not be as evangelistically useful as some are predicting (Michele Marr, Independent, Huntington Beach, Ca.)

  • Churches hope to share 'Passion' | Members of Student Impact hope Mel Gibson's new movie about the last hours of Christ's life will have an impact on people who don't attend church (Stevens Point Journal, Wis.)

  • Furor just before Gibson's 'The Passion' opens | A week before Mel Gibson's movie about Jesus Christ hits theaters, his father has gone on an explosive rant against Jews - claiming they fabricated the Holocaust and are conspiring to take over the world (New York Daily News)

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  • The gospel truth | Gibson's movie won't destroy decades of fruitful Christian-Jewish dialogue; it will simply prove how crucial that dialogue is (Rob Eshman, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles)

Mel Gibson:

  • The Guardian profile: Mel Gibson | As the opening approaches of the movie into which he has sunk millions of his own cash, the Australian superstar is enmeshed in controversy over its religious politics and the 'fetishistic' violence critics have perceived in it (The Guardian, London)

  • Gibson film is a frontal assault on Jews | Mel Gibson's film is nothing less then a frontal assault and a collective indictment of the entire Jewish community during the time of Jesus (Marvin Hier, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles)

  • Gibson personalizes 'Passion of the Christ' | One thing is clear about the unfolding drama that is Mel Gibson: There is no role for doubt (USA Today)

  • His passion | Mel Gibson is aiming "The Passion of the Christ" straight for the heartland, steering clear of a segment of the population he feels is gunning for him: the secular metropolitan elite (The Washington Times)

Mel's father:


  • Heat of 'The Passion' | Scholars concerned about anti-Semitism in Mel Gibson's movie (The Providence Journal)

  • Challenge the New Testament | I may be dumb. And I may be arrogant. But I'm not a murderer. (Shmuley Boteach, The Jerusalem Post)

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  • Jesus' well-traveled cinematic road | Given that self-styled sophisticates shun religious films in general and Jesus stories in particular, there is no doubt that many people will view "The Passion of the Christ" in a cinematic vacuum without knowing how the looming question—of who bears prime responsibility for killing Jesus—has been dealt with in previous screen interpretations of the story (Variety)

  • Jesus resurrected | Reviewing Christ's other memorable screen appearances (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Stravinsky, playing with God | 'Rite of Spring' underscores a cinematic meditation on mortality (The Washington Post)

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  • British art show updates images of Christ | The show, which includes 43 artists and 72 works from several mediums, will be shown in stages (Associated Press)

  • The real Caravaggio is . . . both of them | The troubled saga of whether Dublin or Rome owns the original of Caravaggio's masterpiece The Taking of Christ took what can only be described as an original twist yesterday. They both do. And, improbably, so does the Black Sea port of Odessa. (The Telegraph, London)

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  • The end of the world | As belief in this end-times prophecy sees a resurgence among Americans - partly because of the phenomenal success of the "Left Behind" series of novels and the disturbing "signs" of terrorism and war - some are seeking to refute the apocalyptic theology (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Spiritual book having strong influence on churches | Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ is part of a bigger Christian shockwave coming from California. At the epicenter is a wildly popular book on living, entitled The Purpose-Driven Life. (WFAA, Dallas)

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Christian TV:

  • Deadline changed for sale of KOCE | Responding to the threat of a lawsuit from a losing bidder for their TV station, the trustees for an Orange County community college district said Wednesday they would continue negotiating with a foundation that has promised to preserve the PBS-affiliation but set a March 10 deadline to complete the deal (Los Angeles Times)

  • Christian broadcaster disputes KOCE sale | Daystar Television is threatening to sue, saying it was the highest responsible bidder for the station (Independent, Huntington Beach, Ca.)

  • Court rules channels to stay on Dish | Bedford's Daystar Television Network and Southern Baptists' FamilyNet TV of Fort Worth will remain on the Dish Network after an appellate court reversed a court order Thursday that threw the Christian broadcasters off the nation's second-largest satellite provider (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

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Christians and media:

  • Christian media can clean up culture | Job No. 1 for Christian broadcasters is to provide a fresh alternative for people turned off by what goes out over the secular airwaves. But it's not enough for Christian broadcasters to preach to the choir (Ken Garfield, The Charlotte Observer)

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  • Stereotyping evangelicals | Not surprisingly, CBS's stereotypical portrayal of their faith group infuriated many evangelicals, who consider themselves the new mainstream of U.S. Protestantism and have in recent decades made enormous strides in theological scholarship (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)

  • New owner of San Francisco Examiner is reclusive, a conservative Christian | Philip Anschutz is "a strong Christian, a strong believer in religion," says an aide, but "it is more personal than it is promotional, in the sense that he is not seen (promoting his religious opinions) in the paper or as a religious leader" (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Christians want family shows downtown | A locally owned bookstore chain plans to partner with Bloomington's downtown arena to get Christian and family shows at the facility (The Pantagraph, Bloomington-Normal, Ill.)

  • Christian broadcasters see opportunity | Religious broadcasters see something more in Janet Jackson's famous missing bra cup than exposed flesh — they see opportunity to market themselves as a wholesome alternative to mainstream TV (Associated Press)

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Pat Robertson:

  • Muslims angered by criticism of Islam | Israel's top tourism official honored evangelist Pat Robertson, who has helped steer evangelical Christians to the country, and both men criticized the morality of Muslims in the Middle East (Associated Press)

  • Israeli officials honor evangelist | Muslims angered by praise of Robertson, who criticizes Islam (The Charlotte Observer)

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  • We've built shock into the culture | Must popular culture constantly shock? Must standards of good taste be constantly under assault? Yep. (Paul Farhi, The Washington Post)

  • When faith colors work | Mural painters allow time for God and family (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • You can keep religion . . my faith's fashion | Many of us view religious dress as an oppression of women, but this girl's parents are allowing her to miss two years of schooling at her own choosing (Juliet Lawrence Wilson, The Scotsman)

  • Funny faith | Religious scholar thinks The Simpsons can teach us something about prayer (World News Tonight, ABC News)

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  • F. Graham says Bush will clean up airwaves | Franklin Graham supported but did not endorse President Bush in saying his re-election was the only way to stem "garbage" like that seen in Super Bowl halftime show, the evangelist's spokesman said Monday (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

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  • Microsoft removes swastika from software | The swastikas appeared as options for users within a font called Bookshelf Symbol 7, one of a large number of character choices available in Office 2003 which went on sale at the end of last year (Irish Examiner)

  • Christian businesses have faith in 'Passion' | Firms rally behind Mel Gibson's account of Jesus' death as a way to spread their message and boost their profits (The Baltimore Sun)

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Elevate 2004:

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  • Pepperdine rejects anti-homophobia club | The university says the club is not "supportive of the university's traditional Christian teachings regarding homosexuality" (The Malibu Times)

  • Pepperdine rejects club for campus gays | Officials say the group conflicts with the values of the church-affiliated university (Los Angeles Times)

  • Christianity is outclassed | 'Let the little children come to me," said Jesus. He did not add: " … but only after they have been encouraged to question their faith and made aware of the arguments for atheism." (Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Promise Keepers worker says he won't quit inquiry | A Pentecostal bishop said he will not resign from an independent commission appointed by the University of Colorado regents despite the fact that he works for Promise Keepers, a religious organization founded by a former CU football coach (The Denver Post)

  • Just 70 | I may no longer be a believer, but I know that atheism is too bleak a subject to teach in schools (Joan Bakewell, The Guardian, London)

  • Arizona lawmakers reject voucher plan | Legislative committee votes down idea for state-funded aid for private school tuition (Associated Press)

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Church and state:

  • Religion's role in fair questioned by ACLU | The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai'i wants to know the extent of the city's involvement in a family fair at 'A'ala Park today that the ACLU says is linked to an evangelical organization (Honolulu Advertiser)

  • Also: City sued over "religious event" (Associated Press)

  • Guidelines on pre-meeting prayer offered | Mount Prospect panel drafted the guidelines after a resident expressed concerns that some of the invocations, or prayers, recited at the start of village board meetings appeared to favor particular religions (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • God is in the air and on the airwaves | A divide between those who want to impose their religious values on this country and those who wish to promote moral values while maintaining the separation of church and state. We are experiencing a Talibanization, a narrowing of the definitions of good and evil. (Bessy Reyna, The Hartford Courant, Conn.)

  • Sermon stirs criticism of church rector | Some say attack on war, president went too far (The Baltimore Sun)

  • Move over, God, it's time to make room for a real power | Honestly now, what would you think if before our politicians got down to the nitty-gritty of Parliament every day - steering the great affairs of state and working the machinery to make the country run - they paused to ask an imaginary spirit for some guidance on what kind of decisions they should make? (Peter FitzSimons, The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • More openness helps the voters | Why is the Alabama Christian Coalition dead set against requiring groups that spend money on political issues to disclose the source of those funds? (Editorial, Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)

  • Keep church out of new constitution | The Evangelical Fellowship of Kenya Churches fully supports the devolution of political power. Its leaders, however, said they totally opposed entrenchment of religions in the new constitution as this could create anarchy (The Daily Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Vulcan, 'Christ' reunion at issue | Langford wants bust here, but state disagrees (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  • Also: Leader wants Moretti's Jesus displayed with his Vulcan (Associated Press)

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Roy Moore and the Ten Commandments:

  • Lawyer defends Moore's ouster | A Christian broadcaster's federal lawsuit seeking to reinstate ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore should be dismissed because her voting rights weren't violated, a state prosecutor said (Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)

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  • Reverend sticks to the word of God | Too many already talking about politics, says Larry Tucker (The Express-Times, Bethlehem, Pa.)

  • Bush's Bible belt | Ole Miss students vote Republican as a matter of faith (Newsweek)

  • Bush's AIDS initiative | There are worrisome signs that the administration may be making decisions that benefit important constituencies at the expense of fighting AIDS (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • Pryor convictions | Opposing judicial activism, left and right (Adam White, National Review Online)

  • Kennedy to Kerry: Catholics and the White House | Opposition from the leaders of his church, Kerry reflects the positions of most American Catholics, and he could well win the popular Catholic vote while losing the endorsement of the hierarchy (ReligionLink, Religion Newswriters Association)

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International politics:

  • Political minnows unite 'to fight for God' | New Labour Party and Christian Democratic Party join, complaining that the "government has shown scant regard for religious values and instead opted for a type of liberalism, which is foreign to our people" (SAPA, South Africa)

  • Christians went to polls Friday | Iranian Christians turned out massively at the polling stations here Friday morning to cast their votes for the 7th parliamentary (Majlis) elections (Irirb, Iran)

  • Criminalizing words too close to thought control | LaPierre should realize his nasty comments speak louder against Bill C-250 than any argument I could make (Susan Martinuk, The Province, Vancouver, B.C.)

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Life ethics:

  • Mercy in Florida? | Will new court rulings in Florida help save Terri Schiavo's life? Or is "The Rule of Terri's Case" here to stay? (Wesley J. Smith, The Weekly Standard)

  • No truce in this culture war | Both William Saletan and Alexander Sanger aim, in their different ways, to complicate the tidy picture of stark opposition in the abortion debate (Gary Rosen, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Organ traffickers 'threaten' nuns | Four Catholic nuns say they have received death threats after exposing an organ trafficking network allegedly operating in northern Mozambique (BBC)

  • Cord blood stem cells aid repair of hearts | Injections of stem cells from umbilical cord blood can infiltrate damaged hearts and transform themselves into healthy muscle tissue, according to a study (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • The swarm that moved a legislature buzzes still | Writing about Terri Schiavo is like sticking your finger into a beehive. Conservatives who call themselves Christians will swarm, denouncing me and anybody else who dares to disagree with them (Mary Jo Melone, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

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Human cloning:

  • Dolly creator changes tack and backs baby cloning | In a dramatic reversal of his position three years ago, when he said he could see "no ethical or moral reason" to clone people, Ian Wilmut, a scientist at the Roslin Institute in Scotland, says today that cloning humans "would be desirable under certain circumstances" (The Independent, London)

  • Dolly expert backs baby cloning | The scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep said yesterday that the potential benefits of genetic engineering in curing hereditary diseases were so great "it would be immoral not to do it" (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Should we put a limit on cloning research? | Religious leaders respond (Los Angeles Times)

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Roe v. Wade:

  • Court to hear case to reopen Roe v. Wade | federal appeals court has agreed to hear a request from the woman formerly known as "Jane Roe" to reconsider the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion (Associated Press)

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  • Reawakening 'Roe v. Wade' | For the first time in more than 31 years, an original litigant in Roe v. Wade will be before a federal appeals court asking it to reconsider the most controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision in modern history (Texas Lawyer/

  • Roe vs. Wade hearing set in March | Appeals court to rule on Dallas woman's request to revisit abortion case (The Dallas Morning News)

  • 'Jane Roe' takes her case back to court | Armed with more than 1,000 affidavits and 30 years of regret, the woman at the center of the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case is returning to the courtroom in hope of overturning the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that made the procedure legal (Houston Chronicle)

Portugal abortions:

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France headscarf ban:

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  • Different, banned | Muslims suffer religious persecution at the hands of other Muslims (Amjad M. Khan, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Hold the line on Sharia | Ayatollah Sistani, Islamic law, and Iraq's interim constitution (Paul Marshall, National Review Online)

  • No pigging out at KFC | Four KFC restaurants in Australia have taken bacon off the menu in favor of Muslim-friendly products (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)

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Christians in China:

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  • Three Chinese Protestant leaders arrested | The China Aid Association, from its U.S. headquarters in Glenside, Pennsylvania, announced the arrest of 3 Chinese Protestant leaders in the province of Henan, a hotbed for Christian underground religious activity (AsiaNews, Italy)

  • Opening China to religion | You might expect a gathering of Chinese government-sanctioned religious leaders and U.S. Christian evangelists to disintegrate into a shouting match (Houston Chronicle)

  • Chinese pastors discuss revival | The faithful prefer supersized sermons (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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Christians in India:

  • Christian Council assails harassment of converts | Joseph D'Souza, president of the All-India Christian Council, and other office-bearers said the State Government had been a passive spectator and "often connived, by its deliberate inaction, in the violence against Christians" (The Hindu)

  • Also: Christian Council for probe into tonsure incident | The All-India Christian Council (AICC) on Wednesday demanded a judicial inquiry into the "harassment and persecution" of a Christian pastor in Orissa's Jagatsinghpur district (The Hindu, India)

  • Threat to Christians in MP: priests | The Diocese of Jhabua, has alleged that Christians were living under a reign of terror in Madhya Pradesh under the rule of Uma Bharti government (The Tribune, Chandigarh, India)

  • Faith accomplice | Is the Catholic Church a threat to Hinduism? The answer lies in whether one looks at religious conversions as succumbing to 'bribes' or as a matter of personal belief (Arvind Kala, Hindustan Times, India)

  • Looking for ways to praise the Lord | Among the thousands that visited the Bandra-Kurla Complex to listen to tele-evangelist Benny Hinn last week were some Bandra residents (Mid-Day, Mumbai, India)

  • Dalit Christians blame church leadership for backwardness | A Christian organization representing Dalits or the socially underprivileged Saturday questioned the church leadership for demanding special treatment for them and accused it of exploiting their economic and social backwardness (IANS, India)

  • Four Christian priests join BJP's Kerala unit | Abraham Thomas and Thomas David belong to the Church of South India; Kochuparambil manages the Anglican Church at Kurichi village in Kottayam district; and John is a pastor in the Pentecostal Church (

  • Also: Kerala BJP inducts four Christian priests | After the glamour world, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now wooing religious leaders (IANS)

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  • Slightly tarnished | Not all reports from the US proclaim that India is shining (Bibek Debroy, The Telegraph, Calcutta, India)

  • US panel on religious freedom wants to visit India | The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has sought a fresh invitation to visit India for a firsthand assessment of the state of religious freedom in the country (Hindustan Times, India)

  • 'Give us a place to bury our dead' | The East Indian community in particular and the Christian community in general, have organised a 'Gao Bandi,' protesting the lack of a cemetery in Mulund (Mid-Day, Mumbai, India)

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South Korea:

  • Korean church's dream: 42,000-square-foot addition | Members of United Presbyterian Church have named their proposed new education and conference facility the Dream Vision Center, after a Bible passage that says young men shall see visions and old men dream dreams (The Seattle Times)

  • Prisoners beyond the heart | South Korea is rapidly moving towards becoming a Christian majority nation, a first for East Asia (Nathaniel Long, The Korea Times)

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  • Final amnesty for perpetrators of Rwanda genocide | Thousands of Rwandans accused of participating in genocide have been offered a "final chance" to be released from prison if they confess their guilt and ask for forgiveness before a deadline next month (The Guardian, London)

  • Rwanda switch for genocide trials | The international court set up to try those responsible for the 1994 genocide is considering moving some trials to the Rwandan capital, Kigali (BBC)

  • Sudan peace talks resume |The Khartoum government and Sudan's main rebel group today started a fourth round of peace talks in Kenya aimed at ending 21 years of civil war, the chief mediator said (AFP)

  • AIDS leaves heavy burden on orphans | A report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 11 million children in sub-Saharan Africa 14 or younger have lost one or both parents to AIDS. They comprise more than two-thirds of the world's 13.2 million AIDS orphans (The Washington Times)

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Pastor's faked kidnapping:

  • 'Hijack' dominee just wanted time alone | The former Pretoria dominee accused of lying to police about his "hijacking" on Thursday pleaded guilty in the Pretoria district court to a charge of perjury (Pretoria Times, South Africa)

  • Dominee lived 'double life' | Dominee Paul Beyl pretended he was the victim of a hijacking because he thought people would feel sorry for him and give him money to support him financially (Beeld, South Africa)

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Night prayer ban in Kenya:

  • Banning 'kesha' will not solve anything | Whereas the directive against night prayers might be lauded in some quarters as bold and wise, many Christians, especially those in evangelical churches, are not convinced (Francis Ayieko, The Daily Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Ban on night prayers inspired | PCEA Moderator David Githii has some interesting news: night prayers within the church will be no more. To some, these are words of wisdom, but some religious zealots may see this as an affront to their faith (Editorial, Daily Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)

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AA pilot:

  • Thy people's will be done | Flying the fanatical skies with American Airlines (Alan Bisbort, Hartford Advocate, Conn.)

  • Ask the pilot | Is it ever appropriate to praise the Lord over an airplane's P.A. system? (Patrick Smith,

  • Flying can be a spiritual experience | As if flying weren't stressful enough these days, what with security checks and the very real possibility that you will be seated next to someone wearing exploding shoes, you have to be careful which religion you bring on board (David Grimes, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.)

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  • Pope approves six for canonization | Pope John Paul II Thursday approved for sainthood an Italian woman who became a symbol for abortion opponents after giving birth despite warnings that continuing her pregnancy put her life at risk (Associated Press)

  • Pope praises Europe's Christian heritage | Pope John Paul II again emphasized Europe's Christian roots on Sunday, calling the continent a "laboratory" where the values of East and West meet (Associated Press)

  • Is Aristide still a priest? | What the Vatican thinks of the Haitian ruler (Slate)

  • Bishop vows better communication | In a striking move that could herald a shift in diocesan policy toward the Voice of the Faithful, Bishop William Murphy will form a committee to iron out his differences with the controversial parishioners' group, according to a letter issued yesterday by priests who met with the Catholic leader (Newsday)

  • Beyond the trappings | Traditionalist Catholic churches can look just like their mainstream counterparts. But the breakaway faction rejects the Vatican (Los Angeles Times)

  • After yoga and Sunday shopping, Croatia's Catholic Church targets condoms | After "defeating" yoga classes for teachers and Sunday shopping, Croatia's Catholic Church is again testing its power in this conservative society by opposing a safe-sex program in schools (AFP)

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  • On sex, celibacy and the papacy | My suspicion though is that, apart from people desirous of being Roman Catholic priests, but find the celibacy rule too harsh, most people who want priests to get married are women who are attracted to a priest (Michael Burke, The Jamaica Observer)

  • Married archbishop back at Vatican | Emmanuel Milingo, who has been living quietly in a 13th century monastery south of Rome in the last two years since he returned to the Catholic Church, attended Pope John Paul II's general audience with bishops from an ecumenical group of which he is a member (Reuters)

  • Also: Controversial Archbishop returns to Italy | The most famous stray of the Catholic Church, African archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who rocked the Vatican by eloping then repenting, has returned to the fold again after reportedly fleeing to his native Zambia in late 2003 (Zoomata, Italy)

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Catholic/Orthodox relations:

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  • A probe at $770 per hour | All allegations of sexual misconduct against Bishop Howard Hubbard, head of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese, will be looked into in detail, leaving no rock unturned, without fear or favor (The Times-Union, Albany, N.Y.)

  • Vatican to publish clergy sex abuse report | The Vatican will soon publish a report about clergy sexual abuse that draws heavily on scientific opinion, including experts skeptical about removing from the ministry any priest who has molested a child, a psychologist who helped edit the report said (Associated Press)

  • Mahony comes up short | The innocence of priests accused of pedophilia is not for Mahony or church lawyers to decide (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

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Other articles of interest:

  • Rise in attacks on Christian places of worship | Attacks on churches which were intermittent and isolated until recently, have ballooned into an issue of serious national concern, with unidentified gangs attacking and destroying these places of worship, purportedly to protest alleged unethical religious conversions (Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka)

  • Doctors, priests form exorcism commission | Faced with growing demand for exorcisms, Catholic Church leaders in the Italian city of Genoa have created a taskforce of doctors and priests to determine when the devil is at work and when psychiatric help is needed (Reuters)

  • Scientists recommends bedtime prayers | A German scientist says people who suffer from bad nightmares should say their prayers before going to bed (Ananova)

  • The act of fasting brings Christians closer to God | In Jesus' sermon on the Mount, he says, "When you fast." Note that he does not say, "If you fast" (Theodore Dorrance, The Oregonian)

  • Ex-pastor gets prison for scams | Financial scam artist and former Napa pastor Sherman S. Smith was sentenced Friday to 37 months in prison (Napa Valley Register, Ca.)

  • Religion news in brief | Indianapolis Episcopalians want to affiliate with Illinois; Kansas archbishop: No speeches in Catholic institutions by abortion rights advocates; Southern Baptists end endorsement of female military chaplains; and other stories (Associated Press)

  • Winter, the Amish way | Always challenging, but never more so than in winter, this is the Amish way: No cozy automobiles, no electricity, no telephones, no conventional oil or natural-gas furnaces. And no regrets (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • NFL rescinds fine against Bengals' Kitna | Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna won't have to pay the $5,000 fine levied by the NFL for wearing a cap with a cross during interviews after a game in December (Associated Press)

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