Supreme Court: States don't have to treat "devotional theology" like all other subjects
The Supreme Court stood on its head today. Actually, had five of the seven justices actually done headstands in the Supreme Court building, it would perhaps have been less of a surprise than today's decision in Locke v. Davey.

Here's a little history: In Rosenberger v. Rector & Visitors of the University of Virginia (1995), the Supreme Court said that the government must fund a religious publication if it funds other student publications. In Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001), the Supreme Court similarly said that a public school can't ban a religious group if it opens the door to all other groups.

Hear the principle? Open the door to some, open the door to all—even the religious.

It seemed straightforward enough, but apparently the Supreme Court is singing from a different songbook than thought. Today, it said that Washington State may deny scholarships to students pursuing religion-related degrees even if the door is open to all other areas of study. In other words, it seems, the state may discriminate against religion.

Washington is one of 36 states with what's known as a "Blaine amendment" in the state constitution. These amendments, part of an anti-Catholic campaign a century and a half ago, ban any public funding of religious education. And seven of the justices have no problem with that.

"Washington's program imposes neither criminal nor civil sanctions on any type of religious service or rite," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court majority. "It neither denies to ministers the right to participate in community political affairs … nor requires students to choose between their religious beliefs and receiving a government benefit. … . The State has merely chosen not to fund a distinct category of instruction."

Ah, but the court didn't pretend like religion had nothing to do with it. "Training for religious professions and training for secular professions are not fungible," Rehnquist wrote. "Training someone to lead a congregation is an essentially religious endeavor. Indeed, majoring in devotional theology is akin to a religious calling as well as an academic pursuit." And giving a state scholarship for that that, Rehnquist suggested, is troublesome and un-American. "We can think of few areas in which a State's antiestablishment interests come more into play," he said. "Since the founding of our country, there have been popular uprisings against procuring taxpayer funds to support church leaders, which was one of the hallmarks of an 'established' religion."

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How nice of the court to start considering Framers' intent, but as Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissenting opinion (to which Justice Clarence Thomas signed on), "One can concede the Framers' hostility to funding the clergy specifically, but that says nothing about whether the clergy had to be excluded from benefits the State made available to all. No one would seriously contend, for example, that the Framers would have barred ministers from using public roads on their way to church."

Rehnquist denied that the court's previous "take one, take 'em all" decisions even applied in this case, since cases like Rosenberger applied to free speech. "The Promise Scholarship Program is not a forum for speech," Rehnquist wrote. "The purpose of the Promise Scholarship Program is to assist students from low- and middle-income families with the cost of postsecondary education, not to encourage a diversity of views from private speakers." (But was Milford Central School District trying to "encourage a diversity of views from private speakers" when it started allowing extra-curricular clubs, or was it trying to assist and extend children's education and development?)

Scalia, as usual, is direct in his dissent. "Let there be no doubt: This case is about discrimination against a religious minority," he wrote. "In an era when the court is so quick to come to the aid of other disfavored groups, its indifference in this case, which involves a form of discrimination to which the Constitution actually speaks, is exceptional."

Here's why it's discrimination, in Scalia's words: "When the State makes a public benefit generally available, that benefit becomes part of the baseline against which burdens on religion are measured; and when the State withholds that benefit from some individuals solely on the basis of religion, it violates the Free Exercise Clause no less than if it had imposed a special tax."

And now, get ready for more such "special taxes" on religion. Almost certainly this case is a huge blow for the school choice movement in its efforts to have vouchers available to students who want to attend religious schools. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that students in Ohio could attend parochial schools under a state voucher program, but voucher opponents won't be able to apply that decision in the states that have Blaine amendments.

Likewise, this case can have implications for Bush's faith-based initiative and similar measures in states around the country. The court didn't say that religious organizations must be denied government funds (that much, at least for now, the Supreme Court has said is unconstitutional), but now the court is saying that religious organizations can be denied public money.

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"We are very disappointed with a decision that clearly sanctions religious discrimination," American Center for Law and Justice chief counsel Jay Sekulow, who argued the case, said in a press release. "It is troubling that the decision is irreconcilable with more than a half century of Supreme Court precedent regarding the free exercise of religion."

Eugene Volokh, everyone's favorite law blogger, agrees. "The result, I think, genuinely is the discrimination against religion that people have complained about (sometimes wrongly, but here rightly)–not just exclusion of either pro-religion or anti-religion messages from the government's own speech, but a regime where the government may discriminate against private religious institutions and programs, but may not discriminate in their favor," he wrote. "Now this is a wrong that is indeed worth amending the Constitution over."

This is a huge decision—an earthquake for church-state relations, so expect more commentary in the days to come. In the meantime, keep your eyes on the First Amendment Center, which has some great background information on Locke v. Davey and other related cases.

Weblog thought about spinning off a comprehensive Passion blog, but there's simply too many articles out there on this film to wade through. Every news outlet is covering this story from several different angles—or, more accurately, the same four or five angles. Weblog has stopped linking to most of the local reaction stories ("Pastor Bill Smith of First Baptist loves it and wants to use it for evangelism. Rabbi Joe Steinberg is concerned about its portrayal of Jews"). Still, that leaves dozens upon dozens of stories still worth noting.

The Passion:

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  • Passion changes everything | Box-office reverberations (Ralph Winter & Mark Joseph, National Review Online)

  • Jesus H. Christ |The Passion, Mel Gibson's bloody mess (David Edelstein, Slate)

  • Orthodoxy's revenge | America is in the midst of a new Great Awakening. It's the mainstream media, prompted by excitement over the Mel Gibson film "The Passion of the Christ," waking up to the fact that the country still has an enormous block of orthodox Christians (Rich Lowry)

  • Prelude to 'The Passion' | Our cultural elites are worried not about how the film is "anti" but how the film is "pro." They know how this film has the potential to light a fire under traditional Christianity in America and around the world (L. Brent Bozell III, The Washington Times)

  • Bible belt devoted to Christ film | Industry magazine Hollywood Reporter said the most Yahoo! internet searches for the film were coming from states like Oklahoma, Tennessee and Indiana (BBC)

  • Gibson's Passion | Chances are that even the film industry, skeptical and skittish about the project, will have to recognize his artistic triumph. How its millions of viewers will reckon with the movie is another story. We think that it will induce humility rather than triumphalism (Russell Hittinger and Elizabeth Lev, First Things)

  • Audiences see Mel Gibson's 'Passion' | The buzz that launched a thousand and more commentaries flickered to life on cinema screens on Monday as "The Passion of the Christ" drew early bird audiences (Reuters)

  • U.S. audiences finally get to see 'Passion' film | Some audiences will love it; others will not. One thing is certain: when Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" debuts on Wednesday, moviegoers will finally have a chance to decide for themselves (Reuters)

  • 'Passion' and possibility | The actor/director/proselytizer's publicity tour has been more like one long opening statement for the defense (Paul Greenberg, The Washington Times)

  • Heaven & Mel | Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ opens this week amid controversy over its alleged anti-semitism, but there's no such thing as bad publicity (Neil Mackay, Sunday Herald, Glasgow, Scotland)

  • Approaching "The Passion" | Context, backgrounds, all will be so important to accurately capture what people feel about the film (Mary Sanchez,

  • 'Passion' stand mishandled, some Jewish leaders say | Gibson's movie is called unlikely to fan hatred and a beneficiary of its foes' critical comments (Los Angeles Times)

  • Nailed | Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" (David Denby, The New Yorker)

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  • A movie and its meaning | Mel Gibson's Passion is for all time (Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review)

  • The passion of Mel Gibson | Mr. Gibson hasn't made any apologies for himself, his movie or his father. But he has weighed in on several points. Here are excerpts (The New York Times)

  • Passions | We're all holding our breath on this one (Larry Miller, The Weekly Standard)

Churches and the Passion:

Jesus on screen:

  • Jesus Christ, cinema star | Mel Gibson's movie is the latest take on the Passion Story, but filmmakers have long found it a source of inspiration (The Boston Globe)

  • Carl Anderson, 58; actor played Judas in 'Jesus Christ Superstar' | He did not originate the Judas role, but played it in the original Broadway production in 1971 and in the 1973 film directed by Norman Jewison (Los Angeles Times)

  • Jesus on the silver screen | Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ" is only the latest in a very long line of celluloid portrayals of Jesus that have, in their turn, aroused controversy, delight, outrage and ridicule (AFP)

Passion reviews:

  • 'Passion' gets thumbs-down | Screening: An interfaith Baltimore audience previews the film and mostly finds any message overwhelmed by the gore (The Baltimore Sun)

  • Two thumbs up for 'The Passion' | Giving "Passion" their trademark stamp of approval of "two thumbs way up," Ebert and Roeper called it "a great film" (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Critics pan and praise Gibson's 'Passion' | Is it the Gospel according to the Marquis de Sade, a sickening death trip that twists Jesus's message from love to hate, the Goriest Story Ever Told or the Greatest Bible Movie ever made? (Reuters)

  • Gibson's 'Passion' provokes | What the world's newspapers are saying about the film (The Washington Post)

  • Koppel tackles The Passion | Jesus, Jews, and the year's most controversial film (Joel C. Rosenberg, National Review Online)

  • 'Passion' disturbs a panel of religious leaders | An interfaith panel of eight Christian and Jewish clergy members and laypeople said the movie — which was produced, directed and largely financed by the actor Mel Gibson — deviated in bizarre ways from the Gospel accounts, fell flat emotionally and was numbingly violent (The New York Times)

Passion language:

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Passion violence:

  • Disputed imagery is likely to keep controversy alive | Gibson's graphic cinematic depiction of the suffering and death of Jesus challenges viewers to decide whether the unremitting on-screen torture and bloodshed is a powerful testament to the suffering willingly endured by a savior or an ugly resurrection of a centuries-old calumny against Jews (The Boston Globe)

  • Churches want R-rating reduced | New Zealand church leaders are appealing to have the censor's classification of Mel Gibson's controversialm film "The Passion of the Christ" reduced (NZoom, New Zealand)

  • A dark and bloody spectacle | As sex is to the body in hardcore porn, violence is to the ruin of the body of Christ in The Passion (Toronto Star)

  • So what's the good news? | The debate over 'The Passion' may be less harsh than the film (David Ansen, Newsweek)

  • Brutal Passion | Jesus on the big screen (Steve Beard, National Review Online)

  • The goriest story ever told | Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is a well-made film. That doesn't mean you'll want to see it (Richard Corliss, Time)

  • Cinematic torments of Christ get adult rating | Sources at the British Board of Film Classification said this weekend that there had been no doubts about giving an 18 rating to what it considered "a very violent film" (The Times, London)

  • 'Passion' is 'one of the cruelest movies' ever: Top critic | Mel Gibson's controversial movie, "The Passion of the Christ," got its first critical pan today, a scathing review in The New Yorker that calls it "a sickening death trip" (The Washington Times)

  • Tears and gasps for 'Passion' (and oh, all that blood) | Christians get (another) early view of the film (The New York Times)

Passion theology:

  • Brother Gibson's Passion | I went from the theater to the Gospels (Michael Novak, National Review Online)

  • 'Passion' rekindles debate over meaning of the crucifixion | Few who consider themselves followers of Christ would argue against the notion that Jesus' mission was to save sinners. But some worry that a fixation on suffering - including perhaps in this film - may foster an unfortunate piety of imitation (The Christian Science Monitor)

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  • Unparalleled Passion | Theology and revolutionary filmmaking (Thomas Hibbs, National Review Online)

  • What did Jesus really look like? | Whatever arguments there may be about the verisimilitude of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ," one thing is certain: this Jesus is a Hollywood hunk who probably bears little resemblance to what the Jesus of history looked like (The New York Times)

  • Why it's so bloody | Gibson's movie is theologically in tune with the times — the 1300s (David Van Biema, Time)

  • The purpose of the Passion | Not all believers share Gibson's view that Jesus died to atone for sin (The Dallas Morning News)

  • What do the Gospels say? | Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' raises anew the question of why Jesus was crucified (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Showtime | What has been lost in the debate about the film and its alleged anti-Semitism — I've seen the movie, and there isn't any — is the central message of Christ's suffering and sacrifice for the redemption of humanity. That message cannot be missed in the film but it probably will be ignored by most reviewers (Cal Thomas, The Washington Times)

  • Christ film 'riddled with errors' | Scholars have said Mel Gibson's film about the last 12 hours of Jesus' life is riddled with historical errors (BBC)

  • 'Christ' and the gospel truth | With 'The Passion of the Christ,' Mel Gibson displays reverence for the Gospels -- perhaps to a fault (Larry B. Stammer, Los Angeles Times)

  • Truth and fiction of 'Passion' | Gibson film goes beyond Bible to tell story of Jesus' crucifixion (Don Lattin, San Francisco Chronicle)

  • More than a film, it depicts a central truth for many | When a film is crafted with the intensity, beauty and meaning of "The Passion," its effects and message linger for days, if not a lifetime (Tim Swarens, The Indianapolis Star)

  • The Gospel according to | While Christian luminaries like the Rev. Billy Graham have praised the film's evocation of Jesus' final 12 hours, there is no mistaking that this is The Gospel According to Mel (Newsday)

  • 'Passion' sparks promise, protest | 'The Passion of the Christ' raises difficult questions about the death of Jesus for both Jews and Christians (The Baltimore Sun)

  • 'The Passion' will prove a fiction like the Gospels | The death, birth and miracle narratives about Jesus of Nazareth are almost certainly confections that emerged from the collective imagination of late first-century C.E. communities of Jews and Gentiles, which had found common ground in a devotion to the ethical teachings of an itinerant street preacher from Galilee (Harry T. Cook, The Detroit News)

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  • Honest to Jesus | Passion plays provide action and you-are-there drama. They also get the Gospels dangerously wrong (Stephen Prothero, The Boston Globe)

  • Do you recognize this Jesus? | The evangelical Christians who will flock to "The Passion of the Christ" are in for a shocking refresher in the forgotten basics of Christianity (Kenneth L. Woodward, The New York Times)


  • A testament to a huge market | 'Passion' film stirs evangelicals' economic might (The Boston Globe)

  • As God told me … | My question to Mel Gibson is: "How many million dollars does it look as if you're going to make off the crucifixion of Christ?" (Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes)

  • Selling the Savior | Has a movie ever been marketed as cynically as this story of Jesus? (Jack Mathews, New York Daily News)

  • Promoting 'The Passion' | Smart, grass-roots marketing and merchandising, along with a healthy dose of controversy, are replacing the typical film's $30 million marketing budget to spread the word about The Passion of the Christ (USA Today)

  • Film is heaven-sent promotion for Bible | Australian Christians are readying for evangelism, too (The Sun-Herald, Sydney)


  • The dividers | The Passion's critics fail (Rabbi Daniel Lapin, National Review Online)

  • The left's anti-Semitic chic | It used to be said that anti-Catholicism was the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals. Today anti-Semitism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals (George F. Will, The Washington Post)

  • Judge ye not Gibson's film until you've actually seen it | Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" is not an anti-Semitic film. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

  • 'Passion' nurtures seeds of hatred | Most people have asked the wrong question about Mel Gibson's new motion picture, "The Passion of the Christ." They've asked if it's anti-Semitic. They should have asked, instead, if it will incite its viewers to anti-Semitism. (Walter Reich, Los Angeles Times)

  • Passions stirred against bias | Evangelical leader urges Christians not to read anti-Semitic message into new film (Los Angeles Times)

  • Mel Gibson's 'Passion of Christ' is an act of faith, not hatred | No one can seriously believe that dormant anti-Semites will be awakened by this film, no matter how villainous the depiction of the Sanhedrin or bloodthirsty the mob (Barbara Amiel, The Daily Telegraph, London)

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  • Jesus of Palestine & the 'Passion' of Israel | It is the darkest accusation the Jewish People has ever faced. And it is coming to a theater near you (Ha'aretz, Tel Aviv)

  • Wednesday, the Jews go on trial again | The Vatican, nearly 40 years ago, cleared the Jews of responsibility for crucifying Christ, but theaters around the United States will now be showing Mel Gibson's film `The Passion of the Christ,' which again blames the Jews (Ha'aretz, Tel Aviv)

  • Is 'The Passion' anti-Semitic? | Is "The Passion" anti-Semitic? That depends on whether it is anti-Semitic to reenact the story told by the Christian Bible (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)

  • An obscene portrayal of Christ's Passion | "The Passion of The Christ" by Mel Gibson is an obscene movie. It will incite contempt for Jews. It is a blasphemous insult to the memory of Jesus Christ. It is an icon of religious violence (James Carroll, The Boston Globe)


  • A busy week: 'Passion' and 2 Oscar hopefuls | Newmarket's skeleton staff is struggling to cope with The Passion's expanding release pattern (The New York Times)

  • Frodo's quest inspires a search for allegory | The Lord of the Rings movies have spawned essays, Web logs and discussions about Tolkien's Christianity and about how religious themes abound in the novels and, to a lesser extent, the movies (The New York Times)

  • A movie's power over attitudes and action | Movies spawn fads and fashions, but can they change real attitudes and catalyze real action? Starting Wednesday, Mel Gibson's graphic re-enactment of the Crucifixion may offer answers to some of these questions (The New York Times)

More articles

Life ethics:

  • Contraception denial raises questions | Herr's decision and Eckerd's response angered people on both sides of the abortion debate, reigniting a discussion over whether pharmacists should be able to follow their religious and moral beliefs when dispensing drugs (Associated Press)

  • MPs call for human cloning debate | The House of Commons' science and technology committee is questioning whether existing laws should change (BBC)

  • Science or politics at the F.D.A.? | With opposition to the over-the-counter "morning after" pill mounting on the right, the F.D.A.'s delay in approving it is cause for concern (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • Balance between science and faith | How do you view such 'breakthroughs' in science such as human cloning? Religious leaders respond (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Calif.)

  • Vote set on bill on unborn victims | The House this week will set up an election-year showdown over fetal-homicide legislation targeting Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry and a handful of Texas Democrats who have opposed such bills in the past (The Washington Times)

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Religious tolerance:

  • Sunday morning beer sale is allowed, just this once | Judge says state law banning the sale of beer from 3 a.m. to noon on Sundays is unconstitutional because it is based in religious beliefs—specifically Christian ones—and thus violates the separation of church and state (The New York Times)

  • Also: Lawmakers mute their religious objections to Sunday alcohol sales | Kansas state senator who is morally opposed to such sales acknowledges that legislators are leery of waving banner of religion in fighting looser liquor laws (Associated Press)

  • Reports of God's death are greatly exaggerated | Guardian readers believe that God is dead must wonder why their paper finds a place for a weekly column of religious thought, though most would probably concede that even the irrelevant is justifiable for as long as it still matters to an unenlightened minority (Paul Oestreicher, The Guardian, London)

  • Religions closer in Melbourne, clerics told | Melbourne handles interfaith issues much better than Sydney, due largely to the attitudes of its religious leaders, says Gary Bouma, deputy vice-chancellor of Monash University (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Teacher 'sorry' for singling out UNC student | A UNC-Chapel Hill instructor has apologized after a student said during a class discussion that he opposed homosexuality -- and found himself singled out by the teacher for hate speech (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • Pledge plaintiff loses bid to revive inaugural-prayer lawsuit | 9th Circuit panel says Michael Newdow didn't suffer 'a sufficiently concrete and specific injury' to challenge clergy-led prayer at presidential inaugurations (Associated Press)

  • Secular … or anti-Islamic? | A student wearing a head scarf or other sign of religious affiliation does not impair the religious freedom of others (Bruce Fein, The Washington Times)

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Religious freedom:

  • China formally charges two Christians with 'revealing state secrets' | News of the charges against Liu Fenggang and Xu Yonghai, both prominent members of Beijing's underground church, emerged more than three months after they were put in custody (AFP)

  • US wants religious freedom improved in India, Pakistan | An official US body has recommended that 11 countries, including India and Pakistan, be designated as "countries of particular concern" for committing serious violations of religious freedom (Dawn, Pakistan)

  • Christian leaders allege police harassment | Christian leaders today alleged that their community members were being `harassed and terrorised' by police in Alirajpur area of Jhabua District of Madhya Pradesh since the recent communal violence there and demanded a CBI probe into the whole episode (The Hindu, India)


Catholic/Orthodox meeting:

  • Russian Orthodox Church against Pope trip | The Russian Orthodox Church remains firm in its objections to a visit by Pope John Paul II, a top Vatican envoy said Monday before ending a six-day trip aimed at easing tension (Associated Press)

  • Early Russia papal trip ruled out | A senior Vatican envoy has ruled out the possibility of a papal visit to Russia for the time being (BBC)

  • Orthodox leader, Vatican envoy meet | Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II met with a senior Vatican envoy Sunday and criticized what he called the Roman Catholic proselytizing in the predominantly Orthodox nation (Associated Press)

Gay marriage:

  • Missouri's cool to gay nuptials, but it's no burning issue | Voters in this swing state favor Bush's stand but are more concerned with jobs, war in Iraq (Los Angeles Times)

  • Time to bench 'judicial activism' | The work of courts certainly deserves substantive criticism. But it would improve public debate over the right way to read our Constitution if the politicians agreed to remove the charge of judicial activism from their campaign arsenals (Peter Edelman, The Washington Post)

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  • Christian right awakens | The Christian right is back. Contributions are up. Members are mobilized, energized and ready to fight. The catalyst — gay marriages. The beneficiaries — Republicans (Editorial, The State, Columbia, S.C.)

  • Voices of majority, the center, lost in shrillness | Between the two extremes lies a reasonable and popular compromise: civil unions that would confer many of the benefits of wedded bliss on same-sex couples without using the emotionally charged word "marriage." But both sides have turned this into an all-or-nothing, for-or-against decision (Cokie Roberts and Steven V. Roberts, Contra Costa Times, Ca.)

  • Complaint filed against S.F. pastor, she vows to keep performing same sex marriages | A complaint has been filed against a Methodist pastor who performed a marriage ceremony for two gay men in San Francisco last week (KCBS, Los Angeles)

Marriage amendment:

  • Whose wedge is it? | Point a finger at Lambda Legal, not at the White House (Tim Graham, National Review Online)

  • Bush's gay marriage gamble | His support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is sure to keep this key Republican constituency in the fold, but it is a move not without political risk (BBC)

  • Kerry backs federal marriage amendment | "If the amendment provides for partnership and civil union, which I believe is the appropriate way to extend rights, that would be a good amendment. I think that you need to have civil union. That's my position." (CNN)

  • George W., judicial activist | The religious right made him do it (Timothy Noah, Slate)

  • Defending marriage | An amendment is needed now because aggressive judges and bureaucrats are making new law out of thin air (Editorial, The Washington Times)

  • Republicans seek consensus on strategy for amendment | Senate Republicans said they will try to pass a constitutional amendment codifying marriage as between a man and a woman this year, but House Republicans were less confident about their chances (The Washington Times)

  • Gay rights advocates decry Bush's 'desperate act' | President Bush's call yesterday for Congress to pass a federal marriage amendment was denounced as a "cheap" political ploy by homosexual rights activists, who pledged to work with their allies in Congress to defeat it (The Washington Times)

  • Bush accused of anti-gay stance | Democrats and gay groups in the US have condemned President George W Bush's call for a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages (BBC, video 1, video 2)

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Religion and politics:

  • Can religion be blamed for war? |Are religion and religious differences to blame for war and conflict? Many war leaders have claimed to have God on their side, but should religion get the blame? (BBC)

  • Bush's spirituality | President Bush's Biblical references have been put under the microscope more than those of past presidents (William McKenzie, Morning Edition, NPR)

  • Bush is convinced he's doing God's will | There is no room for compromise. Those not with the Godly are against them (Michael McAteer, Toronto Star)

  • Feminism in the 21st century | Feminists are right to support reproductive rights and sexual autonomy for women, but they should stop demonizing the conservative and faith-based groups that could be better allies on some issues than the liberal left has been (Phyllis Chesler and Donna M. Hughes, The Washington Post)

  • Where's the beef? Try God, says political guru | Democratic big shot Bob Beckel is not your usual faceless born-again (U.S. News & World Report)

  • Democrat Edwards courts votes in Ohio churches | Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards hunted for votes in two churches in Ohio on Sunday, asking parishioners for help in lifting 35 million Americans out of poverty (Associated Press)

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William Pryor:

  • Bush again bypasses Senate to seat judge | President Bush bypassed the Senate on a high-profile judicial nomination yesterday for the second time in five weeks and seated William H. Pryor Jr., the Alabama attorney general and an outspoken opponent of abortion, as an appeals court judge through 2005 (The Washington Post)

  • Bypassing Senate for 2nd time, Bush seats judge | In January, Mr. Bush named Charles W. Pickering Sr., whose nomination had also been blocked by Senate Democrats, to another appeals court seat (The New York Times)

  • A 'bittersweet' appointment | Judge Pryor's opponents wasted no time attacking the president's recess appointment as controversial and divisive. As with the rest of Judge Pryor's confirmation battle, these charges are inaccurate and unfair (Editorial, The Washington Times)

  • Bush again installs a judge at recess | Outraged Democrats, who have cited Mr. Pryor's opposition to abortion when blocking a full Senate vote on him, yesterday accused Mr. Bush of circumventing the judicial-nomination process (The Washington Times)


  • What's your professor's religion? Should it matter? | The complaint sounds familiar: Why does a university whose student body is overwhelmingly Mormon have so few LDS professors? (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  • Limits and lessons of vouchers | The District's modest voucher program, if designed well, may liberate many children from failing schools and shake things up in ways we can't foretell. But its reach will be limited (Fred Hiatt, The Washington Post)

  • U. of Oklahoma sued for religious discrimination | Two students claim school's refusal to fund Christian newspaper restricts their First Amendment rights (Associated Press)

  • Muslim girl in court challenge | A 15-year-old Muslim girl has won permission to bring a high court challenge against her school in a dispute over her right to wear traditional religious dress (The Guardian, London)

  • Another mistake by Rod Paige | Instead of dealing with central issues, the Education department has wasted time and money on things like making sure the districts permit the right amount of "constitutionally protected prayer." (The New York Times)

  • Catholic school reviewers go by book | The Roman Catholic Church is handing out failing grades to most of the religion textbooks used to instruct the country's 680,000 parochial high school students (Associated Press)

Amish in the City:

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  • Mary, Mary, quite contrary - and in code | The Da Vinci Code has sparked a new desire for the church to engage in a more honest dialogue with its members about its past and present (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • The Da Vinci con | What seems increasingly clear is that ''The Da Vinci Code,'' like ''Holy Blood, Holy Grail,'' is based on a notorious hoax (Laura Miller, The New York Times Book Review)

  • Faith, moving mountains of books | Rick Warren's spiritual bestseller is a nontraditional-marketing miracle (The Washington Post)

  • The power of peace | How the civil rights leader unlocked the social promise of his prophetic faith (David L. Chappell reviews To the Mountaintop by Stewart Burns (The Washington Post)

"Zero tolerance" for abusive clergy:

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  • Experts question U.S. Catholic priest abuse policy | The U.S. Catholic Church's "zero tolerance" on sexual abuse by priests could pose a danger to society because it could deter some clerics from seeking help, medical experts said in a study Monday (Reuters)

More on clergy abuse:

  • Joliet diocese verifies abuse | Bishop reports 113 allegations (Chicago Tribune)

  • Vatican reinstates accused Navy chaplain | The Vatican has reinstated a U.S. Navy chaplain as an active priest after he was placed on administrative leave amid sex abuse allegations, Detroit Roman Catholic leaders said (Associated Press)

  • Vocal critic of abuse by clergy found dead | Patrick McSorley, a victim of defrocked priest John J. Geoghan who became one of the most visible critics of clergy sexual abuse, was discovered dead early yesterday in a North End apartment, his lawyer said yesterday (The Boston Globe)

  • Church leader's comments on abuse draw criticism | Monsignor Richard S. Sniezyk, the temporary leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Mass., said Sunday that some priests once thought sexual relationships with young men were acceptable and had no idea they would cause any harm (The New York Times)

  • Report criticizes U.S. Catholic Church's policy on child abuse by priests | The report, the result of a conference held last April that featured eight non-Catholic experts, recommended that the so-called zero-tolerance policy be reconsidered (The Washington Post)

  • Monsignor: Priests didn't call it abuse | Diocese leader says old clergy culture accepted having sex with youths (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Monsignor says harm of abuse wasn't recognized | The temporary leader of the Diocese of Springfield, appointed after its bishop resigned amid sexual abuse allegations, said in an interview yesterday that the scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church stems from a belief among some priests during the 1960s, '70s, and '80s that sex with young men was acceptable (The Boston Globe)

  • Reforms must shake church to its core | Scandal shows need for major changes, including power sharing by the pope (Jason Berry, Los Angeles Times)

  • Bishops brace for release of sex abuse study | The nation's Roman Catholic bishops will hand ammunition to their critics next week by releasing a nationwide study of sex abuse in the church, but they hope that doing so will lead other organizations that care for children to conduct similar research, the president of the bishops' conference said yesterday (The Washington Post)

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See our past Weblog updates:

February 25a | 24 | 23
February 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16
February 13 | 11 | 10 | 9
February 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2
January 30 | 29 | 28 | 27 | 26
January 23 | 22 | 21 | 20 | 19
January 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12
and more, back to November 1999

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: