Nigerian militants raid town, kill 48 Christians
Militants, reportedly Muslims, raided the dominantly Christian Nigerian town of Yelwa, in Plateau State, yesterday. Four dozen people, including women and children attempted to take refuge in a Church of Christ in Nigeria church. The militants, armed with guns and bows and arrows, killed them all.

The attack seems to be the latest in a series of Muslim-Christian attacks. Christians have not turned the other cheek in the renewed violence: a Christian militia earlier this month launched a retaliatory attack against a Muslim village, killing 10. The Lagos newspaper This Day reports, "not less than 117 men, women, children, and policemen have been brutally killed in renewed hostilities in the Southern part of the state in the last two weeks."

Kerry endorses Massachusetts constitutional amendment against gay marriage
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry told The Boston Globe that he supports amending the Massachusetts constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman—so long as the amendment wouldn't rule out civil unions, with all the benefits of marriage.

"If the Massachusetts Legislature crafts an appropriate amendment that provides for partnership and civil unions, then I would support it, and it would advance the goal of equal protection," Kerry said.

It's news, but it's not necessarily new news. On Tuesday, CNN covered a Kerry press conference where he made much the same point. CNN came into the conference just as Kerry was saying, "Because I believe, as a matter of belief, that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's my belief.'

The follow-up question was unintelligible, but Kerry responded,

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. Everybody's known my position. There's nothing new about my position.

The Globe says that Kerry stressed "that he was referring only to the state, and not the federal, Constitution. … Kerry has said he opposed amending the US Constitution, because he believes the issue of marriage should be left to the states."

Indeed, today's Washington Times has an article on Kerry's stance that doesn't include this latest endorsement twist, but concentrates on his opposition to a federal marriage amendment, and to his 1996 opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act.

"I share the same opposition [to gay marriage], but I think it's absolutely wrong to ask for a federal constitutional amendment, when for 200 years the states have always had the right to take care of this," Kerry told the CBS Early Show. "They have the ability even today. They will take care of it. And I think [Bush is] doing this as a political wedge-driving strategy and not because it's necessary."

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Miss our second helping?
We posted a big Weblog yesterday afternoon summarizing the Supreme Court's Locke v. Davey decision, and linking to 4,724,563 articles about The Passion of The Christ. If you missed it and only read our pre-Weblog about Ash Wednesday, it's here.

More articles

Gay 'marriage':

  • Same-sex marriage splits state | California voters remain deeply split over gay marriages, yet they seem leery of changing the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, a poll released today shows (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)

  • Activists push county on gay marriage issue | Infuriated by President Bush's "unprincipled attack against gay people and our families," activists did an about-face Wednesday—they shifted the battleground over gay marriage to the Cook County Board (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Acceptance of gay marriage growing in state | Half of voters still against it—but even more oppose constitutional ban (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Winter of love | Cautious Democrats worry that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's historic affirmation of gay marriage will help Bush win reelection. But as the right squabbles over the issue, his party may well thank him in November (Joan Walsh,

  • Prudent path | How we decide the question of gay marriage — and it will be decided, one way or the other — will shape the future of our society and the course of constitutional government in the United States (Matthew Spalding, The Washington Times)

  • Suit targets a county clerk, citing need to avoid chaos | Conservative legal firms yesterday filed a lawsuit in California Supreme Court seeking to stop San Francisco's county clerk from issuing any more "marriage" licenses to same-sex couples (The Washington Times)

  • Gay marriage legislation splits crowd in Annapolis | Testimony in House committee reveals division on proposals (The Washington Post)

  • In Africa, homophobia goes beyond church | Obarou Adjarhu carries a Bible under one arm, and he knows what it says. It says homosexuality is a sin, according to Adjarhu's reading. Today. Tomorrow. And as far as the 32-year-old Nigerian businessman is concerned, forever. (Elizabeth Bryant, UPI)

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  • From two couples, a couple of views | For one couple in Parker, marriage is holy only if it unites a man and a woman. For a couple in Denver, marriage is as sacred as the people in it - regardless of their gender (The Denver Post)

  • Conservatives take aim at gay rights legislation | Mark Burton sees same-sex marriage licenses issued in Sandoval County last week as a potent blessing in disguise (Albequerque Tribune)

Federal Marriage Amendment:

  • Gay-marriage amendment unlikely to pass this year | Many say GOP moderates shying away from it (USA Today)

  • GOPers: Nup ban a no-go | Say votes for W plan aren't there (New York Daily News)

  • Amendment is wrong way to resolve social controversy | A constitutional amendment is the wrong way to address an issue where a national consensus is lacking and states still are grappling with the issue in their own ways (USA Today)

  • Bush's war over gay marriage | The president finally caves to the Christian right and backs a constitutional amendment, the better to beat up John Kerry. But will his newly emboldened right-wing allies go too far? (

  • President versus precedent | Bush's reckless bid for an amendment defies an Oval Office tradition (Cass R. Sunstein, Los Angeles Times)

  • Gay conservatives fight Bush on wedding vow | A key GOP group plans a campaign against the proposed constitutional amendment in several states crucial to the president's reelection (Los Angeles Times)

  • Debating marriage | It will take time, talk and a lot of testing of theories to resolve the country's ambivalence about how unions between gay couples are recognized. President Bush's vote-happy call for a constitutional amendment has little to contribute to the discussion (Editorial, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • The politics of gay marriage | With the Kerry-Edwards battle for the Democratic nomination drawing headlines and motivating anti-Bush voters, President Bush's announcement that he favors a constitutional ban on gay marriage makes political if not numerical or moral sense (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  • From both sides, danger of alienating moderates | The looming fight over a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage will excite some supporters of each political party—evangelical Christians for the Republicans, gay rights advocates for the Democrats—but both parties run the risk of alienating moderates by pushing too hard, political analysts and pollsters said yesterday (The Boston Globe)

  • Bush panders to right wing on gay unions | A generation from now, we will look back and wonder why we would deny rights to people who want to do the decent, honorable thing (Myriam Marquez, The Orlando Sentinel)

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  • Another Bush culture war | This is the way that Bushes run for president when they fall behind: They plunge us into culture wars (Harold Meyerson, The Washington Post)

Marriage and family:

  • The state of our unions | Divorce and adultery are common; still, nearly all Americans at least try marriage (USA Today)

  • Oklahoma embraces pro-marriage experiment | Divorce rate one of highest in country (Houston Chronicle)

  • Wedded bliss no match for 'living in sin' | Couples who live together for a while may be less likely to eventually marry than previously believed (The Advertiser, Australia)

  • No kids, please | They don't want to have children, they don't want to be bothered by children, and they'd just as soon not live near children. It's the child-free movement, and it's growing (The Boston Globe Magazine)

Sexual ethics:

  • Bush's sex fantasy | The White House is pouring money into programs that tell teens to just say no to sex. Most experts say the programs don't work—except to enrich the religious right (Michelle Goldberg,

  • Sex ed lectures criticized as anti-abortion lobbying | Critics are denouncing a private group's sex education lectures to Albuquerque public school students because its main sponsor is a Christian evangelical organization (KRQE/Associated Press)

  • Safe-sex floats at Rio Carnaval spur clash with church | Spat highlights the contradictions of the annual free-spirited revel in Catholic Brazil (Los Angeles Times)

  • Gender games | If one's sexual identity is to be reduced to a question of what one feels oneself to be, it is hard to see what there is to stop the principle being extended to other matters (Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Evangelicals differ on sex education | An NPR-Kaiser-Kennedy School Poll finds that white and non-white evangelical Christians agree on moral issues having to do with sex, but they often disagree on what kind of sex education is best (All Things Considered, NPR)

  • Youth STD cases soar, report says | Sexually transmitted diseases have become so pervasive among the nation's youth that one out of every two sexually active young people can expect to become infected by age 25, a new report says (The Washington Times)

  • Half of young Americans to get sex diseases, study says (Reuters)

  • I'm not gay, says 81-year-old monarch with 14 children | King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, an 81-year-old father of 14, yesterday surprised his subjects by denying that he was homosexual. His comments came as he underlined his support for same-sex marriage, having seen television coverage of such weddings in California (The Daily Telegraph, London)

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  • Administration announces details of global AIDS plan | The Bush administration yesterday announced details of its five-year global strategy on HIV-AIDS, including approval for the first $350 million in grants to religious groups and humanitarian organizations to combat the disease and offer relief to AIDS orphans (The Washington Post)

  • US launches anti-Aids program | The United States has officially launched its emergency anti-AIDS program with the release of its first funds (BBC)

Supreme Court rules no theology scholarships:

Ten Commandments:

  • Ousted Ala. chief justice in court | Lawyers for ousted Alabama chief justice Roy Moore argued Wednesday that Moore was simply keeping his oath of office by refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument, and was wrongly expelled. (Associated Press)

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  • Monuments: Thou shalt display? | Despite the Alabama flap, Commandments are still being upheld and displayed—including in Alabama (Newsweek)

  • No Moore in 2004 | The Ten Commandments judge shalt not run (Katherine Mangu-Ward, The Weekly Standard, subscription required)

'Anti-Muslim' trial in Australia:

  • Crowd laughed at Koran seminar | A pastor said yesterday the audience at a Christian seminar laughed when he read out excerpts from the Koran but he had not intended to ridicule or mock Muslims (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Cleric told of Islam violence | An Assemblies of God minister told a Christian seminar in Melbourne that violence was common in Muslim homes in Australia, he said yesterday (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

Religious freedom:

The Passion and politics:

  • Playing politics with God | Mel Gibson is using the son of God to make movie millions. So it probably shouldn't surprise anyone if a Republican governor uses a mock conversation with God the father to promote a presidential campaign (Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe)

  • Stations of the crass | Mel Gibson and George W. Bush are courting bigotry in the name of sanctity (Maureen Dowd, The New York Times)

  • Evangelical right uses 'Passion' film to widen reach | Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion" is being used to widen the reach of evangelical media networks even as it decreases the distance between church and state (Roberto Lovato, Pacific News Service)

'Jews killed Jesus' marquee:

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Woman dies after seeing Passion:

The Passion in Israel:

  • The passions | Next to Sunday's Jerusalem bus bombing, or proceedings at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, a movie that might or might not have an anti-Semitic coloration just doesn't arouse this country's passions (Editorial, The Jerusalem Post)

  • Call for Jesus film ban in Israel | An Israeli politician today called for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ movie to be banned from Israeli cinemas, calling it a blood libel (The Australian)

The Passion and kids:

The Passion (news):

  • 'Passion' could deliver $20 million on first day | Fueled by unprecedented media frenzy and religious fervor, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is delivering on the hype. Playing on 4,643 screens at 3,006 theaters, the movie should hit the high teen millions and could reach over $20 million today, distributor Newmarket and Box Office Mojo each project (Box Office Mojo)

  • Gibson film reigns on opening day | Jammed theaters across the U.S. put 'Passion of the Christ' on track to rival the first-day takes of 'Star Wars' and 'Matrix' blockbusters (Los Angeles Times)

  • 'Passion' opening draws massive crowds | The opening of "The Passion of the Christ" drew everyone from conservative churchgoers to confrontational New Yorkers more than willing to roll out their soapboxes as screenings got under way (Associated Press)

  • Assyrians hear native tongue in 'Passion' | Nobody knows exactly how first-century Aramaic sounded, and the language in the movie is just one scholar's best estimation of how Jesus would have spoken. It varies greatly from Syriac, the form of Aramaic used today by some Christians (Associated Press)

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The Passion (opinion):

  • It's not blood of 'The Passion' that tests us | If you're a Christian, you don't walk out of the movie with an urge to hurt Jews. You walk out in awe of God's love for mankind. (John Kass, Chicago Tribune)

  • Gibson flogs way to bank | It was the fear that the film was anti-Semitic that really made the film a hit (Antonia Zerbisias, Toronto Star)

  • Greek Orthodox leaders tell flock 'Passion' isn't accurate | Leaders of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Chicago have sent letters to all of their parishes warning clergy and the faithful that some of the theological ideas expressed in Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" are not part of their tradition (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Why this story? And why now? | The controversy surrounding this movie is not about what people will say after seeing the movie. It is about what comes long before this movie: the history of anti-Semitism in the Catholic and other Christian churches (Paul Vitello, Newsday)

  • "The Passion of the Christ" | Mel Gibson's horrific portrait of the torture and bloody death of Jesus casts Christian faith as a macho endurance test—but where's God? (Stephanie Zacharek,

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  • Cardinal offers his take on 'Passion' | Francis Cardinal George is giving the controversial movie "The Passion of the Christ" a thumbs-up. (WBBM, Chicago)

  • 1 screen, 2 passionately different films | Depending on who you are and what you bring to the movie, you can credibly emerge from seeing "The Passion of the Christ" believing that this is a clumsy, slow-moving piece of religious propaganda or that it is nearly a revelation, a piercing enactment of a story you had previously experienced primarily on paper (Marc Fisher, The Washington Post)

  • Passion | Christians need to join Jews in guarding against fanatics who would twist the passion generated by such a powerful story to their own hateful ends (Editorial, The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)

  • A vicious, anti-semitic film | Produced by Syria, not Mel Gibson (Joel C. Rosenberg, National Review Online)

  • Script for the season: Jesus died for all sins | Jesus' disciples and the first Christians were Jews. So when the Gospels speak of "Jews" opposing Jesus and the Apostles, the obvious question is, "Which Jews?" (Editorial, Palm Beach Post, Fla.)

  • Irresponsible Passion | Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" is a powerful example of devotional art—that is, art as a form of prayer and a vehicle for transmitting religious feeling. It also is a well-produced and beautifully filmed throwback to the medieval passion plays that helped to stoke violent anti-Semitism in Europe (Editorial, The Washington Post)

Unborn Victims of Violence Act:

  • House to vote on unborn victims bill | The legal rights of the fetus are at issue in a House vote on legislation that would make it two separate crimes to harm both a pregnant woman and her unborn child (Associated Press)

  • House to vote on fetal homicide | The House is expected to pass fetal homicide legislation today (The Washington Times)

  • Protecting the unborn | Today, the House is expected to take up — and pass — legislation that would protect an unborn child from the deliberate assault of anyone but a doctor. Despite the irony of outlawing such violent actions from anyone but an alleged caregiver, Congress should still send the Unborn Victims of Violence Act to the president (Editorial, The Washington Times)

Right to life:

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  • Patient feeding rules challenged | A man with a degenerative brain illness has gone to the High Court in a bid to safeguard dying patients' rights to nutrition as they deteriorate (BBC)

Priest shooting:


  • Akinola urges Nigerians to shun crime | The president of Christian Association of Nigeria, and primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Peter Akinola, has called on Nigerians to use the holy period of Lent to pray against crime and other societal vices plaguing the nation (This Day, Lagos, Nigeria)

  • Trial delayed in suit over Ford church van | Jury selection was delayed until Wednesday in the trial of a wrongful death lawsuit against Ford stemming from a 15-passenger van crash that killed three missionaries. (Associated Press)

  • Split over Kayiwa probe | Confusion surrounds the recently released report that purportedly cleared Pastor Simeon Kayiwa of allegations of witchcraft, fraud, occult and cursing people (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)

  • Mother Teresa's successor caught up in robbery | A car carrying Mother Teresa's successor, Sister Nirmala, was waylaid by bandits in eastern India but the diminutive nun was unhurt, police and the Missionaries of Charity said on Sunday (Reuters)

  • Nazi items, porn found at priest's home | A 64-year-old priest pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal possession of $50,000 stolen from his Long Island parish — cash police found at his apartment along with a pistol, pornography and Nazi paraphernalia (Associated Press)

Cash for prayers:

  • Return City Hall cash, Anglican bishops order colleague | Cash-for-prayers Bishop Peter Njoka has been ordered to repay the Sh1.7 million he has received from the Nairobi City Council (The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Njoka case has another dimension, too | Anglican Bishop Peter Njoka's woes, though seen in a narrow prism as financial impropriety, are a reminder of the perpetual struggle between the secular order and religion for co-existence (Kingori Choto, The Nation, Nairobi)

Food, fasting, and dieting:

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Church life:

  • Church has the faithful flocking in | In the face of dwindling congregations and the perceived failure of religious groups to attract young people, the success of St Paul's and St George's is astonishing (The Scotsman)

  • Church buys small college's large campus in Issaquah | Trinity Lutheran College is selling its 40-acre Issaquah campus to The City Church of Kirkland, a fast-growing evangelical church that could end up sharing the campus with the college for several years (The Seattle Times)

  • Mystery fire kills Catholic priest | The Parish Priest of St. Finbarrr's Catholic Church, Jos, Monsignor Emmanuel Udeh was Saturday night roasted alive by a mysterious fire outbreak in his house (This Day, Lagos, Nigeria)

  • City feels winds of Christian change | Evangelical churches grow as others struggle (Great Falls Tribune, Montana)

  • Graffiti Church relishes tag | The new sign over the front entrance reads "E. 7th St. Baptist Church," but nobody in the East Village calls it that. They call it the "Graffiti Church" (Charles W. Bell, New York Daily News)

  • Chapel is a doorway to the past | Mission San Juan Capistrano site holds links to founding Father Junipero Serra (Los Angeles Times)

  • Church may leave old steeple behind | Church members have been trying to find a cheaper way to restore the wooden steeple and avoid a court battle with the town (The Washington Post)

Jack Glass dies:

  • Pastor Glass loses cancer fight | One of Scotland's most controversial religious figures, Pastor Jack Glass, has died at the age of 67 (BBC)

  • Pastor Jack Glass dies of cancer visited on him 'by Satan' | Pastor Jack Glass has finally lost the battle against his greatest enemy - apart from the Pope - and died from cancer at the age of 67 (The Scotsman)

  • Pastor Jack Glass | When I think about Jack Glass, I hear him. That was the thing about Jack: after he'd been shouting at you in that stentorian voice of his, you had Protestant tinnitus for at least three days (Ron Ferguson, The Herald, Glasgow)

  • 'He never learned that no human being is absolutely right' | For a year, the man known to everyone as Pastor Jack spat hellfire and damnation at Auld Nick and his other mortal enemy, lung cancer (Cameron Simpson, The Herald, Glasgow)

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Religion in the UK:

  • UK among most secular nations | A survey of people's religious beliefs in 10 countries suggests the UK is among the most secular nations in the world (BBC)

  • Britons' belief in God wanes | Britain has emerged as one of the most religiously skeptical countries in an international poll released in advance of a BBC program to be broadcast tonight (BBC)

  • UK 'among least religious countries in world' | Britain is one of the least religious countries in the world with belief and churchgoing among the lowest on the planet, according to a survey (PA, U.K.)

  • A 'spiritual Beckham' centenary | A religious revival which thrust pious former coalminer and blacksmith Evan Roberts on to the front page of newspapers across the UK 100 years ago is being celebrated (BBC)

  • Re-engaging the lost congregation | A meal, a chat and a chance to meet new friends. It is a more appealing formula than a hard pew in a cold cloister. As a result, more than one and a half million Britons have taken part in the Alpha Bible teaching course (BBC)

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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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