Three will die, three go free in Taxila Presbyterian hospital attack verdict
A Pakistani anti-terrorist court yesterday sentenced three militant Muslims to death for their deadly attack on the Christian Hospital in Taxila in August 2002. However, charges against three other suspects in the attack, which killed four women and injured more than two dozen other workers, were freed for lack of evidence.

There's no word from early press reports about Maulana Abdul Jabbar, who was arrested last July, and whom police said was the mastermind behind this and other attacks on Christians in the country. The South Asia Tribune, however, reported this week that Jabbar, leader of a group called Jamaat-ul-Furqaan, is still being questioned.

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Wesley Clark and Howard Dean on abortion:

Life ethics:

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  • A global abortion war | critics Say United States is exporting a vitriolic battle; supporters disagree — and the squabble continues (

  • 'Christian terrorists' | Anti-abortionist calls for violence, says it is religious duty (

  • Bills would push abortion back into shadows | Virginia bills range from what constitutes feticide to prohibiting state colleges and universities from dispensing emergency contraceptives (The Washington Times)

Roe v. Wade rallies:

  • Words of support from Bush at anti-abortion rally | Opponents of abortion who gathered on the Mall in the capital on Thursday for the annual "March for Life" rally cheered as the president vowed to try to protect life at all stages. (The New York Times)

  • Bush lauds abortion foes on Roe v Wade anniversary (Reuters)

  • Rallies mark anniversary of Roe vs. Wade | Tens of thousands of abortion protesters, some carrying signs that said "American Holocaust" and "I regret my abortion," marched from the White House to the Supreme Court on Thursday to mark the 31st anniversary of the decision that established a woman's right to the procedure (Associated Press)

  • Abortion protest draws thousands | Marchers brave cold to speak out against 1973 Roe v. Wade decision (The Washington Post)

  • Roe marches on | Thousands of pro-life advocates demonstrated on downtown streets yesterday, marking the 31st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion on demand (The Washington Times)

  • Sets of marchers disagree on abortion | Large group protests at The Square; supporters circle quietly at park (The Charlotte Observer)

  • Activists gear up for another round | The latest battle lines in the Minnesota abortion war were drawn in frozen breath, early-morning prayer and exhortations to action Thursday, the 31st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

2004 presidential campaign:

  • Born again | The ranks of Christian conservatives aren't dwindling (Mark Stricherz, The Weekly Standard, subscription required)

  • The path of righteousness | Can a Democrat win the hearts of black voters? Yes, here's how (Steven Waldman, Slate)

  • Wesley Clark speaks out | The general explains why the president isn't a patriot and only Democrats are devout (Hugh Hewitt, The Weekly Standard)

  • Groups debate religion on campaign trail | While presidential candidates have been lining up in recent weeks to prove their religiosity on the campaign trail, groups like the Anti-Defamation League are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the rhetoric and are asking them to tone it down (Fox News)

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  • Preaching in politics | Left should reclaim a share of the moral rhetoric (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)

  • Bush's talk on values, and the eye he keeps on November | President Bush seemed to cast himself as America's moral leader in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night when he called upon "all of us" to protect the nation's children from "the negative influence of the culture." (The New York Times)


Churches protest Nairobi constitution:

  • Church threatens protest over draft | The Presbyterian Church of East Africa will call countrywide demonstrations if the Ufungamano draft constitution is rejected at Bomas (The East African Standard, Nairobi)

  • Bishops pour cold water on faiths effort | Anglican clergymen claimed a section of the delegates, including some of their colleagues, wanted to derail the reform process for selfish interests (The East African Standard, Nairobi)

  • Now Catholics back Bomas III | The Catholic Church and opposition parties yesterday threw their weight behind the draft constitution under discussion at Bomas of Kenya (The East African Standard, Nairobi)

Same-sex marriage and homosexuality:

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More on sexual ethics:

  • Conference offers women straight talk on sex | "Christian women today are so confused about how to think about their sexuality," said Lorraine Pintus. "In the world, they see the unrestrained lust, the lack of respect for true love, so the Christian woman says, 'I don't want to be like that.' She's repulsed, so she shuts down." (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Rio drops "pill by mail" plan | The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro has dropped a pioneering plan to mail contraceptives to women in poor neighborhoods for free after the mayor consulted the Roman Catholic archbishop (Reuters)

  • Dutch abandon free contraception for all | The Netherlands once had the lowest teenage pregnancy and abortion rates in Europe. Its policies of widespread sexual health education and freely available contraception were widely praised. But not any more (BBC)

  • Kama Sutra carnival upsets churchmen | The prospect of condoms and Kama Sutra poses in a parade in Rio de Janeiro's famed Carnival has riled the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the Brazilian city (Reuters)

Ten Commandments monument in Winston-Salem, N.C.:

Ten Commandments disputes elsewhere:

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  • Also: Right vote on monument | The Boise City Council made a good and gutsy call Tuesday, voting to remove a Ten Commandments monument from Julia Davis Park (Editorial, The Idaho Statesman)

  • Boise council votes to move monument | Commandments will be returned to civic group (The Idaho Statesman)

  • Moore urges fight for God | Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, ousted from office for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state Judicial Building, told Maryland legislators and onlookers yesterday to "take a stand" against the federal government (The Washington Times)

  • Citizens urge commission to drop appeal | After months of hearing public comments in support of the county's legal fight to display the Ten Commandments, on Monday the county commission heard two local citizens speak out against continuing the battle (The Northeast Georgian)

Church and state:

  • Jewish group rips Voorhees as intolerant | Jewish leaders offended by a state representative's public comments that she prefers Christian political candidates say it shows insensitivity to religious minorities—or at least lack of awareness about the difference between Christianity and other faiths (The Grand Rapids Press, Mich.)

  • Troubled prayers | Council members caught between court ruling and sectarian beliefs (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

  • The Christian hour? | Fredericksburg's observance of religious freedom should reflect the diversity in the religious community (Editorial, The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)

  • Fellowship chief: Both sides 'sincere' | Chairman says Town Council acted properly, but flawed precendent led to dividing opinion (Palm Beach Daily News)

  • 'Under God' needs to go from the pledge | The phrase "under God" was not in the pledge that I recited in elementary and junior high schools, and it still feels like an unwarranted excrescence to me. (Bob Zaslavsky, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Kinston City Council approves God resolution | Following an intense debate that seemed more private than public, the Kinston City Council on Monday unanimously approved recognizing God as the foundation of this country's heritage (The Kinston Free Press)

  • Also: Kinston council approves resolution recognizing God | One council member says he felt coerced to vote for the measure and another councilman says he thinks the resolution questions his faith (Associated Press)

  • Woman accuses official of religious discrimination | Resident says permit to form human cross at park was rejected (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

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School fliers:



  • Vietnam holds reins on religion | Vietnamese worshippers face raids, confiscations and arrest if they practice their faith outside of government-sanctioned institutions, constituting what U.S. officials say is a major obstacle to improved bilateral relations (The Washington Times)

  • Bishops concerned about attacks in Madhya Pradesh | The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India Thursday urged the Madhya Pradesh government to ensure law and order in the wake of "unprovoked" attacks on members of the Christian community in Jhabua district (IANS, India)

  • Jhabua Stained | The ghastly murder of Graham Staines and his two minor sons, Philip and Timothy, on the night of January 22-23, 1999, was a watershed in India's post-Independence history (Dominic Emmanuel, Hindustan Times, India)

  • Also: Manoharpur, 5 yrs after Staines' murder | How many Hindus? And Christians? Everyone is interested in changing their God, none in changing their lives (Bibhuti Mishra, Sify, India)

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The Pope and The Passion:

  • Vatican says Pope does not judge films | The Vatican pronounced what it hoped was the last word Thursday on whether Pope John Paul II ever endorsed Mel Gibson's biblical epic "The Passion of the Christ," declaring that the pontiff "does not make public judgments on artistic works" (Associated Press)

  • Mystery drama, with the Pope cast as a movie critic | It is a matter of just five words, each of which, at least in English, is just one syllable. But that fleeting phrase has touched off an extraordinary degree of speculation, consternation and just plain puzzlement (The New York Times)

The Passion of the Christ:

  • 'Passion' not anti-Semitic, say pastors after viewing | "What impressed me throughout the movie is that neither Jewish nor Gentile people put Jesus on the cross," said John Maxwell, chairman of the Global Pastors Network (The Washington Times)

  • Jewish leaders see worst fears in Gibson's 'Passion' movie | Mel Gibson's carefully crafted marketing campaign to ensure favorable publicity for his controversial new film, The Passion of The Christ, collapsed Thursday amid criticism from national Jewish leaders who used "stealth tactics" to view the film in Winter Park on Wednesday night (The Orlando Sentinel)

  • Jewish leaders upset after viewing 'Passion' | Two of the nation's most prominent Jewish leaders said yesterday that they had watched recent versions of Mel Gibson's unreleased movie "The Passion of the Christ" and found it anti-Semitic and incendiary in the way it depicted the role of the Jews in Jesus's death (The New York Times)

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  • Jewish group dislikes "Passion" | The American Jewish Committee, which is generally seen as a moderate and diplomatic voice in the Jewish world, had refrained from critiquing a project in the works (The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y.)

  • ADL snuck into film | Sources at Icon Productions were surprised to learn that the uninvited ADL officials had registered for the Christian conference under the name "The Church of Truth" (

  • 'Passion'-ate critic | Jewish org leader views, slams Gibson pic (Variety, subscription required)

  • Gibson's film about Jesus stirs passions | Mel Gibson's tightly controlled marketing campaign for his movie "The Passion of the Christ" moves into Atlanta tonight with an invitation-only screening at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • 'Christ' controversy brews | Christ's final agonizing hours of life, and death, as depicted in "The Passion of the Christ," is hardly standard Hollywood drama. Mel Gibson's movie is graphic, violent and so controversial, no major studio would touch it (The Early Show, CBS)

Pop culture:


  • Christian booksellers, publishers meet | As Wal-Mart and Costco make inroads the smaller stores must learn to survive (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.)

  • Journalist: Christians poised to reshape China's future | Much depends on the country's burgeoning Christian minority, according to Jesus in Beijing, a clear-eyed, well-reported and thoroughly fascinating account, probably the best on this topic in many year (Associated Press)

  • Lessons from Jasper offer hope for healing | People are pleasantly surprised when they find out I'm an author whose book was featured for a few seconds on Oprah. It's only when they hear the title—Hate Crime: The Story of a Dragging in Jasper, Texas—that their faces twist into a familiar, uncomfortable expression (Joyce King, The Dallas Morning News)

  • How Movies Helped Save My Soul | Gareth Higgins's cutesie title might imply a book as a kind of primer for "finding God" in movies and therefore "salvation". But this turns out to be a bit of a gag at the expense of the self-help industry (Peter Galvin, The Sydney Morning Herald)

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  • Police arrest priest in Norton drug raid | Pastor charged with cultivating marijuana at rectory. Second man accused of trafficking; 35 plants seized (The Beacon Journal, Akron, Oh.)

  • Two Georgians accused of massive scam of churches | Federal prosecutors on Tuesday accused a North Georgia man, Abraham Kennard, of scamming more than 1,000 churches and hundreds of individuals in 41 states out of more than $8.7 million (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Dear God, don't let boss catch me nicking millions | Trial told of mum's prayer letters (Daily Record, Scotland)

  • Testimony begins in Ariz. bishop's trial | Prosecutors and defense lawyers agree that Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien was driving the car that was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident last summer. It'll be up to a jury to decide whether the 68-year-old former head of the Phoenix Roman Catholic Diocese knew that what he struck was a human being, and if he deliberately left the scene as the jaywalking pedestrian lay dying on a street (Associated Press)

  • Also: Witness says hit-and-run victim coughed | A pedestrian struck by Bishop Thomas O'Brien's car was bleeding heavily but still alive minutes after the hit-and-run, a woman testified Wednesday at the clergyman's trial (Associated Press)

  • A devastating scandal, a church trying to heal | David France traces the pedophilia scandal and cover-up that have embroiled the Roman Catholic Church in anguish and embarrassment (The New York Times)

  • Stench in the church | Former Minister of Transport accuses Christian leaders of condoning corruption (This Day, Lagos, Nigeria)

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Sunday, Sunday, Sunday:

  • Sunday services—are they really a thing of the past? | With businesses opening longer hours, 24 hour news and sports on television and the increased interest in DIY, is the Sunday Sabbath, traditionally a day for church, at risk of becoming obsolete? (Peterborough Evening Telegraph, Cambridgeshire, England)

  • Religion in the news: Church vs. marathon | Some churches in Frederick, Maryland, say street closures during last year's inaugural race reduced attendance at Sunday morning services by up to 25 percent (Associated Press)


Missions and ministry:

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  • Preaching to the choir - and to preachers | Popular evangelist Greg Laurie to teach, preach at pastors conference, mini crusade (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Quakers united in peace ideals | You won't see them walking around in 17th-century clothes any more, nor will you hear them addressing others with "thee" or "thou" (The New Zealand Herald)

  • Club mixes jazz and funk - and worship | McKinley Hailey started Spirit Groove in 2000 to create a worship option for young adults of the hip-hop and soul music cultures (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Troupe uses theater to spread faith | Corona's Christian Theatre Group performs religious dramas and musicals throughout Southern California (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.)

Church life:

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Church building issues:

  • City considers church expansion | The Naperville Plan Commission Wednesday reviewed a proposal to demolish Our Saviour's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Naperville to make way for a new 37,500-square-foot chapel with a gymnasium, a day-care center and a separate garage (Chicago Tribune)

  • Church makes case for center | Members of a Naperville congregation proposing a major construction project face an arduous task in converting nearby residents to their cause (The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • Church, town edge toward legal showdown | More negotiation on building project appears unlikely (Hamilton Wenham Chronicle)

Ecumenical and interfaith relations:

  • Synod to debate Pope's supremacy | The Church of England is being asked to take its biggest step towards accepting the primacy of the Pope and the concept of infallibility since Henry VIII broke from Rome 450 years ago (The Telegraph, London)

  • Vatican seeks religious unity in music | Jewish and Muslim clerics joined Pope John Paul II on Saturday for a concert aimed at encouraging reconciliation among faiths in a world torn by religious violence (Associated Press)

  • Minister couple don't find their differing faiths divisive | The Bramans say the secret to their happy interfaith marriage is being aware of each other's differences (The Free-Lance Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)

  • Heresy hunters strike again | In his article, "Ecumenical dialogue: Why bother?" (Up Front, January 2), Jonathan Rosenblum misrepresents my views (Irving 'Yitz' Greenberg, Jerusalem Post)

  • Cardinals, rabbis vow to fight anti-semitism | Cardinals and chief rabbis from around the world wrapped up the largest ever meeting in New York Tuesday between top Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders (Voice of America, audio)

  • In upper Manhattan, Talmudic scholars look up and find cardinals among the rabbis | A delegation of Roman Catholic cardinals from the United States and abroad visited Yeshiva University in upper Manhattan yesterday, taking a first-hand look at a bastion of American Jewish orthodoxy while on a two-day visit to strengthen Jewish-Catholic ties. (The New York Times)

  • Illuminating the Dark Ages | Robert Kilroy Silk's recent declaration that "we owe the Arabs nothing" revealed a blissfully cheerful ignorance of history - and of the English language (Robert Irwin, The Scotsman)

  • From Nazis to Schuller to Arabs | Former neo-Nazi leader Bill Baker now speaks on the Muslim circuit (OC Weekly, Calif.)

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Salvation Army:


  • Study says Old City most at risk in quake | A geological survey says the heart of biblical narrative — Jerusalem's walled Old City — would be among the worst hit parts of the city in the event of another earthquake because it rests on layers of debris, not solid rock (Associated Press)

  • A possible way to share Jerusalem | Sovereignty over this small and tightly defined area might be vested in three representatives, one from each faith (David Kitching, Ha'aretz, Tel Aviv)


  • UK charities exaggerated Africa crisis, says report | Some of Britain's leading international charities who tried to help southern Africa avoid a food crisis in 2002-03 overstated the seriousness of the situation to the public, failed to consult the people they were trying to help and did not listen to people's needs, according to an independent evaluation of the year-long emergency (The Guardian, London)

  • Pentecostals and realities of AIDS | The initiatives which are being undertaken by the Pentecostal churches in our people's fight against HIV/AIDS are highly welcome. And this is much more so because the Pentecostal churches were for a very long time seen as being in denial of the issue of HIV/AIDS due to the stigma associated with the disease (Editorial, The Post of Zambia)

  • Kenyans burdened by cost of honoring dead | Kenyan church and aid groups work to simplify elaborate burial rituals - but traditions run deep (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Earlier: Toppling Tradition? | Christian teachings conflict with tribal customs, national laws (Christianity Today, Sept. 6, 1999)


  • Orthodox leader tours new Cuban cathedral | Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I toured the new Byzantine cathedral that he will consecrate on Sunday, the purpose of his first visit to Latin America (Associated Press)

  • Church group denied Gitmo trip | The National Council of Churches, which helped Elián González's family, asked permission to provide interfaith spiritual solace to the terror suspects held in Cuba (The Miami Herald)


  • No one has a 'right' to be a priest | It is standard procedure for dioceses and seminaries to require a medical examination of candidates for the seminary. The extent of that examination varies from place to place. (Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Canada)

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  • It's not good enough for us | The dangers of clinging to a religion that denies knowledge and outlaws doubt (John K. Williams, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Christian meditation revived | Silent repetition of a mantra called a 'Jesus prayer' aids search for inner peace, priest says (The Montreal Gazette)

  • There's no solving mystery of Christ | What's the point of having a religious leader unless he lays down specific rules and regulations, someone who issues challenges instead of answers? (Andrew Greeley, Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Delayed apologies can still mend the soul | For more than a dozen years there have been a stream of apologies coming from religious organizations that for more than a century basically had ignored the institution of slavery and its effects on a large portion of the nation's citizens (Bob Ray Sanders, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

  • Witches beat out angels In U.S., Russian surveys | Russians are much less likely to believe in angels than Americans but more convinced that witches exist, a new survey indicates (The Moscow Times)

  • Afterlife on screen | Do 82% of Americans really imagine heaven as a leafy paradise with good roads, daily massages and other details tailor-made for journalistic derision? (Molly Haskell, The Guardian, London)

  • Christians, ditch the arrogance | Focus on embracing others (Issac J. Bailey, Press Enterprise, Bloomsburg, Pa.)

  • Love's okay, but hate keeps us together | People are shaped by their conflicts, defined by what they detest (Crispin Sartwell, Los Angeles Times)

  • Chinese New Year Dragon will dance in L.A.'s new cathedral | Ensemble will use the symbolic creature to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits in the year of the monkey (Los Angeles Times)

Other articles of interest:

  • Religion news in brief | Bishops' direct mail campaign against same-sex marriage, Pastors get four-week booking of Gibson's Jesus film in Great Falls, Jordanian experts fix bulge in wall at Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque, and other stories (Associated Press)

  • Religion news in brief | Christian Churches Together creates founding document, 'Mystic River,' 'Rings' make bishops' list, and post-surgery Graham plans revival for June (The Washington Post)

  • Dead man feared cannibalistic cult | Immigration officials doubt claim made by many Nigerian refugees (The Halifax Herald, Nova Scotia)

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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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