Commentary returns tomorrow.

Attacks on Christians in Iraq :

  • Church leaders condemn `religious killing' of Kim Sun-il | Religious leaders on Thursday condemned the Iraq insurgent group responsible for the beheading of Kim Sun-il after it said Kim was murdered because he was Christian (The Korea Times)
  • Kim Sun-Il killing linked to religious activities? | The Tawhid wa al-Jihad (Unification and Holy War), an Iraqi insurgent group that kidnapped and murdered Kim Sun-il last month, posted a message on its web site indicating that the killing was linked to religious activities of Gana Trading Co., the company the late Kim worked for (The Chonsun Ilbo, South Korea)
  • Five liquor shops blown up | Attackers blew up five alcohol shops along a street in a Christian district of Baghdad overnight, the latest in a series of such strikes by suspected Muslim radicals (The Australian)

Federal Marriage Amendment (news):

  • Senators block initiative to ban same-sex unions | The Senate easily blocked an initiative that has been endorsed by President Bush and was a top priority of many of his socially conservative supporters (The New York Times)
  • Senate says no to marriage amendment | The measure, drafted to ban same-sex unions, fails in a procedural vote. The rebuff to Bush could have a bearing on the fall elections (Los Angeles Times)
  • Gay-marriage ban fails | Procedural vote scraps measure (The Denver Post)
  • Marriage amendment stopped | But homosexual "marriage" likely will continue to be a leading issue this election season (The Washington Times)
  • Over for now | Gay marriage sadly politicized (Editorial, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • Judges vs. marriage | Here's how things get done in modern America: You get the media and the judiciary on your side; they do the rest (William Murchison, The Washington Times)

Conservative reaction:

  • Christian groups say they won't give up | Amendment's religious supporters see long-term fight, plan to focus energy on state-level votes (The Washington Post)
  • Dobson disappointed about FMA Vote, but determined to fight on | Focus founder says defeat of marriage amendment just an 'opening salvo in a long battle' (Press release, Focus on the Family)
  • New GOP gay-ban tactics | Court powers could be taken away, says majority leader (The Hill, D.C.)
  • Gay marriage opponents pin hopes on House | Unable to ban gay marriage, congressional Republicans are working to contain it, advancing legislation in the House to make sure federal courts don't order states to recognize same-sex unions sanctioned outside their borders (Associated Press)
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  • Conservatives mobilize forces | Despite a political loss Wednesday in the U.S. Senate, conservative Christian groups opposed to gay marriage will seek a strategic victory by using the vote to motivate grassroots activists and voters this fall, pundits say (The Denver Post)
  • On the record | Amendment backers failed to muster the votes even to have a vote (World)

FMA and the election:

  • Ban on gay marriage fails | Senate vote on amendment is a defeat for Bush (The Washington Post)
  • Bush vows to pursue gay union ban | US President George W Bush says he will carry on trying to make homosexual marriages illegal in the United States (BBC, video)
  • Bush refines his position on a measure banning gay marriage | By hedging his position, President Bush may have insulated himself from the sting of the defeat of the proposed amendment (The New York Times)
  • Voters: What gay marriage issue? | Candidates across the Carolinas are using ads and stump speeches to debate same-sex marriage, but political experts say a majority of voters are more concerned about a candidate's stance on the economy than whether gays and lesbians should marry (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

Other issues of same-sex marriages and homosexuality:

  • Black & right | Although politically liberal, black Americans are almost uniformly opposed to homosexual marriage (Gene Edward Veith, World)
  • Takoma Park council backs same-sex unions | Symbolic vote is a first in Md. (The Washington Post)
  • European gay-union trends influence U.S. debate | Lawmakers look to other nations (USA Today)
  • Lutherans come out against gay unions | The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, meeting at the organization's 62nd convention in St. Louis, voted Tuesday to support a resolution affirming "marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman." (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)

Presidential election:

  • From Bush's bully pulpit, the church-state line must look blurry | I wonder whether Democrats will touch the issue of church and state in the presidential campaign. I think it's one of the most important issues of this election, even though it doesn't rank high on the radar screen (Jerry Fuchs, San Mateo County Times, Ca.)
  • As evangelical as an oak tree | There is only one way that Christians can possibly vote: That's exactly what Falwell was saying (Jim Wallis, Sojourners)
  • The value wars | This week's US Senate vote scuttling a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage marks a defeat for social conservatives. But one defeat does not mean victory for Democrats in the long-running war over cultural values in American politics (Financial Times)
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Other politics:

  • `Damned to hell' | He said/he said: Roy Moore vs Gorman Houston (The Birmingham News, Ala.)
  • Reason 51, bias 46 | It's just fine if a judicial nominee has religion, but not if he really believes all that stuff — or, even worse, acts on his beliefs (Paul Greenberg, The Washington Times)
  • Mixing prophecy and politics | Christian Zionists are growing in influence - even as they fight for policies their critics say work against peace in the Mideast. For these believers, it's all about fulfilling biblical prophecy (The Christian Science Monitor)

Church, state, and religious freedom:

  • Citizenship Commission bans free Bible distribution | The Canadian Bible Society's half-century-long tradition of offering Bibles as gifts to brand new Canadian citizens came to an end recently, when the Citizenship Commission of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) called a halt to the practice (ChristianWeek)
  • Earlier: Citizenship Bible distribution disallowed by court | The Canadian Bible Society is disappointed and strongly questioning the rationale behind a recent decision by Senior Citizenship Judge Michel Simard, removing the Society's ability to present bibles on request to new Canadians (Press release)
  • Diocese concerned over Anti Conversion Bill | The danger of this type of legislation which seeks to regulate something as personal as an individual's religion, is that it is invariably prone to abuse (Daily News, Sri Lanka)

Drama student doesn't have to curse:

  • Student, university settle f-word case | The University of Utah agreed Wednesday to let students opt out of activities that conflict with their religious beliefs, settling a lawsuit brought by a Mormon drama student who refused to recite lines that contained the f-word and took the Lord's name in vain (Associated Press)
  • U., Axson-Flynn settle civil rights suit | Planned policy at U. will accommodate religious beliefs (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)
  • University, former student settle lawsuit | Four years ago, Christina Axson-Flynn filed a federal lawsuit against the U.'s theater department claiming retaliation from professors when she refused to recite lines that contained swear words or took the Lord's name in vain (The Salt Lake Tribune, Ut.)

Sexual ethics:

  • Cohabiting couples told to beware of pitfalls | The £100,000 Government-funded campaign comes after new research showed widespread and damaging misconceptions about the law regarding living together (The Telegraph, London)
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  • Sex & The City Paper: Ads under fire | The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is criticizing the City Paper for running advertisements of a sexual nature on its back pages (WTAE, Pittsburgh)
  • 'Outing' of gay Capitol aides adds angst to same-sex marriage battle | Gay rights activists are divided over the "outing" of homosexual staffers of lawmakers who support the Federal Marriage Amendment (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Life ethics:

  • Asia's male tilt | Sex-selective abortions leave an unstable population (Editorial, The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Senate stem-cell hearing turns contentious | "Are you a member of a pro-life committee?" Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., asked a scientist who testified that adult stem cells work at least as well as embryonic stem cells in experimental treatments for some diseases (Associated Press)
  • House panel okays anti-abortion provision | A House committee gave abortion opponents a victory Wednesday, voting to making it easier for hospitals, health insurers and others to refuse to provide or cover abortions (Associated Press)

Social justice:

  • S. African churches condemn Zimbabwe abuse | The South African Council of Churches condemned violence and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe on Wednesday, and a top council leader said it was time other countries consider imposing sanctions (Associated Press)
  • Presbyterian Church (USA) okays divestment from Israel | But Vatican rips anti-Zionism (Forward)


  • AIDS experts cite African 'sugar daddies' | Many AIDS experts believe liaisons between married, middle-aged men and their clandestine lovers, age 14 to 20, help explain why teenage girls in southern Africa are five times more likely to be HIV-infected than teenage boys (Associated Press)
  • US AIDS chief urges more cooperation | Delegates protest federal policies at global gathering (The Boston Globe)
  • US defends abstinence policy amid uproar | The man charged with implementing George Bush's $15bn emergency plan to fight Aids yesterday embarked on a spirited defence of American policy, calling for his opponents to sink their differences with the US in the interests of global action against the disease (The Guardian, London)
  • MTV chief says Bush AIDS policies will not halt condom adverts | President promises to keep promoting condoms over abstinence (AFP)


  • Sudan foes in new bid for peace | Sudan's government is set to meet rebels from the Darfur region, in a bid to end the conflict described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis (BBC)
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  • US can help end Darfur genocide | The time is long overdue, but not too late, to stop the active genocide in Sudan. What can we do as Americans? (John Shattuck, The Boston Globe)

Gladys Staines leaving India:

  • Gladys Staines leaving India only 'for the time being' | Amidst inquiries as to whether she was returning to Australia "for good", sources at the Evangelical Missionary Society of Mayurbhanj said Gladys was accompanying her daughter Esther down under where she wanted to study medicine (PTI, India)
  • Widow of slain Australian missionary to leave India | Widow of slain Australian missionary to leave India (AFP)
  • Missionary's widow leaves India | Gladys Staines says she is tired and needs to rest (BBC)
  • Gladys Staines bids adieu to India | Gladys Staines, the widow of slain Australian missionary Graham Staines and the driving force behind the proposed referral hospital at Baripada in Orissa, is leaving the country "for the time being" (The Times of India)

Missions & ministry:

  • Using laughs to deliver the word | Hyattsville performer follows a call to Christian comedy (The Washington Post)
  • Over there | Couple answer call to serve in Kosovo (Cordova Appeal, Tenn.)
  • Time for sun, surf - and church? | Many find the pace of vacation perfect for spiritual renewal, say those who minister to the worshipers (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Heart & soul | Health ministers help nurture congregants physically, spiritually (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Church life:

  • Anglicans to debate women bishops | The Anglican Church of Australia has come a step closer to allowing women bishops, with the release of draft laws to be debated at the church's parliament in October (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Document sparks Lutheran debate | Infighting peaked among delegates at the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's international convention here Wednesday with groans from the assembly, admonishments from the floor and calls for amendments. The source of the conflict: a set of guidelines for participation in civic events (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • Clergymen rev up for Ga. stock-car race | Faster Pastor 2004 pulls preachers from the pulpit to the pole at Oglethorpe Speedway Park near Savannah (Associated Press)
  • Church wants to buy defunct plant | Evangelical group would buy state-funded seafood plant in Anchorage for half its original cost (Associated Press)
  • Hell in a hand basket | The Washington representative of a national Jewish organization is urging federal officials who attend the McLean Bible Church to distance themselves from the northern Virginia institution, which has launched a drive to convert Jews (Forward)
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  • Politicians eye religious powerhouse | Hillsong is fast becoming an emerging religious powerhouse in Australia, with thousands of recruits and some influential figures taking more than a passing interest (ABC, Australia)
  • Baptist church embraces its first female minister | Carol Seeley is the first woman to be ordained in the 100-year history of Heritage Baptist Church in Annapolis (The Washington Post)
  • Church says zoning change won't stop parish closing | Single-family designation set (The Boston Globe)
  • Shared faith brings two cultures together | At one point last month, Easter Lutheran Church pastor Jim Borgschatz unexpectedly found himself the proud owner of a Tanzanian goat that had been slated to be his dinner (South St. Paul Sun Current, Minn.)


  • Porn case could torpedo Austrian bishop | An official with the Archdiocese of Vienna urged the Vatican on Wednesday to oust a Roman Catholic bishop in charge of a seminary where candidates for the priesthood hoarded child pornography and photos of themselves kissing and fondling each other (Associated Press)
  • Church facing mega-suit | Hearing opens today on more than 150 sex-abuse cases (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Police: Catholic leaders impeding search for fugitive priest | International police say Catholic leaders in Central America are hindering their search for an admitted child-molester priest who has ties to a prominent papal candidate in Honduras (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Friar facing charges in Canada is at mission | Gerald Chumik, 69, who is accused of molesting a boy in the '70s, lives with Santa Barbara clerics (Los Angeles Times)


  • Film gets attention but it's the book that counts online | Hype surrounding expat New Zealand director Andrew Adamson's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe grew this week when the identities of the film's four young stars were revealed (The New Zealand Herald)
  • Passion won few converts, survey finds | One in six people, or 16 percent, said the film affected their religious beliefs, according to a telephone survey released this month by The Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif., firm that conducts scientific polls on Christian topics (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

Pop culture:

  • 'Risen' takes spiritual look at culture | With edgy artwork and articles about surfers, skaters, artists and movie stars, Risen fits right in with other pop-culture magazines aimed at young audience. Within those celebrity interviews, however, is something more than hype about a new album, trivia about careers and gossip about relationships. Each subject likely will be faced with a question about God (North County Times, San Diego)
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  • Amish not looking forward to new reality show | Two leaders of northern Indiana's Amish community say they are disappointed that a television network is going to air a reality show about Amish youth (Associated Press)

Other stories of interest:

  • Bones reveal chubby monks aplenty | Arthritis in knees, hips and fingertips showed that the often under-employed medieval monks were seriously obese (The Guardian, London)
  • Saving 'Merry Christmas' | It isn't exactly the season for "Jingle Bells" and Santa Claus, but one man is on a crusade to save Christmas anyway (Fox News)
  • Patient who died in airlift tragedy was free spirit | The tiny young woman with a Gothic look and connections to the occult kissed a cross and seemed to reconnect with her Christian past shortly before a helicopter crash took her life Tuesday (The State, Columbia, S.C.)
  • Turning the tables on Nigeria's e-mail conmen | Scambaiter fights back against those who send out the notorious 419 e-mails (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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