Four churches burned to the ground in northern Nigeria
Alhaji Ibrahim Adamu doesn't like Living Faith Church in Dutse, capital town of the northern Nigerian state of Jigawa. Nigerian newspapers report that two years ago he sued the church for "disturbing the neighborhood by its activities." The church claims that Adamu, apparently a young Muslim, has stolen from the church. Reuters reports that Adamu has been charged with trying to burn Living Faith down.

Yesterday, when Adamu reportedly refused to turn up for a court hearing, the judge ordered him arrested and denied him bail.

Muslim youth in the area didn't like this very much. "The miscreants were angered by the court ruling; they went around the town and burnt down four churches and one hotel," a police officer told Reuters.

The destroyed houses of worship include The Redeemed Christian Church, Calvary Church, and Living Faith Church. No one was killed, and there are so far no reports of injuries. There are also no arrests.

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China crackdown on church leaders warning of crackdown:

Other religious conflicts:

Religious freedom:

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Church and state:

  • N.C. judge requests religion-neutral oaths, courtrooms | James M. Honeycutt says courts are seeing increasing number of people who aren't necessarily Christian, says change would apply only to his sessions (Associated Press)

  • Group protests 'cover-up' | About 50 demonstrators rallied Thursday in Nashville, protesting the decision to cover a display of the Ten Commandments in the Nash County courthouse during Andre Edwards' murder trial (Rocky Mount Telegram, N.C.)

  • Faith is freedom's bulwark | Os Guinness on contours of a Christian worldview (The Washington Times)

  • Russian patriarch urges Christianity to be mentioned in EU constitution | Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexis II on Friday renewed his appeal for the future EU constitution to recognise Christianity as the basis of European culture. (EU Business, UK)

  • Jews rip 'church' parking proposal | Observant Jews whose beliefs bar them from driving to a synagogue are trying to put the brakes on a city councilman's proposal that would require many new houses of worship to provide off-street parking (New York Post)

Religion and politics:

  • Bush: I'm God's delivery boy | Bush's messianic militarism was on full display on March 11, when he addressed, via satellite, the National Association of Evangelicals Convention in Colorado Springs (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive)

  • The softer side of Ashcroft | Jeffrey Rosen, the author of "John Ashcroft's Permanent Campaign" (April Atlantic), argues that it is not social conservatism but a quest for popular approval that drives John Ashcroft's public life (The Atlantic Monthly)

  • When theory met practice | Aristide's "liberation theology" became Haiti's problem (Robert A. Sirico, The Wall Street Journal)

African church/state dilemmas:

  • Christians in protest against Kadhis courts | Traffic came to a standstill in the Nairobi Central Business District yesterday as Christians made a historic public demonstration against Kadhis' courts (The East African Standard, Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Church urges Zim talks | Church leaders in Zimbabwe have renewed their attempts to initiate negotiations between the ruling Zanu-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change (News24, South Africa)

  • Row over Zuma's Jesus comment continues | Deputy president Jacob Zuma said the ANC would "rule South Africa until Jesus comes back" (SAPA, South Africa)

  • ANC defends 'Jesus' remark | ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama said: "These parties have deliberately misrepresented Zuma's use of a common colloquialism to stir up emotions among those voters who belong to the Christian faith" (SAPA, South Africa)

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'Under God':

  • Under God or not under God | What effect do you think the inclusion of "under God" has on the children who are saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and would you expect its removal to adversely change children's ideas about God? Religious leaders respond (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

  • Custody case colors Pledge battle | Michael Newdow denounces the "ethically, morally and legally bankrupt" family courts that have restricted his visits with the girl to two weekends a month (USA Today)


Higher education:

Faith-based initiative:

  • Senators eye end run on charity bill foes | Frustrated by what they say are Democrats' blocking final passage of a small piece of President Bush's original faith-based charity initiative, two key senators have a new strategy of trying to attach the bill to an unrelated tax measure (The Washington Times)

  • Jim Towey speaks | The director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives says the program "has been an unheralded success story" (The Christian Science Monitor)

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Missions and ministry:

Ministry in Iraq:

Faith-based prison ministry:

  • Florida puts felons in God's big house | Lawtey Correctional Institute is staffed by more than 500 volunteers from religious groups, most of them Protestant ministries, who provide daily worship services and prayer-based rehabilitation (Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Prison operator, ministry teaming up | A voluntary program, developed by the Corrections Corporation of America and the Chicago-based Institute in Basic Life Principles, is designed to help inmates who seek spiritual guidance as they try to change their lives (The Washington Times)

  • Ex-con goes from killing to Christ | Prison gang left behind (The Arizona Republic)


  • Men behave badly but women pay the price | Women, young or old, know that abortion is a serious decision. They also know that sometimes, given the circumstances, it is the only moral one (Leslie Cannold, The Australian)

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Religion and science:

  • Bible on the brain | MU psychiatrist's book investigates effects of religion on psyche (Columbia Daily Tribune, Mo.)

  • Award for a science of optimism | At the heart of George Ellis's alternative cosmological view is the principle of kenosis, or self-sacrificing love — a force he contends is permanently embedded in the universe, and capable of inspiring humanity to reach ever higher (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Seeing pessimism, not science, as the enemy | Dr. Wise Young lauds embryonic stem cell research as revolutionary, holding out hope for a cure for spinal cord injuries (The New York Times)


USA Today Jack Kelly report:

  • Ex-USA Today reporter faked major stories | Seven weeks into an examination of former USA Today reporter Jack Kelley's work, a team of journalists has found strong evidence that Kelley fabricated substantial portions of at least eight major stories, lifted nearly two dozen quotes or other material from competing publications, lied in speeches he gave for the newspaper and conspired to mislead those investigating his work (USA Today)

  • Woman who died in Cuba story alive in USA | Cuba story, reprinted months later in Reader's Digest, was a lie from start to finish, an examination of Kelley's work shows (USA Today)

  • Unbelievable timing, incredible account | Perhaps the most riveting story Jack Kelley wrote for USA Today involved a suicide bombing in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2001 — a bombing Kelley says he witnessed (USA Today)

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  • Christian radio, NPR battle for signals | One morning last month, WJTM-FM began the day with its usual fare of Christian preaching and prayer. But that afternoon, the programming changed to something that some longtime listeners find offensive — National Public Radio (Associated Press)

  • Best- and worst-selling covers for weekly and biweekly magazines | God is in (Passion will be). "Idol" (and Saddam Hussein) is out (min: Media Industry Newsletter)

  • The age of reverence | Once upon a time in nostalgia land, everybody was good and God-fearing. More recently, the fad has been all things irreverent. But is that changing, and what impact is religion having on our popular discourse? (Benyamin Cohen, Jewsweek)



  • God's lonely man | Johnny Cash was a Christian who didn't cast stones, a patriot who wasn't a bully (The Atlantic Monthly)

  • Switchfoot's frontman has faith in his ability | Jon Foreman, singer-guitarist and chief songwriter for Switchfoot, won't be satisfied writing songs that merely entertain or make their mark on the rock charts (The Daily Herald, Everett, Wash.)

  • Goodbye, Babylon | A new collection of old-timey gospel music shows everything that's right about praising God and everything that's wrong with the contemporary Christian music scene (Matt Labash, The Weekly Standard)

  • Vince Redhouse jazzes up the Native American flute | Many musicians talk about the spiritual side of their music, but for Navajo flute player Vince Redhouse, the religious connection is more direct. He put his music career on hold for 10 years to work as an evangelical preacher (Voice of America, audio)

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  • God & country music | Songs strike a chord with 'redneck theology' view of life (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


  • State steps up to defend the Amish | Politicians rallied to get UPN to cancel a reality TV show, 'Amish in the City' (York Daily Record, Pa.)

  • Hillsong on TV | When was it that Christians became virtually indistinguishable from cool people? (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Board stamps KOCE 'sold' | The winning bidder, a group of O.C. business and civic leaders, has financial, legal hurdles (Los Angeles Times)


  • The passion behind the light | There is a monkish quality to the day of the projectionist showing The Passion of the Christ and other films (The New York Times)

  • Blessed are the filmmakers | Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is on the path to earn a miraculous $400-million and has turned other movie execs into believers (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Making the Gospels rock | Religious-themed theater sees popularity explosion (The Express-Times, Bethlehem, Pa.)

The Passion:

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  • Passion players | Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ finally hits our screens next week. If you want to worship, go to church, not the movies, says David Mamet - while three clerics reveal their reactions to the film (The Guardian, London)

  • 'Passion' earns some big bucks for Gibson | What would Jesus do with that pile of cash? (George Thomas, The Beacon Journal, Akron, Oh.)

  • Passion's predecessor | Forget Abe Foxman. Believe it or not, Christians killed the Passion the first time it came to the U.S. stage in 1879 (Edna Nahshon, The Forward/Jewsweek)


  • 'Passion' not fueling anti-Semitism | Not only is "The Passion" not producing the much-feared anti-Semitic backlash, it has actually created an empathy for Jews, according to a poll released by the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research (The Washington Times)

  • It's Gibson, not the gospels | Gibson's film about the last 12 hours of Jesus's life could well stir up something that is potentially more poisonous to the relationship between followers of Christianity and Judaism: a revival of baseless libels against both religions (Colbert I. King, The Washington Post)

  • Dictionary urged to delete 'false' definition of anti-Semitism | Merriam-Webster lists, as one of the meanings of anti-Semitism, "opposition to Zionism: sympathy with opponents of the state of Israel" (The Washington Post)

  • Jew vs. Jew vs. Mel | Have Jewish critics of The Passion of the Christ actually fueled new anti-Semitism? (Nat Hentoff, The Village Voice)

Jewish/Christian relations:

  • Jewish Americans wary of Bush evangelical base | Jewish leaders say President Bush's gains among heavily Democratic Jewish voters for his support of Israel and the Iraq war could be offset by policy initiatives influenced by evangelical Christians, who many Jews think are anti-Semitic despite their support of Israel (The Washington Times)

  • A new swing vote | Alliance of Jews & evangelicals could tip the election (Zev Chafets, New York Daily News)

  • The Christians in Europe to the rescue | A meeting in Jerusalem was only one facet of the vast network of ties worldwide the Israeli right is establishing with Christian supporters of Israel (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)

Church life:

  • Pastor behind 'Jews killed Jesus' sign to retire | But Maurice Gordon says his sudden resignation announcement has nothing do with the uproar enveloping his flock and everything to do with the march of time and orderly succession (The Denver Post)

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  • All dogs go to heaven? | On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported what may be the latest front in the modern-day wars of religion: the rise of Holy Communion for pets (The Boston Globe)

  • For Trinity parish, a new rector | Church became a sanctuary for rescuers and those who worked to clean up the World Trade Center site after Sept. 11, 2001 (The New York Times)

  • Pittsburgh church recalls 2 fire victims | day after a church fire killed two firefighters, injured dozens more and left a congregation without its spiritual home, the pastor promised his parishioners they would "rise out of the ashes (Associated Press)

  • Outdoor church going to court in land fight | Huntington Beach cites zoning rules as Praise Christian seeks approval for indoor quarters (Los Angeles Times)

  • Clapping to the beat of success | Numbers of worshippers have more than doubled just six months after Leominster New Life Community Church in Herefordshire changed venues and now the unorthodox congregation is looking to build its own £500,000 church (BBC)

  • Mainstream churches take a leap of faith into TV advertising | There's a new kind of preaching on television. But this time the preachers are seeking their own salvation (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Evicted bishop on hunger strike | A gospel church bishop has gone on hunger strike in protest against the repossession of his church building (BBC)

Churches and tax issues:

  • PAC's fund-raiser at church draws tax complaint | A religious liberty watchdog group accused the Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin on Friday of violating Internal Revenue Service rules by allowing the Legacy Political Action Committee to hold a fund-raiser in its sanctuary (Associated Press)

  • Churches receive £10m VAT windfall | British churches were handed a £10m tax windfall yesterday when they were granted a significant increase in VAT relief on building repairs (The Independent, London)

Italian police force church to accept priest:


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  • A 'saint' of last resort | In Mexico, growing numbers of the poor and desperate—even the criminal—seek La Santa Muerte's help (Los Angeles Times)

  • Leo and John Paul are like brothers | Pope Leo XIII and Pope John Paul II are like brothers across the century, the two principal figures marking an extraordinary period of papal engagement with the modern world (Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Canada)

  • Church attack 'not sectarian' | An attack on a Catholic church in County Tyrone is not believed to have been sectarian, police have said (BBC)

  • Archbishop of Westminster urges Vatican reform | Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor also urged the world's largest church to show more humility with its own flock and take more risks in seeking understanding and unity with other Christians (Reuters)

  • Is lottery what Jesus would have done? | An apartment lottery run by the Diocese of Palm Beach seems to be both fair and ethically questionable. Such contradictions often define the human dilemma (Steve Gushee, Palm Beach Post)

Southern Baptist Convention:

  • Baptist group denied space | Southern Baptist Convention officials have decided not to provide exhibit space to the Baptist World Alliance during their annual meeting in June, when the denomination is expected to formally break ties with the global group (Religion News Service)

  • Southern Baptists continue name game | Readers submit their choices on new moniker for Nashville-based group (The Tennesean, Nashville)

Welsh diocese seeks bishop:

Episcopalians and Anglicans:

  • Conservative bishops defy Episcopal Church | In what the Episcopal Church called a troubling move, six congregations took a stand against the appointment of an openly gay bishop by participating in a confirmation service with conservative bishops who did not have permission from the Diocese of Ohio (Associated Press)

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  • Bishops to discuss gay ordination | Episcopal retreat held in Navasota; some conservatives to boycott (Houston Chronicle)

  • Also: Episcopal Church bishops meet amid tension | The Episcopal Church's bishops begin a closed-door meeting Friday in Texas, where they'll try to quiet the discord that has torn at the denomination since the consecration of an openly gay bishop (Associated Press)

  • Lion on a leash | Comforting traditions make the Church of England seem safe while its leaders drift into apostasy (Janie B. Chaney, World)

Lesbian Methodist minister trial:

Sexual ethics:


  • A plea to foster families: Keep Muslims Muslim | The idea of foster care by unrelated guardians is unfamiliar to some ethnic groups, and one result is that when Muslim children, for example, do enter the foster care system, they are likely to go to homes that are unfamiliar with Islam (The New York Times)

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  • Married parents offer financial advantages | Children of all races and ethnic groups who live in homes with married parents are less likely to live in poverty, new census data show (The Washington Times)

  • Open season | With modern society's shifting moral codes, more Australian couples are opting for open marriages. Is it innately destructive, or the way of the future? (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

Gay marriage:

  • Is the end of the family near? | Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson says it could be if homosexual marriage is legalized. (Family News in Focus, Focus on the Family)

  • Now Portland is gay-marriage capital | For at least this week, Portland is the place to go for marriage-minded gay couples (The Washington Post)

  • Tenn. county retreats from gay ban | The county that was the site of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" over the teaching of evolution Thursday reversed its call to ban homosexuals (Associated Press)

  • San Francisco perseveres on gay marriage | City officials asked the California Supreme Court on Thursday to allow the resumption of gay marriages (Associated Press)

  • Lawmaker seeks to impeach judge on homophobia ruling | A state lawmaker wants to impeach a Denver judge who ordered a former lesbian not to teach her child anything homophobic, a decision that critics of judicial activism say is more troubling than recent court rulings supporting gay marriage (Associated Press)

  • For children of gays, marriage brings joy | The 2000 census reported that 594,000 households in the United States were headed by same-sex partners, a figured considered by some experts to be conservative. Of those, about 33 percent of lesbian couples reported having children 18 years old or under, while 22 percent of male couples did (The New York Times)

  • City hall steps: pulpit, and now an altar | A rabbi and an Episcopal minister defied state law yesterday to perform three same-sex marriage ceremonies on the City Hall steps, but the Manhattan district attorney declined to file any charges (The New York Times)

  • Crocodile tears | Advocates of homosexual marriage only strategically lament the decline of traditional marriage (Joel Belz, World)

  • Constitutional ploy/Nonsense about gay marriage | There's only one reason to hack into the Constitution to forbid gay marriage: to emphasize that this society simply doesn't consider gay men and lesbians to be full-fledged citizens (Editorial, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

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  • Spain will legalize gay 'marriages'—Zapatero | Spain will legalize gay unions, although it may not call them marriages, incoming prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Thursday, but he did not set a time-frame for the move (Reuters)

  • Spain 'to approve gay marriages' | Spanish Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero says he is in favour of allowing same-sex marriages (BBC)

  • De profundis | The following is the prayer, said on Monday for the victims of the terrorist attack in Madrid, by Javier Ruperez, Spain's ambassador to the U.S., at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington (The Wall Street Journal)

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