No commentary today, but there are many fascinating stories below. Check them out.

Birth control pills:

Unborn victims of violence:

  • Bush to sign fetus rights bill | President Bush, eager to hand another victory to the social conservatives who make up his most loyal base of political support, decided on an elaborate ceremony to sign into law legislation expanding legal rights of the unborn (Associated Press)

  • A tough loss for left in abortion war | When women's rights and prochoice groups opposed the law on the grounds that it would undermine the right to abortion (even though abortion is specifically exempted by the bill), their stance not only came across as callous but made them look like extreme ideological zealots (Cathy Young, The Boston Globe)

  • Face the fetus | It's time for abortion rights advocates to stop denying reality (William Saletan, Slate)


  • 'Unjust' shouts Lesley Martin after guilty verdict | In dramatic scenes inside the High Court at Wanganui, Martin, 40, burst into tears and there were loud gasps after a jury found her guilty of one charge, using a morphine overdose on her mother, Joy, and not guilty of the second charge, attempted murder by suffocating her with a pillow (The New Zealand Herald)

  • Brown hopes to resubmit euthanasia bill | The architect of legislation that would allow mercy killings said today he believed Lesley Martin should be discharged without conviction (The New Zealand Herald)

  • Euthanasia advocate faces jail for trying to kill mother | The euthanasia debate was reiginited yesterday when a New Zealand woman who gave a morphine overdose to her terminally ill mother was convicted of attempted murder (The Independent, London)

  • NZ euthanasia advocate faces jail | New Zealand's best known campaigner for voluntary euthanasia has been found guilty of the attempted murder of her terminally ill mother (BBC)


  • Judge asks doctor if fetus can feel pain | A doctor who performs abortions found himself quizzed by a federal judge about whether a fetus feels pain during a controversial abortion procedure and if the physician worries about that possibility (Associated Press)

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  • Teen seeks court OK to distribute antiabortion material at school | An eighth-grade girl wants a federal judge to decide whether she may distribute anti-abortion materials on school grounds after she says the Lee County School District barred her from doing so last year (Bonita Banner, Fla.)

  • Little deaths, great shame | There is no shame in pregnancy, only in the way women have often been treated. But the ultimate shame is in a society that finds solutions to the abortion dilemma too hard to solve (James Murray, The Australian)

Human rights:

  • Morality for sale | The Commission on Human Rights no longer can be counted on to "name and shame" even the most egregious violators (Joseph Loconte, The New York Times)

  • They dream of survival | In post-Hussein Iraq, many long-repressed dreams have resurfaced. For Assyrians, who have endured centuries of war and persecution, the goal is simple (Chicago Tribune)

  • Rwanda's religious reflections | Before the genocide more than 60% of Rwandans were Catholic. And when the killings started, tens of thousands of Tutsis fled to churches for sanctuary. But they found little protection there (BBC)

  • The blood of the lambs | Members of the Voice of the Martyrs Sneak into perilous regions to aid persecuted Christians. Not that they want the suffering to end (Los Angeles Times Magazine)

Church and state:

  • Church at odds with city | Institute wants council to approve zoning request, threatens suit (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Quakers, developer clash over meetinghouse project | Restoration, luxury-home proposals spark criticism (The Baltimore Sun)

  • Banned in Laguna | The City's Planning Commission Wednesday night denied an application by the Easter in Laguna Committee to hang an 18-foot "Psalms Banner" by Laguna artist Jeff LeFever in front of the Festival of Arts Grounds (Laguna Beach Independent, Ca.)

  • LA couple suing IRS to win deduction for religious school tuition | In their lawsuit, Michael and Marla Sklar of Los Angeles contend the IRS erred by disallowing their tax deduction while permitting Scientologists to write off the cost of spiritual counseling and instruction on that religion's tenets (Associated Press)

  • Bowing heads in silence of free speech? | Newport-Mesa leaders have made recent changes to the language allowed during invocations at the council meetings. Readers were asked if those changes limit free speech (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

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  • US opposes Oklahoma headscarf ban | The US justice department has filed a complaint on behalf of a Muslim girl who was twice sent home from school for wearing a headscarf (BBC)

  • Also: Berlin city bans headscarves | Following weeks of controversy over Islamic headscarves, municipal lawmakers Wednesday barred Berlin city employees from wearing "visible religious symbols" of any kind (DPA, Germany)


  • Mayor, ministers meet face-to-face | Both sides mum on 'productive' church meeting (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)

  • Taking a bet on gambling | Religion does not everywhere and always condemn gambling. But the preponderance of belief among faith communities is that gambling often is a social evil and should be resisted (Bill Tammeus, The Kansas City Star)

  • Study gives state a sermon on gas use | Pa. could save millions over 10 years by gradually replacing its fleet with more efficient vehicles, an interfaith group says (The Philadelphia Inquirer)


  • 'You must include non-believers' | Student leaders at Hull University have angered young Christians by telling them they must allow non-believers to join their committee (Hull Daily Mail, England)

  • Also: We do not believe this (The Sun, U.K.)

  • Testing the conscience of public servants | Thursday night's Westminster school board meeting has all the makings of a donnybrook (Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times)

  • Teachers will be punished for not singing anthem | The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education said Tuesday it will punish teachers at public high schools in the capital who refused to stand up and sing the "Kimigayo" national anthem at graduation ceremonies this month (The Japan Times)

  • Christians belong in public schools | When Jesus said "you are the light of the world," he certainly did not intend that we would hide that light under the bushel of an exclusive community (James L. Evans, Birmingham Post-Herald, Ala.)

Anti-Semitism in Europe:

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Middle East:

  • Vatican downplays opposition to Iraq war | A top Vatican official sought Wednesday to downplay the Vatican's opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq, saying it only objected to the means of disarming Saddam Hussein, not the ends (Associated Press)

  • People of faith crucial to finding peace in the Mideast | The fact that a Christian leader is speaking out against the assassination shows there is more than one Protestant voice in the Mideast (William McKenzie, The Dallas Morning News)

  • Hamas 'Passion' ploy | The new leader of the Hamas terror network offers this twisted rationale for sending children to their deaths as homicide bombers: He compares the baby bombers to Jesus Christ. (New York Post)

  • Christians clerics chide Muslim leaders | With uncharacteristic bluntness, top Christian clerics in Europe are criticizing Muslim leaders for not censuring suicide attacks unequivocally (UPI)

  • Apocalypse now | How a hologram, a blimp, and a massively multiplayer game could bring peace to the Holy Land (Wired)

  • Patriarch: Holy Land needs new leaders | Israelis and Palestinians need new leaders to end their bloody conflict, the top Roman Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, told The Associated Press on Monday (Associated Press)

  • Violence keeps some Jews, Christians from traveling to Holy Land | To explore the region that gives lifeblood to their religious beliefs, faithful Jews and Christians often consider whether they are willing to be exposed to possible violence in the tumultuous region (The Dallas Morning News)

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  • Missionaries' funeral is testament to faith | Larry Thomas Elliott and Jean Dover Elliott's favorite song, "Thank You," played in the background Thursday as their son, with a steady voice, shaped words to fit his parents' lives (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

Iraq missionaries:

Uganda missionaries:

Missions & ministry:

  • In hiring, mission not so inclusive | I appreciate the work City Union Mission performs. I simply despise its hiring policy (Steve Penn, The Kansas City Star)

  • Hiking accident in Peru fatal to California youth | Justin Spencer was part of a group of 10 adult sponsors and 30 other students (including his 14-year-old sister, Jillian) from Hilltop Christian School in Antioch, California, and Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy, helping to build four Peruvian Adventist churches (Adventist Review)

  • Church opens 24-hour shelter | Refuge for victims of domestic violence (The Washington Post)

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  • Faith groups urge bus bargainers to return to table | In an unprecedented move Wednesday, leaders representing millions of Minnesota's faithful urged opposing sides in the transit strike to return to the bargaining table and get the buses rolling again (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Pray and play | For Christian schools' teams, faith is reflected in conduct (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Crossed messages | Just in time for Easter is the story of a Washington state man willing to carry another person's burdens (Editorial, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wa.)

  • Evangelicals to join crowds on sidewalks | The street preachers will have some company at this weekend's general conference (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)


  • Royal splendor | There's a reason these hats are known as 'crowns' (Los Angeles Times Magazine)

  • Even in the darkest days, my hotline to God was never disconnected | Religions must embrace truth and rationality if they are to coexist with science (Michael Kirby, The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • My God had little passion for me | What kind of God would condemn whole nations and generations to an eternal life of suffering just because they did not believe the only way to salvation was through Jesus Christ? Or because they called their prophets by other names? (Max du Preez, The Star, South Africa)


  • Perfect post 'Passion' timing for 'Gospel of John' DVD | As Hollywood considers jumping on the Bible Bandwagon after Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," producer Garth H. Drabinsky is in the enviable position of launching "The Gospel of John's" DVD release April 6 (The Hollywood Reporter)

  • ITV head wants cut in religious output | The head of ITV has rejected claims from the Archbishop of Canterbury that Footballers' Wives is immoral and said that he wanted to cut the amount of religious programming on the network (The Times, London)

  • Earlier: Chief seeks to ease ITV's religious burden (The Guardian, Oct. 9, 2003)

  • Mind your language | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is probably right when he says that the greed, superficiality, treachery and adultery depicted in ITV's Footballers' Wives is a depressingly accurate parable of modern Britain. But it is only part of a far wider malaise afflicting British broadcasting - and far from the most serious offender (Andrew Neil, The Scotsman)

  • Wright, TBN link for Christian TV fare | Well-known artist manager Johnny Wright, who steers the careers of Justin Timberlake, 'N Sync, and Backstreet Boys, is getting into the Christian music business (Billboard)

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Left Behind:

Other books:

  • 'A voice from heaven we have heard' | In early America, sounds were the product of spiritual forces (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • She hath made a disturbance | By daring to preach and teach, Anne Hutchinson posed the first great threat to Puritan government in the New World (The Christian Science Monitor)


  • Sculptor has passion | Crafts 12-ft. crucifix for his church (New York Daily News)

  • Christian collectibles gaining in value | Christian-themed collectibles -- already in strong seasonal demand pre-Easter, and boosted by Mel Gibson's blockbuster movie "The Passion of The Christ" -- are gaining in long-term value (Reuters)

  • Long ago, magnificent skills inspired awe and reverence | "Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557)" is the third installment in a 30-year effort by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to define what was once the most powerful, wealthy, technologically advanced, and amazingly polyglot empire ever to exist (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.)

  • Leap of faith: Bishop building a sacred art museum here | Lutheran priest H. William Tajra, co-founder of the Paris-based nonprofit corporation The Order of St. Mary the Virgin of the Confession of Augsburg, has been here for a year and a half laying the groundwork for a museum of sacred art (St. Augustine Record, Fla.)


  • Blackwell challenges young Christians | Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell challenged a North Central Ohio Youth For Christ gathering at the Mansfield Commerce Center on Tuesday (News Journal, Mansfield, Oh.)

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  • Family sues church over son's death | A once devoted Catholic family is now speaking out, and suing over the death of their son. They think his suicide is linked to his abuse by a Kirkland priest (KOMO, Seattle, video)

  • New priests to be quizzed over sexual history | One of Australia's largest churches is vetting the sexual experience of members wishing to join its Sydney ministry in an eight-page questionnaire (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Also: Priests forced to reveal sexual past | Priests in Australia's largest Anglican diocese are being forced to fill out a detailed and highly personal questionnaire about their sexual history, including relationships outside marriage, as part of a crackdown on child abusers in the church (The Australian)

  • Also: Anglicans use questionnaire to weed out potential pedophiles | The eight-page document being given to prospective priests and those seeking to renew their licenses in the Sydney diocese, asks people about their sexual history, their relationships outside of marriage and whether or not they look at pornography (AM, Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Georgia voters to decide on gay marriage ban:

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Gay marriage:

  • Wedding march is more like race to altar | Gay couples besieged city and town clerks' offices yesterday with inquiries about how to seize what could be a brief legal opportunity to become married couples (Boston Herald)

  • Ministers stand firm on same-sex marriage | Heritage Alliance is part public-policy advocacy organization and part registered political action committee (Wakefield Observer, Ma.)

  • Rights for gay couples - but not marriage | Campaigners give mixed welcome to bill recognizing same-sex partnerships, claiming many disparities remain (The Guardian, London)

  • White House, counsel split on gay rights | Official had questioned antidiscrimination law (The Boston Globe)

  • Ministers' stance ignores equality | Last week, more than two dozen of my brethren black pastors in Atlanta publicly opted for the safety of status-quo bigotry, in lieu of confronting the nation's more pressing moral issues (Byron Williams, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Debate not on par with civil rights | Like most Americans, I believe that gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose, but they don't have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society. Especially since the age-old institution of marriage is not about discrimination (Dick Richardson, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

April Fools Day jokes:

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Other stories of interest:

  • Exorcist lite | Church of Scotland set to battle demonic forces (Daily Record, Glasgow)

  • Amish find refuge in Wisconsin | Faced with rising land prices, congestion in the East, families seek solitude in the dairy state (Chicago Tribune)

  • A season of passions | With Mel Gibson's movie in theaters, interest is high for the Crystal Cathedral's 21st annual 'Glory of Easter' (The Orange County Register, Ca.)

  • A middle ground | Leave "under God" in the pledge--and Howard Stern on the air (Alan Bromley, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Illinois offers apology to LDS church | The State of Illinois is officially apologizing to the LDS Church-- specifically for how early Mormons were forced out of the state and its first leader killed by a mob (KSL, Salt Lake City)

  • Senate mulls pro-marriage funds | Republicans and family groups said yesterday the Senate must approve the welfare reform re-authorization bill because it contains President Bush's plan to fund programs for building healthy marriages in low-income communities (The Washington Times)

Related Elsewhere:

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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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