President Bush addressed the annual conference of the National Association of Evangelicals yesterday, touting his record on issues close to the hearts of attendees.

I have been proud to sign the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act and legislation supporting maternity group homes. I strongly support the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and call upon the United States Congress to send it to my desk. I oppose the use of federal funds for the destruction of human embryos for stem cell research. I will work with Congress to pass a comprehensive and effective ban on human cloning.

The President also praised the work of faith-based social services, committing his administration to "rallying the armies of compassion in America." He said, "All of you know the power of faith to transform lives, you're answering the call to love and to serve your neighbor. Our laws should welcome and encourage your good works. We should never discriminate against faith-based charities."

Bush's emphasized his faith-informed "doctrine" to rid the globe of terror, fight AIDS in Africa, and spread democracy and freedom. "I'm fortunate enough to be President during a time in which our country holds great influence in the world, and I feel that we must use that influence for great purpose. When we see disease, and starvation, and hopeless poverty, we must not turn away."

More pressing to the President are domestic issues, as the presidential election nears. Bush promised to fight judicial challenges to the partial-birth abortion ban and assaults on marriage and highlighted his appointment of judges who will not "legislate from the bench." The President also promised to "defend the sanctity of marriage." Conservatives have been criticizing "judicial activism" that forced gay marriages in Massachusetts and blocked enforcement of the partial-birth abortion ban.

Such stances have infuriated Democrats, but many pundits say it's part of an election plan to get out the vote of a supposed 4 million evangelicals who did not vote in 2000. According to an AP report, it seems to be working. Rev. Tim Ralph, said, "I think he's addressing the issues dear to the heart of every evangelical pastor in this country. I just love the man. He's been a breath of fresh air in our presidency."

Other pastors agreed. "In my lifetime, I can't remember a president who has spoken out so clearly on Christian values," said Ted Welch, a 57-year-old minister for the First Christian Church in Panhandle, Texas, according to the AP report. "This election, these things he's speaking out on could kill him—and I respect that."

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Welch's wife worried that Bush just may lose the election, but she tries not to think about it, she said. Besides, "We lived through Clinton," she said. "We can live through anyone."

California Supreme Court orders halt to same-sex marriages in San Francisco
A month after San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom began issuing same-sex marriage licenses and two weeks conservative groups challenged the action in court, California's Supreme Court told the mayor to quit it. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer also asked court to rule on the case.

4,200 marriage licenses have been issued, setting off several other municipalities across the country to begin issuing such licenses as well. However, the court did not address the legality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage. It will hear further arguments in May or June.

Massachusetts advances same-sex marriage ban

Massachusetts lawmakers passed a proposed amendment to the state's constitution that would ban same-sex marriage in the state, but would create civil unions. Ironically, conservatives and gay marriage proponents have opposed the measure. Conservatives are opposed to civil unions, while gay marriage backers are unwilling to give up the "marriages" that the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court has already given them.

The amendment faces another vote March 29, then another next year before being brought to voters in 2006. Should the amendment pass two years from now, there is no decision on how to address the likely thousands of same-sex marriage that will begin being issued on May 17.

Bush speaks to National Association of Evangelicals:

  • Bush denounces gay marriage in address to evangelical Christians | President Bush told evangelical Christians what they wanted to hear Thursday, ticking off highlights of his "compassionate conservative" agenda, including halting late-term abortions and banning gay marriage. (The Advocate, gay magazine)

  • Bush tells evangelicals he will fight gay marriage | President Bush on Thursday sought to solidify his standing with evangelical Christians by restating support for a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage as part of his championship of conservative causes. Bush, himself a born-again Christian, told the National Association of Evangelicals Convention in Colorado via satellite from the White House. (Reuters)

  • Bush highlights record in talk to evangelical Christians | President Bush told evangelical Christians what they wanted to hear Thursday, ticking off highlights of his "compassionate conservative" agenda, from halting late-term abortions to banning gay marriage. (USA Today)

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  • Bush tells evangelicals he will fight gay marriage | President Bush on Thursday sought to solidify his standing with evangelical Christians by restating support for a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage as part of his championship of conservative causes. (Reuters)

Mass. gay marriage amendment:

  • Massachusetts Nears Same-Sex Marriage Ban | The Massachusetts Legislature moved closer Thursday to adopting a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage and establish civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Gay marriage ban wins preliminary approval in Mass.; Calif. court blocks gay marriages | Massachusetts lawmakers gave preliminary approval Thursday to a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage but allow civil unions. (Associated Press)

  • Mass. legislators ok gay marriage amendment | Massachusetts lawmakers gave preliminary approval Thursday to a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage but allow civil unions. (Associated Press)

  • Gay Marriage Stalls in Calif., Mass. | The California Supreme Court halted gay weddings in San Francisco for at least a few months while it decides whether they are legal, prompting some disappointed couples to leave City Hall in tears. (Associated Press)

  • Marriage Ban Clears Hurdle | A small contingent of Harvard students joined thousands of demonstrators on Boston Common yesterday as the State Legislature granted preliminary approval to a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. (Harvard Crimson)

  • Same-sex spotlight on Massachusetts | The gay-marriage debate has roiled in states and cities from California to tiny New Palz, New York, but none with as much at stake as Massachusetts, the first state whose highest court has ruled that gays have a consitutional right to wed. (Associated Press)

  • Religious leaders line up on opposite sides | As the battle for and against an amendment to the state constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriage plays out today, God, it would seem, falls squarely on one side or the other. (Boston Herald)

  • Massachussets marriage debate draws crowds | From as far away as Florida and California, thousands of demonstrators converged on the Massachusetts Statehouse today, as legislators prepared to resume debate on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. (Los Angeles Times)

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  • Massachusetts legislature reconvenes to consider gay marriage ban | Amendment Supporters Claim to Have Votes to Pass 'Compromise' (Washington Post)

  • Showdown In Massachusetts | A joint session of the Massachusetts House and Senate is underway to consider an amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. It is the second time in four weeks that legislators have taken up the issue. (

  • Massachusetts legislators to try again on gay marriage ban | Massachusetts legislators were to meet today in a second attempt to pass a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriages and creating civil unions, after a marathon two-day meeting on the issue ended in deadlock a month ago. (New York Times)

  • Same-sex marriage ban gains support | Momentum building for civil union compromise (New Bedford Standard, Mass.)

  • Gay marriage: Minorities may hold balance of power | The fate of Massachusetts' gay marriage debate today could hinge on two of Beacon Hill's normally powerless ideological minorities, who suddenly find themselves with an unexpectedly strong voice in a deeply splintered Legislature. (Associated Press)

  • Gay-marriage spotlight turns on Mass. | As hundreds of advocates prayed, chanted and sang outside, Massachusetts lawmakers reconvened Thursday to consider a ban on gay marriage in a debate that has been overtaken by a flurry of same-sex weddings around the country in recent weeks. (Associated Press)

California gay marriages stopped:

  • California court blocks gay marriages | The California Supreme Court on Thursday night ordered officials in San Francisco to immediately stop granting same-sex marriage licences, delivering a blow to gay rights advocates in the United States. (Mail & Guardian, South Africa)

  • Court calls off same-sex 'weddings' | California's high court yesterday ended San Francisco's monthlong wedding party when it ordered city officials to stop issuing "marriage" licenses to same-sex couples immediately. (Washington Times)

  • California court blocks gay marriages | The California supreme court last night ordered officials in San Francisco to immediately stop granting same-sex marriage licences, delivering a blow to gay rights advocates in the United States. (The Guardian, London)

  • California Supreme Court orders halt to same-sex marriages | California's Supreme Court ordered San Francisco on Thursday to halt the same-sex marriages that have taken place for nearly a month pending further legal review of the issue. (New Zealand Herald)

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In Wisconsin:

  • Senate takes up gay-marriage ban | As part of what evolved into an all-night session, the state Senate planned to take up the constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage late Wednesday night but did not cast their votes on the resolution by press time. (Badger Herald, Wisc.)

  • State Senate poised to pass ban on gay marriage | As the Wisconsin Senate was poised late Thursday to pass a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, tremors from the continually shifting national debate on gay marriage were felt in California and Massachusetts. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

  • Ban on gay marriage nears vote | The state Senate was poised early today to approve a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, completing what would be the first in a three-step process to amend the state's charter. (Wisconsin State Journal)

In Maine:

  • Political buzz comes back to sting Heath | Ten short days ago, he could do no wrong. Surrounded by hundreds of fervent supporters on the steps outside the State House, Michael Heath was witty and charming and, dare we say, intoxicated by the applause that washed over his every utterance on the perils of same-sex marriage. (Press Herald, Maine)

In Virginia:

  • Va. backs wider gay-marriage ban | Reacting to a surge of gay marriages in New York, California and other states, Virginia lawmakers on Wednesday moved to tighten the state's ban on gay marriage and strip same-sex couples of legal rights they might gain from out-of-state unions. (The Virginian-Pilot)

In Michigan:

  • Divided House says no to gay marriage ban | Following a passionate prelude of arguments offered on both sides of the gay marriage issue, the House failed to muster the votes needed to put a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot. (Booth Newspapers, Mich.)

  • Gay-marriage ban fizzles in Michigan | Amendment vote fails, but backers say they may do petition drive (Detroit Free Press)

In Deleware:

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  • Delaware watchful as gay marraige debate unfolds | While the Delaware General Assembly continues to struggle on whether to pass HB 99, an anti-discrimination bill that would afford gays the same protection as heterosexuals when it comes to housing and employment, a much larger issue looms on the horizon - gay marriage. (Cape Gazette)

In Connecticut:

  • Anti-gay marriage group launches campaign | A Connecticut group opposed to gay marriage is launching a media campaign to encourage state residents to define marriage as a union only between a man and woman. (New Haven Register, Conn.)

In Washington State:

More gay marriage:

  • Real question is what is marriage? | With same-sex couples lining up to be married in San Francisco and Seattle, the debate seems to be all about gender. Is marriage, by definition, the union of a man and a woman? That's the real question. And the truth is that it has been up for grabs for some time. (Anthony B. Robinson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • Civil right or morally wrong? | Local congregations wrestling with same-sex marriage issue (The Express-Times, New Jersey)

  • Couple marries as judges debate | Allen and her partner, Pam Wright, 49, sealed their union with a kiss Thursday afternoon at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco. The College Hill couple is among the first from Cincinnati to be married in a recent flurry of same-sex unions across the country. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

  • Heated campaign issue puts Kerry on hot seat | Gay marriage is fast becoming Sen. John F. Kerry's campaign albatross, with a firm stance on either side threatening a swath of voters that could cost him the election. (Boston Herald)

  • Political Trump Card | Poll: Voters Side With Bush in Same-Sex Marriage Debate (ABC News)

  • We must fully realize promise of equality | Today as never before, America faces the prospect of realizing its constitutional promise that all its citizens are created equal, with the same inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Specifically, we have the promise of those rights to one of the most disenfranchised segments of our society: women and men of same-sex orientation. (Rev. Dr. Wayne Robinson, The News-Press, Florida)

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Christian Civic League of Maine looks for gays:

  • Heath enrages Augusta | The head of the Christian Civic League of Maine apologized Wednesday for using the group's Web site to solicit information about the sexual orientation of lawmakers and other state officials. (Press Herald, Maine)

  • Maine Christian League prepares 'out' hit list | The group said they plan to write about the sexual orientation of "state leaders" on the group's Web site in the months ahead, to expose "the leaders among us who want to overturn marriage, eliminate the mother/father family as the ideal." (The Gay Financial Network)

Chile files for divorce:

  • Chile defies church and legalises divorce | Couples eager to end their marriages breathed a sign of relief in Chile yesterday as the lower house of Congress approved a bill to legalise divorce. (The Guardian, London)

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  • Kidman Narnia rumours denied | The company behind the big-screen version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe has denied that Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman is to play a starring role in its film. (The Guardian, London)

  • Scorsese's Christ film reaches Mexico 16 years later | As debate rages worldwide over Mel Gibson's ``The Passion of the Christ,'' Mexico is just coming to grips with a Martin Scorsese crucifixion film banned here since its release in 1988. (Reuters)


  • Render unto Mel the profits that are Mel's | Gibson stands to make a lot of money from controversial movie. Saviour for Hollywood at box office may change biz (Toronto Star)

  • 'Passion's' Jewish actors sound off | Mincer, who grew up in Poland and now lives in Rome, was one of several Jews in the cast and crew of "The Passion," which garnered record box-office receipts when it opened last month in the United States. It is now opening across Europe. (Jewish Times, Maryland)

  • Polish passion for Gibson's film | Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ is so in demand in the Pope's native Poland that touts are selling tickets at twice the face value. (BBC)

  • The Passion | A Messianic Jew looks at "The Passion of the Christ"

  • Gibson could make $200 mil off 'Passion' | Filmmaker financed film himself, reaps profits (CNN)

  • Legal action urged against Mel Gibson film | A Jewish advocacy group has asked the US Justice Department to "utilise civil, criminal and federal hate crime laws" against Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ. (The Age, Australia)

  • Mel Gibson's Passion movie raises concerns in Germany ahead of release | Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ movie is raising concerns among prominent church and cultural leaders in Germany ahead of its release. They said Thursday they were worried about the violent portrayal of Jesus Christ's final hours in the film, while a former Jewish leader described it as anti-Semitic. (Associated Press)

  • The Passion and Zionism | After watching "The Passion of Christ," I thought both Gibson and his critics are wrong. Jesus did walk this earth but what exactly did he say and what happened to him may or may not be correctly recorded in the Gospels we use today, let alone in Gibson's film. (Mazin Qumsiyeh, Aljazeerah)

  • 'Passion' director may choose from biblical battles for next project | With record box-office receipts for "The Passion of the Christ" rolling in, now might be the time to ask: What will Mel Gibson do for an encore? (The Orlando Sentinel)

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  • Vatican urging respect for Jews | The Vatican issued instructions for bishops Tuesday that included a reminder that Jews should be treated with respect as "elder brothers" to avert anti-Semitism and that priests should be properly educated about the Jewish religion. (Chicago Tribune)

  • Hundreds turn out to wipe out hatred | About 300 people of different faiths turned out to clean a synagogue vandalized with swastikas and Nazi symbols on the eve of the Jewish holiday Purim. (Chicago Tribune)

  • New poll: Few Christians blame Jews for death of Jesus | An online survey conducted by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews found that only 1.7 percent of nearly 2,500 respondents said they believe Jews are to be responsible for the death of Jesus. The survey of IFCJ's registered website users found that 84 percent of respondents held "mankind" responsible for Jesus' death, according to president and CEO, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. (Religion News Service)


  • One Palestinian's 'Brain Change' | A former terrorist repents and discusses his metamorphosis on six-city speaking tour. (New York Jewish Week)

  • 'Act of religious intolerance' | Zanzibar - Arsonists set fire to a Roman Catholic Church in central Zanzibar, burning chairs and chests filled with clothes in "an act of religious intolerance," a police official said. (News24, South Africa)

  • In the name of God | Religion produces the best and the worst in people, depending on time and circumstance. It has been used for good, prompting people to build schools, hospitals, and cathedrals - institutions of excellence. But is has also been used to destroy through sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing. (Bode Olakanmi, The Daily Iowan)

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US to grant asylum to abused women:

  • Ashcroft weighs granting of asylum to abused women | The first hint of change came without much fanfare or publicity last month as the Department of Homeland Security quietly proposed sweeping changes in the handling of political asylum cases. But as word trickled across the country, dozens of battered women seeking refuge in the United States felt the first stirrings of hope. (New York Times)

  • Groups support bid for asylum | Legal briefs submitted to Attorney General John Ashcroft by immigration and human rights groups calling for the granting of political asylum to women who are the victims of severe domestic abuse in their home countries remain under consideration. (Washington Times)


  • BJP abandons Hindu nationalism to woo minorities | Abandoning its hardline Hindu rhetoric of the past, the BJP is making a concerted effort to woo minority Muslims and Christians in next month's elections. (Reuters)

  • Day 2: Advani begins by wooing Christians | Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani began travelling across Kerala on the second day of his Bharat Uday Yatra on Thursday by flaunting the Bharatiya Janata Party's prized catch in the state—four Christian priests. (India Abroad, India)

  • Minorities no longer willing to be vote bank: Advani | Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani on Thursday said the minorities in the country were no longer willing to be used a vote bank as they had seen through the game of other parties. "In the past few months leaders of Muslim and Christian communities have met me and complained that all political parties are regarded the minorities only as a vote bank," he said (Newindpress, India)

  • Attacks on Christians nullify claim of India shining: Mathai | Alleging blatant violation of human rights in parts of the country, the All India Christian Council today said the `incidents of attacks on minority community' threw a cloud over the 'India Shining' campaign of the BJP-led NDA. (The Hindu, India)


  • Farmer, wife think efforts worthwhile | For some Crawford County residents, Haiti is more than a "troubled Caribbean nation" leading nightly news reports. It has a face and names, smiles and laughter and pain. (Telegraph-Forum, Central Ohio)


  • Malaysian opposition: PM should be Muslim | Malaysia's constitution should be amended to ensure that only a Muslim can become prime minister of the multiracial country, the main opposition party said Wednesday. (Manila Times)

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  • Malaysian opposition to field seven ex-generals in elections | Islamic hardliners presented a former army general as an election candidate and demanded a law that only a Muslim can become prime minister, as religion dominated Malaysia's polls campaign on Wednesday. Retired Brigadier-General Zakaria Dahalan is standing for the hardline opposition Islamic Party (PAS) in a direct challenge to Defence Minister Najib Razak in the March 21 election, the party announced. (HiPakistan)


  • China opens door to Christianity - of a patriotic sort | Despite the challenges of practicing Christianity in China, there are signs that the once near pariah faith is being given more latitude (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Report: China arrests Roman Catholic bishop | Bishop Wei Jingyi was seized March 5 at a highway toll booth after traveling to the provincial capital, Harbin, to meet two "foreign friends," the Cardinal Kung Foundation said (Associated Press)

  • China arrests underground bishop | Wei Jingyi, the underground bishop of Qiqihar in China's Heilongjiang province, was seized on March 5 (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

  • The Church in China looks to Rome | In recent years Msgr. Li Duan has earned distinction for his pastoral initiatives and determination to defend the rights and freedoms of the Church. A prudent and courageous pastor, he is at the same time faithful to Rome and willing to cooperate with government authorities without giving in on key issues concerning Church law and faith. He courageously removed himself from the illegitimate consecration of 5 bishops in Beijing on Jan. 6 2000, just as he acted with similar courage in October of the same year to fight a political campaign against the canonization of 120 Chinese martyrs. (AsiaNews)

  • Is Christianity poised to remake China? | Despite the official suppression of all religions in China during the past 50 years, Christianity has been spreading there at a far faster rate than generally realized, and now has tens of millions of adherents. He explains how this happened and what the effects on China have been so far, and explores the implications for China's future (Rocky Mountain News)

  • Beijing says the bishop went abroad illegally | The diocese of Qiqihar fears a campaign of destruction and arrests will be waged, as is happening in other parts of the country. (AsiaNews)

  • China mobilizes to silence dissent | Beijing police dispatched 1,000 officers to hold dissidents in their homes, human rights activists say. An unknown number of others with grievances were detained after they evaded security at provincial train and bus stations and made their way to Beijing. (Associated Press)

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  • A struggle for spiritual freedom | Buddhist center perseveres after China's crackdown (Washington Post)

  • Taiwan elections: Seeking the divine vote | Taiwan elections always have their share of exotic, even bizarre - to the outside observer - phenomena. But here religion - or at least its outward forms of devotion - is an integral part of any successful election campaign. (Asia Times, Taipei, Taiwan)



  • Sudan blamed for 'blocking aid' | The Red Cross has accused Sudan of stopping aid workers reaching victims of fighting in the western Darfur area (BBC)

  • More peace talks in Sudan | The head of the Sudanese government delegation to peace talks in Kenya, vice President Ali Osman Taha, has returned to Khartoum for consultations with other officials (AFP)

  • Bishop seeks SA Mugabe sanctions | Pius Ncube has called for South Africa to cut off electricity supplies to make President Robert Mugabe hold talks with the opposition (BBC)


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Church and state:

  • Ten Commandments could appear here | Some state lawmakers say "Thou shalt not kill" should be placed in some public buildings. The House of Representatives has voted to allow the Ten Commandments to be placed in the buildings if officials wish to do so. Its a move religious leaders are praising while civil liberties activists are bashing it. (WLBT, Mass.)

  • Judge Roy Moore speaks! | A Christian right presidential run creaks a half-inch forward. (Slate)

  • Murphy's plea for divine intervention is out of line | Paul Murphy is a man of considerable - and admirable - religious faith. But when the Prime Minister's pro-consul implores people to "bombard Heaven with prayer" that the current political stalemate be overcome, as he did at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, he opens the Government up to ridicule. (Stephen King, Belfast Telegraph)

  • N.J. nixes state grant for Catholic school |ACLU, Jewish group objected to spending $250,000 for construction at Seton Hall Preparatory Academy (Associated Press)

  • Amish ensnared by national security policies | Township officials say man who visited ailing father in Ontario isn't being allowed back into U.S. because he doesn't have photo I.D (Associated Press)

  • Churches no longer safe haven for refugees | Quebec City police arrest of Algerian 'creates a dangerous precedent' (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • 11th Circuit won't restore Alabama commandments monument | Panel refuses to reinstate lawsuit that claims removing display violated First Amendment by establishing 'a nontheistic religion' or faith (Associated Press)

  • Monumental battle develops in Duluth | The 72-inch-tall Ten Commandments monument ignites passions—fueled by the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union, which announced last week that it had filed suit against the city to remove it (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Religion and politics:

  • Coalition for mass destruction of Iraq | Everyone knows the influence that the Evangelical Church (500 million members) and various assimilated fundamentalist groups have on U.S. policy and their deep-seated dislike of Islam. (Japan Today)

  • The tricky trail for Bush | President Bush will be navigating a dicey political landscape, strewn with sensitivity about whether he is exploiting the tragedy of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as an instrument of his presidential campaign. That's not even mentioning how he starts the day—tending to his conservative base with satellite remarks to the National Association of Evangelicals Convention in Colorado. (Dan Froomkin, Washington Post)

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Faith-based initiative:

  • Calling on God to tackle addiction | In the run-up to this year's presidential election, a $100m voucher programme is to be rolled out in the US which would allow addicts to buy places on some of the nation's most controversial faith-based drug programs (BBC)

Life ethics:

  • Utah woman charged with murdering fetus | As Melissa Ann Rowland's unborn twins got closer to birth, doctors repeatedly told her they would likely die if she did not have a Caesarean section. She refused, and one later was stillborn. Authorities charged 28-year-old Rowland with murder on Thursday, saying she exhibited ``depraved indifference to human life,'' according to court documents. (Associated Press)

  • Anti-abortion convert lobbies MPs | The woman whose legal case led to the legalisation of abortion in the US is lobbying MPs - calling for terminations to be banned. (BBC)

Sexual ethics:

  • UK and US to act on web sex sites | Britain and the US are to set up a group to investigate ways of stopping violent internet sex sites, the home secretary's spokesman has said. (BBC)

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  • Britain and US act over Internet porn | Britain and the United States are to set up a new group to shut down violent Internet sex sites. (The Guardian, London)

  • Sex education at church | "Our Whole Lives" is a curriculum for teens that combines faith and knowledge and will be offered at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church in Hillsboro (The Oregonian)

Teens and abstinence:

  • Study challenges benefits of US virginity crusade | A policy of abstinence-only sex education for American teenagers, endorsed by Church groups and the White House, has almost no effect on the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STD), according to a new study. (AFP)

  • Church, school, kin assuage teen violence | Some old-fashioned guidelines still prevail: Church attendance, family discipline and meaningful school involvement lessen violence among aggressive children in tough neighborhoods, according to a study released yesterday by the University of Washington (The Washington Times)

  • Moral code of the right young things | A survey of 5,000 young people, average age 15, found that most thought the Government should be tougher on under-age sex and abortion on demand as well as on bogus asylum seekers. (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Teenagers react against 'anything goes' society | Young people want a society that frowns on abortions, upholds the institution of marriage, takes a hard line on drugs, and punishes its criminals severely, a survey has found. (Guardian, London)

30 Hour Famine:

  • Teens go hungry to help others | The 30 Hour Famine is an international program that allows young people to do something about world hunger (The Washington Post)

Church life:

  • Church founder Chi Yuan Ho, 94, dies | Mr. Ho was born in the village of Daxindian, Penglai, in Shandong province of China. It was in Penglai that he received what was known then as "the early classical Chinese education and scholarship at a private academy in Penglai," according to his daughter, Mary Ho of Rochester. At the age of 18, Mr. Ho became a Christian, and his faith continued to be a key part of his life throughout adulthood. (Democrat and Chronicle, NY)

  • Questions of faith | Ivan Zhelev, the Cabinet's director of religious affairs, speaks to Velina Nacheva about the split in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and religious tolerance in Bulgaria. (Sophia Echo, Bulgaria)

  • Religious leaders see increase in attendance this time of year | Several members of the Washington County religious community said this week they are not sold on "The Passion of the Christ" as a spark behind recent attendance increases, but rather believed more people come to churches every year at this time. (Hagerstown Morning Herald, Maryland)

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  • Why aren't churches answering their phones? | In a report titled "Many Churches Do Not Answer The Phone," Barna Research Group randomly selected and phoned 3,400 churches. In 55 percent of those churches, a human being could not be reached even though the churches were each phoned five times during business hours over a two week period. (Marco Island Sun Times, Florida)

  • Episcopal diocese votes to study gay issues | Some Kentucky Episcopalians yesterday headed off a series of potentially divisive votes on homosexuality, voting instead to study the issue, particularly last year's controversial election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Christians seek control of St Andrews church | Built in 1899 by the British for Christian railway employees, the Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church has not held a service since the British left the subcontinent in 1947 (Daily Times, Pakistan)

  • Why are the churches failing? | The churches argue they are better attended than football. They are kidding themselves (Muriel Porter, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • ELCA bishop improving | Craig Johnson, bishop of the Minneapolis Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is being treated for two brain aneurysms (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Evangelical expansion | The Rev. Doug Anderson stands on the stage of Bethel Evangelical Free's new sanctuary, stares out at the stadium-style seats and imagines all 1,275 filled with worshipers (The Forum, Fargo, N.D.)

  • Congregation says goodbye to chapel after toxic mold forces church to close doors | Also, squirrels that were nesting in the building's walls and attic had chewed through the building's electrical wiring, which meant the chapel was not only structurally unsound but a fire hazard (Gwinnett Daily Post, Ga.)

  • Houses of worship are reaching out to a flock of pets | Purr box goes to communion at St. Francis Episcopal; A group 'bark mitzvah' (The Wall Street Journal)

  • Catholic cathedral levy may pay for £1.5m major repairs | Glasgow's Catholic population faces an additional levy on top of its weekly church contributions to meet the costs of the restoration and preservation of St Andrew's Cathedral (The Scotsman)

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Church property dispute:

Women and ministry:

  • Women priests: The first 10 years | A good deal of water has passed through Bristol Cathedral's font since the first women priests were ordained there 10 years ago on 12 March (BBC)

  • Cardinal's decision shocks nun | Sister granted doctor of ministry degree, but Ambrozic refused to confer the PhD (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

High-tech missions:

  • On a high-tech mission | Church group seeks 500 free computers (South Bend Tribune, Ind.)

  • The Christian media counterculture | Evangelical Christians are using the new media environment to promote their own worldview and protect their traditions from what they see as a secular onslaught (Technology Review)

  • Online shepherd wanted | In this week's Cybershake, we look at how the Church of England is going high-tech — and searching for a minister to manage its "virtual parish." (ABC news)


  • Peacemaker teaches conflict resolution using biblical principles | In about 1988, Sande formed Peacemaker Ministries and broadened the ministry from mediating to teaching "adults, children, pastors, attorneys and other professionals how to deal with conflict biblically in their day-to-day lives." (Billings Gazette, Montana)


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  • Mother Teresa's example can inspire troubled church | The best way to overcome scandal is with acts of charity (Tom Ashcraft, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  • Vatican appoints its first female theologians | The Roman Catholic Church has quietly taken a step forward for women's equality, naming the first female theologians as Vatican consultants, and promptly denied the appointments had anything to do with their gender (Reuters)

  • Church closures may alter city's rhythm | Boston Archdiocese wants to sell off as many as 80 parishes, in a city with deep church-neighborhood roots (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Pope urges world to embrace forgiveness | Pope John Paul II urged the world Sunday to embrace forgiveness and reconciliation, despite terrorism and bloody conflicts in many parts of the world (Associated Press)

  • Another milestone near, John Paul is still redefining papacy | Next Sunday, March 14, he moves a notch higher on the list of the longest-reigning leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, according to the Vatican's official tabulation, to become No. 2 or 3, depending on the count (The New York Times)

  • Former Jesuit comments criticized | Roman Catholic Church officials are distancing themselves from comments by a retired Jesuit official who suggested that a priest's alleged abuse of native Alaskan boys wouldn't have much effect because their culture was "fairly loose" on sexual matters (Associated Press)

U.S. prof. named top female Vatican adviser

New Mass. Bishops:

  • Pope replaces U.S. bishop accused of rape | Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II Tuesday chose a new bishop for the U.S. diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts to replace Thomas Dupre, who resigned after two men accused him of raping them. (Reuters)

  • New bishop for Springfield Diocese named | The Rev. Timothy Anthony McDonnell was named bishop of Springfield on Tuesday, less than a month after Bishop Thomas Dupre stepped down from the Massachusetts diocese amid accusations that he molested two boys in the 1970s (Associated Press)

  • New bishops chosen for two dioceses | Transitions for Worcester, Springfield (The Boston Globe)

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  • 3 more accuse youth director | He had been charged after seven others from a religious group alleged molestation in Evesham. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Priests and sexual abuse ignite a stage in Chicago | "Sin," a searing new play that opened in Chicago last week, offers a vivid look at how Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston reacted to the sex abuse scandal in his archdiocese (The New York Times)

  • Ruling leaves diocese potentially liable | A Superior Court judge has refused to release the Norwich Diocese and its former bishop, Daniel P. Reilly, from potential liability for alleged sexual abuse by a priest, in a strongly worded ruling that could represent a legal sea change in how such cases are handled (The Hartford Courant, Conn.)

  • The facts of clergy abuse | The findings of two lengthy reports on the child sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church underscore the need for ongoing monitoring of church policy and practice. The crisis may be over, the trouble of pedophile priests may have peaked in the 1970s, but the causes of the problem require further study and action (Editorial, The Baltimore Sun)

  • The problem of prison rape | More rapes occur in prison each year than in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago combined. Are we ignoring the problem—or do we just not care? (Legal Affairs)


  • Clergy join in ecumenical World Day of Prayer | Clergy and lay leaders from seven churches in the four communities of Ayer, Shirley, Groton, and Dunstable conducted an ecumenical service of worship especially for the sick and health care workers at Apple Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center last Thursday. (Pepperell Free Press, Mass.)

  • U.S. Christian-Jewish group donates new Ethiopian center | A spiritual center for Ethiopian immigrants, funded by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, was dedicated on Wednesday in Lod. The Chicago-based organization donated some NIS 1.5 million for the construction of the building, which they hope will ease the immigration and absorption process for the city's 2,680 Ethiopian immigrants. (Ha'aretz)

  • Mosque rift spawns interfaith dialogue | Episcopalian serves as ambassador for Islam around Palos Heights (Chicago Tribune)

  • Group explores creating new ministerial unit | The move counters the Venice Ministerial Association, which may bar non-Christian faiths (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.)

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  • Muslims taught to love Jesus | Islam honors Christ as a messenger and prophet but denies that he was divine (Religion News Service)

  • Songs of peace, from many perspectives | Part concert tour, part peace mission, the festival as seen on Saturday in Washington offered music from Muslim, Jewish and Christian traditions (The New York Times)

  • Melting pots, East and West | Long Before it occurred to any Western nation to guarantee freedom of religion, there was a place where four of the world's major faiths coexisted peacefully (at least some of the time). Perhaps as early as the first century, Jews and Christians inhabited such cities as Cochin and Mangalore, where the dominant religion was (and is) Hinduism. Soon after the founding of Islam, Muslims also reached the area—peacefully, unlike the way they arrived in northern India. (Washington Post)

  • Interfaith forum slated to discuss the theology behind 'Passion' film | More than two weeks after "The Passion of the Christ," opened, an interfaith group has joined with a college to discuss the movie, answer questions and talk theology. (Daily Press, Virginia)

  • Scouts hike avenue to houses of worship | Entire families learn about other religions (Times Picayune, Louisiana)

Orthodox church:

  • Archbishop: council appointment could help | The leader of America's Greek Orthodox Christians said he hoped his historic appointment to the Turkey-based council governing the church would ease an escalating power struggle. (Associated Press)

  • Patriarch to visit St. Nicholas Church | The Eastern Orthodox Patriarch, His All Holiness Bartholomew I of Constantinople, will perform a Doxology service at 10:30 a.m. in St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church on 196th Street and Northern Boulevard, Flushing. This is the first time an Ecumenical Patriarch, who has the religious significance to Eastern Orthodox persons as His Holiness, the Pope of Rome, will be visiting a Greek Orthodox community in Flushing. (Western Queens Gazette, NY)

Archbishop: critic of Christianity should teach religion:

  • Religious education should include Pullman, says Archbishop | Novels branded anti-Christian propaganda by critics should form part of pupils' religious education, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Archbishop praises author accused of blasphemy | Philip Pullman, the best-selling author with a widely advertised contempt for organized religion, has found an unlikely champion in the Archbishop of Canterbury who has risked the wrath of fundamentalists by praising the National Theatre's adaptation of the author's His Dark Materials as a "near miraculous triumph" (The Guardian, London)

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  • Archbishop wants Pullman in class | Rowan Williams said there was a place for critics of Christianity in lessons on religion (BBC)

  • Archbishop wants atheist Pullman on syllabus | Rowan Williams said that it is sometimes easier to clarify what religion is about by first confronting those who are hostile to it (The Times, London)

  • His dark classroom materials | The leader of the Church of England has called for one of the most powerful atheist tracts in modern literature to be used as part of pupils' religious education (The Western Mail, Wales)

  • Also: Author Pullman made CBE at palace | Children's author Philip Pullman has been formally made a CBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The writer, who has been accused of being anti-Christian, paid tribute to the Archbishop of Canterbury who said his books should be part of RE classes. (BBC)

  • Archbishop and atheist | The Archbishop of Canterbury has commended the novels of Philip Pullman to a gathering invited to Downing Street by the Prime Minister. Dr Rowan Williams reportedly said that, while it would not be right for atheism to be incorporated into religious education, as a pro-Labour think tank advocates, Pullman's His Dark Materials ought to be taught. The Pullman trilogy has recently achieved new popularity on stage, but it has also offended Christians by its caricature of the Church. (The Daily Telegraph, London)


  • Author encourages Christians to express faith with humor, joy | We've seen Jesus suffer so brutally on screen this winter that Cal Samra hopes people will welcome a good laugh by the time Easter rolls around next month. He's the man behind collections of unintentionally funny lines from church publications that people enjoy e-mailing. (David Crumm, Detroit Free Press)

  • On a twisted spiritual path | Karen Armstrong deliberately dealt herself a monumentally bad hand. In 1962, at the age of 17, to the bemusement of her English Catholic family, she entered a convent. She was strong-willed and religious, and she wanted to. The convent was about as awful as any institution could be. (Washington Post)

  • `I cannot do otherwise' | Biography introduces famous 16th century church reformer Martin Luther to today's readers (Toronto Star)

  • Maryam: An intelligent, imaginative look at Jesus' mother | Much theology is dedicated to explaining how the mother of Jesus ought to be understood, but little is known about who she was in the first century (The Seattle Times)

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  • School diversity resolution sparks debate | Sexual orientation wording draws crowd to board meeting (The Daily Star, Oneonta, New York)

  • How Secular Is "New Age" Education? | With all the hysteria about keeping God's influence out of the schools in the fear that one religion would be represented to the detriment of another, I find it incredibly hypocritical that the proponents of New Age religious values have been able to influence the mission of our schools and more than one generation of students without anyone raising a stink about it! (Nancy Salvato, The Washington Dispatch)

  • US state's new science guidelines set off row over evolution | Education officials in one Midwestern state have approved controversial new guidelines that critics contend would allow the teaching of creationism alongside Darwinian evolution in Ohio's high school science classrooms. (AFP)



  • Ex-pastor target of IRS inquiry | The federal agency is examining bank records of Living Water Church founder Ronald Clark. (St. Petersburg Times, Florida)

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  • Interesting Times: Finding a seeker | Why did Yos, as a 27-year-old suburban Chicago Catholic, married to a Catholic, convert to Judaism? Her article is chock full of lessons that the Jewish people should take to heart. (Saul Singer, Jerusalem Post)

  • Buddhism: the new religion of choice for 30-somethings | When the Dalai Lama visits Scotland this summer he will find fertile ground for his teachings. Experts believe the number of Buddhists in the country has risen past the 10,000 mark and is growing. (Sunday Herald, Scotland)

  • Stressed troops turn to smokes, alcohol, prayer | A slim majority of men, and an even a larger share of women, say they turn to prayer when in particularly tough situations, according to the 2002 Survey of Health Related Behaviors released at the Pentagon yesterday (The Washington Times)

  • Feeling his way on sacred ground | Uneasy how to act among worshippers of other faiths, a world traveler finds he's always been accepted (Michael McColly, The New York Times)

  • Evangelicals adopting rituals | The 40-day season of Lent, which began Ash Wednesday, was once observed only by Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox and "high church" Protestants, but more evangelicals are noting the season with rituals and symbolism (Religion News Service)

Popular Jesus:

  • Nodding Jesus bows out | URBIS bosses have decided not to sell novelty Christ figures after outrage from Catholics. Worshippers at St Anne's RC Church in Crumpsall launched a campaign to have the religious alternative to the traditional nodding dog dropped from the city museum. (Manchester Evening News, UK)

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  • House votes, 391-22, to raise broadcasters' fines for indecency | Saying much of the public is fed up with indecent television and radio programming, members of the House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to increase penalties on broadcasters and performers who violate federal standards. (New York Times)

  • The secular empire strikes back | Amidst the stunning box-office success of "The Passion of the Christ," the established entertainment authorities struck back this week with "Judas," a two-hour program on ABC television Monday night. Whereas Mel Gibson's determinedly Gospel-faithful account emphasized the heavy price paid by Jesus for His assumption of mankind's sins, this week's entry shows Jesus and his enemies encumbered with modern sensibilities and prejudices. (Richard Reeb, The Desert Dispatch, Calif.)

  • House votes to raise penalities for broadcasts of indecency | With the baring of Janet Jackson's breast in the Super Bowl halftime show still fresh in their memories, the lawmakers voted, 391 to 22, to raise the maximum fine for a broadcast license-holder to $500,000 from $27,500. The penalty for a performer would also rise to $500,000 from the current $11,000. (New York Times)

  • House passes broadcast decency bill | In the wake of the so-called "wardrobe malfunction" during this year's Super Bowl, federal lawmakers passed a measure Thursday to hit TV and radio broadcasters with heftier penalties for violating decency rules. (Fox news)

  • House approves hiking fines on indecency violators | The House overwhelmingly passed legislation Thursday substantially increasing the maximum fine for radio and TV indecency. (Associated Press)


  • Love's donation to Georgia church is well above par | Davis Love III found a way to erase contentious memories from the Match Play Championship, donating his $700,000 from finishing second to his local church on St. Simons Island, Ga. (Washington Post)

  • In pursuit of Christian athletes | This is a boom time for Christian colleges and universities, along with their athletic programs. Many are asking: What does it mean to have "Christian" athletics? (Evansville Courier & Press, Indiana)


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Mason killed during ceremony:

Cash for prayers:


  • Religion News in Brief | The Vatican issued instructions for bishops Tuesday that included a reminder that Jews should be treated with respect as ``elder brothers'' to avert anti-Semitism, and that priests should be properly educated about the Jewish religion. (Associated Press)

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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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