U.K. has its own politicians-and-Catholic-Communion controversy
This story sounds vaguely familiar: A leading national politician disagrees with Roman Catholic teachings, but still attends Catholic Mass. The press goes nuts wondering if he'll take Communion, or if he'll be barred the elements. Church leaders and the politician's staff seem to differ significantly on the facts.

Only we're not talking about John Kerry, but British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Roman Catholic priest Timothy Russ is quoted throughout the British press today saying that Blair is on the verge of converting. Blair regularly invites Russ to celebrate Mass at Blair's retreat home, and used to attend his parish church. Blair's wife and three children are Roman Catholics, but he is a member of the Church of England. He says he attends Catholic Mass so his family can worship together, but Russ says that may be about to change.

"If you ask me do you think he wants to become a Catholic, I would say yes," Russ told The Telegraph. The Guardian quotes him saying, "Normally speaking, if you have someone committed like him, then yes, he will become a Catholic. … He didn't say to me, 'Can I become a Catholic?' What he said to me was, 'Can the prime minister be a Catholic?'"

But though Blair is apparently considering the idea, Russ says he still has a way to go. "He's obviously got to change a lot and recognize the sanctity of the family and the sanctity of life," he said. He's even harsher in an interview with The Times: "Tony Blair is a lazy thinker when it comes to certain ethical questions. … A lot of things would have to change in his modus operandi and in his way of thinking and working before he could be a Catholic." (That's not exactly a line to win converts.)

The Times (which requires readers from outside the U.K. to subscribe to read its stories online) focuses on one of the more controversial aspects of the issue: Is Russ giving Blair Communion? Russ won't say, but insists that he's allowed to under the doctrine of epikeia, which loosens interpretations of church law. After a few rows (as the Brits call them) on the subject, Blair has promised not to take Catholic Communion. But The Times says "there is a hint that pledge may have been broken."

Blair's office, by the way, says the Prime Minister isn't converting. And honestly, who can blame him? Forget the theology for a moment: If a priest—who would likely be your new priest—goes and blabs to the press about your spiritual journey, then publicly criticizes you as a "lazy thinker" with weak ethics, would you join his church?

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Debate hits the biggies: faith, abortion, gay marriage, and getting "kicked around" by one's wife and daughters
If you missed the third and final presidential debate between George Bush and John Kerry, here's video on whether homosexuality is a choice, pro-life Catholicism, overturning Roe v. Wade, and the role of faith in policy decisions, and here's a full transcript.

Religion isn't the out-of-bounds area it used to be, says Fred Barnes in today's Wall Street Journal. "Bob Schieffer of CBS News asked two questions about religion. So far as I could tell, this was seen as quite proper. Both candidates were prepared and gave crisp answers. And their bottom line on religion was roughly the same: They are serious believers—Mr. Kerry a Catholic, Mr. Bush a Protestant—who are tolerant of other religions and indeed fully accepting of anyone who has no religious belief at all."

There was too much religion in the debate, Debran Rowland says in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "Wednesday night we saw what we hadn't wanted to see: 'God' is a candidate for the presidency. And to hear the Religious Right tell it, He hates women." She says she's especially troubled by Bush's comment that there are "too many abortions" in America, which she calls a sign of fundamentalism. But what he actually said was, "There are ways we can work together to reduce the number of abortions," such as supporting adoption promotion, maternity group homes, and sexual abstinence programs. Apparently Rowland believes that abortion is preferable to these.

Actually, "these are fine ideas," says The Boston Globe in an editorial. "But abstinence without comprehensive sex education is a crippled solution. And the women who put their children up for adoption still undergo all the physical demands and health risks of pregnancy, including spikes in blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Pregnant teenagers face an even higher risk of medical complications and death." So let's go kill these dangerous fetuses. Bush didn't say whether he wants to overturn Roe, the paper said. And that's "chilling. It raises the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade and letting states decide what's legal." And the issue of abortion must be kept out of the democratic process at any cost.

The more troubling abortion evasion was from Kerry, not Bush, says National Review Online's Mark Brumley. It's not just Catholics who oppose abortion, he says:

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How, then, can opposition to abortion rights be 'an article of faith'? Or if it is, why should that preclude opposing abortion on other grounds held in common with people who don't necessarily share one's faith? Apparently, whatever scruples Senator Kerry has about his Catholicism informing his views of abortion and embryonic-stem-cell research don't affect his stances on many other political issues. … It's okay for Senator Kerry's Catholicism to influence his efforts against poverty, or to clean up the environment, or to fight for justice and equality. As he said, 'All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith.' But for some reason his Catholicism mustn't influence him to support the right to life for unborn children.

Kerry implicitly answered this at the debate: "Everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people." The unasked followup: As a senator, how much of your public life didn't have anything to do with official decisions affecting other people? Isn't that basically a senator's job?

"It seems to me that you shouldn't pick and choose at all," says Jonah Goldberg, also in National Review Online. "You shouldn't infringe on, say, the property rights of citizens out of religious convictions about a clean environment and then conveniently fall back on the argument that it would be outrageous to invoke religion when it comes to abortion. Either your faith informs your views or it doesn't." There are times when one must pick and choose, Goldberg admits, but Kerry has it "exactly backwards. God doesn't have a position on the minimum wage or Superfund, so politicians shouldn't feel the need to consult Him about that stuff. It's only on the grave fundamental questions in politics that God should speak to one's conscience. Thomas More didn't put his life on the line about how Henry VIII handled crop rotation."

It's a good thing that Kerry's faith is so "peripheral to his drive toward the presidency," writes syndicated columnist Richard Reeves. It's Bush and his religious followers that we need to worry about. "Actually, the self-righteousness scares me. And I think that self-described godliness is more important to his campaign than the war on terrorism, which was forced on him, or the war in Iraq, which he forced on the world."

Actually, the discussion was important, so we could see "how the candidates rely on their personal faith as a guiding light to their service in public office to the nation," said C. Welton Gaddy and Paul Weyrich in a press release. The two strange bedfellows took credit for the faith-centered debate, having pressed Bob Schieffer to raise the subject.

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But do we really know anything new? Not according to most pundits polled by The Washington Times. "President Bush seemed, if anything, a little more reticent on how he described his faith," the Institute of Religion and Democracy's Mark Tooley told the paper. "He seemed to minimize how it affects his public-policy actions. Kerry just said he was Catholic and an altar boy and that his faith was important to him but it was personal. Both were vague; neither were profound."

Gaddy disagrees. "Bush made it clear faith influences all his public-policy decisions. Kerry made it clear his faith does not," he told the Times. Gaddy, chairman of the Interfaith Alliance, thinks Kerry's approach is better. With friends like these contradicting you …

Will the Anglican world be shaken to its core on Monday?
"Rarely have the bishops and bureaucrats who lead the world's 77 million Anglicans awaited a moment with such intense anticipation," writes the Associated Press's Richard Ostling. On Monday, the Lambeth Commission on Communion will release The Windsor Report, a major document

on the legal and theological implications flowing from the decisions of the Episcopal Church (USA) to appoint a priest in a committed same-sex relationship as one of its bishops, and of the Diocese of New Westminster to authorize services for use in connection with same-sex unions, and specifically on the canonical understandings of communion, impaired and broken communion, and the ways in which provinces of the Anglican Communion may relate to one another in situations where the ecclesiastical authorities of one province feel unable to maintain the fullness of communion with another part of the Anglican Communion.

Decoded: On whether the Anglican Communion will continue to exist as such, and how the Episcopal Church USA will be disciplined for violating canon law.

"At stake may be the long-term future of the Communion, the international association of churches with roots in the Church of England," says Ostling. "And the findings will resonate even further — to Christians in all denominations who believe their faith has unfairly oppressed gays and lesbians, and equally for those who consider changes a direct attack upon the Bible and 2,000 years of Christian teaching." Reuters also has a preview.

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If you want to read the tea leaves for yourself, be sure to read Tuesday's presidential address by Irish primate Robin Eames, who chaired the commission. (Indeed, most Anglicans are calling it the "Eames Commission.")

The good news: Eames's promise that "it is not the bland Report some feared. It has teeth. It has integrity." The bad news is that Eames ends his remarks by dramatically undercutting the importance of integrity: "When disagreements arise, when problems face the Church, is it not all too easy to lose sight of the real mission of the Christian Church? As I listened this past year to so much argument … I thought of suffering men, women and children in places of war, famine and desperate need."

Conservative pundits seem to agree that the first line is true and that the latter is spin. "It will not be a fudge or a dodge," says Harmon. "In the words of commission member Tom Wright a couple of weeks back in the Church Times (I paraphrase): it will be a prescription which fits the disease." Liberals, including Gene Robinson, are suggesting that it won't be that big a deal.

We'll see on Monday, but no matter what happens, expect the Anglican Communion to be a lot messier on Tuesday. No wonder Tony Blair already has a foot out the door.

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The other big Anglican storm right now:

  • Dean Jensen's letter to the editor of the UK Guardian | In several matters Stephen Bates grossly misrepresented my remarks to the recent Reform Conference of Evangelicals in his report "Evangelicals call Williams a prostitute".( Phillip D Jensen, Anglican Media Sydney)
  • Comment on UK Guardian article about Dean Jensen | It is obvious that the headline goes far beyond the alleged remarks (Press release, Anglican Media Sydney)
  • Anglican leader raps Sydney Dean | Australia's Anglican leader yesterday rebuked the Dean of Sydney for "extreme and intemperate remarks" that bordered on defaming the church's world leader, Rowan Williams (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Church chief attack 'personal view' | The Anglican Bishop of South Sydney Robert Forsyth today distanced the Australian church from an attack on the Archbishop of Canterbury by the Dean of Sydney (The Australian)
  • Churchman blasts hosts for apology | Jensen has launched a second attack, the Church Times newspaper reports, this time against his hosts (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Anglican Church leaders bewildered by Dean's outburst | The controversial Anglican Dean of Sydney, Philip Jensen, is winging his way back to Australia after causing an unholy row in Britain (PM, Australian Broadcasting Corp)
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  • Rev Phillip Jensen generates publicity in the UK | There's been an angry response from moderate Anglicans in Britain to comments made by the Anglican Dean of Sydney, Reverend Phillip Jensen (AM, Australian Broadcasting Corp)
  • Jensen's outburst earns mixed response (AAP)
  • Jensen talking rubbish: Primate | In further evidence of a deepening rift between senior Australian Anglicans, Primate Peter Carnley tonight attacked views expressed by Dr Jensen at the church's general synod in Perth earlier this month (The Australian)
  • Anglican turmoil over Dean Jensen's attack | Australia's Anglican leader has rebuked the Dean of Sydney, Phillip Jensen, for "extreme and intemperate remarks" that bordered on defaming the church's world leader, Rowan Williams (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Senior Anglican figure lashes out at world leader of the Church | A senior figure from Australia's Anglican Church is embroiled in controversy, after lashing out at the liberal values of the world leader of the church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. (AM, Australian Broadcasting Corp.)
  • Anglicans divided on Jensen outburst | Prostitution, paganism, adultery, and defamation. Anglicans accused and counter-accused each other of the most heinous sins yesterday in the wake of the Dean of Sydney's damning of the Archbishop of Canterbury for "intellectual and theological prostitution" and condemnation of Prince Charles as a "public adulterer" (The Australian)

Religion & politics in Australia:

  • No comment from Family First | Christian conservative party Family First has gagged all its federal election candidates until counting is finalised in all states (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Ignoring religion in politics only stifles and splinters | Much of the righteous indignation claimed over the invasion of secular politics by Family First and the Hillsong Church is phony (Frank Devine, The Australian)
  • Politics is next to godliness | The Prime Minister is preparing for a walk down the aisle with the Christian right (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Religion & politics:

Two men of faith | Kerry, Bush have wide disparities in religious faith (The Kansas City Star)

  • Ads for blacks hit Democrats | The battle for the White House has spilled over onto black urban radio stations in key states with ads accusing Democrats of promoting abortions among blacks and siding with homosexual couples rather than married heterosexuals (The Washington Times)
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  • Chasing the Amish vote | Only about one in ten vote. But their conservative Christian values and suspicion of big government make them natural adherents of the right (The Economist)
  • High stakes for church and state | For many people of faith, the elections have shown that what is needed is nothing short of a new confession of Christ (Jim Wallis, Sojourners)
  • The politics of piety | When candidates claim God as their campaign manager, you can be sure they're trying to divert attention from the real question: Do they walk the talk? (Amy Sullivan, Sojourners)
  • Religious fervor envelops politics | In the South, it is easier to ask complete strangers, "Where do you worship?" than "Who will you vote for?" (John J. Thatamanil, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • The faith factor | Catholics no longer vote as bloc, but religious issues still count (The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.)

Evangelicals & politics:

  • Evangelicals on the march as pastor tells them: 'Vote your values' | Arguably, the evangelical Christians are the most important single group of voters in the country (The Independent, London)
  • Christian Coalition has guides for voters | The Christian Coalition is distributing 30 million voter guides that use conservative catch-phrases such as "unrestricted abortion on demand" and "affirmative action programs that provide preferential treatment" in detailing the positions of the two presidential candidates (Associated Press)
  • Christian lobbying finds success | Evangelicals help to steer Bush efforts (The Boston Globe)
  • Evangelical leaders appeal to followers to go to polls | Efforts are planned to amplify religious conservatives' voice (The Washington Post)

'Moderate' evangelicals & politics:

  • Moderate Christians seen as pivotal in election | Centrists exist in every major denomination and probably form the biggest group of believers (Palm Beach Post, Fla.)
  • Some Democrats are lonely in pews | Nationally, just 27 percent of white, evangelical Protestants consider themselves Democrats, compared with 56 percent who identify themselves as Republicans (Palm Beach Post, Fla.)
  • Moderate, liberal Christians speak up | With the presidential election on Nov. 2, recent polls have shown a deep divide between Christian voters who attend church regularly and those who do not (The Times, Trenton, N.J.)

Churches & politics:

  • The free speech rights of preachers | Those who print the salaciousness probably have more to fear from their maker than from the IRS (Editorial, The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.)
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  • Free preach in campaign 2004 | Can the government repress the political activity of religious groups? (Maggie Gallagher)
  • Leaders walk a fine line on controversial election issues | Pastors share how they handle questions from parishioners (Green Bay Press-Gazette, Wis.)
  • Role of candidates' faith debated | Panelists consider how religion fits into 2004 presidential election (Green Bay Press-Gazette, Wis.)

Bush & religion:

  • Follow the money | The Christian right's comeback has been fueled by Bush Administration grants (Esther Kaplan, The Nation)
  • Christian commitment means strength and stability for Bush (The Kansas City Star)

Kerry & religion:

  • Born into Catholic faith, Kerry sees it as bedrock of his values (The Kansas City Star)
  • Will a Kerry vote send faithful straight to hell? | There are plenty of one-issue voter's guides, but Catholics and non-Catholics alike should devote the time to studying a wider array of issues before voting (Bob Keeler, Newsday)
  • Not in good conscience | Kerry would perpetuate a great evil (Robert P. George and Gerard V. Bradley, National Review Online)
  • 'Stop politicizing religion,' church liberals tell Kerry | Two liberal religious groups are asking Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry to "stop politicizing religion," even going so far as to call a partisan church service on behalf of the senator "over the top" (The Washington Times)

Church & state:

  • Panel orders marker restored | The Allegany County commissioners have ordered a Ten Commandments monument moved back to the courthouse lawn just two days after removing it for fear of a First Amendment lawsuit, a county official said yesterday (Associated Press)
  • Religious ornament sparks suit | Candy cane controversy is back (The Saginaw News, Mi.)
  • Christians are urged to fight for rights | Former Alabama judge is reunited with the monument that he had fought to display (The Indianapolis Star)
  • Moore ignores key differences | Roy Moore continues to ignore the substantial differences between his case and those the Supreme Court will consider, and to lambaste the court for hearing these cases and not hearing his. (Editorial, Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)
  • Cameroon priest criticises poll | Cardinal Christian Tumi told the BBC that people had lost confidence in the government's ability to conduct polling and called for an impartial body (BBC)

Politics & homosexuality:

  • Same-sex partners can have N.Y. benefits | Same-sex partners of New York state government workers who get married in Canada qualify for the same pension benefits as heterosexuals, state Comptroller Alan Hevesi has determined (Associated Press)
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  • Man told to pay gay man $1,000 for comment | Quebec's Human Rights Commission has ordered a used car salesman in Sorel to pay a gay man $1,000 for a derogatory comment made three years ago (CBC)

Same-sex marriage:

  • Pastor takes anti-gay-marriage message to nation's capital | More than 100,000 Christians are expected to flood the National Mall to uphold marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and to remind politicians of their power at the polls (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • Pension system recognizes gay spouses | State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi has ruled that the state's pension system will treat gay couples with Canadian wedding licenses the same way it treats other married couples (The New York Times)
  • Retention struggle pains me, judge says | Jeffrey Neary says his Christian brethren turned on him over a lesbian divorce case (Des Moines Register, Ia.)

Ohio gov. opposes marriage amendment:

  • Taft rejects gay marriage ballot issue | Proposed ban unnecessary, governor says (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)
  • Taft opposes amendment to outlaw gay marriage | Says it would stem talent, open lawsuits (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Oh.)
  • Taft: 'No' on same-sex issue | Amendment goes too far beyond marriage ban, governor says (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

William Pryor on 11th Circuit:

  • 11th Circuit okays Pryor's appointment | Judge William H. Pryor Jr. sits lawfully on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, eight of 10 members of the Atlanta-based court ruled on Thursday (Law.com)
  • Judge's appointment upheld | The federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled Thursday that President Bush was within his power in February when he placed controversial judicial nominee Bill Pryor on the court (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Court: Bush judicial appointment legal | A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that President Bush did not overstep his authority when he appointed William Pryor to the bench while the Senate was on a holiday break (Associated Press)
  • US court upholds Bush appointment of abortion foe (Reuters)

Anglicans & homosexuality:

  • One in 10 Church of England clergy would perform gay marriages | A survey of priests in a typical diocese found that more than a quarter believed that active homosexuality was compatible with Christianity (The Telegraph, London)
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  • Religion Today: Waiting for the Windsor Report | Rarely have the bishops and bureaucrats who lead the world's 77 million Anglicans awaited a moment with such intense anticipation (Associated Press)
  • Episcopalians brace for report from England | Other denominations also face criticism from overseas alliances (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Anglicans try again to heal gay rift | The Anglican Church will announce on Monday if it is to sanction liberals in North America who ordained an openly gay bishop and approved same-sex marriages (Reuters)

Catholic EU nominee controversy:

  • Controversial EU nominee wavers | Italy's controversial nominee for EU justice commissioner has hinted that he might "renounce" his new job (BBC)
  • Vatican official warns of discrimination after EU commission row | The row over Italian EU justice commissioner designate Rocco Buttiglione widened on Friday when a senior Vatican official said the case showed Roman Catholics were the object of discrimination in Europe (EU Business)
  • Mandelson says gay remark unwise | Nominee EU Commissioner Peter Mandelson says his colleague Rocco Buttiglione was "unwise" to express his views on homosexuals at an EU committee hearing (BBC)
  • Socialists say gay row could wreck commission | José Manuel Barroso, the new European commission president, was warned yesterday that MEPs would vote out his entire commission unless he backed down over his choice of Rocco Buttiglione as the EU's new civil liberties chief (The Guardian, London)

Religion in the EU:

  • Unlocking a Christian club | Firmly anchoring Turkey to a democratic Europe that is not a club of Christian nations is a historical imperative (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)
  • Zapatero accused of rejecting religion | Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has come under attack from his country's Roman Catholic bishops over proposed legislation on same-sex "marriages" and on removing religious teaching from state-run schools (UPI)

Church & state in Fiji:

  • Methodists support reverend as mayor | Methodists around the country have welcomed the election of Reverend Nemani Cakacaka as Nausori Town mayor, Davuilevu Theological College principal Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu says (Fiji Times)
  • Why a Christian State? | I admire the contribution the Reverend Josateki Koroi has made to the progress of Christianity in Fiji especially through his work for his people as head of the Methodist Church prior to being deposed in 1987. But his hostility to the idea of Fiji becoming a Christian state is indicative of a closed mind. Indeed, his antipathy is cause for why he should give serious consideration to Fiji becoming a Christian state (Robert Wolfgram, Fiji Times)
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  • Pro-Aristide priest detained in Haiti | The priest, Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, was detained at his church Wednesday on suspicion of organizing meetings with pro-Aristide gang leaders during two weeks of gunbattles and beheadings, Justice Minister Bernard Gousse said (Associated Press)
  • Groups decry detention of priest in Haiti | The arrest of a Catholic priest drew criticism from human rights groups Thursday, who charged that the U.S.-backed government was illegally trying to suppress support for ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Associated Press)


  • Darfur 'too unsafe' for food aid | The UN World Food Program is temporarily suspending its projects in parts of North Darfur in Sudan because of deteriorating security (BBC)
  • More flee Darfur as pleas to Bashir go unheeded | An upsurge of fighting in Darfur has forced a further 220,000 people to flee their homes for refugee camps and severely disrupted the international relief effort, the United Nations said yesterday (The Telegraph, London)
  • Breaking Darfur's stereotypes | The crisis in Sudan's western Darfur region is often portrayed as a simple conflict between Arabs and Africans, but the World Food Programme's Greg Barrow says the reality on the ground is much more complex (BBC)
  • Aiding Darfur: A nurse's story III | Trauma nurse Roberta Gately, who works for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) aid agency, tells BBC News Online about trying to help some of the 1.5 million people who have fled their homes in Sudan's war-torn region of Darfur (BBC)

Iraqi Christians:

  • Canary in a coal mine | Iraq's future as a tolerant, democratic nation is at stake (Nina Shea, National Review Online)
  • Plight of Christians in Iraq provokes calls for special protection | In an article published Thursday in the on-line edition of the right-wing 'National Review,' an influential neo-conservative activist appealed to the Bush administration to create a ''safe haven'' within Iraq specifically for Iraq's estimated 800,000 Christians, or ''Chaldo-Assyrians'', 40,000 of whom are believed to have left the country since the U.S. invasion in the face of growing persecution (Inter Press Service)


  • Islam and the West: The new with the old | How Muslim fundamentalism has a thoroughly modern streak (The Economist)
  • Putting their faith in film | Muslims hope the new animated children's movie will calm fears and spread understanding of their religion (The Orlando Sentinel)
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Religious freedom:

  • For Muslims, a beleaguered feeling | As Ramadan begins, many say sentiment against them is hardening (The Washington Post)
  • Christian body concerned by violence against community | A leading Christian body has expressed "deep concern" at what it said was a rash of violence against the minority community in several states following the April-May general election (Indo-Asian News Service, India)
  • Row ends deal to repair riot-hit Kosovo churches | The United Nations mission in Kosovo blamed the Serbian Orthodox church on Wednesday for halting efforts to rebuild religious sites targeted during ethnic Albanian riots in March (Reuters)
  • Armenia registers Jehovah's Witnesses | Authorities in Armenia registered the Jehovah's Witnesses on Wednesday, allowing the religious group to operate in the Caucasus Mountain nation after years of debate and denial (Associated Press)
  • Blasphemy law won't be changed, says Ijaz | Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Muhammad Ijazul Haq has said that there would be no change in the blasphemy law and the Hudood Ordinance (Dawn, Pakistan)
  • Vietnam's Christians persecuted as state sees hidden enemy | Two thirds of Vietnam's Protestants are ethnic minorities, and many live in remote areas where neighbors are sometimes suspicious of the converts (The Independent, London)
  • North Korea Christians murdered, sources state | A North Korean army general who become a Christian was, after he had begun to evangelise in his unit, shot dead by another senior army officer in 2003, Protestant sources have told Forum 18 News Service. Other known Christians are in some cases martyred by being shot, or are imprisoned (Forum 18, persecution watchdog)


  • State department opposes anti-Semitism law | Declaring it already works hard to combat anti-Semitism, the State Department on Wednesday opposed legislation approved by Congress to document annually attacks on Jews around the world (Associated Press)
  • A call to arms on anti-Semitism | Canada should sponsor a resolution at the U.N. condemning a centuries-old racism directed against Jews (Arlene Perly Rae, Irshad Manji, and Anna Porter, The Toronto Star)
  • Anti-Semitism office planned at State Department | President Bush plans to sign a bill passed by both houses of Congress that would establish a State Department office to monitor anti-Semitism around the world, despite the department´s strong objection, administration officials said yesterday (The Washington Times)
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Christians & Israel:

  • NCC's Edgar blasts U.S. News & World Report for 'smear' of Protestant churches' activism | Says Institute on Religion & Democracy report flawed (Press release, NCC)
  • Holy Land crusaders of a different kind | Volunteers for the Christian Peacemakers Team, who come to the West Bank to help Palestinians by `using the cross as an alternative to the sword,' vow they won't be deterred by settlers' violence (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)
  • A spit in the face | Why has the assault on an Armenian clergyman in the Old City met with rabbinical silence? (Aviad Hacohen, The Jerusalem Post)

Life ethics:

  • Relatives, not patients, ask for mercy killings | Relatives are more likely to ask for help to end a life than are terminally-ill patients (The Guernsey Press and Star)
  • Support growing for embryonic stem-cell research | 53% in survey approve; more Americans found to oppose cloning (Houston Chronicle)
  • No doubting Reeve's courage, but question his convictions | Christopher Reeve's obsession with stem cell research could cost other areas of medicine (Michael Cook, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Stem-cell hard sell gets ahead of itself | Therapeutic benefits are decades away, and many doubts need answering, (Adrienne Torda, The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Doctors neutral over euthanasia | Two doctors' groups have dropped their opposition to a proposed change in the law to allow them to help terminally ill patients to die (BBC)
  • Doctors drop opposition to legalizing euthanasia | Two of Britain's leading doctors' groups have dropped their opposition to a proposed law that would allow them to help terminally ill patients to die (The Times, London)
  • A promising cloning proposal | The research proposed at Harvard involving therapeutic cloning should be welcomed for its potential intellectual and therapeutic value (Editorial, The New York Times)
  • Politics begins at conception | One of the oddest pieces of the season's presidential race has been the issue of stem-cell research, often presented as a conflict between ignorant religious nuts and brilliant science martyrs (Kathleen Parker, The Orlando Sentinel)


  • Fla. court strikes abortion consent law | A Florida law requiring doctors to give patients specific information about abortion risks and alternatives is unconstitutional, an appeals court ruled Wednesday (Associated Press)
  • Pill plan sparks tensions in Peru | Peru's health minister has vowed to push ahead with a plan to make the so-called morning-after pill available at clinics, despite legal threats (BBC)
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  • Pro-life? Look at the fruits | Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative (Glen Stassen, SojoMail)
  • U.S. tells U.N. it backs population agenda | The Bush administration says it backs a U.N. plan to ensure every woman's right to education, health care, and choice about having children, so long as the document doesn't promote abortion (Associated Press)
  • Bush's abortion evasion | Bush should have used the debate to take a clear stand on Roe v. Wade. Voters deserve to know (Editorial, The Boston Globe)
  • Parents won't have to be told about abortions in proposal | National MP Judith Collins is no longer pushing for mandatory notification of parents of girls under 16 seeking an abortion (NZPA, New Zealand)
  • Talking partial-birth abortion | Putting the heat on Kerry (Hadley Arkes, National Review Online)


  • Promiscuous 10% 'fuel sex crisis' | A "promiscuous 10%" of the population who have multiple partners are fuelling a UK sexual health crisis, say experts (BBC)
  • Glad to be asexual | There might be almost as many asexual people as there are gay individuals (New Scientist)
  • The new (lack of) sexual revolution | Gay pride and female emancipation are the inspiration for asexuality, the latest sexual orientation (The Times, London)
  • No sex please, we're asexual | Some like it hot, and some like it not (The Guardian, London)
  • Study: One in 100 adults asexual | About one percent of adults have absolutely no interest in sex, according to a new study, and that distinction is becoming one of pride among many asexuals (CNN)
  • Say it loud, 'A' and proud | It's always a shock when you actually meet "one of them." One of those strange misfits who, unlike everyone else in modern society, is not completely obsessed with sex (John O'Farrell, The Guardian, London)


  • Man denies sexual attacks on boy | Sunday School teacher denies having sex with teen; doctor says 15-year-old was raped (The Express-Times, Bethlehem, Pa.)
  • Earlier: Attorney: Boy lying about sex abuse | 15-year-old says former youth leader raped him 50 times (The Express-Times, Bethlehem, Pa.)


  • Two held after grave desecration | The remains of Gladys Hammond, whose son-in-law helps to run a farm breeding guinea pigs for medical research, were dug up in Yoxall, near Lichfield (BBC)
  • Communion-goers warned to take purses | Churchgoers, be warned: One of Christianity's most meaningful rituals can also be a thief's golden opportunity (The Flint Journal, Mi.)
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  • Boy, 16, charged in church rape | A 16-year-old boy has been arrested in the rape of a woman inside a church restroom last month (Houston Chronicle)
  • Imprisoned church bomber critically ill | Bobby Frank Cherry, 74, has had heart problems and diabetes, and relatives said his health had worsened in recent months (Associated Press)
  • Bond set for priest accused of $1 million theft | Money taken from weekly collections, other sources (WMAQ, Chicago)


  • Parishes seek change of heart from leaders | Church officials plan local visits (The Boston Globe)
  • Group to fight church closings | Seven parishes form coalition (The Boston Globe)
  • Seven churches band together to fight closings | The group, called the Council of Parishes, formed after a meeting Wednesday night at St. Anselm in Sudbury, one of two parishes that have been occupied for weeks by church members who refuse to allow the archdiocese to shut them down (Associated Press)
  • Agreement with closing parish collapses | A deal heralded as a breakthrough in the contentious battles between the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and closing parishes crumbled yesterday as members of an East Boston parish said they no longer trusted the archdiocese to stand by its promises (The Boston Globe)
  • Blessed Charles I | Canonizing a relatively recent monarch seems to range beyond the realm of identifying a spiritual role model and into the murky domain of nostalgic monarchists (Editorial, The New York Times)
  • Rosary unites faithful | Biloxi rally a 27-year tradition (The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.)

Church life:

  • Worshippers invited to nominate archbishop | For the first time, the Church of England is advertising the £52,950 post of Archbishop of York in church newspapers following the announcement of the retirement of the incumbent, Dr David Hope (The Telegraph, London)
  • A body divided | United Church of Christ congregations in Connecticut are about to find out just how united they are -- and will be (American-Republican, Waterbury, Conn.)
  • It's church vs. church in Village bldg. battle | This is a case of one Christian church kicking another to the curb - out of a valuable building in a hot neighborhood (New York Daily News)
  • Young clergy declines | Churches are becoming overextended with fewer new faces answering call (The Olympian, Wa.)
  • 'Worlds of Difference': South Korean Christians | Producer Alan Weisman reports on how evangelical Christianity is spreading rapidly across South Korea, and coming into conflict with the traditional Buddhist culture (Day to Day, NPR)
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  • Leveled church's artifacts surfacing | As an excavator removed large pieces of concrete, steel and wood from the rubble of St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church Wednesday, Bohdan Kachorowsky climbed on the pile, looking to retrieve any of the ornate icons and paintings that had adorned the sanctuary (Hartford Courant, Conn.)


  • Evangelical student group sues Penn State | DiscipleMakers claims the school's policies could force the group to accept non-Christian or homosexual students into leadership positions (Associated Press)
  • Divine intervention helps Louisiana College land a president | Having heard about a recent period of dissent and distrust at Louisiana College, a Baptist liberal-arts college in central Louisiana, Malcolm B. Yarnell III considered himself a "reluctant" candidate for its presidency. But he accepted the position anyway. "I became convinced that the Lord wanted me to do this," he says. "He doesn't always call us to comfort." (Chronicle of Higher Education)
  • School board goals draw impassioned opposition | The Charles County Board of Education heard a barrage of criticism this week from parents, teachers and community members who were upset about a recent list of proposed goals for the school system (The Washington Post)
  • Life lessons | Home schoolers shouldn't upset state law (Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • School plan axed after protests | Plans to turn a South Yorkshire school into a city academy sponsored by a group which promotes Christianity have collapsed (BBC)

Missions & ministry:

  • Missionary impossible | Hey, yuppie heathens— are you ready to be saved? Then meet Pastor Scott Rourk, who's come up from Georgia to troll for your soul (Franklin Foer, New York)
  • Christian group spreads gospel in the Himalayas | The first two weeks in September, two teams of six traveled to Far East Asia to bring the gospel to nomadic yak shepherds and their families living in isolated villages far from major cities (Ventura County Star, Ca.)
  • Interfaith group launches anti-poverty effort | They began with prayer - Christians, Jews, Muslims standing side by side Thursday in a downtown cathedral. Now, they hope to do the hard work of providing the moral spark to combat poverty in America's poorest big city (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Oh.)
  • Church groups realize power of the pumpkin | Pumpkin sales help Duluth church youth groups earn money, plant seeds of charity (Duluth News Tribune, Minn.)
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  • Atlanta man presents all 20,000 words of Gospel of John | Proceeds go to international children's relief organizations (Juneau Empire, Alaska)


  • Dharma takes root in the suburbs | Local groups adopt practices (The Boston Globe)
  • Thais to curb supernatural excess | Thailand says it will begin registering faith healers and launch a campaign to educate people on the rights and wrongs of supernatural beliefs (BBC)
  • Why religion's out and we're loving angels instead | How, in today's secular world, do people actually define "an angel" - and why do so many people believe in them? (Evening News, Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Strange brew | North Texas seems to be attracting more than its share of sexual and religious turmoil (Fort Worth Weekly, Tex.)

Media & music

  • KOCE sale moves a step closer | The fundraising foundation says it has the $7.9 million needed for the down payment on the Orange County public TV station (Los Angeles Times)
  • Highest bidder finds funds to buy KOCE | Foundation announces it has the money to purchase station, but competitor contends deal is not done because appeal is pending (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • God is in the details | The World Journalism Institute, a self-described "boot camp for Christian journalists," trains evangelical Christians to balance their faith and the demands of working in the mainstream media. At one time or another they've counted a number of high profile reporters amongst their ranks. But lately, falling membership numbers have the Institute studying the example of gay and minority reporters for an example of where to go next (On the Media)
  • Resisting the label of gospel singer | Ebony Jackson harmonizes Christian music with contemporary genres (The Washington Post)


  • Holy smoke, vicar, you've just burnt your book | Best-selling author accidentally destroys manuscript of latest novel on bonfire (The Telegraph, London)
  • Review delayed on sale of creationist book at Grand Canyon | A federal review of whether the book -- which asserts that the canyon was created in a matter of days as a result of the same flood that had threatened to sink Noah and his ark -- should be sold at the park has been delayed for months as officials wrestle with the issue of separation of church and state (The Washington Post)

Art & history:

  • Resurrected: Lost Raphael painting of Christ | An unknown work confidently believed to be by Raphael has been found beneath a later painting which had been put into the wall of an Umbrian church and forgotten (The Guardian, London)
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  • Is Mark really Alexander? | The faithful who honor the remains of St. Mark at St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy, may be paying spiritual homage to Alexander the Great (Steve Gushee, Palm Beach Post, Fla.)

Christian musician wants on Oprah, & in jail:

  • That's a Christian musician, not convicted murderer, on billboard | A Christian musician trying to get on "Oprah" instead caused a firestorm of concern and speculation Wednesday about whether he was connected to a brutal 1986 suburban murder (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)
  • Earlier: Man pleads to Oprah for airtime | It features a photo of a man and the message: "Oprah please … I need help. Send me back to prison! My final plea is to you Miss Winfrey," and it lists a phone number with a Chicago area code (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)
  • Odd plea made on billboard | Not many people are eager to return to prison, but David Joseph is -- and he's asking for Oprah's help to do it on a new west suburban billboard (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Man asks for Oprah's help on billboard | If you really want something, ask the woman who gave cars to her entire talk-show audience (Associated Press)


  • Spirits conjured to save Sox | Menino hopes for divine intervention (WCVB, Boston)
  • Brunell, Gibbs and a higher authority? | Fans who accuse Gibbs of using religion as a factor in deciding his lineup need to shut up (Rich Tandler, Warpath)

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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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