This time, some Christian intellectuals are standing against cultural engagement

Today's Washington Post has what one of the CT editors calls an "almost sympathetic" account of Redeem the Vote, the Christian tour that combines CCM and voter registration.

"It's a fledgling effort and the rocker element still has a slightly forced feel, as when Democrats on the campaign trail appear with soldiers in uniform," writes political reporter Hanna Rosin, who was on the religion beat during the past presidential election. "Nobody mentions Bush or Kerry, and these get-out-the-vote efforts insist they are nonpartisan," but, she says, one is hard-pressed to find a Kerry supporter. "What counts as debate here is Justine Record and William Rassman, two friends from nearby Marion, in a heated discussion about whether God directly determined Bush's election and the Iraq war (he says) or whether human free will had some small hand in it (she says)."

The Redeem the Vote campaign is partly evidence, writes Rosin, that "evangelicals have long passed the point where they expect their kids to sing in the gospel choir and ignore the rest of the world."

But might there be a backlash?

In some ways, it seems the tables are turning. In his Breakpoint commentary last Wednesday, Charles Colson criticized Wheaton College historian Mark Noll's Christian Century article on why he's not voting—and hasn't in the last several presidential elections. For those of you who missed Noll's column, here's the main point:

Seven issues seem to me to be paramount at the national level: race, the value of life, taxes, trade, medicine, religious freedom and the international rule of law. In my mind, each of these issues has a strong moral dimension. My position on each is related to how I understand the traditional Christian faith that grounds my existence. Yet neither of the major parties is making a serious effort to consider this particular combination of concerns or even anything remotely resembling it.

Noll's response to political imperfection sounds an awful lot like the "touch not the unclean thing" mantra of the old-time fundamentalists, says Colson.

That position is dead wrong and damaging to democracy. It's the utopian notion which assumes divine perfection in fallen humans. His assumption that we can support only candidates who have perfect scores according to our reading of the Bible makes me wonder how he votes at all. And if that's the standard, all of us should stop voting.
But that's exactly what the fundamentalist movement did in the early part of the 20th century, the movement Mark Noll so correctly criticizes. Their error was allowing perfectionism to get in the way of their responsibility to act for the common good.
Article continues below

Ouch! Interesting question, though: Has Noll undermined his call for increased cultural and intellectual engagement among evangelicals? This conversation may well continue.

And it's certainly not limited to Noll and Colson. Another highly respected Christian intellectual, Notre Dame philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, is also calling for Christians not to vote. "When offered a choice between two politically intolerable alternatives, it is important to choose neither," he writes on the website of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture.

The only vote worth casting in November is a vote that no one will be able to cast, a vote against a system that presents one with a choice between Bush's conservatism and Kerry's liberalism, those two partners in ideological debate, both of whom need the other as a target. … Try to promote the pro-life case that we have described within the Democratic Party and you will at best go unheard and at worst be shouted down. Try to advance the case for economic justice as we have described it within the Republican Party and you will be laughed out of court. … In this situation a vote cast is not only a vote for a particular candidate, it is also a vote case for a system that presents us only with unacceptable alternatives. The way to vote against the system is not to vote.

But in a Baptist Press opinion piece, pastor Rick Warren says not voting is "inexcusable when you consider what the Bible says about our responsibility as citizens and when you consider the many, many men and women who've given their lives to provide and protect our freedom to vote." If Christians don't vote, he says, "we are actually surrendering our responsibility to choose the direction of our country. If we do not vote, we have no right to criticize or complain when unbiblical decisions are made by the court in the decades ahead."

Hmm. Is there a trend here? We only have a few examples today, but Weblog can't think of any recent articles where a popular pastor or parachurch ministry leader has advocated sitting out the election. Nor have we seen any article by a highly respected Christian academic strongly advocating a Christian obligation to go to the polls. Is there some kind of division here? Is it academically hip not to vote?

Article continues below

Speaking of voting

Weblog has seen many commentaries today responding to Christianity Today's recent editorial, "For Whom Would Jesus Vote?" May seem to suggest that there was a hidden agenda behind it. Here's one blogger:

Christianity Today has an interesting editorial today. It is good to see a little critical reflection on the conservative Christian single-issue obsession with abortion and homosexuality. It almost sounds like they were looking for a safe and quiet way to whisper into people's ears that it is ok for a Christian to vote for Kerry.

Touchstone is livid: "If Christianity Today can't see Brave New World lurking, and the need for Christians to vote against it as a 'single issue,' it has lost its vision of 'faithful evangelical civic engagement,'" writes James Kushiner.

The Journal Standard of Freeport, Illinois, suggested we endorsed Barack Obama over Alan Keyes for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat.

No, no, no, no, no.

Read the editorial again, people. And know that what we said, we meant. There's no hidden agenda. It's not a call for people to vote for any specific candidate. What we said was that Jesus is Lord of all, and the evangelical agenda is broader than limiting abortion. The sanctity of life must be the dominant issue in our minds when we go to the polls, and it's hard to find, as Catholic Archbichop Raymond Burke said, "a proportionate reason to justify favoring the taking of an innocent, defenseless human life."

Bishop responds to stories of his priests involved in pagan worship

Bishop responds to stories of his priests involved in pagan worship
Charles Bennison, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, has issued a statement responding to reports that priests in his diocese are promoting pagan rites:

Accusations against two local priests that they are practicing druids and in violation of their ordination vows are extremely serious and merit further inquiries to establish the facts, the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Bennison, Jr., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, said Friday.
At the same time, it's imperative to ensure that the Revs. Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk and William Melnyk are treated fairly and not victims of a "where there's smoke, there's fire" mentality, he said. "I am extremely concerned by the charges made against the Melnyks, yet I am also concerned about the reputations and pastoral needs of two priests who have contributed very positively to their parishes and this diocese for four years," Bennison said. "I will not allow this situation to turn into a witch-hunt of any sort."
Article continues below
Bennison indicated that he is looking forward to communication with the lay leaders of St.-Francis-in-the-Fields, Sugartown, where Rev. Ruppe-Melnyk is rector and St. James', Downingtown, where her husband serves.
The Bishop said he thought it crucial during this process to hear the voices of those now served by the Melnyks.
"The liturgy at the center of this unfortunate controversy was written years ago for study purposes for a small support group of women in a diocese where the priests previously served. Yet to be determined is the extent to which it represents the priests' present views," Bennison said. "The Melnyks assure me that it has never been used in liturgy or in their prayer life."
The Diocese of Pennsylvania is the fourth largest diocese in the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., incorporating 158 churches in the five-county Philadelphia region and with a membership of more than 60,000.

Weblog may return to this subject next week, but over the weekend, you can discuss Bennison's statement and other updates at Titus One Nine and Midwest Conservative Journal.

More articles

Religion & politics:

  • War has cost 100,000 Iraqi lives | The first scientific study of the human cost of the Iraq war suggests that at least 100,000 Iraqis have lost their lives since their country was invaded in March 2003 (The Independent, London)
  • Republicans target the Amish in battleground states | It has been said that the Old Order Amish pray Republican even if they don't vote Republican. But with the presidential race remaining tight in the final days before the Nov. 2 election, GOP campaign organizers in battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania are hoping to turn Amish social concerns into real support for George W. Bush at the ballot box. (Religion News Service)
  • Pushing the envelope? | The political activities of religious organizations in campaign 2004 (Richard Land, Robert Tuttle, and Ronald Walters, Pew Forum)
  • God on their side | A look at the rise in evangelism that's tipping the country Republican (Jeannette Batz Cooperman, AlterNet)
  • Tumultuous noise | Why are religious conservatives still the squeaky wheels? (Chloe Breyer, Slate)
  • From pulpits, rallying faithful to polls | Christians seek a voice; evangelicals' courting of blacks debated (The Washington Post)
  • For many, church and state aren't separate when it comes to voting | Religious beliefs and moral issues can sway voters (Lansing State Journal, Mi.)
  • Activist says his goals are common | Some candidates shy from Brian Camenker's backing (The Boston Globe)
Article continues below
  • Religious moderates finding their voice | In an election year marked heavily by the intersection of religion and politics, they are frustrated that discourse has centered largely on two issues: abortion and gay marriage (Seattle Times)
  • A new war on poverty | Neither George Bush nor John Kerry is saying enough about poverty -- a state in which 36 million people live, according to 2003 Census data (Editorial, The Boston Globe)
  • Staying on the right side of a political movement | Conservative Christians — and their ideas — threaded throughout Bush administration (MSNBC)
  • Ky. Democrat responds to personal attacks | Daniel Mongiardo says Jim Bunning is calling him gay (Associated Press)

Bush & religion:

  • Faith, hope, and clarity | President Bush's beliefs say in the longest run, divinely guided decisions will be vindicated, and any evidence to the contrary may be a sign of God's continuing involvement (Robert Wright, The New York Times)
  • Moral crisis? Partisan bias | President Bush's "theology of war" (Gregory J. Welborn, The Wall Street Journal)
  • The politics of piety, the language of faith | In this campaign, evangelicals are from Mars, Catholics are from Venus. And that may give Bush the edge over Kerry (David Gibson, Beliefnet)
  • The roots of a switch | The Jewish vote may turn out to be Mr. Bush's secret weapon in 2004 (Michael Taube, The Washington Times)
  • In praise of the President's faith | President Bush's religious faith cannot dictate strategy or tactics in the struggle ahead, but, at least, it has helped him recognize the life and death nature of that struggle (Jonathan Rosenblum, Jewish World Review)

Catholic vote:

  • Catholic voters grappling with values | Kristen Foht calls herself an "extremely pro-life" Democrat. Yet the St. Louis Catholic will vote for Sen. John Kerry on Tuesday, risking a rebuke from her archbishop and her friends in the anti-abortion movement (Associated Press)
  • Archbishop urges 'pro-family' vote in Puerto Rican race | The Catholic appeal coincides with a feud with the gubernatorial front-runner (The Orlando Sentinel)

Kerry & religion:

  • Amazing gall: The Catholic attack on Kerry | Some bishops are turning the polling booth into a gate to hell (Margaret Carlson, Los Angeles Times)
  • America's religious camps | Both the "spiritual" and "secular" voting blocs are growing increasingly distinct and John Kerry wants to have a foot in both worlds. (Gary J. Andres, The Washington Times)
Article continues below

Churches & politics:

  • Pastors used churches as bully pulpit for Kerry, group says | Americans United for Separation of Church and State takes aim at Mount Airy Church of God in Christ in Philadelphia for pastor Ernest C. Morris Sr's comment, "I can't tell you who to vote for, but I can tell you what my mama told me last week: 'Stay out of the bushes.'" (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
  • Church belongs in debate | An archbishop speaking out on abortion and stem-cell research is not akin to his hoisting a cross at the statehouse (David Harsanyi, Denver Post)
  • Church, politics a wary mix | Election creating big role for religion (The Denver Post)

Virginian politicians in religious dispute:

  • Wolf deflects 'extremist' label portrayed in opponent's ad | Opponent says Virginia Congressman is part of an "extremist" Christian group whose members "admire the strength and personal leadership" shown by Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, Ho Chi Minh and Osama bin Laden (The Washington Post)
  • Stark differences stoke a heated campaign | Wolf, Socas trade barbs about fitness as representatives (The Washington Post)
  • Unfair tactics | For Mr. Socas to portray Mr. Wolf as some kind of religious fanatic is reprehensible (Editorial, The Washington Post)

Church & state:

  • Muslims cheer return of Ramadan banners | Banners celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan were again flying from a neighborhood's light posts, a week after the city removed them in a dispute that drew protests and claims of hypocrisy (Associated Press)
  • MSU faith-based project violates Constitution, judge rules | A federal judge in Butte has ruled that Montana State University and its Office of Rural Health violated the separation of church and state by using federal money from President Bush's "faith-based inititative" for programs that promote religion (Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Mont.)
  • Montana university must stop funding Catholic nursing program | Federal magistrate rules director of state college's Office of Rural Health illegally promoted religion by using federal grant to financially support parish nurses (Associated Press)
  • New county seal will cost $700,000, L.A. officials say | A revised design, minus a golden cross, will be phased in over a year or two (Los Angeles Times)

Ten Commandments:

  • A new judgment day for Decalogue displays | As issue nears high court, argument develops over differing versions of Ten Commandments (Washington Post)
  • Beliefs carved in stone | Christians, atheists gather at Ten Commandments rock (Washington Post)
Article continues below

Same-sex marriage:

  • Churches key to Mich. fight on gay marriage | Faithful line up on both sides of issue (The Washington Post)
  • Marriage amendments all expected to pass | State constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman are likely to pass in all 11 states where they are on the Nov. 2 ballot, making the amendment a factor in the presidential race in three battleground states — Michigan, Ohio and Oregon (The Washington Times)
  • Gay couples to gain pension rights | Same-sex couples may gain the same legal rights as married couples to company pension scheme benefits (BBC)
  • Marriage and politics | With measures banning same-sex marriage on the ballot in 11 states, those who favor giving gay partners the right to marry need to brace themselves for some setbacks. (Editorial, The New York Times)

EU homosexuality row:

  • Pope enters fray on European Commission dispute | Pope John Paul, a close friend of Rocco Buttiglione, dived into the crisis over the new European Commission on Thursday, saying it had to be resolved by showing respect for all points of view (Reuters)
  • Gay rights row leaves EU in crisis | European Union leaders will meet in emergency session in Rome tomorrow to deal with an unprecedented institutional crisis that deepened yesterday when the incoming commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, was forced to withdraw his entire team of commissioners (The Guardian, London)
  • EU boss seeks Commission changes | Several changes may have to be made to the new European Commission, its president-designate Jose Manuel Barroso said a day after withdrawing his team(BBC, video)
  • Remark on homosexuality delays seating of European panel | Comments about homosexuality to the withdrawal of a slate of commissioners presented by the new president of the European Commission (The New York Times)
  • Pope steps in for his friend Buttiglione | The Pope intervened yesterday in the EU's institutional impasse caused by MEPs' opposition to his close friend and confidant Rocco Buttiglione, an outspoken critic of gay and women's rights, as the new justice commissioner (The Guardian, London)
  • Pope enters fray on European Commission dispute | Pope John Paul, a close friend of Rocco Buttiglione, dived into the crisis over the new European Commission on Thursday, saying it had to be resolved by showing respect for all points of view (Reuters)

EU Constitution:

  • New constitution ignores Europe's Christian history | When European Union leaders gather in Rome to sign their new constitution today, they will rebuff Pope John Paul II and his effort to acknowledge Christianity in the historic document (Religion News Service)
Article continues below
  • Leaders sign EU's first Constitution | On Thursday, Pope John Paul II again criticized the EU for erasing any mention of the role of Christianity in European history, calling it "an undeniable fact that no historian can forget" (Associated Press)

Church life:

  • Missing the message? | Critics say popular culture in church is confusing (South Bend Tribune, Ind.)
  • Bishop candidates face the faithful | It was a little like speed dating. The eight men who want to be bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego scooted from room to room at St. Dunstan's Church in San Carlos on Tuesday night for 20-minute question-and-answer sessions with lay delegates, clergy and interested parishioners (San Diego Union-Tribune)
  • Lutheran Church loses over 70,000 members in 2000—2003 | Over 80% of Finns still church members (Helsingin Sanomat, Finland)
  • Kirk opens £10m Galilee retreat | The Church of Scotland is opening its controversial retreat in the Holy Land (BBC)
  • Hymnary shakes faith in the Kirk | Danger of Jerusalem ban (The Evening News, Edinburgh, Scotland)

African Anglican bishops meeting:

  • African bishops threaten split over homosexuality | African Bishops condemned the Anglican Church's stance on homosexuality yesterday and said that they would stop sending priests to be trained in countries where same-sex relationships were accepted (The Independent, London)
  • Gay ordination: Obasanjo backs African bishops | Seeks support on debt relief (This Day, Lagos, Nigeria)
  • Gay priesthood unbiblical, Obasanjo tells African bishops | President Olusegun Obasanjo commenting for the first time on the gay bishop issue that has threatened the soul of the Anglican Communion , yesterday, saluted the wisdom, courage and resilience of the African Bishops for standing so firmly against attempts to undermine the Christian faith and falsify the gospel and the Word of God (Vanguard, Nigeria)

Anglican Communion:

  • Gay bishops will split us, says Jensen | The 70-million strong global Anglican church will grow further apart over the "explosive" issue of openly homosexual bishops, Sydney's Archbishop Peter Jensen has warned (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Also: Face up to reality of split, Anglicans told (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Africans: Pro-gay U.S. church follows new religion | African bishops representing a majority of the world's Anglicans said on Friday North American sections that embrace homosexuality should be seen as following a different religion (Reuters)
Article continues below
  • Archbishop condemns gambling proposals | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has intensified the Church's attack on the Government's Gambling Bill and said that it will endanger the vulnerable(The Telegraph, London)
  • Religion news in brief | Episcopal churches join Brazil, Urbana leaves Urbana, South Dakota teacher returns to after-school Bible study, Orthodox synod in Syria approves self-government for North Americans, and other stories (Associated Press)


  • Cornerstone anchors MBA program in religion | What would Jesus do in the corporate boardroom? (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)
  • Religion, funding split school board hopefuls in Calvert | Candidates differ sharply on issues including prayer in school and banning books from reading lists (The Washington Post)
  • Honoring all the saints | Students try on the mantle of sainthood for a day (The Kansas City Star)
  • Student barred from distributing fliers | A fourth-grader and her mother claim a school district violated the girl's constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection by refusing to allow her to distribute "personal statement" fliers to other students because they carried a religious message (Associated Press)

Creation & evolution:

  • Creationism and science clash at Grand Canyon bookstores | The universe formed billions of years ago, Earth formed billions of years later and the Grand Canyon was shaped by millions and millions of years of hydrology, chiefly the action of the Colorado River. Other ideas, however dearly held, are myths (The New York Times)
  • Was Darwin wrong? | No. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming (National Geographic)
  • Trial date set in evolution textbook case | A trial date has been set for a lawsuit seeking to have Cobb County remove disclaimers about evolution from its science textbooks (Associated Press)

UK students to learn six religions

  • Overhaul for religious teaching | The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority says pupils should study other faiths alongside Christianity to help foster understanding and respect (BBC)
  • Major religious teaching reforms | The first religious education"framework" is expected to recommend that secular philosophies and world views independent of any religion should be taught alongside Christianity (Press Association, U.K.)
  • Pupils must be familiar with six religions | As well as studying Christianity throughout their time at school, pupils should learn about the five other principal religions in Britain and be taught a secular world view "where appropriate", a Government report said yesterday (The Telegraph, London)
Article continues below
  • Religious education classes seek to guard against causing hatred through ignorance | Secular philosophies such as humanism should be taught alongside Christianity and other religions such as Islam and Judaism in schools, the Government said yesterday (The Times, London)
  • Schools instructed to provide atheism lessons alongside religious education | Atheism and minority faiths such as Baha'i and Zoroastrianism should be taught alongside Christianity in schools, the first national guidelines on religious education say (The Independent, London)
  • Religious guidance unites faiths | The government achieved the rare feat of uniting the Church of England and the British Humanist Association yesterday in supporting the publication, for the first time, of a national framework for religious education in schools (The Guardian, London)
  • 'This will strengthen religious studies' | We must not seek to impose faith on our children, but we cannot fail them by ignoring their fundamentally important spiritual and religious development (Kenneth Stevenson, The Times)

Closing Catholic parishes:

  • Parish putting faith in vigil | Say archdiocese is being vague (The Boston Globe)
  • Everett church is 6th to have parishioner sit-in | The archdiocese officially closed St. Therese Catholic Church yesterday, but an all-night prayer vigil started by four parishioners after the closing Mass on Tuesday night quickly gained momentum (The Boston Globe)
  • Churches scold archdiocese with billboard campaign | The message, proclaimed for weeks from altars and behind church doors, now screams across the rooftops of Greater Boston: ''Thou Shalt Not Close Vibrant Parishes" (Associated Press)


  • This time, it's the faithful hero that needs the rescue | Monks at Great St. Bernard Pass, Switzerland, are looking to sell the 18 St. Bernards that still belong to the hospice (The New York Times)
  • Minneapolis Catholic church censured for Gay Pride support | A Catholic church in Minneapolis known for its progressive stands on social issues has been ordered by the Vatican and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to remove Gay Pride material from its Web site and stop allowing unordained guests to speak during mass (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • Friar's faith in abstract angel | A Franciscan friar with a love of abstract art has unveiled a new sculpture which he hopes will help bring religious art into the 21st century (BBC)
Article continues below
  • Church takes aim at rosary fashionistas | Rosary beads are the hot new fashion accessory, but the country's Roman Catholic Church is not amused (Reuters)

Catholic & Orthodox relations:

  • Ecumenical patriarch to travel to Vatican | Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, will travel to Rome on Nov. 26 and Pope John Paul II will hand over the relics of patriarchs Saints John Chrysostom and Gregory Nazianzen at a ceremony the following day in St. Peter's Basilica, officials at the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate said (Associated Press)
  • Religion today: Icon diplomacy | as the visit of a U.S. table tennis team to China — "pingpong diplomacy" — helped open the way for a visit by President Richard Nixon in 1972, the Vatican is hoping that a series of small steps can break down barriers with the Russian Orthodox Church and Orthodoxy elsewhere, bringing Pope John Paul II to Russia (Associated Press)


  • Vt. bishop offers parishioners flu tips | You can pray you won't get the flu, but Vermont's Catholic bishop is urging other steps as well (Associated Press)
  • U.S. creates ethics panel on priority for flu shots | For the first time in its history, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a permanent panel of ethicists on vaccine distribution. (The New York Times)
  • The Columbia University 'miracle' study: Flawed and fraud | The much-hyped Columbia University prayer study was flawed and suspicious from the start but now has been fatally tainted with fraud (Skeptical Inquirer)

Stem cells:

  • Potential of stem cells relentlessly oversold | There are few things more morally dubious than over-promising a cure to the public, much less to suffering families (Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times)
  • A closer look at the stem cell record | Senator John Kerry exaggerates the potential gains from embryonic stem cell research, and President Bush understates the degree to which he has prevented such research (The New York Times)
  • Pelosi criticizes Bush stance on stem-cell research | Pelosi, a frequent critic of the Bush administration, took aim at the administration for advancing what she called a "radical right-wing agenda" by placing strict limitations on the technology (Las Vegas Sun)
  • Approved stem cells' potential questioned | All of the human embryonic stem cells available to federally funded scientists under President Bush's three-year-old research policy share a previously unrecognized trait that fosters rejection by the immune systems, diminishing their potential as medical treatments, new research indicates (The Washington Post)
Article continues below

Mel Gibson opposes Calif. stem cell initiative:

  • Mel Gibson joins fight on Prop. 71 | On ABC's "Good Morning America," Gibson said he was so concerned about the initiative that he called another celebrity, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Los Angeles Times)
  • Mel Gibson weighs in on stem-cell issue | Gibson appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" and said he had an "ethical problem" with the California proposition (Associated Press)

Aborted baby used as transplant tissue:

  • Abortion row fears over eye cure | US scientists have successfully restored a woman's vision using eye cells taken from aborted fetuses (BBC)
  • Blinded woman's sight restored | A totally blind woman has regained her sight after a pioneering transplant of retinal cells into one of her eyes, scientists revealed yesterday (The Telegraph, London)


  • John Kerry's abortion ban | The campaign confirms that Kerry supports a measure that could ban thousands of abortions (Beliefnet)
  • The abortion debate | Whoever wins on Tuesday (or whenever the final results come in) will likely appoint at least two — and possibly three or four — justices to the high court (Erika Bachiochi, The Washington Times)
  • Life of the party | The Democrats' silencing of Bob Casey continues to rattle through our political halls today. (William McGurn, National Review Online)
  • Life, pro-life, and statistics | Was Glen Stassen right? (Sojomail)

Life ethics:

  • Rethink of law on mercy killing | Mercy killings could be removed from the category of murder and no longer punished by a life sentence under the first fundamental review of murder law for more than 50 years, announced yesterday by the home secretary, David Blunkett (The Guardian, London)

Religious freedom:

  • U.N. warns against restricting religions | A U.N. human rights expert warns growing tensions between religious communities will only worsen if governments try to restrict freedom of religion (UPI)
  • Conscientious cop punished anyway | A police officer who refused to arrest a homeless man in 2002 was put on probation Thursday for one year for disobeying an order (Associated Press)
  • Police officer is put on a year's probation for refusing to arrest a homeless man | Eduardo Delacruz, who cited his religious beliefs after he refused to arrest a sleeping homeless man in 2002, was placed on probation for one year for disobeying an order, the Police Department said yesterday (The New York Times)
Article continues below
  • Target silences Salvation Army bells | Company to enforce solicitation policy, won't allow Salvation Army's kettles, fund raising (The Dallas Morning News)


  • Salem Communications to buy radio station | Christian radio station KGBI-FM will be sold by Grace University in a $10-million deal to Salem Communications Corp., the nation's leading radio broadcaster of religious and family-themed programming (Associated Press)
  • Ground control to Opie and Anthony | Radio hosts who aired church-in-sex stunt move to satellite (The New York Times)
  • Stellar Gospel Awards growing into its 20th year | "I think the (secular music world) is starting to recognize we exist," said Stellar Awards executive producer Don Jackson while announcing the event's broadcast partnership with both UPN and Fox (Houston Chronicle)

Books & the Bible:

  • Beyond 'Da Vinci': A new clue | The title of Dan Brown's next novel will be "The Solomon Key," a nugget Mr. Brown's publisher let slip during a lunch on Wednesday with reporters. (The New York Times)
  • Dutch Bible translation slammed as 'too modern' | The New Bible Translation (De Nieuwe Bijbelvertaling) was to be unveiled in Rotterdam on Wednesday and launched in Antwerp for the Belgian market on Friday (Expatica, Netherlands)


  • National Gallery displays new purchase | The 14th-century Coronation of the Virgin by Bernardo Daddi, which went up in the gallery yesterday, is older and rarer than even an early Raphael, and cost £1.5m (The Guardian, London)
  • Italy asks a banner question: Whodunit? | Some Art experts believe letters on saint's cloak are Raphael's monogram (The Washington Post)

Jesus, black icon:

  • So what colour was Jesus? | Jesus has been named the top black icon by the New Nation newspaper. Their assertion that Jesus was black has raised eyebrows in some quarters - so what colour was he? (BBC)
  • Jesus the black icon tops list of greatest | According to the black newspaper New Nation, the individuals most worthy of iconic status are Jesus, the Rev Martin Luther King and Malcolm X (The Guardian, London)


  • Annan urged to report Sudan deaths daily | Leaders representing over 100 million Christians, Muslims and Jews urged Secretary-General Kofi Annan to report the number of deaths and rapes in Sudan's Darfur region daily to highlight what they say is genocide (Associated Press)
  • How a crisis catches world's attention | Aid workers try to figure out why some human rights calamities are allowed to fester. The Sudanese disaster was once just that sort (Los Angeles Times)
Article continues below
  • Religious to U.N.: Genocide in Sudan | Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel and interfaith leaders Wednesday told U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan the conflict in Sudan amounts to "genocide." (UPI)


  • Church, Zanu PF on collision course over NGO bill | The Catholic magazine, Mukai/Vukani, published by the Jesuits in Zimbabwe feels that the church and the ruling Zanu PF of President Robert Mugabe is on a collision course over the Non-Governmental Organisation Bill which has already been tabled before Parliament and might be enacted soon (The Daily News, Zimbabwe)
  • The church at war with itself | Can the Church really profess to preach the good news when it is not at peace with itself? (Editorial, Mmegi/The Reporter, Botswana)
  • Hooked on failure | In Africa's fight against AIDS, the United States continues to support family-planning groups that stifle the White House abstinence and fidelity message (Priya Abraham, World)
  • Nigerian woman appeals stoning sentence | Lawyers for a woman sentenced to death by stoning for allegedly committing adultery asked an Islamic court in northern Nigeria on Wednesday to overturn the verdict, and the judge said he would issue a ruling in two weeks (Associated Press)
  • Curfew ordered in troubled Liberia | Mobs brandishing machetes, sticks and Kalashnikov rifles rampaged through Liberia's war-shattered capital Friday, prompting the country's leader to order an immediate daylight curfew to stem the rare Muslim-Christian violence (Associated Press)

Film & theater:

  • The messiah, take two | In `The Chosen People,' a Canadian filmmaker looks at who Jews for Jesus really are (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)
  • Hollywood's version of hell is coming to an end | With a rotating cast of celebrities, including Bill Maher, Penn Gillette and Richard Belzer playing Satan, "Hollywood Hell House" has become the hottest show in town since it opened in August (Reuters)


  • Evil really is out there, but not under pointy hats | There's nothing inherently wrong with celebrating Halloween, and thinking about folklore and dark spirits (Julia Baird, The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • 'Witch' pardons come centuries too late | A Scottish township plans to mark Halloween by officially pardoning 81 people — and their cats — executed centuries ago for being witches (Associated Press)
Article continues below


  • Observances begin for longtime cardinal | Viewing for Hickey continues today (The Washington Post)
  • Hickey recalled fondly by Catholics | Hundreds of Catholics bid farewell yesterday to Cardinal James Aloysius Hickey at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, where he began serving as archbishop of Washington in 1980 (The Washington Times)
  • Nine tour Britons die in Jordan bus crash | Nine British tourists on a pilgrimage tour of Jordan died yesterday when their coach overturned near the ancient city of Petra (The Telegraph, London)


  • Minister pleads guilty in 'Oprah' case | A former minister who was hospitalized after his adult daughters accused him on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" of molesting them pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to 36 years in prison (Associated Press)
  • Minister ailing after daughters on 'Oprah' | A former Lincoln County minister was hospitalized after his adult daughters went on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and accused him of molesting them (Associated Press)
  • Adventist to get $20,000 in bias-suit settlement | The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced yesterday that it had settled a discrimination lawsuit against an Everett restaurant that had fired a Seventh-day Adventist employee for refusing to work on a Saturday, the employee's Sabbath (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • Davenport diocese settles cases | A total of $9 million will be divided among men who alleged sexual abuse by priests (Des Moines Register, Ia.)
  • Priest who disrupted Olympics in abuse trial | A former Irish priest famous for stunts that disrupted the marathon at the Athens Olympics and Britain's Grand Prix denied charges on Wednesday of indecency with a schoolgirl (Reuters)
  • Abuse alleged in Mormon lawsuit | Man says the church shielded his attacker (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • Priests' files to be kept secret | Major victory for Catholic Church as Oakland judge reverses earlier ruling (The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Ca.)
  • Judge orders priest's files kept private | A California judge ordered the employment records of Roman Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse in dozens of civil cases be kept confidential — an apparent reversal from an earlier recommendation that they be made public (Associated Press)
  • Iowa Catholic diocese to pay $9 million | The Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport agreed to pay $9 million Thursday to settle 37 claims of sexual abuse by priests — a deal that could lift any immediate threat of bankruptcy (Associated Press)
  • Maine diocese settles lawsuit | Payment covers cost of therapy (Associated Press)
Article continues below

More articles of interest:

  • Suit: Clinton tryst cost me my job | Claims affair led to abuse by Quakers (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Priest's arrest fuels anger of supporters of Aristide | Rev. Gérard Jean-Juste, a vocal supporter of the former Aristide government, was accused of involvement in a wave of violence in Haiti (The New York Times)
  • Trading family values | How the old conservative/liberal stereotypes break down when it comes to parenting (Ann Hulbert, Slate)
  • All aboard with Satan's sailor | What does a Satanist do? Although the question is obviously more pressing when the Satanist in question occupies a neighbouring bunk, the crew members of HMS Cumberland cannot be the only people curious about the worshipping style favoured by Leading Hand Chris Cranmer, the naval technician who has just been granted permission to practise his faith on board a Royal Navy frigate (Catherine Bennett, The Guardian, London)

Related Elsewhere:

Suggest links and stories by sending e-mail to

What is Weblog?

Check out Books & Culture's weekly weblog, Content & Context.

See our past Weblog updates:

October 28 | 27 | 26 | 25
October 22 | 21b | 21a | 18b | 18a
October 15 | 13 | 12 | 11
October 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4
October 1 | September 30 | 29 | 28 | 27
September 24 | 23 | 22 | 21 | 20
September 17 | 16 | 15 | 13
September 10 | 9 | 8 | 7

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.
Previous Weblog Columns: