Got a problem with religious freedom? Redefine religious.

Got a problem with religious freedom? Redefine religious.
The Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear an appeal by Catholic Charities of Sacramento in which the organization asked to be exempt from a law forcing non religious employers to include birth control in health benefits. The Charities said forcing them to pay for contraception would conflict with church teaching and would violate the First Amendment, which allows the free exercise of religious beliefs.

"If the state of California can coerce Catholic agencies to pay for contraceptives, it can force them to pay for abortions,'' said Charities attorney Kevin Baine.

In March, the California Supreme Court also ruled against Catholic Charities, saying the ministry was not a religious employer because most of its employees are not Catholic and its services—counseling, low-income housing, and immigration services—are secular.

After that ruling, Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, said, "This case was never about contraceptives. … It was about our ability to practice our religion—providing food, clothing, and shelter to the neediest among us—as a religious organization which is part of the Catholic Church."

The California Catholic Charities and the California Catholic Conference have yet to comment on the decision. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU applauded it.

Pro-life groups worry that states will soon force religious organizations such as hospitals and schools to pay for abortions. "California is just one court case away from requiring employers, even churches, to cover abortions in their health-insurance policies," said Jan Carroll of the California Pro-Life Council.

But, the state argued that Catholic Charities was not a religious organization, even though it described itself as an "organ" of the church. According to the state, a religious employer is one that 1) inculcates religious values, 2) primarily employs people of the same beliefs, 3) primarily serves people of the same beliefs, and 4) is organized as a non profit. The California Supreme Court decided, "Catholic Charities does not qualify as a "religious employer" under the WCEA [Women's Contraception Equity Act] because it does not meet any of the definition's four criteria."

California's Women's Contraception Equity Act forced insurers to pay for contraception following the widespread inclusion of Viagra on insurance plans soon after its release on the market.

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By the Court's decision, it affirms the state's ability to define religious. So, look out if your beliefs tell you to do anything other than minister to people who already share your beliefs. Promoting justice, as Catholic Charities explained its purpose, is a secular task.

Moore's last chance denied

Moore's last chance denied
The Supreme Court also refused to hear Alabama Judge Roy Moore's appeal in which he basically asked for his old job back. Moore was booted from his position as Alabama Supreme Court chief justice after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument he had installed in the state judicial building.

"I am disappointed but not surprised that this liberal Supreme Court, which opens every session with 'God save the United States and this honorable court,' would now simply ignore the fact that the chief justice of a state was removed from office because he acknowledged who God is," Moore said.

He told the Montgomery Advertiser, "God is sovereign and shall remain so despite what the Supreme Court and federal district courts of this land say. I have kept my oath and my promise to the people of the state of Alabama. I've obeyed the rule of law by not following the unlawful dictates of man."

So far, Moore has announced no plans to seek another public office.

More articles:

Roy Moore:

  • Moore vows battle not over | Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore saw his last chance to regain his post fade away when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday not to hear his appeal. (Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)
  • Supreme Court rejects Commandments case | The three-year legal battle over ousted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his Ten Commandments monument ended quietly Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) rejected Moore's final appeal. (Associated Press)
  • Supreme Court adds weight to Moore ouster | Followers of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore are no doubt disappointed the highest court in the land wouldn't hear his case. (Editorial, The Decatur Daily, Iowa)

U.S.—freedom of religious practice:

  • An invidious prohibition | In July, a commission of the American Bar Association proposed a potentially momentous change to its Model Code of Judicial Conduct. That code, which both the federal government and many state governments have used as a guide, would now expand a prohibition against judges' membership in "discriminatory organizations" to include any group that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. (National Review Online)
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  • Comfortable culture dangerous | It's not hard to imagine a scenario where evangelical Christians began arguing that learning evolutionary theory is a traumatic experience for their children, an insensitive attack on a belief that is central to the evangelical identity: biblical literalism. (Minnesota Daily)

Religious freedom:

  • The world will hate you | I have been in Thailand this week, near Bangkok, involved in meetings surrounding the issue of the persecuted church. Almost every region where persecution occurs is represented. The reports from all of these places have been both sobering and fascinating. (Roanoke Times, VA)
  • 'Emulate Christian martyrs' | Vicar of the Saint Michael's Anglican Church, Coker Lagos, Venerable Joe Onyechefulechukwu Eziaghighala, yesterday urged Christians to emulate legacies of early Christians, particularly those who died for the faith. (This Day, Nigeria)
  • Extremists crack down on liquor stores in Iraq | Militants have begun targeting shops, trying to enforce Islamic laws. Many owners have given up, while others hire guards or sell secretly. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Iraq's Christians seek sanctuary in neighbor nations | Iraqi Christians flock to the Latin Catholic church in the Hashmi district of the Jordanian capital, a drab working-class area, where they celebrate mass in the ancient Chaldean language. (Assyrian International News Agency)
  • Nine Iraqis, including seven Christians, killed in Baghdad ambush | Seven Iraqi Christians, their Muslim driver and his son were killed in an ambush on their minibus in the south of Baghdad earlier in the week, police said Saturday. (Agence France Presse)
  • EU a fragile hope for Istanbul's Christians | Andrea is a "Rum," Tarin is Armenian, Giovanni a Levantine. For centuries, their communities served as bridges between Europe and the Ottoman Empire whose successor, Turkey, is now seeking full European Union membership. All three are Christian and favor the mainly Muslim country's entry into the EU and see in it a fragile hope for their disappearing cultures. (Agence France Presse)

North & South Korea:

  • S.Korean conservatives stage big anti - North rally | About 100,000 South Koreans staged an anti-communist rally on Monday, burning North Korean flags to press their calls for the downfall of the Pyongyang government and an end of its suspected nuclear weapons programs. (Reuters)
  • S.Korean conservatives stage big anti-north rally | About 100,000 South Koreans staged an anti-communist rally on Monday, burning North Korean flags to press their calls for the downfall of the Pyongyang government and an end of its suspected nuclear weapons programs. (Reuters)
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  • Huge rally opposes anticommunist law repeal | Tens of thousands of conservatives assembled in a mass rally yesterday in front of Seoul City Hall to protest the Roh Administration's plan to repeal the National Security Law. Some of the demonstrators also waved banners showing opposition to other administration policies. (The Korea Herals, South Korea)

Human rights:

  • Refuges needed to curb sex trade | The number of women trafficked into the UK to work in the sex trade will grow dramatically unless urgent action is taken to provide more refuges for those forced into prostitution. (The Observer, UK)
  • Witness says former archbishop raised alarm over lists | A prosecution witness in the trial of members of the Rwandan interim government, Monday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), that a former Archbishop of Kigali had condemned the compilation of lists of people to be killed. (Hirondelle News Agency, Lausanne)


  • New peace force on way to Darfur | Thousands of African troops were preparing for deployment in Darfur yesterday after Sudan agreed a 10-fold expansion of the African Union force in the region. (Daily Telegraph, UK)
  • Beshir slams Western role in Darfur | Sudanese leader accuses aid organizations, Western governments of using Darfur as cover for missionary activity. It was not the first time that Sudan's military-backed regime had sought to portray the diplomatic crisis over the war in Darfur as a battle between Islam and Christianity. (Middle East Online, UK)
  • The madness in Darfur is 25 years in the making | "The first major displacement of non-Arab Sudanese to Kenya and Uganda was in 1958". "Dar" means homeland, and Darfur refers to the homeland of the Fur people". In this third part of our five- part syndicated series on the Darfur conflict, Peter Kimani traces the genesis of this complex crisis (The Monitor, Kampala, Africa)
  • Sudan president slams Western role in Darfur ahead of truce talks | Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir hit out at the West's role in Darfur as a government delegation headed to neighbouring Chad Monday for talks on a troubled truce in the ravaged western region. (Agence France Presse)
  • Blood brothers | Only a genuine division of power in multicultural Sudan can put an end to the country's bitter sibling rivalries. (The Guardian, UK)

War & terrorism:

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  • Dalai Lama: Religion not cause of violence | The Dalai Lama on Monday told more than 1,000 people at the National Cathedral he doesn't believe differences between fundamentalist Islam and the religions of the West are the cause of war and modern violence. (Associated Press)
  • Subjugation in the name of 'reform' | In the process of conquering Iraq and Afghanistan and taking an aggressive posture toward other Muslim countries -- including Iran, Sudan, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan -- the United States is now trying hard to weaken its enemy by calling for the separation of Mosque and state, even as American-style Christianity is stamped all over Washington's own domestic politics. (Mohamed Elmasry, National Post, Canada)
  • Without mutual respect for others, our dialogue is essentially dead | Christianity is, of course, not alone in teaching us to rise above our baser natures. A local rabbi reminded me (with a roomful of others) that Judaism and Christianity share the first two commandments (Asheville Citizen-Times, Tenn.)
  • Religion should unite rather than divide humanity | In the wake of the end of cold war and ideological confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States some western ideologues and politicians are raising the specter of another period of turmoil and conflict based this time on religious differences. (The Daily Star, Bangladesh)

Pat Robertson in Israel:

  • Pat Robertson warns Bush against dividing Jerusalem | American evangelist Pat Robertson warned U.S. President George W. Bush today that he would risk losing the support of evangelical Christians if he changed his position supporting Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. (Associated Press)
  • Christians visit Israel in solidarity | Led by American evangelist Pat Robertson, thousands of Christian pilgrims gathered in the Holy Land on Sunday to express support for Israel. (Associated Press)
  • Evangelist Robertson warns Bush on Israel | American evangelist Pat Robertson warned U.S. President Bush that he would risk losing the support of evangelical Christians if he changed his position supporting Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. (Associated Press)
  • Christians vow support for Israel | Several thousand flag-waving Evangelical Christians marched through downtown Jerusalem Monday afternoon in a colorful parade marking the Feast of Tabernacles at a time of growing ties between Israel and Evangelical Christians around the world. (Jerusalem Post, Israel)
  • Robertson warns Bush against dividing Jerusalem | Prominent American Evangelical leader Pat Robertson on Monday warned US President George W. Bush against supporting any future division of Jerusalem, warning that such a move would cost him the support of tens of millions of Evangelical Christians who traditionally vote Republican. (Jerusalem Post, Israel)
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  • `Don't touch Jerusalem,' Evangelical leader warns Bush | Influential American evangelist Pat Robertson said yesterday that Evangelical Christians feel so deeply about Jerusalem that if President George W. Bush were to "touch" the city, Evangelicals would abandon their traditional Republican leanings and form a third party. (Ha'aretz, Israel)
  • Evangelist Pat Robertson leads pilgrims to Israel | Led by American evangelist Pat Robertson, thousands of Christian pilgrims gathered in the Holy Land on Sunday to express support for Israel. (Associated Press)
  • Robertson: If Bush 'touches' Jerusalem, we'll form 3rd party | Influential American evangelist Pat Robertson said Monday that Evangelical Christians feel so deeply about Jerusalem, that if President George W. Bush were to "touch" Jerusalem, Evangelicals would abandon their traditional Republican leanings and form a third party. (Ha'aretz, Israel)
  • Evangelical pilgrims show unity with Israel | Led by American evangelist Pat Robertson, thousands of Christian pilgrims gathered in the Holy Land on Sunday to express support for Israel, with hundreds joining a mass prayer session in a Jerusalem park. (Associated Press)
  • Pat Robertson: "Road map" is a "Satanic plan" | A group of some 4000 American evangelical Christians are in Israel to underscore their support for the Jewish state and opposition to any peace settlement with the Palestinians involving territorial concessions. (Palestine-info, UK)
  • Evangelical leader calls for abolishing UNRWA | Prominent American Evangelical leader Pat Robertson said Monday the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) should be dismantled. (Jerusalem Post, Israel)
  • Evangelist warns Bush over Jerusalem | American evangelist Pat Robertson has warned President George Bush that he will risk losing the support of evangelical Christians if he changes his support for Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. (Al-Jazeera, Qatar)
  • Christian pilgrims show support for Israel | Led by American evangelist Pat Robertson, thousands of Christian pilgrims gathered in the Holy Land on Sunday to express support for Israel, with hundreds joining a mass prayer session in a Jerusalem park. (Associated Press)
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  • Thousands to join Jerusalem march | Tens of thousands of people are expected to throng the streets of downtown Jerusalem Monday afternoon for the annual Succot march. (Jerusalem Post)

Muslims in the U.S.:

  • Study finds city's Muslims growing closer since 9/11 | Facing increased discrimination after the Sept. 11 attacks, New York City's Muslims have identified more deeply with their religious roots, setting aside the sectarian and linguistic differences that have traditionally divided them, according to a six-year study released yesterday by Columbia University. (The New York Times)
  • Group's website challenges mosque | Society accused of extremism (Boston Globe)
  • Christian-Muslim dialogue held at First Presbyterian Church | The two men who participated in the dialogue were Dr. Emad Ramzy Philobbos, a Christian, and Abou Elela Mady, a Muslim. Both are from Cairo, Egypt. (Chariton Newspapers, Iowa)
  • Stronger Muslim-Christian relations the topic of panel | The United States doesn't respect the opinions of smaller, poorer countries, and that has created an atmosphere of animosity and discrimination in this country, John Eter, the Christian director of the Lebanese Institute for Social Work and Development, said. (Greenville Daily Reflector, NC)

Religion & politics:

  • The push to get Americans to the polls | In the sole functioning building on a derelict block in North Philly, staffers of a grassroots community organization attended to last-minute details of a nationwide voter-registration drive yesterday. (The Globe and Mail, Canada)
  • Political speeches and an agnostic | We are deep in the season for political speechmaking -- first, at the party conventions and now, in the presidential debates. All the oratory has gotten religion commentator Gustav Niebuhr thinking about one gifted speaker in particular, Robert Ingersoll, a turn-of-the-century agnostic. (All Things Considered, NPR)
  • Religious groups get into the game | Social issues are pulling both conservatives and liberals into the political process (Winston-Salem Journal, NC)
  • Family at core of Pence's life | Congressman Mike Pence learned to work early in life, growing up in an Irish Catholic family. (Muncie Star Press, Ind.)
  • The great American middle hasn't vanished | For example, Americans whom the pollsters identified as traditionalist evangelical Protestants are the most conservative religious group. When asked their political affiliation, 56 percent of them said Republican, 27 percent Democrat -- the biggest Republican edge among religious groups. Mainline Protestants are slightly more Republican than Democrat (44-39), Roman Catholics are slightly more Democrat (44-41). (Ed Williams, Charlotte Observer, NC)
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  • Attitudes toward guns predict places in a divided electorate | After sitting in the pews of their Lutheran church, the Montest family will load up their white Chevy Suburban with guns, ammo and safety gear, and head out from their home in Whispering Woods, a Pittsburgh-area subdivision, to one of the two gun clubs they belong to. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Two profs differ on whether Christians should support Bush, Kerry | Two professors from Concordia University, a Lutheran school in Mequon, are making a series of appearances around the state expressing different views on which candidate Christians should choose for president. (Associated Press)
  • Contradictory polls leave potential voters perplexed | Data doesn't always show full picture. And using the 2000 election, for example, might not account for the left's recent mobilization of new young voters, or the right's mobilization of new evangelical Christian voters. (Oakland Tribune, Calif.)
  • Vote-trading ethics | The strange story of Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) and the Medicare vote has ended with a few surprises -- and that's not even including the sudden, stealthy release of the House ethics committee's report on the matter minutes before the start of last week's presidential debate. (Editorial, Washington Post)
  • Vote boils down to differing worldviews | Bushites, we're told, tend to dwell in red states (read: rural) and belong to the newest category -- the "Retro" group. They lean toward evangelical Christian beliefs, tote guns, attend NASCAR races and prefer God in their Pledge of Allegiance. They are, in other words, ignorant, bigoted, intolerant and un-evolved. (Kathleen Parker, South Bend Tribune, Ind.)
  • Falwell holds gay marriage summit | Evangelical Christian ministers crowded into the Rev. Jerry Falwell's new law school for a pep talk on how to preach conservative politics without running afoul of the law. (
  • It's not too late to become a voter | There is an intense effort nationwide to turn out socially conservative, predominantly white churchgoers, most of whom are likely to vote for Republican President George W. Bush. (New York Newsday)

Politics & the religious left:

  • Raising a red flag in Christendom | As a member of the religious wrong, my voice in the world of Christendom hardly amounts to a peep. Look at the noise the religious right makes as it defends the Iraq war as divinely inspired and cheers on a president as divinely led. (Barrie Hartman, Denver Post)
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  • Moderate, liberal Christians speak up | "We want to let our country know that the word which goes with `Christian' is not necessarily `right'," Hunsinger said. (Trenton Times, NJ)

Faith & local politics:

  • Christian nod goes to both candidates | When Christians go to the polls Nov. 2 to choose the next president, James Burkee and Jeff Walz want them to vote their faith. But the professors - both from Concordia University, a Lutheran school in Mequon - have differing opinions on which candidate Christians should choose. (Wisconsin State Journal)
  • Christian principles for more than one issue | Faith in politics too often is perceived to come in one dimension. (Editorial, Quad City Times)
  • Keyes draws supporters all the way from Texas Republican, Libertarian | "He's not afraid to say exactly what Christians and conservatives think about government," Joshua Malone explained. "Other politicians are concerned about politicking and polls. He sticks to his principles and he's clear about them. He's not afraid to take a stand." (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

Churches & politics:

  • Politics from the pulpit: free speech or partisan danger? | Inside the First Amendment (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)
  • Church list issue creates division | Request by GOP ticket frowned upon by some (The News-Press, Fla.)
  • Politics in church | For the past several weeks, the pastors at the Lexington Baptist Temple have been stressing the importance of voting to their congregation, and they've been listening. (WTVQ, Kentucky)
  • Religion and politics: A tale of two churches | Many Americans decide how to vote by drawing, in part, on their religious beliefs. NPR's Steve Inskeep visits two neighboring churches in the swing state of Pennsylvania, and finds conflicting views among congregants about the presidential candidates and the war in Iraq. (Morning Edition, NPR)
  • Churches a good place to round up votes | Bush campaign pushes hard for evangelical vote, urging supporters to spread word among fellow religionists (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • Rethinking tax status of churches | A reader called to say: Don't believers serve a God that is greater than any measly tax exemption? Christians really shouldn't be willing to shut up in order to get it, should they? Can't congregations trust God over a tax exemption? (Wichita Eagle, Kansas)
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  • Churches agree on opposition to gambling | Churches are divided along liberal and conservative lines on many social issues. But on casino gambling, opposition is coming from across the religious spectrum. (Lincoln Journal Star, Neb.)

Politics & prayer:

  • Politics and the prayer group | At the Cornerstone Family Church in Des Moines, Iowa, a prayer group comes together every Monday to pray for the spiritual health of the nation's politicians. (All Things Considered, NPR)
  • Prayer trumps politics even in the midst of election season | Members of the S.C. House — Republicans and Democrats — will gather today to pledge to pray for our country as we move closer to the November elections. (The State, SC)

Republicans & religion:

  • Bush's fine line: He needs evangelicals, but he can't cater to them | Recent polls look favorable to President Bush's re-election chances. Nonetheless, he still has a tall order ahead of him: to mobilize his core conservative base while also winning those undecided "swing voters" everyone is talking about. (The Free Lance-Star, VA)
  • Black pastors backing Bush are rare, but not alone | In a departure from typical Republican presidential campaigns, the Bush campaign is making a serious push for the allegiance of African-American clergy, while the Democrats are fighting back to motivate them to get their parishioners to the polls. (The New York Times)
  • Faith initiatives challenge religious groups in Bush Country | If any community should have readily responded to President Bush's faith-based initiatives, Waco, just east of his Central Texas ranch, would seem among the most likely. (Palm Beach Post, Fla.)
  • Specter ahead without the right | President Bush might be enjoying greater support from evangelical Christians, but fellow Republican Arlen Specter is not. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • Candidates are targeting evangelical base in W.Va. | Bush campaign volunteers are calling their fellow churchgoers. The Christian Coalition's voting guides will ship out shortly. And pastors across West Virginia are making the case -- sometimes explicitly, sometimes less so -- that President Bush is a better choice on spiritual grounds than Democrat John F. Kerry. (Boston Globe)
  • Why do leftists hate Bush so much? Here are three reasons | Clinton's enemies were pikers compared to today's crop of people who, while they may or may not hate President Bush, certainly seem to dislike him very, very much. (M.D. Harmon, Portland Press Herald, Maine)
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  • Bush campaign's contempt for 'people of faith' | In early 1993, Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf wrote a front-page story that characterized the followers of conservative church leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as being " largely poor, uneducated and easy to command." this time, the offending individuals and institution are the not liberal press or the elite media. No they are President George W. Bush, his closest political advisor Karl Rove and the Republican National Committee, which the Bush White House totally controls. (Mark Shields, CNN)
  • Take a close look at presidential polls | In what looks like a sign of desperation, the Republican National Committee has sent fliers to voters in Arkansas and West Virginia claiming that "liberal politicians" and "activist judges" want to ban the Bible. (Gene Lyons, Decatur Daily Democrat, Ind.)

Bush gains among Catholic voters:

  • Bush makes gains among Catholic voters | A poll of U.S. Roman Catholic voters indicates a break with tradition, with Republican President George Bush leading with 53 percent of the vote. (UPI)
  • Bush makes significant gains in two polls of Catholic voters | President Bush is rapidly tying up the Catholic vote, according to two polls that show him gaining support among this traditionally Democratic group. (The Washington Times)

Religion & politics in Australia:

  • Spreading the word of intolerance | Labor's zealots have a scheme which will put religion in the dock (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)
  • A party from nowhere | While the big parties are courting, others question Family First's religious links (The Age, Australia)
  • Clerics test the faith on ALP schools call | The four church leaders who criticised Labor's schools policy as "potentially divisive" may be surprised to learn their respective flocks are not so easily pigeonholed when it comes to religion and education. (The Australian, Australia)
  • Thousands hit streets to oust Coalition | Muslims for Peace spokesman Paul White said his group was marching against Australia's involvement in the war in Iraq. (The Age, Australia)

Anglican communion in Australia:

  • Register of all church employees | The Anglican Church will set up a national commission to oversee a register of all clergy and paid church employees, including details of any disciplinary action taken against them. But the register will remain confidential, with only bishops and commission-approved diocesan officials authorised to access the information. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)
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  • Growing tensions between progressives and conservatives in Anglican Church | The Anglican Church in Australia is preparing for a show-down between its conservative and progressive forces when its General Synod gets underway in Fremantle. The meeting happens only once every three years and this meeting comes at a time of a growing division in the church, with an increasingly bitter split over issues like homosexuality. (The World Today, ABC, Australia)
  • Head of Anglican Church urges acceptance of homosexuality | In what's tipped to be one of the most divisive general synods in the history of the Anglican Church in Australia, the Head of the Church, Dr Peter Carnley, has urged followers to soften their views towards homosexuals. (ABC Online, Australia)
  • Church boss urges middle road | With his church in danger of fracturing over same-sex unions, the head of the Anglican Church in Australia, Peter Carnley, is urging followers to adjust their attitudes to homosexuality and think of gay relationships as merely "friendship". (Brisbane Courier Mail, Australia)
  • Not gay, just friends: Anglican leader | With his church in danger of fracturing over same-sex unions, the head of the Anglican Church in Australia, Peter Carnley, is urging followers to adjust their attitudes to homosexuality and think of gay relationships as merely "friendship". (The Australian, Australia)

Church & state:

  • Roosevelt quote covered | A Theodore Roosevelt quote displayed on the wall of a courthouse will be covered after critics complained that the comment about Christianity violated the separation of church and state. (Associated Press)
  • Conference about religion's role in democracy | The future of religion in American society will be the topic this week at a four-day symposium that will bring some of the top scholars in the United States and Britain to the University of Tennessee campus. (Knoxville News Sentinel, Tenn.)
  • Clergy to talk prayer with town attorney | The Culpeper Ministerial Association will meet today with Town Attorney Bob Bendall to discuss the issue of opening prayers at Town Council meetings. (Culpeper Star Exponent, VA)

Church & state elsewhere:

  • Declaration of Christian nation must go, submit Catholic Bishops | The Catholic Church says the declaration of Zambia as a Christian Nation should not be enshrined in the Constitution. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola, Africa)
  • Christianity hangs in balance, leading theologian warns | Churches fear being marginalized by state (Globe and Mail, Canada)
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Life ethics:

  • Colo. organ donor case ruled homicide | A western Colorado coroner said yesterday that two hospitals allowed vital organs to be removed from a man before they had proved he was brain dead, and he declared the death a homicide. (Boston Globe)
  • The possibility of cosmetic surgery for the soul | Dr. Anjan Chatterjee, of the department of neurology and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, discussed the many ways that exist and are emerging to tinker with emotions, intellect, memory and other aspects of ourselves by choice. (The New York Times)

Kerry promotes stem-cell research:

  • Kerry promotes expanded stem cell research | John Kerry on Monday accused President Bush of restricting potentially lifesaving stem cell research because of ``extreme right-wing ideology'' and underscored his own strong support for research that polls show has widespread backing. (Associated Press)
  • Kerry calls stem cell policy unscientific and political | John F. Kerry charged Monday that President Bush has "turned his back on science" in limiting embryonic stem cell research financed by the federal government. (Washington Post)
  • Kerry attacks Bush's 'extreme right-wing ideology' in banning stem cell research | John Kerry opened a crucial week in his bid for the White House yesterday with a broadside against George Bush on one of the most emotive issues of the campaign, saying the President had jettisoned science for "extreme right-wing ideology" by curbing federal funding on stem cell research. (Independent, UK)

Same-sex marriage:

  • Gay marriage backers challenge amendments | Eleven states have such amendments on their Nov. 2 ballots, but only in Oregon and Michigan do gay-rights groups and their allies feel they have any realistic chance of defeating them. (The New York Times)
  • Dobson speaks against gay marriage during rally | Thousands attended a rally in western Iowa to hear Christian psychologist James Dobson condemn gay marriage. (Associated Press)
  • Voting religious values | Congregations take opposing sides of measure on same-sex marriages (Corvallis Gazette-Times, Ore.)
  • Same-sex marriage is new front in culture wars | This country was founded on Christian values, which have been constantly under attack from the gay and lesbian community for the past 10 years. This small minority group (1 to 10 percent of the total population) is well organized, active, vocal and intent on changing our social values in order to validate their lifestyle. (Baltimore Sun)
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  • Speakers back traditional marriage at Sioux City rally | A well-known author, radio host and Christian psychologist was heard by thousands of people when he delivered the keynote speech at the "Take a Stand for Marriage" rally at the Tyson Events Center Sunday evening. (Sioux City Journal, Iowa)

Schools to pay free speech related legal fees:

  • Free-speech ruling costs Ann Arbor schools $102,738 | A federal judge has ordered Ann Arbor Public Schools to pay a former student's $102,738 legal bill after she won a free-speech ruling against the district. (Associated Press)
  • Tucson to pay religious organizers' attorney fees | A federal court has ordered the city to pay more than $255,000 in attorney fees to the local organizers of the National Day of Prayer. (Associated Press)
  • Schools ordered to pay legal fees | The fees stem from a July 2002 lawsuit brought against the schools by Betsy Hansen, who was a senior at Pioneer High School during the 2001-02 school year and now attends the University of Florida. She argued that she was prevented from having an adult representative on a "Homosexuality and Religion" panel during the school's "Diversity Week" to convey the message that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin. (The Ann Arbor News, Mich.)


  • Seminary expanding in Dudley Square | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary bought a 15,511-square-foot office building at 90 Warren St. The school plans to move its Urban Ministerial Education program to the new location from Jamaica Plain. (Boston Herald)
  • Applied faith | Theology studies allow for spiritual emphasis (The Georgetown Hoya, Georgetown University)
  • SHC talks about its Jesuit mission and identity | The Very Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Jesuit superior general, will arrive at Spring Hill College this evening for a short stay, in which he is expected to address two of the most important questions facing Spring Hill and the 27 other American Jesuit colleges and universities. How to instill religious and moral values in an increasingly secular world. (The Mobile Register, Ala.)
  • Curriculum is neutral, teaching role of religions in history, literature | Parents of America, beware! Did you know that your children are getting an ''anti-Christian education'' in schools ''run by the enemies of God?'' That's the apocalyptic assertion made earlier this year by lay Baptist leaders T.C. Pinckney and Bruce Shortt. (Allentown Morning Call, Penn.)
  • Courts may be leaning on issue of distribution of religious fliers | That's the no-win dilemma faced by public school officials when religious groups ask schools to distribute fliers to students. (Allentown Morning Call, Penn.)
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Church life:

  • 'Tolerant liberal' tipped for York post Ex-Sheffield churchman favourite to be Archbishop | A tilter at Thatcherism, friend of gays and former Provost of Sheffield Cathedral is emerging as a firm favourite to succeed David Hope as Archbishop of York, the second most senior post in the Church of England. (Yorkshire Post Today, UK)
  • Preacher on Bahrain visit | Indian preacher and author Pastor K C John has arrived in Bahrain to address a series of meetings. (Gulf Daily News, Bahrain)
  • Reverend pushes change in church | Appel is associate pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, the renowned mega-church in Barrington, Ill. He co-authored the book "How to Change Your Church without Killing It." (In-Forum, ND)
  • New pastor installed at Mount Pleasant church | Wellspring Evangelical Free Church's new pastor has traded flocks, so to speak. (Burlington Hawk Eye, Iowa)
  • Glendale church taps Internet to reach global community | The word of God is just a click away as more churches embrace technology in hopes of reaching younger, computer-savvy worshippers, as well as members who have moved away. (Los Angeles Daily News)
  • Job sharing takes on deeper meaning for clergy couples | Job sharing is not a new concept among members of the clergy. Many churches have two or even three pastors who serve the congregation together. (Associated Press)
  • Local church finds permanent home | Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church appears to have finally found a permanent home. (Kewanee Star Courier, Ill.)
  • Faith strong in storm-damaged church | Before Sunday services at Palm Beach Cathedral Assembly of God church, congregants hurriedly swept and mopped the foyer floor of water and debris. (Jupiter Courier, Fla.)
  • Church to mark 100 years Lutheran church serves Lithuanians in Naugatuck area | Of all the members of St. Paul's congregation, which celebrates its 100th anniversary today, Hermonat most acutely understands the membership's ability to overcome tragedy and survive financially. (Waterbury Republican American, Conn.)

New kind of church:

  • Church offers artistic venue | Jacob's Well sponsors events for creative expression. (Oklahoma Daily, OK)
  • Communal Christians | It began as a vision: a Christian community for single women — a communal-living house that focused on ministry and outreach to the surrounding urban community. (Washington Times)
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  • It's all God's music | Places of worship, freed of traditional strictures, bring new music, including jazz and opera, into sanctuary (The Hartford Courant, Conn.)
  • Do-it-yourself worshipping adds to, detracts from organized religions | Looking for a priest she could relate to, Cecilia Schulte had been church shopping since moving to Austin, Texas, a few years ago. But when the fifth parish she tried had an elderly priest and, in her view, not enough participation by women, the 43-year-old internist took a novel approach: She started her own worship group. (The Wall Street Journal, via Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Ind.)
  • Worship reaches out to young adults | Video screens, rock music are part of The Underground (Salem Statesman Journal, Ore.)

Women & religion:

  • Give women more power, says Kirk's Moderator | The Church of Scotland's first woman Moderator has said there are too few women in positions of responsibility in the Kirk despite her elevation to the top job in the organisation. (The Scotsman, UK)
  • Anglican National Synod considers allowing women to become bishops | It might come as a surprise to learn that a lot of the opposition to the ordination of women as Bishops in the Anglican Church is coming from women themselves. (ABC Online, Australia)
  • Anglican Church debates ordination of women bishops | The church's General Synod, meeting in Fremantle in Western Australia, will shortly begin hearing from supporters of the proposal who say that women should be treated equally. (The World Today, ABC Online, Australia)

Missions & ministry:

  • Released prisoner should commit to Christ | I'll be getting out of jail in a few months, and I'm debating what to do next. (Billy Graham, Seattle Post Intelligencer)
  • Storm victim gives thanks despite injuries | Capt. John Cornelius was wounded in action but won't get a Purple Heart. John is an officer in the Salvation Army. (Mike Thomas, Orlando Sentinel)
  • Courage to share | Ex-con turns life around, uses experiences to inspire others (The Decatur Daily, Ala.)
  • 7 churches, community join forces in ShareFest | ShareFest sent more than 500 volunteers to winterize and repair homes, clean up streets and parks, and paint 550 fire hydrants in Antioch. (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)
  • Pastors' 40-day plan: Heal city with prayer | A group of 150 Birmingham-Hoover area pastors has organized a plan for 40 days of prayer to unify the city, called "City, Thou Art Loosed." (The Birmingham News, Ala.)
  • Faith-based group does much good | Of course state and church should tackle social ills (Charleston Daily Mail, WV)
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  • Homelessness program reaches out | Faith-based service in need of contributions (The Coloradoan)
  • One-man show brings Bible story to his life | St. Paul Catholic Church became a family home that served as a church nearly 2,000 years ago Sunday night. It was a place where early Christians, unsure of the right path to choose, met. It also was the stage for a performance of The Letter of James, with actor Frank Runyeon as James. (Marion Chronicle Tribune, Ind.)
  • Woman returns after aiding Guatemalan church | Quinn returned last week from the Central American country after a four-month missionary trip arranged through a local church there. (Pawtucket Times, RI)
  • Christian group brings surfing film to area | Jay Blackburn is one of a handful of area Christians who celebrates God's creation not just by being grateful for it, but by surfing on it. (Galveston County Daily News, Texas)
  • Helping flood victims recover | Saturday, volunteers spearheaded by seven Lutheran churches in the Palisades area came to help Creager and other flood victims salvage what could be saved, remove what couldn't and help people figure out what comes next. (The Intelligencer, Philadelphia)
  • Harvestfest mixes message with fun | Organizers of Saturday's Harvestfest, a full day of fun and worship aimed at teenagers, hope they've planted the seeds for a bumper crop of good Christians. (The Flint Journal, Mich.)

All dogs go to heaven?

  • Anglicans asked to pray for their dinner | Churchgoers across the country were asked yesterday to give thanks to something other than God for the food on their tables - by saying a prayer for the soul of their Sunday roast before tucking in. (Birmingham Post, UK)
  • Blessing all God's creatures | Ceremonies honor ties with companions of other species (Indianapolis Star)
  • All God's creatures blessed | Dogs barked in a London cathedral and cats wagged their tails at an outdoor service as two Christian congregations celebrated the nature-loving spirit of St. Francis of Assisi yesterday. (London Free Press, Canada)
  • St. Francis knew the sounds of heaven include bow-wow, meow | One of the most popular and well-known Christian saints is Francesco Bernardone--better known as St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day is celebrated around the world. (The Free Lance-Star, Virginia)
  • RSPCA urges a prayer for the Sunday roast | Churchgoers across the country were today being asked to give thanks to something other than God for the food on their tables—by saying a prayer for the soul of their Sunday roast before tucking in. (The Scotsman, UK)
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  • Also: Factory farm meat not on menu for Feast of St. Francis | In the week leading up to today's Feast of St. Francis, it fell to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to decide whether the sale and production of foie gras should be terminated in California on the grounds of cruelty to animals. (Dallas Morning News)


  • Recruiting efforts pay off | The path to the priesthood in the Catholic Church is long and increasingly arduous. (The Kansas City Star)
  • Papal action shows U.S.-Europe split | The Roman Catholic Church would not have survived for 2000 years without shrewd outreach; the naming of saints is part of that plan. For example, in 2000, the same pope canonized 120 who died for their faith in China. The Beijing government protested, but to no avail. The church sees China as a major growth area. And now these latest beatifications seek, in different ways, to affect the cultural politics of the United States and Europe. (James P. Pinkerton, Newsday, NY)
  • New life for that old time sectarianism | It is widely held that anti-Catholic sectarianism expired in Australia about four decades ago, shortly after Coalition governments at the federal level and in Victoria initiated a policy of state aid for non-government schools. This reversed a sense of discrimination which had been held by Catholics for close to a century. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)


  • Pro-lifers say they can be feminists, too | "Pro-Women/Pro-Life is as much about introducing feminism to the Church as introducing Pro-life to feminism," said Melisa Kenslea, BC '06 and co-founder of the group. (Columbia Daily Spectator, NY)
  • Catholics must protect the fundamental right to life | None of the issues being debated in our nation are an evil proportionate to abortion or euthanasia. This is so because no other issue but abortion involves the killing of more than 4,000 innocent persons daily. (Rev. Jordi Rivero, Miami Herald)
  • Antiabortion activists hold rally | More than 500 activists opposed to abortion gathered on Boston Common yesterday, despite a sizable counterprotest, for the 18th annual rally sponsored by Massachusetts Citizens for Life. (Boston Globe)
  • Abortion issue recedes in local race for House | The Higgins-Naples election, with two pro-choice candidates, reflects a rare year in which a political flash point has been overshadowed. (Buffalo News, NY)
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  • Pro-Life groups prays for abortion forgiveness | Supporters of Pro-Life Waco gathered with signs at the corner of Valley Mills and Waco Drive in Waco Sunday to peacefully ask God to forgive people for having abortions. (KXXV, TX)
  • Christians hold anti-abortion protest outside Waterfront | A group of anti-abortion protesters staged a placard demonstration at a traffic intersection outside the V&A Waterfront yesterday. (Cape Times, South Africa)

Child porn scandals:

  • Austria sex—Scandal diocese gets new bishop—Report | The Vatican chose a new bishop on Monday to take over an Austrian diocese from Kurt Krenn, who resigned after a child pornography scandal rocked the Roman Catholic Church in the Alpine state. (Reuters)
  • Priest caught in sting sacked | An Anglican priest expected to start work at the Mt Barker parish this month has been sacked after being caught in a child pornography sweep. (Advertiser, Australia)
  • Church sacks priest arrested for porn | An Anglican priest expected to start work at the Mt Barker parish this month has been sacked after being caught in a child pornography sweep. (Queensland Sunday Mail, Australia)
  • Church outs teacher in child porn probe | A teacher at St Simon's Primary School in Rowville being investigated for downloading child pornography from the internet will never teach again at the school even if he is proved innocent. (The Age, Australia)


  • Four suicides in child porn case | The Australian authorities say four men investigated during the country's biggest police operation against child pornography have committed suicide. (BBC)
  • Mich. janitor has secret molestation tapes | A janitor whose body was found in the church where he worked had hundreds of illegal videotapes in his home, some depicting the man molesting children in the church restroom, police said. (Associated Press)
  • Abuse case preacher must pay £45,000 trial costs | Jailed millionaire preacher Pastor Douglas Goodman was today ordered to pay £45,000 towards the cost of his trial. (The Scotsman, UK)
  • Church community in shock over porn charge | The owner of a Sydney private Christian school where a teacher has been charged with secretly filming students taking their clothes off spoke for the first time yesterday about his "devastation". (The Sun-Herald, Australia)


  • Theft exposes vulnerability of nonprofits | When Sheila Ann Lotz's co-workers at the Catholic Spirit learned that she allegedly stole more than $150,000 from the weekly newspaper, they were quick to forgive her. But prosecutors with the Ramsey County attorney's office weren't so charitable. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
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  • 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, Mich.)
  • Ex-pastor pleads not guilty in theft | The former pastor of a Queens church once known as a must-stop for campaigning politicians turned himself in yesterday to face charges that he had embezzled nearly half a million dollars. (The New York Times)
  • Former Baptist pastor to face charges | The former pastor at a Baptist church surrendered Monday to face charges that he conspired with two others to steal nearly $500,000 in church funds to spend on personal expenses including a car, credit card bills and a Hawaiian vacation, prosecutors said. (Associated Press)


  • In waiting till tomorrow we disregard the risk of running out of time | The phrase "come before winter" comes from a letter the apostle Paul wrote from his prison cell in Rome to his spiritual son Timothy, who was in Ephesus far away. How easy it is to procrastinate and to give priority to lesser concerns while important issues go unattended. (Seattle Times)
  • Discarded or a sign? Jesus statue enthralls | Theories flow as the faithful throng to figure found in the Rio Grande (Houston Chronicle)
  • We all need a 'time of atonement' | The Jewish "Day of Atonement" has just passed and part of the observance included a prayer of confession for atonement which would behoove Christians, Muslims and all who believe in a supreme being to pray. (Carolina Morning News, SC)


  • Monarch warns against artefacts destruction | Adherents of the Christian religion have been urged to stop destroying artefacts and cultivate the culture of mutual respect and understanding with the traditional religionists, to ensure peace, harmony and progress. (This Day, Nigeria)
  • Flower power | The fleur-de-lis has been around for thousands of years, but in this country, it is most immediately associated with New Orleans. It is associated with Christianity, especially with the Virgin Mary, owing to a belief that it represents purity. And the fleur-de-lis, like other tripartite designs such as the shamrock, has long been considered by Christians to be symbolic of the Holy Trinity. (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)
  • Horticulturist dishes up history of the forbidden | On Saturday afternoon, Appling hosted a presentation about the history and legends surrounding the delicious, versatile and resilient fruit. And she also had more than 10 varieties on display to munch on. (Corvallis Gazette-Times, Ore.)
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  • Hip hop gets kids' attention | It wasn't your grandma's style of church music. It was Christian hip hop. That's right, hip hop music with a message of Christianity and Jesus Christ. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, Minn.)
  • Faith and the top 40 | Secular artists are making music with religious overtones. Christian artists are making frothy pop. Christian music struggles to redefine the genre. (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
  • How Paul David Hewson became Pro Bono Publico | Tony Blair's conference speech this week needed a few naughty protester invasions to brighten it up. All Bono really had to do was show up. (The Herald, UK)
  • Pastor rocks religion with U2 | Concert audiences and church congregations alike can get whipped into a frenzy, though the consensus last week was that one tends to be more raucous than the other. And the front rows at a concert are more coveted than the first few rows of church pews. (Des Moines Register, Iowa)


  • Now on DVD: The passion of the Bush | Of the many cultural grenades being tossed that day, though, the one must-see is "George W. Bush: Faith in the White House," a DVD that is being specifically marketed in "head to head" partisan opposition to "Fahrenheit 9/11." (Frank Rich, The New York Times)
  • War's human toll lamented | "Birds Without Wings" is a breathtaking, sorrowful account of the Ottoman Empire's death, seen through the eyes of the Turks and Greeks, Christians and Muslims of a tiny coastal town in southwest Anatolia. (Contra Costa Times, Calif.)
  • Malaysian Muslims view 'The Passion' | More than 40,000 Malaysians have watched Mel Gibson's ``The Passion of the Christ'' after authorities in this mostly Muslim nation allowed the movie to be shown to Christians in designated movie theaters. (Associated Press)
  • Now on DVD: The Passion of the Bush (Frank Rich, The New York Times)
  • Extras could offer 'Saved!' redemption on DVD | In Saved!, teens tangling with sin at fictional American Eagle Christian High School seek some form of redemption. Now the film seeks redemption, too. (Houston Chronicle)

Woman, Thou Art Loosed:

  • Now, ladies and gentlemen … T.D. Jakes on film | Will 'Woman, Thou Art Loosed' be the next 'Passion of the Christ'? (Beliefnet)
  • Another Christian film packs them in | It's Woman, Thou Art Loosed, the latest in the T.D. Jakes franchise that aims to help women let go of their pasts. (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
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  • TV preacher turns to film world | Television preacher T.D. Jakes has released a film called Woman Thou Art Loosed -- the story of a woman who was molested as a young girl. Jakes has enlisted clergy to get their congregants into the movie theaters. Janet Heimlich reports. (All Things Considered, NPR)


  • DXCP starts broadcast of Muslim-Christian drama | Government officials and religious leaders from various Christian denominations and Islam hailed as timely and educational a breakthrough radio drama series that went on air last week over local radio station dxCP. (Sun Star, Philippines)
  • Islamic talk finds a spot on radio dial | `Radio Islam,' the 1st daily English-language Muslim program in the U.S., hopes to mix serious issues and lighter fare (Chicago Tribune)


  • Religion scholar is subject of Kentucky Author Forum | Karen Armstrong has spent most of the past two decades explicating how and why the world's religions have been created, as well as how and why they go awry. (Courier Journal, Louisville, KY)
  • Why some horrors must be stopped by 'just war' | Despite this book's provocative title, "war" does not qualify as a "virtue." War is an action, a passion, a relation. (The Washington Times)
  • A battle for God, church, and booty | In 1095, the pope told Christians to retake Jerusalem - and a holy war was born (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Da Vinci Code will spearhead drive to put Scotland back on the movie map | The movie adaptation of bestselling book The Da Vinci Code will become the focus of a new drive to attract major film-makers to Scotland. (Sunday Herald, UK)
  • Sorting through the chaos of the Da Vinci uproar | Is the most popular novel in recent memory a hard-hitting expose of the Roman Catholic Church? Or is The Da Vinci Code a mischievous fib? (Vancouver Sun, Canada)
  • Life, happily, sucks | Graham Greene may have been a spoilt bourgeois, but he is still the master of ambiguity and subversion (The Guardian, UK)

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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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