LA Times details TBN's riches—and the theology that brought it

When the Los Angeles Timesbroke the news of allegations that TBN founder and president Paul Crouch had engaged in homosexual sex with an employee, several Weblog readers and friends expressed sorrow. The sadness was largely for Crouch and his accuser, but they were also sad that Crouch's leadership was being challenged because of unproven claims of a one-night stand—not because of his troubling theology, which he televises daily.

Los Angeles Times reporter William Lobdell seems to understand this, and in Friday's and Saturday's editions devoted far more space to Crouch's faith and finances (along with some business issues) than the paper did to the tryst allegations last week. While there are signs that a bit more care could have been used—an incorrect use of the word fundamentalist here, a misspelling of Pentecostal there—it's clear that Lobdell spent much time reporting these stories, trying to get the details correct.

Those details — including descriptions of several of the Crouches' spending sprees and 30 homes — are astounding. But the overall picture is one that's evident from anyone who has channel surfed past their "Praise the Lord" show. If one word had to describe TBN and the Crouches, it's opulence.

The numbers: Paul Crouch receives a $403,700 salary. His wife, Jan, gets $361,000. "Those are the highest salaries paid by any of the 12 major religious nonprofits whose finances are tracked by the Chronicle of Philanthropy," Lobdell notes.

The network nets about $60 million a year and has $583 million in assets. Viewers donate $120 million annually to TBN, and 70 percent of those donations amount to less than $50 each. However, TBN is apparently also hoarding cash, spending 46 cents of every dollar it receives. (That's from, not the Times.) The board consists of the Crouches and Paul's sister and apparently doesn't hold regular meetings.

In other cases where ministry extravagance has been questioned, ministries have responded by either explaining the need for such expenses or by dramatically reducing costs. (One recent example is Joyce Meyer.) But in the Crouches' case, such conspicuous affluence isn't in opposition to ministry—it's evidence that God's hand is on it.

Donors won't be upset with the Crouches' $7.2-million Turbojet, $10,000 wine cabinet, or tanning bed because the Crouches teach that riches are directly proportional to faithfulness. The more faithful you are, the more rich you will be. The poorer you are, then, the less faith you have.

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"The fruit of God is on their life," twentysomething viewer Tennille Lowe told the Times. "If they weren't prospering, I'd say, 'Wait a minute. I don't see any evidence [of God's blessing] in their life.'"

Where would Lowe get such an unbiblical idea? Lobdell has an answer:

During one telethon, Crouch, 70, told viewers that if they did their part to advance the Kingdom of God — such as by donating money to TBN — they should not be shy about asking God for a reward.
"If my heart really, honestly desires a nice Cadillac … would there be something terribly wrong with me saying, 'Lord, it is the desire of my heart to have a nice car … and I'll use it for your glory?' " Crouch asked. "I think I could do that and in time, as I walked in obedience with God, I believe I'd have it."
Other preachers who appear on the network offer variations on the theme that God appreciates wealth and likes to share it. One of them, John Avanzini, once told viewers that Jesus, despite his humble image, was a man of means.
"John 19 tells us that Jesus wore designer clothes," Avanzini said, referring to the purple robe that Christ's tormentors wrapped around him before the Crucifixion. "I mean, you didn't get the stuff he wore off the rack … . No, this was custom stuff. It was the kind of garment that kings and rich merchants wore."
TBN viewers are told that if they don't reap a windfall despite their donations, they must be doing something to "block God's blessing" — most likely, not giving enough.
Crouch has particularly stern words for those who are not giving at all.
"If you have been healed or saved or blessed through TBN and have not contributed … you are robbing God and will lose your reward in heaven," he said during a 1997 telecast. … "If the Devil can keep all of us Christians poor, we won't have any disposable income to build Christian television stations," Crouch said once.

Lobdell has a fine survey of this teaching's history, from E.W. Kenyon to Kenneth Hagin (neither of whom went as far as Crouch does in his prosperity gospel teachings). But Lobdell also notes that not all donors give out of a desire to receive riches—many do so to promote a global Christian television network they believe is preaching the gospel of Christ. (And while Crouch clearly preaches the prosperity gospel message, a huge number of TBN's other personalities—including Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, Greg Laurie, and Adrian Rogers—do not.)

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It's no surprise that Paul Crouch wouldn't be interviewed for Lobdell's most recent article. More surprising is that his oldest son, TBN vice president for administration Paul Crouch Jr., did submit to an interview. Lobdell reports that Crouch Jr.:

said critics of the prosperity gospel overlook the fact that the network has used viewers' contributions to bring God's word to millions of people.
He said it was unfortunate that "the prosperity gospel is a lightning rod for the Body of Christ. It's not what drives TBN."
If TBN was interested only in money, the younger Crouch said, it would sell advertisements instead of funding its operations primarily with viewers' contributions.
"We could double our money tomorrow," he said.
He added that appeals for money make up a small part of TBN programming and are prominent mainly during TBN's twice-yearly, weeklong "Praise-a-thons."

In the wake of the Times article about allegations of the gay tryst, TBN issued a press release:

In a show of solidarity, Christian leaders from around the world have sent e-mails, faxes and have called in their support and prayers for Dr. Crouch. … Supporters have included: publisher Stephen Strang; Pastor Benny Hinn; and Daystar's president Marcus Lamb; as well as author Josh McDowell; Doug Wead; an adviser to the former President Bush; and singers Pat Boone and Carmen, to name but a few, reported Paul Crouch Jr., the eldest son of Dr. Crouch.

Take the list for what it's worth: it may be revealing that the press release misspells the name of TBN regular Carman, who hosts multiple shows on the network. It's unclear what any of these men actually said, though we would hope that all Christian leaders would agree to pray for Crouch. In any case, the story has changed. It's no longer a he-said/he-said question of sexual ethics. It's now a much larger story about theology teaching — something the Bible treats as much more serious than moral failure. Strang's Charisma magazine has in recent years criticized the prosperity gospel as a "manipulation" of Scripture. Apologist Josh McDowell certainly doesn't subscribe to this theology, either. Perhaps they will now be more direct with Crouch about his destructive theology.

Speaking of televangelists …

Speaking of televangelists …
Crouch isn't the only TV preacher who needs help with his theology this week. In his September 12 broadcast, Jimmy Swaggart (remember him?) demonstrated exactly how not to oppose gay marriage. "I'm trying to find the correct name for it … this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men," he said. "I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died."

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One might think that someone who has publicly experienced brokenness in his sexuality might be a bit more careful in his words. In this line of thinking, wouldn't the prostitute that Swaggart hired have been justified in killing him?

Homophobia might be a word thrown about too carelessly by the left, but remarks like Swaggart's are why the word exists in the first place. Let's be "blunt and plain": Biblically speaking, for a Christian minister to make such a comment is at least as sinful as it is for people to engage in homosexual activity.

The Canadian Radio Television Commission is investigating whether the broadcast, which aired on a Toronto station as well as several Christian stations in the U.S., constituted a criminal offense. The station that aired it apologized and called it "a serious breach" of Canadian broadcast regulations.

Jimmy Swaggart Ministries has removed the broadcast from its online archives.

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Missions & ministry:

  • Navajo pastor blazes a new trail of faith | Christians praying for revival in this country shouldn't forget to pray for the Native Americans, said the Rev. Jerry Keams of Holbrook, Arizona (Texarkana Gazette, Tex.)
  • 'We want our lives to be marked by service' | Mission workers moved, move on (The Boston Globe)
  • Faith-based clinic planned for North Shore | Mariners Harbor facility would attempt to deal with patients' emotional, spiritual and medical needs (Staten Island Advance, N.Y.)
  • Antipoverty march will end with Capitol rally | Minnesota religious leaders are organizing a "pilgrimage to overcome poverty" in the form of an October march and rally that will bring people from across the state to the State Capitol in St. Paul (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • God's business | Tent meetings have been a familiar summer sight almost as long as revivalists have preached repentance and salvation in East Tennessee (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)
  • Southern Ohio Camp Meeting going strong | They come for the message and the music (The Ironton Tribune, Oh.)
  • Salvation Army fights for £10m | The Salvation Army is considering selling off properties and making people redundant to help meet a £9.6 million shortfall in its annual budget (The Times, London)
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Hurricane ministry:

  • Workers aid Florida hurricane victims | In Pensacola, the Rev. Russell Levenson of Christ Episcopal Church gave his congregation "permission slips" Sunday to grieve for their lost possessions. Then he urged them to look for hope (Associated Press)
  • A Sunday of sermons, tales and tears | Pensacola's faithful try to make sense of Ivan's wrath while Bush consoles victims. To the north, hundreds flee the storm's remnants (Los Angeles Times)

Serving the deaf & blind:

  • Canine congregation | Among the regular 'worshippers' at Quail Hollow Presbyterian: a puppy in training to lead the blind (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)
  • Giving praise to the Lord, in sign language | Churches for the deaf are flourishing in the Twin Cities, becoming a spiritual magnet for people from throughout Minnesota (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

Workplace ministry in Knoxville:

  • 'Spiritual coach' aims to reconcile faith, work | After helping build Fellowship Evangelical Free Church into one of the largest congregations in the Knoxville region, the Rev. Doug Banister stepped down as senior pastor a couple of years ago to focus on a new kind of ministry (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)
  • CEOs put God on speed dial | Business leaders find way to fit religion into daily operations (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)
  • Evangelicalism defined | Faith in Knox County (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)
  • Surgeon prays for guidance in mending hearts | Knox cardiologist takes his faith to the operating room (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)
  • New church welcomes all souls | The intent is to create a space where people who live, work and play downtown can worship (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)
  • Local churches going high-tech | Alcoa company among firms capitalizing on demand for new media (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)

Money & business:

  • EEOC sues Perdue, citing bias against Seventh-day Adventists | Agency says company refusing to excuse Adventists from Saturday shifts unless the workers produced written proof that they had been to church (The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.)
  • Faith-based investments promise profits, morality | Strip out all the number-crunching and fancy formulas, and many market watchers agree that investing ultimately boils down to a matter of faith. For financial adviser Paul Bolen, that belief runs deeper (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)
  • Putting faith to work at work — without nagging | Every now and then she'd drop a religious tract on a co-worker's desk, hoping to convert her from Judaism to Christianity (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)
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  • Asking for cash is no fun for clergy | In congregations across the country, it's stewardship season—the time for planning next year's budget and raising the money to pay for it. (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Yukking about dollars | Jokes about money are popular among church members at stewardship time (The Dallas Morning News)

Tucson diocese files for bankruptcy:

  • 90-day deadline set in abuse claims | Tucson diocese files for Chapter 11 court protection (The Tucson Citizen, Az.)
  • Diocese bankruptcy breaks new legal ground | The quick filing of a reorganization plan may speed settlements in sex-abuse claims, expert says (The Tucson Citizen, Az.)
  • Q&A: What does the filing mean? (The Tucson Citizen, Az.)
  • Bankruptcy Q&A (Arizona Daily Star)
  • Diocese files bankruptcy | A deadline is likely on any new claims (Arizona Daily Star)
  • Diocese's Chapter 11 bankruptcy is 'prepackaged' | But the diocese faces at least months of legal wrangling over its finances and claims (Arizona Daily Star)
  • More cases expected; some will remain silent (Arizona Daily Star)
  • Timeline of diocese troubles (Arizona Daily Star)
  • Diocese seeks bankruptcy protection | Tucson bishop cites abuse compensation (The Arizona Republic)
  • Phoenix Diocese maintaining solvency (The Arizona Republic)
  • Diocese of Tucson files for bankruptcy | It's the second U.S. diocese to seek court protection because of the cost of clerical sex abuse cases (Associated Press)
  • Catholic diocese of Tucson files for bankruptcy | The filing by the 350,000-member institution follows a July bankruptcy declaration by the Archdiocese of Portland. Critics have challenged the Chapter 11 filings as a ploy by the church to hide assets and avoid liability for decades of abuse by priests (Reuters)

Catholic parish closings:

  • Prayers are answered | For both Todd Hamilton and Catholic parishes (Grand Forks Herald, N.D.)
  • Earlier: End of an era | St. Anthony Catholic Church, one of 23 small N.D. parishes shutting their doors, has final Mass (Grand Forks Herald, N.D., Aug. 24)
  • Envoys' visit a surprise at Weymouth church sit-in | Two representatives of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston walked into St. Albert the Great Church in Weymouth last night and announced that they had been sent by Archbishop Sean O'Malley to begin a dialogue aimed at ending the standoff between chancery and parish (The Boston Globe)
  • Closure draws crowd to Mass | Some parishioners hope for miracle to preserve church (San Francisco Chronicle)
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  • Lawyers argue constitutional freedom of religion protect church in some abuse cases | Lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church of Northern California argued Friday against a tentative order that would allow abuse victims the right to sue over negligent hiring, firing and supervision of troublesome priests (Associated Press)
  • Hear their voices | Bishop Murphy's critics deserve to be treated with compassion and respect, not with imperiousness and defensiveness (Editorial, The New York Times)
  • Boston College plans permanent study of abuse issues | Boston College, which two years ago launched a short-term effort to examine issues raised by the clergy sexual abuse crisis, now says those concerns about the Catholic Church are complex enough that it is making its effort permanent (The Boston Globe)
  • Boston College clergy abuse program becoming permanent | A program launched two years ago at Boston College examining the issues raised by the Roman Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal will become a permanent part of the Jesuit university's academic landscape, the school's president says (Associated Press)
  • Washington town warily welcomes an unusual graduate | Shelton will scrutinize the first man to finish California's sex-offender treatment program (Los Angeles Times)
  • Priest's libel suit is thrown out by judge | The defendant acted legally in naming the cleric in a molestation complaint, jurist rules (Los Angeles Times)
  • Diocese lax in case of priest, group says | The retiree, named in abuse suits, lives near a school. We can't change that, Davenport church officials say (Des Moines Register, Ia.)


  • Tears of joy as cornerstone is laid | After years of hard work, parish sees beginning of its church going up (The Times Union, Albany, N.Y.)
  • JPII's crew | A new breed of younger priests, ordained under Pope John Paul II, are passionately committed to the pope's orthodox teachings (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Catholics pay off Lourdes Pope bill | Roman Catholics have showered so many cheques on the French miracle shrine at Lourdes that a large deficit left after the visit by Pope John Paul last month has already been covered, shrine officials say (Reuters)

Church life:

  • 'God's Garden' infuses life into church's program | New program based on the "rotation model," a method for doing Sunday school that the church credits today for increasing its regular attendance to more than 40 (The Wichita Eagle)
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  • For many Americans, autumn is a time for trying new churches | Churches, once cold to any semblance of competition, are more and more warming to the shopping season that arrives ritually along with the crisper air, the moving vans, and the end of vacations (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Churches in conflicts | Disputes with neighbors, municipalities increasing over land use (The Ann Arbor News, Mi.)

Growing churches:

  • Willow Creek auditorium opens | Completion of its 7,200-seat auditorium makes Willow Creek one of the 10 largest church auditoriums in the country, and, next to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, one of the largest auditoriums in the Chicago area (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)
  • Good preaching, welcoming atmosphere help churches grow | Location is also a big factor (LaCrosse Tribune, Wis.)
  • Build a congregation and house will come | The Rev. Troy Benton (left) plans to build a house of worship eventually, but first he's building a congregation by meeting with people at private homes and other places (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Changing church:

  • Not your average preacher | Nothing says rebellion like a tattoo. Joe Basile, though, didn't visit the tattoo parlor until after he became a Christian in his early 20s (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)
  • Blue jeans at church no big deal anymore | But some worshipers still dress up as sign of respect (The Ann Arbor News, Mi.)
  • Church makeover | Methodist group moves worship into restaurant (Kalamazoo Gazette, Mi.)

Messianic Jews:

  • They're NOT Jews for Jesus | Rabbi Louis Vos Levitz says many Jews have opened their eyes to Messianic Judaism, but he doesn't want to be confused with Jews for Jesus (North Shore Sunday, Lynnfield, Mass.)
  • Display of bus draws rebuke from Jewish leaders | Jewish leaders offended by actions of 'Messianic synagogue' for holy day (The Dallas Morning News)

Denominational life:

  • United Methodists to install new bishop | In one week, the Rev. Scott Jones will be installed as the new bishop of the state's United Methodists (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)
  • Coptic faithful rallying to buy church next door | Most of the men and women who belong to St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church were born in Egypt. But their children were born in the United States (The Arizona Republic)
  • Think boldly in replacing Rev. Rogers | Not since Paul 'Bear' Bryant retired as football coach at Alabama has a Southern institution faced such a momentous transition in leadership (David Waters, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.)
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  • Ready for talks with Orthodox Church: Patriarch | The Patriarch of Antioch, Mar Ignatius Zakka I, said here on Monday that Jacobites are ready to hold talks with the Orthodox Church on the basis of the 1995 Supreme Court verdict to foster ties with the two Churches. (Indo-Asian News Service, India)
  • Churches urge compassion for alienated smokers | As smokers increasingly become social pariahs and smoking is banned in more public places, some Christians would like to see them welcomed more in church -- the smokers, that is, not the smoking (Assemblies of God News Service)

Anglican Communion:

  • US bishops' cash threat as split over gays widens | Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is being warned that North American bishops will cut off funds from the Anglican church in Africa if they are disciplined for supporting the election of a gay bishop, in a row which threatens to split the worldwide church (The Guardian, London)
  • If anyone should be patron of racial harmony it is Theodore | He ended up as Archbishop of Canterbury, a surprising appointment for an Asian from a far country. (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)
  • Sacrament no longer solely a priestly duty | Sydney Anglican Diocese is set to turn a blind eye to churches which allow congregation of elders and junior-ranked clergy to administer Holy Communion (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • I'm entirely innocent, says 'autocratic' dean | The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Methuen, protested his innocence yesterday after he was suspended from his £28,000 post amid complaints about his "autocratic" management style (The Times, London)
  • Anglicans decide on gays | Homosexuality, which has been a contentious issue within the church, will today be in the front burner of discourse as Bishops of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) take a stand on the legality or otherwise of the matter (Daily Champion, Nigeria)
  • Impasse saddens Anglican contender | One of the front-running candidates for the position of Anglican archbishop of Adelaide said yesterday he was disappointed a leader was not selected at the Synod held at the weekend (The Advertiser, Adelaide, Australia)

Women & religion:

  • Gina gets cross | Why do you think they call it Ro-man Catholicism? (Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post)
  • Women may be bishops but not archbishops | The Church of England's attempt to resolve the thorny problem of women bishops is set to backfire after a leaked report revealed that women could be barred from becoming archbishops (The Times, London)
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  • Church edges closer to backing women bishops | The Australian Anglican Church has edged one step closer to appointing its first woman bishop and is considering bringing in male bishops to minister to congregations who reject female authority (The Sydney Morning Herald)


  • At country clubs, gay members want all privileges for partners | The hot topic at many golf clubs is one few members could have dreamed of talking about a decade ago (The New York Times)
  • Angry gays seek key role in presidential vote | President Bush's support for a constitutional amendment against gay marriage delighted many conservatives but alienated a smaller but potentially important voting bloc in a tight election (Reuters)
  • Vietnam TV tackles gay issues | Seeks to debunk myths, stereotypes (The Boston Globe)

Same-sex marriage:

  • Rights issue frames gay-nuptials battle | As same-sex couples move more and more into the mainstream, propelled by fluctuating civil union laws, trends toward child-rearing and rising public acceptance, leading advocates increasingly have framed the debate on gay marriage as a civil rights issue (The Denver Post)
  • E'town rally rips homosexual marriage, abortion | Christians gathered around the bandstand at Freeman Lake Park on Sunday for a rally to bring attention to what they call an attack on traditional values (The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Ky.)
  • Cabinet to okay marriage for gays, a leader says | Spain's Socialist government will approve gay marriage at an Oct. 1 Cabinet meeting, a party leader said, putting into action a plan that has enraged church leaders in this traditionally Roman Catholic country (Los Angeles Times)
  • Respect love between two people, regardless of sexuality | Calling two people who love each other and want to spend their lives together bonded by a "civil union" is making a mockery of their love (Sam Tibbits, Statesman Journal, Salem, Ore.)
  • Woman sees attack on traditional union | Patti Naiser said legalizing gay marriage would represent a fundamental threat to traditional families, which she said are already under siege by a culture in which even radio ads and daytime television are filled with references to casual sex (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)
  • Couple say theirs are family values | Barb Scherrer and Sue Strong view themselves as living very much like a married, heterosexual couple, yet Kentucky law forbids them to marry (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

Same-sex marriage amendments:

  • Gay marriage ban defended | Six Georgia lawmakers ask to join legal fight in ACLU court challenge to proposed amendment (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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  • Ban on gay marriages looking like a sure bet | a statewide survey of likely voters showed support for a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage by a ratio of more than 2 to 1 (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
  • Faiths clash on gay marriage | A ballot proposal to outlaw same-sex marriage in Oregon has created a theological fissure both among and within churches (The Oregonian)
  • Evangelical areas strongly back ban | Some parishes give it 90 percent support (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)
  • Most favor Kentucky ban on gay marriage | Poll: Voters strongly back measure barring civil unions (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

Marriage & family:

  1. Anger as the 10-day divorce is approved by Spain | The proposal has attracted the wrath of the Roman Catholic Church and some senior judges who believe it could be open to abuse by illegal immigrants (The Telegraph, London)
  2. Adultery law reveals rifts in Turkey | On one hand there is the European Union, demanding Turkey reform its criminal code. On the other, a powerful group of conservative Muslims who insist such changes should include criminalizing adultery (Associated Press)
  3. Couples that minister together, stay together | Karin and Creighton Kaye love their jobs. They also love one another (The Journal Times, Racine, Wis.)
  4. Option for adoption | Suzanne and Peter Murray suffered with infertility for seven years before they discovered their future child in a dot-sized embryo frozen in a lab (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)
  5. New branches | How grandparents are coming to terms with grandchildren raised in a different religion (Time)

Boy Scouts may be banned:

  • Norwalk gets prepared on Boy Scouts legal issue | Mayor Alex Knopp has asked the law department to determine whether there is legal precedent for the Common Council to deny a Boy Scouts troop use of Shady Beach for a recruitment drive based on the parent organization's policy of barring homosexual members (The Advocate, Stamford, Conn.)
  • Also: Conn. city may deny permit to Boy Scouts (Associated Press)


  • Psychic causes flap at NPCC | Psychic author Echo Bodine didn't see this one coming. Bodine's upcoming appearance at North Platte Community College, as part of the literary festival scheduled for next week, has created controversy (North Platte Telegraph, Neb.)
  • Balancing act | Conservative professors say they are fed up with what they see as the dominance of liberal academics on American campuses (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd)
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  • Complexity may have doomed recall bid | Organizers had difficulty explaining the gender issue in the Westminster district, experts say. Timing didn't help, either (Los Angeles Times)
  • Faith-based suit | A Christian students group at Washburn University in Kansas refused to allow a Mormon student to lead a Bible study. The Mormon student complained, and the school backed him and withdrew the club's subsidy. The group has now filed a lawsuit (Morning Edition, NPR)
  • Legacy of faith remains part of Stillman College | Although Stillman is no longer a training ground for black ministers, Christianity is still well represented on the campus (Tuscaloosa News, Ala.)
  • Christian students gather to pray for new school year | Turlock High school students welcomed the sunrise and a new school year by congregating together in prayer Wednesday (Turlock Journal, Ca.)
  • UNC excommunicates Christian fraternity | University rejects group that insists members uphold strict principles (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)
  • Church school popularity rises | More parents see campuses as real alternative for kids (The Arizona Republic)
  • Grove City College thrives | Today, after refusing any government aid or interference, Grove City still bests most federally regulated colleges and universities in the equal-opportunity arena, despite being free from the requirements of Title IX (The Washington Times)

Church & state:

  • Confusion on cross's fate | Mount Soledad monument could be kept, sold or moved (San Diego Union-Tribune)
  • One (indoctri)nation under God | Defenders of the Pledge of Allegiance should be upfront about their intentions (Michael McGough, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • Christian Exodus aims to restore freedom of faith | Our goal at Christian Exodus is not secession, as is so often mistakenly reported by media outlets (Cory Burnell, The State, Columbia, S.C.)
  • Taking the law into the church's hands | The Islamic Institute for Civil Justice has introduced a plan that would use existing Canadian law to allow the use of Islamic shariah laws to arbitrate business and civil disputes. Religious leaders respond (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • Great Falls resident's problems multiplied after she challenged Town Council's prayer policy | Darla Kaye Wynne, because of her religious beliefs, no longer lives a quiet life in this town. And her home is no longer the haven it used to be (The State, Columbia, S.C.)
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  • A contempt for religion | Instead of contempt for our Constitution, our history and the rule of law, we should have contempt for those who preach tyranny over conscience (Stephen Zeigler, The Daily Citizen, Searcy, Ark.)
  • From the Roman Empire to America today | Scholars bring biblical challenges to government to the fore (The Kansas City Star)

Religious freedom:

  • Girls 'observe' French scarf ban | France's education minister has said about 100 Muslim girls are still refusing to adhere to the new ban on Islamic headscarves in schools (BBC)
  • Muslim man files discrimination lawsuit against WSSC | Attorney says WSSC made no effort to help alleged victim (WRC, Washington, D.C.)
  • Also: Iranian immigrant sues WSSC | Muslim man who was born in Iran is suing the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, contending that he's the victim of racial and religious harassment on the job (Associated Press)
  • A room divided, Turmoil within Fargo post office leads to court fights | Bonnie Jensen, a self-described born-again Christian, said four letter carriers ridiculed her for taking time off work to volunteer at Fargo's Bethel Evangelical Free Church (The Forum, Fargo, N.D.)
  • Saraki denies clampdown on Christians, adds there's no tension in Kwara | The Commissioner for Information and Home Affairs, Alh. Raheem Adedoyin at a press conference in his office also said that only three CAN leaders were quizzed and not seven and that they had since been released (Vanguard, Nigeria)
  • Iraq's persecuted Christians | Members of one of Iraq's minority faiths face new repressions and discrimination after the fall of Saddam's regime (Time)
  • Fundamentalists guard religious freedom | Bible-believing Christians preserve this nation's liberties (Emir Fethi Caner, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)
  • PM says religious conflicts are big challenge for international community | "When religious differences are allowed to keep us apart, there is no logical way to deal with it," says Paul Martin (Canadian Press)

Forced re-conversions in India:

  • Christians concerned over forced conversion of tribals | A Christian organisation Monday expressed its concern over the increasingly forced conversion of tribal Christians by Hindu radical groups in Orissa (Indo-Asian News Service, India)
  • Mass conversion ceremony held in Orissa (NDTV, India)
  • 75 reconvert in Staines' district (The Hindustan Times)
  • VHP 'reconverts' 36 tribal Christian families to Hinduism (The Times of India)

Religion & politics:

  • Scalia: Courts taking on too much politics | Justice Antonin Scalia on Monday bemoaned the Supreme Court's willingness to decide political questions such as the death penalty and abortion and predicted as a result a tough confirmation fight for the next nominee (Associated Press)
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  • Hot-button trio of abortion, guns, gay rights separate Keyes, Obama | The political shorthand for suburban voters is that Keyes is painting Obama as extremely liberal while Obama argues Keyes is extremely conservative (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)
  • Survey seeks to divine vote | UA institute poll looks at political attitudes of 18 religious groups (The Beacon Journal, Akron, Oh.)
  • Religion saturated by today's politics | A report from the Religion Newswriters Association conference (Shirley Ragsdale, Des Moines Register, Ia.)
  • Religious, but not religious right | Meet Thomas Harens, the presidential candidate who will appear on Minnesota's 2004 presidential ballot for the Christian Freedom Party. He says the issues of this election should not be abortion, gay marriage or terrorism, but concern for the poor (The Daily Journal, Fergus Falls, Minn.)
  • Under God: Bush, Kerry, and the faith factor | A Hardball-Newsweek special report airs Monday, 7 p.m. ET (MSNBC)
  • The myth of Red-Blue faith-based politics | While it's a stretch to say that the nation is splitting apart over politics, it is divided in a new way over morality and religion (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • Name in vain? | Some argue politicians use religion to gain power (The Amarillo Globe-News, Tex.)
  • Can only Christians be a 'good Christian'? | Whenever I hear a candidate being marketed as a "good Christian," my blood does not boil. It runs a little cold. Then I stop and wonder whether folks who are simply "good people" could ever pass the us-versus-them loyalty test that would gain them entry into civic leadership, if not heaven. (Marc Howard Wilson, The State, Columbia, S.C.)

Bush & religion:

  • Half-quoted convictions | The Bush quote that never makes the cut (Richard Land, The Washington Post)
  • A fundamental flaw in divining Bush's faith | President is ecumenical and embraces many other religions, including Islam (Paul Kengor, San Francisco Chronicle)

Churches & politics:

  • 'Pastor briefings' to focus on political involvement | After watching Kansas lawmakers vote down a law banning same-sex marriage, the Rev. Jerry Johnston gave himself a little sermon. Next time, be more involved (The Kansas City Star)
  • Voter registration drive moves into churches | With the presidential election less than two months away, there is a tremendous effort by evangelical churches to get people to register and encourage them to vote (George McHendry, Broomfield Enterprise, Co.)
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  • Presidential race finds a home in churches | Professors frame election using Lutheran ideals (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
  • Ark church brandishes politics from the pulpit, again | Evangelical leaders used a Springdale Baptist Church service to call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage Sunday. (Associated Press)
  • Earlier: Pastor claims victory in IRS complaint | Ronnie Floyd, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Springdale, claimed vindication Wednesday after eight weeks with no action on a complaint against him to the IRS (Arkansas News Bureau)
  • Churches seek to steer members to the polls | Denominations take voting messages on the road and into households (Contra Costa Times, Ca.)
  • Faith factor | Election may rest on how voters define their Christian duty (Contra Costa Times, Ca.)
  • KHSD hopefuls call race crusade | Two of five candidates draw on strength from powerful northwest church (The Bakersfield Californian)

Religion & politics in Australia:

  • Chasing Australia's Christian vote | With Australia's 9 October general election too close to call, attention is turning to a small number of marginal seats, where many upwardly-mobile and often religious voters live (BBC)
  • So God said: go to NSW and create poll mayhem | A family-values party that was founded in Adelaide less than three years ago is shaping as one of the key players in the federal election - to the dismay of better-known Christian campaigners (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Christian parties try to bolster ALP in Victoria | Three conservative Christian parties have swung their preferences to Labor in Victoria's Senate contest to ensure the re-election of Labor frontbencher Jacinta Collins, a staunch opponent of abortion (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • A question of faith in the political process | It was curious seeing God back in the news this week. God doesn't get much of a guernsey in Australian politics and, unlike America, we're rarely told which side He or She is on (Julia Baird, The Sydney Morning Herald)

Catholics & politics:

  • A vote and a prayer: Web sites tread a fine line | The Election Novena, started by Catholics in Green Bay, Wis., uses prayer the way others use bumper stickers - as a partisan tool. It is not alone (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Catholic voters told to carefully sift issues | Abortion foremost: Secondary factors weigh in, too, archbishop's letter says (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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  • Archbishop spells out church's politics | Life issues sometimes require balancing act. Issue of gay unions is also addressed (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)


  • County to debate abortion restriction | Official: Put ban into hospital deed (The Arizona Republic)
  • Abortions can become rare | The abortion-rights crusade clearly needs a new focus. Instead of using bumper-sticker tactics that seem to mock the painful decisions that accompany termination of a pregnancy, activists should start a campaign to make abortion -- as Bill Clinton once said -- safe, legal and rare (Cynthia Tucker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Many Indians abort unwanted girls | An anti-girl bias and the killing of girl babies has been common among India's poor and working class for decades, but new figures show that in the heart of New Delhi — where India's richest and the best-educated live — the ratio of girls to boys showed the sharpest fall. (The Washington Times)


  • US eyes limits on AIDS education | Agencies worry efforts will suffer (The Boston Globe)
  • Churches face dilemma over HIV/Aids - Is HIV/Aids God's punishment for sin? | The involvement of churches or faith-based organisations (FBOs) in the HIV/Aids fight has always been a controversial one (Zimbabwe Standard)
  • Gideon launches video | Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha is the first practicing HIV/Aids positive priest in Africa to break the silence, stigma and inaction (The Monitor, Uganda)


  • Genocide label doesn't change victims' plight | The violence is an internal affair but genocide trumps sovereignty (Jerry Large, The Seattle Times)
  • Africa's descent into nightmare | As the world debates how to respond to the humanitarian disaster in Sudan's Darfur region, a larger shadow is creeping across the dark continent (Cameron Stewart, The Australian)

Nigeria religious tensions:

  • SSS arrests seven pastors over Bonnke | The dust generated by the stoppage of last month's gospel crusade of international evangelist, Rein-hard Bonnke in Ganmo, Kwara State, sprouted again weekend with the arrest of seven pastors, mainly leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for an alleged circulation of incriminating leaflets (This Day, Nigeria)
  • Religious tension in Kwara: SSS quizes CAN leaders | Men of State Security Service in Kwara State last Thursday interrogated no fewer than seven leaders of the state branch of Christian Association of Nigeria over the allegation that they were fueling religious tension in the state (Vanguard, Nigeria)
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  • Sharia 'used in Nigeria politics' | Governors in Nigeria introduced the criminal aspect of Islamic law as a political tool, according to the pressure group, Human Rights Watch (BBC)
  • Why SSS quizzed Kwara CAN leaders—commissioner | Facts emerged in Ilorin the Kwara State capital yesterday that some leaders of the Christian community were invited for questioning by the State Security Service (SSS) over allegations that the state was harboring the dreaded Al Qaeda agents (This Day, Nigeria)
  • Anglican church slams police | The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, has raised an alarm over the continued extortion of money from motorists and the reckless handling of weapons by policemen, saying the behaviour of the police has become a terrible embarrassment to the nation (Vanguard, Nigeria)

Rwanda genocide priest skips trial:

  • Accused priest skips Rwanda genocide trial | Rev. Athanase Seromba did not attend in protest against U.N. plans to transfer the trials of some genocide suspects from the Tanzania-based tribunal to Rwanda (Associated Press)
  • Priest 'ordered 2,000 parishioners crushed by bulldozers' | A Roman Catholic priest was accused yesterday of ordering the bulldozing of his church, killing 2,000 Tutsi parishioners seeking refuge (The Telegraph, London)
  • Priest on trial for genocide | Forty-one-year-old Father Athanase Seromba is the first Catholic priest to face charges at the tribunal in connection with the genocide (The Star, South Africa)
  • Trial of Catholic priest accused of genocide opens in his absence | Judge Andresia Vaz from Senegal, the vice-president of tribunal, who is also the presiding judge in this case, said that it was within Seromba's rights to choose whether to appear or not though she added it was, "in his interest to be present" (Hirondelle News Agency)

Miracle babies:

  • Tracking down Kenya's 'miracle babies' | The headline in Kenya's Daily Nation from 19 August, is "Miracle Birth babies." Below, the newspaper asks, "Do you recognise any of them?" (BBC, video)
  • Charity watchdog freezes church group's bank accounts | The Charity Commission launched an inquiry yesterday into a charity led by an evangelical pastor wanted by Kenyan authorities over child trafficking allegations (The Guardian, London)
  • Deya lawyers 'ready to do battle' | Archbishop Gilbert Deya's defence team has vowed to fight any attempt to extradite the embattled pastor to Kenya (The Nation, Kenya)
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  • Clearfield County church fire ruled arson | A century-old church that was recently burglarized was destroyed by a weekend fire that officials said was deliberately set (Associated Press)
  • Prayer vigil held at vandalized church | About 200 people turned out for a prayer vigil at a church where racial epithets were spray-painted on the front doors (The Indianapolis Star)
  • Veep calls for probe into killing of Ndola pastor | Vice-President Nevers Mumba told members of the Ndola Pastors' Fellowship in Ndola yesterday that he had received with deep sorrow the news of the shooting of Pastor Muleya of the New Life Christian Centre (The Times of Zambia)

Church carnival death:

  • Undersized bolt is tied to carnival ride fatality | A preliminary investigation by state safety officials determined yesterday that a bolt on a carnival ride in Shrewsbury was too small, causing it to snap and a passenger car to rip apart in midair. One rider died, and another was seriously injured (The Boston Globe)
  • Improper bolt blamed for fatal fair crash | A pair of improper bolts caused an amusement park ride to break apart at a church fair, killing one person and injuring two others, the state's commissioner of public safety said Monday (Associated Press)


  • He's wary of witches and of being labeled a 'lunatic' | W-B man fears probe from various authorities regarding his children (Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)
  • Earlier: W-B man: 'Witches are trying to kill me' | Jake Jenkins home-schools his kids to protect them from witches he says live nearby (Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

Other religions:

  • Happy pagans live, let live, and donate a lot of food | Bruce Baldwin of Boston wants you to know that paganism is not a synonym for devil worship (Boston Herald)
  • Mormons still to meet the neighbors after 20 years | Australia's first Mormon temple, dominating the landscape on Pennant Hills Road, Carlingford, celebrates its 20th birthday today, amid church rejoicing and the rest of Sydney moving grudgingly towards greater religious tolerance (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • God, belief, and action | Many Jews have a God problem. This is not the official line, of course, which states unequivocally that Judaism is founded on belief in the one God, but it is true in real terms and may affect those crowding into synagogues this week at the start of the Jewish new year (Jonathan Romain, The Guardian, London)

Labels don't fit:

  • The labels we apply define no one | Almost certainly all of us have used inadequate labels for people — conservative, evangelical, liberal, reactionary and on and on. We need to stop (Bill Tammeus, The Kansas City Star)
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  • Some won't claim 'Christian' label | Every day now it's possible to meet Christians too embarrassed to call themselves Christian (Ray Waddle, The Tennessean, Nashville)
  • For this GOP member, usual labels won't fit | The Rev. Dennis Sanders laughed at the suggestion that he's your typical gay, black, Republican minister (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)


  • Evangelist likes tackling tough issues | Campolo not afraid to take on topics of controversy (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)
  • Friendship of faith for ministers from Ethiopia, Taylor | Christian refugee tells of torture, healing (Austin American-Statesman, Tex.)
  • Ex-football star heeds heavenly 'mandate' | LeRoy Thompson feels called to help revitalize center city (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)
  • He went to Pakistan to become an ultra, he returned a Christian | At 19, when he sneaked across the Line of Control for arms training, he wanted to return to the Valley to fight the Army and become a martyr (India Express)
  • DJ Nicholas is the rhyme minister | Nicholas Eccleston, aka DJ Nicholas, is known for a powerful voice that preaches the word of God to the unsaved and his gift of lyrical rhyme which speaks what God has laid on his mind (The Jamaica Gleaner)
  • Living recovery | A man who knew the founder of A.A. has had a 70-year quest to help other problem drinkers (Time)

Faith & theology:

  • Evangelicals challenge status quo | Figuring out what Jesus would do isn't always easy (Art Marmorstein, American News, Aberdeen, S.D.)
  • Getting down to fundamentals | 20-year study of working-class Christianity shuns cliché (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • 'God wants you to awaken the hero in you' | Thousands of men flock to Promise Keepers rally in D.M. hoping to renew their faith, build spiritual connections (Des Moines Register, Ia.)
  • Lead us not into temptation | 'They wouldn't be sins if they weren't so damned attractive.' The Seven Deadly Sins — greed, anger, gluttony, sloth, pride and lust — have been around for as long as man. The Sun's Michelle Mark kicks off a seven-part series looking at each sin and its new relevance (Calgary Sun)
  • Preacher agrees to cancer surgery | Televangelist Gene Scott, who relied on faith healing, says his disease is now 'out of control' (Los Angeles Times)

Pop spirituality:

  • Churches unite to condemn club's use of crucifix | Church leaders have united in condemning the use of the Christian cross as the focal point for the refurbishment of a popular nightclub (The Scotsman)
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  • Question celebrity | Why do so many celebrities bandwagon onto Hollywood's religion du jour? (The Washington Post Magazine)
  • A puzzling America | Old Testament worldview vs. gray pleasure (Roland Merullo, The Boston Globe)
  • A fashion for faith | Jesus is becoming a pop-culture icon and can be seen on everything from T-shirts to license plates (The Kansas City Star)
  • Losing our religion | Will the church evolve to cope with modern beliefs (Stephen Bates, The Guardian, London)


  • Cashing in on the Code | Have they cracked the mystery of making an art tour a bestseller? (Time Europe)
  • 'Da Vinci' author in court battle | The best-selling author of the "The Da Vinci Code" has gone to court to swat a rival writer who accused him of plagiarism (New York Post)
  • Author examines motherhood, spirituality | Carla Barnhill's goal is to open dialogue among women and church leaders regarding the spirituality of women, even if, in doing so, a few sacred cows may have to be placed on the altar (Valley News Dispatch, Tarentum, Pa.)
  • Book Review: 'The Man Called Cash' | Steve Turner takes no pains to patch Cash's rough road (Reuters)
  • Should we junk religion? | Salem Alaton reviews Sam Harris's The End of Faith (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
  • Newsman credits prayer for change | Jody Dean used to drink, sleep around and swear. No longer. He thanks God. (The Dallas Morning News)
  • The new bodice-rippers have more God and less sex | With the market share of Christian romance novels growing rapidly, the publishing industry is beginning to pay attention (The New York Times)
  • The incoming sea of faith | Alister McGrath says that atheism has been discredited by the collapse of communism and the postmodern need for tolerance (The Spectator, U.K.)
  • An array of takes on Thomas | Offerings include several titles on newly popular approach to Jesus (The Washington Post)

The Passion:

  • 'The Passion' inspires new songs of love | The musical styles on this compilation disc are all over the map, but the unifying theme is the artist's impressions of the movie. And one simple but profound word pops up more than any other: love (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)
  • Marketing with a 'Passion' | DVD sales of Mel Gibson's blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ" topped 4 million in early September, after only a day on the market, the film's distribution company reports. And that milestone was due in large part to the Internet marketing efforts of Franklin, Tenn.-based BuzzPlant (Nashville Business Journal)
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Film & theater:

  • Blessed be the contrarian | Wim Wenders's latest film reflects his brand of anti-war Christianity. That may be why he's having trouble getting it distributed in North America (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
  • Putting the fun in fundamentalism | At Hollywood Hell House, visitors are lead into hell, where they find the tormented souls of suicide victims, Satan worshipers, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and other nonbelievers in Christ (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)


  • Humbard launching Gospel Music Channel | Set to begin in seven markets this October, the Atlanta-based cable network aims to be as popular as MTV and a blessing for gospel artists who find themselves mostly ignored on television despite selling millions of records (Associated Press)
  • Existential television | How would you make a television program about whether God exists? (Peter Steinfels, TheNew York Times)
  • Believers or not | On PBS and in county, religious leaders affirm belief in God while atheists want proof (The Ventura County Star, Ca.)


  • Christian artist Chapman readies 14th album | After creating 13 albums and winning an unprecedented 47 Dove Awards, it might seem as though life as a Christian recording artist has become routine for Steven Curtis Chapman (Reuters)
  • Pastor blends church, commerce | Darren Sloniger, a real estate developer turned pastor, is building a $4 million church that will be not only a house of worship, but also a House of Blues-style music site (Chicago Tribune)
  • Five Iron Frenzy's Roper has a new act | The ex-frontman from Five Iron Frenzy may have christened his new band Roper, but he's parked the band's Web site at And the title of the group's first album, which is slated for release Oct. 19, is a sly warning: Brace Yourself for the Mediocre (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Southern gospel is Gaither's favorite | Bill Gaither says coming back to the Dallas area is special because he first began listening to Southern gospel music on radio station KRLD when it broadcast groups like the Stamps Quartet in the late 1940s (The Dallas Morning News)

Other articles of interest:

  • Coffeehouse that caused stir in Clio closes after two months | A controversial downtown coffeehouse, the subject of a community outcry because of its proposed topless waitresses, has closed after a church tried to turn it into a wholesome place (The Flint Journal, Mi.)
  • Screven County sheriff misuses work of inmates | Under state law, convicted county inmates can work only on public grounds, but Sheriff Mike Kile had them working on churches and homes (The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.)
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  • Turning over a new Leif | It appears the Vikings were covering their afterlife bases (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)
  • Jerusalem cleric deplores barriers | Archbishop Michel A. Sabbah would like to see Israelis and Palestinians break out of a cycle of hatred someday (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)

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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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