Last week, the Roman Catholic Church contributed $50,000 to a group opposing California's Proposition 71 initiative, which would amend the state's constitution and borrow $3 billion for embryonic stem cell research.

The state's bishops voted in April to oppose the initiative, according to the California Catholic Conference. "The Catholic Church does not object to scientific research on adult stem cells or blood cord cells—because the donor of the stem cells is not destroyed," the conference's August newsletter states. "The Church opposes the use of embryonic stem cells or cloned stem cells because the donor (embryo or clone) is destroyed by extracting the stem cells."

With their donation, the church joined Doctors, Patients and Taxpayers for Fiscal Responsibility in opposing the proposition, which they say would strain an already cash-strapped state. Combined with another $50,000 donation by Howard Ahmanson Jr., the opposition group has raised about $115,000, according to the Associated Press.

If Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, was right when he said, "In California if you have a big enough budget, you can basically buy a law," then the opposition group has its work cut out for it. Supporters of the proposition have about $12 million to spend thanks to donations from venture capitalist William Bowes Jr., Bill Gates, and the support of 22 Nobel laureates.

"Money isn't what we are about," said No on 71 campaign manager Wayne Johnson.

In a state where enough money can recall a governor, opponents are going to need more than cash if they are going to stop the California cloning amendment.

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Life ethics:

  • Half 'would help loved ones die' | Nearly half of people are ready to break the law to help terminally ill loved ones die, a survey suggests. (BBC)
  • Many Britons 'would assist suicide' | The Voluntary Euthanasia Society (VES) published a poll which showed 47 per cent of people said they would help a relative die if they were suffering unbearably. (Daily Telegraph, UK)
  • Portuguese ban on abortion ship creates furore over women's rights | Politicians in The Netherlands have condemned the Portuguese government for banning a so-called Dutch "abortion ship" from docking in Portuguese waters. (The Independent, UK)

Gay Republicans won't endorse Bush:

  • The losing side of history | The Log Cabin Republicans, an organization for gay and lesbian members of the GOP, announced Tuesday it would not endorse George W. Bush for re-election. They believe that the Bush position was based on a decision by political guru Karl Rove to get out the vote of some 4 million evangelicals who stayed home in 2000. (Debra J. Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle)
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  • Gay GOP group breaks with Bush on marriage ban | The Republican Party's largest gay and lesbian organization, which endorsed President Bush in 2000, is withholding endorsing Bush for reelection because of his support for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. (Associated Press)

Religion & politics:

  • Christians speak up for gays, civil union | Christians in favour of the Civil Union Bill yesterday took issue with groups who use the Bible to condemn homosexuality, saying the few Sodom and Gomorrah-type references are open to interpretation. (New Zealand Herald, New Zealand)
  • Bush official urges locals to volunteer | The are told to 'do something beautiful for God' (Salem Statesman Journal, OR)
  • Ex-Bengal Muñoz to be Bush chairman | Former Bengals star Anthony Muñoz will lead the rush for President Bush's re-election in Greater Cincinnati, the Bush campaign announced Wednesday. Muñoz, 46, was named chairman of the Bush campaign's eight-county southwest region. He replaces Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen, who resigned his campaign post last month after acknowledging an extramarital affair with an assistant prosecutor. (Cincinnati Enquirer, OH)
  • Former lawmaker will be on ballot | Thomas Harens, who served in the House of Representatives as a Democrat-Farmer-Laborite representing St. Paul in 1981-82 and who ran for mayor of St. Paul under the Reform Party banner in 1997, said he will be on the presidential ballot only in Minnesota. He said he is using the race to try to form a new political party, which he called the "Christian Freedom Party.'' (Pioneer Press, Minnesota)
  • WSU alumnus — and presidential candidate — visits Winona | Though Minnesota is a critical "swing state" in the 2004 presidential election, it's not every day that a presidential candidate visits Winona. And it's not every presidential election that has a Winona State University graduate on the ballot, either. But Thomas Harens, a WSU alumnus, will be on the Minnesota presidential ballot in November and is running as the candidate for the Progressive Christian Freedom Party, a party that he founded. (Winona Daily News, MN)
  • Christianity isn't guiding our response to enemies | Republicans are now the party of most American evangelical and fundamentalist Christians. Didn't Jesus have something profound to say about how to deal with one's enemies? (Gerald Plessner, Pasadena Star-News)
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Church & state:

  • Faith issues private, not governmental | A new poll of Alabamians underscores the importance of a constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion that remains just that, without ever allowing government to become an advocate of one faith over another. It's not always an easy line for government to walk, given the realities of public perception and political pressures, but it is crucial for government to maintain that role. (Editorial, Montgomery Advertiser)
  • Should Congress scrap a law that prevents churches from engaging in political activities? No. | In keeping with their fundamentalist doctrines, they want to teach their religion in public schools, use tax dollars to subsidize religious schools, ban reproductive choice, deny legal equality to gays and restrict medical advances through stem-cell research. By forging a church-based political machine, they hope to control the government. They must not succeed. (Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Provo Daily Herald, UT)
  • Proposed L.A. County seal lacks cross | A proposed new seal for Los Angeles County was unveiled Wednesday - minus a controversial gold cross, oil derricks and a goddess. County supervisors voted in June to remove a tiny cross, which has been part of the seal since 1957, after the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California threatened to sue on grounds that the symbol was a government endorsement of Christianity. (Associated Press)
  • New seal, sans cross, offers other changes | County unveils altered design, which also replaces the goddess Pomona, after ACLU threatens to sue (Los Angeles Times)

French headscarf ban:

  • Angry Sikhs to sue French govt | In a scaling-up of the row between Frances tiny Sikh minority and its controversial new law to ban the turban, hijab and yarmulke and protect the secular state, the community is to sue President Chirac government. (Times of India)
  • Up to 120 girls defy French head scarf ban | Some 100 to 120 girls have defied France's ban on Islamic head scarves in school, the education minister said Wednesday, and at least five boys from the country's tiny Sikh community have been barred from class for refusing to remove their turbans. (Associated Press)


  • Policies change for religious student groups | In the past, all student groups at the University were required to sign a diversity statement agreeing not to discriminate against any of a number of protected classes of people. In the 2003 academic year, Maranatha Christian Fellowship, our religious student group at the University, challenged that policy with a lawsuit. (Minnesota Daily)
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  • Biology issue lingers | The Dover Area School Board still is considering purchase of a companion textbook to teach creationism as part of the district's high school biology curriculum. (The York Dispatch, Penn.)

Closing Catholic churches:

  • Mass. parishioners fight church closing | More than 150 parishioners from St. Albert the Great church went to court Wednesday, hoping to save the church from being closed as part of a massive reconfiguration by the Roman Catholic Boston Archdiocese. (Associated Press)
  • Parishioners at St. Albert's go to court | An attorney for St. Albert the Great parishioners asked a judge yesterday to stop the Archdiocese of Boston from seizing and selling off the church's assets, citing "irreparable harm" to the parish, which was closed Sept. 1 by the archdiocese. (Boston Globe)


  • Ruling may put priest papers in spotlight | A judge Wednesday ordered the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese to surrender confidential records of two former priests as part of a clergy sex abuse investigation. (Associated Press)
  • Judge orders L.A. diocese to surrender records | Prosecutors seek evidence against former priests in sex abuse investigation (Associated Press)
  • Judge rules Mahony must provide files | Prosecutors want to see records of two ex-priests accused of molesting children. Archdiocese plans to appeal, a step that could take years. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Reaction to Mahony's decision is divided | Some say an appeal would harm credibility. Others say he is right to protect priests' privacy. (Los Angeles Times)

Church life:

  • Modern approach to Christianity in the hopes of attracting the youth | An Irvine church is revamping its evening services in an attempt to attract more youngsters. (ic, UK)
  • Search for God | Irvine's Fullarton Parish Church is the setting for a Christianity Explored course. (ic, UK)
  • Musical theater has spiritual message | Along with serving as senior pastor of the New Life Community Church in Concord, David MacAdam writes and directs musical plays with religious or Early American themes. These themes are picked up in his latest work, "Song on the Wind," which will debut on Sept. 17 at the Littleton High School Performing Arts Center. (Boston Globe)

Missions & ministry:

  • Play your part, Christians told | Christians in Fiji should take the initiative and help reconcile racial and political problems in society. American evangelist Reverend Luis Palau said although it would cost the churches just like it cost Jesus Christ in dying on the cross, it was part of Gods principle to forgive. (Fiji Times, Fiji)
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  • Couple to tour country to promote prayer | Local reverend, wife will visit all 50 states (Peoria Journal Star, Ill.)
  • Southern Baptist leader takes the bus | Standing outside his red, white and blue tour bus, wearing a freshly ironed blue shirt, the Rev. Bobby Welch appeared ready to take his message of energized evangelism to three churches in three states -- all in the same day. (Religion News Service)


  • U.S. pressure risks turmoil across Sudan—Lawmakers | U.S. pressure on Sudan's Islamist rulers over Darfur will stir fresh separatist turmoil elsewhere in the vast country and could torpedo peace efforts in the south, a Sudanese parliamentary delegation said on Thursday. (Reuters)
  • Powell leans toward genocide finding in Darfur | Secretary of State Colin Powell is leaning toward a determination that the violence in the western Sudan region of Darfur constitutes genocide, Bush administration officials said on Wednesday. (Reuters)
  • Help the African Union | The disaster in Darfur is not the result of natural causes, such as drought or floods; it is man-made, and if the outside world continues to treat it simply as a humanitarian crisis without addressing its underlying causes, it will not end. (Jon Corzine and Richard Holbrooke, The Washington Post)
  • US steps up pressure over Darfur | The US Has Presented A New Draft UN Resolution To Pressure Sudan To Resolve The Conflict In The Darfur Region. (BBC)
  • Riddle of the sands | Can the British Museum's new show of Sudanese sand sculptures, paintings and chain-mail armour tell us anything about the country's bloody present? Jonathan Jones finds out (The Guardian, UK)


  • BJP backtracks from religious census remarks | The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday appeared to backtrack from its remarks that a rise in growth rate of Muslims and Christians compared to a dip among Hindus would upset the country's demographic profile. (Kerala Next, India)
  • Christian women outnumber men | The 2001 religion based census report has thrown up some interesting data. (Hindustan Times, India)


  • Fort Worth, Texas sued over drownings | The families of three children and an adult who drowned in a water park in Fort Worth filed a lawsuit Wednesday, claiming the city and others ignored safety warnings about the swirling pool that sucked the victims to the deaths. (Associated Press)
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  • Acquittals in '94 attack spur protests by Argentina's Jews | Thousands of Argentines gathered at the National Congress on Wednesday evening in the latest of a series of demonstrations to protest a court verdict last week that acquitted five men charged in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center here. (The Washington Post)
  • Din over catholic priest's murder in Kerala | The first murder of a catholic priest in Kerala has prompted Church leaders to demand a Central Bureau of Investigation probe. (Rediff, India)


  • Woman's life offers blueprint for overcoming adversity | A single image forever changed Kim Phuc's life and continues to this day to transform those who view it. That is the picture by which the world knows her -- a harsh black-and-white visual shot June 8, 1972, by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut. It shows Kim, age 9, running, naked and screaming, her skin seared with third-degree burns, her arms flailing, after being sprayed by napalm from planes overhead. Her life may look like a crazy quilt of contradictions, but it is now stitched together, she says, by the strong thread of her cohesive Christian faith (Indianapolis Star)
  • WTC survivor shares faith-affirming experience | Now a Christian evangelist, John travels to churches and schools throughout the world sharing his story and deep connection with God. But John, like so many others, will never forget the time and place of this enormous tragedy for as long as they live. (Poughkeepsie Journal, NY)


  • Selah musicians shine with individual efforts | Contemplative hymns, screaming guitars, pumping rhythms, close harmonies and many other musical styles are performed nowadays, and we imagine that the Lord is pleased with all that keep their lyric focus on Him. People are not the same; why should they use the same music to praise their Creator? (Sun Herald, Mississippi)
  • Lordapolooza fuses rock and praise at festival | Lordapolooza, a Christian rock outdoor music festival, will kick off on Saturday morning with the hard-core sound of Laramie's own Ecumenicus (Laramine Boomerang, WY)


  • Thailand takes on Hollywood over film that 'humiliates' Buddhism | First it was swimwear, now it is Hollywood. Five months after Thailand persuaded the fashion company Victoria's Secret to remove images of the Buddha from a swimsuit, the predominantly Buddhist country is demanding a film advertisement showing a man sitting astride the head of a large statue of the Buddha be withdrawn. (The Guardian, UK)
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  • Passion 'beats Rings DVD record' | Biblical epic The Passion of the Christ has broken the record for sales of a live action movie on DVD and VHS in one week in the US, according to a report. (BBC)


  • Opposites' parallels explored | The competing worldviews of Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis — the former secular and the latter spiritual — have given Harvard University professor Armand Nicholi a fascinating way to explore the great questions of life (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)
  • 'Da Vinci Code' readers flock to Milan's Last Supper | The guide ushering tourists into the former monks' dining hall that houses Leonardo da Vinci's faded masterpiece ``The Last Supper'' tried in vain to interest her audience in art history, technique and aesthetics. She knew that sooner or later the questions -- about the Holy Grail's presence or absence from the work, or the real sex of the disciple to the right of Christ -- would come. (Reuters)
  • Who was Mary Magdalene? | Much is made of her in "The Da Vinci Code," as a woman who had an intimate relationship with Jesus, a figure that may have been married to him and had children with him, Argall said. There are early and ambiguous texts that deal with this fascinating line of thought, he said. (Bismarck Tribune, ND)
  • The search for the Holy Grail continues | This summer The Holy Grail has been discovered by millions on different beaches across the globe. This mysterious object has been buried, not under the flagstones of Rosslyn Chapel, nor at Glastonbury nor even in the vault of the Valencia Cathedral, but in the pages of The Da Vinci Code, now recognised as the best-selling novel in American history. (The Scotsman, UK)
  • The green cardinal | In his new book, The Minding of Planet Earth, Cahal Daly argues that caring for the Earth is integral to our Christian vocation. He talks to Sean McDonagh about sustaining the planet, global warming—and population control (The Tablet, UK)

Related Elsewhere:

  • Ethnic groups in Ulster braced for 9/11 attacks | Ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland have been warned by police of possible racist attacks on September 11, the anniversary of the 2001 terror strikes in the US. (The Times, London)
  • Canada sex tourism law faces test | Canada's so-called sex tourism law faces its first test in the case of a British Colombia man accused of sexually abusing children abroad. (BBC)
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  • Vandals rip St. John Lutheran - Volunteers turn out for Weber church clean up | With heavy hearts and tears occasionally welling in their eyes, members of St. John Lutheran Church gathered at the church Tuesday to start the clean up process after the church was ransacked sometime Sunday night. (Isanti County News, MN)
  • Today is a day to join the world in prayer | The Rev. Bill Williams says he is no longer of the world. A Louisiana native who grew up in Southern Baptist churches and later joined Unity churches, Williams has opened his mind to new possibilities. He began nearly 40 years ago, searching for inner peace. Today, the pastor of Unity of Tallahassee church says his new outlook is a part of the grand picture of outwardly becoming what is already within. (Tallahassee Democrat)

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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