Rally has little to say about Roberts, but proposes a constitutional overhaul
The speakers at Sunday's Justice Sunday II event in Nashville were eager to tell us what the gathering wasn't.

"Justice Sunday … isn't a protest against anything," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. "It's a rally in support of a constitutional judiciary that respects and adheres to the co-equal role it was given by our founders."

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, which sponsored the event, told reporters it was "not a [John] Roberts rally." "This will be no pep rally for his confirmation," he said earlier. Instead, the point was "to educate evangelical Christians about the U.S. Supreme Court and get them talking to friends and elected officials about what they want from their justices."

So if it's not a protest, perhaps we can disregard the various protest-sounding comments the speakers made against federal courts, especially the Supreme Court (the whole of the Supreme Court, by the way; speakers seemed not to acknowledge much difference among the justices). Such statements included:

  • America's most powerful judges are "unelected, unaccountable, and arrogant." (James Dobson)
  • The Supreme Court has created "an oligarchy. It's the government by the few." (Dobson)
  • At the Supreme Court, "rights are invented out of whole cloth. Longstanding traditions are found to be unconstitutional. Moral values that have defined the progress of human civilization for millennia are cast aside in favor of those espoused by a handful of unelected, lifetime-appointed judges." (Tom DeLay)
  • "Activist courts" are imposing "state-sanctioned same-sex marriage" and partial-birth abortion, and are "ridding the public square of any mention of our nation's religious heritage" in what amounts to "judicial supremacy, judicial autocracy."(DeLay)
  • "They've said that our children don't have a right to pray." (Perkins)
  • "I'm tired of being told that somehow if you have a religious-formed conscience, that somehow you're a second-class citizen." (Bill Donohue)

The American Prospect's Rob Garver took note of the theme:

In the imaginary world painted by the leaders of "Justice Sunday II," conservative Christian Republicans may control the White House, the Congress, and several seats on the Supreme Court, but they remain oppressed and victimized. Speakers invoked Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Susan B. Anthony, all in service of the meme that Christians in America are being silenced, persecuted, and prevented from practicing their religion.
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In fact, as Weblog has noted previously, evangelical attitudes toward the Supreme Court ran tremendously high all through the era of Roe v. Wade, Engel v. Vitale, Lemon v. Kurtzman, Lee v. Weisman, and other cases that Justice Sunday speakers have complained about. In 2001, three out of four white evangelical Protestants liked the Supreme Court. Today, it's one in two—even though Supreme Court decisions since 2001 have overwhelmingly gone in favor of religious conservatives, especially regarding the First Amendment's free exercise clause (you know, the one protecting against religious persecution).

In the past half-decade, the Supreme Court has defended religion in the public square more than it has in generations. Through the neutrality test, the Supreme Court told government agencies that if they allowed one kind of speech, they had to allow religious speech. They said if you allowed one kind of meeting, you had to allow religious meetings. They said if you funded other kinds of organizations, you could fund religious organizations. And the Justice Sunday speakers cry oppression.

But we can ignore all that, right? Since it wasn't "a protest against anything." What did Justice Sunday speakers want?

"Call, write, visit, e-mail, fax your senators, contact their local offices, and then pray urgently that God's perfect will will be done," Dobson said. "Future generations depend on us."

Call them to say what? That we need "a constitutional judiciary"? Would that mean calling them to support John Roberts? Not necessarily. Remember: This wasn't a "Roberts rally."

"Most speakers mentioned the nominee, Judge John G. Roberts Jr., only in passing," noted The New York Times. Exceptions were those such as Perkins's closing prayer, "We pray for Judge Roberts that he would, in fact, be a justice who would honor the Constitution," and Dobson's remark that "for now at least, [Roberts] looks good." Hardly ringing endorsements—nor was Perkins's earlier comment about Roberts: "As Ronald Reagan said, 'Trust, but verify.'" When Reagan said that, he was talking about Soviet communists.

So if not Roberts's confirmation, what were Justice Sunday viewers supposed to "call, write, visit, e-mail, fax" about? Perhaps legislative action. Bill Donohue has a surprising suggestion: a constitutional amendment that would require "unless a judicial vote is unanimous, you cannot overturn a law created by Congress."

Donohue really means it. "Putting strict constructionists on the Supreme Court may help thwart the forces of judicial activism, but it isn't enough," he says in a press release.

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The Justice Sunday folks really aren't just against the Supreme Court majority—they're against the whole Court. "Conservative" Justices Thomas, Kennedy, and Scalia have been the most inclined to strike down a law passed by Congress. (There's some debate about whether this makes them "activist" or not, but Weblog hasn't seen anyone dispute the facts.) Is Donohue so convinced that conservatives will have long-term control of the White House and Congress that he's willing to redraw dramatically the constitutional separation of powers?

(While it's true that Donohue was the only person from the platform to suggest this constitutional amendment, DeLay seemed to support it. )

Donohue made clear that he sees this moment as a time for conservative Christians to seize more power. The Left, he said, invoking Rosa Parks, had told Christians to "sit in the back of the bus" as second-class citizens. Now, he said, "Catholics and other Christians together, we are going to move to the front of the bus and take command of the wheel!"

This he said immediately after saying, "They make it sound like we are theocrats. We are simply saying that religion is an important part of life. … It's a matter that we want to stand up and be counted."

Stand up, be counted, and "take command," apparently.

Did FRC get what it paid for?
A few days ago, CT's Rob Moll asked the Family Research Council and other organizations what they were going to do with all the money they set aside for the Supreme Court confirmation battle now that the battle looks unlikely.

Apparently one of the things that FRC is spending it on is paying the travel expenses of bloggers—who covered Justice Sunday 2 from Nashville.

"The rationale here is simple: Bloggers are not MSM [mainstream media] with large travel budgets," FRC's Charmaine Yoest said on her personal blog. "Most of us have day jobs."

The ethics and practicalities of sponsored travel—more common in the entertainment world than in the hard news world—is a journalistic debate Weblog won't go into here. (CT has a 10-point, 261-word policy statement that spells out the conditions under which its writers can take advantage of sponsored travel.)

But Weblog is interested in this: Did FRC get its money's worth? Maybe not. The bloggers seemed troubled by the meeting, and at best unenthused about what they heard from the platform.

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A few comments:

"Cathy Cleaver Ruse also notes that courts have 'enshrined homosexual activity' as a constitutional right. I know I'm puzzled; is she arguing that we should outlaw homosexuality? If so, that's pretty darned dumb. … Footstomping over what two consenting unrelated adults do in a bedroom in terms of its legality plays into the worst stereotypes of this kind of rally. Stick to the legal basics. … However sympathetic I am to the main message, I have some reservations about the secondary messages. As a Christian, I also have some reservations about staging this in a church." — Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters.
"I can't say that I disagree with what I've heard so far. … [But' they're also risking hitting every single 'negative' stereotype out there." — Beth Woodfin of Yeah Right Whatever.
"A strange melding of politics and religion" — Lance McMurray of Red State Rant.
"While the message of democracy through legislation is one that appeals to the center, it was presented in a format that almost certainly missed the center entirely. … I came away from this event puzzled a little by the point of it all." —Leon H. of RedState.
"The speakers were convincing. The crowd was receptive. Will this event shake the millions of Christians who believe that they shouldn't live as salt and light in their public lives (the workplace, through the government, etc.) to the point that they embrace their call to action? I'm not so sure." — Rob Huddleston of Voluntarily Conservative.
"I've decided not to write a long, in-depth post about Justice Sunday. I really was unimpressed with what I saw and, quite frankly, there is enough commentary about the event already. I don't have any opinions that are worth sharing. Justice Sunday was exactly what I expected: lots of talk of politics, little to no mention of Jesus." — Brittney Gilbert of Nashville is Talking.
"For the third time tonight, a speaker mentions the Ten Commandments ruling. Whether you think the issue is important or not, it is hard to see how it is the best example of structural injustice caused by the tyranny of a court. … For many evangelicals, Justice Sunday II was a familiar song reinterpreted in an unfamiliar way. Some of the notes were in harmony with the gospel, others were discordant, and a few merely fell flat." — Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost.

Bloggers eager to show that they weren't "bought" by FRC? Evidence that the Justice Sunday speakers misjudged the attitudes of would-be supporters?

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Maybe. But here's a bigger question: Why did none of the Justice Sunday 2 livebloggers pick up on Donohue's huge proposal? That big old "MSM" got it while the bloggers were talking about the donuts at the media table.

One final note
The "MSM" also sometimes reports stories that don't exist. Several news outlets made the mistake, but the Associated Press made it most directly: "[Bill] Frist, a surgeon, wasn't invited to address Justice Sunday II because he angered the events' organizers by voicing his support for expanded human embryonic stem cell research."

Frist's comments came two weeks after the Justice Sunday II lineup was announced. FRC isn't happy about Frist's stem cell remarks, but he wasn't blackballed.

More articles

Coverage of Justice Sunday II:

  • Churches' political rally stirs controversy | Does Justice Sunday put church and state too close together? (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)
  • Event spotlights growing Catholic, evangelical alliance | William Donohue speaks at Justice Sunday II—the only New Yorker, but not the only Catholic (Newsday)
  • Conservative gathering is mostly quiet on nominee | The cast of influential evangelical Protestants, conservative Catholics and Republican congressmen took aim mainly at the power and decisions of the Supreme Court itself (The New York Times)
  • Conservatives rally for justices | Leaders ask for nominees who will end abortion and gay rights (The Washington Post)
  • 'Justice Sunday' message: People hold the power | Americans urged in second telecast to deal with 'out-of-control judges' (The Tennessean, Nashville)
  • Evangelicals rally to 'save the court' | Conservative Christian leaders urge support for Bush nominee John G. Roberts Jr. (Los Angeles Times)
  • DeLay slams court activism as 'autocracy' | House Majority Leader Tom DeLay yesterday accused left-leaning courts of imposing a "judicial supremacy" over the country to implement liberal policies that cannot win a majority in the legislative process (The Washington Times)
  • DeLay takes on high court at Tenn. rally | "All wisdom does not reside in nine persons in black robes," Majority Leader Tom DeLay told the Justice Sunday II crowd (Associated Press)
  • US conservative Christians slam "judicial autocracy" | Organizers of the rally, which featured a packed audience at a Baptist church swaying and singing hymns beneath two huge American flags, said they hoped to use the gathering as a "launching pad" to mobilize Christians against judges they say are overriding the Constitution with their decisions (Reuters)
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  • DeLay charges left unduly influences Supreme Court | House majority leader keeps heat on federal bench (Houston Chronicle)
  • Message of 'Justice Sunday' is for all, black pastor says (The Tennessean, Nashville)
  • Other area services seek to promote unity, not to protest | Some create Nashville alternatives to Justice Sunday II (The Tennessean, Nashville)
  • Earlier: Not all Christians back 'Justice Sunday' | Critics plan alternative events to counter view on faith, politics (The Tennessean, Nashville)

Religion & politics:

  • Now Frist is politician non grata | Tony Perkins, James Dobson, and others are demagogues who won't stop until they turn in this country into a theocracy (Cynthia Hall Clements, The Lufkin Daily News, Tex.)
  • Does religion have place in politics? Sure | Cincinnati mayor's race includes two ordained ministers (The Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Scott putting faith back in party | Democrats promote moral stance to regain political momentum (Pasadena Star News, Ca.)
  • Using politics to amplify a message | Bishop Harry Jackson forges ties with GOP in a mission to 'restore America to its moral compass' (The Washington Post)
  • Santorum, Casey race in national spotlight | It's a pro-life battle royale (Associated Press)
  • Durbin offered proof of column | A law professor who used Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin as a source for a column last month about federal Judge John G. Roberts Jr. -- a column that Mr. Durbin later disputed -- has a taped phone message that he says proves the accuracy of his reporting (The Washington Times)
  • A look at the Religious Right | The Religious Right is beaming out their own special brand of TV style religious manipulation to try and garner support for Bush and the New Christian Right members of Congress and government (Sunday Salon, Pacifica Radio, audio)
  • Magnificent 7, they're not | Here are the seven people I think are screwing up America (Robyn E. Blumner, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

John Roberts:

  • Roberts lauded as counter to leftists | In a nationwide broadcast last night, conservative Christian leaders urged religious Americans to press the Senate to confirm President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge John Roberts Jr. (New York Sun)
  • Decrying and embracing hypocrisy | If Judge Roberts were a pro-choice Episcopalian or even a liberal evangelical, the National Clergy Council and the Christian Defense Coalition would be opposing his nomination at the top of their lungs. Would that make their criticism unconstitutional? (James L. Evans, Mobile Register, Ala.)
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  • NARAL communications director resigns | David E. Seldin says critics should be tougher (The Washington Post)
  • Roberts ad highlights volatility of abortion issue | The controversy over a botched television commercial by a leading abortion rights group attacking Supreme Court nominee Judge John G. Roberts Jr. once again demonstrated the power of abortion to inflame the political debate -- while illuminating the often difficult relationships between political parties and their most passionate activists (The Washington Post)
  • Democrats conflicted on playing rough | Lack of support for Roberts ad raises question of tactics (The Washington Post)
  • Pro-choice but anti-Naral | If Roe v. Wade were overturned and abortion policy left up to the states, pragmatists would start to matter more than the ideologues on the left and right who now dominate the debate (John Tierney, The New York Times)


  • Abortion - it's back to court | Three women claim that Ireland's abortion ban breached their human rights (The Times, London)
  • Antiabortion effort in Europe, with U.S. money, widens its conservative agenda | Encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church, enabled by the election of conservative governments in many countries and financed in part by antiabortion groups in the United States, the conservative push has made powerful inroads in countries where policies guaranteeing a wide range of reproductive services had been long entrenched (The New York Times)

Health & medicine:

  • Couple must pay daughter's medical bill | A couple convicted of reckless homicide in their newborn daughter's death must pay the hospital bill for another daughter who was kept in intensive care for 75 days despite their religious objections, an appeals court ruled (Associated Press)
  • Earlier: Indiana couple sentenced in baby's death | An Indiana couple who chose to pray over their dying newborn daughter rather than seek medical care for her were sentenced Friday to six years in prison for reckless homicide (Associated Press)
  • Medical test now mandatory for Anglican priests | Head of the Anglican Communion in Africa, Primate Peter Akinola has made periodic medical examination a mandatory exercise for all Anglican clergies (This Day, Nigeria)
  • Woman ends 'right to die' food protest | A 28-year-old terminally ill woman who went on hunger strike as an act of voluntary euthanasia has ended her protest after 19 days because of intense pain (The Telegraph, London)
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  • Intelligent design's doubt: Is evolution the full story? | The question posed by intelligent design is not whether evolution is true, but how much it can explain (The Boston Globe)
  • Scopes at 80 | Decades after the 'monkey' trial, creationists are borrowing from Intelligent Design in their fight against evolution (The Miami Herald)
  • Project on the origins of life launched | Harvard joining debate on evolution (The Boston Globe)
  • Also: Harvard jumps into evolution debate | Harvard University is joining the long-running debate over the theory of evolution by launching a research project to study how life began (Associated Press)
  • Creation and science friction | So why shouldn't Intelligent Design be taught? (Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times)
  • Bad science, bad theology | Christian faith cannot be produced by a reflection on scientific knowledge or supposed gaps in that knowledge (Michael McGough, Los Angeles Times)
  • Evolution: Debate it | We encourage teachers to present the case for Darwin's theory of evolution as Darwin himself did: as a credible, but contestable, argument (John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer, USA Today)
  • Evolution: Just teach it | The propaganda that evolution is a theory in crisis is hardly new. But it's still propaganda (Eugenie C. Scott and Glenn Branchm, USA Today)
  • A question of creation | "Scientific creation" comes to us in a subtler guise (Harold Evans, BBC)
  • The war on science | Get ready for replays of the Scopes monkey trial (Rekha Basu, Des Moines Register, Ia.)
  • A look at books debating evolution | The wrangling over just which textbooks ought to be used to teach the origins of the universe is not likely to cease (Margo Hammond, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
  • Evolution of an argument | Christian objections to evolutionary theory are wrongheaded (Robert L. Egolf, Ocala Star-Banner, Fl.)


  • Teacher cites bias, sues York schools | Tabb High teacher William Lee is suing the school district after officials removed parts of a collage containing Christian icons from his classroom (Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)
  • Also: Christian-rights group sues over posters | The Rutherford Institute on Friday said it has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a Spanish teacher whose religious posters were removed from the classroom while he was out sick (Associated Press)
  • Small town drawn into culture wars | Brady would much rather be known for its Labor Day goat cook-off than for offering a controversial Bible-study course (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)
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  • The Bible, Shakespeare, and public schools | The Bible serves as an introduction to the moral heritage of the West (Ernest W. Lefever, The Washington Times)
  • Teenage kicks | At school, novelist Emily Maguire wanted to be told her desires were normal. But sex education let her down - and today's adolescents still get a raw deal (The Observer, London)
  • Scientists' spirituality surprises | America's scientists are a surprisingly spiritual group, according to a survey in which almost 70 percent agreed "there are basic truths" in religion, and 68 percent classified themselves as a "spiritual person" (The Washington Times)
  • Student body right | At evangelical colleges like Pat Robertson's Regent, what they're taught and what they learn are two very different things (Christopher Hayes, The American Prospect)

Church & state:

  • 'Anti-ACLU' fights for religion in public life | The ACLU is facing a challenge from groups such as the Alliance Defense Fund, one of several Christian law firms formed in the 1990s (Fox News)
  • Christmas debate bigger than calendar | A school board decision on what to call "winter break" illustrates a struggle over religion in Kitsap classrooms (Kitsap Sun, Wa.)
  • Del. prayer ruling may become model | A judge's ruling that an explicitly Christian prayer before a school board meeting is legal -- a small part of a Jewish family's civil rights lawsuit against a Delaware public school district -- could help set a national precedent (The News Journal, Del.)
  • Give me that ol' tyme religion | Having entered the nasty ring of politics, it won't be long before this religious right, black-eyed and toothless, will be waving a white flag and calling for the separation of church and state (William Thomas, The Tillsonburg News, Ontario)
  • Town may have to pay $65,000 | Great Falls fighting lawyer fees after losing case to Wiccan priestess (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)
  • Also: Wiccan wants town to pay her legal bills | A small South Carolina town is facing a hefty legal bill after losing a battle over whether it should stop using Jesus Christ's name in prayers before council meetings (Associated Press)
  • First Amendment fog | In debating the future of the judiciary, the issue of "theocracy" is a red herring (Pat Boone, The Washington Times)
  • Tax exemption under review | The tax-exempt status of faith healer Benny Hinn's $6.5 million world headquarters in Grapevine is being examined by the Tarrant Appraisal District after a televangelist watchdog group this week questioned whether the property should be considered a church (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)
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Religious freedom:

  • Religious freedom collides with civil rights | Two recent lawsuits from the North County suburbs are throwing a spotlight on the definitions of marital status, discrimination and religious freedom (Gail Chatfield, North County Times, San Diego, Ca.)
  • For religious issues, devil's in the details | Pagans are important to America (Tamara Dietrich, Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)

Iraqi constitution:

  • Iraqis consider bypassing Sunnis on constitution | Leaders remained deadlocked over major issues, raising the possibility that they would not meet Monday's deadline for completing the document (The New York Times)
  • On eve of deadline, key disputes remain on Iraqi constitution | Iraqi factions divided on host of issues (The Washington Post)
  • Iraqi constitution panel fails to deliver a draft | Politicians as well as U.S. and U.N. envoys meet into the night in effort to resolve such issues as role of Islamic law and divvying of oil revenue (Los Angeles Times)
  • Discord stalls Iraq constitution as deadline looms | Persistent disagreement remains on at least two issues -- federal autonomy and the role of Islam in the state (Reuters)

War & terrorism:

  • Man shot dead in Belfast as Protestant feud deepens | It's the fourth killing in a bloody feud between Protestant extremists who want Northern Ireland to remain British-ruled (Reuters)
  • Why God hates terrorists more than gamblers | God is no simpleton, and on the hierarchy of sin the Bible seems to be clear: The worst sin is committing evil in God's name (Dennis Prager, Los Angeles Times)
  • Lesser of evils | What happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an offense to God, just as was all that had preceded it in that calamitous war (Editorial, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)


  • Zim refuses entry to SA food-aid trucks | Efforts by the South African Council of Churches to assist victims of "Operation Murambatsvina" in Zimbabwe suffered a major setback yesterday when two trucks with a consignment of foodstuffs were barred from entering the country (Zimbabwe Standard)
  • U.S. ambassador criticizes Zimbabwe | Tony Hall criticized the Zimbabwe government Saturday for interfering with aid efforts and warned of outrage in Congress over the worsening humanitarian crisis (Associated Press)


  • A trail of love | A year ago, two Christian camp counselors were found slain on a lonely beach. Today, all that's certain is their devotion to each other and their faith (The Sacramento Bee, Ca.)
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  • Church piggy banks robbed | A laptop and petty cash weren't enough for whoever broke into Trinity Lutheran Church last month: They went after the piggy banks, too (Standard-Times, San Angelo, Tex.)
  • Contrasting notions of justice and Rader | What are people of faith to make of a man who committed such atrocities while claiming to be a Christian? Can he be forgiven? What does justice mean in this case? (Tom Schaefer, The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)
  • Do nothing and evil triumphs | John Swan, a Protestant farmer from Ballymena, cut a heroic figure last week when he drew up in his tractor to the door of Our Lady's Church in Harryville and used a power hose to wash off paint that had been thrown over it the night before by Protestant bigots (Liam Clarke, The Times, London)

Abuse & scandal:

  • He's gone, sex debate lingers | As news of a scandalous resignation circulated about St. Patrick's Cathedral yesterday, Msgr. Eugene Clark's presence still loomed large (New York Daily News)
  • 2d priest defrocked for abuse in N.H. | The announcement that Paul Aube has been stripped of his priesthood came Friday from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, which said the Pope made the decision on May 20 (Associated Press)
  • Church scandals come cloaked in many colors | But there's scandal and then there's scandal (Bill Tammeus, The Kansas City Star)


  • Washington state awaits 'marriage' ruling | If Washington becomes the second state to legalize same-sex "marriage," as some think might happen in a few weeks, it will spark lawsuits in other states, said advocates for and against same-sex "marriage" (The Washington Times)
  • Domestic partner registry proposed | Rocky's plan: It would permit gay and heterosexual couples to document their relationships at City Hall (The Salt Lake Tribune, Ut.)
  • Also: Salt Lake mayor wants domestic registry | Mayor Rocky Anderson wants to let domestic partners in Salt Lake City document their relationships, saying a registry would allow people to signify "they are partners, that they formed a domestic partnership" (Associated Press)
  • Couple starts church serving gay, disabled communities | Three months after being ordained in a conservative Christian denomination, the Rev. Micah Royal found himself wrestling with his church's condemnation of homosexual and transgender lifestyles (San Bernardino Sun, Ca.)
  • What makes people gay? | The debate has always been that it was either all in the child's upbringing or all in the genes. But what if it's something else? (The Boston GlobeMagazine)
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  • Four houses divided | The debate over gay issues is tearing at mainline Protestant churches (The Orange County Register, Ca.)

ELCA rejects gay clergy:

  • Lutherans likely to revisit gay clergy issue | Close gay clergy vote means issue is not finished (The Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wi.)
  • Lutherans leave with mixed feelings | Members of the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will return home to local church members who might be pained or reassured by Friday's controversial votes on the place of gay and lesbian people in the church (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)
  • Lutherans reject plan to allow gay clerics | ELCA delegates also voted against an amendment that would have given pastors explicit permission to bless same-sex unions. But the assembly approved a more ambiguous measure that both upholds the current ban on same-sex blessing ceremonies, and says at the same time that the church will "trust" pastors and congregations "to discern ways to provide faithful pastoral care" to everyone (The New York Times)
  • Lutherans reaffirm gay clergy celibacy | The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the country's largest and most liberal Lutheran denomination, kept in place a ban on active homosexual clergy yesterday at its annual convention, but took a more ambiguous stance on same-sex church "blessings" (The Washington Times)
  • Lutherans reject easing gay clergy rules | Gays and lesbians lashed out after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rejected a proposal that would have allowed them to serve as clergy in certain cases, saying they felt rejected by their own denomination (Associated Press)
  • Vote blocks non-celibate gay clergy | More than 100 activists with rainbow-striped sashes draped around their necks streamed to the front of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Assembly on Friday and stood sentry in silence as the denomination's chief legislative body denied ordination to gays and lesbians in committed relationships (Chicago Tribune)
  • Lutheran conclave continues gay-clergy ban | Denomination finessed the issue of blessing same-sex unions, while rejecting a proposal that would have allowed non-celibate gay clergy in the pulpit (The Orlando Sentinel)

Church life:

  • A gilded stairway to heaven | Charismatic churches in Toronto are booming. Their message? God wants you to be rich (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
  • 'Infantile' pew protest condemned | 'Death Cookie' diatribe is nothing to do with us, says vicar (Times & Citizen, Bedford, England)
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  • No steeple, but see all the people | Congregation of 10 keeps church fires burning (Traverse City Record Eagle, Mi.)
  • Calvary worships, considers reply | Episcopal church is one of six digesting rejection of a request for a new leader (The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville)
  • From old boxing arena to a house of worship | Grand Olympic Auditorium will become home to a fast-growing Korean American congregation (Los Angeles Times)
  • Jesus Inc. Welcome to the world's biggest church | Feel good. Make money. Oh, and praise God (Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, London)
  • God's flock corralled to a rock beat | Hillsong on the Gold Coast (The Australian)

Calif. council approves church expansion:

  • Church project blessed in O.C. | Newport Beach council approves the request of St. Andrew's, but trims it so much the plan will be rethought. Neighbors had feared crowding (Los Angeles Times)
  • St. Andrew's considers options | Council approval of smaller expansion will force changes in plans for youth center and parking (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • Failure to reach a compromise is a leadership failure | But the crowd's calm and relative politeness were a great credit to both sides of this long-running debate -- St. Andrew's on one side and its neighbors on the other (Editorial, Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • Earlier: Church under fire | More than 100 neighbors protest planned expansion of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca., Aug. 8)
  • Also: Church is no place for pickets and protests | Picket lines and picketers have one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to intimidate (Rick Taylor, Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

Church leaves ECUSA:

  • Breaking away | When All Saints Church in Belmont Heights split from the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese in October, it became part of a rich, fractious tradition that dates back to when King Henry VIII created the Church of England and cut ties with the Roman Catholic Church (Long Beach Press Telegram, Ca.)
  • Church of Our Saviour hangs on | L.A. church says it has 30 in regular attendance (Long Beach Press Telegram, Ca.)
  • St. Mary thrives after years of turmoil | Its 1977 exit from the Episcopal Church cost money, members. Now it's healthy again (Long Beach Press Telegram, Ca.)
  • Dissent is a centuries-long Episcopal tradition | Church that formed in ferment of Reformation may be facing new crossroads (Long Beach Press Telegram, Ca.)
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  • 1970s church divisions painful for congregants | Legal outcomes differed, but communities in Sun Valley and Glendale faltered (Long Beach Press Telegram, Ca.)

ELCA on Israel:

  • U.S. Lutherans condemn Israeli barrier | The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America denounced the security barrier Israel is building along the West Bank, saying Saturday that Israeli policy throughout the territories has brought "extreme hardship" to Palestinians (Associated Press)
  • Lutheran group rules out financial protest over Mideast conflict | ELCA denounced Israel's construction of a security barrier around Palestinian territory and called for financial stewardship that did not include divestment (Chicago Tribune)
  • Fences and a "just peace" | The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America makes a stand against Israel's security fence and in favor of a "just peace." (Never mind Palestinian terrorism.) (John Hinderaker, The Weekly Standard)


  • Making an investment in unity | Is the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s endorsement of possible divestment from certain companies doing business in Israel an act of anti-Semitism? (Colbert I. King, The Washington Post)
  • Divestment's downside | Some churches are planning to threaten divestment of stock in businesses that assist the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. This is counterproductive (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

Missions & ministry:

  • Warren of Rwanda | The best-selling megapastor wants to turn the genocide site into the first "purpose-driven nation" (Time)
  • A missionary for the long haul | Charlie "One Horse" Hess is a Christian Johnny Appleseed of the freeways (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Promise Keepers a movement with mission, CEO says | Calls church Home Depot of spiritual resources (The Tennessean, Nashville)
  • Graham heeded the father's call | Evangelist brings festival of faith to South Texans (Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Tex.)
  • The manic beach preachers | Sexy, pierced and tattooed, they hate President Bush and love Ibiza's dance scene. But one thing sets these club kids apart - their mission to convert the island's ravers to Christianity (The Independent, London)
  • Transparency call for NGOs | After decades of secretive operations, pressure is mounting on NGOs to open up to audits to set high records of professional management and performance (The East African Standard, Kenya)

World Youth Day:

  • Pope takes the big crowd test | The size of the crowd and the warmth of the welcome will reveal whether Joseph Ratzinger can step out of the shadow of his predecessor, John Paul II (The Times, London)
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  • Traditional piety rare among German youth | The Catholic World Youth Day, set to hit Cologne this week with a mammoth influx of devout adolescents, is a chance for German Catholics to show their faith to the world. But just how religious are German youth today? (Deutsche Welle, Germany)
  • Pope hopes Youth Day will boost church | Benedict XVI hopes this week's World Youth Day in Cologne will renew the faith of European Christians, who are in a state of "self-accusation," he said in the first interview of his pontificate (Deutsche Welle, Germany)
  • Pope hopes trip to Germany spurs faith | Pope Benedict XVI voiced hope that his upcoming trip to his native Germany for a youth gathering would spur a new European wave of faith, to counter what he described as a spiritual "fatigue" on the traditionally Christian continent (Associated Press)
  • Pope to visit Germany in shadow of predecessor | While he seems to have shed some stage fright since his election four months ago, Benedict is clearly not as comfortable with the limelight as was John Paul, a former actor who relished a chance to bring a crowd of millions to its feet (Reuters)
  • Pope desires 'new wave of faith' | He said the idea that Christianity is a burden with its many rules and prohibitions was a misconception (BBC)
  • Pope aims to reclaim Europe's youth | Up to a million pilgrims are expected in Cologne this week as Pope Benedict travels to his homeland to celebrate World Youth Day on his first international trip since becoming head of the Catholic church (The Guardian, London)
  • Pope: Rules of Christianity not a burden | Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday rejected the idea of Christianity as a religion of rules and prohibitions, and said on the eve of his trip to Germany for World Youth Day that it is "beautiful to be a Christian." (Associated Press)


  • Traditional Latin Mass is given a new lease of life | The traditional Latin Mass, which was virtually outlawed by the Vatican in the 1960s, will receive a new lease of life this week when Benedict XVI makes the first foreign trip of his pontificate to Cologne (The Telegraph, London)
  • Methodist sheds robes, hopes to be Catholic priest | After months of questioning his calling to be a Methodist minister, Mark Kurowski left the United Methodist Church he'd served for 12 years as a pastor and converted to Roman Catholicism in the summer of 2002 (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • All quiet on Catholic front | The church has continued to grow, but it is rivalled in Kenya by evangelical ones (Odindo Ayieko, The Nation, Kenya)
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  • Our understanding of Mary no longer need divide the Christian creeds | Anglicans may recognize that what has been defined is what they already hold, while Roman Catholics should recognize that they need not fret over formulas (Roderick Strange, The Times, London)
  • Foundations of fundamentalism | Pope Benedict vs. the real fundamentalists (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)
  • Defrocked bishops make Italy grin | Photographs of senior Vatican clerics chilling out on a beach near Rome have been raising chuckles in Italy (The Observer, London)
  • Boston Catholics learn a few lessons | Some sit-ins to thwart parish closings have led archbishop to reverse decisions (The Washington Post)
  • On roads less traveled, spirituality takes flight | Even as some Catholic parishes close, other houses of worship thrive (The Boston Globe)
  • Family, archdiocese dispute a bequest | Fate of woman's gift unclear after parish shut (The Boston Globe)
  • Hispanics flock to Virginia diocese | The new director of the Roman Catholic Church's Spanish Apostolate in the Arlington Diocese witnesses on a daily basis the growth of Hispanic parishioners in Northern Virginia (Associated Press)


  • Science doesn't decide whether prayer works | Prayer is not just for getting things we want from God; in fact, that's not its main point at all. (Tom Gilson, Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)
  • Staying in sync while downloading God in an iPod age | The iPod is more than a technological innovation; it is a cultural metaphor with implications relative to the life of faith (R. Scott Colglazier, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)
  • Spiritual journey leads Denverites to West Bank | The long journey that took Jason and Daiana Parker from Crestmoor Downs to the West Bank began in their souls (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
  • Turn of faith | When I was a child, I knocked on doors as a Jehovah's Witness. It was later that I crossed a very personal threshold (Joy Castro, The New York Times Magazine)
  • Beyond belief | Religion's quest for the meaning of life is vain (Justin Cartwright, The Guardian, London)
  • Holy stars succour disillusioned church-goers | Religion expert Klara Obermüller on why the Dalai Lama attracted audiences of thousands while established Swiss churches continue to lose members (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland)
  • Finding my religion | Julia Sweeney talks about how she became an atheist (SF Gate, San Francisco)
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  • Intentional ignorance | Who are these fools who don't accept the Gospel of Thomas as canonical? (Canyon News, Bel Air, Ca.)


  • 'Wishes' come true | Christian singer Amy Grant takes career in new direction with reality TV show (The Arizona Republic)
  • 'Pulpit' aims to inspire | Strong voices flood TV tryouts (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Praise, my soul, the king of heaven | At its best, Songs Of Praise still does what it has been doing movingly and sensitively for more than 40 years: It travels to every part of the country and overseas, showing how ordinary people and communities cope with extraordinary experiences and challenges, reflecting their faith and beliefs (The Guardian, London)
  • No false idols on this show | Jonathan Slocumb talks about Gospel Dream 2005 (The New York Times)
  • N.Y. documentary makers try to record that old-time religion | City met country as five people producing a documentary for the Discovery Times Channel came to Wolftown, a tiny burg in Madison County, to film a tent revival (Charlottesville Daily Progress, Va.)

"A Man Who Became Pope":

  • Pope actor needed Benedict's visa help | Piotr Adamcyzk, who plays the late pope in the Hallmark Channel movie "A Man Who Became Pope," needed help from the new pope to obtain a visa to the United States for a publicity visit (Associated Press)
  • Portraying the pope | How do you turn the life of Pope John Paul II—actor, foe of Nazism and communism, assassin's target, global icon, spiritual leader to more than a billion people—into a TV movie? (Time)
  • Future pope's life unfolds in 'Karol' | "Where is God?" asks a besieged Catholic in Nazi-occupied Poland in the ambitious biographical feature "Karol: A Man Who Became Pope," which debuts tonight at 8 on the Hallmark Channel (The Washington Times)


  • Don't let faith in Christ become a velvet Elvis, author says | Rob Bell explains that religious beliefs need to be examined and reformed, or they will turn outdated and useless to us (Religion News Service)
  • Biographer catches Colson's warts, good works | Mark Davis reviews Jonathan Aitken's Charles W. Colson: A Life Redeemed (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)
  • Jan Karon's life story is the one to read | She was driven. She was daring. She lived in the `fast lane' -- until the day she fell to her knees and prayed (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)
  • Tumbling toward perdition | Journalist turns his screed to the demons that lurk in a civilized society. (The Baltimore Sun, via Sun-Sentinel)
  • How witchcraft made America | Harry Reid reviews Judge Sewall's Apology: The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of a Conscience by Richard Francis (The Herald, Glasgow)
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  • Biblical scholar, rebel pamphleteer | A review of Julia Keay's Alexander the Corrector: The Tormented Genius Whose Cruden's Concordance Unwrote the Bible (The Washington Times)


  • The Da Vinci gamble | 'Code' flick poses big risk for Sony (New York Daily News)
  • Churches fear damage from curse of 'The Da Vinci Code' | Fans of the bestseller have been vandalizing ancient buildings and stealing mementos in their search for the Holy Grail. And it will get worse when the film comes out (The Independent, London)
  • Bell stops tolling for Hanks film | The filming of a multi-million pound movie version of The Da Vinci Code is due to start in Lincolnshire this week (BBC)
  • Leesburg pastor shows he has 'The Touch' for filmmaking | Church production wins accolades at industry contests (Ocala Star-Banner, Fla.)


  • Revelatory reunion | The progenitors of today's Christian rock decide to throw a party that everyone can attend (The Orange County Register, Ca.)
  • Worshippers get their groove back | A sacred music maker shows congregations how rhythm can transport them to a spiritual place faster than a dull devotional dirge (The Vancouver Sun)

More articles of interest:

  • Springer opera tour under threat | Arts Council England has denied that it refused to fund a UK tour of the musical Jerry Springer: The Opera over protests by Christian groups (BBC)
  • Belief isn't everything | We pay a high price for the current predilection for defining people primarily by their religions (Nick Cohen, The Observer, London)
  • When Jesus heads the firm | For Christian businessman, every transaction is a statement of his faith (The Indianapolis Star)
  • Website tests religious hatred bill with appeal for holy jokes | Ship of Fools wants the best and potentially most offensive religious jokes (The Guardian, London)

Related Elsewhere:

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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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