The biggest news of the day—even beating the Iraq constitution on Google News—is Robertson's call for the U.S. government to assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

If you've missed the comments, here they are:

There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.
You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United … This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

On today's 700 Club broadcast (video), after a segment reiterating reports of Chavez's evils, Robertson told Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen that he was misquoted:

August is a slow news day, but it seems like the whole world is talking about my comments about the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. … I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time.

Huh. What Robertson meant by "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it" was that we should kidnap him. Riiiiight … .

It's especially odd for Robertson now to claim he's against assassination when he has repeatedly called for the assassinations of other heads of state.

"I know it sounds somewhat Machiavellian and evil, to think that you could send a squad in to take out somebody like Osama bin Laden, or to take out the head of North Korea," Robertson said in 1999. "But isn't it better to do something like that, to take out Milosevic, to take out Saddam Hussein, rather than to spend billions of dollars on a war that harms innocent civilians and destroys the infrastructure of a country?" And in 2004, Robertson reiterated his support for assassinating Saddam Hussein. "Our forces are going to war, and we support them," he said. "But if I had been doing it, I think I would have much preferred the assassination route."

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On today's show, Robertson also quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer and compared Chavez to Hitler.

Almost every news story has response from Venezuelan and U.S. politicians, so let's pay particular attention to responses from evangelical leaders.

"This kind of statement, by this well known American Christian leader, is in complete contradiction to the teachings of Jesus Christ who evangelical Christians believe and seek to demonstrate," Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance, says in a press release. "Robertson does not speak for evangelical Christians. We believe in justice and the protection of human rights of all people, including the life of President Chavez."

In the same press release, Venezuelan Evangelical Alliance president Sam Olson worries that the real danger is to believers, not to Chavez. "Robertson has placed our lives in jeopardy as he has completely misrepresented us and has given our government every reason to believe we would support such an action," he said.

"Jesus called for nothing like this, and Pat Robertson sounded more like one of the radical imams," Os Guinness said on ABC's World News Tonight.

"The Southern Baptist Convention does not support or endorse public statements concerning assassinations of persons, even if they are despicable despots of foreign countries, and neither do I," Southern Baptist Convention president Bobby Welch says in a Baptist Press story. "Everyone is aware that the United Stares has a military and government agencies to deal with our foreign threats in a forceful combative way. The Christian's responsibility is to pray for our leaders as well as the extremists around the world. Jesus Christ can save these people and change their lives."

"He has brought embarrassment upon us all," Al Mohler, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said on his blog, "With so much at stake, Pat Robertson bears responsibility to retract, rethink, repent, and restate his position on this issue. Otherwise, what could have been a temporary lapse of judgment can become an enduring obstacle to the Gospel."

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"I have always held Pat Robertson in the highest esteem, but his remarks today about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez were at best indiscreet and probably crossed a serious moral and ethical line," National Clergy Council president Rob Schenck said in a press release. "Reverend Robertson must immediately apologize, retract his statement, and clarify what the Bible and Christianity teaches about the permissibility of taking human life outside of law."

World magazine senior editor Marvin Olasky told MSNBC:

Well Pat's 75, he's had a live television show for decades, and sometimes he blurts things out. He doesn't represent evangelicals, and I hope that people in Venezuela don't think that he represents the United States. …
Biblically, assassination may be used in times of war, last time I looked we were not at war with Venezuela. We're supposed to pray for those in government and those around the world in positions of leadership, not assassinate them. So he doesn't represent a Christian view as far as his interpretation of Scripture, and I'm not sure he represents how many people he represents in the evangelical community. He ran for President 17 years ago, and at the peak of his popularity he didn't get a whole lot of votes, so I'm not sure what clout he really these days either. …
Oh sure there's concern about Chavez, from everything I've read, he's a dictator, he probably rigged the last election, and so should really not be in office. But that still doesn't give you a rationale for going and assassinating him. … There are particular ways to act, pray for those in that situation, hope God will change that situation, but not take the law into our own hands in a vigilante style like that. Or, asking our government to do things when we're not at war with a country.

(It's interesting to read the comments by World blog readers, some of whom say Robertson is right.)

American Family Association spokesman Ed Vitagliano told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, "We do not think it is a Christian thing to do to call for assassination of another country's leader. We understand the nation does things it thinks it should to preserve survival, but for someone who is a minister we feel greater care should be taken in representing the name of Christ. The name of Christ should not be mixed in, even accidentally, with the call for an assassination."

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Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, told the Los Angeles Times that Robertson's comments could endanger Protestant missionaries in Venezuela. "If this dictator starts to think of evangelicals as people who are gunning for him, that could be difficult for missionaries there."

On CNN yesterday, Haggard criticized the remarks, but said the criticism was overblown:

I think you have to understand the context of it. You know his program has one section of it that's a Christian exhortation, and then another section where he's a political pundit. And I think what he was saying was, we have a looming problem down south, and there are several bad options there. And he's saying maybe the least of the bad options is to do something about the dictator. …
The First Amendment is wonderful. People have free speech privileges. He wasn't writing a memo to the White House recommending a public policy decision. He was not recommending something to the State Department. He was not exposing himself sexually on the platform the way Janet Jackson did. Instead, he was having a political discussion, where they were randomly working with some ideas. For Jesse Jackson [who called for the FCC to investigate the remarks] to exaggerate it this way is just as appalling as what Pat Robertson said, I think. … We're addressing it, we're not taking it lightly. Nobody is taking it seriously as a policy issue. So the system is working. Everything is fine. Nobody's going to assassinate this man. But we do realize he is a major problem. … Pat Robertson was wrong in recommending this. He was wrong in saying it. But he was not wrong in being able to just openly discuss it the way political pundits do all the time. Now, if you take his words as from a religious Christian leader, as a recommendation, then we have a problem. But I don't think that's what he did.
And so you have to sort through that just a little bit, but I think what he was saying was, if our choice is a major war or the some way to deal with this military dictator, then we need to deal with the military dictator rather than have another Islam on our hands. … What [Robertson] said was not illegal. What he recommended was illegal.

Haggard also told USA Today, "Certainly I don't condone his comments, but I've know Pat for years, and he's a good man. … I don't think he wants people killed. I think he made ill-advised remarks in his role as a pundit. He does not speak for all Christians or evangelicals."

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Or, as Haggard told Knight Ridder, "Pat doesn't speak for evangelicals any more than Dr. Phil speaks for mental health professionals."

Haggard's predecessor as head of the NAE, Azusa Pacific University chaplain Kevin Mannoia, was more direct. "We complain about the Islamic fanatics making statements like that," he told the Los Angeles Times. "[This is] an extreme, fanatical reaction that is not representative of the Christian faith in general and the evangelical movement in particular. It's out of line and inappropriate and should not be made by a serious person in a serious forum."

Haggard's NAE colleague, Richard Cizik, told The New York Times Robertson's program "complicates circumstances for foreign missionaries and Christian aid workers overseas who are already perceived, wrongly, especially by leftists and other leaders, as collaborators with U.S. intelligence agencies."

Cizik called the remarks "unfortunate and particularly irresponsible," and that "most evangelical leaders" would disassociate themselves from them.

But The New York Times didn't find that to be the case: "Other conservative Christian organizations remained silent, with leaders at the Traditional Values Coalition, the Family Research Council, and the Christian Coalition saying they were too busy to comment," Laurie Goodstein reported.

One particular remark in the Los Angeles Times is notable not necessarily for what it says, but because the Times granted the source anonymity "because he said he respected Robertson's past ministry and did not want to alienate Robertson's followers." That's grounds for using an anonymous quote these days? Anyway, here's what the gutless evangelical leader said: "[Robertson is] an old man and there's a group of old women and old men who watch him. The spokespeople for evangelicalism are significantly distanced from him politically and spiritually. The Moral Majority days are long gone. It's a different world."

The assumption from this leader (who apparently fears Robertson's followers even though he doesn't believe they exist) and from others is that Robertson draws his strength from viewers. That's probably a false assumption.

Robertson's real power
Television and televangelism usually work through viewership. A show with few viewers won't stay on the air: On commercial television, no advertisers will buy space. In religious broadcasting, no donations will come in. But Robertson hasn't needed viewers for almost a decade. He has contractual obligations.

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Many people have complained about the 700 Club to cable channel ABC Family, which airs it. But ABC Family has no choice. It is obligated under contract to air it. (The FCC may not be able to do anything, either)

In 1988, Robertson sold the Family Network to Fox for $1.9 billion. Not bad, when you consider the channel was originally launched in 1977 through the donations of viewers who had been promised a Christian alternative to "secular" television, then taken public in 1992. CBN got $136 million from the sale. Robertson's Regent University got another $148 million. Robertson personally received $19 million, and the rest went to the Robertson Charitable Remainder Trust, which will fund CBN after Robertson and his wife die.

But the money wasn't the biggest part of the deal: Fox Family was required to air The 700 Club three times a day—and, if Fox sold the network, the obligation to air The 700 Club had to be part of that deal, too.

Cable World reported in 2001 that Robertson turned down hundreds of millions of dollars to renegotiate. Largely due to frustration that the 700 Club had disrupted its programming, Fox sold the network to the Walt Disney Company in 2001 for $3 billion and $2.3 billion in debt. Now ABC Family is obligated to air the program three times a day.

Robertson could go on his program and call for the assassination of Michael Eisner and ABC Family couldn't pull it. He could have zero viewers and ABC Family couldn't pull it. The ABC Family airtime has an estimated value of $46.8 million a year.

Earlier this year, Virginian-Pilot religion reporter Steven Vegh noted that Robertson's CBN had depleted the proceeds from the Family Channel sale, but that the ABC Family airings had led to more donations: "[CBN President Michael D.] Little said that financially, The 700 Club is to CBN what the offering plate is to a typical church. 'In our case, the collections are five times a day,' he said."

Donations have increased from $84 million in 1998, the year of the sale, to $132.1 million in 2004. Even more notable is Vegh's note that donations were only a third of CBN's 1997 revenue, but 71 percent of 2004 revenue.

That's partly because CBN has had trouble with its business holdings, including a real estate subdivision, a hotel, and internet site—all sold off over the years.

But it's a mistake to see CBN as Pat Robertson's only source of income. CBN was not, for example, part of Freedom Gold Limited, Robertson's mining operation in Liberia (incorporated in the Cayman Islands with Robertson as president and sole director). Nor was it part of his Creative Energy Co., an oil refinery company. Nor of Robertson's horse-racing interests.

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Robertson is willing to fight for these interests. He may call for the assassination of Chavez, but he'll brook no criticism of his business partners, even former Liberian president Charles Taylor. "How dare the president of the United States say to the duly elected president of another country, 'You've got to step down,'" Robertson said after Taylor was indicted for war crimes.

National sovereignty isn't the only principle Robertson is willing to compromise for business purposes. While trying to negotiate a CBN presence in China, Robertson defended the country's one-child policy.

The Fredericksburg, Virginia, Free Lance-Star today quotes Mark Rozell, head of George Mason University's master of public policy program, talking about attending a conference of evangelical scholars.

"I remember the conference director said words to the effect that Robertson is one more nutty comment away from becoming irrelevant," Rozell said. "Since then, Robertson has made a number of such comments—on China's one-child policy, about wishing for a nuke to take out the State Department building in D.C., among others. It's as though he can't help himself. Often times his comments anger his own supporters the most."

But Robertson's financial holdings are relatively permanent and multinational. He is impervious to your criticism. He doesn't need you. He doesn't need your money. He doesn't need America.

For more Christianity Today coverage of Pat Robertson, including Weblogs chronicling of his financial dealings and controversial comments, click here.

Editorials on Pat Robertson:

  • Lost in translation | No less than the president himself should renounce Robertson's remarks — not just to bridge his credibility gap in South America but to show that the United States is better than its politics (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)
  • Reverend Terminator | Robertson's remarks should be taken for what they are: the ranting of a TV preacher who relies on controversy to keep the coffers full (Editorial, Chicago Tribune)
  • Nutcake strategist | Pat Robertson's really loony idea (Editorial, Sacramento Bee, Ca.)
  • Robertson targets Chavez | Sadly, Robertson also may have made it harder for Venezuelans to eventually replace Chavez with a better, more sensible leader—using ballots, not bullets (Editorial, The Denver Post)
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  • With great power comes responsibility | Such comments may turn some people away from the teachings of Jesus Christ altogether. (Editorial, Chillicothe Gazette, Oh.)
  • Pat Robertson's fatwa | Irresponsible words should be retracted, condemned (Editorial, The Miami Herald)
  • Unholy suggestion | Scripture says one thing, Pat Robertson another (Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • A Christian viewpoint? | Before calling for Chavez's assassination, Robertson apparently never bothered to ask himself this question: What would Jesus do? (Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
  • Out of his mind | There is no difference between a Muslim cleric who places a murder contract on the heads of foreigners and a Christian minister who says that a Venezuelan president should be murdered. It is the same thing. (Editorial, Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.)
  • Pat answer | Political assassinations aren't Christian response (Editorial, Texarkana Gazette, Tex.)
  • Who would Jesus kill? | It's tempting to write Robertson off as a crackpot who's gone off the deep end, but it's dangerous to ignore his influence (Editorial, The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.)

Other analysis and opinion:

  • Regime change by assassin? Easier said than done. | Geopolitical hits are folly or, at least, never easy (Lynne Duke, The Washington Post)
  • The sin of blasphemy | Pat Robertson's latest remarks have our columnist wondering: What does it really mean to be Christian? (Patti Davis, Newsweek)

More articles


  • Christian Coalition sued | Pitney Bowes wants to recover unpaid postage fees (The Washington Post, second item)
  • Grooming politicians for Christ | Evangelical programs on Capitol Hill seek to mold a new generation of leaders who will answer not to voters, but to God (Los Angeles Times)
  • From pastor to political activist | His church booming, he wants to spread the word statewide (The Boston Globe)
  • Ex-judge says national 'spiritual war' being waged | Citing examples from historical documents and speeches and letters from America's forefathers, Roy Moore told more than 2,000 people at a Christian rally Tuesday night in Longview that the United States was founded on religious principles, but its people have forgotten their sense of morality (Longview News-Journal, Tex.)
  • Hostettler decries divorce | Rep. John Hostettler told area clergy that divorce on demand is as dangerous as gay marriage, and pastors' actions will be key to strengthening all Indiana families (Courier & Press, Evansville, Ind.)
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  • Churches to state stand tomorrow | The Government's meeting with church leaders yesterday appeared to have hit a deadlock after the group asked for more time to study the proposed new Constitution (East African Standard, Kenya)
  • Give me that oldtime oppression | As a pastor of a Christian church, I have a visceral reaction to all those people who want the United States to embrace its role as imperial power (Rich Gamble, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • Seattle, seventh heaven | For the religious right, that is (Knute Berger, Seattle Weekly)
  • Pay to pray | There's no longer any valid reason that religion deserves a free ride on the aching backs of the teeming, taxpaying, nonbelieving masses (Chris Thompson, East Bay Express, Emeryville, Ca.)


  • Feinstein to question Roberts on abortion | California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whose vote on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts could guide other Democrats, said Monday she will scrutinize his views on abortion and congressional authority to set social policy (Associated Press)
  • Abortion distortion | Will the media correct the record? (Michael J. New, National Review Online)
  • Seeing past the abortion rhetoric | While it is important to change the makeup of the Supreme Court, social conservatives -- especially those concerned about abortion -- need not and should not be counting on such a change in the judiciary to accomplish their goals (Paul Chesser, The Washington Post)

Fetal pain:

  • Researchers cast doubt on fetuses' pain | Based on the evidence, discussions of fetal pain for abortions performed before the end of the second trimester should not be mandatory, according to the study appearing in Wednesday's
  • Journal of the American Medical Association (Associated Press)
  • Study finds 29-week fetuses probably feel no pain and need no abortion anesthesia | A team of doctors said fetuses probably cannot feel pain in the first six months of gestation and therefore do not need anesthesia during abortions (The New York Times)
  • Fetal pain | A systematic multidisciplinary review of the evidence (Journal of the American Medical Association)

Stem cells:

  • Stem cell advance muddles debate | Work may stall efforts to lift research limits (The Washington Post)
  • Use for new stem cell finding still far off, researcher cautions | Harvard researchers report potential breakthrough in development of new type (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • Scientists sidestep stem cell dispute | New hope of making human tissue without creating more embryos (The Guardian, London)
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  • Harvard scientists report a stem cell advance | Scientists at Harvard say they have developed a technique that offers a long-range possibility for producing therapeutic stem cells without a need to harvest them from discarded human embryos (The New York Times)
  • Senate poised to ease Bush stem cell rules | Stem cell science may be advancing, but not fast or far enough to break the standoff between President Bush and Congress over federal funding for research that destroys human embryos (Associated Press)
  • New twist in stem-cell debate | Harvard University scientists who created cells similar to human embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos have reached an encouraging milestone, though the work is still too preliminary to abandon using human embryos (Editorial, The Denver Post)
  • Lung cells made in test tube may help transplants | The prospect of growing a set of human lungs in the laboratory for transplant surgery has come a step closer with the successful growth of mature lung cells from embryonic tissue (The Independent, London)

Life ethics:

  • Female feticide must stop: PM | Observing that empowerment of women must begin even before birth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the "unacceptable crime" of female foeticide using modern technology must be stopped (PTI, India)
  • Bill would require referrals if pharmacist won't fill prescription | Two area lawmakers among those behind legislation that would fine drugstores that refuse customers (Newsday)

Evolution and science:

  • Grasping the depth of time as a first step in understanding evolution | Nearly every attack on evolution ultimately requires a foreshortening of cosmological, geological and biological time (Verlyn Klinkenborg, The New York Times)
  • Scientists speak up on mix of God and science | Disdain for religion is far from universal among scientists, and some are beginning to speak out about their faith (The New York Times)
  • The clear design is political | From the environment to sex education, stem cell research, contraception and more, this administration distorts or simply ignores the plain science of issues to suit its political interests (Tom Teepen, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • Corrections | We shouldn't have called the Discovery Institute fundamentalists, and other important stuff (The New York Times)
  • Clergy weigh in on evolution, design | Letter campaign intended to keep creationism out of science classrooms (Beloit Daily News, Mi.)
  • Bush science is dangerous slope | The game of pushing a Christian agenda through public institutions is both terribly disingenuous and yet front and center (Editorial, Indian Country Today)
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  • Curbing God's laws | On religion, science, church, and state (William F. Buckley, National Review Online)


  • Vatican to start U.S. seminary evaluations | Three years after the clergy sex abuse crisis rocked the Roman Catholic church, a Vatican-directed evaluation of all U.S. seminaries is scheduled to begin late next month (Associated Press)
  • Two thirds oppose state aided faith schools | Most poll respondents are against ministers' plans to increase the number of religious schools amid growing anxiety about their impact on social cohesion. (The Guardian, London)
  • Bishop urges teachers to be role models | If Catholic schools are nothing more than another educational alternative for Grand Rapids parents, they are wasting their resources, says Bishop Walter Hurley (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)
  • Bigger and bigger | Liberty University is anticipating a record enrollment of 9,600 residential students this year, a jump of 1,200 students over last year (News & Advance, Lynchburg, Va.)

Silver Ring Thing loses federal funding:

  • Federal funds for abstinence group withheld | Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services say group appears to use tax money for religious activities (The Washington Post)
  • U.S. cuts off abstinence program funding | Silver Ring Thing "may not have included adequate safeguards to clearly separate in time or location inherently religious activities from the federally funded activities," says HHS official (Associated Press)
  • Abstinence program funds are suspended | US halts support after ACLU suit (The Boston Globe)
  • Federal funds suspended for abstinence program | Silver Ring Thing leader said yesterday he is confident the group can address concerns about how it handles religious and secular issues (The Washington Times)
  • Opinions vary on funding cut-off for faith-based abstinence program | Critics of federal funding earmarked for a faith-centered program in Ohio Township that advocates abstinence-only sex education applauded the government's decision to suspend the grant (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


  • Judge: Gay sex laws in Hong Kong illegal | A Hong Kong judge ruled Wednesday that laws against gay sex — including one that demands a life sentence for men under 21 who engage in sodomy — are unconstitutional and discriminatory (Associated Press)
  • California ruling expands same-sex parental rights | The California Supreme Court ruled that both members of a lesbian couple should be considered their child's mothers even after their relationship ends (The New York Times)
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  • Calif. court protects kids of gay couples | The California Supreme Court has said gay and lesbian couples who raise children are lawful parents and must provide for their children if they break up (Associated Press)
  • Same-sex parent rulings spark debate in California | A trio of new California court rulings that say two women can be a child's parents have shocked traditional-values advocates and encouraged homosexual-rights groups (The Washington Times)
  • Everyday people | Anyone reading about the gay couples in the newspaper cannot help but see how utterly ordinary they are—or should be (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

Missions & ministry:

  • Thou shalt give aid in good faith | Using aid to win people over to the Christian faith is morally questionable, says a relief worker, but that hasn't stopped some aid agencies "using religion as a tool to gain an advantage over others," says Tom Palakudiyil (The Times, London)
  • Jesus swathed in relief blankets | Would Jesus want his word spread with rice and lentils? Tom Palakudiyil, who has run Christian Aid's response to four emergencies in Asia, asks if it's really Christian to mix aid and Bibles (Third Sector, U.K.)
  • Peace role for Colombian Church | Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe has agreed to allow the Roman Catholic Church to mediate in the conflict with the country's left-wing rebel groups (BBC)

Church life:

  • Building an empire to empower | T.D. Jakes may lead a Dallas mega-church, but that's not all he does (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Succession battles rock PCEA | The Presbyterian Church of East Africa is locked in a succession battle to replace retired Moderator Jesse Kamau (The East African Standard, Kenya)
  • Letter details concerns about former pastor | A Oct. 7, 2004, letter from a past member of the church's board alleges that Gordon Kirk controlled and denigrated the role of the congregation at Lake Avenue Church and lay leadership (Pasadena Star News, Ca.)
  • Rick Warren clarifies SBC ties after 'misstatement' in interview | "I'm Southern Baptist. Our church is Southern Baptist. And we are a leader in SBC missions support in our state." (Associated Baptist Press)


  • Argentine bishop resigns amid reported sex scandal | A prominent Argentine Roman Catholic bishop has resigned amid media reports that he was involved sexually with a young man, the latest in a series of such scandals involving church officials (Reuters)
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  • Thou shalt not drool | Georg Gänswein is the poster boy of Catholic conservatism. The Italian press compares him to George Clooney and Hugh Grant; his critics describe him as the 'Black Forest Adonis'. But how did he end up as the new Pope's right-hand man? And is he the right person for the job? (The Guardian, London)
  • Gibson's parade stirs passions | Plans to ask Mel Gibson to organise a street parade version of his movie The Passion of the Christ in Sydney are facing a backlash in Australia's religious community (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Australians are not Godless, they're hungry | The facts show the Pope's comment about our country's lack of faith is untrue (Paul Collins, The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Virgins by choice, women embrace ancient ministry | Judith Stegman wants to reclaim the word "virgin" from the jokes, satire and stigma (Detroit Free Press)

Pope in Germany:

  • Pope: Germany synagogue visit emotional | Benedict also referred to his meeting with Protestant and Orthodox Christian representatives, saying it was significant that it was held in Germany — the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation (Associated Press)
  • Jews, some Muslims praise pope's warnings | Benedict didn't break any new ground with his synagogue comments, but seemed to harden his stance on terrorism when he spoke to Germany's Muslim community a day later (Associated Press)
  • Nun's wild dancing earns her a reprimand | A Belgian nun's acrobatic and indecorous dancing with a missionary during the Catholic World Youth Day in Germany over the weekend earned her a reprimand from her mother superior, a Belgian paper said Tuesday (Reuters)
  • The message does count | World Youth Day was never just about Pope John Paul II (Colleen Carroll Campbell, National Review Online)

Catholicism in Africa:

  • Group out to soil my name, claims priest | A Catholic priest in Kisii has alleged a smear campaign against him by some of his parishioners (The Nation, Kenya)
  • Otunga's body exhumed | The body of Cardinal Maurice Otunga has been secretly exhumed and is to be reburied in a mausoleum in the Nairobi suburb of Karen (The Nation, Kenya)
  • Also: Anger over cardinal's exhumation | The Bakhone clan of the late Maurice Cardinal Otunga yesterday reacted angrily over his exhumation even as some Bukusu leaders supported the Catholic Church's decision (East African Standard, Kenya)

Taizé funeral:

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  • At his funeral, Brother Roger has an ecumenical dream fulfilled | At a service for Brother Roger Schutz held in Taizé, France, one of his dreams came true: communion wafers were given to the faithful regardless of denomination (The New York Times)
  • Slain Christian leader buried in France | Thousands of mourners poured into this Burgundy village on Tuesday to pay final respects to the 90-year-old founder of an ecumenical Christian community stabbed to death during a prayer service, as his successor sought forgiveness for the killer (Associated Press)
  • Faithful flock to Taize funeral | About 10,000 people have attended the funeral of Brother Roger, the founder of the religious community of Taize in eastern France (BBC)
  • A healer of divisions | The murder of a spiritual leader is always an occasion for dismay, but last week's killing of Brother Roger, the 90-year-old Swiss Protestant monk who founded the Taizé community and movement, is doubly shocking (Editorial, The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.)


  • Catholics, protesters clash at annual Carey pilgrimage | Confrontation erupted when roughly 18 "street preachers" protested the Catholics' prayerful celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary (The Courier, Findlay, Oh.)
  • Bomb wounds four in Christian area near Beirut | Five bombs have killed at least four people and wounded around 50 in Christian areas since the killing of Hariri plunged Lebanon into its worst political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war (Associated Press)
  • Residents of Sudan capital hope for peace | Anger and suspicion lie below the veneer of calm (Associated Press)


  • Olympics bomber apologizes and is sentenced to life terms | Eric Robert Rudolph offered his first public apology at what could well be his last public appearance, his sentencing hearing (The New York Times)
  • Also: Rudolph apologizes, sentenced to life | Said he "would do anything to take that night back." But didn't apologize for abortion clinic and gay nightclub attacks (Associated Press)
  • Egypt detains Briton over manuscripts | Douglas Ross allegedly had valuable Islamic and Coptic manuscripts in his luggage (Associated Press)
  • Clergyman angry at 'slow' police | A Derby clergyman is quitting the area and is angry with police after a road rage attack against him and his family (BBC)
  • Metal fan shows no arson remorse | A heavy metal fan who torched a century-old church showed no remorse because the band he listened to preached that regret was weak, a court heard today (AAP, Australia)
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  • Choir member surrenders in child-snatching attempt | A member of a Harlem church choir who the police said tried to drag a 4-year-old Bronx boy from his home on Saturday surrendered yesterday, and faces charges including assault and attempted burglary (The New York Times)
  • Police: Man left church to steal truck | Police said Jose Figueroa left in the middle of services Sunday at the Asamblea de Iglesias Christianos de Framingham to break into a truck parked outside (Associated Press)
  • Kaiser: Sunkuli named | An inquest into the death of Catholic priest Anthony Kaiser was yesterday told that a former Cabinet minister and a policeman were involved (The Nation, Kenya)


  • Secular Iraqis say new charter may curb rights | President Bush, however, asserted that the Iraqi document guaranteed women's rights and freedom of religion (The New York Times)
  • Iraq's unsettling constitution | The draft constitution given to Iraq's national assembly Monday night does little to advance the prospects for a unified and peaceful Iraq (Editorial, The New York Times)
  • New Iraq constitution must protect Christians | It is when the human rights of an individual, regardless of religion or ethnic background, are protected by this constitution that we can declare it successful and democratic (Alda Benjamen, The Toronto Star)
  • Brokering democracy | There is no way to get around the fact that Iraq is a Muslim country, and will remain so (Helle Dale, The Washington Times)


  • Gaza withdrawal highlights divisions | Israelis say the traumatic Gaza withdrawal has deepened the divide between right and left and between the religious and secular, but that the relative peacefulness of the withdrawal also shows a fundamental sense of solidarity (Associated Press)
  • New patriarch chosen for Holy Land | The unanimous 14-0 election of Metropolitan Theofilos, by the Church's Holy Synod put Israel and the church on a virtual collision course for the time being, and could result in a split in the church (The Jerusalem Post)
  • Also: Theophilos III elected new patriarch by Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem | The Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem elected a new patriarch yesterday to replace Irineos I, who was sacked over an alleged land deal with Jews in East Jerusalem that angered Palestinians and sparked a church crisis (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)


  • Anglican bishop appears in Zimbabwe court | An Anglican bishop who is a strong supporter of autocratic President Robert Mugabe appeared Tuesday before an ecclesiastical court investigating allegations ranging from inciting murder to besmirching the church (Associated Press)
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  • Church court puts Mugabe bishop on trial | An Anglican bishop who is a vocal supporter of President Robert Mugabe went on trial before an ecclesiastical court in Harare yesterday after an investigation into a range of charges including incitement to murder (The Telegraph, London)
  • 'Mugabe's bishop' goes on trial for misconduct | The zealously pro-Mugabe Anglican Bishop of Harare, the Right Rev Nolbert Kunonga, stood before a rare ecclesiastical court yesterday on charges of misconduct that have divided the church here for the past four years (The Times, London)


  • Radio host fired after anti-Islam remarks | Conservative radio host Michael Graham was fired Monday by a Washington station after he refused to apologize for calling Islam "a terrorist organization" (Associated Press)
  • Sometimes it's who you offend | Radio-talk-show host Michael Graham is out of a job (Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review Online)
  • Australian Prime Minister backs surveillance in mosques | John Howard said the government had a right to know if parts of the Islamic community supported or preached violence (Reuters)
  • 'The other jihad' | Islamist subversion in Africa threatens continent (Ralph Peters, USA Today)

Other articles of interest:

  • The passion of investing | Putting your beliefs to work for higher returns (MarketWatch)
  • Christians oppose workers' dress code in Pakistan | Pakistani Christian leaders Tuesday objected to a new dress code for their community members working as sanitary workers in Islamabad's municipal department (DPA, Pakistan)
  • Arizona woman selling Mormon scripture | Retired bookstore owner Helen Schlie can see a higher purpose in selling her 1830 first-edition Book of Mormon one page at a time (Associated Press)
  • Scotland's "Braveheart" honored, 700 years on | Church ceremony honors William Wallace (Reuters)
  • Christmas, meet Hanukkah | Elise Okrend saw a market for interfaith greeting cards. Despite a feast-and-famine sales cycle and traditionalists' objections, business is booming (Business Week)
  • Either ignored or denigrated | Not only are most Jews ignorant of evangelical support of Israel and the Jewish people because of the negative way in which evangelicals are generally portrayed when mention is made of them, their solidarity is ascribed to all sorts of cynical and nefarious ulterior motives (Yechiel Eckstein, The Jerusalem Post)
  • Activist-priest packs up, ends hunger strike | After 44 days of taking only fruit juice, activist-priest Robert Reyes broke his fast on Sunday night with a cup of bean curd, a bowl of porridge and a plate of pasta (The Philippine Inquirer)

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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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