Christmas wars (news):

  • 'Christmas break' may return | Falcon School District 49 board member Anna Bartha, who took office a few weeks ago, is asking the board to consider changing the name of the time off at the end of the year from winter break to its traditional name, Christmas vacation (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)
  • School holiday shows in state bring threat of suit | Not Christian enough, Florida group warns (Associated Press)
  • A very wary Christmas | Retailers and governments heed the wrath of Christians who seek recognition of the sanctity of the occasion. Attorneys are standing by (Los Angeles Times)
  • 'Christmas' missing from Bushes' card | Conservatives are rankled that the word "Christmas" doesn't appear anywhere on the official White House card—1.4 million copies of which were mailed to presidential friends and supporters (The Washington Times)
  • Capitol tree gets Christmas moniker back | Lighting up the chilly night with a resolute flick of a switch, House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Thursday night illuminated this year's Capitol Christmas — not "holiday" — Tree, reinstating its religious title for the first time in years (Associated Press)
  • Christmas debate at Manhasset tree lighting | When the Rev. Nick Zientarski invoked the name of Jesus Christ during his traditional blessing of the official Christmas tree lighting in Manhasset last week, he had no idea he had signed on as a soldier in the culture wars over Christmas (Newsday)

Christmas wars: Left's fault:

  • The war on Christmas | Theocracy? Do you really believe that? (Jay Ambrose, Scripps Howard News Service)
  • Vision America joins war of words in Christmas fray | Rick Scarborough's Vision America, based in East Texas, is launching a bumper sticker (The Lufkin Daily News, Tex.)

Christmas wars: Right's fault:

  • A threat to Christmas? | Worriers about government and commerce miss the point (Editorial, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)
  • Face it, it's not a 'Merry Christmas' for every American | Personally, I don't want to see figures of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in the midst of a display for KitchenAid mixers (Julie Muhlstein, The Daily Herald, Everett, Wa.)
  • Unhappy holidays | Christian conservatives have absurdly convinced themselves that they are the leading victims of discrimination and abuse (Tom Teepen)

Can't we all get along?

  • More cheer, please | The Christmas controversies do raise the possibility that, in the rush to be aggrieved, we'll forget the age-old message of the season: Peace on earth, good will toward men (Editorial, The Kansas City Star, Mo.)
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  • Seasonal replay | We've gotten so picky and prissy about religion in the public square that no one really knows what to say and do at times like Christmas (William Murchison, The Washington Times)
  • Can we return to Christmas past? | It's supposed to be a time of peace, after all (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)


  • Take it from a college prof: 'I believe in Santa' | The reformed naysayer says the tradition represents love (The Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Rivalry rings the bell for kettle drive | Wal-Mart touts charity on TV, while Target solicits online (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
  • What would the Druids do? | I thought religion was supposed to remind us that there's a separation between pew and marketplace (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)
  • Carols still defy secularism | Jesus may be absent from commercial television and movies today, but you can hear of him through the holiday songs played on the radio this month (Paul Davis, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

No church for Christmas:

  • When Christmas falls on Sunday, megachurches take the day off | Some of the nation's megachurches have decided not to hold worship services on the Sunday that coincides with Christmas Day (The New York Times)
  • The fight before Christmas | Evangelicals spit over the decision by some megachurches to close on Christmas Day. Inside the controversy (Time)

Church & state:

  • Judge throws out Quran suit | A judge on Thursday threw out a lawsuit spurred by outcry over the inability of Muslims to use a Quran for courtroom oaths, a lawyer in the case said (News-Record, Greensboro, N.C.)
  • Also: Oaths suit by ACLU dismissed by judge | Rights group seeks use of other religious texts in courtroom setting (Associated Press)
  • Council overrides mayor on Diwali parking | The City Council voted Thursday to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto of a bill to suspend alternative side parking for Diwali, a popular Hindu religious holiday (Newsday)
  • Inquiry into IRS investigations of churches is sought | Expressing concern about the 1st Amendment rights of clergy, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) and two Republican colleagues called Thursday for an investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office into the IRS' recent probes of alleged "campaign intervention" by churches, including Pasadena's liberal All Saints Church (Los Angeles Times)
  • Highway Patrol crosses not erected to promote Christianity | Though the atheists are correct that government should steer clear of erecting symbols that endorse one religion or another, they should pick their battles (Editorial, The Salt Lake Tribune)
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  • Time to erase 'blue laws' | Merchants, their employees, and customers ought to be able to decide for themselves when to shop and work (Editorial, USA Today)
  • Also: It's about quality of life | Retail workers are particularly big losers in this shift to Sunday openings (Diane C. Kessler, USA Today)
  • Rock of offense | By blackballing Christian prayer, a federal judge creates a state religion (Gene Edward Veith, World)

Religious freedom:

  • NU civilian guards to help secure churches on Christmas eve | The involvement of civilian guards from Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in securing Christmas and New Year's celebrations comes as a goodwill gesture as the end of the year approaches (The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)
  • Muslims plan to guard Indonesian churches on Xmas | Volunteers from Indonesia's largest Islamic organisation will guard churches across the world's most populous Muslim nation on Christmas amid fears of terrorist attacks on those places, the group said on Friday (Reuters)
  • What Copts fear | Are the concerns of Copts following the gains the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood made in the parliamentary elections justified? (Al-Ahram, Cairo)
  • Don't ban Hinn call | Evangelist Benny Hinn should not be stopped from entering Fiji, the Assembly of Christian Churches of Fiji says (Fiji Times)
  • Universal Church is still welcome in Namibia—official | Namibia is not considering any actions against the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Namibia because it does not have any reason to do so, a Government official said (The Namibian)
  • Also: Cops search Universal Church pastors' house | Police yesterday searched the house of the de-registered Universal Church of the Kingdom of God pastors in Lusaka's Roma residential area (The Post, Zambia)

Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages:

  • Iraqi Sunnis appeal for hostages' release | Prominent Sunni Arab clerics and residents of a Baghdad neighborhood where four kidnapped Christian humanitarian workers had aided people appealed Friday for their release a day before a deadline set by their abductors to kill them (Associated Press)
  • Calls grow for release of hostages held in Iraq | An influential Sunni cleric joined growing calls on Friday for the release of Western hostages being held by Iraqi militants, as a deadline for the execution of four of them neared (Reuters)
  • Willing to fight and die for peace | Peacemaker Teams accept danger, work in world's hot spots (Chicago Tribune)
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War & terrorism:

  • U.S. activists trek toward Guantanamo | American activists reached the halfway point in a long trek toward the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay to protest treatment of terror suspects, but it appeared unlikely the communist government would let them enter a Cuban military zone to reach the U.S. outpost (Associated Press)
  • The bias breakdown | The number of complaints of religious discrimination involving Muslims has doubled since Sept. 11, 2001 (The Washington Post)


  • Photographer goes positive instead of negative to oppose abortion | Instead of trying to persuade people not to do something with what he describes as gruesome "shock and awe" pictures plastered on buses and the like, Kelly decided last spring that he wanted to sway expectant mothers from abortion by exhibiting the tenderness of parenthood in poster-sized black-and-white studio portraits (Palm Beach Post, Fla.)
  • Abortion drug not the safest method | I am not a Catholic. I am not a man. I am not a right-to-lifer. But I oppose the abortion drug RU486. (Renate Klein, The Australian)

Intelligent Design & creationism:

  • KU provost says ID course needed | Kansas University's No. 2 official told an online audience Thursday he "continues to support the need" for KU to teach a course on intelligent design (Lawrence Journal-World, Kan.)
  • Creationist plans run for education board | Fossil hunter hopes to unseat Wagnon in '08 (Lawrence Journal-World, Kan.)
  • 'Design' a staple of some courses | Religious issues routinely covered (The Kansas City Star)
  • Shield integrity of science class | Religion is an important element of life in Alabama and certainly is to be respected. However, the science classroom is not the place for the study of religion, and that also ought to be respected (Editorial, Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)
  • Fantasy island | The dwindling refuges of creationism (William Saletan, Slate)


  • Sex-ed battle hits new turf | Homosexuality topic splits Montgomery (The Washington Post)
  • A ring that says no, not yet | Tens of thousands of young people in the past decade have taken a chastity vow until marriage and slipped on a ring to symbolize it (The New York Times)
  • Mat-Su backs class on Bible | Borough School Board adds elective to lineup (Anchorage Daily News, Ak.)
  • Website's power to overexpose teens stirs a warning | Parents alerted to (The Boston Globe)

Same-sex marriage:

  • Court voids ruling backing gay marriage | An appellate court yesterday reversed a lower court ruling that would have permitted same-sex marriage in New York City (The New York Times)
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  • N.Y. court overturns same-sex 'marriage' | A New York appeals court yesterday reversed a Manhattan judge's ruling on same-sex "marriage," saying the government has a "strong interest in fostering heterosexual marriage" (The New York Times)
  • N.Y. appeals court rejects gay marriage | A state appeals court Thursday threw out a ruling that would have allowed gay couples to marry in New York City, saying it is not the role of judges to redefine the terms "husband" and "wife" (Associated Press)

Church of England vicar to enter same-sex union:

  • Vicar's gay 'marriage' to have church blessing | An openly homosexual vicar is to have his gay "marriage" blessed at a church service at which the former Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev David Jenkins, will preach (The Telegraph, London)
  • Canon joins same-sex partnership | A canon at Salisbury Cathedral is the most senior Church of England clergyman to declare his intention to register his same-sex partnership (The Times, London)

Religion & homosexuality:

  • McGreevey embraces the Episcopal church | Lifelong Catholic lends support to group that promotes gay, lesbian issues (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.)
  • Push to nix gay nuptials begins | But groups not all on same page (The Denver Post)

Church life:

  • Episcopalians face up to decline | The Episcopal Diocese of Newark, for years the epitome of liberal Protestant Christianity in America, acknowledged Thursday in an unusually candid report that it has suffered a steep slide in membership and needs a bishop who can revitalize its struggling parishes (TheBergen County Record, N.J.)
  • Liberals launch attack on new interfaith forum | A proposed Christian-Muslim Forum came under fire this week from liberal faith groups, amid accusations that evangelical Anglicans were using it as an opportunity to target Muslims for proselytism (The Church of England Newspaper)
  • Holy rollers | In her late fifties, softly spoken and immaculate in her yellow uniform, "MaMofokeng" could easily pass for a school matron. But appearances are deceptive. Masechaba Mofokeng is the bishop of the Holy Jerusalem Church of Repentance in Jabulani, Soweto, and the first South African woman to build her own church (The Mail & Guardian, South Africa)

Missions & ministry:

  • Aid to the homeless gets personal in S.F. | Thousands of citizen volunteers assist transients at bimonthly events. The effort has become a blueprint for cities across the nation (Los Angeles Times)
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  • Conservatives gain visibility on charity | Catholic group targeted Menino (The Boston Globe)


  • A lesson in goodwill from Jews, Catholics | Catholics and Jews are in the era of "rapprochement" (Andrew Skerritt, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
  • Investigative reporter goes inside 'work of God' | John L. Allen, Jr. writes about the secretive Opus Dei and its influence on the Vatican and politics of the Catholic Church. Here's an excerpt (Today, NBC)


  • Is 'Narnia' religious? Yes and no | "Narnia" is no "Passion" (San Diego Union-Tribune)
  • Which one opened door to Narnia? | Two U.S. colleges wage 'wardrobe wars' over true inspiration for C.S. Lewis' fantasy series (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
  • 'Narnia' is fodder for church, business | Movie is simultaneously a subject of sermons, commercial interests (The Baltimore Sun)
  • Cowin earns low grade on 'Narnia' ban | Students not allowed to see film (Lauren Ritchie, The Orlando Sentinel)
  • Fantasy or religious tract? | The film version of C.S. Lewis' beloved 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' opens today, and the story's, message is still a topic debate (The Tucson Citizen, Az.)
  • Disney courts Christian viewers | The marketing of 'Narnia,' which opens today, is similar to Mel Gibson's 'Passion of the Christ.' (The Orlando Sentinel)
  • Christian stores capitalize on 'Narnia' | With Friday's release of the film version of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," the marketing push to promote the sale of Narnia books and other related merchandise is reaching a crescendo — and nowhere more so than in Christian retail stores (Associated Press)
  • Our need for such a guide | C. S. Lewis for the ages (Eugene McGovern, National Review Online)
  • Into the wardrobe | A first look at the Narnia movie (John J. Miller, National Review Online)
  • Narnia & its enemies | Sexist, racist, intolerant Lewis? (Catherine Seipp, National Review Online)
  • Who's afraid of C. S. Lewis? | Narnia critics should relax (Rich Lowry, National Review Online)
  • Looking for the real Lucy | The real Lucy was 15 when C.S. Lewis wrote his famous dedication. She was the adopted daughter of Lewis's friend, Owen Barfield, who was part of a group of Oxford intellectuals who often debated Christianity and mythology at Lewis's house (The Toronto Star)
  • That old-time omission | As ink spills and teeth gnash over just how faithful Disney's movie adaptation of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" is to the original intent of author C.S. Lewis' Christian allegory, it's time to blow the whistle on the more glaring — and puzzling — absence of Christianity in another recent movie — the hit Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line." (Scott Galupo, The Washington Times)
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  • The Left vs. Lewis | The culture wars find their way into the wardrobe (Jason L. Riley, The Wall Street Journal)


  • Pushy service on cable TV | You can bet digital disciple MBAs are hard at work in glass office towers figuring out how to organize the a la carte options so viewers pay top dollar for channels (Monica Collins, The Boston Globe)
  • Heaven — Where is it? How do we get there? | Barbara Walters explores meaning of heaven and afterlife with religious leaders, believers and non-believers (ABC News)
  • 'South Park' episode angers Catholics | The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is condemning an episode of "South Park" that it says "defiled" the Virgin Mary (Associated Press)


  • In God they trust to build a brand, convey a message | While turning away from mainstream films, books and music that promote values unacceptable to them, churches and other religious institutions are at the same time looking for positive messages they can embrace, promote and exploit (The Orange County Register)
  • Success of Christian films lends clout to religious media | Promoting the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line in Hollywood, the stars were asked some questions that fell outside the norm (The Arizona Republic)
  • Hooray for holy-wood | L.A. Undergoes a Religious Renaissance (The Jewish Journal, Los Angeles)


  • Prospect: 36 years in prison | Sixteen men, mostly evangelical Christians, implicated in the 1997 Acteal massacre in southern Mexico now face 36 years in prison after their final appeal was denied by a three-judge panel last November 30 (Reformatorisch Dagblad, Netherlands)
  • Threat alleged in church feud | The newly appointed abbot of a monastery locked in a 33-year dispute with Greece's Orthodox Church said he was threatened by four masked men Wednesday and sprayed in the face with Mace (Associated Press)
  • Brazilian: Nun's death was self-defense | The man accused of killing American nun and rain forest defender Dorothy Stang told a jury Friday that he acted in self-defense after mistaking her Bible for a gun (Associated Press)

More articles of interest:

  • Reform party | A British theologian takes another stab at Reformation (John Wilson, The Wall Street Journal)
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  • Wal-Mart critics: Where would Jesus shop? | on Thursday unveiled a religious-themed campaign Thursday asking shoppers whether God wants them to buy things from the Bentonville, Ark.-based company (Associated Press)
  • Mission creep | Is yoga the latest way to improve mind and body or the newest path to Hindu enlightenment? (World)
  • A history of Christianity | When he served as the dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent, the Rev. Paul Zahl led a Sunday school class that sometimes seemed like a tour through Christian history. Now anyone can take that tour, although Zahl left Alabama to serve as president of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa. (The Birmingham News, Ala.)
  • AFA's Don Wildmon: If ADL's Foxman criticizes religious right, some of them "won't support Israel anymore" (Media Matters)

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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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