Davidson College drops trustee church rule, but "Christian" commitment still stands
Rarely is the watering down of a college's religious commitments spelled out so clearly than in the revisions to the Davidson College Statement of Purpose and bylaws, approved last week by the board of trustees.

No longer does the North Carolina college seek "ties which bind the college to the Presbyterian Church." (Davidson has official ties to the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.) Now it's "ties that bind the college to its Presbyterian heritage." And where the school used to "intend that this vital relationship be continued to the mutual benefit of church and school," it now doesn't say that it wants to benefit the church.

Likewise, the new statement dropped the line that it's "a college whose tradition commits it to nurture the life of the spirit."

Fortunately, the trustees rejected the most astounding change proposed by ad hoc committee of its members. The proposal had "Davidson commits itself to a Christian tradition that recognizes God as the source of all truth" replaced with "The religious tradition that has shaped Davidson recognizes God as the source of all truth." The final version now says "The Christian tradition to which Davidson remains committed recognizes God as the source of all truth."

But thanks to changes to the school's bylaws, the trustees don't have to actually think that means anything. Gone is the rule that "persons elected as trustees have been active members of a Christian church." Now it's a bit more complicated:

Historically, persons elected as trustees have been active members of a Christian church. In openness to and respect for the world's various religious traditions and the variety of religious preferences among the graduates and friends of Davidson, the nominating committee and the alumni association may recommend persons for the office of trustee who are not active members of a Christian church but who meet all other criteria for serving as a trustee. As part of continuing the historic commitment of Davidson to the reformed tradition of the Christian faith, the nominating committee shall insure that at least 80% of all elected trustees are active members of a Christian church.

At least the trustees acknowledge that it's no longer a Christian college. Where trustees used to be asked to pledge "to be faithful in promoting the purpose of the college and in seeking to increase its effectiveness as an institution of Christian learning," they're now asked to "be faithful in promoting the purpose of the college, seeking to honor the traditions that have shaped Davidson as a place where faith and reason work together in mutual respect for service to God and humanity."

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At Davidson, apparently, it's best to view religion as an old historical thing that's shaped stuff in the past rather than something that "nurtures the life of the spirit" and has an active, present role in directing one's educational aims.

"Davidson had already gone down the road to secularization long before the trustees voted to change the college's statement of purpose and bylaws," John H. Adams writes in a commentary for The Layman Online. Still, pastor and Davidson alumnus James C. Goodloe complained last month, "The motivations for such changes come from outside our faith. They are alien to our tradition. They are necessarily destructive to our heritage."

Super Bowl shenanigans
Conservative news site WorldNet Daily uncovered an odd bit of Super Bowl commercial trivia: The founder and president of GoDaddy.com, which broadcast the racy "wardrobe malfunction" commercial during the game, is also the founder of Parsons Technology, creator of the bestselling Bible software QuickVerse. He sold the company in 1999.

Weird story of the day
It seems like the headline can't be true: "Catholic Rampage after Protestant Refuses Mass Wafer." At the Imaculata Cathedral in Atambua, Indonesia, the Press Association (a U.K. version of the Associated Press) reports, hundreds of parishioners were outraged when a Protestant didn't take Communion.

"After the service ended, worshipers and others tried to attack the man, identified only as Jacob, but he was taken to a priest's chambers until police arrived, the police chief said. As police led the man away, the crowd fought with them to try to wrest the man away, but failed, he said. The man was being questioned by police in the East Nusatenggara provincial capital of Kupang."

The PA also reports that the mob threw stones at Jacob.

The PA concludes by noting, "Wafers at Mass represent Jesus Christ's body and are given to worshipers in memory of his sacrifice." It might have been more helpful to inform readers that the Roman Catholic Church forbids Protestants from taking Communion at a Catholic service.

Actually, it might have been helpful to report the story more carefully. The Jakarta Post says that Jacob (identified in the Indonesian paper as JT) "did not immediately swallow the holy wafer but kept it. When asked by other churchgoers why he did not swallow the holy wafer, JT admitted that he was a Protestant who was following his Catholic girlfriend."

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"I was more insulted than you are when the holy wafer which we believe as the representation of Jesus' body was desecrated. But this does not allow us to kill a man," Bishop Anton Pain Ratu told the mob, according to the paper.

News agency AFP says JT "crushed" the wafer, that at least three people were hospitalized after the melee, that two police stations were vandalized, and that—most oddly—"a similar incident occurred in the same diocese two weeks ago and a man was still under police investigation." Jacob T. reportedly faces criminal charges for contempt of religion.

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Church life:

  • Oakland church bans Lakota funeral | Pastor says Indian drum ceremony inappropriate for Christian institution (Oakland Tribune, Ca.)
  • FBI questions pastor's sermon | Mount Vernon preacher shocked by agents' queries (The Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, Ill.)
  • Church steps | Congregations customize 12-step programs (The Dallas Morning News)

Religion & politics:

  • Shedding light in dark places | Most who accept the label "conservative Christian," or its synonyms, spend too much time throwing stones at the cultural citadels and too little acquiring and developing the skills and knowledge to compete in the ideological and cultural arena (Cal Thomas, The Washington Times)
  • Faith, fabrications, and fantasy (Part 1) | Four years in the life of Bush's faith-based initiative (Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange.com)
  • Don Eberly's conservative civil society | Although not normally associated with such Religious Right demagogues, Eberly nevertheless plays an essential role defining America's twenty-first century culture wars (Bill Berkowitz)
  • Centre studies faith and politics | The link between religion and politics is to be examined by a new research centre at St Andrews University (BBC)
  • Time to get real about moral values | How hypocritical are we to spend a year criticizing Janet Jackson when our daughters are wearing the same outfit to school? (Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press)
  • Religious leaders file discrimination complaint against Springfield police | A group of religious leaders have filed a racial discrimination complaint against the Springfield Police Department a week after the police commission decided not to take action against five white officers accused of beating a black school principal as he suffered a diabetic attack. (Associated Press)
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Asylum in the U.S.:

  • House moving to make asylum policy harsher | Making it easier to deport immigrants seeking political asylum will get a vote in the House this week, a few days after a federal commission said that many of them already are being treated like criminals (Associated Press)
  • Asylum seekers often mistreated, study finds | People seeking asylum in the United States are held in detention centers where they are frequently handcuffed and restrained with belly chains, put in solitary confinement for disciplinary reasons, and forced to share quarters with more dangerous inmates facing criminal prosecution, according to a study released yesterday by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. (The Washington Post)

Church & state:

  • Appeals court sued for 'Commandments' seal | The federal appeals court that ruled the Pledge of Allegiance was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion is being sued for allegedly displaying the Ten Commandments on its seal and courthouses (Associated Press)
  • Group asks IRS to check into Focus on the Family | Citizens Project, a group that has monitored Focus and other religious organizations since 1992, is taking issue with an article in the Citizen, a magazine printed by Focus (Associated Press)
  • City allows church to meet in school, despite church-state concerns | The Living Hope of the Nazarene church will continue meeting in the Capt. Samuel Brown Elementary School under the settlement, announced Tuesday (Associated Press)
  • Council looks to state on prayer decision | The Culpeper Town Council unanimously decided Tuesday night to wait on the General Assembly before making a final decision on whether to bring an opening prayer back to its meetings (Culpepper Star-Exponent, Va.)

Virginia House allows religion in public forums:

  • House okays prayer on public property | Delegates approve a bill to change the state constitution to permit religious expression at public sites (Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)
  • House OKs amendment on religious expressions | Opponents of the measure said it was unnecessary and that public schools already permit a wide range of religious expression (The Roanoke Times, Va.)
  • House votes to give religion a place in public forums | Opponents say the resolution is ambiguous, unnecessary and an attempt to open the door for the public posting of the Ten Commandments or the words to the Lord's Prayer (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.)
  • House imperils Jefferson's masterpiece | Forefathers understood the dangers of creeping religiosity in matters of state (Editorial, The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.)
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Virginia House approves same-sex marriage ban:

  • Va. House approves gay-marriage ban | The Virginia House approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage Tuesday, despite a warning from the state's first openly gay legislator that the measure will one day prove as shameful as slavery and segregation (Associated Press)
  • Virginia House approves gay 'marriage' ban | The House yesterday approved a constitutional amendment to define traditional marriage, making Virginia the first jurisdiction in the region to take such action (The Washington Times)
  • House OKs gay-marriage ban | If approved again next year by both houses, it would go to the state's voters in 2006 (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

Same-sex marriage:

  • Clergy gather in favor of gay marriage | Opponents not 'speaking for all of us,' organizer of Bolton Hill event says (The Baltimore Sun)
  • N.Y. court to decide on same-sex marriages | The court that could ultimately decide whether same-sex marriages are legal in New York may be dominated by Gov. George Pataki's nominees, but that may not give him much comfort (Associated Press)
  • Church leaders support gay ties | A group of more than 70 Maryland church leaders yesterday voiced support for same-sex "marriage," which would be banned under a state constitutional amendment that is expected to be introduced in the House (The Washington Times)
  • San Francisco mayor defends his order to issue marriage licenses to gays | San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom dismissed accusations that his decision to order the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to gay couples directly affected the 2004 presidential election by pushing swing states, including Ohio, to President Bush (Associated Press)
  • Earlier: Mayor faces charges for gay marriages | Criminal charges reinstated against New Paltz Village Mayor Jason West (Associated Press, Nov. 2)
  • Gay marriage is a tie that blinds | The issue, now in the news in New York, shouldn't become another way to batter one's political enemies (Joseph Dolman, Newsday)
  • No special rights for gays | Everyone is covered by current civil rights legislation that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. championed (Patrick Mangan, South Bend Tribune, Ind.)

War & terrorism:

  • Why this deal might be different | Israeli and Palestinian leaders met for first time in four years Tuesday at a summit in Egypt (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Aziz to face genocide charges later this month | As Saddam Hussein's voice and propagandist in the outside world, the former deputy prime minister and foreign minister was one of the most widely recognised faces of the dictatorship (The World Today, Australian Broadcasting Corp)
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Religious freedom (U.S):

  • Muslim garb spurs dress-code protest | 2 Bullitt students wear head scarves, but student reportedly turned away for Christian t-shirt (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)
  • Religious freedom on the line | If you thought religion in the public square was controversial, wait until it comes to your cubicle (Danny Westneat, The Seattle Times)

Religious freedom (non-U.S.):

  • Realism and religious liberty | Prioritizing relationships, respect, and cooperation leads to realistic advancement of religious freedom and contributes to social stability and progress (Chris Seiple, The Brandywine Review of Faith & International Affairs)


  • Sudan offers war crimes trials | Officials tell U.N. that International Criminal Court is not needed (The Washington Post)
  • Sudan: Courts should handle Darfur abuses | Sudan insists its courts should prosecute alleged perpetrators of human rights abuses in Darfur despite calls by the United States and other Security Council members for international trials — though they disagree where (Associated Press)
  • Lands carved for a colonial feast: What of the borders? | The consensus that a fractured map of Africa would result in constant war is being put to the test in Sudan (The New York Times)


  • Zimbabwe brands Desmond Tutu a 'sellout' | The South African archbishop and anti-apartheid icon has urged African leaders to increase the pressure on their undemocratic counterparts and criticized Zimbabwe as a "huge blot" on the record of the world's poorest continent (Reuters)
  • Levy's statement on women is nonsense, says Mazoka | Religious leaders criticize president's comment that he can't appoint women because they are fighting him (The Post of Zambia)
  • Clergy worried about AIDS in Africa | Christians called upon to cater for infected persons (Cameroon Tribune)

Missions & ministry:

  • Relief group's time may be running out in Indonesia | Samaritan's Purse doesn't know how long government will allow it to stay (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)
  • Christian program seeks to become solvent again | Young Life of the Steel Valley Area is $25,000 in the red (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • Dancers praise God through movement | Local dancer Kay Alford wants to teach people of all ages how to express their Christianity through dance and how to praise God through their movements (Coshocton Tribune, Oh.)
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Life ethics:

  • Abortion in the crosshairs | With the GOP in firm control, supporters of Roe v. Wade fear a rollback of rights is just a matter of time (Newsday)
  • Giving away our body parts is the Christian thing to do | It seems that as a nation we are disinclined to offer our body parts to others if we should die in circumstances in which our organs could be harvested for transplantation (Garth George, The New Zealand Herald)
  • Inconceivable? | Soon, it may be possible for any couple - gay, straight, infertile - to create a baby that carries both parents' genes. But is society ready for this? (Steve Connor, The Independent, London)

Abortion debate in Australia:

  • Sex education may curb abortions: Howard | Mr Howard said the best place for sex education was in the home, but that was not always possible with some parents uneasy about discussing the issue with their children (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • 'Education key to abortion cut' | John Howard has backed improved sex education in schools to cut help the abortion rate and more support for mothers facing an unplanned pregnancy to keep their baby (The Australian)
  • End abortion debate now, MPs demand | Coalition MPs yesterday sought to cut off further debate on the abortion issue, as the Prime Minister, John Howard stood by comments that if a private member's bill was introduced, a conscience vote would be permitted (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Abortion clinic owner on trial over fee fraud | A Sydney woman who ran an abortion clinic is on trial for allegedly defrauding Medicare by charging patients an upfront fee while also bulk-billing (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Life ethics:

  • For India's daughters, a dark birth day | Infanticide and sex-selective abortion yield a more skewed gender ratio (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Conscience and contraception | Coloradans owe rape victims our compassion and immediate support. In providing that support, methods matter. (Charles J. Chaput, The Denver Post)


  • Vatican tightens code for annulments | Facing an increasing number of marriage annulments, the Vatican yesterday made its first move in 70 years to try to ensure that Catholics do not win the Church's blessing to end their marriages for the wrong reasons (The Guardian, London)
  • New Vatican rules take aim at annulments | The Vatican yesterday issued new guidelines for marriage annulments, the first in nearly 70 years, although Catholic Church leaders are uncertain whether the new rules will succeed in curbing the flood of annulments that have been granted in recent decades, particularly in the United States (The Washington Times)
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  • Vatican alters guidance on annulments | Update follows warnings about threats to marriage (The Washington Post)
  • Vatican clarifies annulment guidelines | The Vatican has clarified the guidelines it wants church judges to follow when making decisions on marriage annulments, saying Tuesday that it wants the practice that some critics have dubbed "Catholic divorce" handled more seriously (Associated Press)

Pope John Paul II:

  • Sick pope misses Ash Wednesday for first time | A sick Pope John Paul failed for the first time in 26 years to preside at Ash Wednesday but joined world Catholics from his hospital room in a ritual where dust is rubbed on their foreheads to remind them of mortality (Reuters)
  • Pope marks Ash Wednesday in Rome hospital | Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the pope's vicar for Rome, visited the 84-year-old pontiff and said he found him "very well" more than a week after he was hospitalized (Associated Press)
  • Pope's servant a power behind the scenes | There's probably no one as sensitive about the pope's image and health problems — or to suggestions that he might resign — as Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul's longtime personal secretary (Associated Press)


  • Archbishop concerned at Fiji mood | The head of Fiji's Catholic Church has accused other Christian churches of forming an "unholy alliance" with indigenous political parties and said he was deeply concerned with the racial tone of discussion ahead of elections in the Pacific nation next year (AAP, Australia)
  • Where's the rage, Catholic men? | My church needs a leader who takes visceral satisfaction in delivering justice to bullies. If John Paul had pitilessly shot down the careers of molester-shuffling American bishops early on, the church would be a better place today (Rod Dreher, The Dallas Morning News)

St. Louis Catholic church refuses oversight:

  • Burke decides he'll punish St. Stanislaus board | St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said Tuesday he would withhold the sacraments of the Roman Catholic church, including Holy Communion, from board members of St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mo.)
  • St. Louis archbishop may sanction board | Declaring his "extraordinary patience" had run out, St. Louis' archbishop said Tuesday he is moving to deny Roman Catholic sacraments to leaders of a largely Polish parish who are at odds with him over governance (Associated Press)
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Episcopal church seeks liberal bishop:

  • St. Brendan's in market for new bishop | St. Brendan's Episcopal Church in Franklin Park, at odds with the conservative leadership of the Pittsburgh diocese, is shopping for a new bishop (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
  • Also: Pittsburgh Episcopal parish requests delegated oversight | Bishop signals openness to St. Brendan's request (Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh)


  • Bishops' 280-mile Lent pilgrimage | Birmingham's two Anglican bishops are setting off on a 280-mile walk around the West Midlands on Wednesday (BBC)
  • Church gives up differences for Lent | Over the next 40 days and six Sundays until Easter on March 27, St. Blase Catholic Church will host six talks by Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and American Indian leaders (Detroit Free Press)
  • Here's why Easter falls early this year | For Christians, today is the first day of Lent. Easter arrives March 27 (The Providence Journal, R.I.)
  • A convergence of 2 major observances | Thanks to an unusual overlapping of Western and lunar calendars, Ash Wednesday and Chinese New Year will both be observed today — the first of two calendar coincidences in 2005. In December, Hanukkah will begin at sundown Christmas Day (Los Angeles Times)
  • Palm Sunday's joy reduced to ashes | Priest's annual rite of burning fronds raises undue alarm (Akron Beacon Journal, Oh.)
  • Fasting chic? | Has fasting become a fad? In an age of over-abundance, people of all faiths are fasting as a spiritual path (Gregg Easterbrook, Beliefnet)

Paul Shanley trial:

  • Jury hints view shift regarding the clergy | Monday's verdict, prosecutors say, shows that the clergy sexual-abuse scandal, which began unfolding in Boston this time three years ago, has eroded the deference once shown priests, and that the playing field for the accusers and the accused has become level (The Boston Globe)
  • Credible witness | One witness assumed the burden of speaking for all of Shanley's acccusers who did not come forward (Editorial, The Boston Globe)
  • Priest's conviction does not end crisis | Despite the conviction of defrocked priest Paul Shanley on child molestation charges, the sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church is far from over, with dozens of civil lawsuits pending in the Boston Archdiocese alone (Associated Press)
  • Defrocked priest's conviction a milestone | Although there is only one known criminal case pending against a priest in the Boston Archdiocese, there are more than 100 civil lawsuits accusing priests of sexually abusing children (Associated Press)
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  • Priest admits sex abuse | In the first conviction to emerge from the city's long-running grand jury investigation of sex abuse by clergy, a priest pleaded guilty yesterday to sexually assaulting a teenager he had met when he taught at Northeast Catholic High School for Boys in the late 1970s (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Priest pleads guilty in Philly abuse case | A priest who taught at a Roman Catholic high school for boys pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexually abusing a student in the late 1970s (Associated Press)


  • Bishop leads Coptics amid slay probe | In his five years as a New Jersey-based bishop, Bishop David has won praise for his sensitivity and wisdom, which many Copts say have helped lead the entire Coptic community through crises like last month's killings of a family of four in Jersey City (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.)
  • Murder in New Jersey | Anyone following the investigation into the mid-January slaughter of the Armanious family, Copts living in Jersey City, N.J., knows who the presumptive suspects are: Islamists furious at a Christian Egyptian immigrant who dares engage in Internet polemics against Islam and attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity. (Daniel Pipes, The Jerusalem Post)
  • Police search for collection plate crook | The theft occurred Friday at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, where nearly 150 mourners attended memorial services for 85-year-old LeRoy Adolph (Associated Press)
  • Vicar stole £40,000 from church | Church authorities are taking legal advice about the estate of a vicar who stole £40,000 from a church roof fund before he died of a heart attack (The Guardian, London)
  • Bomb model challenged in Rudolph case | A former FBI whistleblower is helping serial bombing suspect Eric Rudolph fight death penalty charges by challenging the work of another federal agency, according to documents filed Tuesday (Associated Press)
  • Kaiser murder scene sketch is contested | A policeman yesterday contradicted a police sketch of the scene where Catholic priest Fr John Kaiser's body was found (The Nation, Kenya)


  • Curriculum fights put schoolchildren in culture-war crossfire | Parents, teachers, school boards are squabbling over what kids should learn about sex, evolution and religion's role in U.S. history (Associated Press)
  • Gay-themed high school play sparks Va. protests | Del. Richard H. Black e-mailed his supporters claiming that, in the play, "two male students engaged in a homosexual kiss onstage" and that public schools were "being used to promote a homosexual lifestyle." His son-in-law, Loudoun County Supervisor Mick Staton Jr., followed up with a missive of his own, warning of the play's disturbing "indoctrination." On Sunday, activists blanketed Loudoun churches with fliers decrying the production (The Washington Post)
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  • An infection of goodness | James Le Fanu reviews Don't Fence Me In by Tony Gould (The Telegraph, London)
  • The men who unchained the slaves | Max Hastings reviews Bury The Chains by Adam Hochschild (The Telegraph, London)
  • Work of Roger Haight contains 'grave doctrinal errors,' Vatican says | Author of Jesus: Symbol of God barred from teaching Catholic theology (National Catholc Reporter)

Science & history:

  • The crusades: Understanding and transcending civilization conflict | "Apologizing without insisting first on a proper historical understanding on all sides perpetuates the abuse of history for rhetoric" (Justin Cave, The Brandywine Review of Faith & International Affairs)
  • An astronomer's view of Christianity and science | Owen Gingerich, a professor of astronomy at Harvard University and senior astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, discusses the role of evolution and the creationist movement called Intelligent Design. Gingerich, a Christian, says he has a problem with Intelligent Design taught as an alternative to evolution (Morning Edition, NPR)
  • Forensic scientists create image of Christ as a child | Shroud of Turin used, then computer aging technology (KUTV, Salt Lake City)
  • Hard to keep a good shroud story down | While recent coverage has been heavily pro-shroud, a closer look tells a different story (Jay Ingram, The Toronto Star, link via The Revealer)

More articles of interest:

  • Faith and CEO scandals | Corporate execs use their faith as a defense in their criminal trials for ethical failures (David Skeel, Chicago Tribune)
  • KBDI to air 'Buster' debate | KBDI-Channel 12 tonight will do what it does best - air a controversial program in prime time and then let viewers voice their opinions (Dusty Saunders, Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
  • Atheist father refuses to force beliefs on his children | If kids choose God, Blair Scott says, ""Knock yourself out" (WHNT)
  • Did Christians get the message? | Why should Rolling Stone be forced to advertise the completely opposite message? I certainly don't expect my pastor to pass out flyers for a fashion show (Michael F. Tenbusch, Detroit Free Press)
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  • Couples able to divorce more quickly in family law shake-up | The Scottish Executive's Family Law Bill, published yesterday, reduces the minimum period that couples must live apart before a divorce is granted on non-cohabitation grounds from two years to one in uncontested cases and from five years to two in contested cases (The Times, London)

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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.
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