Hinson, president of Methodist Confessing Movement, dies after massive stroke
While the world mourned the loss of an estimated 150,000 who died in the December 26 tsunami, evangelicals in the United Methodist Church are mourning the passing of Bill Hinson, who died the same day at age 68

Hinson, longtime pastor of Houston's First United Methodist Church until his retirement in 2001, was one of the founders of the denomination's Confessing Movement, which represents 675,000 conservatives in the church, and was serving as its president. He recently made headlines with his call for an "amicable separation" in the denomination.

Hinson's death comes just days after that of another leading evangelical in the United Methodist Church, Ed Robb. In his 78 years, Robb founded or helped to lead most of the major renewal organizations within Methodism, sitting on the boards of the Confessing Movement, Good News, the Mission Society for United Methodists, and Asbury Theological Seminary, founded A Foundation for Theological Education, and helped to start the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Other important deaths of late are Greek Orthodox leader Anthony Gergiannakis, who led believers in seven Western U.S. states, and New Testament scholar-giant Carsten Thiede, most known for his dating the gospels of Matthew and Mark to a few decades after Jesus' death. His most recent work, to be published in a book he was finishing at the time of his death, identifies the biblical village of Emmaus as the present-day Motza-Kolonia.

More deaths:

  • Theologian criticized by Vatican dies | The Rev. Jacques Dupuis, a Belgian theologian whose book on religious plurality exploring salvation through non-Christian faiths was attacked by the Vatican, has died in Rome (Associated Press)
  • You really have to love life to write about death every day | For 20 years I wrote obituaries at The Washington Post, at least 15,000 by the time I retired in March (Bart Barnes, The Washington Post)

All tsunami-related stories are being covered in a separate weblog this week.

Life ethics:

  • Harvard biologists criticize compromise plan for stem cells use | Two prominent Harvard University biologists last week criticized a potential compromise for the use of human embryonic stem cells, saying the idea -- meant to overcome ethical objections -- is scientifically ''flawed" (The Boston Globe)
  • Stem-cell reality check | California reads the fine print on a recently passed initiative (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)
  • Embryology: Inconvenient facts | Our moral analysis must be built upon fundamental scientific truths. If we obscure the facts, then we will not think clearly or act responsibly about these issues (William L. Saunders, Jr., First Things)
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Birth control:

  • Bill would require birth control sales | Pharmacists would be required to fill prescriptions for contraceptives even when it goes against their religious or moral beliefs under a bill proposed by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (Los Angeles Daily News)
  • More women opting against birth control, study finds | At a time when the medical community has been heartened by a decline in risky sexual behavior by teenagers, a different problem has crept up: More adult women are forgoing birth control, a trend that has experts puzzled -- and alarmed about a potential rise in unintended pregnancies (The Washington Post)
  • Comment: Alarming new trend: Adults having babies! | What's so strange about the Post's article is that it seems to go out of its way to avoid acknowledging the obvious point: that women having children is not a social problem at all--indeed, it is a social benefit, and a social necessity--when the women are married (James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal)
  • Morning-after pill study contradicts claim by foes | Easy access did not lead to riskier behavior (The Washington Post)
  • Also: Morning-after pill access fails to cut pregnancy rate | Women's health care advocates have been urging the federal government to allow easy access to "morning-after" pills as a way to dramatically reduce unintended pregnancies (The Washington Times)


  • Brownback sees 'culture of life' prevailing in '05 | Sen. Sam Brownback sees a chance for long-sought victories on embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, abortion, gay marriage, federal judges and other issues dear to social conservatives (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)
  • Letting go of Roe | Roe v. Wade has been deeply unhealthy for abortion rights—and for democracy (Benjamin Wittes, The Atlantic Monthly)
  • Church acts on abortion | One of the last announcements Cardinal George Pell made before taking his annual leave this week was to introduce a program, new to Australia and only the third of its kind in the world, to provide support to pregnant women who are contemplating abortion (The Australian)
  • Courts, abortion, and common sense | What the president could say to disentangle the issues (George F. Will, The Washington Post)
  • Don't capitulate on abortion | Wasn't abortion pretty much the last major issue separating the Democrats from the Republicans? (Ruth Conniff, The Progressive)
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  • Bob Casey's revenge | The best explanation for Kerry's loss was given by a Democrat who called this election more than a decade ago: Bob Casey, the governor of Pennsylvania from 1987 to 1995 (William McGurn, First Things)
  • Confessions of an abortion doctor | Ten years after the bloody Brookline clinic attacks, one doctor explains why she still performs abortions (Boston Magazine)

Abortion by bat:

  • Teen facing rare charge | Beatings with bat led to miscarriage (Detroit Free Press)
  • Boy faces felony in baseball bat abortion | Law won't allow Macomb teen girl to be charged in helping end her pregnancy (Detroit News)
  • Baseball bat abortion case to test state law (Daily Oakland Press, Mi.)


  • Israel names suspect in antiquities case | The former head of the antiquities laboratory at the prestigious Israel Museum is the fifth suspect in a sophisticated forgery ring that allegedly produced a treasure trove of fake Bible-era artifacts, a government official and museum spokeswoman said Monday (Associated Press)
  • Jill Dando's killer must be forgiven, says Sir Cliff | Sir Cliff Richard said yesterday that Jill Dando's murderer was exercising "freedom of choice" when he killed her, and he will be forgiven by God (The Telegraph, London)
  • Spirited demand drives trafficking in sacred art | Trafficking in stolen religious art is big business in Mexico (Los Angeles Times)
  • Pastor reports guitars stolen from church | A Hana Presbyterian Church pastor told Glendale Police this weekend that the church's children's room was broken into and two guitars were stolen, authorities said (News-Press, Glendale, Ca.)

California diocese settles abuse case:

  • California diocese settles sexual abuse case for $100 million | At a court hearing on Monday, Bishop Tod D. Brown of the Diocese of Orange apologized to the 90 plaintiffs who say they were abused in the county's parishes. (The New York Times)
  • Orange bishop to apologize in huge abuse settlement | A record-setting $100-million agreement in the Catholic Church's sex scandal also will make confidential files public (Los Angeles Times)
  • Calif. clergy abuse settlement unsealed | Details of a record $100 million settlement between alleged victims of priest sexual abuse and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange were unsealed, with church leaders saying it would make the diocese a "holier, humbler and healthier church" (Associated Press)
  • Abuse settlement public | O.C.'s Bishop Brown apologizes to victims of clergy sex abuse and authorizes the release of church personnel files (The Orange County Register, Ca.)
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  • Behind the diocese deal | Making documents public proved critical in mass settlement of sex-abuse allegations (The Orange County Register, Ca.)
  • Bishop took 'a road not traveled' | Decision to let the courts see personnel records is viewed as a positive step (The Orange County Register)

More on abuse:

  • 2 brothers' suit accuses priests of molestation | The alleged victims, now 22 and 25, contend they were abused by two clergymen while in the boys choir at a Santa Barbara seminary (Los Angeles Times)
  • Sex-abuse claimants face filing deadline | A program approved by the bankruptcy judge and run by the Archdiocese of Portland will warn of the April 29 cutoff date (The Oregonian)
  • Church ad campaign in Oregon seeks abuse victims | The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland will launch an advertising campaign this week to encourage people sexually abused by priests in Oregon to come forward, according to a church spokesman (Reuters)
  • Church volunteer arrested | Man is charged with child abuse (The Boston Globe)
  • Shanley trial may hinge on 1 accuser | Three other alleged victims dropped from case (The Boston Globe)


  • Document revives WWII-era Vatican debate | A document that surfaced recently in church archives has revived debate about a contentious post-World War II issue: the Vatican's attempt to keep hold of some Jewish children who were protected from the Nazis by Christian families (Associated Press)
  • Also: Pius XII barred Jewish children returning home | The bitter, long-running controversy over the attitude of Pope Pius XII to the Holocaust has taken a new turn with the publication of diaries that prove he opposed the return of Jewish children to their parents after the Nazis' defeat (The Independent, London)
  • The next pope: Rome eyes a hard-liner | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger emerges as a top papal candidate (Time)
  • Pope creates Galveston-Houston archdiocese | Vatican makes Texas just the 2nd state to have two (Houston Chronicle)
  • Diocese may have first married priest | Diocesan officials will ask the Vatican for permission to let former local Episcopal priest Eric Bergman become a Catholic priest with an exception allowing him to bypass the celibacy requirement (The Times, Scranton, Pa.)
  • Thou shalt not smoke | Papal blessing for those want to quit (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Burke warns St. Stanislaus board | St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has threatened each of the six members of the board of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish with the canon law penalty of interdict (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
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Gay couple's son at Catholic school angers parents:

  • Parents clash over students' enrollment | Two kindergarten-age boys adopted by a gay couple are at the heart of a Catholic school conflict stemming from their parents' sexuality (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • Enrollment of gays' sons roils O.C. Catholic school | In a clash that pits Catholic teachings against shifting values of American society, a group of parishioners and parents has accused Orange County church leaders of defying Pope John Paul II by allowing a gay couple to enroll their two boys in a diocese school (Los Angeles Times)
  • Gay couple's sons anger Catholic parents | Some parents and parishioners have accused the Roman Catholic diocese in Orange County of violating church doctrine by allowing a gay couple to enroll their children in a church school (Associated Press)


  • Home for the holiday | In an unprecedented move, Glendale Unified School District gives students the day off for Armenian Christmas (News-Press, Glendale, Ca.)
  • Also: Armenians ready for Christmas | Several children got their gifts Dec. 25, but other families are waiting till Jan. 6 (News-Press, Glendale, Ca.)
  • Taking a right turn on campus | Increasingly, it is students rather than professors who are invoking academic freedom, claiming biased professors are violating their right to a classroom free from indoctrination (Associated Press)
  • Gordon-Conwell will renovate Dudley Square building | Plan is latest move in push to improve lagging part of city (The Boston Globe)
  • Goliaths should watch out for these Davids | The outcome of a preholiday moot court debate in England has implications for America infinitely larger than the outcome of many contests attracting far more attention. Even the Super Bowl (Jay Ambrose, Scripps Howard News Service)
  • Teaching's too extreme if one-sided | Social conservatives ought to be happy they fail to get everything they want (Mike Hendricks, The Kansas City Star)
  • New year, new level of tolerance, perhaps? | Here in Boulder land, where the left is always right and the right is always wrong, a debate is raging over whether a public school is really a religious school (Barrie Hartman, The Denver Post)
  • ASU students suing for 'right' to discriminate | You hear that a group of students at Arizona State University has filed a lawsuit claiming that ASU is discriminating against them by not letting them discriminate against others and you figure that it's got to be a joke (E.J. Montini, The Arizona Republic)
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Passion leader encourages Christian students to transfer to secular schools:

  • Christian students asked to consider secular schools | Louie Giglio says students at Christian colleges might want to consider transferring to secular schools that need more Christian influence (Associated Press)
  • Finding inspiration, enlightenment | Passion '05 touches on love's meaning, committing to church (The Tennessean)
  • Sharing the Passion | Through music, worship sessions and more, conference connects young believers with the word of God (The Tennessean, Nashville)

Science & medicine:

  • 1st unvaccinated rabies survivor goes home | Jeanna Giese was infected when a bat bit her at church in September (Associated Press)
  • Even Einstein had his off days | He was wrong about the eternal existence of the universe (Simon Singh, The New York Times)
  • God (or not), physics and, of course, love: Scientists take a leap | Those who call us stingy haven't taken America's privatized foreign aid into account (Carol Adelman, The New York Times)
  • A high quality of mercy | Fourteen scientists ponder everything from string theory to true love (The New York Times)
  • Confirm or deny: Science and faith in the murky multiverse | If you've ever had a phenomenally bad day and wished that maybe there were a version of reality where all of your wrong turns, missteps and poor judgment calls righted themselves, congratulations! You've joined a community of scientists, philosophers and theologians who have long speculated that the universe we know isn't the only game in town (Science & Theology News)

Intelligent design debate in Penn. school district:

  • Dover board quiet on ID | School officials reached no compromise Monday on district science policy (York Daily Record, Pa.)
  • Students differ on intelligent design | But both sides agree all the hoopla is 'kind of dumb' (York Daily Record, Pa.)
  • Earlier: Mark curriculum committee's minutes absent | No written record of ID decision was kept (York Daily Record, Pa.)
  • Lesson will be brief, attorney says | The attorney for the Dover Area School District said no one will be teaching intelligent design (York Daily Record, Pa.)
  • Evolution shares a desk with 'Intelligent Design' | Charles Darwin, squeeze over. The school board in this small town in central Pennsylvania has voted to make the theory of evolution share a seat with another theory: God probably designed us (The Washington Post)
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  • Different questions, different answers | I find it humorous that Euroamerican evangelicals, supposedly empowered by the recent election, are demanding that public schools teach the religious concept of creationism. My only question is which creation story should be taught? (Miguel de la Torre, The Holland Sentinel, Mi.)
  • Unintelligent design | The loony right is hammering science harder than ever (Errol Louis, New York Daily News)

Church & state:

  • Christmas e-mail brings heat down on state official | It sounds like a message any pastor would deliver at Christmas: that "God's only son, Jesus, came to Earth and gave his life so that we may live." That Jesus' words and works are "central to our lives and must guide us and inspire us." Only those words came not from a pulpit but from the desk of Paul Cooke, director of the Colorado Division of Fire Safety (The Denver Post)
  • Court decision barring deity names drew protesters | Porterville's religious community hard in 2004 was the city's conforming to a November 2000 court decision that barred invoking deity names such as Jesus or Allah in official openings of city council meetings (The Porterville Recorder, Ca.)
  • Empires prefer a baby and the cross to the adult Jesus | From Constantine to Bush, power has needed to stifle a revolutionary message (Giles Fraser, The Guardian, London)
  • Nativity scene, county land | How odd that Randy Wilkinson and a few zealots chose to disturb this season of "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men" with unwarranted and irresponsible civil disobedience (Editorial, The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)
  • Fighting over religion: What to watch for in 2005 | Faith-based initiatives, Ten Commandments displays, evolution, gay marriage lead list of contentious First Amendment-related issues (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)
  • We don't have to take Christmas back -- no one took it away | But how can we expect that those for whom the Bethlehem event does not mean what we think it means to be merry with us? (Andrew Greeley, Chicago Sun-Times)

$1 billion faith-based initiative:

  • U.S. gave $1B in faith-based funds | But White House list includes groups that don't consider themselves religious at all (Associated Press)
  • Governor to expand faith plan amid flap | Bush is pushing faith-based efforts for the needy despite criticism and court battles (Palm Beach Post, Fla.)
  • New York gets largest share of faith-based funding | New York may not be on the map of most evangelicals who fought for funding of faith-based groups, but no state received more money from President Bush's initiative (CBS)
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  • Bush pushing for more faith-based funds | President Bush has succeeded in opening the checkbooks of five federal departments to religious organizations. Now he's setting his sights on money doled out by the states (Associated Press)

Ten Commandments:

  • National rift resonates in Md. display | Ten Commandments on public site at issue (The Washington Post)
  • Court okays Wis. Ten Commandments monument | The city of La Crosse's decision to sell a Ten Commandments monument and the land around it to a private service group was constitutional and not made to advance religion, a federal appeals court ruled Monday (Associated Press)
  • Ex-justice describes Commandments fight | Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore acknowledges having feelings of "doubt and fear" on the night of July 31, 2001, as he sat alone in his state courthouse office awaiting delivery of a Ten Commandments monument he wanted to install in the rotunda (Associated Press)
  • 'Religious symbol' removed from airport | Pilot complains about Ten Commandments display (Idaho Press-Tribune)

Free speech and hate speech:

  • All faiths benefit from free speech | Respect and tolerance are the key, not a new law (Editorial, The Observer, London)
  • Muzzling the haters doesn't make hate vanish | Our democracy should not be threatened by a few offensive words (Amir Butler, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

Religious violence & freedom:

  • One dead, two injured in Egypt sectarian clash | Dozens of Muslims reportedly threw stones at a private building in Damshaw Hashim village, some 150 miles south of Cairo, which they believed a Christian resident was turning into a church without state permission (Reuters)
  • Vietnam says seven held for highland disorder plot | Many minority people are Christian (Reuters)
  • Bleeding the weak | Without political power or tribal muscle, Iraq's Christians have become ideal victims for gangsters and extremists. Many are now fleeing the country (The Guardian, London)
  • Newly found faith lands Marine in jail | U.S. Marine Cpl. Joel D. Klimkewicz says he's willing to clear land mines and risk his life for his country. He's just not willing to pick up a gun. (The Saginaw News, Mi.)
  • Also: Marine jailed for refusing to pick up gun | A soldier who re-enlisted with the Marines after becoming a Seventh-Day Adventist has been jailed for refusing to pick up a gun (Associated Press)
  • French evangelicals feel abused | The evangelical community in France is growing, and it's having a tough time overcoming hurdles placed in its way by authorities, especially when it comes to buying or building churches, French Protestant leaders say (The Washington Post, second item)
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  • Christians' vigil for arrested leader | Members of African Church of the Holy Spirit have been camping at the Kakamega Prison for the last two weeks to press for the release of their leader, who was jailed for contempt of court (The East African Standard, Nairobi)
  • Shattered glass, battered freedom | The concept of religious "tolerance" seems to be warping apace these days (Lionel Shriver, The Wall Street Journal)


  • Conservative agenda faces barriers in D.C. | Political conservatives have their best opportunity in years to push successfully for changes, but they face a special set of obstacles (Associated Press)
  • Two issues may deeply divide next Congress | Parties are at odds over high court, Social Security (The Washington Post)
  • U.S. Rep. Mark Souder touts faith in service | Tells peers moralism not move to theocracy (The Journal Gazette, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)
  • Real-world New Year's resolutions | A few areas that may be a little lower on the agenda, but where the need is aching and the potential bridges between the parties are already clear and sturdy (Editorial, The New York Times)

Religious activists:

  • They won't stand on common ground | Concerned Women for America even takes on allies on the right when they're seen as soft (Los Angeles Times)
  • Cat case triggers protest against abortion, gays | About 30 protesters, who said they were motivated by reports that people in Evansville could be prosecuted for shooting a cat, gathered Tuesday outside the Civic Center for a graphic demonstration against abortion and homosexuality (Courier & Press, Evansville, Ind.)
  • Activists fear complacency by supporters | Left, right worry about funding drop (Chicago Tribune)

Religion & politics (U.S.):

  • Humanists and atheists prepare to do battle against religious fundamentalism | Humanist and atheist groups around the world are looking to boost their profile in 2005 to counter religious fundamentalism and efforts by some Western leaders to relaunch faith as a keystone of national life (Reuters)
  • Bloomberg gets endorsement from an influential black minister | The Rev. Floyd H. Flake, a former Democratic congressman, said he was backing Mayor Michael Bloomberg because of his record of improving the city's schools (The New York Times)
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  • Is 'Americanism' a religion? | Today's evangelicals have risen up against soulless secular culture, not against worldly evil (Spengler, Asia Times)
  • Some Christians want it their way unopposed | Those of us who care about this country and the integrity of religion within it have reason to be alarmed by most of the rhetoric coming from the camp of those who want a particular kind of born-again Christian mentality in politics (Hartmut Fege, The Sun News, Biloxi, Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
  • Who owns America's moral values? | Oversimplification of American religious belief and practice is a brilliant political strategy (Jennifer Wheary, The Denver Post)
  • The civil rights movement must water its spiritual roots | The real goal isn't political power, but reconciliation (Jane Lampman, The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Blue and red is the same as old and new | You're tired of red and blue states. Fair enough. So am I. Let me offer an alternative as we march into 2005. Think of America as divided into an Old Testament nation and a New Testament nation (William McKenzie, The Dallas Morning News)

Religion & politics (non-U.S.):

  • Easter protest planned for Baxter | Refugee activists are organising a protest at the Baxter detention centre at Easter amid mounting concern about the plight of Iranian asylum seekers (AAP, Australia)
  • Arroyo turns to prayer to cast out 'demons of skepticism' | Praying with the President were evangelical leaders who asked that big corporations begin paying the correct taxes, for corruption in government to stop, that new taxes benefit the poor, and that a peace agreement be signed this year (INQ7.net)

Dobson warns senators on judicial nominees:

  • Evangelical leader threatens to use his political muscle against some Democrats | He'll put six potentially vulnerable Democratic senators "in the 'bull's-eye' " if they block conservative appointments to the Supreme Court (The New York Times)
  • Dobson warns Senate on nominees | James Dobson, the conservative leader who used his radio program to call on millions of Christians to vote in the November election, warned in a letter that some senators "will be in the 'bull's-eye'" if they block President Bush's judicial nominees (Associated Press)

Marriage & family:

  • County judge to mother of seven: Stop procreating | A judge who last year ordered a Rochester mother to have no more children until she redeemed the four children she had in foster care has issued a similar order for a mother of seven (Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, N.Y.)
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  • Also: Judge orders addict to stop having kids | A Family Court judge who last year stirred debate about parental responsibilities ordered a second drug-addicted woman to have no more children until she proves she can look after the seven she already has (Associated Press)
  • Army seeks to save war-torn marriages | With studies showing divorce rates as high as 21 percent among couples where one spouse has been sent off to war, the Army is spending $2 million on a variety of marriage programs, including vouchers for romantic getaways to places like the Opryland Hotel in Nashville (Associated Press)
  • Couples tie tighter knots in `covenant' marriage | Under the strict terms of covenant marriage, couples must undergo premarital counseling, sign an affidavit and promise to seek more counseling if trouble arises in the marriage. Divorce is allowed only in cases of "cruel and barbarous treatment," according to the Arkansas law (Chicago Tribune)
  • The West besieged | The future belongs to the faithful, who are fecund to none (Rod Dreher, The Dallas Morning News)

California law gives benefits to gay partners:

  • Calif. law gives benefits to gay couples | Law taking effect with the new year gives gay couples who register as domestic partners nearly the same responsibilities and benefits as married spouses. Heterosexual elderly couples also are eligible (Associated Press)
  • Though they can't wed, gays may now divorce | Law expanding rights and responsibilities for state's domestic partners takes effect (Los Angeles Times)

Homosexuality & religion:

  • Spain's government okays gay marriage bill | Spain's socialist government on Friday approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriages, putting this predominantly Roman Catholic country on course to become only the third European country to recognize gay matrimony (Associated Press)
  • Gay spouses press benefits case in R.I. | Judge set to rule on Mass. woman's retirement plan (The Boston Globe)
  • Ban on unions of gays | Legislative leaders expect Kansas voters to decide the constitutional issue -- but when? (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)
  • Ark. judge voids gay foster parents ban | A judge struck down a state ban on placing foster children in any household with a gay member, ruling that the state agency enforcing the rule had overstepped its authority by trying to regulate "public morality" (Associated Press)
  • Mont. court: Gays due benefits others get | A divided Montana Supreme Court declared Thursday that the state constitution's guarantee of equal protection extends to gays, and ruled that the state university system must offer same-sex couples the same health benefits available to heterosexual ones (Associated Press)
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  • Country club sues Atlanta after fine | A country club sued the city after it was fined for refusing to extend spousal benefits to the partners of two gay members (Associated Press)
  • Martin Luther King's family split on values | Recent march showed how deepening social conservatism in the US south crosses racial boundaries and exposes divisions within the black community - including the King family - about whether the civil rights movement should embrace or reject homosexuals (Financial Times, U.K.)
  • Virginia to consider amendment on marriage | Lawmakers in Virginia are aiming to place the commonwealth at the forefront of the nation's battle against same-sex unions when the General Assembly reconvenes next week (The Washington Times)
  • No bellwether for gay rights in Virginia | Legislators and policymakers should not be too quick to jump on the moral-values bandwagon (Editorial, The Washington Post)
  • Homosexual 'marriage' debacle | At this stage, it is worth asking what antagonizes the American people more: Is it the notion that homosexuals can get "married," or the way in which public officials have allowed them to do so? (Editorial, The Washington Times)
  • Same-sex 'marriage' nonrights | Of all the phony arguments for homosexual "marriage," the phoniest is that it is a matter of equal rights. Marriage is not a right extended to individuals by the government. It is a restriction on rights they already have (Thomas Sowell, The Washington Times)
  • The Beth Stroud case: What would Jesus do? | A church certainly has every right to set its own internal standards and define the rules that will govern its members. However, this is the 21st century, and a church cannot remain strong in today's society, nor capture the imagination of the next generation, if it clings to repressive, outmoded customs, especially when those practices fly in the face of the true meaning of Christianity. (Mary Shaw, Philadelphia Daily News)
  • Church praised over gay fight | President Yoweri Museveni has praised the church for making a firm and principled stand against homosexuality (The Monitor, Kampala, Uganda)
  • Also: Museveni praises church on homos (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)

Sexual ethics:

  • No sex is safe sex for teens in America | A $170m Bush-backed abstinence drive teaches condoms are useless (The Observer, London)
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  • Church calls for condom importation ban | The Church has urged the government to stop importing condoms and start another campaign on abstinence for which it will get support from Christians (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)

Reggie White:

  • Minister of offense | Reggie White will be remembered for harassing quarterbacks. Off the field, however, the "minister of defense" indulged in a lesser-known and far more dangerous pursuit: haranguing gays and lesbians (Chris Bull, Gay.com)
  • Matter of White or wrong | Reggie leaves mixed legacy (New York Daily News)
  • Rushing for Jesus | Reggie White used to thank God for helping him sack quarterbacks. But before his death, the football star confessed that sports trivialized faith and religion. Will his message be heard? (Tom Krattenmaker, Salon.com)


  • Religion in the News: Changing church for the opening snap | Across the football-crazed nation, the temptation to skip services in favor of the home team challenges many regular churchgoers this time of year. Now churches are accommodating fans (Associated Press)
  • Auburn trustee boosts everyone, including the chaplain | Why would Bobby Lowder invest so much money into Auburn University and have so many ties to the football team's chaplain? (The New York Times)
  • For Gibbs, luster is off the legend | Whenever Gibbs had been down from a tough outcome, the coach, who has a strong Christian faith, viewed his struggles through a religious prism; a test he must pass before reaching success (The Washington Post)


  • 'Religion is morally neutral' | Desmond Tutu discusses the tsunami tragedy, God, Iraq and the re-election of George W. Bush (Newsweek)
  • Retired pastor credits the divine for his talents | The Rev. Norman Ford has a knack for painting colorful pictures while preaching to his congregations—literally (The Record Herald, Waynesboro, N.C.)
  • Pastor draws the line in editorial cartoons | Dick Wright is a nationally syndicated award-winning cartoonist who isn't afraid to poke fun at lawmakers and world leaders on the editorial pages of hundreds of newspapers across the country. But in this rapidly growing community in Fauquier County, Mr. Wright, 60, is known as senior pastor at the interdenominational Community Christian Fellowship, who preaches the word of God in ways his parishioners say they can relate to (The Washington Times)

The Passion:

  • Entrepreneur of the Year: Mel Gibson | Bringing faith to the masses. And Hollywood. (Inc.)
  • Why 'The Passion' still troubles me | I never said there would be pogroms in the streets (Abraham H. Foxman, The Jerusalem Post)
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  • Christians rage over Gibson's film | Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" seems to have become a rage among the Christians in the country even before the film hits theatres across the country on Friday (ANI, India)


  • Fierstein as Tevye: Sounds crazy, no? | "I don't believe in God, I don't believe in heaven or hell, but I pray three or four times a day." (The New York Times)
  • Reverend in Jerry Springer protest | A vicar is calling on his flock to protest the planned broadcast of a West End musical because it is blasphemous and attacks "decent standards" of society (ThisisLocalLondon)

Video & television:

  • Video vigilantes | If parents don't monitor kids' access to violent and sexual games, should the states do it? (Time)
  • TV networks show 'cowardice, pure and simple' | There is no defense for the networks that refused the United Church of Christ commercial (Joseph N. Bell, Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • Moral values seemingly at odds with popular culture | Many Americans say they voted for moral values in the presidential election, but sex and violence in the entertainment industry is as popular as ever (Morning Edition, NPR)
  • Bibleman update given smooth, honest transition | When new actors play the part of a famous super hero, everyone in the audience notices that there's a new face on the screen. But the screenwriters rarely, if ever, acknowledge the switch. Not so with Bibleman (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)
  • Robertson: God "will remove judges from the Supreme Court quickly" | Robertson also said that he "heard it from the Lord" that President Bush will have Social Security and tax reform passed and that Muslims will turn to Jesus Christ (Media Matters for America)


  • Writing music for people who love music, and God | Composer seeks to bridge two faiths (The Boston Globe)
  • Backstreet Boy Littrell preps for Christian bow | "I would like to collaborate with Michael W. Smith," he says (Billboard)
  • Q&A: Nas on God, Tupac and fame | The first word uttered on Nasir Jones' new double album, "Street's Disciple," is "peace" (Associated Press)


  • The good, the bad in religious books | Richard Ostling's picks (Associated Press)
  • Nation's top retailers cash in on sales boom in Christian products | Their discounts make it tough for mom-and-pop shops (The Idaho Statesman, Boise)
  • The morals of the story | Does Jim Wallis' leftist, Bible-based book get it right? (Elizabeth A. Castelli, Slate)
  • 'God on the Quad' examines religious schools | The excellence of Naomi Schaefer Riley's narrative of her research findings in "God on the Quad" overcomes two rather dubious assumptions to which those findings are connected (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pa.)
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  • Their idea of a university | It's not news in academia, although it may come as a surprise to the rest of us: America's 700-plus religiously affiliated colleges and universities are enjoying an unprecedented surge of growth and a revival of interest. Charlotte Allen reviews Naomi Schaefer Riley's God on the Quad (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Church vs. state | Andrew M. Greeley reviews Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes' Secret Plot to Capture Rome From the New Italian State by David I. Kertzer (The Boston Globe)
  • Why we should put an end to the death penalty | Christopher Hitchens reviews The Death of Innocents An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions by Sister Helen Prejean (Los Angeles Times)
  • An N.C. expert joins critics of claims in `Da Vinci Code' | First, it was Roman Catholic and Protestant conservatives, protesting that Brown's characters inaccurately malign Christianity. Now, more liberal thinkers likewise say Brown's claim to present facts through fiction is itself fictional and misleads readers (Associated Press)
  • Historian offers fresh look at Crusades | Thomas Asbridge's splendidly told "The First Crusade" has everything one would want in a rousing historical novel (The Flint Journal, Mi.)
  • Using stories of Jesus as guide to a moral life | Elaine Margolin reviews When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices Today by Harvey Cox (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
  • Saving souls - their own | Adam Kirsch reviews Adam Hochschild's Bury the Chains (New York Sun)
  • The chief executive of a very peculiar multinational | Peter Stanford reviews The Pope in Winter by John Cornwell (The Independent, London)
  • A reach back for the Gospel truth | Bernadette Murphy reviews L. Michael White's From Jesus to Christianity How Four Generations of Visionaries and Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith (Los Angeles Times)


  • U.S. vs. Canada: different reads on the Good Book | Americans are more likely than their Canadian neighbors to identify with a specific religion (most often a Christian denomination), attend church frequently, and attest to the importance of religion in their lives. But do Americans view the primary sacred text at the heart of Christianity -- the Bible -- differently than Canadians do? (Gallup)
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  • Zondervan announces TNIV Bible partnership with Newsboys | Band offers fans direct access to new translation on its website (Press release, Zondervan)

Art and history:

  • Church unlocks its treasure of Victorian art | When Andrew Lloyd Webber urged churches not to lock their doors but to display their works of art to the public, a group of parishioners in Worcestershire took his words to heart (The Telegraph, London)
  • Hertford, home of the Holy Grail | An ancient secret society; a demand for a papal apology; and a network of hidden tunnels. Strange things have been stirring in Hertfordshire recently. Oliver Burkeman goes in search of the Knights Templar and, perhaps, the cup of Christ (The Guardian, London)

Church life:

  • Evangelical elitists | The exclusive church where Washington's conservative power brokers pray (Ayelish McGarvey, The Washington Monthly)
  • Does Communion cup runneth over with germs? | Experts pretty much agree that the risk of contracting an illness from sharing a chalice is low. But some churches take precautions (Los Angeles Times)
  • Buddha arrives in the Mission | German Lutheran church now serves growing Asian community (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • After 78 years, Belmont church quietly closes its doors | Parishioners accept decision, some with anger (The Boston Globe)
  • Church favors boots-and-jeans crowd | The Narrow Trail Cowboy Church in Plano may seem like a study in contradictions to some (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Church runs short of Eucharist on Christmas | Lugazi Catholic Church ran out of the Eucharist for the Holy Communion following an unusual huge turn up of the worshippers at the church on Christmas (The Monitor, Kampala, Uganda)
  • Co-wives fight in church | Christmas prayers at St. Peter's Church in Lugazi town were disrupted as co-wives fought in the middle of the church service (The Monitor, Kampala, Uganda)
  • Cleric barred from church | The controversy over alleged Satanic symbols in the PCEA church took a new twist yesterday when a congregation barred embattled prelate Dr David Githii from conducting a church service in Limuru, Kiambu (The East African Standard, Kenya)

Missions & ministry:

  • Go tell it on the subway | A growing city Christian movement uses unique ways to reach straphangers (Newsweek)
  • Young evangelicals in land of liberals | Conference focuses on faith, not politics (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Christians serve as soldiers of peace | The way Matt Chandler saw it, it made little sense fighting for peace in Iraq from the comfort of his home in America. The 23-year-old from Springfield has traveled to Baghdad three times in the last year with Christian Peacemaker Teams, a group that tries to stop violence by "getting in the way" - sometimes literally (The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.)
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  • Ministries for maximum security | Volunteers from more than a dozen churches, as well as numerous individuals, regularly minister to inmates and lead religious services (Santa Maria Times, Ca.)
  • Charity man stranded in Bosnia | Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child is warning people not to "go it alone" after a Flintshire lorry driver was stranded in Bosnia in a row over red tape (BBC)
  • Street preachers to get IDs | Street preachers will be given identity cards to protect them from arrests, the chairman of the Born Again Churches in Uganda, Apostle Alex Mitala, has said (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)
  • Beaverdale gives thumbs down to Salvation Army | 'I'd rather have it sit empty,' a neighbor says of the building that once housed a Walgreen Drug Store (Des Moines Register, Ia.)


  • The morality of the chequebook doesn't go far enough | Guilt is not a decent foundation for long-term giving (Magnus Linklater, Scotland on Sunday)
  • Land of penny pinchers | This month and every month, more people will die of malaria and AIDS than died in the tsunamis, and almost as many will die because of diarrhea. And that's where we're stingy (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times)
  • Community of Christ gets $40M gift | Donation exceeds by a third the annual operating budget of the denomination once called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Associated Press)
  • Unknown donor gives church £7,000 | A priest says he was shocked after an anonymous donor pushed £7,000 in cash through a Merseyside church letter box (BBC)
  • World pays little heed to Congo suffering | The crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is widely viewed as the world's deadliest (Associated Press)


  • Roscas enduring tradition for local Christians | The Feast of the Epiphany, or Dia de los Reyes, is celebrated each Jan. 6 with the traditional rosca de reyes — a large, round, sweet bread in high demand at local bakeries (The Brownsville Herald, Tex.)
  • Once-barred practice flourishes in Brazil | African-influenced Candomble challenged by Pentecostals, modern interpretations (Associated Press)
  • Must religion equal certainty? | Don't forsake your beliefs, but entertain the possibility that you're wrong in specific cases (Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times)
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  • Journeys of faith deliver rich rewards | Religious destinations and pilgrimages that have become a mega-dollar industry (The Australian)
  • A simple question: Do we believe? | One hundred years ago, a three-word question on this newspaper's letter page sparked a heated correspondence on religious belief that stirred up the whole country, and attracted 9,000 letters from all sections of society. Damian Thompson looks back at the Telegraph's great debate of 1904 (The Telegraph, London)
  • What would Jesus do about vegetarianism? | Meat and religious ceremony share a long history, a link so sacred that severing it may seem blasphemous to some. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
  • 'Harambee' is satanic, says PCEA moderator | Githii said the word harambee, a unifying spirit of the country, is evil as it goes against the doctrines of Christianity (The East African Standard, Nairobi)
  • Replacing God with law leaves nothing | Do we do good because we believe in God, or do we do good because we believe in the "rule of law?" (John Baldini, Delco Times, Pa.)
  • What is rapturism? | Christianity has always had its apocalyptic literature. Rapturism (more properly, Dispensational Premillennialism) is a distinctive modern exposition (Oliver Kamm, The Times, London)

More articles of interest:

  • Beyond belief | The real religious divide in the United States isn't between the churched and the unchurched. It's between different kinds of believers (Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic Monthly)
  • Evangelical broadcaster to answer God's letters | Dutch postal company TPG has decided to send all anonymous letters addressed to God to the country's evangelical broadcasting company. Up to now, the Deity's mail from the Netherlands has ended up in the wastepaper basket (Expatica, Netherlands)
  • Church focuses anew on Watch Night's historic role | Church might not be the first place many people think of when it comes to New Year's Eve celebrations, but fans of "Watch Night" services wouldn't welcome 2005 any other way (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Prelate cautions on 'exodus' to the west | Kenyan families are breaking up as spouses seek go abroad in search of greener pastures, a church leader has said (The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)
  • Russia's holy warriors | Fervently Orthodox, anti-Islamic, and proudly militaristic, the Cossacks are on the rise in Vladimir Putin's new Russia (Jeffrey Tayler, The Atlantic Monthly)
  • Korean Christianity: Persecuted, and proud of it | Although only two percent of Asia as a whole is Christian, South Korea is something of an anomaly: Roughly half of the country's 50 million people are practicing Christians (up from a third just ten years ago). (D. James Anderson, CBC, Canada)
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  • Deliver us from our credit cards | More weary shoppers are turning to God as an antidote to out-of-control debt levels (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Religion news in brief | Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi banned from St. Paul-Minneapolis diocese, Sudanese rejoice over freedom to celebrate Christmas, Survey finds one-third of Kentuckians 'unchurched', and other stories (Associated Press)

Related Elsewhere:

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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