Microchemists say 1988 dating of Shroud tested a newer patch, not the "much older" original
Continuing good news for those who believe in the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin—a retired chemist from the Los Alamos National Laboratory has published a peer-reviewed study declaring invalid the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the cloth (which dated it between 1260 and 1390).

The problem, writes Raymond N. Rogers, in the January 20 issue of Thermochimica Acta, is that the 1988 study tested a sample from a medieval patch, not the shroud itself.

"The radiocarbon sample had been dyed, most likely to match the color of the older, sepia-colored cloth," Rogers told Discovery News. "The sample was dyed using a technology that began to appear in Italy about the time the Crusaders' last bastion fell to the Mameluke Turks in 1291. … The radiocarbon sample cannot be older than about 1290, agreeing with the age determined by carbon-14 dating in 1988. However, the shroud itself is actually much older."

How much older? That's hard to tell, Rogers wrote.

The fact that vanillin can not be detected in the lignin on shroud fibers, Dead Sea scrolls linen, and other very old linens indicates that the shroud is quite old. A determination of the kinetics of vanillin loss suggests that the shroud is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old. Even allowing for errors in the measurements and assumptions about storage conditions, the cloth is unlikely to be as young as 840 years.

"The presence of a patch on the shroud doesn't come as a surprise," says Discovery News. "The linen cloth has survived several blazes since its existence was first recorded in France in 1357, including a church fire in 1532. Badly damaged, it was then restored by nuns who patched burn holes and stitched the shroud to a reinforcing cloth that is now known as the Holland cloth."

Rogers also notes in a side comment that the apparent blood stains probably are blood of some sort: "Incidentally, the pyrolysis/ms spectra of samples from apparent blood spots showed hydroxyproline peaks at mass 131, a pyrolysis product of animal proteins." Here's that in a bit more plain English.

Scalia: 'Be fools for Christ'
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been on a kind of speaking circuit of late. His American University debate with fellow justice Stephen Breyer (video) over whether foreign courts should be cited in American judicial decisions has received a fair bit of media attention, but the emphasis in his more recent speeches has been religion.

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In a dinner address for the Ave Maria School of Law yesterday, Scalia discussed the three-prong "Lemon test" created by the Court in determining whether a law or practice unconstitutionally "establishes religion." Scalia didn't support throwing out the Lemon test, The Ann Arbor News reports.

"They are the means by which judicial arbitrariness is checked." But they must be rooted in the Constitution, he said. And when the Constitution itself is unclear, jurists must default to "the settled practices that the text represents." …
Scalia cited a 1970 Supreme Court case involving tax exemptions for houses of worship in New York. "Such exemptions had been around forever," said Scalia, but they don't pass the three tests because the houses of worship had gotten what amounted to favored treatment. Still, the court let the exemptions continue, pointing to long-standing history and tradition. "Those historic understandings are the raw data from which the rules should be constructed," Scalia said.

And Scalia criticized judges who forget historical practices, the Associated Press reports. "Scalia criticized judges for using what he called 'abstractions' to interpret religious issues when they should be looking to the text of the Constitution itself. 'The Constitution says what it says and does not say what it does not say,' he said."

Last week, however, Scalia had less jurisprudential matters on his mind when addressing a Louisiana chapter of the Knights of Columbus.

"To believe in traditional Christianity is something else," Scalia told a group of about 350.

For the Son of God to be born of a virgin? I mean, really. To believe that he rose from the dead and bodily ascended into heaven? How utterly ridiculous. To believe in miracles? Or that those who obey God will rise from the dead and those who do not will burn in hell?
God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools … and he has not been disappointed. …
Intellect and reason need not be laid aside for religion. It is not irrational to accept the testimony of eyewitnesses who had nothing to gain. There is something wrong with rejecting a priori the existence of miracles. …
If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.
More articles

Religion & politics:

  • Winning cases, losing voters | The Democratic Party is paying a historic price for the moral crusades of the last half-century (Paul Starr, The New York Times)
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  • Old law shielding a woman's virtue faces an updating | A Washington State law that makes it illegal to bring a woman's virtue into question publicly may be repealed (The New York Times)
  • Question what you're told about faith-driven voters | Don't be alarmed, but there are faith-driven values voters living right here in this politically blue city (Timothy Burgess, The Seattle Times)

Writer paid to promote marriage initiative:

  • Writer backing Bush plan had gotten federal contract | In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families (The Washington Post)
  • Second columnist got money from Bush administration (Editor & Publisher)

Marriage amendment:

  • Bush backpedal on marriage irks right | Some social conservatives are angry with President Bush for saying a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex "marriage" lacks the requisite votes for approval in the Senate (The Washington Times)
  • Gay couples drop marriage act challenges in federal court | Attorney Ellis Rubin announced Tuesday he will drop all of the lawsuits he has filed challenging the state and federal bans on gay marriages, saying he doesn't want to risk having conservative federal judges set an adverse legal precedent for same-sex couples (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Hillary Clinton on abortion:

  • Gasps as Hillary woos the anti-abortion vote | The wife of the former president Bill Clinton said she sought common ground on abortion and described herself as a "praying person" (The Telegraph, London)
  • Hillary attacks Bush on abortion | Senator Hillary Clinton has argued that the US administration's current stance on family planning may be increasing the number of abortions in the country (BBC)
  • Hillary in the middle on values issues | Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is staking out centrist positions on values issues that helped decide last year's presidential election, positioning herself to the right of her party's base on abortion, faith-based initiatives and immigration (The Washington Times)


  • Vatican hails woman who refused abortion | The Vatican on Tuesday praised an Italian woman who died after refusing cancer treatment that would have required her to have an abortion. Rita Fedrizzi died this week, three months after giving birth to a baby boy (Associated Press)
  • Deal in works on fetal remains | Hospital's ashes would get nonsectarian burial (The Denver Post)
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  • Turn the beat around | Can Democrats be pro-life? (Doug Bandow, National Review Online)

Life ethics:

  • The value of a life | Removing a feeding tube for the sake of convenience belies the principles of a humanitarian society -- Terri Schiavo should not be left to starve to death (Linda Reid Chassiakos, Salon.com)
  • N.J. gov. urges Bush to end stem-cell restrictions | New Jersey's Acting Governor Richard Codey on Tuesday urged President George W. Bush to lift restrictions on federal funding for stem-cell research given a recent report that says that available human embryonic stem cells are contaminated (Reuters)

Religion & homosexuality:

  • Education secretary condemns PBS show | The not-yet-aired episode of "Postcards From Buster" shows the title character, an animated bunny named Buster, on a trip to Vermont — a state known for recognizing same-sex civil unions. The episode features two lesbian couples, although the focus is on farm life and maple sugaring (Associated Press)
  • Proposal would ban gays from adopting children | Virginia Delegate Richard H. Black has proposed a bill that would add new criteria for adoption reports filed with the circuit court. The Loudoun County Republican's bill amends the state's adoption law by adding a phrase that states: "No person under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual" (The Washington Times)


  • There's too much nautical nonsense over SpongeBob video | How about putting more fire into immolating pedophilia and child rape? (Nikki Kallio, Portland Press Herald, Me.)
  • The virtuous vs. SpongeBob | What the SpongeBob controversy has revealed is that pledging allegiance to diversity and tolerance is religion by any other name -- just as irksome to the devout as Dobson and Vitagliano are to the secular (Kathleen Parker, The Orlando Sentinel)
  • SpongeBob leaves evangelicals all wet | Do not be deceived into thinking that this anti-tolerance controversy, a la SpongeBob and his cartoon friends, is somehow on the obscure fringes of American culture. It is mainstream America (Cynthia Hall Clements, The Lufkin Daily News, Tex.)


  • Oscar snubs Michael Moore, Mel Gibson | Biblical saga generated zero buzz among Oscar prognosticators, and Gibson declined to campaign for the film he directed and funded with his own money after all the studios passed (Reuters)
  • Also: Oscar nods overlook 'Fahrenheit 9/11' | "I don't know any other way to explain it but religious bigotry," Barbara Nicolosi says of few Passion noms (The Washington Times)
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  • In 'toon | Comic-book characters can have good morals, too (Religion News Service)
  • Rolling Stone relents on Bible-ad rejection | The half-page pitch for "Today's New International Version" of the Bible — TNIV for short — will appear in the next issue of Rolling Stone, on newsstands Feb. 11. The magazine had rejected the ad two weeks ago, citing a company policy prohibiting commercial religious content (The Washington Times)


  • DU, theology school establish interfaith center | The University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology announced Tuesday the creation of a new interfaith center envisioned as a vehicle for narrowing religious divides over the Iraq war, faith's influence on politics and other timely issues (The Denver Post)
  • 3 Iliff seminary board members resign | Three board members at Iliff School of Theology have resigned in the wake of a stormy year marked by the forced retirement of the school's first Latino president and an investigation that found race problems at the Methodist seminary (The Denver Post)
  • Sex-ed courses called flawed | Critics of a new sex-education curriculum in Montgomery County public schools say the program teaches that homosexuality is not a choice without including scientific information to the contrary (The Washington Times)
  • Boy Scout recruiting at school doesn't advance religion, court says | An atheist who sued a school district for letting the Boy Scouts recruit in his son's school lost an appeal last week when a court ruled there was no religious discrimination (Associated Press)

Free speech:

  • New laws will keep freedom to insult Islam | Muslims were warned by the Director of Public Prosecutions yesterday that new laws designed to combat religious hatred would not stop people from being rude about Islam (The Times, London)
  • Judge: Protesters may resume picketing gay-themed events | 'We cannot restrict people's right to speak or to be near those who might not wish to hear them into the future,' Philadelphia judge says in lifting order (Associated Press)
  • Charges dismissed against California porn business | Federal judge finds prosecutors went too far in trying to block availability of videos depicting rape, murder (Associated Press)


  • Court upholds stay of execution in Conn. | A three-judge panel dismissed an appeal from state prosecutors to lift a stay issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny in Hartford, who said he needed time to determine if Michael Ross is competent to waive his own appeals (Associated Press)
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  • Murder-suicide brings scrutiny to church | The crewcut young man stares into the video camera and recites a plan to kill his mother, her husband — and anybody else affiliated with The Family International, a church with roots in the sexual revolution of the 1960s (Associated Press)


  • Child-abuse bills would cover clergy, nonprofits | Those pushing for a law requiring clergy to report suspected child abuse and neglect to civil authorities hope the third time's the charm. Only this time, the word "clergy" isn't even included in the bills (The Seattle Times)
  • Cardinal fights records ruling | Archdiocese contends releasing files of accused priests would interfere with counseling efforts (Los Angeles Times)
  • LA archdiocese appeals court order | The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles wants a state appeals court to reverse a lower court's decision ordering it to give prosecutors some personnel records of priests accused of sexual abuse (Associated Press)
  • Priest sentenced to five to seven years in abuse case | The Rev. James F. Talbot walked into Suffolk Superior Court yesterday dressed in everyday clothes, without the clerical collar usually worn by members of the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic order to which Talbot still belongs. He left the courtroom wearing handcuffs. (The Boston Globe)

Paul Shanley trial:

  • Alleged victim to testify in Shanley trial | he alleged victim of defrocked priest Paul Shanley is expected to take the stand Wednesday in the second day of his trial on child rape charges (Associated Press)
  • Shanley accuser to testify today | Abuse trial begins for former priest (The Boston Globe)
  • Jury in ousted priest's trial is told of child-rape cycle | Paul R. Shanley, a defrocked priest at the center of the sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, went on trial Tuesday (The New York Times)
  • Sexual abuse trial starts for former priest | Paul Shanley faces charges of raping and assaulting a child in the '80s. His lawyer says the allegations are based on inconsistent stories (Los Angeles Times)
  • Child rape trial of ex-priest opens in Massachusetts (Reuters)


  • The secret life of Opus Dei | Ruth Kelly says the Catholic group's support is a private matter, but it is surrounded by a reactionary miasma (Michael Walsh, The Guardian, London)
  • Divorced from reality | Who but the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston would boot children and families out of a church-owned building in order to install canon lawyers whose job it is to dissolve Catholic marriages? (Eileen McNamara, The Boston Globe)
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  • Church miffed at miserly patrons | In August last year, the Church had decreed that Catholics should contribute one per cent of their monthly income as 'tithe' to their parishes. However, according to Church estimates, less than 50 per cent of Catholics actually do so (Mid-Day, India)
  • Catholic priests urge Church to reconsider celibacy rules | With their numbers in radical decline, Australia's Catholic Priests are urging the Vatican to overturn its ban on married clergy (AM, Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Religious violence on subcontinent:

  • Muslim-Christian riot: Police deny Shadbagh clash was sectarian | "It was purely an outcome of clash between two groups over the issue of teasing girls and has nothing to do with sectarian or communal disorder," said Aftab Cheema, the Lahore senior superintendent of police for operations (Daily Times, Pakistan)
  • Essa Nagri Muslims protest killing | The Muslims at Essa Nagri staged a protest on Tuesday for the arrest of the Christians involved in the stone pelting and firing in the area (Daily Times, Pakistan)


  • Madagascar's witch-doctors talk to the dead | Besides modern medicine, growing Christianity, Catholic and Protestant influence, has eroded the witch-doctors' influence (Reuters)
  • Witchcraft irks bishop | Ugandans have become so hungry for money that they will practice witchcraft to get it, the bishop of Namirembe, Samuel Balagadde Ssekkadde, has said (New Vision, Uganda)

More articles of interest:

  • Archeologist unearths biblical controversy | Artifacts from Iron Age fortress confirm Old Testament dates of Edomite kingdom (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
  • Curiosity spawned by 9-11 leads some Latinos to convert to Islam | A 2001 study by the Council on American-Islamic Relations estimated 6 percent of 20,000 annual converts to Islam are Latinos (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)
  • Many faiths expand universal kinship | The holy is found in nature, personhood, and covenanted community (Vern Barnet, The Kansas City Star)
  • Black Americans suspect HIV plot | Almost half of all African-Americans believe that HIV, the virus that causes Aids, is man-made, more than a quarter believe it was produced in a government laboratory and one in eight think it was created and spread by the CIA, according to a study released by Rand Corporation and the University of Oregon (The Guardian, London)
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  • Wing and a prayer | For U.S. soldiers in Iraq, religion becomes the response to unanswerable questions and helps them make it through the day (AlternNet)
  • Breach of faith | Muslims and Christian conservatives are both deeply religious. But since last November, that's the only thing they have in common (The American Prospect)
  • India honours widow of Australian missionary | India yesterday conferred a prestigious civilian honour on Australian Gladys Staines, a social worker and widow of missionary Graham Staines who was killed by a Hindu mob along with their two sons in 1999 (AFP)
  • The rise of Kirill | Metropolitan Kirill, the odds-on favorite to succeed Aleksii II as Russian patriarch, said this week that Orthodoxy Christianity represented a "spiritual" shield against outside influence and an important defense of Orthodox Christians beyond the borders of the Russian Federation (UPI)
  • After the brothel | If you think the sex trafficking in Cambodia doesn't qualify as slavery, I've got a story for you (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times)

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
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