The Episcopal bishop of Connecticut temporarily removed a Hartford priest from his parish July 14, saying he had taken an unauthorized sabbatical. Mark Hansen, for 15 years the rector of St. John's Church, opposed Bishop Andrew D. Smith's support for the ordination of a practicing homosexual as bishop of New Hampshire. Along with five other priests and their parishes, the "Connecticut Six" have sought alternative oversight. And the six parishes have stopped paying dues to the diocese.

Smith said he suspended the priest for the sake of the health of St. John's Church. According to a statement by the diocese, Hansen never told Bishop Smith of his intention to take a sabbatical. Smith said, "I am concerned for the life and ministry of St. John's. In the past few months Fr. Hansen has made decisions that left the parish without sustained clergy leadership."

Smith also appointed Susan J. McCone as the priest in charge of the parish. McCone is the Episcopal chaplain at Vassar College in New York and the executive director of Affirming Anglican Catholicism, a group that affirms members "regardless of gender or sexual orientation." Ed Seibert, an administrative and financial consultant, was appointed to review parish records and administration.

One witness said that the bishop showed up to the church with computer hackers and a locksmith. "The hackers set to work on the computer, took down the church's website," and the locksmith changed the locks. The next Sunday all but fifteen of St. John's parishioners worshiped at nearby Trinity Church, with Fr. Knapp, a retired priest.

"He abandoned his leadership," Bishop Smith said about Hansen. But the priest says he sent Smith a letter explaining that he was taking a sabbatical "because his school-age son needed 'specialized support services,'" writes The New York Times. "I am deeply saddened at the tactics displayed by Bishop Smith," Hansen told The Times. Hansen also said he had provided pastoral care for his absence.

Episcopal conservatives are up in arms over the move. The American Anglican Council, a conservative network, called the move "unconscionable." "We are outraged that any bishop would seize control of a church without lengthy consultation with the vestry [elected church board]," the council said in a statement. "Bishop Smith has exhibited pastoral disregard for the leaders, members, and clergy of St. John's."

"We are deeply concerned that Bishop Smith's actions yesterday are punitive in nature against a church and priest who have requested alternative Episcopal oversight," the American Anglican Council said. "We fear the bishop will also seek to punish the other five churches in theological dispute with him."

Article continues below

The other five priests also condemned Smith's actions, calling it "a personal attack devoid of pastoral concern for the Hansen family or the parishioners of St. John's." The priests said, "We believe this is one more example of Bishop Smith's apparent intention to systematically destroy, one by one, the six parishes that have requested adequate Episcopal oversight."

More Articles

London bombings:

  • Western policies are to blame, says Livingstone | Ken Livingstone yesterday blamed western policies for contributing to the spread of the extremist beliefs that inspired the London bombers. The mayor of London highlighted the West's role in the creation of al-Qa'eda by saying: "We created these people. We built them up. We funded them." (Daily Telegraph, UK)
  • Does multiculturalism cultivate intolerance? | Immediately after the London bombings, one senior European-based intelligence official lashed Britain for failing to realise it had tolerated the intolerant for too long. (, Australia)
  • Muslim rage burns in our backyard | Western liberals must rethink their attitudes towards the causes of religious tension (Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Moderate Muslims split on suicide bombings | The two meetings by Muslim leaders occurred only three days apart, one in Birmingham and one in London. Both condemned the terrorist attacks in the British capital, but they couldn't agree on one key issue: Are suicide attacks forbidden by religious law? (Associated Press)
  • Choudary: Britain to blame for bombings | The extremist group Choudary led, Muhajiroun, had called for creating an Islamic state in Britain and praised suicide attacks in Israel and elsewhere; the group claims it has since disbanded. But Choudary hasn't stopped espousing the ideas, and his screeds against Blair and British foreign policy open a window into the ideology of Britain's radical Islamic thinkers, in a country known as a center of Muslim immigrant intellectuals of all shades. (Associated Press)
  • Seeking moderate support, Blair meets Muslim leaders | Prime Minister Tony Blair met with moderate Muslim leaders on Tuesday, seeking to enlist their support against Islamic extremism and to discount the war in Iraq as the main cause for the London bombings this month. (The New York Times)
  • Prayer meeting for bomb victims | Hundreds of Muslims from west London will hold a prayer meeting in King's Cross to remember those who died in the bomb attacks nearly two weeks ago. (BBC)
Article continues below
  • Muslims agree network to fight extremists | Moderate British Muslim leaders yesterday decided to develop a network which will counter extremism within their own communities after meeting Tony Blair and senior colleagues at Downing Street in the wake of the London transport bombs. (The Guardian, UK)


  • Iraq constitution body in turmoil | One of the key debates over the charter concerns the role of religion. Many devout Iraqis want to see Islam described as the source for law in the country, while others argue it should be referred to as just one of several sources. (Reuters)
  • Iraqi constitution may curb women's rights | A working draft of Iraq's new constitution would cede a strong role to Islamic law and could sharply curb women's rights, particularly in personal matters like divorce and family inheritance. (The New York Times)

War & terrorism:

  • Thai rebel tactic: divide the faiths | As Muslim separatists target Buddhists, Thailand's prime minister declared martial law last Friday. (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Olympics bomber gets life in jail | US Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph has been sentenced to life in jail for the 1998 bombing of an Alabama abortion clinic, which killed one person. (BBC)
  • It's not only about Iraq | The animating ideology of the caliphate helps explain al-Qaida actions that otherwise make no sense (The Guardian, UK)
  • Bush's 'religious war' | Bush started a religious war, one that took the fanatical fringe movement of Osama bin Laden and elevated it into a shadowy world power, allowing the spread of Osama's powerful poison into the receptive minds of millions of disillusioned young Arabs -- many now offering their bodies for suicide attacks. (Donald Collins, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
  • Bethlehem belongs to Hamas | Islam is now the predominant force in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christianity! This dramatic development occurred when the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, which is best known for blowing men, women and children to pieces in Israeli buses and restaurants, won a majority in Palestinian municipal elections in the Biblical town. (Israel Today, Israel)
  • Separating politics and religion on the seething world stage | When the officers of the British Military Mission in Benghazi, Libya, asked me in 1964 to become an honorary member of their mess, they explained to me carefully that there were two subjects that were out of bounds for discussion there - religion and politics. (Dan Simpson, Toledo Blade)
Article continues below
  • 'Weak' laws may hinder hate books investigation | An inquiry into whether books sold in an Islamic bookshop in Sydney contravene terrorism laws may turn out to be fruitless because federal and State laws aren't strong enough to mount a prosecution. (ABC Online, Australia)
  • Police call for Muslim help in safety fight | The NSW Deputy Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, has pleaded to Sydney Muslims to work with police to "keep Australia safe" and prevent a terrorist attack he fears is virtually inevitable. (Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Muslim MP calls for new council to accredit imams | Australian governments must modify their secular stance and get involved with the Muslim community, or more sinister forces would poison young minds, a Muslim MP said yesterday. (The Age Australia)

Gaza pullout:

  • U.S. Evangelicals see opportunity in promised land | The hill in Israel where Jesus told his disciples to love their enemies as well as neighbours could soon be alive again with the sound of gospel music. (Miftah, Israel)
  • Zionist Christian group protests Israeli-backed disengagement plan | About three dozen Zionist Christians gathered Tuesday on 8th Avenue in downtown Greeley. Their message, printed on bright-orange signs they waved in the street: "Save Gush Katif." "Save Jewish Gaza." (Greeley Tribune, Col.)
  • Carlsbad residents join worldwide protest | About 30 people in Carlsbad joined thousands of people in cities across the world Tuesday to protest a planned withdrawal of Israel from Gaza. (Current-Argus, Carlsbad, N.M.)
  • Among the believers | It's not hard to find Americans here on self-described missions from God spending small fortunes on biblically based Zionist visions, from John Brown, the Texas entrepreneur who's spent more than two decades and several million dollars on a quest to find oil inside Israel's borders, to the Rev. James Vineyard, the Oklahoma City minister whose seemingly full-time battle against Gaza withdrawal has included political lobbying, protests, and vituperative full-page ads in the Jerusalem Post. (Slate)

US Congressman says we could bomb Mecca:

  • US Congressman: We should Bomb Mecca | Earlier this week, US Congressman Tom Tancredo stated during a radio interview that the US should bomb Muslim holy sites in retalation for extremist attacking the United States with nuclear weapons. (Journal of Turkish Weekly, Turkey)
  • U.S., Turkey condemn congressman's remarks | Top U.S. and Turkish officials on Tuesday condemned comments made last week by Rep. Tom Tancredo that the United States could "take out" Islamic holy sites if there was a nuclear attack on America by Muslim fundamentalists. (Associated Press)
Article continues below

Religious freedom:

  • Russian nationalists ask court to probe Jews | A group of Russian nationalists has asked a Moscow court to order prosecutors to investigate Jewish leaders in connection with the Shulhan Arukh, which they say incites hatred, a news agency reported Tuesday. (Associated Press)
  • Staines murder case: Christians appeal to NCM | The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) has petitioned the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) seeking an appeal against the acquittal of the three accused in the Australian missionary Graham Staines murder case, claiming that it has "emboldened communal elements to strike horror against Christians." (The Hindu, India)
  • Cambodian police break up Vietnam refugee protest | Cambodian riot police on Wednesday broke up a protest by ethnic minority asylum seekers against the forced return of over 100 of their people to Vietnam, human rights workers and the United Nations said. Around 30 Montagnards, the mainly Christian tribespeople from Vietnam's Central Highlands, staged a brief demonstration outside offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Phnom Penh. (Reuters)
  • US apologizes to Muslim scholar for denying entry | The United States has apologized to a prominent Britain-based Muslim scholar for denying him entry to the country last week, and has given him a new U.S. visa, the U.S. Embassy in London said on Tuesday. (Reuters)
  • This law will protect believers not beliefs: and we can still laugh at vicars | Nor am I a big fan of religion. So it should be a safe bet that I would be part of the prevailing orthodoxy — on these pages as much as anywhere else — against the Government's Bill for outlawing incitement to religious hatred. But I'm not. (Times, London)


  • Sudan no. 2 leader dismisses officials | The moves implement measures called for under an interim constitution and peace agreement that ended a 21-year-year civil war between the Muslim north and mainly Christian and animist south. (Associated Press)
  • South Sudan authority takes shape | The first members of a new government have been named in southern Sudan after a deal to end 21 years of war. (BBC)
  • Darfur's rebel groups reach deal | The two main rebel groups in Sudan's war-torn region of Darfur have agreed to stop attacking each other. (BBC)
Article continues below

Human rights:

  • Bosnian Croat pleads guilty to war crimes | A former Bosnian Croat soldier changed his plea on Tuesday to guilty on charges including murder, rape and torture of Muslims during the 1993 Muslim-Croat war in central Bosnia. (Reuters)
  • Review of executed man's conviction boosts anti-death penalty lobby | A convicted murderer executed 20 years ago, could be the first person put to death to be declared innocent since capital punishment was reintroduced in the United States. (The Guardian, UK)
  • Presbyterian leader says heat is killing illegal immigrants | The head of the Presbyterian Church U-S-A says entering the country illegally "should never mean a death penalty." (Associated Press)
  • Zimbabwe seeks South African aid | Zimbabwean officials last week requested emergency economic help from South Africa, South African government sources say. (BBC)

Religion & politics:

  • They're not anti-poverty warriors | If Democrats want to win religious voters on the issue of poverty, they will need to reexamine some of their preconceptions. (Jay Ambrose, Naples Daily News, Fla.)
  • Bush leaves the religious right behind | With Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement, some members of the religious right are demanding, in a spirit of Christian humility, of course, what they believe to be rightfully and righteously theirs, nothing less than a seat on the Supreme Court. (Cynthia Hall Clements, Tallahassee Democrat)
  • Democrats explore their spiritual and technological sides | Senate Democrats are getting religion. Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), yesterday unveiled a Web site aimed at religious voters and announced plans to hold a conference on faith-based social services in Las Vegas on Aug. 24. (Washington Post)
  • Christians must re-examine views on public-sector issues | Political activism by the church risks being divisive, detracts from the spiritual focus of the church and is a potential source of corruption as Christians succumb to the temptations for secular power. (Cecil Bohanon, Courier Press, Evansville, Ind.)

John Roberts, Supreme Court nominee:

  • Bush's choice for court a clear conservative | Some criticize D.C. judge; allies say he's in mainstream (Sacramento Bee)
  • Roberts has solid conservative credentials | John G. Roberts has demonstrated strong backing for Bush administration policies, ruling against Geneva Conventions protections for detainees at Guantanamo Bay and in favor of keeping Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force records secret. (Associated Press)
Article continues below
  • Battle over nominee may center on abortion | President Bush urged lawmakers Wednesday to give Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts ''a timely hearing, a fair hearing'' during a Senate confirmation battle that both sides expect to center on abortion. (Associated Press)
  • In pursuit of conservative stamp, president nominates Roberts | President Bush nominated John G. Roberts, a federal appeals court judge with a distinguished résumé and a conservative but enigmatic record, as his first appointment to the Supreme Court on Tuesday night, moving to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor with a candidate he hopes will be hailed by the right and accepted by the left. (The New York Times)
  • Liberals perceive pick as divisive | Jackson says Roberts will roll back rights (Chicago Tribune)
  • Groups gird for the battle over what can be asked | With the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday, advocacy groups on both the left and right geared up to fight over how much or how little he should be required to disclose at Senate hearings, the next stage of the confirmation battle. (The New York Times)
  • Roberts' credentials called impressive | The leader of a key conservative Christian watchdog group said he was pleased by the choice and believes it will fulfill evangelical Christians' expectations. (Daily Journal, Northeast Mississippi)

Canadian senate approves gay marriage bill:

  • Canada senate approves gay marriage bill | Canada's Senate late Tuesday voted to adopt landmark legislation to legalize gay marriage nationwide despite fierce opposition from Conservatives and religious leaders. The bill could be signed into law as early as Wednesday. (Associated Press)
  • Canada's gay marriage law set to come into force | A law allowing gay marriages across Canada could come into force as early as Wednesday after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation. (Reuters)


  • 2 more women die after abortion pills | Five women in the United States have now died after taking abortion pills; four of them most likely suffered lethal bacterial infections, said Dr. Steven Galson, director of the agency's center for drugs. (The New York Times)
  • Abortion time limit review is rejected | A call for the abortion laws to be reviewed in the light of medical advances making it easier for premature babies to survive was rejected by the Government yesterday. (Daily Telegraph, UK)
  • Who's really intolerant? | They call themselves Operation Save America. The group, formerly known as Operation Rescue, brandishes huge pictures of aborted fetuses and harasses patients trying to enter clinics that perform abortions. (Clint Talbott, Daily Camera, Boulder, Col.)
Article continues below

Evolution & creation:

  • Classroom evolution's grass-roots defender | Va. group sees threat to Darwinist teaching (Washington Post)
  • Smithsonian finds Scopes trial photos | Eighty years after the Scopes Monkey Trial, a trove of about 60 unpublished photos from the landmark case has been found in Smithsonian Institution archives, including a shot of Clarence Darrow's courtroom sparring with William Jennings Bryan. (Associated Press)

Church & state:

  • Group rallies to keep cross off | The Redlands Values Coalition filed Monday with the city clerk as an official campaign committee. The 25-member coalition has been meeting for about two months to develop a strategy for defeating what it believes is a divisive ballot measure to return the cross to the city's 42-year-old logo. (San Bernardino Sun)
  • Barrow removes religious display | Barrow County officials have taken down a framed copy of the Ten Commandments from a hallway in the County Courthouse after a federal judge ordered the document removed because its display violated the U.S. Constitution. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Georgia county removes Ten Commandments display | A rural Georgia county removed an inscription of the Ten Commandments from its courthouse on Tuesday, ending a two-year battle with civil libertarians over the constitutionality of the Judeo-Christian display. (Reuters)

Church life:

  • The faithful flock to cowboy churches in rural North Carolina towns | Outside the Happy Trails Cowboy Church near Taylorsville, N.C., dusty pickups rest in the gravel parking lot, all likely used for work instead of bought to impress. (Knight Ridder Newspapers)
  • Comic-book loving church pastors work superheroes into sermons | When H. Michael Brewer watches Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, the Invisible Woman and the Human Torch battle Dr. Doom in "Fantastic Four," which opened July 8, he'll be seeing something much larger - a metaphor for the church. (Knight Ridder Newspapers)
  • Angry neighbors form association | After selectmen approved the concert request June 28, neighbors sent in a petition asking the board to reconsider, which members did last Tuesday. But by a 3-2 vote, selectmen last night permitted the Arabic Evangelical Baptist Church from Needham to hold a Sept. 4 celebration at the park from 2 to 9 p.m. with music and games. (Daily News Transcript, Mass.)
Article continues below
  • Lakewood Church, the nation's largest, gives Houston another mark of distinction | The number of Protestant megachurches in the United States and the size of their congregations is surging. The largest of these, Lakewood Church, calls an abandoned Houston basketball arena home. (Houston Chronicle)
  • Slam dunks give way to prayers and singing | The complex, formerly known as the Compaq Centre, is the new home to the evangelical Lakewood Church, which recently became the first in the United States to average more than 30,000 worshippers a week. (Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Salvation Army eyes expansion in the city | Following up on successes the organization has had in Norfolk, the Salvation Army is looking to expand its services in Columbus. (Telegram, Columbus, Nebraska)


  • Bishop says he reassigned abusive priest | Bishop Anthony M. Pilla testified Tuesday in a defamation case against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland that he twice reassigned a priest who allegedly sexually assaulted a minor. (Associated Press)
  • Tibet's Catholics flourish in a cauldron of despair | In more than a dozen small villages strung along the narrow banks of the upper Mekong and Salween river valleys, like pearls on a chain, the Catholic Church has survived 150 years of hostility from Buddhist lamas and the Communist Party. (The Asian Pacific Post, Canada)
  • Mass in Mexico takes African twist | Jean Pierre Bandoweshe, a youthful pastor born in Africa's Congo, gently sways as he sings along with his Mexican congregation, towering over parishioners during communion. His delivers his sermon in Spanish, with a thick Congolese accent. (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Pope worried about wrong Slytherin guy | Just prior to last week's release of the sixth installment of the wildly popular "Harry Potter" series, it was learned that the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once criticized J.K. Rowling's saga about an orphan boy who discovers that he's a wizard. Had the Church moved quicker to protect children from predator priests rather than circling the wagons and blaming the media, it wouldn't have to worry about Harry Potter. (Charita Goshay, Canton Repository, Ohio)

Marriage & family:

  • Fewer in U.S. marry as more live together | Both the U.S. marriage and divorce rates are dropping while the number of unwed couples living together is rising, according to an annual study of marriage released Monday. (Reuters)
Article continues below
  • Parents sue over cancer treatment | The parents of an American boy once at the centre of a custody battle over chemotherapy to treat a cancer diagnosis are suing Utah state, its child welfare system and hospital doctors for allegedly violating their parental rights. (The Guardian, UK)


  • Ritual and faith in epic theater of two visionaries | "Ta'ziyeh" is a passion play, and there is a powerful religious undercurrent to both of the works this summer. They are spectacles of ritual and faith and devotion. (The New York Times)
  • Heat-seeking missile | Raunchy US comedian Margaret Cho learnt to speak out from the Bible. (The Age, Australia)
  • CBS' new movies include Pope, Stewart | An upcoming CBS miniseries about Pope John Paul II is a "papal page turner," the network's programming chief said Tuesday. (Associated Press)

Other religions:

  • Monks protest against listing of brewery | Thousands of Buddhist monks and other anti-alcohol campaigners brought Bangkok's notoriously slow traffic to a halt today as they protested against plans to list Thailand's biggest brewer. (Daily Telegraph, Australia)
  • Interfaith dialog ready to roll | Delegates from 39 countries began on Tuesday to stream into Bali for the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Interfaith Dialog, which will be opened by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday. (Jakarta Post, Indonesia)

More articles of interest:

  • Dealing with my sexual brokenness | Clifford Smyth, respected Orange historian and family man, tells of the transvestite compulsions which have made his life a struggle. (Belfast Telegraph, UK)
  • Lawmaker wants to send virgins to college | A lawmaker is offering to pay university fees for girls who are virgins when they graduate from high school, in part to help fight AIDS. (Associated Press)
  • Adoption group to address no-Catholics policy in Miss. | Independent state offices criticized for excluding Catholics while accepting state funds (Clarion Ledger, Jackson, Miss.)
  • I'm a believer: author of 'The Da Vinci Code' defends marriage of Christ theory | In the documentary, Unlocking Da Vinci's Code, Brown says: "As I started researching I really thought I would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magdalene and holy blood. But I became a believer." (The Independent, UK)

Related Elsewhere:

Suggest links and stories by sending e-mail to

What is Weblog?

See our past Weblog updates:

July 19 | 18
July 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 |
July 8 | 7
July 1 | June 30 | 27
June 24 | 23 | 20

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.
Previous Weblog Columns: