Dramatic failure for Italian referendum on IVF
For once, people listened to the Vatican's call to abstain.

For the last two days, Italian voters have had the opportunity to vote on a referendum that would lift the country's rules on in vitro fertilization. Italy currently bans egg and sperm donation, embryo freezing, and pre-implantation screening of embryos. Eggs must come from a stable, heterosexual couple, and no more than three embryos can be created—and they all must be implanted at the same time. The referendums would have changed all of that.

But here's the trick: for the referendums to succeed, more than half of Italy's registered voters would have had to vote on them. So rather than fight the referendums at the polls, Italian bishops simply called for voters to stay home.

That did the trick. One-quarter of the registered voters showed up. As Radical Party leader Daniele Capezzone, whose party pushed for the lifting of IVF rules, told the Associated Press, "We lost, and we lost heavily."

"Turnout is thought to have been affected by both a call for abstention made by the Catholic Church … as well as voter apathy," says the BBC, which in an earlier dispatch really played up the lethargy angle ("Apathy hits Italy fertility vote" was its initial headline).

Could laziness be the key to a new strategy for Catholic leaders? Imagine the campaigns:

  • Condoms: Those wrappers are just too hard to open.
  • You're going to take that pill every day?
  • Don't want to mow the lawn? Have more kids.
  • The Da Vinci Code: 454 pages long. The New Testament: About 421 pages.

Tuesday news on the Italian referendum:

  • No plan for Italy abortion campaign, cleric says | A leading cleric has dampened speculation that the Vatican could campaign to change Italy's abortion law after its victory in defense of the country's highly restrictive fertility legislation (Reuters)
  • Italian vote to ease fertility law fails for want of voters | A law that imposes strict rules on assisted fertility will remain on the books after the failure of a hard-fought referendum (The New York Times)
  • Low turnout sinks bid to repeal Italian fertility rules (The Washington Post)
  • With too few voting, effort to ease Italian fertility law fails | Analysts are split on whether low turnout at the polls shows the strength of the Vatican, which sought a boycott of the referendum (Los Angeles Times)
  • Take this embryo and shove it | Italy's mandatory pregnancy law (William Saletan, Slate)

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Life ethics:

  • Bible gets workout in stem-cell debate | Jack Reed, co-founder of People of Faith for Stem Cell Research, says he finds justification for his support of early stem-cell research in biblical accounts of "Jesus' keen interest in healing" because of the potential that stem cells have to heal diseases and injuries (Bill Tammeus, The Kansas City Star)
  • Cloning pioneer hopes to collaborate with Medical Center | Baylor is receptive, but federal stem-cell limits are an bstacle (Houston Chronicle)
  • Ethics, eggs, and embryos | Thanks to medical advances, scientists are looking for a few good women to donate their oocytes to stem-cell research (Newsweek)
  • Mandatory contraceptive prescriptions eyed | Federal legislation, the "Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act," would compel pharmacies to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, despite the objections of individual pharmacists (UPI)
  • Let the brain-damaged die, say doctors | Early withdrawal of medical treatment from patients with severe brain damage is "clinically, ethically and legally justified", an international intensive care specialist has said (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Playing God with birth defects in the nursery | The issues that two doctors debated in a case from the 1970's remain highly relevant in modern neonatal intensive-care units (Barron H. Lerner, The New York Times)
  • Sincere stem cell debate | Few expect any instant conclusion in a dialogue expected to be held between Archbishop Chung Jin-suk, the top leader of Korean Catholic Church, and professor Hwang Woo-suk soon after the latter returns home from a convention of world stem cell researchers in Houston, Texas. Still, it is reassuring. (Editorial, The Korea Herald)

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Embryo adoption:

  • It's not so easy to adopt an embryo | Conservatives use embryo donation as an argument against using embryos for stem cell research. But relatively few couples make such a donation to another couple (The New York Times)
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  • Snow job | The embryo "adoption" process -- and the Snowflake families -- distract from the real issues in the stem-cell debate (Chris Mooney, The American Prospect)

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  • Efforts to curb abortion proliferate at state level | Abortion foes try to chip away at Roe v. Wade, most recently through laws focusing on 'personhood' of a fetus (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Board revokes abortion doctor's license | More than two months after disciplinary action forced him to close his Kansas City, Kan., abortion clinic, Dr. Krishna Rajanna has lost his license (The Kansas City Star, Mo.)
  • Advice on abortion 'deceptive' | Anti-abortion pregnancy counselling services masquerading as 24-hour independent emergency health lines have been attacked for misleading and deceptive advertising (The Australian)

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  • Life in solitary | Catholic hermits are reinventing an ancient tradition, living ever farther from society and ever closer to God (Newsweek)
  • UWO protest rift opens | A gaping schism has opened among those protesting the University of Western Ontario and Dr. Henry Morgentaler, with some accusing London's Roman Catholic hierarchy of sacrificing Biblical morality in the pursuit of money and prestige (London Free Press, Ont.)
  • Benedict XVI less conservative, more pastoral than expected | New pontiff warms to papacy (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • Vatican's faith is put to test as diplomacy downgraded | Britain is to risk a diplomatic dispute with the Vatican by closing the offices and residence of the British Ambassador to the Holy See and relocating them within the premises of the British Embassy in Italy (The Times, London)
  • Pope to hold special audience with kids | The pope said he plans to hold "a special catechism" on Oct. 15 for children, particularly from Rome and the surrounding region, who received the sacrament of Holy Communion this year (Associated Press)
  • Vatican talk to push for unity among churches | Council to discuss AIDS, Communion (Reuters)
  • Closed parishes cite Wash. ownership case | Catholics trying to prevent Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley from claiming the assets of closing parishes believe they have found an unwitting ally in an unexpectedly high place: the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, who is arguing in a bankruptcy court filing that he does not control the assets of parishes in his diocese (The Boston Globe)
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Catholic school closing:

  • Archdiocese fears protest and closes school early | Archdiocesan officials said the move was made solely out of concern for safety after they had received information that a small group of protesters planned to occupy the school after graduation (The New York Times)
  • Parents protest closing of Boston school | Parents angry that the archdiocese abruptly locked their kids out of school before graduation ceremonies have started a camp-out protest in a city square across from the school (Associated Press)
  • City fetes shut-out students | Graduation is held at Faneuil Hall (The Boston Globe)
  • O'Malley, protesters end standoff over school | Diocese to pursue sale to neighborhood group (The Boston Globe)
  • Schoolyard fight among Catholics | Families hold a vigil to protest a decision by the financially strapped archdiocese to close an elementary campus two days before term's end (Los Angeles Times)


  • Catholic school in O.C. limits gay parents' role | St. John the Baptist memo says same-sex couples can't act as a family unit at its events (Los Angeles Times)
  • Public schools should teach Bible | The topic need not be part of culture wars (Editorial, Springfield News-Leader, Mo.)
  • Catholic pupils in the fold | A marketing blitz, individual efforts gain ground in getting students at closed schools to choose another archdiocese school (Chicago Tribune)
  • Vouchers breathe new life into D.C. Catholic schools | Tuition rates, morals appeal to parents (The Washington Post)
  • Also: Choice under fire, yet again | Teachers unions fighting school choice for the children of poor families in Florida use 19th-century bigotry and 21st-century obscurantism (George F. Will, Newsweek)
  • Separating school and state | It's time to put an end to government control of the schools (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)
  • Perils of valueless teachings | I wonder if it has occurred to anyone, parents or real educators, that maybe the best sex-ed curriculum is none at all? (Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt, The Washington Times)

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Religion on campus:

  • Search for meaning on campus | Schools respond to students' quest for spirituality (The Boston Globe)
  • U.S. universities strive to serve new generation of religious youth | Religion is thriving on college and university campuses across the nation, so much so that foundations, researchers and journalists are investigating, charting its landscape and documenting its social and academic dimensions like never before (The Indianapolis Star)
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  • Board member Morris: Evolution a 'fairy tale' | Evolution is an "age-old fairy tale," sometimes defended with "anti-God contempt and arrogance," according to a State Board of Education member involved in writing new science standards for Kansas' public schools (Associated Press)
  • Teaching humanity's origins: Evolved or designed? | Evolution has not been a big issue in Utah until now (The Salt Lake Tribune)
  • US National Academies fights evolution controversy | The National Academies, the flagship of U.S. science, said on Friday it had set up a Web site to battle attempts to portray evolution as mere speculation about how life developed on Earth (Reuters)

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Air Force Academy:

  • Rosa's leadership is key to redeem AFA | Superintendent needs to build support in Colo. Springs and Washington in effort to bolster cadets' respect for all religions and both genders (Editorial, The Denver Post)
  • Cadets should embrace Jesus | Air Force Academy's Christian evangelicals do military a favor (James Kelso, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Zealots at the Air Force Academy | It will take much more prodding, especially civilian pressure from President Bush, Congress and taxpayers, to undo the damage and restore the separation of church and state as a showcase principle at the academy (Editorial, The New York Times)

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Texas Gov. bill signing at evangelical school:

  • Perry sticking close to base | Governor embraces social conservatism, minus some rhetoric (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Beware of mixing church and state | Perry's official action as governor of the secular state of Texas in taking his bill signing to church is dangerous. (Nancy Grape, Portland Press Herald, Me.)
  • Dishonoring Texas | The day Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) ceremonially signed a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as an exclusively heterosexual matter, he may not have been intending to spit in the faces of countless men and women fighting for their country in Iraq. But that is what he did (Editorial, The Washington Post)
  • Texas governor mobilizes evangelicals | Even for Texas, the scene was remarkable: The governor, flanked by an out-of-state televangelist and religious right leaders, signing legislation in a church school gymnasium amid shouts of "amen" from backers who just as well could have been attending a revival (Associated Press)

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Church & state:

  • Swearing on Bible scrapped for jurors | Under legislation now before State Parliament the Government is scrapping the need for jurors to hold a bible, or other religious text, when swearing their oaths (The Sydney Morning Herald)
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  • With little fanfare, religious freedom wins big at Supreme Court | Ruling in case involving prisoners bolsters protections for everyone's religious liberties (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)
  • ICLU leaders balance freedom and faith | Organization's stand on separation of church and state has fostered an anti-religious image (The Indianapolis Star)
  • Harris County names park after pope | An American Civil Liberties Union official questioned whether a park built with taxpayer money should be named after a religious leader (Houston Chronicle)
  • Bill favors fewer limits on church land uses | A Molalla case prompts the House vote on zoning while the Senate backs more land for schools (The Oregonian)
  • Seminar focuses on tax law in regard to churches | Churches are not tax-exempt just because they're churches, notes Dr. David C. Gibbs Jr. (The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W.V.)
  • Judge gets a close look at medal | The Judge hearing the matter in which the Trinity Cross is being challenged as Trinidad and Tobago's highest national award was himself "presented" with a Trinity Cross yesterday (Trinidad and Tobago Express)

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  • Conservative's popularity may be problem for GOP | Ex-Alabama judge eyes governorship (The Boston Globe)
  • Will family values hurt campaign? | Pat DeWine's private life turning off some voters (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
  • Tolerance should be extended to all | Michele Bachmann is probably the most demonized politician in Minnesota (Katherine Kersten, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • People know game, but pols lag behind | Politics these days isn't about moderation or acceptance or even politics. It's about self-righteousness and the need to believe in the absolute purity of your own point of view (Gloria Borger, New York Daily News)
  • Center court | Unelected judges aren't thwarting the will of the people — they're channeling it. Which is a blessing, and a problem (Jeffrey Rosen, The New York Times Magazine)
  • Dean urges appeal to moral values | DNC chairman calls for Democrats to adopt GOP's language to woo voters (The Washington Post)
  • Spreading the gospel of political evangelism | This, maybe, is the new face of Canadian politics: In the large, modern church in Southern Ontario farm country outside Guelph, there's a sign behind Rev. Tristan Emmanuel's right shoulder that reads, "How can we obey our government when it 's trying to destroy us?" (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
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  • Filipinos hold protest, call for Arroyo to quit | The Roman Catholic Church has expressed anger over what it says is rampant corruption in Arroyo's government and has exposed what it believes are links between the president's family and illegal gambling (Reuters)

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  • Send your prayers | It's about time religion enters the debate on the environment (Paul Andersen, The Aspen Times, Co.)
  • Next on God's agenda: smog | A prayer group at City Hall calls for divine intervention in urban issues -- from clean air and crime to budget talks (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

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Alliance Defense Fund vs. ACLU in Wisc.:

  • Conservative group in another Wisconsin battle | Alliance Defense Fund will counter ACLU suit on domestic benefits (Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Wi.)
  • Christian group wants in on partner case | Arizona group asks to defend Legislature (The Capital Times, Madison, Wi.)
  • Gard's national embarrassment | Assembly Speaker John Gard's decision to appoint an extremist group as the Legislature's counsel in the fight over whether to extend health benefits to the domestic partners of state workers has evolved into a national embarrassment for Wisconsin (Editorial, The Capital Times, Madison, Wi.)

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Same-sex marriage:

  • A civil discourse on gay marriage | Marriage has two distinct components: civil and religious. If we really understood that, I wonder if we'd still spend so much time arguing about "gay marriage." (Leonard Pitts Jr., The Miami Herald)
  • Gay advocates fight churches' charity status | Institutions fear losing tax breaks if they oppose same-sex unions; Rightly so, gay-rights group says (Ottawa Citizen)
  • Christians ought to do more in this debate | The sign of a dysfunctional church is one that can't defend the obvious. The current debate over same-sex marriage is a perfect example (Charles H. Darrell, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
  • Ottawa can't ensure religious protection in all same-sex fights: Cotler | Liberals will tweak their contentious same-sex marriage bill but can't guarantee ironclad religious protections, admits Justice Minister Irwin Cotler (Canadian Press)

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  • Church wades deeper into gay politics | The question of how to treat gay and lesbian people seems about to start causing even more division between church people (Bill Wineke, Wisconsin State Journal)
  • Cleric takes anti-gay war to the US | PCEA moderator Rev David Githii is warning Americans practising homosexuality that they are "doomed for hell" (The East African Standard, Nairobi)
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  • Students defend gay rights | Painted message prompts punishment in Michigan district (The Washington Post)
  • Gays see billboards as signs of change in Mormon Utah | The $14,000 tab for the billboard blitz was picked up by two local philanthropists and ex-Mormons to raise the profile of the gay community (Chicago Tribune)
  • 3 new books examine pros, cons of same-sex marriage | Theology plays a key role (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Christian group's attempt to convert gay people sparks protests | Bartlett teen, forced into program, shares his fears online (Wendi C. Thomas, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.)
  • Is it time the English were more afraid of God? | Should England fear the Bible brigade? (George Michael, The Advocate, gay magazine)

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Marriage, family, and sex:

  • Ministers want church feel to civil weddings | Couples marrying in register offices may soon be able to celebrate with Bible readings or anthems such as Bread of Heaven under proposals to relax the ban on religion at civil ceremonies (The Telegraph, London)
  • Also: God gets invited to civil weddings | Couples marrying in civil ceremonies may soon be able to refer to the holy (The Times, London, sub. req'd.)
  • Child support can make men honest | Simply enforcing child-support laws could make men think twice before fathering a child out of wedlock (The Washington Times)
  • Where have you gone, Norman Rockwell: A fresh look at the family | Dr. Stephanie Coontz researches how people have formed families through the ages (The New York Times)
  • Study: Virginity vows linked to lower STD rates | Teens who take virginity pledges have lower sexual-disease rates and are less likely to engage in sex than are nonpledgers, contrary to research published earlier this year, researchers say in reports scheduled for release today at a federal welfare conference (The Washington Times)

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The American Family Association:

  • Inside the AFA | American Family Association marshals new resources in decades-long cultural war (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)
  • On the air - here, there, and there | American Family Radio conveys the hard and soft sides of AFA's conservative Christian message (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)
  • AFA finances: Small donors fund big-time operations | Organization provides loans to its employees (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)

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Gay adoptions in Scotland:

  • Church condemns move to allow gay couples to adopt | Gay couples will be allowed to adopt children under controversial proposals which have been condemned as "gravely immoral" by the Catholic Church (The Scotsman)
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  • Churches wary of adoption changes | Scotland's churches have expressed doubts about government moves to improve rights on adoption for unmarried and same sex couples (BBC)
  • Church still content to let children suffer for want of a parent | Are we also being told that the number of sexual liaisons a person has had can inhibit their ability to love and care for a partner and child - adopted or biological, for that matter - despite them making a clear decision that such a set-up is the one that they seek for the rest of their life? (Fiona Leith, Scotland on Sunday)

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Polygamous sect leader charged in Arizona:

  • Polygamous sect leader charged in Arizona | The leader of a polygamous sect has been charged with sex crimes for allegedly arranging a marriage between a teenage girl and a 28-year-old man who was already married, prosecutors said (Associated Press)
  • Lost to the only life they knew | Officials say more than 400 teenage boys have fled or been driven from a polygamous sect (Los Angeles Times)

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Louisiana pastor charged with child rape:

  • Church sex case stuns Louisiana town | Pastor, others accused of child rape, bestiality (Associated Press)
  • Also: Additional counts added for ex-Tangipahoa deputy | Charges include 24 counts of child pornography (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., June 7)
  • New arrest warrants signed in Ponchatoula child-sex case | New counts increase DA's options for prosecuting pastor, wife (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., June 3)

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  • Judge rejects abuse deal | Covington diocese has only $40M now, he says (The Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • $21.2 million settlement for victims of 5 priests | S.F. archdiocese faces 45 more cases (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Sexual abuse rules likely to be renewed | The nation's Roman Catholic bishops are expected to renew 3-year-old sexual abuse rules when they meet next week in Chicago, with no major changes planned for now to the ''zero-tolerance'' policy against abusive priests (Religion News Service)

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  • Pope rejects condoms for Africa | The spread of HIV and Aids in Africa should be tackled through fidelity and abstinence and not by condoms, Pope Benedict XVI has said (BBC)
  • The wisdom we need to fight AIDS | The problem can be addressed only by the language of ought, by fixing behavior into some relevant set of transcendent ideals and faiths (David Brooks, The New York Times)
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  • A meeting in the mind | Science and faith join forces on mental illness (Henry G. Brinton, The Washington Post)
  • Send in the white coats to vanquish the virus | The lack of qualified, trained healthcare workers remains a major hurdle in many low-income nations (Thomas J. Coates, Los Angeles Times)
  • Bibles to stay on hospital wards | A hospitals trust criticised for reviewing the tradition of having Bibles by patients' bedsides have pledged they will remain (BBC)

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  • Testing openness to Scientology | Church offers stress exams, and a pitch, at public booths (The Washington Post)
  • Katie Holmes converting to Scientology | Katie Holmes says she's converting to the Church of Scientology, embracing the religion of her boyfriend, Tom Cruise (Associated Press)
  • Cruise says Holmes 'digs' Scientology (Associated Press)

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Other religions:

  • Sensationalism shrouds the debate on sharia | Hysteria shows lack of faith in Canada (Haroon Siddiqui, The Toronto Star)
  • A divine intervention on Christianity | Buddhists, Hindus, Christians -- all are God's creatures (Steve Stoeckel, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)
  • Scouting a cultural bridge | All-Muslim boy scout groups in Sharon reflect growing popularity nationwide (The Boston Globe)
  • Muslim team forces Football Association rule change | A team was expelled by its league when Muslim players refused to play during Ramadan (BBC)

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UK religious hatred bill:

  • In defence of bigotry | The Religious Hatred Bill will only feed prejudice and lawyers (Henry McDonald, The Observer, London)
  • I put my faith in this law | It will help to establish equal protection for all believers and will be an important weapon in the war against bigotry (Inayat Bunglawala, The Times, London)
  • Religious hatred bill must put faith in arts | What should be proposed, as an alternative to the government's ominous legislation? The answer lies in the development of a robust and widely-supported set of ground-rules within which a multi-faith society can operate successfully, and - crucially - in our vigorous and enthusiastic defence of those values, sadly lacking at the moment (Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman)

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Religious freedom:

  • Religious disrespect is shameful, wherever it occurs | Christian humanitarian groups are reporting a major crackdown on members of their faith in Saudi Arabia (Jonathan Gurwitz, San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)
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  • BJP condemns church's move | Former Union minister and BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan today criticised the Catholic church for its attempts to convert a cemetery here into a Christian meditation hall and urged the officials to cancel the permission for it (Chennai Online, India)
  • Judge: Facial hair OK for now | A federal judge yesterday ordered the D.C. fire department to allow three bearded Muslim firefighters to serve on full duty until Aug. 1, when he expects to decide whether the safety issues outweigh the men's claims that shaving would violate their religious rights (The Washington Times)

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  • Hindu mob attacks U.S. missionaries in Bombay | Angry Hindu youths beat three American missionaries and tried to kidnap one as they held a bible studies class in Bombay, police said on Monday (Reuters)
  • 3 US preachers face mob attack | Three American preachers who were conducting Bible education classes at Malvani village in Malad were assaulted and one of them allegedly kidnapped on Saturday by a mob, who accused them of performing conversions (The Asian Age)
  • India to deport US missionaries | Four American missionaries have been asked to leave India for what police say is a violation of visa regulations (BBC)

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Human rights in Africa:

  • War often fuels hunger in Africa | In places like Congo and Sudan, war and hunger are linked in a cycle of horror and desperation (Associated Press)
  • Conservative caring | That seems to be the president's stand when it comes to Africa (Editorial, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, N.Y.)

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  • Opposing Mugabe 'no easy task' | It seemed almost inevitable that last week's strike in protest against the bulldozing of illegal housing in Harare and elsewhere would be a flop (BBC)
  • Selective angst | The world's Muslims seem entirely cool with Infidel Bob razing a mosque (Mark Steyn, The Washington Times)
  • Bishop condemns Harare evictions | The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Harare has condemned the Zimbabwean government's policy of demolishing thousands of homes and businesses (BBC)

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Lebanon elections:

  • Lebanon's Christians deal blow to anti-Syrian coalition | Michel Aoun emerged from Lebanon's third round of polls Sunday as a hard-line Christian political force (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • With Aoun, Lebanon's Christians turn a page | For many in the Christian heartland of the Byblos-Kesrwan district, one word was enough to vote for the fiery anti-Syrian politician Michel Aoun in Sunday's elections: change (Reuters)
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  • Lebanon: a new emerging Christian power | Former renegade Lebanese army commander Gen. Michel Aoun emerged from the third round of Lebanon's general elections as the Christians' new prominent leader (UPI)
  • Aoun's poll win gives him major voice in Lebanon | The firebrand former general Michel Aoun emerged on Monday as Lebanon's main Christian political force after scoring a stunning win in parliamentary elections only weeks after returning from exile (Reuters)

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Israel land dispute continues:

  • Patriarch Irineos loses Jordan citizenship | The Jordanian government stripped ousted Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Irineos I of his Jordanian nationality for leasing church properties to Jews (UPI)
  • A new act in Irenaios drama | In a last-ditch attempt to cling to the vestiges of power, the former patriarch of Jerusalem, Irenaios, yesterday said he was removing eight members of the Holy Synod from their posts, ignoring the fact that simultaneously, Jordan was officially recognizing the caretaker who replaced him (Kathimerini, Athens)

Missions & ministry:

  • Magic and puppet shows are center of Christian ministry | Sandra Sladkey taught herself to do ventriloquism by praying (San Diego Union-Tribune)
  • A sorely needed haven is little used | Few take advantage of a Salvation Army recreation center in a tough part of South L.A. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Airport event to showcase far-flung missions | Next weekend at Dallas Executive Airport, a two-day "Missions at the Airport" event will feature the translators, pilots and aircraft that are transporting the Gospel to some of the most isolated people on the seven continents (The Dallas Morning News)
  • 'Hi, my name is Roger and I'm an alcoholic' | Alcoholics Anonymous observes its 70th anniversary (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)
  • Building a future | Christian missionaries find calling in Kenya (San Bernardino Sun, Ca.)
  • Christian ministry formed in Bullitt to aid police | Possible pressure is concern to some (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)
  • Groundswell in evangelical Christianity, claims group | Increasing numbers of Irish people are converting to evangelical Christianity because of its relevance to everyday life, it was claimed today (Ireland Online)
  • After paying debt for '89 crime, minister is assessed a dearer price | Chibueze Okorie, an ex-convict, uses his ministry at the Church of Gethsemane in Brooklyn to help other convicts and ex-convicts. He may be deported back to Nigeria (The New York Times)
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  • Professor finds fulfillment in emptying his pockets | D.C. man's charity nearing $770,000 (The Washington Post)
  • U.S. trip is positively eye-opening for Muslims | A group of scholars from South Asia find some of their worst notions about America dispelled during a multi-city tour, which included a stop at Fuller Seminary (Los Angeles Times)

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Giving is up:

  • Annual U.S. donations to nonprofits climb 5 percent | The annual report by the Giving USA Foundation says that adjusted for inflation, charitable giving in the United States rose for the first time since 2000, when the booming stock market sent donations soaring (The Washington Post)
  • Giving in '04 was up 2.3% in rebound | Charitable giving rose somewhat last year, reflecting economic stability and stock gains that helped pump up foundation assets and corporate profits (The New York Times)
  • Charitable giving among Americans rises | Americans increased charitable donations by 5 percent in 2004, a new record for philanthropic giving in the United States, according to a group that tracks contributions to nonprofits (Associated Press)

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Billy Graham NYC crusade:

  • Spirit willing, one more trip down mountain for Graham | Graham is now preparing to travel to New York City for another evangelistic crusade — a three-day outdoor revival meeting beginning June 24 in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens (The New York Times)
  • The words of a preacher | Billy Graham on his life, the pope's death and politics in religion (The New York Times)
  • Faithful find Graham's last crusade a tough sell | Some are going door-to-door to invite people to crusade (The Advocate, Stamford, Ct.)

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Kenneth N. Taylor:

  • Maker of Living Bible dies at 88 | Publisher aimed for easy read (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)
  • Kenneth N. Taylor, publisher of The Living Bible, dies at 88 (Chicago Tribune)
  • Kenneth N. Taylor, 88, dies; wrote 'The Living Bible' (Chicago Sun-Times)

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  • Q&A with Gordon Atkinson: 'I cuss a lot in the blog' | The pulpit is no place to air one's deep doubts and longings. So instead, Gordon Atkinson turned to a blog (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Modern minister delivers faith with creative strategy | Nate Atwood is a conservative who doesn't vilify liberals, a traditionalist minister who banished black robes and clergy suits for a golf shirt and pleated slacks (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.)
  • Former PLO terrorist now preaches peace | Palestinian Christian says that violence against Jews cannot be rewarded (Stateman Journal, Salem, Ore.)
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  • A physician and a lightning rod | Anti-abortion Lexington doctor, FDA adviser, stands firm in political storm (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)
  • Uncertainty for Rome's Protestant cemetery | The cemetery in Rome where Keats and Shelley are buried has long been a place of pilgrimage for tourists and a haven from the noise of Italy's capital city. But now its future is uncertain after the Dutch ambassador who has been in charge of its administration prepares to retire and warns that nobody else is willing to take on the unpaid, volunteer position (The Guardian, London)
  • Years later, 'Lost Boy' finds kin, but what about his mom? | Separated from his family by war in 1987 at age 7, a Sudanese man gradually located some of his relatives. But one question nagged at him (Los Angeles Times)
  • An empty seat, filled with memories | In one small New Jersey classroom, certainly the most profound event of the scholastic year was the day that Ary'on White stopped coming to school (The New York Times)
  • Hodgkin's returns to girl whose parents fought state | A bitter standoff between the parents of a 12-year-old and Texas social workers and doctors over radiation treatment ended on Friday on a somber note with a medical report that the girl's Hodgkin's disease, which had seemed in remission, had reappeared (The New York Times)
  • Fernando Ghia, Italian film, TV producer known best for 'The Mission,' dies at 69 (Los Angeles Times)

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Money & business:

  • Creating a Christian flag for God and country | With publicity from 'The 700 Club,' the designer of a religious and patriotic banner prepares for a busy Flag Day (The Baltimore Sun)
  • A new twist on playing the race card | HealthSouth's Richard Scrushy seeks refuge in black church (Cynthia Tucker, The Baltimore Sun)
  • Bible study classes lead to firing | Last week at the federal courthouse in Phoenix, a case involving a Mesa woman and a Chandler-based restaurant chain could introduce a whole new tenet to our judicial system: Separation of Church and Taco (Slim Smith, East Valley Tribune, Az.)
  • Sex sells, but casino not a sure bet | Drivers who get off Exit 29 of Interstate Highway 75 face a moral crossroad every day (Chicago Tribune)
  • Take God to Work Day | Why the law shouldn't bend over backward for religious employees (Richard Thompson Ford, Slate)

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Art & books:

  • Goya's frescoes emerge from £1m restoration | For 16 years, the Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida frescoes , painted in 1798, have been hidden from the public (The Guardian, London)
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  • Story of famous atheist flawed but fascinating | Connie Schultz reviews America's Most Hated Woman by Ann Rowe Seaman (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
  • In 'Sins,' a Christian denounces conservative beliefs | Rich Barlow reviews John Shelby Spong's The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love (The Boston Globe)
  • Editors of God's Word | With the approach of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, a New Zealand professor's meticulously revised edition joins a rush of recent scholarship on the Old and New Testaments (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

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Theater, film, and TV:

  • Why aren't there more 'G' movies? | The politics and profitability of family fare is the subject of heated debate (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Hollywood's spooky spirituality | Tonight's the last chance to catch George Gant in "A Long Bridge Over Deep Water," at the Ford Amphitheatre (Diane Winston, Los Angeles Times)
  • A perfect little saint, heart-stoppingly cute | In the darkest of roles, Madeleine Martin has had an arresting effect on her audience (The New York Times)
  • Theater seeks common ground for intersecting faiths | When the John Anson Ford Amphitheater opened in a canyon near Hollywood 85 years ago, it was to be the host of a Christian pageant that ran until 1964, when a lawsuit opposing religious programming in a county theater ended its run. This weekend, the theater presents a play featuring multiple religious traditions - all thriving in America (The New York Times)
  • Cable outlets decline to air abstinence ad | A television ad urging teenagers to abstain from sex has been deemed inappropriate for young children by some networks on Comcast Corp. cable television and will not be seen on several channels geared to younger viewers (Associated Press)

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  • Rev. Al leads the revival | New generation flocking to music of true sould man (Rocky Mountain News)
  • Christian artists breathe new life into tradition | Coming on the heels of the praise and worship boom, the hymns movement is already having an impact in the marketplace (Billboard)
  • Coming of age, Nikita stays true as gospel singer | Produced by Maranatha, Di Doa Ibuku's sales have hit 400,000 copies -- a fantastic number for a gospel album in a country where Christianity is quite a small minority (The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)

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  • Holy writ and human superstition | Religious peoples are forever at odds with each other because we invest much in our forms, to the point of practicing outright superstition, and invest little in the spirit and intent of the words handed down, which is the only thing that can prevent us from plunging into the darkness of self-delusion (Jeffrey DeYoe, The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)
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  • Memories of church, and childhood | The fluid, ever changing flow of world events and pop culture can seem pretty scary. It sometimes seems as though more things change than stay the same. When commentator Laura Lorson feels like things are slipping out of her control, she thinks back to her childhood and the stable, unchanging world of her church (All Things Considered, NPR)
  • Poll exposes layers of U.S. evangelicals | What good is an evangelical faith if it does not enable people to live up to their vows on the altar of God? (Mike McManus, Canton Repository, Oh.)
  • The CNFR and faithfulness | Living the Christian life shares a lot with riding in the rodeo (Casper Star-Tribune, Wy.)
  • No religion, belief superior to others | Atheists frequently get a bad rap (Dennis C. Walker, Springfield News-Leader, Mo.)

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Church life:

  • A pastor's humorous signs draw visitors and even a filmmaker | Steve Molin decided to have a little fun at his own expense and put up the following message before he left: "Now is a good time to visit. Our pastor is on vacation!" (Associated Press)
  • Bishop admits embezzling from church | A Morgan Park church bishop admitted he embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from church collections and even used church money to buy a second Mercedes to complement the one his church provided for him, according to a recent plea deal he struck with the feds (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Southern Baptists established base, gave rise to 'religious right' | What Southern Baptists do, they do big. They're bringing their annual national meeting here June 21-22 — first time in 91 years — on a wave of evangelistic expectation (Ray Waddle, The Tennessean, Nashville)
  • Who will lead them? | Even with diocese's five new priests, Catholic parishes - and other Christian churches - struggle to keep up with demand for clergy (Lansing State Journal, Mi.)
  • A minimum of ministers | Small towns feel pinch with higher costs, fewer new members of clergy (The Washington Post)
  • After decades in the background, Mary's making a comeback | Mary's revival — and the Seattle Statement — could have historic consequences (Los Angeles Times)
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  • Ray of hope | Window where some see face of Jesus delivered to church, but it cracked in transit (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)
  • Christians nearing a new unity | A coalition that would for the first time unite the major Christian faiths in the United States is taking years to coalesce, but its organizers say that's a good sign and are not discouraged (Reuters)

Church fires:

  • Weymouth parish mourns loss of home after fire | Worshipers fear for Sacred Heart's future (The Boston Globe)
  • Also: Church fire linked to old appliance | Weymouth parish hoping to rebuild (The Boston Globe)
  • Churches facing state's fire code | Two years after The Station nightclub fire, churches are struggling with the costs of meeting the new fire codes (The Providence Journal, R.I.)

Church advertising:

  • Increasingly, denominations using media campaigns to attract visitors | It's mainly the mainline (Houston Chronicle)
  • Advertising alone won't boost congregations: archbishop | The Anglican Church in Western Australia seems unlikely to follow in the footsteps of the Catholic Church and use advertising as a way of countering dwindling congregations (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)
  • Edgy ad helps draw crowd | Commercial's coordinator attends Illinois United Church of Christ's annual conference in Peoria (Peoria Journal-Star, Ill.)

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  • Cross reference | Configurations of ancient sign have wealth of symbolism (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Seed of extinct date palm sprouts after 2,000 years | Scientists hope that the unique seedling will eventually yield vital clues to the medicinal properties of the fruit of the Judean date tree, which was long thought to be extinct (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Antique bell is returned to China | An antique bell taken from China during the Boxer Rebellion over a hundred years ago is being returned to Asia (BBC)
  • Keep your PC mitts off my A.D., B.C. calendar | A.D. is not a prayer, but it is a marker of where we came from, not lightly tossed aside (Patrick McIlheran, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

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More articles of interest:

  • Church rallies change for jail | A petition drive began yesterday in a downtown Georgetown church, after speakers charged that prisoners were being mistreated in the crowded D.C. jail (The Washington Times)
  • MPs told to declare links to Masons | MPs and peers should be forced to declare membership of secret societies such as the freemasons in line with police officers and judges, according to a Commons motion to be tabled tomorrow (The Observer, London)
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  • Devil women, fallen ladies | Martha, Mary and poor old Mrs Lot . . . why does the fairer sex get such a raw deal in the Bible (R. M. Lamming, The Times, London, sub. req'd.)
  • Monk sets 20th travel record | An Anglican monk has become the fastest person to travel around all 25 EU countries by public transport (Ananova)
  • 'Are you a Christian?' | Battles over how religion fits into public life are making headlines in 2005. But for many, religion is a complex, private matter -- and the issues aren't just black and white. A simple ride to the doctor's office brings up a whole range of issues when a woman asks: "Are you a Christian?" (Farai Chideya, News & Notes with Ed Gordon, NPR)

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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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