Evidence of Israel's United Kingdom?
Just days after the Israel Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of what is apparently a third-century church in Meggido, another significant find was reported at Tel Zayit, about an hour south of Jerusalem.

The fancy word for the find is abecedary, but what that basically means is an inscription of the alphabet. The New York Times reports that it may be "the earliest known specimen of the Hebrew alphabet," "an important benchmark in the history of writing," and "the oldest reliably dated example of an abecedary."

There are artifacts of Semitic writing that predate the 10th century B.C., which is the date that Pittsburgh Theological Seminary's Ron E. Tappy (who led the dig) puts on the find. But here's what may be even more controversial than the date:

The inscription was found in the context of a substantial network of buildings at the site, which led Dr. Tappy to propose that Tel Zayit was probably an important border town established by an expanding Israelite kingdom based in Jerusalem.
A border town of such size and culture, Dr. Tappy said, suggested a centralized bureaucracy, political leadership, and literacy levels that seemed to support the biblical image of the unified kingdom of David and Solomon in the 10th century B.C.
"That puts us right in the middle of the squabble over whether anything important happened in Israel in that century," Dr. Stager said.
A vocal minority of scholars contend that the Bible's picture of the 10th century B.C. as a golden age in Israelite history is insupportable. Some archaeological evidence, they say, suggests that David and Solomon were little more than tribal chieftains and that it was another century before a true political state emerged.

It's sure to be a hot topic at the meetings of the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Society of Biblical Literature next week, the Times notes.

If you're not going to AAR-SBL, you can follow some early debate on blogs like Codex, Dr Cathey's Blog, Jim West's Biblical Theology, and PaleoJudaica.

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  • Baylor dismisses gay alumnus from advisory board | University had gladly accepted his donations of time and money, until now (Inside Higher Ed)
  • Students say religion research hampered by school's Web filter | Dalai Lama, Buddhism sites among those blocked (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
  • Cross 'publisher' off to-do list | Christian Gators Magazine, launched Wednesday with 7,500 copies and is being distributed by Christian student groups in high traffic areas on campus (The Gainesville Sun, Fla.)
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  • Abstinence-only programs tell half-truths about sex | Statistics reflecting the sexual activities of U.S. teenagers underline the need for comprehensive sex education. (Martin L. Haines, Asbury Park Press, N.J.)
  • Can you believe it? | Many schools are afraid of religious education, but when taught creatively it can be exciting for students (Sonia Blandford, The Guardian, London)

Evolution & Intelligent Design:

  • Dover soul | A town reconsiders religion (Jason Zengerle, The New Republic)
  • Designed to please | God in the science classroom? What's next? (David Galef, Inside Higher Ed)
  • Evolutionists are wrong! | Where are the copyright liberals when right-wing conservatives need us? (Jennifer Granick, Wired)

Dover ID backers on school board lose election:

  • 'Intelligent design' backers lose in Pennsylvania | The court verdict in a landmark lawsuit on "intelligent design" is weeks away, but voters in Dover, Pa., delivered their judgment this week by sweeping out eight of nine school board members who decided that ninth-grade science students must be told the concept is an alternative to evolution (USA Today)
  • Evolution slate outpolls rivals | All eight members of the Pennsylvania school board that introduced intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in biology class were swept out of office (The New York Times)
  • Pennsylvania voters oust school board | Voters came down hard Tuesday on school board members who backed a statement on intelligent design being read in biology class, ousting eight Republicans and replacing them with Democrats who want the concept stripped from the science curriculum (Associated Press)
  • Reality of wins still sinking in | Some incumbents blame their losses on Republican voter apathy (York Daily Record, Pa.)
  • A decisive election in a town roiled over Intelligent Design | Before it took up intelligent design, Dover, Pa., was a typical American town experiencing typical American growing pains (The New York Times)

Kansas changes science standards:

  • Science revisited: Critics say move is religion in disguise | State board changes school standards to allow questioning of evolution (The Capital Journal, Topeka, Kan.)
  • Kan. school board okays evolution approach | Revisiting a topic that exposed Kansas to nationwide ridicule six years ago, the state Board of Education approved science standards for public schools Tuesday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution (Associated Press)
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  • Kansas board approves challenges to evolution | The board adopted new science standards that are the most far-reaching in the nation in challenging Darwin's theory of evolution (The New York Times)
  • Darwin not alone in Kansas anymore | New school standards challenge evolution (Chicago Tribune)
  • Kansas case of deja vu: Evolution critics win | Vote falls along board's conservative-moderate split (The Kansas City Star)
  • Kansas education board first to back 'Intelligent Design' | Schools to teach doubts about evolutionary theory (The Washington Post)
  • Vote by Kansas school board favors evolution's doubters | The divided panel urges that 'controversy' over the theory be taught. Science groups call it a bid to inject religion in the classroom (Los Angeles Times)
  • Kansas educators clear way for evolution criticism | Kansas on Tuesday became the latest U.S. state to introduce criticism of evolution into teaching standards, a move that critics charge was driven by religious zealotry (Reuters)

Religious holidays back in Fla. school district:

  • Board reverses field on calendar | Facing community pressure, the Hillsborough School Board decides a secular calendar was a mistake and restores religious holidays (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
  • A perfect storm: religion, culture, timing | All three came together to turn Hillsborough schools' secular calendar into a hot-button issue (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
  • School Board sent wrong message | The Hillsborough County School Board set a terrible example by reversing itself under fire and restoring vacation days tied to some religious holidays (Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
  • Outcry over Good Friday is a step back for tolerance | The outcry over the Hillsborough School Board's decision to no longer denote Good Friday as a holiday has left me puzzled (Ernest Hooper, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)


  • Pushing for pre-Christmas peace in Germany | Germany's largest Christian churches and the country's retailers have called on people to hold their Christmas spirit until the end of November to keep the season from losing its significance (Deutsche Welle, Germany)
  • Sister takes on the mystery of Magi | Maripat Donovan's "Christmas Catechism" will amuse, regardless of your faith (Los Angeles Times)
  • Defender of the festive symbols | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday criticised the "nonsense" of banning Christian symbols at Christmas. He was speaking at the end of a three-day visit to EU institutions in Brussels (The Times, London)
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  • Royal Mail climbs down over stamp | A Christmas stamp which many Hindus said was "disrespectful" to their religion has been partially withdrawn (BBC)

Church & state:

  • Christian cross will not be returned to Redlands' logo | Redlands Voters tossed the cross off the city logo for good Tuesday a decision that will prevent a potentially costly lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and send what some call a message of inclusion to citizens of all spiritual backgrounds (Redlands Daily Facts, Ca.)
  • ADL church-state survey questioned | An Anti-Defamation League survey has found that most Americans are against organized prayer in public schools and favor the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in the classroom, but an official of the Orthodox Union said the statistics released may be misleading unless they are put into context (The Jewish Week, New York)
  • Under-God supporters face off against atheists | More than 100 supporters of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance squared off Saturday against a half dozen atheists who want the religious phrase struck from the pledge (Milford Mirror, Ct.)
  • Divine intervention for anthem | A push is under way to insert a reference to God in Australia's national anthem (The Courier-Mail, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)
  • Memorial service 'too Christian' | The service at Trafalgar Square's St Martin-in-the-Fields church attracts hundreds of bereaved people each year. But the Home Office, which provides £2,000 funding, has asked for proof it reaches "all parts of the community" (BBC)
  • Tea ceremonies and religious freedom | A case involving a religious tea ceremony argued before the Supreme Court last week has more to it than meets the eye (Editorial, The Christian Science Monitor)
  • What brand of Christian nation? | If one calls us a Christian nation, which brand are we talking about—Catholic, Pentecostal, Methodist, Baptist, Happy Hands Praise Temple, or one of thousands of others? (Russell I. Gregory, The Roanoke Times, Va.)

Religion & politics:

  • Notable measures on nation's ballots | Bad news for Amish, gay marriage (Associated Press)
  • Catholics come together to fight death penalty | The U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops will roll out a banner statement for the national "Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty" at the semi-annual gathering of nearly 300 bishops beginning Monday in Washington, D.C. (USA Today)
  • A Democrat of faith turns tables | One of the first things Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine did after entering the race for Virginia governor last spring was to go on evangelical Christian radio to talk about faith in politics (The New York Times)
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  • Also: Religion central to Virginia Gov.-elect | The Democrat's Roman Catholic faith has played a major role in his life, from his childhood as an altar boy to his work in Honduras — a pivotal experience that helped shape his political aspirations (Associated Press)
  • Court passes on transsexual discrimination | The Supreme Court refused Monday to consider shielding employers from discrimination lawsuits by transsexuals, dodging a workplace rights fight (Associated Press)
  • Biblically inspired punishment for Karl Rove | In Leviticus 5:1, the writer addresses what should happen if a man such as Rove does not speak up when he hears a public charge to testify about something he has seen or learned (Susan Campbell, The HartfordCourant, Ct.)


  • Alito signals reluctance to overturn Roe v. Wade | In private meetings with senators who support abortion rights, Alito has said the Supreme Court should be quite wary of reversing decisions that have been repeatedly upheld, according to the senators who said it was clear that the context was abortion (The Washington Post)
  • Senators say Alito voiced respect for Roe | Moderates Collins, Lieberman quote from private talks (The Boston Globe)
  • Designee woos senators on both sides of abortion debate | Dancing a fine line, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. spent Tuesday courting both opponents and supporters of abortion rights with careful remarks about legal precedent (The New York Times)
  • Senators say Alito respects Roe decision | Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito expressed "great respect" for the precedent established by the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision but didn't commit to upholding it, senators said Tuesday as Alito began a second week courting their support (Associated Press)
  • Alito: abortion ruling deserves 'great respect' | "He basically said … that Roe was precedent on which people, a lot of people, relied, and had been precedent now for decades and therefore deserved great respect," Sen. Joseph Lieberman told reporters (Reuters)
  • Roe v. Wade attorney leaning against Alito | The attorney who won the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established abortion rights says she will likely oppose Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, but is still studying his writings and opinions before taking a formal position (Associated Press)
  • Isn't that spousal | Alito, abortion, sexism, and the polls (William Saletan, Slate)
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  • Tracking Alito's Catholicism | What can we tell about the Supreme Court nominee based on his two parishes--one liberal, the other conservative? (Maurice Timothy Reidy, Beliefnet)
  • Christian right is supportive of Alito | The nomination of Alito, who promises not to legislate from the bench, has pleased most everyone connected with the Christian right (John Sonderegger, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • The Alito option play | Men don't care if their wives abort their children, so why should Alito? (Art Buchwald, The Washington Post)


  • Abortion measure confronted hurdles | Backers and supporters cite several factors that influenced voters as an effort to require parental notification falls short of passage (Los Angeles Times)
  • Earlier: Judgment day | Will parental notification go down in defeat in California? (Arnold Steinberg, National Review Online)
  • Bill on abortion warnings advances | Assembly measure would have doctors tell of fetal pain (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
  • Also: Abortion fetus pain bill passed in Wis. | Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, promised to veto the legislation, which the Assembly passed 61-34 Tuesday and the Senate passed earlier (Associated Press)
  • Ministers differ on whether churches should target abortion or poverty | Richard Land never backed down, though clearly his position wasn't a popular one (Betty Bayé, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)
  • Privacy by decree | Few legal cows today are more sacred than privacy, which the Constitution doesn't even guarantee (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)

Parental notification in the U.K.:

  • 'End crazy rules that refuse me the right to know if my daughters seek abortion' | Official guidance allowing an under-age girl to have an abortion without her parents' knowledge is "horrifying", a mother of two teenage children told the High Court yesterday (The Telegraph, London)
  • Mother begins 'right to know' bid | A mother has launched a legal challenge to guidelines allowing girls to have abortions without parental consent (BBC)
  • Mother fights for right to know about teenage abortions | Parents must have the right to override medical confidentiality rules and be told when their children seek abortions, contraceptives or treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, a judge was told yesterday (The Times, London)
  • Mother in fight for abortion 'right to know' | Government accused of going beyond Lords ruling; Minister argues children's rights are paramount (The Guardian, London)
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  • Teenaged, pregnant, frightened—Can you keep a secret? | Doctors argue that scrapping confidentiality would drive teenage girls away from sexual health clinics and result in a rise in late abortions among those girls who delay seeking help with unwanted pregnancies because they are afraid of their parents' reaction (The Telegraph, London)
  • What parents have a right to know | The state's job should be to serve, not subvert, the family. That is the gist of Mrs Axon's modest plea (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)
  • Not all pregnant children are middle-class | What Axon is effectively asking is that the medical profession join her in her bubble and protect the already protected few at the expense of the vulnerable many (Lucy Mangan, The Guardian, London)
  • Head-to-head: Teenage abortions | Victoria Gillick vs. Anne Weyman (BBC)
  • Abortion law breeds 'family lies' | Guidelines allowing young girls to have abortions without parental knowledge condemns family life to "secrecy and lies", the High Court has heard (BBC)
  • 'My parents didn't have the right to know' | A mother's fight to ensure parents are told if a teenage daughter seeks an abortion has prompted a passionate debate (The Telegraph, London)

Life ethics:

  • Down Syndrome now detectable in 1st trimester | Earlier diagnosis allows more time for decisions (The Washington Post)
  • New, earlier tests seen better at fetal Down Syndrome detection | New tests in the first trimester of pregnancy are better at identifying fetuses with Down syndrome than standard tests done later in pregnancy, according to a government-financed study (Bloomberg News)
  • Public debate on testing embryos for gene defects | How far doctors and scientists should be allowed to go in screening embryos for genetic defects during in vitro fertilization is to be a subject for public consultation organized by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (The Guardian, London)
  • Earlier: Aborting the Disabled | A bill before the Senate hopes to better inform mothers about diagnosed disabilities, while a study confirms that women can feel pressured to terminate their pregnancy if tests find a disability (Christianity Today, Apr. 21, 2005)
  • Right-to-die plans back in Lords | Rejigged proposals to allow doctors to help terminally-ill people to die are to be introduced in the House of Lords (BBC)

IRS inspection:

  • Probe continues of 60 tax-exempt groups, IRS says | The Internal Revenue Service said yesterday that it continues to investigate more than 60 tax-exempt organizations -- including about 20 churches -- of accusations of engaging in improper political activities concerning the 2004 presidential election (The Washington Times)
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  • The won't-be-bullied pulpit | A Pasadena cleric cited by the IRS refuses to surrender 'the very soul of our ministry' (George Regas, Los Angeles Times)
  • Preaching pacifism is no crime | Whether inspired by partisan retribution or not, this IRS investigation smacks of the partisan abuse of the IRS that occurred under President Clinton when conservative organizations regularly found themselves audited (Editorial, New Hampshire Union-Leader)
  • God, politics, and taxes | Those with suspicious, or perhaps cynical, minds will guess that the IRS has political motivations for singling out All Saints, one of Southern California's largest and most liberal congregations (Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mo.)
  • Threat by IRS to one church a worry for all | Churches are in the business of delivering moral and ethical instruction to their parishioners -- whether it's about family, peace or social justice. The notion of threatening them with the IRS deters their willingness to act on those beliefs (Scott Herhold, San Jose Mercury-News, Ca.)

Free speech casein Sweden:

  • Swedish pastor defends anti-gay sermon | A Pentecostal pastor charged with hate speech for denouncing homosexuality as a "cancerous tumor" defended his views in Sweden's highest court Wednesday, saying gay sex was an abnormality on a par with pedophilia (Associated Press)
  • Anti-gay pastor: I regret nothing | A high profile case that pitches Sweden's laws on protection of minority groups against those concerning freedom of speech began its final round in the Supreme Court on Wednesday (The Local, Sweden)
  • Green case brings Bible talk to court | A sermon in which a Pentacostalist pastor said homosexuality was "a cancer on the body of society," was the word of the Holy Spirit, Sweden's Supreme Court was told on Wednesday (The Local, Sweden)

Air Force:

  • AFA prayers backed | Senate supports measure in 99-0 vote to give military academies more discretion (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
  • AF tries to walk fine line on faith | Guidelines seek middle ground Striking the right balance on religion's place in the military proves difficult as both sides cry intolerance (The Denver Post)
  • Group wants voice in academy bias suit | The Alliance Defense Fund, whose backers include Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, wants the service to continue allowing airmen and chaplains to evangelize on duty (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)
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  • Suit meets opposition at academy | Two Air Force officers have filed a motion to oppose a lawsuit intended to stop religious proselytizing at the Air Force Academy and across the Air Force (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
  • Advocacy group questions Air Force suit | The Alliance Defense Fund said Tuesday the case could infringe on religious freedom in the military (Associated Press)


  • Group sues over prison's 'God Pod' | A Christian ministry program and a "God Pod" housing unit at the privately run New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility in Grants violate the First Amendment and should be shut down, a federal lawsuit filed this week by the Freedom from Religion Foundation says (The New Mexican)
  • Local watchdog sues over prison program | Says it gives privileges to Christians (The Capital Times, Madison, Wi.)
  • Christians have duty to stand against prisoner abuse | No matter our theological perspectives on the justice or injustice of the war in Iraq, there would seem to be no middle ground for Christians when it comes to the ethical treatment of prisoners (Dana W. Sutton, Huntington, WV)
  • On prison rape, Texas tries to report it right | Unfortunately, however, the dialogue has shifted to a meaningless and potentially dangerous debate about whether Texas is worse than any other state when it comes to the problem of prison rape (Michele Deitch, Austin American-Stateman)

Chinese pastor jailed:

  • Protestant pastor in China convicted for printing, distributing Bibles | A prominent pastor in Beijing's underground Protestant church was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for illegally printing and distributing Bibles and other religious books, in a case that has attracted attention from Christian groups in the United States and elsewhere (The Washington Post)
  • Chinese get prison time for Bible delivery | Religious persecution in China has reached the point that distributing Bibles is earning a three-year prison sentence (The Washington Times)
  • China jails three for illegally printing Bibles | A Chinese court on Tuesday sentenced a Protestant minister, his wife and her brother to prison terms of up to three years for illegally printing Bibles and other Christian publications, one of their lawyers said (Reuters)
  • Also: China criticizes Bush for meeting Dalai Lama | China criticized U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday for meeting the Dalai Lama and dismissed Washington's annual report on religious freedom as groundless, but said the issues would not overshadow Bush's visit to Beijing (Reuters)
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U.S. names violators of religious freedom:

  • U.S. cites top violators of religious liberties | Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named eight countries yesterday as the world's worst violators of religious liberty and denied that there has been any wavering in the U.S. commitment to global human rights, despite disclosures of secret prisons run by the CIA in Eastern Europe (The Washington Post)
  • State Dept. cites Saudi Arabia on rights | The State Department cited Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for denying religious freedom to non-Muslims and found fault to a lesser degree with other allies including Israel, Belgium, France, Germany and Pakistan (Associated Press)
  • Asian communist states hit in US religion report | The United States on Tuesday named Asian communist states China, North Korea and Vietnam, as well as military-run Myanmar, as serious violators of religious freedom in an annual State Department report to Congress (Reuters)
  • Vietnam rejects U.S. religion report | Vietnam rejected a U.S. report which named it along with China, North Korea and Myanmar as serious violators of religious freedom, saying on Wednesday Washington was wrong (Reuters)


  • Egypt's Christian-Muslim divide | Of the many things one should not mention in polite company in Egypt, friction between Muslims and Christians is near the top of the list. Try mentioning that Christians in Egypt are discriminated against and you might as well stand atop the Giza pyramids waving white flags festooned with "Invade Now" at the imaginary American tanks at the border. But we're way beyond polite conversation (Mona Eltahawy, International Herald-Tribune)
  • Poso beheadings perpetrators 'caught by Army' | South Sulawesi Police chief Insp. Gen. Oegroseno has been tightlipped over rumors that security authorities there have arrested a group of five men responsible for the recent beheadings of three Christian school girls in conflict-prone Poso (The JakartaPost, Indonesia)
  • Also: Five held over beheading of Indonesia schoolgirls | Indonesian officers have detained five people, including a former soldier, over the beheading last month of three teenage Christian girls in the volatile eastern region of Poso, security officials said on Wednesday (Reuters)

Human rights:

  • Christian campaigns to give Egypt politics a woman's voice | Being a woman and a Coptic Christian in Muslim-majority Egypt, the odds are against Mona Makram Ebeid, but the feisty politician has embarked on a campaign to win a seat in parliament and break the back of "sectarianism and sexism" (AFP)
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  • Rwanda wants to send Belgian priest home for trial | Guy Theunis, a 60-year-old Catholic missionary, is accused of reprinting articles, in a review he published, from an extremist publication that incited Hutus to kill Tutsis during the central African country's 1994 slaughter (Reuters)
  • U.S. urges political solution in Darfur | Zoellick returns to region to push 'all the parties' to work for peace (The Washington Post)
  • Realism in Darfur | Consider the horrors of peace (Christopher Hitchens, Slate)
  • Social funds warn Web firms on human rights | A group of social investment funds from Western countries called on Monday for Internet companies to refrain from supporting repressive human rights practices in China and other nations (Reuters)

Israel agrees not to convert 'lost tribe' in India:

  • Israel agrees not to convert 'lost tribe' in India | Israel has bowed to complaints from the Indian government and stopped trying to convert to Judaism thousands of people in India who believe they are a Biblical lost tribe, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday (Reuters)
  • Israel shifts conversion policy after Indian government complains (Associated Press)
  • Israel halts Indian conversions | Israel has stopped converting people in north-east India who say they are from a biblical "lost tribe" following complaints from the Indian government (BBC)
  • Related: VHP converts Christians to Hinduism | Fifty-eight people, said to be Christians, returned to Hinduism at Dharanidharpur village in Orissa's Sundargarh district today, VHP sources said. They said they didn't need government permission because it was "reconversion," not conversion (PTI, India)


  • France moving to help Muslims worship | Trappes' new mosque, now open for Friday prayers and soon to be open full-time, offers hope for many here that, with a proper venue allowing Muslims to worship in the open, youths may be less tempted to turn to religious radicalism (Associated Press)
  • Believers unite in tolerance plea | Australian Christians and Jews have urged tolerance towards the Muslim community following the arrests this week of 17 terror suspects in Melbourne and Sydney (The Australian)
  • Qatar opens doors to first church in 14 centuries | The first Christian church in the conservative Muslim state of Qatar since the arrival of Islam in the 7th century is to be built on land donated by the reform-minded Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (The Christian Science Monitor)
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Crime & fraud:

  • Pastor faces more charges | Man accused of secretly selling church property expected to be arraigned (The Record, Stockton, Ca.)
  • Christian sect still defiant | With seven members facing arraignment, Piecemakers vow to resist health agency's enforcement efforts (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • Charity named in a home-selling scheme | Federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit yesterday against a nonprofit group accused of encouraging home sellers to make ostensibly tax-deductible gifts that the charity in turn gave to buyers so they could put a down payment on a seller's home (The New York Times)
  • Ex-pastor pleads not guilty to $100,000 theft | The former minister of one of Bangor's largest Protestant congregations pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the theft of more than $100,000 from the church where he served as pastor for 16 years (Bangor Daily News, Me.)
  • Church 'used black group' to get funds | The chief executive of the Hillsong church's financial arm wrote a letter to an Aboriginal community promising $280,000 "in return for its silence" over the payment of $415,000 in federal funds, the NSW parliament has heard (The Australian)


  • Priest abuse victims rally behind bill in Columbus | Reporting mandate opposed by church (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
  • Cleric's memory at issue in report of alleged abuse | Monsignor says he can't recall how a complaint was handled. Lawyer says he's keeping secrets (Los Angeles Times)
  • Ireland extends Catholic Church sex abuse probe | The Irish government gave the green light on Tuesday for an inquiry into allegations Roman Catholic priests in the Dublin area sexually abused children, just two weeks after a damning report into another diocese (Reuters)
  • Abuse cases could go to trial in '06 | A judge puts 44 civil cases targeting the L.A. Archdiocese on track for next year, the closest any L.A. allegations have come to open court (Los Angeles Times)
  • Church insurers suit is put on hold | A Los Angeles judge Tuesday put on hold a lawsuit filed by the church's insurers accusing Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of withholding information about claims that the archdiocese failed to protect children from sexually abusive priests (Los Angeles Times)

Oral sex:

  • Virginia's appeals court upholds oral sex statute | If anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional, says Virginia Beach man, why not these? (The Washington Times)
  • Oral sex at the synagogue | Uncomfortable or not, it is time for clergy to speak out about how God wants our kids to use their bodies (Marc Gellman, Newsweek)
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Same-sex marriage vote in Texas:

  • Gay marriage ban put in Texas Constitution | Voters also pass measures on bail, mortgages and a rail relocation fund (Houston Chronicle)
  • Gay-marriage ban coasts | Conservatives call vote victory for values; foes promise battle in court (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Also: Voters add gay marriage ban to constitution | Texas set to become the 19th state to place such a limit in its constitution (Austin American-Statesman)
  • Battle kicks in over gay marriage ban | A year from vote, both sides organize (The Capital Times, Madison, Wi.)
  • After the vote: The road ahead | Legislators who supported Proposition 2 assured Texans that it would not make life harder for gay and lesbian citizens. Now comes the test (Editorial, The Dallas Morning News)
  • What happened? | How does this amendment improve or correct a deficiency in state government when it was already against state law to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple? (Editorial, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

Same-sex marriage:

  • Proposition 2 passage buoys church leaders | Conservative church leaders, invigorated by overwhelming passage of a state amendment banning gay marriage in Texas, now ponder their next show of political strength. (Associated Press)
  • Pastors to fight gay unions | Constitutional ban on such marriages is focus of summit (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)
  • Support for gay rights wanes at altar | This year's Houston Area Survey, for the first time, shows a narrow majority of residents say they believe homosexuality is not morally wrong. Even more say they believe gays and lesbians do not choose their sexual orientation (Houston Chronicle)
  • Gay marriage ban crossed political lines, analysts say | Blacks and Hispanics who traditionally vote Democratic strongly backed the state's gay marriage ban at the ballot box this week, sometimes outpolling Republicans, analysts said Wednesday (Houston Chronicle)
  • Kansas senator leads push vs. gay marriage | A conservative push to ban gay marriage through a constitutional amendment gained renewed momentum Wednesday after a Senate panel led by Kansas Republican Sam Brownback narrowly approved the measure (Associated Press)
  • Losing side of gay rights law now focusing on pro-marriage amendment | A day after Maine voters decided to keep the state's gay rights law on the books, the losing side said Wednesday its main focus now will be to pass a state constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage (Associated Press)
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  • Voters endorse gay rights law | Maine voters reversed themselves on a contentious issue Tuesday by embracing the state's new anti-discrimination law, giving supporters of gay rights a convincing referendum win after two previous losses (Portland Press Herald, Me.)
  • Let gays wed, says top woman judge | Britain's senior woman judge argued last night that homosexual couples should be allowed to marry (The Telegraph, London)

Religion & homosexuality:

  • Episcopal bishop criticizes Pope on gays | But Gene Robinson says he was not encouraging Roman Catholics to leave their church when he criticized its view of homosexuals during a recent speech in London (Associated Press)
  • Campus ministry celebrates inclusion of gays | Marsha Acord says there is no better time than now for the University of Iowa Wesley Foundation to celebrate its acceptance of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities (Iowa City Press-Citizen)
  • Minds wide open | One girl's push to form a gay group forced a school to search its soul (The Boston Globe)
  • Kansas church is misguided in protesting soldier's funeral | They should take a good hard look at the Sermon on the Mount (Kevin Leininger, The News-Sentinel, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)

Anglican Communion:

  • Episcopal traditionalists convene | More than 2,100 Episcopal conservatives meet in Pittsburgh today for a first-ever international conference sponsored by the Anglican Communion Network, a consortium of 10 dioceses, 16 bishops and clergy and laity representing more than 200,000 Episcopalians (The Washington Times)
  • Black man to save the 'dying' Church of England | The Rt Rev Dr. John Sentamu, the Bishop of Birmingham was recently appointed the new Archbishop of York. The role is the second-highest position in the Church of England (The New Times, Rwanda)
  • Clergyman's license is revoked | The Bishop of Southwark, the Right Rev Tom Butler, has revoked the license of a clergyman who invited a South African bishop to ordain three of his staff into the diaconate last week (The Times, London)

Church life:

  • Making a monkey of St Paul's | It's a long way from being the Empire State Building, but the Anglican Church was negotiating with advertising agency Amity Media to place a massive billboard on scaffolding surrounding the spire of the heritage-listed St Paul's Cathedral (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Give Christ a chance | The Archbishop of Sydney has a mission; stop Jesus fading away under the weight of modern skepticism (The Sydney Morning Herald)
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  • Mass. Senate OK's rules for church disclosure | House awaiting transparency bill (Associated Press)
  • Monkfish Abbey is a church with a difference | Here, buffet spirituality is on the menu (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)


  • Professor given key role in promoting Christianity | A leading Catholic thinker in Scotland has been given a key role in the Vatican's long-term campaign to promote Christianity in Western culture (The Herald, Glasgow)
  • By papal appointment | Since his election in April this year, Pope Benedict XVI has created five new saints, reaffirmed the Catholic church's tough line on priestly celibacy and played host to world leaders at the Vatican. Oh, and he's switched tailors. Guess what everyone's talking about? (The Guardian, London)
  • Seven months on, Pope keeps aides guessing | The German Pope has kept even some of his closest collaborators guessing about the decisions he may take (Reuters)
  • Iraqi president meets Pope Benedict XVI | Benedict met with Iraq's foreign minister in August and discussed religious freedom in Iraq and the country's constitution (Associated Press)
  • Pope urges better dialogue with Lutherans | Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that ecumenical talks with Lutherans had run into new challenges and called for greater efforts at dialogue in the years before the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation (Associated Press)
  • Catholic magazine apologizes for naked rear | One of Italy's most popular magazines, the wholesome Famiglia Cristiana weekly, will apologize to its readers for printing an advertisement which showed a woman's naked bottom, the magazine said Tuesday (Reuters)
  • Abbey with only 14 monks may be sold off | An internationally known community of Benedictine monks is abandoning its imposing modern abbey in the Cotswolds because of declining numbers (The Telegraph, London)

Missions & ministry:

  • Labor dept. awarding $20M to aid ex-cons | Job training and placement, mentoring and counseling are among the types of services that religious and community groups will provide to nonviolent ex-offenders (Associated Press)
  • Festival unites some churches | Others prefer to keep their distance from Franklin Graham's event (The Shreveport Times, La.)


  • Personal values can serve as tonic to relieve stress | Thoughts about God, deep personal convictions and social values -- it does a body good. Literally (The Washington Times)
  • Wars! Earthquakes! Pestilence! | With an eye on the news, some rapture-believing Christians are saying time is short (The Oregonian)
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  • The folly of prayer for prayer's sake | The significant thing about prayer is not that we pray, but who we pray to, what we pray for, and why we think our prayers have a chance of being heard and granted. In other words, prayer can only be understood as a part of religion (Adam Kirsch, The New York Sun)
  • Latter-day pilgrims find peace at an ancient shrine | English society has rarely been as materialist as it is at present, but the popularity of a destination for Anglican pilgrims offers something of a contrast (The New York Times)
  • Science and religion share fascination in things unseen | Most of the current controversies associated with science revolve around the vastly different reactions people have to those features of the universe we cannot observe (The New York Times)


  • Pastor's electrocution death ruled accidental | Further investigation regarding the cause of the electrocution will be carried out by an independent investigation agency, not the city (Waco Tribune-Herald)
  • Camilla can never be Queen, former Archbishop tells Prince | The Prince of Wales will return to Britain to a warning from a leading figure in the Church of England that his civil marriage will disqualify his wife from becoming Queen (The Times, London)


  • 5 cases of polio in Amish group raise new fears | Polio is stealing through a tiny Amish community in central Minnesota, spreading from an 8-month-old girl to four children (The New York Times)
  • A physician's challenge: cancer surgery, but 'no blood' | What is a doctor's primary obligation: to the morals of the profession - save lives - or to a patient's beliefs? (The New York Times)


  • Bible at light speed | For those on the go, a super-fast way to read the holy book (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)
  • The new faces of chastity | For Lauren Winner and Anna Broadway, married sex is the only sex (The Village Voice)
  • Gary Hart tackles divine view in politics | In his new book, "God and Caesar in America: An Essay on Religion and Politics," he shows he can quote Scripture with the best of them, and he gets downright biblical with politicians who campaign on vague values platforms (Diane Carman, The Denver Post)
  • Simpsons gospel earns author a coveted invite | Mark Pinsky gets to sit in on a read-through (PW Religion Bookline)
  • Zondervan launches new iPod Bible | In a move being billed as "twenty-first century technology meets a 2,000-year-old book," Zondervan will release a TNIV Bible designed specifically for the iPod in February. The TNIV Audio Bible for iPod will be the first audio Bible available in Apple retail stores. It will also be sold through Christian and general market bookstores and other retail outlets (PW Religion Bookline)
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  • 'Purpose-Driven Life' author to speak here Friday | Episcopal eyebrows were raised about Dr. Warren's appearance at a conference for Anglicans unhappy with the Episcopal Church's decision to accept an actively gay bishop (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


  • Chronicling C.S. Lewis | An interview with Douglas Gresham (The Washington Times)
  • God meets mammon—a Disney fantasy come true | Big gamble on Narnia hopes to tap secular and religious markets (The Guardian, London)
  • How Narnia opened a new door for Disney | Disney wants its CS Lewis movie to be the next 'Lord of the Rings' - which is why it is eagerly courting the Christian lobby (The Telegraph, London)
  • Can Jesus save Hollywood? | From The Passion of the Christ to The Chronicles of Narnia, the Christian audience is making spirits rise (Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic)


  • Television more oversexed than ever, study finds | Teenagers watching television are bombarded with nearly twice as many sex scenes as seven years ago, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (The Washington Post)
  • Delays, low fines weaken FCC attack on indecency | A Washington Post analysis of all 92 known proposed indecency fines shows that the agency's record of policing the airwaves has been undermined by plodding investigations, insufficient fine amounts and inconsistent follow-up (The Washington Post)


  • Christian band denied opportunity to perform | The band Towhee was selected despite a verbal contract between The Ambassadors and the University Activities Board (UAB) said rhythm guitarist and vocalist Jason Seidler of The Ambassadors (The Guardian, Wright State University, Dayton, Oh.)
  • Saints & sinners | Stryper is reborn to reunite the holy and unholy (again) (San Diego Citybeat)
  • Lost: A set of keys, and what a set! | An organ that sang to a tired work force at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn was sent out for repairs (The New York Times)

More articles:

  • A theme park for the Holy Land? | American Evangelicals and Israeli officials plan to unveil this month a $60 million park where Jesus walked (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Putting their faith in a trust | To the last four Shakers, their idyllic Maine village is sacred soil. Their religion may not survive them, but now their land will (Los Angeles Times)
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  • A powerful and thrilling act of heresy | Charles Spencer reviews Paul at the National's Cottesloe Theatre (The Telegraph, London)
  • Religion news in brief | All Presbyterian seminary presidents endorse proposal on overcoming gay disputes; Conservative chosen to lead Canadian Anglican province; Southern Baptists' 10.5 million emergency meals breaks a record; and other stories (Associated Press)

Related Elsewhere:

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October 31 | 27 | 24 |
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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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