It has been a good week—if you're a Gnostic. Most recently, Gnosticism popularizer Dan Brown won his case. Though if the case had gone the other way, other Gnosticism proponents would have won, too. Meanwhile, newspapers are proclaiming the newly released Gospel of Judas as a "fifth gospel" that truly "gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him." Like the "insight" that Jesus and Judas both agreed with third-century Gnosticism a lot more than either agreed with first-century Judaism or orthodox Christianity. One of the best takes on the news is an op-ed in The New York Sun by Bruce Chilton—a member of the highly unorthodox Jesus Seminar.

Then there's word that most Americans hold a lot of Gnostic beliefs, too: 54 percent do not believe that "after you die, your physical body will be resurrected someday." Only 59 percent of "born again" Christians believe it—though the doctrine has always been an important part of orthodox Christianity and is in both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed.

Maybe Judas was in on the Sea of Galilee hoax that Jesus is now considered to have pulled on the disciples. An article in the Journal of Paleolimnology suggests that Jesus was able to walk on the water because parts of it had iced over. (It's a creative nice idea unless you've actually read the biblical passage.) Other science news this week is mixed: One study says prayer doesn't help you recover from illness (it may even make things worse), while another study says churchgoing helps you live longer. Then there are two news items on the evolution front, both of which are being promoted as serious blows to the anti-Darwinist crowd. The anti-Darwinists aren't convinced.

On further consideration, it seems like probably been a better week for hyperbole, overstatement, and not-quite-getting-it than it has been for Gnosticism.

Since we've been too busy to post Weblog items this week, there are of course dozens of important stories listed below. A few not to miss: Evangelicals discuss the immigration debate. Jack Abramoff tried to convince Sudanese officials that he could get conservative Christians off their backs. Evangelicals are turning their backs on Tom DeLay—and perhaps the Republican Party. John McCain embraces Jerry Falwell, whom he had called an "agent of intolerance" a few years ago. Michael Newdow's anti-Pledge crusade is returning. The Episcopal Church may make a U-turn (or perhaps more of a j-turn) on gay bishops. Afghanistan is on edge after the release of Abdul Rahman. Pakistan is on edge after a spate of church attacks. Alabama is on edge after a fresh church attack, too.

Gospel of Judas | Da Vinci Code | Bible and theology | Jesus walking on water | Churchgoers live longer | Prayer study | Prayer in schools | Religious literature in schools | Education | Christian and Muslims learning together | Evolution | Higher Education | Vagina Monologues at Notre Dame | Pornography | Homosexuality | Anglicanism and homosexuality | San Francisco vs. Catholics | Church and state | Wisconsin suit over donations | Boy Scouts | Tax law | Politics | Religious left | Immigration | Environment | John McCain and Jerry Falwell | Tom DeLay | Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed | A promotion for Gerry Boykin? | Military | War and terrorism | Persecution | Afghanistan | Pakistan | India | Indonesia | Sudan | Christians United for Israel | China | Pope Benedict XVI | Pope John Paul II | Catholicism | Church life | Church buildings | United Church of Christ | TV, film, and theater | Music | Radio | Books | History | Money and business | Missions & ministry | Mennonites after the storm | Life ethics | Abortion | Premature babies feel pain | AIDS and HIV | Abuse | Crime | Morality | People | Other stories of interest
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Gospel of Judas:

  1. The lost gospel | Was Judas innocent? (National Geographic)

  2. Ancient text shows a different Judas | Religious and lay readers alike will debate the meaning and truth of the manuscript (Associated Press)

  3. In ancient document, Judas, minus the betrayal | A 1,700-year-old manuscript of the Gospel of Judas portrays Judas Iscariot as Jesus' favored disciple and willing collaborator (The New York Times)

  4. Earlier version: 'Gospel of Judas' surfaces after 1,700 years | The text gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him, scholars reported today (The New York Times)

  5. Document is genuine, but is its story true? | The real debate over the Gospel of Judas will be whether it says anything historically legitimate about Jesus (The New York Times)

  6. 'Gospel of Judas' offers contrarian view of Jesus | Controversial manuscript authenticated as early Christian writing (MSNBC)

  7. The lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot? | Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John make up the four accepted Gospels of the Christian New Testament. Now a new gospel has been unveiled by the National Geographic Society -- one that focuses on the story of Judas Iscariot (Day to Day, NPR)

  8. Newly translated gospel offers more positive portrayal of Judas | Manuscript says that the most reviled villain in Christian history was simply doing his master's bidding when he betrayed Jesus (The Washington Post)

  9. Judas is no traitor in long-lost gospel | A document from the year 300 portrays him as Jesus' closest friend, who carried out the betrayal only because Christ asked him to (Los Angeles Times)

  10. A new Judas emerges from rediscovered gospel | The Gospel of Judas, which offers a radically different account of Jesus Christ's message and of his betrayal by one of his disciples, has been recovered, authenticated, and translated from Coptic into English after being lost for more than 1,600 years (The Boston Globe)

  11. History of Christianity: The Gospel according to Judas | Yesterday, a 62-page codex, written from the point of view of the man who betrayed Christ and said to date from the 3rd or 4th century, was unveiled in Washington. A seismic moment for the Christian church? (The Independent, London)

  12. Judas: this is what really happened | Thanks to a newly discovered gospel in Judas's name, we now know what his excuse was: Jesus made me do it (The Guardian, London)

  13. The Judas gospel | An ancient manuscript paints Judas Iscariot not as Christ's betrayer but as his favorite disciple (Chicago Tribune)

  14. Arguments begin about significance of Judas text | Early writings not included in Bible describe a far more diverse early Christianity (Houston Chronicle)

  15. Long-lost gospel of Judas recasts 'traitor' | Some theologians, biblical scholars and pastors say this contrary text is not truly "good news" (the meaning of "gospel") and will make no difference to believers as Easter approaches (USA Today)

  16. Did Jesus ask Judas to betray him? | Discovery of 'Gospel of Judas' Raises Questions (Primetime, ABC News)

  17. 'Gospel' offers radical new perspective on Judas | The discovery and translation of a document lost for 1,700 years sheds new light on one of history's most notorious characters -- Judas Iscariot (All Things Considered, NPR)

  18. Ancient text shows Judas in a different light | For much of the history of Christianity the popular belief has been that Judas betrayed Jesus. But the translation of the Gospel of Judas made public by National Geographic Society tells a different story (Morning Edition, NPR)

  19. 'Gospel of Judas' called an authentic fabrication | Despite the careful work by scholars that has gone into a document of obvious interest, I have to express disappointment when I see National Geographic stoop so low into hyperbole as to distort the significance of this discovery (Bruce Chilton, The New York Sun)

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  1. Gospel of Judas is a revelation | Manuscript suggests apostle unfairly vilified (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.)

  2. Fascinating stuff, but 100 years too late | The Gospel of Judas is an interesting document but it will not be changing the way in which historians, scholars or ordinary Christians understand their faith. (John Pritchard, The Times, London)

  3. New testament: Judas redeemed | A fifth gospel challenges one of the basic Christian beliefs (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  4. Not so secret gospels | There is nothing very revolutionary or scandalous in itself about another new gospel turning up (BBC)

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Da Vinci Code:

  1. Judge clears 'Da Vinci Code' author | A London judge ruled today that Dan Brown did not steal the idea for his stratospherically successful thriller (The New York Times)

  2. Judge rules in favor of 'Da Vinci' writer | A judge ruled Friday that mega-selling author Dan Brown did not steal ideas for "The Da Vinci Code" from a nonfiction work, ending the suspense about the case with an ultimately unsurprising decision (Associated Press)

  3. "Da Vinci" fever hits TV sales market | Videos, TV specials abound (Reuters)

  4. Da Vinci Code is fantasy, says Holy Grail author | On the eve of a judge's ruling as to whether Dan Brown was a plagiarist in writing The Da Vinci Code, a key figure in the affair, the hitherto mysterious Henry Lincoln, scorned the best-selling novelist for producing a "ridiculous" work yesterday (The Telegraph, London)

  5. Korean Christians mobilize against 'Da Vinci Code' movie | The Christian Council of Korea applied for a provisional disposition to the Seoul District Court Friday, asking the court to bar Sony Pictures, the film's Korean distributor, from releasing the film which is scheduled for a worldwide release in May (Chosun Ilbo, South Korea)

  6. Jesus: The coverup | Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the source for The Da Vinci Code, is a masterwork of paranoid pseudohistory. Now its author is back, arguing that Jesus faked his own death and ran off with Mary Magdelene. Verily, there's a sucker born every minute (Laura Miller, Salon.com)

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Bible and theology:

  1. Poll: Most don't believe in body's resurrection | The findings of a new Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll surprised and dismayed some of the nation's top theologians since it seems to put Americans in conflict with both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed, ancient statements of faith meant to unify Christian belief (Scripps Howard News Service)

  2. 'Experience' the Bible | More than 80 black celebrities reading, singing and composing music for The Bible Experience, a new 70-hour Genesis-through-Revelation dramatic audio performance of the Scriptures (USA Today)

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Jesus walking on water:

  1. A cold, hard explanation for a biblical feat | Ice on the Sea of Galilee could provide a scientific explanation for how Jesus walked on water (The New York Times)

  2. Scientist: Jesus may have walked on ice | Jesus walked on water, according to the Bible, but a Florida State University professor says he may have actually walked on a hard-to-see patch of ice (Associated Press)

  3. Floating ice may explain how Jesus walked on water, researchers say | In addition to chilly weather, their explanation depends on a rare physical property of the Sea of Galilee, known to modern-day Israelis as Lake Kinneret (The Washington Post)

  4. Jesus was walking on thin ice, claim scientists | Jesus may have appeared to be walking on water when he was actually floating on a thin layer of ice, formed by a rare combination of weather and water conditions on the Sea of Galilee, according to a team of US and Israeli scientists (The Guardian, London)

  5. Article: Is there a paleolimnological explanation for 'walking on water' in the Sea of Galilee? (Journal of Paleolimnology)

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Churchgoers live longer:

  1. Churchgoers live longer | There are many things you can do to increase your life expectancy: exercise, eat well, take your medication and … go to church (LiveScience.com)

  2. Going to church may extend life | Weekly religious attendance could add years to your life, according to a medical study carried out in the US (BBC)

  3. Churchgoing correlated to longevity | Take two prayers and call me in the morning: Churchgoers live longer, according to Dr. Daniel Hall, a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center physician who analyzed actuarial death rates and found that weekly worship service attendance could add up to three years to a person's life (The Washington Times)

  4. Going to church may help you live longer | Added years similar to gains from exercise (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  5. Study: Religious attendance: More cost-effective than Lipitor? | A recent meta-analysis demonstrates a robust but small association between weekly religious attendance and longer life. However, the practical significance of this finding remains controversial (The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine)

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Prayer study:

  1. If you want to get better - don't say a little prayer | The largest scientific study into the health effects of prayer seems to suggest it may make matters worse (The Guardian, London)

  2. Amen corner | No scientific study is likely to stop people from praying for those who are ill, or stop the sick from offering up prayers for their own good health. To which we say, Amen (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)

  3. The deity in the data | What the latest prayer study tells us about God (William Saletan, Slate)

  4. Christianity predicts a negative result | For Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne, the results of the latest prayer study came as little surprise (Science & Theology News)

  5. Arm-twisting with the almighty | Prayer's experimentation through the years has not served to negate its value to patients (David G. Myers, Science & Theology News)

  6. More proof that science, religion don't mix | Inside the paper's religion section (Jeffrey Weiss, The Dallas Morning News)

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Prayer in schools:

  1. Louisiana House backs private prayer bill | A House committee backed legislation Thursday that would allow school boards to meet secretly so they could pray before their public meetings (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)

  2. Missouri House advances school-prayer proposal | The Missouri House gave initial approval Wednesday to a resolution that supporters hope will leave no doubt that children are entitled to offer private, voluntary prayer in school (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  3. Also: House backs constitutional amendment on school prayer (Associated Press)

  4. Also: House passes prayer bill | Faith is under attack, sponsor says (The Kansas City Star)

  5. DeValls Bluff district ruled in contempt of prayer ban | The DeValls Bluff School District was in contempt of a 2002 federal judge's order prohibiting its employees or directors from orchestrating or supervising prayers at school graduation or baccalaureate ceremonies, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled Tuesday (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

  6. Also: 8th Circuit sides with ex-teacher in graduation-prayer dispute | Court rejects Arkansas school district's arguments that baccalaureate ceremony was student-organized event (Associated Press)

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Religious literature in schools:

  1. School board okays religious distribution | The Brunswick County Board of Education on Tuesday night approved 3-2 a the first reading of policy allowing non-school-related "books and periodicals" including religious literature to be made available to high school students (The Brunswick Beacon, Shallotte, N.C.)

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  1. Brunswick County schools to allow religious handouts | The Brunswick County school board waved off the threat of legal action Tuesday and voted to allow Bibles and other religious material to be handed out in high schools (Wilmington Star News, N.C.)

  2. Brunswick Bible standoff | Opponents hope to persuade board to change policy on religious books (Wilmington Star News, N.C.)

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Education:

  1. District to revamp its policy on religion | It's okay to sing about Christ during Christmas (North County Times, San Diego)

  2. Program on vouchers draws minority support | Strong participation in the program shows how school-choice programs are winning over minority parents (The New York Times)

  3. No more faith schools, says education chief | A Church of Scotland minister and education leader has sparked fury by calling for no more faith schools to be set up in Scotland (The Scotsman)

  4. Executive funds abstinence programmes in Catholic schools | A new abstinence programme to be introduced in Catholic Schools has raised fears that the Scottish Executive is planning a two-tier sex education system (Sunday Herald, Glasgow)

  5. Curb influence of religions in schools, says National Union of Teachers | Britain's biggest teaching union warned yesterday that religious fundamentalists were gaining control of state schools—predominantly through the government's city academy program—and some private businesses had too much influence over the curriculum (The Guardian, London)

  6. Also: Attack on school 'fundamentalism' | There is "enormous concern" among teachers and parents at the influence of some religious "fundamentalists" on education, a union leader says (BBC)

  7. Deputy dismisses eradication of religious education from schools | Pro-government parliamentarian Luis Acuña, president of the National Assembly Education, Culture and Sports Committee, once again stated that "religious education will not be eliminated from schools," in response to Jorge Cardinal Urosa Savino's claims on Sunday that "God should not be expelled from schools." (El Universal, Venezuela)

  8. Uganda govt proposes to integrate religious values in curriculum | Reaction is mixed (New Vision, Uganda)

  9. Genesis in Georgia | Perhaps the ultimate test for the Georgia Legislature is whether it would consider courses on other great classical texts of world literature, such as the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  10. Playing to the Puritans | Conclusive proof that youthful dalliances with "Grease" and Arthur Miller will not turn students into lowlife reprobates (Marc Acito, The New York Times)

  11. Schools and religion do mix | When the dangerous work of free Bible give-aways in schools starts making front-page news ahead of the opening of the House of Commons, or any great variety of world issues, it's a pretty clear sign that Canadians have a poor understanding of what the word "secular" means in our country, and how it applies to our schools (Lorna Dueck, The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

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Christian and Muslims learning together:

  1. Indian Islamic schools offer lesson in harmony | Tens of thousands of Hindu and Christian students in the state of West Bengal now attending madrasas, considered breeding grounds for religious intolerance and even terrorism in much of Asia (Reuters)

  2. A new faith at Catholic colleges | Several schools attracting Muslims (Inside Higher Ed)

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Evolution:

  1. Two new discoveries answer big questions in evolution theory | Two extraordinary discoveries announced this week should go a long way to providing even more of the evidence that critics of evolution say is lacking (Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal)

  2. Intelligent Design supporters say idea in 'infancy', but gaining | Biologists disagree (Associated Press)

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  1. Evolution debate shifts to textbooks | S.C. House panel votes for emphasis on 'critical thinking and analysis' (The State, Columbia, S.C.)

  2. McGill challenges federal agency's denial of funding for evolution research | McGill University wants a federal agency to review its decision to deny funding to a research project examining how intelligent design theory is being accepted in Canada (Canadian Press)

  3. Claims against NSF in Berkeley evolution website suit dismissed | After dismissing for lack of standing a suit against the University of California, Berkeley, claiming that its website "Understanding Evolution" promoted religion, a San Francisco federal district court has, in a second opinion, similarly dismissed claims against the other defendant in the case, the National Science Foundation (Religion Clause)

  4. 'Dr. Doom' under siege | Why are intelligent design proponents going after a respected U. of Texas environmental scientist? (Inside Higher Ed)

  5. Scientific curiosity | Tiktaalik will add to the problems of strict creationists, who believe the world was created by God quickly, and not so very long ago. But there's still plenty of room for respectful coexistence between those who believe that evolution is a gift of God and those who believe it is a rational and replicable scientific theory (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  6. Trapped in the creationist briar patch | It is ludicrous to suggest that promoting Darwinism helps the intelligent design lobby (Daniel Dennett, The Guardian, London)

  7. Fossil reasoning | In discussions of evolution, some counterarguments aren't fit to survive (David P. Barash, The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  8. Latest fossil find "no threat" to theory of Intelligent Design | "Intelligent design does not so much challenge whether evolution occurred but how it occurred. In particular, it questions whether purposeless material processes--as opposed to intelligence--can create biological complexity and diversity (William Dembski, Discovery Institute)

  9. Debating the controversy that doesn't exist | Like nearly all national science organizations, the AAAS has repeatedly insisted that there is no scientific controversy about intelligent design. That must explain why Science this week will publish two scientific articles taking positions on the controversy. The one that doesn't exist (Paul Nelson, ID the Future)

  10. The lamest attempt yet to answer the challenge irreducible complexity poses for Darwinian evolution | he fact that this extremely modest and substantially irrelevant study is ballyhooed with press releases, a commentary in Science by Christoph Adami, and forthcoming stories in the mainstream media, demonstrates the great anxiety some folks feel about intelligent design (Michael Behe, ID the Future)

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Higher Education:

  1. In religion studies, universities bend to views of faithful | Scholar of Mormon history, expelled from church, hits a wall in job search (The Wall Street Journal)

  2. Bill eases university clubs' bias curbs | University clubs could discriminate against gays or people not of their religion and still get public funding under a proposed law given tentative House approval Wednesday (Arizona Daily Star)

  3. Being Christian and gay aren't at odds, group says | The Soulforce Equality Ride stops in Riverside to challenge Baptist students' thinking about sexual orientation (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Also: Conservative colleges visited by gay Christians | Response differs strongly as group buses across nation (San Francisco Chronicle)

  5. Fund boosts minorities at seminaries | At least one-third of the nation's seminaries have the same demographics as an all-white country club (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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  1. Baptists may try to oust Belmont board for control | 5-month dispute centers on naming non-Baptists as school trustees (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  2. Belmont's board should reflect campus' diversity | Belmont's first priority should be to create a dynamic, welcoming educational environment (Editorial, The Tennessean)

  3. New tenor on tenure | Baylor can't shake faculty flirtations with secularism (Gene Edward Veith, World)

  4. Implosion at Baylor U | School may be lost without a meaningful religious identity (Joseph Bottum, The Dallas Morning News)

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Vagina Monologues at Notre Dame:

  1. ND discourse ends; 'Monologues' allowed | Jenkins will not ban performances or gay film festival (South Bend Tribune, Ind.)

  2. ND's Jenkins shares thoughts behind 'Monologues' decision | An interview with the president (South Bend Tribune, Ind.)

  3. Notre Dame's president allows 'Monologues' and gay films | The president of the Roman Catholic university had questioned the appropriateness of a gay film festival and the play "Vagina Monologues" (The New York Times)

  4. The 'Vagina Monologues' test | Notre Dame announcement reflects how a play has become unlikely measure of academic freedom at Catholic colleges (Inside Higher Ed)

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Pornography:

  1. A setback for anti-porn pastors | Their Corona-based ministry wanted to put 'Jesus Loves Porn Stars' on Bible covers. No way, said a publisher (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Activists lament porn's move to mainstream | A cadre of anti-porn activists seeks new tactics to fight an unprecedented deluge of porn which they see as wrecking countless marriages and warping human sexuality (Associated Press)

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Homosexuality:

  1. California faces battle over gays in textbooks | California school textbooks would highlight the role gays have played in the history of the nation's most populous state if a new proposal that has angered conservatives passes the state Legislature (Reuters)

  2. U.S. Catholic Bishops' president wants action on marriage amendment | Writing at the request of the administrative committee of the bishops' conference, Skylstad asked bishops and people in their diocese to take an active role in the support of an amendment, which is likely to be reconsidered in June by the U.S. Senate (Religion News Service)

  3. Same-sex marriage lands before court | One judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel appeared unmoved Tuesday, and two others said the case could die on procedural grounds (Associated Press)

  4. 'Nothing else measures up' | Supporters say marriage carries unparalleled power in our society and the time has come to allow same-sex couples to wed. Opponents say it would destroy the concept of family (The Providence Journal, R.I.)

  5. Gay marriage advocates battle in courts | As gay marriage advocates battle through the courts for the legal right to wed, a split has emerged over the best strategy to win (Associated Press)

  6. Gay marriage battles loom across US | Citing polling that suggests opposition to same-sex marriages is receding, gay rights advocates expressed confidence on Friday that such weddings would spread, despite a ruling by Massachusetts' highest court that bars homosexuals from other states from marrying there. (Reuters)

  7. Gay marriage case now before the court | Eight homosexual couples have sued the state, charging that Connecticut has denied them marriage rights (The New York Times)

  8. Feingold says he supports gay marriage | Sen. Russ Feingold, a potential presidential candidate, said Tuesday he supports giving gays and lesbians the right to marry, again positioning himself to the left of possible 2008 rivals (Associated Press)

  9. Marriage rites and wrongs | The Legislature should repeal the 1913 statute and leave other states to enforce their own laws against same-sex marriage (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

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  1. How to end the same-sex marriage debate | Stop using the word "marriage" in government licensing laws in favor of the more relevant term "civil union." (Jonathan Turley, USA Today)

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Anglicanism and homosexuality:

  1. Episcopal panel seeks slowdown on new gay leaders | Church to be urged to repent for electing Gene Robinson (San Francisco Chronicle)

  2. Episcopalians consider freeze on gay bishops | U.S. Episcopal leaders will try to safeguard their membership in the worldwide Anglican Communion by holding back, at least until 2008, on electing new homosexual bishops and on allowing same-sex unions, according to two Episcopal bishops (The Washington Times)

  3. US bishops set for U-turn on gay 'marriages' | The liberal leadership of the American Anglican Church is preparing for an unexpected climb-down over homosexuality which could save the worldwide Church from schism (The Telegraph, London)

  4. Episcopal Church report to address gay issues | The U.S. Episcopal Church may be asked by a special internal commission to avoid electing more gay bishops and repent for the turmoil caused by the one it chose in 2003, according to published reports and remarks from church figures (Reuters)

  5. Beyond 'regret' | U.S. Episcopalians battle over worldwide call to repentance (World)

  6. Muslims back Orombi | The Muslim community has joined Church of Uganda Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi to condemn former Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo's pro-gay stance (New Vision, Uganda)

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San Francisco vs. Catholics:

  1. Catholic group sues San Francisco over gay adoption remarks | A Catholic civil rights group sued the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for allegedly violating the separation of church and state by criticizing the Roman Catholic Church's position on adoption by gay couples (Associated Press)

  2. Catholics sue supervisors over resolution | Comparing the Board of Supervisors to the Ku Klux Klan, a Catholic group and two city residents filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming Catholics' constitutional rights were violated when the board passed a strongly worded resolution condemning a church official for prohibiting Catholic Charities adoptions by same-sex couples in the Bay Area (San Francisco Examiner)

  3. Loony S.F. bids adieu to Catholics | The new anti-Catholic resolution of the Board of Supervisors reads like an invitation for all Roman Catholics to leave the city (John Leo, U.S. News & World Report)

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Church and state:

  1. Attorney renews fight against 'under God' in pledge | Another Supreme Court test seems likely for Michael Newdow (The Kansas City Star)

  2. School is told to restore 'Jesus' bricks | A federal judge has ordered a public high school to return bricks inscribed with Christian messages to a walkway, concluding their removal violated the free speech rights of the people who paid for them (Associated Press)

  3. Church still not in the clear? | An attorney for a church that escaped eminent domain last week believes the city's Redevelopment Agency Board still has its sights set on seizing the Central Long Beach property (Long Beach Press-Telegram, Ca.)

  4. Christian camp sues state over restrictions on raft trips | Five years ago, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said the trips couldn't continue unless the nonprofit Christian camp hired private river guides at a cost of $30,000 per summer. Meanwhile, the department allows others, including inexperienced rafters, on the river without guides (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  5. Sayre: Exempt churches | Lawmaker to propose legislation to keep MWCD from assessing some entities (Times Reporter, Dover, Oh.)

  6. Churches lead safety push | Church potlucks have withstood the test of time and unrecognizable food. However, state mandates are making the tradition harder to swallow (The Saginaw News, Mi.)

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  1. Fiji's military commander spots evil in Methodist Church | Fiji's military commander says the country has become a deceitful and corrupt society and evil has found its way into the country's biggest religious body - the Methodist Church (Radio New Zealand)

  2. Judge backs Freemasons' role | A High Court judge said that "Freemasonry is not a religion" and that although members of the order agreed to give "succour" to "brother Masons", they were subject to the "uncompromising and clear" principle that they must pay "due obedience" to the laws of the land (The Times, London)

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Wisconsin suit over donations:

  1. Faith groups sue state's donor plan | Religious bias kept them off recipient list, they say (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

  2. Doyle says state should review standards for charity program | Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle called for a review Thursday of standards used to determine whether charities can participate in a state-run program allowing employees to automatically donate part of their paychecks (Associated Press)

  3. Religious groups file bias lawsuit | Religious groups claim in a lawsuit against Wisconsin state officials that they are being wrongly excluded from a program that allows state employees to make payroll deductions to charities (Associated Press)

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Boy Scouts:

  1. ACLU suit challenges U.S. funding for Jamboree | A civil liberties group is going to court today to try to end the National Boy Scout Jamboree, held every four years at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, arguing that the Defense Department's financial support of the event violates the separation of church and state (The Washington Post)

  2. Virginia takes Scouts' side in suit | State Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell is backing the Defense Department's effort to overturn a court ruling that severs financial ties between the military and the Boy Scouts of America (The Washington Times)

  3. Gov't wants Boy Scout ruling overturned | The Defense Department wants to continue supporting the decades-old National Boy Scout Jamboree because preparing a military base for the event trains soldiers how to deal with displaced people, government attorneys said Thursday (Associated Press)

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Tax law:

  1. Church group calls IRS unfair on political violations of tax code | Religious leaders accused the agency of ignoring complaints that two large churches in Ohio are engaging in political activities, in violation of the tax code (The New York Times)

  2. Gay marriage debate began frequent meetings by Blackwell, pastors | A group of liberal religious leaders who filed the Jan. 15 complaint planned Thursday to announce a second complaint against Johnson and Parsley, alleging they continue to improperly promote Blackwell's candidacy for governor (Associated Press)

  3. Senate takes a hand in Holy Land tax dispute | Sen. Daniel Webster doesn't want the theme park to pay property taxes (The Orlando Sentinel)

  4. Also: Biblical parks may get tax deal | So far, just one attraction in Orlando would benefit from a Senate bill exempting it from local property taxes (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

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Politics:

  1. Exodus of 'values voters'? | Conservative Christians losing faith in GOP to advance their agenda (The Dallas Morning News)

  2. Catholic bishops claim church is under fire at Capitol | Connecticut's three Roman Catholic bishops said Wednesday that they believe their church is under fire in the state legislature, where there have been efforts to require Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception for rape victims (Associated Press)

  3. Church says it wants 'decent people' elected | Fairfield Christian Church, the county's largest, has been accused of using its pulpit to promote the statewide gubernatorial candidacy of Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell (The Columbus Dispatch, Oh.)

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  1. Church groups give Blair respite | Standing ovation greets PM at Christian centre (The Guardian, London)

  2. The religious right shows political might | Pennsylvania's religious right is pumping up its political power in ways that are drawing national attention and could lead to short- and long-term blessings for the Republican Party (John Baer, Philadelphia Daily News)

  3. What war on Christians? | The right is embracing a victimhood cult obsessed with slights toward a group that makes up 85 percent of the American population (Cathy Young, The Boston Globe)

  4. How the GOP became God's Own Party | The Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. history. (Kevin Phillips, The Washington Post)

  5. Theocon moment | Religious conservatives have made great strides -- but for now, at least, they have changed American politics without fundamentally changing America (Ross Douthat, The Wall Street Journal)

  6. A godly third term | The god Nigerians recognise in this matter is the Constitution. It provides for a maximum of two terms of four years each. Any attempt to change it for anyone throws up the same questions President Obasanjo himself asked (Editorial, Vanguard, Nigeria)

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Religious left:

  1. The religious left | It is fruitful and has multiplied (Steven Waldman, Slate)

  2. Taking back the faith | The message of Christianity has been hijacked by neocon Republicans and their henchmen on the religious right. But after years in the wilderness, religious progressives are making a comeback (Dan Wakefield, The Nation)

  3. Looking for salvation in all the wrong places | Progressive religious leaders should be sensitive to the danger that unexamined God-based public policy presents, whether it comes from the right or the left. (Frances Kissling, The Nation)

  4. Bringing God into it | The secular left consistently disarms itself of what could be its most powerful weapon against the religious right: a spiritual vision of the world (Rabbi Michael Lerner, The Nation)

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Immigration:

  1. Letter on immigration deepens split among evangelicals | More than 50 evangelical Christian leaders and organizations voiced their support yesterday for an immigration bill that would allow illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens without returning to their native countries (The Washington Post)

  2. Evangelicals back citizenship for illegals | Six evangelical Christian leaders, citing Scriptures and biblical principles, yesterday embraced a Senate bill that paves the way to citizenship for illegal aliens, saying America needs to welcome immigrants (The Washington Times)

  3. Immigration issues divides evangelicals | Evangelical groups released a letter Wednesday advocating immigration reforms, including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country. But the influential National Association of Evangelicals did not sign it, underscoring divisions among conservative Christians over immigration (Associated Press)

  4. GOP could lose Hispanic evangelicals | Top leaders have a lot riding on immigration (William McKenzie, The Dallas Morning News)

  5. The Catholics: A cardinal's campaign | Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles is speaking out against crackdowns on illegals. How far will his voice carry? (Newsweek)

  6. Cardinal puts church in fight for immigration rights | Cardinal Roger Mahony calls a Senate panel's guest-worker legislation "a good beginning, but we are not stopping now." (The Washington Post)

  7. Mass draws on 'justice for immigrants' program | Cardinal Mahony speaks out against shrill rhetoric as legislators weigh new law. He urges worshipers to be people who do not judge (Los Angeles Times)

  8. Cardinal makes pro-immigrant pitch at Mass | Cardinal Roger Mahony asked Catholics to pray the U.S. Senate passes legislation allowing illegal immigrants to gain citizenship, calling it "one of the most critical weeks in the history of our country" (Associated Press)

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  1. Clergy leading call for humane immigrant laws | In the boiling congressional debate over the future of 12 million undocumented immigrants, a new, critical player has emerged to reshape the arguments and the issue: the nation's churches and religious leaders (San Jose Mercury News, Ca.)

  2. With charity for all | A religious mandate to help illegal immigrants (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)

  3. A 'no truth' zone? | Borders, immigration, and worldview (Charles Colson, Breakpoint, Aug. 22, 2005)

  4. You used to be one | A theology-based policy for immigration (Joel Belz, World)

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Environment:

  1. Turning up the heat | A surprising consensus is transforming the complex politics of global warming (US News & World Report)

  2. Building green makes sense to churches | As ideas of green building grow in the Northwest, the concepts are also starting to take root within the congregations of churches, temples, and other religious gathering spaces (The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.)

  3. Punish, O Lord, those of us who, through our own fault, are ungreen | Friends of the Earth are Elijah's new recruits. Eco-apocalypticism is the new religion (Matthew Parris, The Times, London)

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John McCain and Jerry Falwell:

  1. McCain softens language on Jerry Falwell | Potential presidential candidate John McCain says he longer considers evangelist Jerry Falwell to be one of the "agents of intolerance" that he criticized during a previous White House run. (Associated Press)

  2. McCain's straight-talking image questioned | Recently, he made peace with Jerry Falwell, the controversial evangelist whom he had lumped in with other "agents of intolerance" in a 2000 campaign speech (Associated Press)

  3. Political risk of John McCain's rightward pitch | Expected to run for president in 2008, the longtime maverick is courting social conservatives (The Christian Science Monitor)

  4. John and Jerry | Senator John McCain obviously believes that he can't get the Republican presidential nomination without Mr. Falwell's approval. During the 2000 campaign, Mr. McCain denounced Mr. Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance." But next month Mr. McCain will be a commencement speaker at Liberty University, which Mr. Falwell founded. (Paul Krugman, The New York Times)

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Tom DeLay:

  1. Can DeLay keep his clout among evangelicals? | His legal woes trouble some; leaving Congress may weaken his impact (The Dallas Morning News)

  2. DeLay's troubles expose rift among evangelicals | "The War on Christians Conference" organizer Rick Scarborough, a former Baptist preacher, says his decision to invite DeLay triggered plenty of complaints from evangelical Christians disillusioned by the former House majority leader's alleged misdeeds (U.S. News & World Report)

  3. Conservatives wonder how to fill hole left by DeLay | Several conservative leaders called Representative Tom DeLay's departure both a setback and a warning for their movement (The New York Times)

  4. Our pious Babylon | DeLay's apparently is the most obliging of Lords (Harold Meyerson, The Washington Post)

  5. DeLay -- a victim of excess | Blame it on the vast anti-Christian conspiracy. That was the explanation offered by U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas and his supporters last week for the whirlpool of legal difficulties that finally led the ex-leader of the Republicans in Congress to admit it was time to call it quits (Robert Scheer, San Francisco Chronicle)

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Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed:

  1. Abramoff offered to aid Sudan, envoy says | The former lobbyist sought millions to help the sanctioned nation clean up its image, the country's ambassador and an ex-associate say (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. The devil inside | Falsehoods, fudges and outright lies have defined Ralph Reed's career. Tarnished by the Abramoff scandal, he's betting his political future on the tendency of the religious right to see no evil in its leaders. (Bob Moser, The Nation)

  2. Will Ralph Reed crap out? | The one-time golden boy of the Christian right did the bidding of Abramoff's casino clients. Will the unholy alliance be his undoing? (Michael Scherer, Salon.com)

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A promotion for Gerry Boykin?:

  1. Allen's letter touting general stirs up religion, politics | His career apparently stalled after superiors chided him for casting the war on terrorism in religious terms , Army Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin on Tuesday was caught up in a campaign for the U.S. Senate and a budding contest for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.)

  2. Allen's controversial choice attacked | Sen. George Allen caught some political flak yesterday for backing a controversial Army general to lead the U.S. Special Operations Command (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  3. Senator wants to tap controversial general | Sen. George Allen wants an Army general who drew criticism for church speeches casting the war on terrorism in religious terms to lead the U.S. special operations command (Associated Press)

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Military:

  1. Blue-yonder sensitivity | Buffeted by accusations of religious intolerance, the U.S. Air Force Academy turns to preaching respect for all faiths (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  2. Moore joins Navy chaplain in protest | Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt disobeyed an order to not appear at his news conference in his Navy uniform (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

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War and terrorism:

  1. Italian: Authorities thwart terror attacks | Italian authorities have thwarted planned terrorist attacks against a Bologna church and Milan's subway, the interior minister said Thursday (Associated Press)

  2. Church is melancholy reminder of region's rebellions | A forgotten church on the edge of the notoriously unruly tribal belt of Waziristan serves as a melancholy reminder of the problems facing the Pakistani army in its efforts to hound pro-Taliban forces from the region (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Terrorists or victims? | American law prevents refugees from entering the United States if they provided "material support" to terrorists, even if the support was given under duress (Editorial, The New York Times)

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Persecution:

  1. Algeria forbids efforts to convert its Muslims | The new law calls for sentences of five years in prison and a fine of $70 to $140 for those who try to convert Muslims to another religion (Reuters, via The New York Times)

  2. Ancient Christian sect prays for Turkey to join EU | The 20th century was hard on the Syriacs, bringing religious persecution and economic hardship, but some are confident about their future in a democratic Turkey that aims to join the European Union (Reuters)

  3. Christian Association of Nigeria frowns at lawmakers' non-challance to religious crisis | CAN described the silence of the law makers as "worrisome" saying that it was "seriously worried and disturbed over silence of the legislative bodies on the destruction of Christian lives and property in Nigeria" (Vanguard, Nigeria)

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Afghanistan:

  1. Afghan clerics threaten trouble over convert | Afghan clerics and their followers threatened violence against the government on Sunday over the release of a Christian convert, saying he had to be brought back from Italy and put on trial (Reuters)

  2. Karzai defends release of convert | Afghan President Hamid Karzai defended the release of a Christian convert on Tuesday, saying the judiciary had acted properly and had not been swayed by the international outcry over the case (Reuters)

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  1. Also: Karzai defends handling of convert's case | "This was a sensitive issue for Muslims, but thanks to God, at a time when emotions were running high, the courts weren't influenced by these feelings," Karzai said during an address to court officials in Kabul. "They made their decision and it was the right decision." (Associated Press)

  2. Christians deal with language of martyrdom | Some Christians seem ready to embrace the connotations of "victim" and "hero" that have driven extremist Muslim declarations, with each side portraying the other faith as a persecutor (Associated Press)

  3. An update on Christian persecution | Ambassador John Hanford discusses the case of Abdul Rahman, an Afghani Christian persecuted for his beliefs. The ambassador also provides an update on religious liberty and global Christian persecution (Focus on the Family, audio)

  4. In Afghanistan or America, theocracy and freedom cannot co-exist | Release of Christian convert from Islam reminds us that protection for religious liberty under a secular constitution is the only way to ensure freedom of conscience (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

  5. Why Afghanistan should not have dismissed the apostasy case | The dismissal robs the larger Muslim world of a golden opportunity for religious moderates to challenge an Islam-wide crisis of authority that allows extreme, literalist interpretations of Islamic law to go unchallenged (Jay Tolson, U.S. News & World Report)

  6. Going apostate | How the rest of the world handles apostasy laws (Joseph Loconte, The Weekly Standard)

  7. Apostates from Islam | The case of the Afghan convert is not unique (Paul Marshall, The Weekly Standard)

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Pakistan:

  1. Fifth Pakistan church attacked within two months | Violence is escalating in the country and human rights activists and Christian campaigners are urging the forces of order to guarantee more security to persecuted minorities (AsiaNews.it, Catholic news service)

  2. Christians protest attack on churches | Christians on Sunday protested against the desecration of the Holy Bible and arson attacks on their places of worship in various parts of the country, terming the incidents 'religious terrorism' (Daily Times, Pakistan)

  3. Over 1,500 Christians protest after Bible burned | More than 1,500 Christians protested in Tibba Shomali in Mian Chunnu tehsil against the burning of the Bible and other sacred texts by four Muslims on Tuesday (Daily Times, Pakistan)

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India:

  1. Rajasthan passes anti-conversion bill | Amid a noisy walkout by the Congress-led opposition, the Rajasthan Assembly on Friday passed a bill for prohibition of religious conversion "by use of force, allurement or fraudlent means" (Sify, India)

  2. Also: Rajasthan moves to ban religious conversion | A western Indian state passed a controversial bill on Friday prohibiting religious conversions, bringing renewed focus on an issue that has triggered communal violence and been used as a political tool (Reuters)

  3. Nuns 'preach Christianity', fired | Catholic nuns in a government leprosy hospital in Ahmedabad will no longer be able to serve patients after the Gujarat government refused to renew their contracts (IBN, India)

  4. "Loyal" donkeys better than wives, says textbook | A textbook used at schools in the Indian state of Rajasthan compares housewives to donkeys, and suggests the animals make better companions as they complain less and are more loyal to their "masters," The Times of India reported Tuesday (Reuters)

  5. Earlier: Militants besiege mission in north India | Hindu nationalists crack down on ministry to poor, sick. (Christianity Today, Mar. 17, 2006)

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Indonesia:

  1. Church minister to bring worship dispute to court | His faith in justice has persuaded a charismatic pentecostal minister to go to court over the shutting down of his church on Sunday (The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)

  2. 'Decree on houses of worship violates Constitution' | An interview with Franz Magnis-Suseno, a Catholic scholar and professor at Driyarkara Institute of Philosophy in Jakarta (The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)

  3. Indonesian police move ahead with execution plans | Indonesia police say they have chosen 49 members of the Police Mobile Brigade to form a firing squad to execute three Indonesian Christians (ABC News, Australia)

  4. Poso Three and justice | There is still time to ensure that justice is served, because postponing the executions for just two or three months would not make that much of a difference (Editorial, The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)

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Sudan:

  1. If not peace, then justice | The horrors of Darfur have become the preoccupation of an extraordinary international team of investigators in a plain and quiet Dutch town (The New York Times Magazine)

  2. South Sudanese return home after decade of exile | Despite Garang's death, the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people is the strongest symbol that peace has come to the south, where decades of war have left many areas virtually untouched by modern life (Reuters)

  3. Foreign donors turning backs on Darfur—UNICEF | International donors are turning their backs on Sudan's crisis-torn Darfur region, putting at even greater risk the lives of people who are already victims of conflict and banditry, UNICEF said on Wednesday (Reuters)

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Christians United for Israel:

  1. Christian pro-Israel lobby gets a boost | Televangelist John Hagee's push to launch a Christian pro-Israel grass-roots lobbying organization received the reluctant blessing of Jewish organizational leaders last week (Forward, Jewish newspaper)

  2. New Christian pro-Israel lobby aims to be stronger than AIPAC | Televangelist John Hagee told Jewish community leaders over the weekend that the 40 million evangelical Christians in the United States support Israel and that he plans to utilize this power to help Israel by launching a Christian pro-Israel lobby (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)

  3. New evangelical group could buck promised West Bank pullouts | Pro-Israel group led by leading evangelist Rev. John Hagee will seek to influence U.S.-Mideast policy (The Jewish Week, New York)

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China:

  1. China, Vatican may have ties by Olympics: cardinal | China and the Vatican could re-establish diplomatic relations by the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Cardinal Joseph Zen, the most senior Roman Catholic clergyman in the country, said on Monday. (Reuters)

  2. China, Vatican in contact for restoring ties | Beijing and the Vatican have been in contact for normalizing relations but no date has been set for when it is likely to happen, China's top religious administrator said (People's Daily, China).

  3. Beijing confirms contact with Vatican | Official reiterates 2 pre-conditions for restoration of ties (Zenit)

  4. When atheist Hu meets proudly religious Bush | China appears to be going to great pains to burnish Hu's image and soften its record on religious and human rights (Reuters)

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Pope Benedict XVI:

  1. New pope approaches Islam with caution | Pope Benedict XVI has not strayed much from the policies and ideas of his predecessor, John Paul II. But when it comes to Islam, Benedict takes a much less conciliatory approach (Morning Edition, NPR)

  2. Pope Benedict is very much his own man | The Vatican's German-born chief orthodoxy watchdog has hardly acted like the man saddled with the nickname "God's Rottweiler" (Associated Press)

  3. Pope became priest because of Nazis | Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday he became convinced he should become a priest to help confront what he called the "anti-human culture" of the Nazis in his native Germany (Associated Press)

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  1. Peres says pope considering Israel visit | Pope Benedict XVI is considering visiting Israel in early 2007, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres said Thursday after meeting with the pontiff (Associated Press)

  2. Russian Orthodox says Pope should shed more titles | Papal titles such as "vicar of Jesus Christ" or "sovereign pontiff of the universal Church" were "unacceptable, even scandalous" for the Orthodox, Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev said in a statement published this week on his Web site (Reuters)

  3. Catholic Church takes over pope's house | The Roman Catholic Church said Friday it has taken possession of the house where Pope Benedict XVI was born and will open it to the public (Associated Press)

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Pope John Paul II:

  1. Faithful hold vigil to remember John Paul | Tens of thousands of people clutching candles filled St. Peter's Square on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death with a prayer vigil that culminated with a blessing by the current pontiff. (Associated Press)

  2. Pope Benedict recalls legacy of John Paul | Pope Benedict XVI recalled the legacy and final days of suffering of Pope John Paul II on the first anniversary of his death Sunday, saying the late pope lived out until the very end his mission to guide the Catholic Church. (Associated Press)

  3. John Paul remembered on 1st anniversary of death | Tens of thousands of people from around the world flocked to a candlelight service at the Vatican on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul and pray that he be made a saint soon. (Reuters)

  4. Tens of thousands honor John Paul II | Pilgrims flooded St. Peter's Square today to pay their respects to Pope John Paul II, who died a year ago (The New York Times)

  5. Intercession from the Internet for John Paul's sainthood | The messages arriving in Monsignor Slawomir Oder's inbox are multiplying (Religion News Service)

  6. The road to canonization is paved with humanity | Why John Paul II seems destined to be a saint (James Martin, The New York Times)

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Catholicism:

  1. Profile: Father Michael Seed | Will the genial 'priest to the stars' draw Tony Blair into the Catholic fold? (The Guardian, London)

  2. O'Malley readies a team of his own | Vatican transfers controversial aide (The Boston Globe)

  3. Also: Erikson hopes to heal archdiocese | Cardinal's choice says he brings fresh perspective (The Boston Globe)

  4. Evangelical church to buy former Catholic parish | A Boston-based evangelical church with a membership approaching 7,000 people is spending $3 million to buy a closed Roman Catholic parish in Stoughton to serve worshippers who live outside the city (Associated Press)

  5. Earlier: Boston's quiet revival | Evangelical Christianity thrives in America's most Catholic city, at the heart of cold New England (Christianity Today, Jan. 25)

  6. Separation of church and church | The decision to consolidate four Newton churches into two has come full circle - back to the Archdiocese of Boston (Newton TAB, Mass.)

  7. Virgin's promise to God introduces rare rite here | Cathy Maley became a consecrated virgin living in the world - a laywoman who has committed herself to a life of chastity, prayer and contemplation (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  8. Catholics' civic contribution | Their hospitals, schools, and long-term-care facilities lessen the load on Philadelphia's (Joseph P. Tierney, Philadelphia Inquirer)

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Church life:

  1. Depression hits some preachers' wives | Mary Winkler was the quiet, unassuming wife of a small-town, by-the-Bible preacher, seemingly devoted to church and family. But now her husband, Matthew, is dead and she is charged with shooting him in the back with a shotgun. (Associated Press)

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  1. Gaining a dose of humility, one washed foot at a time | In recent years the practice of foot-washing has grown in popularity as an act of submission, both at Easter season services and in many other settings (The Washington Post)

  2. More churches observing Palm Sunday with fronds | Owner of Alpha Church Supply in Birmingham, said that in addition to Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and other liturgical churches who traditionally observe it, Baptists, Congregationalists, Disciples of Christ, Pentecostals and others now buy palm leaves for Palm Sunday (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  3. For faithful, time change is another test | Later sunsets affect start of services for religions such as Islam and Judaism (The Indianapolis Star)

  4. Florida church members launch Lenten diet | Instead of giving up the usual chocolate or coffee during the Lenten season, members of one Florida church are adding something — exercise (Associated Press)

  5. Black churches lean on obese members | Congregations in L.A. and elsewhere, alarmed at the number of overweight African Americans, offer fitness and nutrition programs (Los Angeles Times)

  6. Kids get the money, pastor gets the goat | "Why am I willing to kiss a goat?" Pastor John asked the 30 or so worshipers in his tiny white clapboard church in Frederick County on Sunday (The Washington Post)

  7. Dance helps churches get in step with God | It could be a page from the club scene, like any date bar on a Friday night. But judge not according to appearance, as the Good Book says (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  8. Star trip | The weird and relentless creep of paganism into the Episcopal Left (Stand Firm)

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Church buildings:

  1. Seeking a ringing endorsement | Reston church awaits new ruling on bells, deemed 'much too loud' (The Washington Post)

  2. Deal close on apartments near cathedral | Critic: "We are witnessing a triumph of corporate capitalism over this great cathedral, which had been set high upon a hill that it not be obscured by corporate and institutional towers" (The New York Times)

  3. Their church shut and now sold, parishioners fight on | From the beginning, adversity threatened the well-being of St. Brigid Church, the cornerstone of an Irish Catholic parish in San Francisco (The New York Times)

  4. Church 'too ugly' for weddings | A church has been branded so ugly by couples planning to tie the knot that it has not held a wedding for nearly six years (The Telegraph, London)

  5. Also: The sad history of 20th-century church design | The Reverend Patrick Okechi has admitted that his building was so ugly it might "ruin someone's special day" (Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, London)

  6. A church is much more than a building | Here's the solution to the problem of the imminent razing of the First Methodist Church on Fifth Avenue and the development of an office tower on the site (Anthony B. Robinson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

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United Church of Christ:

  1. Liberal denomination fires salvos at Right | After years of turning the other cheek, the United Church of Christ, among the most liberal of the mainline Protestant denominations, has recently staked out a more pugnacious stance toward the Christian right (The New York Times)

  2. Anti-rejection ad rejected by networks | A United Church of Christ television commercial espousing a theme of welcoming all people, including same-sex couples, has been rejected by all five broadcast television networks — and generated controversy (The Republic, Columbus, Ind.)

  3. Edgy TV ad reaches out to unchurched | With Easter on the horizon, the United Church of Christ is launching ``Ejector Pew,'' a controversial TV ad that local pastor Kevin Smith hopes will cause some people to check out his church in Almaden Valley -- or one like his. (L.A. Chung, San Jose Mercury News, Ca.)

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  1. Network censorship can't silence church's campaign | We in the UCC are being treated like Martin Luther King Jr. was treated (Ron Buford, San Jose Mercury News, Ca.)

  2. Ejecting from the church | The venerable United Church of Christ embarks on another silly ad campaign certain to thin its ranks still further (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

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TV, film, and theater:

  1. 'Monastery': On-air seekers | A reality show set in a monastery? Sort of (USA Today)

  2. Have schtick, will travel | Shmuley Boteach, an Orthodox rabbi with an unorthodox approach, hits the road in a reality TV show meant to treat the discord in America's families (The Washington Post)

  3. Wal-Mart sells 'Brokeback' amid conservative protest | Christian group accuses the retailer of 'pushing an agenda' by featuring the gay-themed film (Los Angeles Times)

  4. 'Altar Boyz' fans could give lessons to the devout | Though many of the Altarholics, said that they genuinely connected with the show's message — roughly, that everyone needs a group to fit into — they all get the parody, and find it funny (The New York Times)

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Music:

  1. The gospel according to U2 and Bono | The words of Bono are ringing out from pulpits across the United States (The Scotsman)

  2. Religion Today: Changing church licensing | Thousands of churches have moved away from singing hymns to "participatory music" — and that's meant a change in music publishing, too (Associated Press)

  3. Chris Tomlin big winner at Dove Awards | David Crowder was a three-time winner, and Natalie Grant was named top female vocalist (Associated Press)

  4. Also: Chris Tomlin used to giving praise; on this night he gets it | Praise and worship movement proves its strength at GMA Awards (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  5. The man behind the curtain | After 14 years of studio wizardry, the spotlight-shy record producer T Bone Burnett is about to release a new record of his own—and he's even going on tour (Newsweek)

  6. Sister act BarlowGirl shares faith in rock | As three young women in a rock band, the Barlow sisters could easily play up their good looks and play down their Christian beliefs for a shot at mainstream success. But that would make BarlowGirl a lot like the character they sing about in "Five Minutes of Fame" (Associated Press)

  7. Invoking power and the Passion | Barney Zwartz meets a musician whose life's work is dedicated to divine inspiration (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  8. Live-wire Christian Texans return teen-pop's goth-metal favor | A review of Flyleaf's Flyleaf (Village Voice)

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Radio:

  1. Who listens to Christian radio? | Recently, I was surprised to discover that not everyone who listens to Christian radio is a Christian (New York Observer)

  2. Work, faith and a simple request | Now that what was intended to remain an internal matter between me and my employer, WXYZ-TV (Channel 7), has become a public spectacle, it is necessary to set the record straight (Frank Turner, Detroit Free Press)

  3. Also: Turner pushing Channel 7 to allow his radio evangelism | Frank Turner's contract to anchor the news at WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) expires at year's end, the station says. And the likelihood he'll continue much beyond that has been clouded by his new Equal Opportunity Commission filing against the station for enforcing its exclusive contract for his broadcast services (Detroit Free Press)

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Books:

  1. Godless Europe | Michael Burleigh revisits the struggle between church and state, and finds both laden with peril. Mark Lilla reviews Earthly Powers (The New York Times)

  2. 'Gospel' spreads the good news about faith | In his new book, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation, Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham presents a nimble examination of how American leaders — among them Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, FDR and Ronald Reagan — have wrestled with God personally and publicly (USA Today)

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  1. God and the Founders | Battles over faith and freedom may seem never-ending, but a new book, 'American Gospel,' argues that history illuminates how religion can shape the nation without dividing it (Jon Meacham, Newsweek)

  2. American Gospel | Tim Rutten reviews Jon Meacham (Los Angeles Times)

  3. A different kind of celebrity worship | A disconnect between celebrities' words and actions on spirituality. Dawn Eden reviews The God Factor by Cathleen Falsani (The Wall Street Journal)

  4. Spirituality of celebrities revealed | Kathryn Bishop reviews Cathleen Falsani's The God Factor (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)

  5. God in the details | A writer's remembrance of a Christian curriculum. Charlotte Allen reviews My Fundamentalist Education by Christine Rosen (The Weekly Standard)

  6. When Jesus was a Democrat | Jackson Lears reviews Michael Kazin's biography of William Jennings Bryan (The New Republic)

  7. Burning the Republican church | Kevin Phillips needs to conduct more research on American Christians (Patrick Hynes, The American Spectator)

  8. 'Gospel truth' is question for author | Bart Ehrman dissects what he says led to mistakes in the Bible (The Orlando Sentinel)

  9. Lots of C.S. Lewis | Disney's adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in theaters since the holiday season and out on DVD this week, has spawned several new and recent DVDs about all things Narnia (USA Today)

  10. Books offer insights into our faith | CT ethics columnist and book awards judge David Gushee scoops us on our own book awards. What's up with that? (David Gushee, The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

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History:

  1. Exhibit features parts of Dead Sea Scroll | The newly restored scroll segments are on display for the first time (Associated Press)

  2. Christie's halts auction of mosque beams | After word emerged last month that Christie's was going to auction the beams, cathedral officials hired lawyers in London to try to halt the transaction. They welcomed Monday's news from Christie's and said the Roman Catholic Church was the true owner of the beams. (Associated Press)

  3. Great faiths began with a theme: the golden rule | Karen Armstrong, one of the leading British writers on the history of religion, says the golden rule, an elegant concept advanced by sages and prophets from Socrates to Ezekiel, has long been obscured by disputes of "my faith is better than yours" (Los Angeles Times)

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Money and business:

  1. Refusal to support employee group: Religious discrimination? | An Indianapolis employee applied for company support of a new interdenominational Christian employee group. The employer refused, pointing to its guidelines for groups, which specifically exclude any that "promote or advocate particular religious or political positions." Charging that the policy discriminated against his religion, the employee sued (BLR)

  2. 'VeggieTales' off Supreme Court's menu | If there is a moral to the long-running legal duel surrounding "VeggieTales," the popular Bible-themed cartoons featuring Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato, it is this: Get a signed contract (Reuters)

  3. Also: Propeller taps Big Idea roots for expansion (Nashville Business Journal)

  4. Ford shareholders to weigh policy change | Ford Motor Co. shareholders will decide whether to amend the company's equal employment policy to exclude sexual orientation after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission denied Ford's request to keep the issue off its proxy statement, the automaker said Tuesday (Associated Press)

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  1. Finding my religion | An Internet CEO injects his Mennonite values into the workplace (SFGate, San Francisco)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Red Cross to overhaul disaster response | Responding to allegations of waste, the Red Cross said it was moving to standardize financial controls, hire more investigators to review whistleblower complaints and share responsibilities with religious groups in some underserved areas (Associated Press)

  2. A jobs program with a spiritual twist | In Orlando, Fla., single moms, recovering drug addicts and others who need help finding jobs are turning to a worker-training program with a spiritual twist. It teaches lessons in attitude and character. (Morning Edition, NPR, transcript)

  3. Baptists split on praying in 'tongues' | Ban for missionaries draws criticism (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  4. Festival of music, sports, and Christ | Luis Palau comes to town (The Orlando Sentinel)

  5. When it matters, he's there | Pastor brings solace to a tough Albany neighborhood with its share of troubles (Albany Times Union, N.Y.)

  6. A different kind of camp | 80 teens meet for a week to share faiths (The Boston Globe)

  7. Catholic Charities plans to develop 4,000 homes | Many housing units were ruined in storm (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)

  8. Are faith groups better than government at social services? | Readers respond (The Washington Post)

  9. Kenyan state expels three missionaries | The Government has expelled three African Inland Church missionaries from Wajir District, citing security reasons (The East African Standard, Kenya)

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Mennonites after the storm:

  1. Building on faith in a tornado-hit town | Volunteers converge on China Grove, Tenn., to help fellow Mennonites who choose to rely on the goodwill of believers instead of insurance (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Uninsured Mennonites depend on each other | Hours after the winds died down, a crowd of volunteers — men in plain shirts and suspenders, women in bonnets and ankle-length dresses — arrived in this farming community to help fellow Mennonites whose homes and barns were ravaged by twisters (Associated Press)

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Life ethics:

  1. Stem cell, clean air measures signed by Ehrlich | New laws push Maryland into the forefront of the nation on both issues (The Washington Post)

  2. Earlier: Top clerics urge Ehrlich to veto funding bill | Three top Catholic leaders are urging Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to veto legislation allowing for state funding of embryonic stem cell research (The Washington Post)

  3. The birds and the Plan B's | If you thought it was hard figuring out your views on abortion and birth control, get ready to wrap your mind around something in between (William Saletan, The Washington Post)

  4. Costello speaks out against therapeutic cloning | Australian Treasurer: "I don't believe we should create embryos for the purposes of experimentation." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  5. Schiavo is talking point in race for governor | On the first anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death, the debate that her case aroused over the government's role in death is being used by Democrats in the gubernatorial race (The Miami Herald)

  6. Never count out life | Christopher Reeve, Terri Schiavo, and Haleigh Poutre are all very different—different circumstances, different ages, different classes. But they should all make us think about the same question: Shouldn't we always err on the side of life? (Kathryn Jean Lopez, The Washington Times)

  7. We deserve better than Roe | The National Center for Men fires blanks but hits on something (Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online)

  8. Class clones | The pitfalls of horsing around with cloning (Doug Powers, The American Spectator)

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Abortion:

  1. The abortion-rights side invokes God, too | People wearing clerical collars and small crucifixes were wedged at tables laden with muffins, bowing their heads in prayer. Seminarians were welcomed. Scripture was cited. But the name of the sponsor cast everything in a new light: the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. (The New York Times)

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  1. Some doctors voice worry over abortion pills' safety | In the wake of reports that two more women had died after using abortion pills, some doctors say they are becoming uneasy about prescribing them (The New York Times)

  2. Kan. abortion foes petition for grand jury | Abortion foes are invoking a seldom-used Kansas law to try to force a grand jury to investigate the case of a mentally retarded woman who died after receiving a late-term abortion (Associated Press)

  3. Battle for the moral ground | Few issues are more contentious in America than abortion. South Dakota has already outlawed it and 11 more states now want to follow suit. Carole Cadwalladr entered the battlefield in Mississippi where the last clinic in the state is under daily siege (The Guardian, London)

  4. Religion, politics inform Americans' views on abortion | Churchgoing frequency is associated with strength of anti-abortion views (The Gallup Poll)

  5. Strict laws, churches behind rising clandestine abortion in Africa: experts | Stringent or vague legislation, coupled with deep-rooted social and religious beliefs in many African countries, have been blamed for the rise of often life-threatening backstreet abortions, health and social experts say (AFP)

  6. Indians crack down on gender abortions | After 12 years on the books, a law meant to curb sex-selective abortions gets its first conviction (The Christian Science Monitor)

  7. South Dakotans meant well, but they can't count | The Supreme Court is likely to use the state's abortion ban to entrench Roe v. Wade even more firmly (Joseph Bottum, Beliefnet)

  8. Winning in the Supreme Court isn't the point | South Dakotans' commitment to protecting unborn life offers a teaching moment to other Americans (Stephen G. Peroutka, Beliefnet)

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Premature babies feel pain:

  1. Premature babies 'feel true pain' | Premature babies experience feelings of pain rather than simply displaying reflex reactions, a study says (BBC)

  2. Also: Premature babies can feel pain, scans show | Brain scans carried out on premature babies during blood tests showed surges of blood and oxygen in the sensory areas of their brains - demonstrating that pain was being processed (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Press release: UCL scientists gauge pain in premature babies (University College London)

  4. Study: Cortical pain responses in human infants (Journal of Neuroscience)

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AIDS and HIV:

  1. Bush admin. $15B AIDS plan questioned | The Bush administration's $15 billion global AIDS initiative is emphasizing sexual abstinence and fidelity more than Congress intended, and that focus is undermining prevention efforts in poor countries, congressional investigators said Tuesday (Associated Press)

  2. Abstinence, not condoms, is the word in Mozambique | Twenty percent of President Bush's $15 billion, five-year global AIDS program is earmarked for prevention efforts, and a third of all prevention funds, or $1 billion, must be devoted to abstinence-only programs, a shift from previous policy promoting condoms (The Baltimore Sun)

  3. Islam recruited to help Egyptians fight HIV | In Egypt HIV and AIDS happen to other people; namely foreigners, the promiscuous, drug addicts and generally the morally corrupt, who should be avoided in case they infect you with a handshake, cough or unwashed cup. (Reuters)

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Abuse:

  1. Catholic leaders fight legislation on suits | States consider easing statutes of limitations (The Washington Post)

  2. Louisville group calls for bishop's removal | A Louisville group of reform-minded Catholics is calling for the resignation of Chicago Cardinal Francis George for allowing a priest to stay in ministry last year after a sexual-abuse allegation (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

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  1. Lawsuit alleges sex abuse by priest | A 31-year-old man filed a $300,000 civil lawsuit Thursday against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, alleging a priest sexually abused him as a teen and church officials transferred the cleric between churches to conceal a pattern of abuse (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Ministry members charged | Three longtime members of the Gospel of Truth ministry, which puts on a famous Christmas House display, are charged with child sexual abuse (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

  3. 17 abuse suits filed against Vermont diocese | First trial set for day after Easter (Rutland Herald, Vt.)

  4. Vt. Catholic sex abuse policy still incomplete | Vermont's Catholic Church is one of 11.5 percent of the nation's dioceses that have yet to fully comply with all provisions of a toughened sex abuse policy, an independent report said Thursday (Rutland Herald, Vt.)

  5. Six accusing former Brick pastor of abuse | A Dover Township attorney has filed a lawsuit seeking a total of $30 million in damages for six men who allege they were molested as children by a minister at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Brick throughout the 1970s (Asbury Park Press, N.J.)

  6. Priest on leave after rape charge | A Saratoga priest arrested in connection with the rape of a 29-year-old Oregon woman seeking spiritual guidance was put on administrative leave from Sacred Heart Parish, church officials said Monday (San Jose Mercury News, Ca.)

  7. Church leaders still don't get it | There remains much to be done to protect kids (Editorial, The Concord Monitor, N.H.)

  8. Where are the reforms on sex abuse? | Six months after the grand jury's report, priests' victims still wait for Harrisburg to act (John Salveson, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

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Crime:

  1. Church fire in Talladega ruled arson | Arson caused the fire that destroyed Blackberry Lane Community Church, officials announced Wednesday, making it the 11th confirmed church arson in rural Alabama since February (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  2. 'Satanic' teen trio disturbs worshippers | Three Somerset County youths were arrested after disturbing activities at two Boswell churches Sunday (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  3. Also: Teens charged in church disruptions | Three teenagers were charged Tuesday in Somerset County with disrupting services Sunday at All Saints Catholic Church and St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, both in Boswell (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

  4. Bible scam | Beware youths collecting money for Bibles (The Walton Sun, Fla.)

  5. Church may close doors after alleged scam | Congregation: Contractor left roof in worse shape (WLS, Chicago)

  6. Scam artists prey on good faith of churches | In the beginning, the Rev. Douglas Martin said, the story sounded good, a chance to help someone escape homelessness (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  7. Pastor answers crucial call | After a shooting on a Metro bus, man with gun ran to nearby church (Houston Chronicle)

  8. Dodgeball game leads to assault charges | A youth minister was charged with assault for allegedly knocking a 16-year-old boy down and kicking him in the groin after taking a head shot from the teen in a dodgeball game (Associated Press)

  9. Also: Minister charged with assault (The Kansas City Star)

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Morality:

  1. Russian church blames liberalism for racist murders | A top Orthodox cleric said on Tuesday tolerance of homosexuality, euthanasia, and abortion was responsible for a moral collapse that had spawned extreme nationalism and racism in Russia (Reuters)

  2. And so the moral of our story is … | History suggests that whatever our moral code is today, it will be decried as censorious tomorrow (Cristina Odone, The Observer, London)

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People:

  1. 'For the good I have dreamed' | An interview with Frederick Buechner (The Washington Times)

  2. Peace activist Michael McGoldrick dies | Michael McGoldrick, who became a peace activist in Northern Ireland after anti-Catholic extremists killed his son in 1996, died while on a Christian aid mission to Moldova, his parish priest said Tuesday (Associated Press)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. Rumble in the jungle over oil | In Belize, wildcatters, the government and the local Mennonites -- advised by an ex-con -- all seek a share of newly discovered black gold (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Try before you die: teens test religions | Young Australians are more likely to chop and change faiths than ever before because of an increased uncertainty about their beliefs, a Christian Research Association survey shows (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  3. The God squad | The Templeton Foundation may be trying to kill skepticism about religion with kindness (John Horgan, The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  4. Albanian Muslims okay Mother Teresa statue | Muslim leaders in Albania's northern city of Shkoder withdrew their opposition on Thursday to a statue of Mother Teresa, the ethnic Albanian Catholic nun in line for elevation to sainthood by the Vatican (Reuters)

  5. Religion news in brief | Christian Churches Together in the USA launches; Catholic, Mormon and Pentecostal churches grow fastest; Nuns raise money through `adoption' program; and other stories (Associated Press)

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Weblog
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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