Today's Top Five

1. The Gospel of Judas beyond the ecstatic headlines
There are signs of a backlash against the initial suggestions that the Gospel of Judas could shake the foundations of Christianity. After an initial wave of poor reporting and misrepresentation, articles now are in corrective mode, noting that this newly released manuscript is far too young, unreliable, and anachronistic to tell us anything about Jesus or Judas, and it seems to offer little new information even about second- and third-century Gnosticism. There seems to be growing doubt that this is even the Gospel of Judas discussed by Irenaeus.

Some of the best and worst analysis pieces are appearing in familiar media outlets, but those truly interested in the scholarly discussions will want to head elsewhere. The usual Biblioblogs are full of interesting comments (though most are surprised that this is making so many headlines). Mark Goodacre is busy as always, but Stephen C. Carlson's Hypotyposeis, which has posted on the Gospel of Judas for more than a year, is Weblog's blog of choice for this topic. Carlson has a great post, for example, on The Gospel of Judas vs. The Da Vinci Code. Ben Witherington has been very busy, too (1 | 2 | 3 | 4) but one wishes that he'd provide outside links once in a while. If you really want to read what Bible scholars from Bart Ehrman to Darrell Bock are saying to each other, go beyond the blogs and check out the e-mail lists. Weblog's favorite is XTalk: Historical Jesus and Christian Origins (494 members), but Ancient Near East (582 members) and textualcriticism (317) are worth checking out, too.

If you want to be really cool, though, tell your friends about a little-known document that's even more amazing than the Gospel of Judas. It's called the Epistle of Judas, and it makes some pretty wild claims. First, the document is reportedly older than almost any New Testament book, and it draws heavily upon non-canonical Jewish literature. It includes some odd stories like the archangel Michael fighting with the Devil over a corpse, and quite a bit of discussion about sexual indulgence. Unlike most New Testament books, the Epistle of Judas appears to be written in Judea itself. The book makes the dramatic claim that its author, Judas, was the brother of the apostle James (the first leader of the church). Judas apparently makes a subtle claim that he's Jesus' brother, too.

This Epistle of Judas includes some advice that may be applicable for those frustrated with all the hype over the much-later Gospel of Judas. "Have mercy on those who doubt," Judas wrote. "Save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh." *

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2. North Central University replaces student newspaper editors
North Central University, an Assemblies of God school, has demoted the editor-in-chief and news editor of the campus newspaper, The Northern Light. Gordon Anderson, president of the university, told Inside Higher Ed that school officials and donors were upset over the paper's coverage of a pending visit to the school by the Soulforce Equality Ride, a gay advocacy group, and with an opinion piece criticizing the Assemblies of God doctrine of speaking in tongues as initial physical evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. Anderson said that the fact that the editor and news editor are married provides little assurance of editorial oversight of news pieces. In an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the editors called the move "censorship" and said they had earlier decided to stop production of the paper as a protest against what they call orders "to only publish things that cast North Central in a positive light." The articles are available online, as are blogs from the removed editor and various supporters. The school's website says the paper exists in part "to give students a forum in which to discuss current events … The opinion section is a venue where students should be free to express their opinions on matters that concern them. This includes columns or commentaries that advocate change in university policy or practice."

3. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) cutting budget by another 13 percent
The PCUSA went through significant layoffs and reductions in 2002 and 2003. Now it's going to have to cut even more, reports The Courier-Journal. From the article, it certainly sounds like the area that will see the bulk of the denomination's $14.8 million cuts over the next two years will be missions. The paper reports:

In the past, the headquarters, which has about 600 employees, was a hub for the denomination's programs, financed by member churches -- things such as mission trips and social-outreach efforts.
But increasingly, individual congregations are using the money they raise to conduct their own trips and programs, said John Detterick, executive director of the General Assembly Council, which oversees most denomination departments.
"There will always be a key place for national missions, but I think we're at a transition, from a time when huge amounts of money were sent for other people to do God's work, to a time when more of it is going to be determined locally and regionally," he said. …
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The council's governing body adopted a plan earlier this year to base budget decisions on four sets of objectives: evangelism and witness; justice and compassion; spirituality and discipleship; and leadership and vocation …
Unlike in the past, when the denomination was needed to coordinate things like mission trips, even a small church today can use the Internet to contact a church or missionary on another continent and send their members on a short-term trip to help out, taking advantage of relatively cheap travel costs.

But what the paper doesn't ask is whether such a changed emphasis in missions will mean that even less money gets sent to the denomination. If the denomination says that missions is top priority, and that missions should be funded and directed by the local congregation rather than the national headquarters, why send money to the national headquarters? To support pro-abortion rallies?

4. Church and state in Jamaica
Jamaica's new prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, has been making some very interesting comments since taking office March 30. At an April 2 church service, she told congregants, "If I am appointed by the Almighty to be prime minister then all of you Christians must give support to the appointment of the Lord. If it is not done, the whip will not be drawn against me, because I am going to be carrying out His will."

Also controversial is her plan to combat corruption by requiring each state governing board to include at least one pastor. "I think it was designed to curry the favour of the Christian community rather than a practical proposal for effective government," Opposition Leader Bruce Golding told The Jamaica Observer.

5. What's next for American Idol's Mandisa? Controversy.
The Tennessean and other media outlets are speculating that Mandisa Hundley was booted off of American Idol because she likes Beth Moore, and Beth Moore likes the ex-gay group Exodus International. AOL's reports, "Sources connected with 'Idol' tell TMZ the buzz behind the scenes last night was Mandisa getting the boot had nothing to do with her performance—it was all about her openly anti-gay affiliations." The Tennessean also reports that her desire to do both gospel music and mainstream R&B "could hurt Hundley with Christian music industry executives."

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Quote of the day:
"On Easter Sunday, we're asking our members not to come so that the whole 10,000 seats can be reserved for visitors, guests and friends—people who are looking for a place to go on Easter, who might be fearful of coming here because they would think that our members would crowd it out. … We're just emptying the place out, so that everyone who is looking for a place to go will have a place to come."

—James Meeks, pastor of Chicago's Salem Baptist Church, quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times.

* The Greek word Ioudas can be translated as Judas or as Jude, with the former usually used for the betrayer and the latter often used for other biblical characters. The Epistle of Judas, not ascribed to Judas Iscariot but to "Judas, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James," is the penultimate book of the New Testament.

More articles

Gospel of Judas | Holy Week | Spirituality | Science | Evolution | Education | Higher education | Church life | Catholicism | Pope Benedict XVI | Episcopal Church | Sexual ethics | American Idol's Mandisa | Media, art, and entertainment | Ten Commandments | First Amendment | Godless oath in UK | Jamaica's new Prime Minister | Abdul Rahman and Afghanistan | Anti-missionary threats | Other religions | War and terrorism | Abortion | Kenya's First Lady vs. "lying politicians" in pulpits | Politics | Immigration | Church buildings | Second chance for New Orleans church | Tennessee storms | Sabbath business | Money & business | Diet | Books | Jim Wallis Down Under | Crime | Abuse | Other stories of interest

Gospel of Judas (news):

  1. Priest an unwitting betrayer: deacon | A well-respected priest who helped shop the Gospel of Judas to New York document buyers wouldn't have done so had he known its heretical content, the deacon of the late priest's church said yesterday (New York Post)

  2. Sealed with a kiss | A long-lost early Christian text says Jesus asked Judas to betray him (Newsweek)

  3. Was this villain really a hero? | Is it possible that Judas was the indispensable and most-favored disciple, ordered by Jesus to betray him so that his mission could be fulfilled? (U.S. News & World Report)

  4. Gospel of Judas inspires awe, wrath | Some see a teaching moment (The Boston Globe)

  5. 'Palm' readings will skip latest chapter | City church officials had no plans to discuss today the controversial Gospel of Judas during the reading at Mass of the Passion - the story of Christ's betrayal, crucifixion and death (New York Post)

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  1. Canon fodder: Judging Judas' gospel | Theology experts are arguing over whether the tome means anything to the church (New York Post)

  2. Their faith won't hang on the Gospel of Judas | Skepticism over lost text that makes betrayer a hero (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  3. Stitched up big time by the Galilee gang | Experts are taking the claims with a pinch of, er, salt (The Times, London)

  4. 'Good Judas' idea provocative, but a tough sell | Early manuscript a hot topic in area's churches for Holy Week (San Francisco Chronicle)

  5. Gospel paints Judas in not-so-new light | The Gospel of Judas made news last week by casting doubt on a judgment almost twenty centuries old. Commentator Peter Manseau remarks on the similarities between the recently released "Gospel of Judas" and the classic Broadway musical Jesus Christ Superstar (All Things Considered, NPR)

  6. Revisionist religious history | Religious news this week is challenging some preconceptions. Two in particular: a theory that Jesus may have been walking on ice, not water … and the much-publicized unveiling of an ancient text that could revise the image of Judas (Weekend Edition Saturday, NPR)

Gospel of Judas (editorials):

  1. Christianity is not shaken by this | While this version adds to the many variations of early Christianity and the story of Judas, it isn't likely to change the tenets of contemporary mainstream Christianity. And there was just a bit too much Hollywood around the unveiling of the document. (Editorial, Austin American-Statesman, Tex.)

  2. Judas' good news | Some scholars say the text reveals more the thinking of its author than actual facts about its subjects. But as these stories go, it's got the makings of a blockbuster (Editorial, The Baltimore Sun)

  3. The Judas we never knew | Had not Judas fulfilled his role, however vile, how would the prophecies of Christ's death been fulfilled? (Editorial, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  4. Lost gospel has place in history | We were a little disappointed that some would immediately claim the text is an attack on Christianity. That's a narrow, close-minded response. (Editorial, The Morning News, Springdale, Ark.)

Gospel of Judas (opinion):

  1. Jesus laughed | In the Gospel of Judas, the renegade is redeemed (Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker)

  2. Judas as mystical good guy | As for me—an ordinary, churchgoing Episcopalian with an admittedly obsessive interest in early Christian history—reading the Gospel of Judas makes me thankful that today we do not practice Gnosticism, an exclusive sacred tradition that privileged the soul over the body and derided, rather than honored, this world (Lauren F. Winner, The Dallas Morning News)

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  1. The Gospel of Judas | The text, the scholarship, and the scandal (Larry Hurtado, Slate)

  2. Judas unredeemed | Modern men and women have always had a soft spot for Judas Iscariot (Thomas D. Williams, The Wall Street Journal)

  3. Window on Israel: The Gospel of Judas | Will the revelation work to end the religious basis of anti-Semitism? (Ira Sharkansky, The Jerusalem Post)

  4. Without Judas, history might have hijacked another villain | Would the terrible legacy of anti-Semitism have been different if the "bad Judas" were not in the Christian canon from the start? (David Gibson, The New York Times)

  5. Paradoxical gospel | In rehabilitating Judas, it might seem as if "The Gospel of Judas" is a Christian rehabilitation of the Jewish people, too. And yet once the text of "The Gospel of Judas" is released, this is highly unlikely to prove to be the case (Hillel Halkin, The New York  Sun)

  6. The gospel truth | The Gospel of Judas offers proof that Judas Iscariot might have been part of a divine plan (Elaine Pagels, The New York Times)

  7. Will the real Judas please stand up? | The 'Gospel of Judas' makes the case that Judas wasn't so bad. Is the text reliable? The devil is in the details (Darrell Bock, Beliefnet)

  8. Was Judas doing God's will? | The 'Gospel of Judas' helps us understand early Christian arguments about whether God willed the crucifixion. An interview with Karen King (Beliefnet)

  9. All gospels are not created equal | The 'Gospel of Judas' tells us nothing about the historical Jesus or Judas. Why the furor? (Philip Jenkins, Beliefnet)

  10. Iscariot and the dark path to the Field of Blood | Our correspondent takes issue with recent attempts to portray Judas in a sympathetic light (Geza Vermes, The Times, London)

  11. More Gnostic secrets revealed in 'Judas' | Modern-day scholars love the Gnostic gospels because it gives them another weapon with which to attack the Church and the Bible (Don Miller, Santa Cruz Sentinel)

  12. No revelations in Gospel of Judas | The Gospel of Judas will continue to be fodder for television shows, magazine covers, and lunchtime conversations. But the answer to the question raised every Good Friday remains the same. Why did Judas do it? Because Judas, like many of us, wanted to make God in his own image -- rather than the other way around (James Martin, The Boston Globe)

  13. Judas, Jesus and the shifting sands of history | The National Geographic Society reveals a long portion of the long-lost gospel of Judas, written more than a century after his death. The manuscript reminds us anew that history never stops changing. (Scott Simon, Weekend Edition Saturday, NPR)

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  1. The Gospel of Judas et al.---Part one | My greater concern is not so much with this document but with the revisionist history being touted by Elaine Pagels, Karen King, Bart Ehrman, Marvin Meyer and others, on the basis of such Gnostic documents, wanting to suggest that somehow, someway these documents reflect Christianity at its very point of origin—the first century A.D. (Ben Witherington)

  2. The Gospel of Judas—Part two | It is not at all clear that this Coptic Judas document is the same document referred to by Irenaeus (Ben Witherington)

Gospel of Judas (media criticism):

  1. The Judas Code | Leave aside the claims that the Gospel of Judas is supposed to advance. What remains interesting is why there should be such interest in it (Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Canada)

  2. The gospel of ignorance | Before I criticize the ridiculous ignorance of the media in covering this very old story, let me offer a critique of the church. If Christians knew anything about their history, if they knew anything about how the New Testament canon came to be formed, I doubt these stories would be met with more than a yawn. (Mollie Ziegler, GetReligion)

  3. A dud of a Gospel | Most reporting on the release of the Judas text was unbelievably bad, possibly because the media have eliminated so many religion reporters (John Leo, U.S. News & World Report)

  4. The Gospel of unbelief | It happens twice a year, at Christmas and Easter. The newsweeklies sometimes carry cover stories. The newspapers print items calling the reason for these seasons into question. (Cal Thomas)

  5. Judas, Holy Week and the faithful | It is amazing to me that someone could locate and research an ancient Gnostic Gospel, said to be a reflection of the lost Gospel of Judas, and then pop it on the eve of Holy Week as though it were some kind of promotional stunt (Charles M. Madigan, Chicago Tribune)

  6. Unmysterious | The National Geographic Society disgraced itself by puffing this latest discovery. Elaine Pagels of Princeton, an advisor to NGS who has for years been touting sundry gnostic gospels, wrote an op-ed in the Times saying that the latest discovery will make her Easter ever so much more mysterious (Richard John Neuhaus, First Things Online)

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Holy Week:

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  1. Church spends Palm Sunday fighting Hollywood | In Munster, Ind., at Family Christian Center, the pastor used Palm Sunday to mount a defense against what he calls "the greatest attack on Christianity." That attacker is the best-selling thriller, "The Da Vinci Code." (WBBM, Chicago)

  2. For a greener Palm Sunday celebration | Combining ecology and theology, hundreds of churches are choosing "eco-palms" for their Palm Sunday services this year (Religion News Service)

  3. Pope opens Holy Week with Palm Sunday Mass | Pope Benedict XVI blessed palm fronds and olive branches Sunday in the Vatican, opening a ritual-filled Holy Week that pilgrims in Jerusalem celebrated in a procession retracing Jesus' triumphant return to the holy city some 2,000 years ago (Associated Press)

  4. Was the crucifixion of Jesus merely a political event? | Or was it religious (Editorial, Concord Monitor, N.H.)

  5. We are Easter people | Out of the ashes of our mistakes, from our defeats and even our despair, we rise again in better lives (Diane Cameron, USA Today)

  6. Is Easter at risk? Only of triviality | There are cultural aspects of Christmas -- the decorations, the music, Santa Claus -- that non-Christians can enjoy, if not embrace. But Easter represents the essence of Christian belief. (Suzanne Cassidy, The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)

  7. The renewal of spring | This is an important week for Jews and Christians. Jews celebrate the first day of Passover on Thursday and Christians celebrate Good Friday, followed by Easter on Sunday. Both holidays link sorrow with liberation as the tragic gives way to redemption, with rejoicing in the renewal of spring (Suzanne Fields, The Washington Times)

  8. In pictures: Palm Sunday services | Photos from around the world (BBC)

  9. More photos: Palm Sunday (Yahoo news)

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  1. Christian values reach beyond the faithful | The vast majority of Britons think that Christian values are good for the country even if they do not personally believe in God, according to research (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Monks and their monasteries go into retreat as recruits dwindle | A growing number of Roman Catholic monasteries are being sold as their ageing communities are hit by death and plunging vocations (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Healing rooms: an embrace of prayer | They are part of a nondenominational Christian faith-healing ministry, the International Association of Healing Rooms, which was started in Spokane 6 ½ years ago by an evangelical Christian from California named Cal Pierce (The Seattle Times)

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  1. Church says Jesus image continues to attract, heal | Members of this small Saraland congregation noticed a 2-foot tall buckled piece of drywall they say resembles Jesus Christ on the cross (Mobile Press-Register, Ala.)

  2. God is the new drug of choice for today's young rebels | If you have liberal parents, getting religion is the only way to go (Kira Cochrane, The Times, London)

  3. First, tame that envy. then give thanks | A few words about envy and how to get past it and move on to success (Ben Stein, The New York Times)

  4. Rabbit's revenge | Time-honored traditions of Christianity are being challenged by scientists and scholars questioning the motives of Jesus, Judas and the power of prayer. (Nicholas von Hoffman, The Nation)

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  1. God of all things | Despite a fractious history, science and theology now have a closer alignment: some highly respected physicists and cosmologists, such as Australia's Paul Davies, have proposed in recent years that the universe is rigorously lawful, to the degree that it seems purpose-built to produce life (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  2. Religion, science find common ground | Promona College professor fuses disciplines with course offering (San Bernardino Sun, Ca.)

  3. Science and religion, still worlds apart | Should believers be encouraged when a miracle is corroborated by science, or disappointed that it might have been the outcome of natural forces? (The New York Times)

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  1. Just another lousy week for creationism | Tiktaalik refutes the kind of old-school "animals can't evolve into a new species" creationism (Scientific American)

  2. Our cousin the fishapod | An ancient fish with primitive fingers fills an evolutionary gap and shows Darwin's theory in action (J. Madeleine Nash, Time)

  3. Darwin would have loved it | What his theory predicted--and why it matters (Michael J. Novacek, Time)

  4. A missing link proves the dissent of man | The discovery of the fossilised Tiktaalik was a giant leap for mankind, a clear indication that all animals share a common ancestor. It was also, I hoped, a small step for me - the check-mate in a lengthy office debate with a colleague who subscribes to the popular form of creationism known as "Intelligent Design" (Mary Wakefield, The Telegraph, London)

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  1. Fairfield teacher claims bias against her religious beliefs | Fifth-grade teacher says principal was openly hostile to her Roman Catholic religion and called her a "Jesus freak" and "neurotic Christian" in front of other people (Connecticut Post)

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  1. Georgia Bible classes making some teachers uneasy | "Teachers are going to feel themselves pressured to teach Bible almost like Sunday school and that's where the tightrope walking is going to come into it," says Tim Callahan, spokesman for the 65,000-member Professional Association of Georgia Educators (Associated Press)

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Higher education:

  1. Journalism that dare not speak its name | North Central U. removes editors of paper in dispute over coverage of gay issues and speaking in tongues (Inside Higher Ed)

  2. Christian college journalists dismissed, claim censorship | Two student editors at North Central University halted publication (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  3. Baptist school ousts gay student | Lafayette grad's web page upsets University of the Cumberlands (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

  4. Baylor University will reach its goals | School is committed to 2012 plan and a strong Christian identity (Robert Benne, The Dallas Morning News)

  5. Falwell touts Christian college debaters | The football team doesn't have a prayer, and heaven knows the basketball team needs help. But the debate team at the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University looks like a mighty David in a land of rhetorical Goliaths (Associated Press)

  6. The search for meaning | On-campus religious groups are thriving (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  7. Dembski leaving post at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary | Intelligent Design is his key focus (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

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Church life:

  1. Church planning job cuts, changes | Presbyterian (U.S.A.) to trim budget 13% (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  2. Baptist report takes missions chief to task | Board finds no unethical acts but questions spending decisions (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  3. Meeks to 9,000 regulars: Stay home on Easter | "On Easter Sunday, we're asking our members not to come so that the whole 10,000 seats can be reserved for visitors, guests and friends," Meeks said, "people who are looking for a place to go on Easter, who might be fearful of coming here because they would think that our members would crowd it out" (Chicago Sun-Times)

  4. Church breaks from UCC synod | Members of the Shepherd of the Hills United Church of Christ voted to remove themselves from the UCC governing body by a 157-47 vote (The Pottstown Mercury, Pa.)

  5. 'U2charist' gains worldwide fame | If the BBC is calling, can Bono be far behind? (York County Coast Star, Me.)

  6. Men welcome here | Churches tackle persistent problem of low male attendance (The Kansas City Star)

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  1. Vicars won't say prayer for Queen | Anglican clergy have quietly dropped the centuries-old practice of saying prayers for the monarch, supreme governor of the church, at their main Sunday services (The Times, London)

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  1. Pope vows to follow the cross to Sydney | Pope Benedict XVI yesterday sent a towering wooden pilgrim's cross on a two-year, cross-continental journey that will conclude in Sydney in 2008 with the promise he would be in Australia to celebrate World Youth Day (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  2. Also: $40m pledged for Catholic youth festival | Australian taxpayers will spend $40 million to host the world's biggest Christian pilgrimage, when the Pope and an estimated 500,000 young Catholics attend World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008. (The Australian)

  3. Opus Dei tries to break Code's spell on American public's imagination | Catholic group fights image given by book and movie (Houston Chronicle)

  4. Priest starts 'breakaway church' | Excommunicated: Supports the ordination of women as priests (The National Post, Canada)

  5. The Law of advancement | Call it the (Saint) Peter Principle. With the appointment of Bishop Richard Lennon as head of the Cleveland Diocese, is there a top aide to Cardinal Bernard Law left who has not been rewarded with a promotion? (Eileen McNamara, The Boston Globe)

  6. Papal fallibility | Last April's uniformly positive appraisals of John Paul II as "hero of reconciliation" by Israeli and Jewish groups presented an oversimplified picture of a more complex reality (Sean Gannon, Haaretz, Tel Aviv)

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Pope Benedict XVI:

  1. Pope Benedict XVI to visit Poland in May | He'll visit the hometown of Pope John Paul II and the Auschwitz concentration camp (Associated Press)

  2. Pope laments corruption in world | Surrounded by palm and olive branches, Pope Benedict led the Roman Catholic Church towards the first Easter season of his pontificate on Sunday and said selfishness and corruption were devastating today's world (Reuters)

  3. The pope's 'patriarch' puzzle | Benedict is shaping up as a "have your cake and eat it too" sort of figure, a pope who will insist on a strong defense of Catholic identity, but coupled with a sincere desire for outreach (John L. Allen Jr., The Boston Globe)

  4. Judas Priest: Benedict the ecumenical | As Pope, Ratzinger has turned out to be not so anti-gay after all (Michael Sean Winters, The New Republic)

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Episcopal Church:

  1. Faith matters | Peter J. Boyer writes discusses the Gene Robinson controversy and the changing face of religion in America (The New Yorker Online)

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  1. Episcopal panel advises caution on gay bishops | As Episcopalians in San Francisco consider two gay men and a lesbian among others to serve as their next bishop, a special churchwide panel is urging "very considerable caution" before electing another gay bishop (The Washington Post)

  2. Episcopal panel: Use caution in elections | An Episcopal Church panel studying the furor over the denomination's first openly gay bishop proposed Friday that dioceses use "very considerable caution" from now on in electing bishops with same-sex partners, but stopped short of the moratorium critics demanded (Associated Press)

  3. US church offers olive branch to Anglicans on gay clergy | Suspension of blessings for couples recommended (The Guardian, London)

  4. Minister lauds church in national commercial | The Rev. Paige Blair of St. George's Episcopal Church in York Harbor will soon have her 30 seconds of fame (York County Coast Star, Me.)

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Sexual ethics:

  1. The egg roll (again!) becomes a stage for controversy | Some 200 gay families are planning to attend the White House Easter Egg Roll. But some religious conservatives say the families are "crashing" the public event (The New York Times)

  2. Adoption law is up for interpretation | Gay couples' rights vary from county to county (Concord Monitor, N.H.)

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American Idol's Mandisa:

  1. Mandisa's undecided between Christian and R&B | But after her run on 'Idol,' Antioch singer waits to see where the Lord leads her (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  2. Mandisa and homosexuality: 'I … absolutely hate nobody' | There has been quite a brouhaha about whether a gay voting backlash cost Mandisa Hundley her spot on American Idol (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  3. Mandisa says she's not a gay 'advocate' | Is ousted "American Idol" contestant Mandisa anti-gay? The 29-year-old soul singer and outspoken Christian, who was voted off the hit Fox show Wednesday, says she would not perform at an event held in support of the gay community (Associated Press)

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Media, art, and entertainment:

  1. Paths of the faithful: religious specials | Cate Doty reviews The Gospel of Judas, The Ten Commandments, and God or the Girl (The New York Times)

  2. Star Jones thanks God in Franklin | Star Jones Reynolds, co-host of TV's "The View" and author of "Shine," speaks at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (Home News Tribune, N.J.)

  3. Lifting the shroud off images of Jesus through the ages | The face of Jesus has remained remarkably unchanged for centuries (The Baltimore Sun)

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  1. From pulpit to iPod | Busy worshipers find a spiritual connection through Godcasting (The Boston Globe)

  2. 700 Club plans Nashville unit | 14-person bureau to use CBN studio (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  3. The Last Supper? It was a burger | The BBC is taking a big risk with a pop Passion performed on the streets of Manchester (Peter Stanford, The Observer, London)

  4. Praise God or pass the ammunition? | As religion storms the political stage, should art be at the service of God or is it more important than ever to provoke? (Michael Binyon, The Times, London)

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Ten Commandments:

  1. New version of 'Ten Commandments' in mini-series on ABC | ABC will try to escape the shadow of Cecil B. DeMille with its new version of the 1956 classic "The Ten Commandments." (The New York Times)

  2. The modern Moses: a man with issues | New 'Ten Commandments' offers a hero more conflicted than confident (The Boston Globe)

  3. 'Ten Commandments' is an inane, empty remake | The bush burns. The sea parts. The pillow beckons. (The Boston Globe)

  4. "Commandments" told in mostly faithful fashion | You don't have to be an Old Testament scholar to see that Robert Halmi's take on "The Ten Commandments" is a vast improvement over 1999's misbegotten "Noah's Ark" and even holds its own against the 1956 classic with Charlton Heston (Reuters)

  5. 'The Ten Commandments' looks to 1956 classic | Television critic Andrew Wallenstein reviews the ABC miniseries The Ten Commandments. Wallenstein says the series tries to recreate the magic of the 1956 classic film, with mixed results (Day to Day, NPR)

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First Amendment:

  1. Christians sue for right not to tolerate policies | Many codes intended to protect gays from harassment are illegal, conservatives argue (Los Angeles Times)

  2. 2nd Circuit hands N.Y. preacher victory over noise ordinance | Judge says Ithaca municipal law prohibiting speech audible 25 feet away is unconstitutional (Associated Press)

  3. Court rules for Muslim inmate | Review is ordered on feast-day meats (The Boston Globe)

  4. More inmates find faith in their jail cells | Captive audiences seek out religious studies (Wilmington Star News, N.C.)

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Godless oath in UK:

  1. God taken out of the witness box | A God-free oath for witnesses in court has been drawn up by a magistrate in Hull (The Times, London)

  2. JP calls for new courtroom oath | A magistrate has called for the "archaic" courtroom oath to be replaced with a non-religious version (BBC)

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Jamaica's new Prime Minister:

  1. 'Elected by God' | Church leaders endorse Simpson Miller's spiritual claim, others see it as 'subtle threat' (The Jamaica Observer)

  2. Pastors to run state boards | Portia wants central role for church in state affairs (The Jamaica Observer)

  3. Pastor policy panders to Christian community, designed to 'curry favour' says Golding | Opposition Leader Bruce Golding is skeptical about the directive from Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller that all new state boards must have a religious leader on them, saying the church should not be singled out for a special role (The Jamaica Observer)

  4. The role of the Church in community development | While we take issue with some aspects of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's pronouncements regarding the involvement of church leaders in governance, it brings to mind an issue that in our view, is fundamental (Editorial, The Jamaica Observer)

  5. A word of caution | We share Portia Simpson Miller's sense of urgency in wishing to eliminate corruption in general and in the operation of public boards in particular. But we are concerned about the mandate given by the PM to her Cabinet that a pastor should be appointed to all boards either as chairman or as a member (Editorial, The Jamaica Gleaner)

  6. Is Portia's religiosity a thrust towards theocracy? | Essentially, there are three issues at stake in the ongoing debate over recent remarks by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller regarding the role of the church in nation building (Christopher Burns, The Jamaica Observer)

  7. Clutching at straws? | Recent pronouncements by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Opposition Leader Bruce Golding would suggest that either there is a bankruptcy of ideas or quiet desperation is setting in (Lloyd B. Smith, The Jamaica Observer)

  8. 'Ayatollah' Portia? | The Prime Minister and the pastors (Ian Boyne, The Jamaica Gleaner)

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Abdul Rahman and Afghanistan:

  1. The troubled odyssey of Abdul Rahman | The case of Afghan Christian convert Abdul Rahman captured the world's attention for two weeks. Now his German asylum file and statements by his brother paint a picture of a seriously troubled man (Der Spiegel, Germany)

  2. German officials 'say Abdul Rahman unstable' | Abdul Rahman, the Afghan whose prosecution for converting to Christianity led to worldwide controversy, was judged to be mentally unstable by German officials who interviewed him six years ago, a German news magazine reported Saturday (Expatica, Netherlands)

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  1. Islamic laws restricting human rights, claim international reports | An uproar over the threatened execution of an Afghan man who converted from Islam to Christianity highlights a disturbing conflict between application of Islamic laws and protection of human rights in Asia and the Middle East, US experts say (Daily Times, Pakistan)

  2. Modern martyrs | Seeking marytrdom can be a form of self-glorification, and declaring someone a martyr can be tantamount to calling for revenge—another form of violence (Editorial, The Christian Century)

  3. A country's constitution must include human dignity | The global angst over the threatened execution of Abdul Rahman, the Christian convert in Afghanistan, has settled a bit. So let's think about what went wrong (Bill Tammeus, The Kansas City Star)

  4. Reticent about Rahman | Freedom-lovers can't muster enough energy to congregate on Mr. Rahman's behalf (Paul Chesser, The Washington Times)

  5. Islamic purity | The State Department has had a profound question to ask itself in the matter of Abdul Rahman. Did we intend to make a theatrical point -- that we would not stand by in his condemnation and beheading, an arrant interference with the right of a human being to embrace Christianity? Or would we just settle for saving Rahman's life? (William F. Buckley Jr.)

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Anti-missionary threats:

  1. In Turkey, a deep suspicion of missionaries | Priest's killing shows complex ties of Islam to nationalism in officially secular state (The Washington Post)

  2. On conversion, Rajnath takes on missionaries | BJP president Rajnath Singh dared Christian missionaries to "try converting any Hindu" and vowed to turn tables on them today (Express India)

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Other religions:

  1. Rabbi: Jews should know New Testament | Most Jews shun Christian Scripture. As a result, they can't answer Christians who ask why Jews don't accept Jesus as the Messiah. Reform Rabbi Michael J. Cook says this "self-imposed ignorance" is dangerous (Associated Press)

  2. An open invitation | At a Franklin temple, interfaith families are welcome—and common. Is this what the Jewish congregation of the future looks like? (The Boston Globe)

  3. The young and the restless | The Brooklyn riots exposed a rift among Orthodox Jews (Samuel C. Heilman, The New York Times)

  4. Leaving Stony Brook to follow a sheik | A charismatic teacher of a moderate and mystical strain of Islam has proven so attractive that some students left Stony Brook University to pursue his teachings (The New York Times)

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  1. Religious melting pot | Plano has its own Thanks-Giving shopping center (Zulfi Ahmed, The Dallas Morning News)

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War and terrorism:

  1. The Bonhoeffer debate | Area churchgoers differ on whether their religion allows killing to save lives (The Kansas City Star)

  2. Iraq and the legacy of Abraham | The imaginative breakthrough represented in the story of Abraham offers a first measure of the meaning of human existence. If his descendants were more fully in touch with that meaning, Iraq would be a different place today, and the religions would not be on the cusp of war (James Carroll, The Boston Globe)

  3. 'Shock and awe' isn't what God had in mind | Let us be awed by love, not violence (Bob Lively, Austin American-Statesman, Tex.)

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  1. Pro-life nation | What happens when you completely criminalize abortion? Over the last eight years, El Salvador has found out (The New York Times Magazine)

  2. Abortion ban foes petition for a choice | Even some conservative South Dakotans sign a bid to hold a vote on the law, which was meant to spark a Supreme Court test of Roe v. Wade (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Bush touts 'culture of life' at Catholic breakfast | President Bush promised 1,600 Catholics gathered for the third annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast yesterday that he would work for a "culture of life" and an immigration policy that includes "decency" (The Washington Times)

  4. Right-to-life debate takes to the streets | The abortion debate spilled on to the streets as pro-choice campaigners clashed with anti-abortionists in Melbourne (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)

  5. Abortion activists clash | The abortion debate spilled onto the streets of Melbourne today as pro-choice campaigners clashed with anti-abortionists at the end of a week-long right to life rally (The Daily Telegraph, NSW, Australia)

  6. Deaths after RU-486 | Women seeking an abortion will need to weigh the risks and benefits carefully before deciding which method to choose (Editorial, The New York Times)

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Kenya's First Lady vs. "lying politicians" in pulpits:

  1. First Lady warns churches against 'lying politicians' | First Lady Lucy Kibaki has accused evangelical churches of allowing politicians to use their pulpits "to peddle senseless lies" (The East African Standard, Kenya)

  2. First Lady urges church to expose leaders who tell lies | First Lady Lucy Kibaki yesterday challenged religious leaders to expose politicians who tell lies (The Nation, Kenya)

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  1. Christian Coalition shrinks as debt grows | The once-mighty group is more than $2 million in debt, beset by creditors' lawsuits and struggling to hold on to some of its state chapters (The Washington Post)

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  1. Church and state | Pastor objects to concealed carry exemption (Salina Journal, Kan.)

  2. McCain emphasizing his conservative bona fides | Senator John McCain's trip to Liberty University and points beyond seeks to appeal to a diverse audience for a possible 2008 presidential bid (The New York Times)

  3. Divine right of Bushes | The connection between W. and Judas (Maureen Dowd, The New York Times)

  4. Christ among the partisans | What would Jesus do? Stay away from politics (Garry Wills, The New York Times)

  5. DeLay's next mission from God | DeLay may be leaving Congress, but he will be back with a vengeance, in a new and potentially more powerful role, because he is a ferociously determined man who believes he is on a politico-religious mission from God (Peter Perl, The Washington Post)

  6. Christians are beginning to perceive God as an environmentalist | "The Earth is the Lord's and all that is in it," the Good Book says, but only in the last five minutes or so (in geologic time) have churchgoers started paying attention (Ray Waddle, The Tennessean, Nashville)

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  1. A conservative crosses the border | Immigration compromise backed as a humanitarian act (The Washington Post)

  2. Catholic leaders urge rallies, prayer on immigration | As lawmakers reach a stalemate in legislation that could legalize millions of immigrants, Catholics in Missouri and other states are planning to pray and rally Sunday for immigration reform (Associated Press)

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Church buildings:

  1. Church's paint job stirs debate | A church failed to get permission before its exterior was painted. Now the city's Planning and Zoning Board doesn't like the colors chosen (The Miami Herald)

  2. On a street called Rust, fighting for a church's life | The church, more than 150 years old, has seen better days (The New York Times)

  3. Town ties its rejuvenation to that of crumbling church | In the isolated hamlet of Ruidosa, Tex., an effort to attract visitors and revive the town is hinged on its weather-beaten church (The New York Times)

  4. Mayor files appeal to stop demolition on Summit Street | Citing the need for cultural posterity, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announced yesterday his administration's filing of an administrative appeal to stop the demolition of two historic Summit Street buildings to make way for a parking lot (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

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  1. Church's tear-down mentality | For a church so steeped in tradition and so identified with its near-downtown North End neighborhood, the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church has a depressing lack of appreciation for local history (Editorial, The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  2. Roundtable: Should churches have greater rights than other developments? | Homeowners are beginning to organize against religious institutions moving into their neighborhood (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  3. Catholic Church will not return land, bishop says | The Catholic Church will not return any land as recommended by the Ndung'u Land report (The East African Standard, Kenya)

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Second chance for New Orleans church:

  1. St. Augustine renewed | Mass marks pact between parishioners and archdiocese (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)

  2. Sunday: Parish gets chance to prove itself a blessing | St. Augustine, archdiocese agree on steps needed for reopening (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)

  3. Historic New Orleans church gets reprieve | The church was full for the first service, but unless the support continues, the reprieve for the church will not last (Associated Press)

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Tennessee storms:

  1. Storm bridges distance between congregations | All-black Baker's Chapel members find sanctuary with Presbyterians (Tennessean, Nashville)

  2. Worshippers gather after deadly storms | Dozens of churches mourned the 12 people killed when the powerful storm rolled over Tennessee (Associated Press)

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Sabbath business:

  1. God sent snows and wind … but a ferry sailed on sabbath day | The Hebridean Sabbatarian tradition put up no further defence against the first commercial ferry service to the Presbyterian island of Harris yesterday (The Herald, Glasgow)

  2. Plain sailing as Sabbath ferry breaks taboo | Seven day ferry service in Western Isles leads to low-key religious protest (The Scotsman)

  3. 'No going back' for island ferry | The tradition of observing Sunday as a day of rest in the Hebridean islands of Lewis and Harris may be about to change forever (BBC)

  4. Fury at ferry crossing on Sabbath | The long tradition of strict Sabbath observance on the Western Isles took a step closer to abeyance yesterday when the first ferry on a Sunday sailed into Harris (The Guardian, London)

  5. Angry islanders cannot prevent fall of Sabbath stronghold | The last stronghold of Sabbatarianism in Britain was breached at 10am yesterday when a small ferry docked at a remote pier in the Western Isles (The Telegraph, London)

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Money & business:

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  1. Wal-Mart resists pressure in 'Brokeback' DVD sales | Wal-Mart Stores began selling "Brokeback Mountain" on DVD despite objections from the conservative American Family Association (The New York Times)

  2. Newspapers off Church ban list | Newspapers have been taken off the banned investments list by the Church of England for the first time in 50 years. Church Commissioners have agreed that the newspaper industry is no longer as morally abhorrent to Christian investors as it once was (The Business, U.K.)

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  1. Dieters filling up on God | Faith-based weight-loss programs turn to divine intervention (The Dallas Morning News)

  2. Believers diet for soul and waistline | They say nothing is impossible for God, and Alissa Weigel got a sense of that when her husband, Andrew, got off the living room couch and tossed out his beloved bacon (Rich Barlow, The Boston Globe)

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  1. In God's country | A political analyst warns that evangelism is addling America. Christine Rosen reviews American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips (The Washington Post)

  2. Beware of God | In Tony Hendra's novel, Jesus has returned, and the religious right is in trouble. James Campbell reviews The Messiah of Morris Avenue (The New York Times)

  3. Life choices | After a doctor's murder, the son of an abortion provider takes a personal look at a national debate. Abraham Verghese reviews Absolute Convictions by Eyal Press (The Washington Post)

  4. The turbulent time when religions in many lands turned to compassion | Charles Matthews reviews The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong (The Baltimore Sun)

  5. Inside every religion, the Golden Rule | by Lisa Montanarelli reviews The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong (San Francisco Chronicle)

  6. Exploring the roots of religious traditions | Writer Karen Armstrong isn't afraid to tackle huge topics (The Seattle Times)

  7. Now I know how theatre critics feel | I didn't really call an appallingly bad biography of St Augustine of Hippo by a militant anti-Christian a work of "refreshing originality" (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)

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Jim Wallis Down Under:

  1. Christian takes on the Right | Religious faith will be the most influential force in Australian politics in the next decade, American Christian activist Jim Wallis says (The Australian)

  2. Losing their religion | Jim Wallis is on a mission to seize the true values and morality of his religion from the rightwingers who have hijacked it. He has already made a difference (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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  1. Christian warns of religious right's rise | Australia must beware the rise of the "religious right" in politics, American Christian activist Jim Wallis has told a Melbourne audience (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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  1. Priest in shock after abduction | An elderly priest who was assaulted and abducted from the presbytery of his church in Victoria's north was recovering from the shock of his ordeal. (The Daily Telegraph, NSW, Australia)

  2. East Orange church backs accused pastor | Allegations of theft will not be pursued, his lawyer says (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.Y.)

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  1. Man seeking pastor's removal is arrested | After nearly seven months of protesting every week outside the Catholic Church of the Holy Cross in Albany, the co-chairman of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests was arrested Sunday morning for allegedly violating a court order that requires him to keep his distance from the church (Albany Times-Union, N.Y.)

  2. Diocese progresses on child protection | Abuse board revision urged (The Boston Globe)

  3. Also: Archdiocese is hamstrung in reform, report says | Efforts to change the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston in the aftermath of a sex abuse crisis have been hampered by diminished resources, a report said (The New York Times)

  4. Also: Panel sees progress at Boston archdiocese | The Archdiocese of Boston has made "a solid beginning" in adopting new protections for children since the clergy sexual abuse scandal broke four years ago, but needs to commit more staffing and money to the effort, a review panel said Friday (Associated Press)

  5. 3 Philadelphia priests defrocked | Brings to 17 the number of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese who have been defrocked since the clergy abuse scandal broke four years ago (Associated Press)

  6. Church sex abuse counselor signs on | Venice Diocese social worker's goal is to help church abuse victims (Sarasota Herald Tribune, Fla.)

  7. Priest's scheduled parole prompts AG action | 2 years ago, man convicted of abusing 3 boys (WMAQ, Chicago)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. The kingdom of Christ | A bold new take on the historical Jesus raises questions about a centuries-long quest (Jay Tolson, U.S. News & World Report)

  2. Evangelicals, Muslims at similar approval level | Fifty-seven percent of Americans viewed evangelicals favorably, while 55% viewed Muslim-Americans favorably. Jews got a 77% favorable rating, Catholics 73%. Atheists got 35%, according to the report (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  3. Man kills wife, son and then himself | Eun Suk Cho, a prominent U.S.-educated theologian, said that the two incidents occurring within a week of each other is a warning for Korean American churches to concentrate less on growing membership and "more on reaching out to those who are hurting" (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Bob Geldof blames China for Sudan war | The Irish rock star, nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for organizing last year's Live 8 benefit concerts, said China was protecting the Sudanese government because it provides 6 percent of China's oil (Associated Press)

  2. Sir Cliff to sell up and leave Britain | The life of Sir Cliff Richard, who has just turned 65, has seen many surprising changes in recent years, most of which, friends say, can be put down to the growing influence of Father John McElynn, the New Yorkborn Roman Catholic priest who has become a dominant presence in his life since they met six years ago (The Mail on Sunday, London)

  3. Cancellation of Dracula Park hailed as victory by Romanian church | Romania's Orthodox church has welcomed a government decision to cancel a "Dracula Park" entertainment complex near Bucharest, five years after the project was initiated to take advantage of the country's legendary vampire (ENI)

  4. Church shelters city park refugees | Dozens of homeless people reject a camp near the police station in favor of Kawaiaha'o (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

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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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