Today's Top Five
1. Rally to Save Darfur as deadline hits
Evangelical groups are among those leading Sunday's Save Darfur Rally to Stop Genocide in Washington, D.C., and other cities. Sunday is also the deadline for Darfur's warring parties to sign an African Union-mediated peace agreementwhich doesn't look likely, says The Christian Science Monitor. More bad news from Darfur: The United Nations World Food Program is cutting its daily rations in half due to funding cuts. Keep your eye on the detailed blog Passion of the Present for frequent Darfur updates.
2. U.S. Christians still divided on immigration
The Family Research Council has posted video of yesterday's three-hourÂ immigration debate with leading Christian leaders and lawmakers. The bottom line from FRC's Connie Mackey in a San Francisco Chronicle front-page story: There's no consensus other than to be "compassionate but firm." "The Christian community is closer on a resolution than we actually think," said FRC president Tony Perkins. Still, The Dallas Morning News says there's plenty of conflict, too:
The testiest moment came after the Rev. Joan Maruskin of Church World Service's Immigration and Refugee Program compared Jesus to illegal immigrants.
"Christ came in as a strangerthe migrant refugee Christ to whom we owe our salvation," she said. If Jesus and his disciples arrived in the United States as 13 bearded men without documents, she said, "they would be put into a detention center, be victims of expedited removal or they'd be sent to Guantánamo."
Immigration-control advocate John O'Sullivan, a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute, decried such "moral bullying."
Describing himself as a rank-and-file Catholic, Mr. O'Sullivan criticized attempts to translate religious doctrine into public policy without weighing all implicationsthe downward pressure on wages for natives and prior immigrants, for instance.
"We have to make choiceshow many of them to admit, which of them to admit," he said. "We are importing poverty."
3. The Telegraph says Christians under Muslim attack in West Bank, Pakistan
Those interested in religious liberty issues or Christian-Muslim relations will certainly want to check out The Telegraph today. One story recounts how Muslim clerics in the West Bank are trying to shut down the Qalqilya YMCA because it is Christian. Another tells of much worse pressures against Christians in Pakistan to convert to Islam.
4. Ky. Human Rights Commission: Shunning ex-Amish is impermissible
The Associated Press has a fascinating story on a Kentucky Commission on Human Rights ruling against the Amish, but doesn't tease out many church-state implications. That's unfortunate, because there are several tie-ins to the looming controversies over conscience in the workplace. Erma Troyer, the Amish owner of Troyer's Rocky Top Salvage store, says it's against her religion to take money from someone who is being shunned by the Amish community. The commission ruled she must serve any customer regardless of religionor religious status. If she complies with the ruling, Troyer herself risks being shunned. Noted scholar Donald Kraybill says Troyer is rightly interpreting Amish doctrine. Now we need to hear from some church-state experts on whether following that doctrine trumps equal-access rules.
5. Moon's soccer teams
Earlier this month, the Chicago Tribune reported that Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon controls most of the U.S. sushi market. Today's Guardian reports that he owns a few Brazilian soccer teams, too, as part of a successful effort "to win Brazilian hearts and minds."
Quote of the day
"There's not one major electronics manufacturer who isn't trying to target this space."
Dan Stark, head of Stark Raving Solutions, on the growing "house of worship technology" market, quoted by CNet.
Sudan | Religious freedom and interfaith relations | First Amendment | Politics | Immigration | Education | Taylor University crash | Crime and abuse | Missions & ministry | Sexual ethics | Life ethics | Church life | Catholicism | Entertainment, art,Â and media | Music | Technology | Other stories of interest
- Groups rally against genocide | "Save Darfur: Rally to Stop Genocide" is sponsored by a coalition of 150 religious and human rights groups, including American Jewish World Service, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Council of Churches and the American Society for Muslim Advancement (Newsday)
- Bush raises pressure as Darfur deadline nears | President George W. Bush announced new sanctions on Thursday against people suspected of aiding genocide in Sudan's Darfur region, as peace talks in Nigeria neared a deadline and 160 religious and human rights groups prepared for a massive Washington rally on Sunday (Reuters)
Religious freedom andinterfaith relations:
- West Bank: Islamic clerics want to close YMCA | An attempt by Muslim clerics to close a YMCA branch office in the West Bank has exposed growing tensions between the Holy Land's dwindling Christian community and the new Palestinian government led by Hamas (The Telegraph, London)
- Pakistan: Where Christianity faces a fight to survive | Christians in Pakistan live under the threat of persecution, death, and have suffered waves of violence directed against them and their churches (The Telegraph, London)
- Islam-West relations focus of prayer for peace session | Islam's stormy relations with the West became the main topic yesterday at the 20th annual International Prayer for Peace conference at Georgetown University (The Washington Times)
- Moroccan model | Evangelical Christians and Muslims are two groups rarely mentioned in the same sentence, but Monday night, Ahmed Abaddi, official in charge of Islamic affairs in Morocco, addressed a dozen evangelicals during a private dinner in Fairfax (The Washington Times)
- Book is extremely wrong about British Muslims | Ziauddin SardarÂ reviews From Rushdie to 7/7, by Anthony McRoy (The Independent, London)
- A clash of beliefs in Riverside | When Christians denounce Islam at a community college gathering, debate turns into shouting matches (Los Angeles Times)
- BJP to oppose anti-conversion bill | Two years into next polls, leaders fear losing public support (The Telegraph, Calcutta, India)
- Polish parade accused of promoting anti-Semitism | Poland was again forced on to the defensive over its attitude towards Jews yesterday after the Simon Wiesenthal Centre complained of the "anti-Semitic tenor" of a Good Friday procession (The Telegraph, London)
- Rajasthan bans another book | "Content hurts feelings of particular community" (The Hindu, India)
- Ruling restricts shunning practices | Amish store ordered to serve ex-Amish (Associated Press)
- Palm Beach County backs off plan to limit size of 'mega churches' | Thou shalt not reign in the size of the house -- or gymnasium or daycare -- of the Lord, Palm Beach County commissioners decided Thursday (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
- Also: County quietly backs off plan to limit size of new churches | In sharp contrast to earlier fervor-filled hearings, Palm Beach County commissioners quietly voted 4-1 Thursday to remove a clause that would have limited the size of new churches (Palm Beach Post, Fla.)
- A judge's fine line between victims and victimizers | According to a ruling's logic, a T-shirt message worn by Catholics may be granted First Amendment protection if Catholics are viewed as a historically oppressed minority within Christianity but not if they are considered to be part of a monolithic Christian majority (John Leo, U.S. News & World Report)
- A Bible-based government | What if you long for a world where not only gay marriage, abortion, and safe-sex education are against the law, but so are taxes, assisted suicide, and pornography? What could you do? Where would you go? (KPIX, San Francisco)
- Living in twilight and hope | Too many activists have convinced themselves that they have a monopoly on truth. A little humility and a sense of history could move us all forward (Jon Meacham, Newsweek)
- Re-defining moment | Time to reflect on what compassionate conservatism isand isn't (Marvin Olasky. World)
- Christians ask: Can you love thy neighbor but deport him, too? | For people of faith, the immigration debate requires a trip through a maze of seemingly contradictory teachings (The Dallas Morning News)
- Immigration debate splits Christian right | Religious conservatives bared their internal struggles over immigration Thursday at an unusually frank public debate, demonstrating that the most powerful faction of the Republican Party is as divided as the party itself on the issue (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Jesus called as witness in thorny immigration debate | "What would Jesus do?" asked Joan Maruskin, of Church World Service, during a panel in Washington on the role of faith, culture and law in the immigration debate (Financial Times)
- Byrd proposes constitutional prayer amendment again | For the eighth time in 43 years, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., is proposing that Congress adopt a constitutional amendment allowing voluntary prayer in public schools and extracurricular activities (Charleston Daily Mail, W.V.)
- 'Christmas' break makes return | A Colorado school district has voted to restore the name of its two-week December holiday to "Christmas break" (The Washington Times)
- A great big bowl of beliefs | USF's weekly Bull Market is free speech on steroids. Got a view? Get a booth. Some students will stop, others avoid the chaos (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
Taylor University crash:
- Taylor family: We'll face the future together | Inaugural events to go on today, school says, as sign of renewed commitment and in honor of those lost in crash (Marion Chronicle-Tribune, Ind.)
- 'We will mourn
with hope' | Deaths shake campus, but faith remains (Marion Chronicle-Tribune, Ind.)
- Police say answers are months away | Many questions remain as to how and why Wednesday night's crash occurred, and it will likely be months before many of them can be answered, police say (Marion Chronicle-Tribune, Ind.)
- Tragedy drains joy from Taylor University | Shock, grief over fatal traffic crash crowds out happiness (Editorial, Marion Chronicle-Tribune, Ind.)
- 1,500 at Taylor mourn loss | 4 students, 1 employee died in I-69 crash (The Indianapolis Star)
- Accident victims joined by faith and call to service | The stories of those who died (The Indianapolis Star)
Crime and abuse:
- Forensic expert may tie priest, nun, stains | A renowned forensic expert testified Thursday that a bloody stain on an altar cloth might link a priest to the death of a nun in 1980 (Associated Press)
- Conviction in killing of nun raises hopes | A Brazilian farmer's conviction for hiring the gunmen who killed an American nun and rain-forest defender is a sign of progress for an Amazon state's notoriously corrupt judicial system, lawyers said (Associated Press)
- Nun killer gets more freedom | Mark Bechard, committed to a state psychiatric hospital after killing two nuns and injuring two others in a Waterville chapel a decade ago, won time off hospital grounds Wednesday (Kennebec Journal, Me.)
- Teenager lied about 'rape' by churchman | A church deacon was cleared of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old boy after the youngster admitted that he had lied (The Times, London)
Missions & ministry:
- Volunteer ministry brings message of love and redemption to prisons | Inside Kairos at Elmore Correctional Facility (The Birmingham News, Ala.)
- Loaves and Fishes aims to meet human needs with God's help | Over the next two weeks there will be two major events to help support the Loaves and Fishes Ministry, which was founded this spring to provide financial assistance to area families who have incurred great expenses from traumatic accidents or illnesses (David Gushee, The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)
- Dockery signs letter against gay marriage | The president of Union University has signed an open interfaith letter petitioning for a constitutional amendment to block same-sex marriage (The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)
- Minn. gay marriage ban could prompt exodus | The argument, advanced in some other states, is that there is a "creative class" of talented workers, straight and gay, who are a driving force in the economy and seek out vibrant communities that are tolerant of differences (Associated Press)
- Inquiry into abortion time limit is rejected | The Government has blocked a parliamentary inquiry into late terminations and the abortion time limit (The Telegraph, London)
- Kaine allows execution despite his beliefs | Governor says he has no reason to doubt killer's guilt (The Washington Post)
- Baptists should agree about disagreeing, minister says | Baptists' freedoms are being eroded. At least that's the view of an Arlington pastor, the Rev. Benjamin Cole, who will offer at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in June a resolution urging the denomination to reassert its tradition of freedom of dissent (Jim Jones, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)
- Gathering storm | Next month's general assembly could break apart the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (World)
- Church of England stores up riches on Earth | The church commissioners' annual report reveals how it has emerged as one of the most successful money managers in Britain (The Guardian, London)
- Also: How much land does the Church of England own? | The Church Commissioners' 56-page report on the financial state of the Church of England released yesterday, made for, well, not particularly interesting reading really, except for the property portfolio (Catherine Boyle, The Guardian, London)
- Rediscovering the passion | We have to recover the sense of mass participation in Easter celebrations (Theo Hobson, The Guardian, London)
- Pope blames loveless world for low birthrates | Pope Benedict said on Friday that the growing number of loveless relationships may be behind declining birthrates in the developed world (Reuters)
- Pope orders cutbacks in the 'saint factory' | Benedict insists on tighter rules for beatification;Â John Paul II's path may be blocked by changes (The Guardian, London)
- Fewer than 1 in 5 attend Mass in Boston | In 1996: 19.6 percent of Boston Catholics regularly attended Mass. Today, it's 17.3 percent (Associated Press)
- A courageous Christian statement | It is to be hoped that Father Pizzaballa's statements at the end of Holocaust Day in Tel Aviv harbinger a change, which is long overdue, in the Vatican's position (Editorial, Haaretz, Tel Aviv)
Entertainment, art, and media:
- Protesters defend Mormons | Members of the LDS Church did the Christian thing by turning the other cheek and refusing to let a San Diego protest turn ugly, according to Utah filmmaker Richard Dutcher (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)
- Some NPR, Christian radio hearing Stern | Poorly installed or defective satellite radio units, which act as mini-FM transmitters, are being blamed (Associated Press)
- Also: Mixed signals | If you hear Howard Stern instead of NPR, bad satellite radio equipment is to blame (The Baltimore Sun)
- Stockholm Dean resigns over Jesus exhibition | The Dean of Stockholm Cathedral has resigned in protest after it emerged that the Swedish Church is sponsoring a photographic exhibition about Jesus (The Local, Sweden)
- Boycott "The Da Vinci Code" film: top Vatican official | Archbishop Angelo Amato is the number two official in the Vatican doctrinal office which was headed by Pope Benedict until his election last year (Reuters)
- Also: Seeking truth at the movies | Some religious leaders plan to use "The Da Vinci Code" to teach people about faith (John J. Miller, The Wall Street Journal)
- Why the Church has been such a blessing | Composers who submit to the ancient structures of Church music can yield sublime results (Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, London)
- Don't be so down on beat in church | Bible Broadcasting Network drops Pastor David Jeremiah's radio program because Jeremiah's church sings contemporary songs (Tim Sinclair, The Huntsville Times, Ala.)
- Is Jesus the next killer app? | Tech companies are getting religion. Companies such as Sony, Panasonic, Avid and Hitachi are helping churches spread the gospel as part of an effort to cash in on an exploding market known as "house of worship technology." (CNet)
- Religious blogs test beliefs, power structure | Clergy forced to deal with `dirty laundry' in more public forum (Chicago Tribune)
Other stories ofinterest:
- Shifting ground in the Holy Land | Archaeology is casting new light on the Old Testament (Smithsonian)
- Over the Moon: how football wins recruits for sect leader in Brazil | Unification Church's critics say sports projects are used to brainwash impoverished young people (The Guardian, London)
- Religion in the News: Billy in bronze | At age 87, the Rev. Billy Graham speaks softly and no longer strides to the pulpit. But to many American Christians, he's still a larger-than-life figure, and that will be reflected in a bronze statue to be unveiled by the Southern Baptist Convention at its meeting later this spring (Associated Press)
- Church a way of life in Dixie | The South contains eight of the top 10 states with the most frequent churchgoers in the nation, according to a Gallup Poll analysis of more than 68,000 interviews conducted in the past two years (The Washington Times)
- The 'Sinner's Prayer' | The lone survivor of the Sago mine disaster says it was recited as the doomed men realized they were about to die. What is it? (Hartford Courant, Ct.)
- By George, a saint he ain't | England's patron saint was a greedy fraudster. The time to campaign for his replacement is now (David McKie, The Guardian, London)
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