Today's Top Five

1. Malaysia bans all religious discussions
The Malaysian government is concerned that debate over its Constitution's freedom of religion clause is getting too heated. So it has banned any public speech about religion. "Public discussions such as these have the potential to create resentment among the public," Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz, who holds the title Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, explained to the Malaysian media Monday. "They have widened the gap between the different faiths and because of that, the government has decided to ban all public discussions, forums, and conferences on the matter before it gets out of hand."

It's not so bad, Nazri claimed. "Those who wish to discuss such matters are free to meet the Prime Minister," he said. "We are not concerned with private discussions at home; what we worry about are inter-faith roadshows, public forums, and conferences. … The government has given Malaysians the freedom to discuss any current issue, even the freedom to criticize us in a constructive manner. We, however, cannot extend this freedom to religion because it can incite disharmony in our multi-religious society."

Malaysia's Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, made it clear that the action was taken as much to protect Islam's status in the country as it was to protect the peace.

"I have always said do not raise this matter [of religion]," he said. "But it emerges here, there, back and forth. If we take the attitude [not to raise religious matters], then only the religion [of Islam] has the status quo. But if it is continuously being raised, what will happen then? A conflict."

Abdullah then criticized four state governments for not outlawing the spread of religions other than Islam. "Why are they still not doing it? To those states that have not [implemented such laws], they should consider. Take whatever actions needed," he said.

Malaysia, frequently praised as one of the world's most religiously tolerant officially Muslim nations, hosted the World Evangelical Fellowship (now the World Evangelical Alliance) meeting in 2001.

2. Pastor killed, five injured at Indian Baptist church shooting
Locals say security forces attacked the Evangelical Baptist Convention Church in Churachandpur, Manipur, during Sunday night services. The Indian Army, however, says Pastor S. Ngaite was killed in the crossfire in a shootout between the military and "an armed cadre of an underground group." Condemnation of the shooting has been widespread.

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3. California GOP hires, fires Traditional Values Coalition lobbyist
Facing criticism from religious conservatives that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is too liberal, the California Republican Party hired Ben Lopez, a lobbyist from Lou Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition. That angered gay and lesbian groups. The party says Lopez's "work is now completed," and he's no longer working for the party. That apparently came as news to Lopez, the San Francisco Chronicle says. Conservative California Republican Mike Spence criticized the move, saying "they fired the only person who could do church outreach."

Really? I mean, in all of California, the only person who can do church outreach for the state Republican party is a guy from the Traditional Values Coalition—a group that religious conservative groups have repeatedly criticized, and that Sheldon himself has said is weak on reaching voters?

Speaking of criticism from religious conservatives, it seems that there are at least some in California who see Lopez's work on behalf of a governor who differs with the TVC on gay rights, abortion, and other issues as TVC "betraying Christians."

4. Jesus gone, but the debate continues
Someone stole the Head of Christ painting from the wall outside the principal's office at Bridgeport High School in West Virginia. The painting is the subject of a lawsuit from Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the state ACLU. "The most logical question is 'Now that the picture's gone, is it moot?'" Harrison County School superintendent Carl Friebel told the Associated Press. "We're all in uncharted water here, but if it resurfaces, then the case wouldn't be moot."

The school board says it won't accept a replacement until the case is resolved.

5. 'Prejudice' that makes the news—and that doesn't
The country's newsrooms are apparently flabbergasted that a church—a Baptist church no less—would prohibit a woman from teaching men in a Sunday school classroom. As it turns out, that storyline is problematic, but the heavy news coverage continues anyway. Meanwhile, Fellowship Baptist Church in Saltillo, Mississippi, voted out a 12-year-old boy who "asked Jesus to live in his heart" at the church two weeks ago. Why the ban? Joe is biracial, and church members didn't want the black side of his family attending with him.

They were "afraid Joe might come with his people and have blacks in the church," church pastor John Stevens told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. "I could not go along with that. There would always be a wall between us, so I resigned that night."

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Cliff Hardy, a local police officer, also resigned from the church. "My best friend is a black man," he said. "I wouldn't be comfortable going to a place where I couldn't ask my best friend to go to church with me."

The paper contacted church members, but they refused comment. Here's perhaps one of the most amazing parts of the story: four days later, no media outlet has picked up the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's reporting. Are media outlets too busy misreporting the woman Sunday school teacher story? Do they feel burned on bigotry stories, now that they know the story isn't so simple?

Note: See our update on the Daily Journal article.

Quote of the day:
"As more evangelical leaders acquire firsthand experience in foreign policy, they are likely to provide something now sadly lacking in the world of U.S. foreign policy: a trusted group of experts, well versed in the nuances and dilemmas of the international situation, who are able to persuade large numbers of Americans to support the complex and counterintuitive policies that are sometimes necessary in this wicked and frustrating—or, dare one say it, fallen—world."

—The conclusion of Walter Russell Mead's article "God's Country," which appears in the September/October 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs. The full 7,000-word article is worth a read.

More articles

Malaysia bans religious talk | India church attacked | China | Religious freedom | Hezbollah-Israel war | Christians and Islam | John Sentamu's vigil | Sanctuary | Politics | Conservatism and religious belief | Church and state | Religious displays | Controversial Jesus painting stolen | Education | Higher education | Church building disputes | Baptist pastor quits amid real estate questions | Church robberies and vandalism | Crime | Abuse | Churches and sex offenders | That "church fires woman" story | Church life | Anglicanism | Catholicism | Pope on workaholism | Missions & ministry | People | AIDS | Life ethics | Contraceptives and Plan B | Sexual ethics | Boycott the (water) bottle | Art and entertainment | Books | History |The Exodus Decoded | Exhibits | Music | Travel | Other stories of interest

Malaysia bans religious talk:

  1. 'No' to discussing religion | The Government will not allow public discussions on issues that can arouse anger among the followers of different religions, the Dewan Rakyat was told Monday (Daily Express, Malaysia)

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  1. 'Ban necessary, but still room to talk' | The door is not closed on those who are concerned about freedom of religion despite the ban on public discussion of inter-faith matters (New Straits Times, Malaysia)

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India church attacked:

  1. Pastor killed in crossfire | Tension gripped Manipur's Churachandpur district after security personnel allegedly opened fire at the Evangelical Baptist Convention Church, killing a pastor and injuring at least five others (The Times of India)

  2. One killed, five injured in firing at Manipur church | One person was killed and five others were injured when unidentified persons fired at a crowded church in Churachandpur district of Manipur last night, official sources said (PTI, India)

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  1. The war for China's soul | As Christianity begins to reshape the nation, Time learns new details about a crackdown on one church (Time)

  2. China adds restrictions in effort to shake the faith of independent congregations | A national crackdown on underground churches comes at a time of booming growth in the churches across the country (The New York Times)

  3. China fires Christian reporter for church protest | Chinese authorities have dismissed a Christian reporter after he posted comments on the Internet denouncing the destruction of a church in the country's east, the reporter said on Monday (Reuters)

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Religious freedom:

  1. Indonesia delays Bali bomber executions | Analysts say the timing of the executions may be linked to those of three Christian militants on death row for their roles in sectarian violence on Sulawesi island six years ago that left 200 Muslims dead. They say it would be politically difficult for the government to execute the Bali bombers before placing the Christians — who represent a minority in Indonesia — in front of a firing squad (Associated Press)

  2. Prosecutors won't probe Madonna's act | German prosecutors said Monday they have decided against opening an investigation into Madonna after the pop diva performed a controversial mock crucifixion scene at a weekend concert (Associated Press)

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Hezbollah-Israel war:

  1. Hezbollah has few fans among bitter Christians | Residents who fled the town during the war returned to find bloodstains on their couches, or dirty handtowels where Hezbollah fighters had used their toilets (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  2. Relief agencies find Hezbollah hard to avoid | Relief agencies that accept U.S. funds are barred from giving aid through Hezbollah, but the group pervades southern Lebanon (The New York Times)

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  1. Archbishop tells church to stay in Lebanon: 'You'll make it' | Chucrallah Nabil Hage, the Maronite Christian archbishop of Tyre, added a twist to his Sunday sermon here: hold your ground (USA Today)

  2. Pope laments length of Mideast conflict | Pope Benedict XVI has expressed dismay that the conflict in the Middle East has persisted for so long and lamented a lack of dialogue to bring lasting peace, according to messages released Monday by the Vatican (Associated Press)

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Christians and Islam:

  1. Religion in the dock in Muslim vilification appeal | It is impossible to vilify Islam without also vilifying Muslims, because the two are indistinguishable, the Victorian Court of Appeal was told yesterday (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  2. It takes two to beat words into ploughshares | Christians should look at their own history of violence sanctioned by faith (Darren Oldridge, The Times, London)

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John Sentamu's vigil:

  1. Archbishop urges inclusion after vigil | Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, ended his week-long Middle East vigil on Sunday with a call for concerted international action to ensure a lasting peace (Reuters)

  2. Inside is an odd place to pitch a tent … | … But then it is his cathedral. Halfway through his week under canvas in a side chapel of York Minster, Archbishop John Sentamu tells Stephen Bates what inspired his highly unusual camping trip (The Guardian, London)

  3. Why I've pitched my tent in the cathedral | At a time when the Church of England is ignored or ridiculed, John Sentamu's Old Testament protest about the carnage in the Middle East is a cri de coeur, he tells Martin Wroe (The Times, London)

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  1. Chicago woman's stand stirs immigration debate | Immigrants' rights groups and critics of illegal immigration are watching the case of a woman who defied an order to report for deportation and is seeking sanctuary in her church (The New York Times)

  2. Official: Gov't won't enter Ill. church | Immigration enforcement officers do not plan to enter a church where a single mother sought sanctuary rather than submit to deportation to Mexico, a government official said Friday (Associated Press)

  3. Church is sanctuary as deportation nears | Immigrant activist defies U.S. order (The Washington Post)

  4. Pitting secular law and `higher law' | Woman misuses sanctuary tradition (Steven Lubet, Chicago Tribune)

  5. Sanctuary chic | A 1980s left-wing religious cause makes a comeback in the age of Iraq and illegal immigration (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

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  1. State GOP suddenly dumps newly hired evangelical lobbyist | Ben Lopez, the chief lobbyist and spokesman for the Traditional Values Coalition -- the Anaheim-based evangelical advocacy group led by the controversial Rev. Lou Sheldon -- has been fired from his new job as an outreach worker with the California Republican Party, sources said Tuesday (San Francisco Chronicle)

  2. Schwarzenegger hears rumbles from the Right | Conservatives see some of the governor's stands as liberal. If too few vote, his reelection could be threatened (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Conservatives put faith in church voter drives | Evangelicals seek to sign up a new flock of GOP supporters in states with crucial November races (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Diocese cancels nun's Duluth talk because of anti-Bush newspaper ad | The author of "Dead Man Walking" was scheduled to speak at an October Catholic fundraiser, which is now canceled (Duluth News Tribune, Minn.)

  5. Is the Catholic Church pro-immigrant? You bet. | The Catholic Church — an unrelenting opponent of abortion and homosexuality and troubled by its own priest-abuse scandals — has been called many things, but fashionable isn't often among them. Yet fashion is why some critics now speculate the church has involved itself in today's third rail of politics: immigration reform (Paulette Chu Miniter, USA Today)

  6. Lawmakers balk at Christian Coalition survey | The Christian Coalition of Alabama wants to know where candidates for the state Legislature stand on a variety of issues, ranging from prayer in school to abortion to whether people who are homosexual should be allowed to serve in the Alabama National Guard. (Associated Press)

  7. Also: Christian Coalition itself should answer questions | Smart voters will be skeptical about the Christian Coalition's agenda while realizing that candidates' reaction to the questionnaire does reveal something about them (Editorial, The Decatur Daily, Ala.)

  8. Casey touts independence but shuns tough issues | Candidate prides himself on his independence from national Democrats on hot button issues like abortion. But his independence quickly evaporates when it comes to other thorny political issues such as Social Security reform or whether he would have supported the Iraq war resolution (The Washington Times)

  9. Also: Casey embraces his 'independent streak' | Interview excerpts (The Washington Times)

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  1. 'Religious agenda' fails to toss Turner | No challenger in Halton riding; Tory MP to be acclaimed (The Toronto Star)

  2. 'Heads I win, tails you lose' approach to religion | It would seem that it's OK to have God in politics as long as he's on the progressive side (Dennis Shanahan, The Australian)

  3. God's country? | Religion has always been a major force in U.S. politics, but the recent surge in the number and the power of evangelicals is recasting the country's political scene -- with dramatic implications for foreign policy. This should not be cause for panic: evangelicals are passionately devoted to justice and improving the world, and eager to reach out across sectarian lines. (Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs)

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Conservatism and religious belief:

  1. Truthtelling | Heather Mac Donald is right (Michael Novak, National Review Online)

  2. Religiously arguing | A response to Michael Novak (Heather Mac Donald, National Review Online)

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Church and state:

  1. Church-state issues topple proposal to restore missions | Concerned over possible church-state conflicts, legislators have rejected an effort to channel state funds into the restoration of California's deteriorating missions (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Lawsuit over prayer rejected | Federal court judge rules in city's favor on prayer policy; Rutherford Institute says case will be appealed (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)

  3. Also: Prayers from the bully pulpit | A Fredericksburg councilman can offer nonsectarian prayers. He can't, though, tell citizens what they ought to believe (Editorial, The Roanoke Times, Va.)

  4. Church faces fine for tree removal | First Baptist elders want penalty waived for lack of funds (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)

  5. Gay police advert investigated after religious hate complaint | A criminal investigation has been started by Scotland Yard into an advertisement from the Gay Police Association that blamed religion for a 74 per cent increase in homophobic crime (The Times, London)

  6. Judge: Navy must turn over some e-mails in chaplain case | The Navy must turn over to defense attorney s by the close of business to day some of its e-mails concerning a chaplain charged with disobeying an order by appearing in uniform at a protest outside the White House, a military judge has ruled (Associated Press)

  7. Praying aloud gets man jailed | Something's wrong with police priorities (Licia Corbella, The Calgary Sun)

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Religious displays:

  1. Judge allows Ten Commandments monument | A federal judge on Friday said a Ten Commandments monument outside a courthouse can stay, rejecting arguments that it promotes Christianity at the expense of other religions (Associated Press)

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  1. Also: A particularly literate and engaging decision in Oklahoma 10 Commandments case | Only a full reading does justice to the opinion (Howard M. Friedman, Religion Clause)

  2. Commandments set for Idaho vote | The Idaho Supreme Court has authorized the nation's first ballot initiative to let voters decide whether a Boise public park should be allowed to have a Ten Commandments monument, like the one removed two years ago (The Washington Times)

  3. Swords being crossed over memorial to Katrina victims | A New Orleans-area parish wants to erect the symbol on the storm's first anniversary. But the ACLU says the effort is unconstitutional (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Feds now control Mount Soledad cross site | Bush signs bill; biggest foe expects court ruling soon (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

  5. Also: Bush signs law to save war memorial cross | President Bush sided with cross supporters who contend that it forms part of a secular war memorial on a hill in San Diego (The New York Times)

  6. County deciding where to appeal Bible display case | Plaintiff's lawyer says the verdict to stand, whatever court is selected (Houston Chronicle)

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Controversial Jesus painting stolen:

  1. Theft doesn't stop school-church fight | Board of Education won't let the theft of a painting of Jesus from Bridgeport High School stand in the way of its fight to preserve its decidedly Christian aesthetic (Associated Press)

  2. Contentious W.Va. Jesus painting stolen | So much for "Thou shalt not steal." Just before 4 a.m. Thursday, an intruder snatched the contentious painting of Jesus Christ from the halls of Bridgeport High School (Associated Press)

  3. Donors defend school's Jesus | A divided school board in West Virginia has decided to use about $150,000 in donated money to fund a legal fight to keep a print of Jesus Christ on display in one of its high schools that has been there for more than 40 years (The Washington Times)

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  1. Court ruling prompts ban on groups sending fliers home with students | Montgomery County school officials announced yesterday that they are temporarily banning outside groups such as parent-teacher associations and the Boy Scouts from distributing fliers about activities and events in student backpacks (The Washington Post)

  2. Christian themes split UC, high schools | Lawsuit argues for acceptance of texts and courses (The Orange County Register)

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  1. 'Christmas Break' ruins IR deal | Indian River district: Terms to settle prayer suit too harsh (The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.)

  2. Teenager's crucifix banned from school | Jamie Derman, 17, told News Ltd newspapers she was stunned when told to remove her crucifix or she could be suspended (AAP, Australia)

  3. Christian band to appeal ruling that halted suit | A Christian rock band barred from playing during an anti-drug assembly at Rossford High is appealing a federal court ruling that dismissed its lawsuit against the school district (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  4. Parents lobby for military-style academy | Some parents of children at a controversial Lauderhill private school want the academy to reopen (The Miami Herald)

  5. Also: Christian school explores options | Parents hope Back to Basics can reopen this week (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

  6. Earlier: Unlicensed academy closes doors after student death | The principal of a Lauderhill Christian military academy wouldn't discuss the future of her school after city officials found it lacked an occupational license (The Miami Herald)

  7. Assembly prayers illegal, schools to be told | State schools will soon receive a new set of guidelines on religion, including a warning that prayers or Christian karakia in primary schools are illegal in most circumstances (The New Zealand Herald)

  8. Schools get religion warning | Christian principles violate rights code; Winkler cautioned against 'poisoned environment' (Winnipeg Free Press)

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Higher education:

  1. Insults allowed at Georgia Tech | Suit alters speech code in housing (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  2. History repeats for NSU patrons | When the college that would grow into Norfolk State University struggled to get off the ground in the mid-1930s, black churches made sure it had a firm footing. Today, NSU, now in its 71st year, has a growing endowment, but it is still struggling to build a rock-solid base of support for continued growth. And, once again, black churches are leading the way (The Virginian-Pilot)

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Church building disputes:

  1. Hurting for tax revenue, town ponders a freeze on churches | 51 houses of worship crowd out businesses in Houston suburb (The Washington Post)

  2. Churches upset with Scottsdale zone plan | More than two dozen religious leaders congregated at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Scottsdale on Monday to map a strategy for a looming battle. They'll need all the resources they can muster if they want to defeat proposed new zoning codes that could limit where and how they operate in Scottsdale (The Arizona Republic)

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  1. Church wins legal battle | Powerhouse Church of God in Christ.  However, the past ten years have been devastating. The church's original building burnt down in a 1996 fire, and then it later had its tax exemption revoked (KAUZ, Wichita Falls)

  2. Jury awards Hannibal church $348,000 for land | A Ralls County jury has ruled the Living Water Fellowship Church should receive $348,000 for its property on Hannibal's south side (Quincy Herald-Whig, Ill.)

  3. Judge: City violates church's rights | In 2001 a Christian center was denied a permit to move to a downtown building (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)

  4. Church, city clash over land | Parish says Southfield blocking entry into building (The Detroit News)

  5. City work at church on memo | Gallatin Mayor Don Wright's reported approval for a city employee to do church repair work on the city's dime has become the subject of a city attorney's memorandum. (The News Examiner, Gallatin, Tenn.)

  6. Also: Mayor defends actions | Gallatin Mayor Don Wright said if it's a crime to use the city's resources to help a church, lock him up (The News Examiner, Gallatin, Tenn.)

  7. Praying for intervention | Development threatens Baltimore's historic St. Stanislaus Church. There's a better choice for its fate (The Washington Post)

  8. Land prices crimp church construction | Houses of God are starting to look a little different in grow ing places like Medina County. Pastors are preaching in old stores, banquet halls, rec centers and public schools. They are forced into unusual settings by high land prices that make building a church nearly impossible (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

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Baptist pastor quits amid real estate questions:

  1. Pastor steps down; land deal being reviewed | Pastor Frank Harber submitted his resignation to First Baptist Church of Colleyville this week as church officials were reviewing a questionable deal in which he bought land for well below its value (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  2. Colleyville pastor questioned on land deal (WFAA, Dallas)

  3. Pastoral perks can be unethical, even illegal, Texas church finds | Frank Harber, pastor of First Baptist Church of Colleyville, Texas, resigned Aug. 18 amid allegations he benefited from an improper real estate deal. But his is only the latest case illustrating the fine line between ethical and non-ethical benefits that pastors receive from often well-meaning parishioners (Associated Baptist Press)

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Church robberies and vandalism:

  1. College raises money to rebuild rural churches in arson case | Three former students of the college, Birmingham-Southern, were charged in a series of church fires in Alabama this year (The New York Times)

  2. Church robbers strike 75 times in two months | Posing as builders, the raiders stripped lead from roofs, snatching statues and, on one occasion, stealing medieval bells. While the thieves have netted tens of thousands of pounds, repairing the churches has cost up to £200,000 (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Suspect nabbed at S.J. church | Man sought in relation to Modesto robbery (Stockton Record, Ca.)

  4. Hero priest stops theft at church | A Mission Hill priest went above and beyond doing the Lord's work yesterday when his divine intervention into a burglary in progress at his parish made possible the arrests of five hooligans (Boston Herald)

  5. Grail search theory over church vandalism | A mysterious incident of vandalism at a Shropshire church may have been caused by enthusiasts looking for the Holy Grail, it was claimed today (Shropshire Star, England)

  6. Vandals hit church | Pentagram among symbols painted on building (Times-Mail, Bedford, Ind.)

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  1. Former church CFO indicted by FBI | Feds charge ex-CFO of Cleveland's Roman Catholic Diocese in a kickback scheme (

  2. Massive hunt on for Greek 'miracle' icon | Police set up roadblocks and launched helicopter searches Saturday for a 700-year-old religious icon that was stolen from a monastery in southern Greece (Associated Press)

  3. Pastor recalled as strong leader | Fatally stabbed in Jamaica Saturday (The Boston Globe)

  4. Also: Boston minister slain in Jamaica | A Jamaica Plain minister was killed while visiting his native Jamaica after an unknown man attacked him with a machete on Saturday night, according to Jamaican state police (The Boston Globe)

  5. Christian police chief sees Satan at work in Birmingham | Homicides rise dramatically (Associated Press, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  6. Minister arrested outside Mormon pageant | For the second week in a row, an evangelical Christian minister has been arrested outside a Mormon-themed pageant in northern Utah (Daily Herald, Provo, Ut.)

  7. 'Slow start' for Winkler | Too many cameras kept Winkler from starting new job (The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  8. Also: Winkler seeks refuge in former hometown | Mary Winkler is back in McMinnville, and some residents say it's no big deal. Only now she is awaiting trial in her husband's death (The Tennessean, Nashville)

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  1. N.Y. priest protests $115 parking ticket | The Rev. Cletus Forson, of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, was ticketed last month when he responded to an emergency call from a parishioner afraid her mother would die without receiving the sacrament of the sick (Associated Press)

  2. Iraq Church gets ransom demand for priest-report | The Catholic Church in Iraq has received a ransom demand for a priest who was kidnapped in Baghdad, Rome-based Catholic news agency Misna said on Tuesday (Reuters)

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  1. Alleged sex assault sidelines 2 priests | The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has asked two priests to leave a northwest suburban parish while authorities investigate the allegations of a 26-year-old Palatine man who said he was sexually assaulted this month in the priests' home (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Also: 2 priests suspended over sex allegations | The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has suspended two priests from a Palatine parish amid allegations one of them sexually assaulted a 26-year-old man (Chicago Sun-Times)

  3. Pastor at St. Mary's Catholic Church resigns | The Rev. Richard Mickey, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Jackson and St. John's Catholic Church in Brownsville, cited personal reasons and a pending civil suit that accuses him of sexual abuse as his reasons for resigning (The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  4. Also: New pastor named as Father Mickey departs | Several St. Mary's Catholic Church parishioners were moved to tears when their pastor, the Rev. Richard Mickey, read his resignation letter during Mass on Sunday (The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  5. Ex-pastor sentenced for rape of girl, 15 | Lewis J. Lee, 54, the former pastor of the Christian Baptist Church in Sherburne, was sentenced Monday to 9 1/3 to 28 years (Press & Sun-Bulletin, Binghamton, N.Y.)

  6. Hornbuckle guilty of sexual assault | Hornbuckle -- the 44-year-old founder of Agape Christian Fellowship in southeast Arlington and the man everyone called "bishop"—faces a sentence ranging from probation to 20 years in prison on each charge (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  7. Also: A bad pastor gets an exemplary trial | On the one hand, the courtroom drama was just as I previously described it: a trashy soap opera with a plot full of drugs, sex, religion and celebrity. On the other hand, however, the Terry Hornbuckle sexual assault trial was a textbook case of good lawyering on both sides, a patient and even-handed presiding judge and a jury that took its duties very, very seriously (Bob Ray Sanders, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

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Churches and sex offenders:

  1. Some neighbors satisfied with Lodi pastor's explanation of past offenses | Some doubtful (Lodi News-Sentinel, Ca.)

  2. Also: Pastor turns out to be sex offender | But many are willing to forgive (The Record, Stockton, Ca.)

  3. County avoids church issue | Muscogee County Sheriff's Dept. waiting for decision in court over moving sex offenders who live near churches (The Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus, Oh.)

  4. Also: Sex offenders told to leave church areas | Lesser-known provision nets handful of arrests (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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That "church fires woman" story:

  1. Church fires teacher for being woman | The minister of a church that dismissed a female Sunday School teacher after adopting what it called a literal interpretation of the Bible says a woman can perform any job — outside of the church (Associated Press)

  2. For ousted teacher, limelight too bright | Dismissal from church role sparks countrywide support, media attention (Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.)

  3. Friday: A woman's place | How a church deals with its staff and volunteers is generally a matter for its clergy, church leaders and congregation. But the case of First Baptist Church of Watertown and its action toward Mary F. Lambert, a member for 60 years, is a bit different (Watertown Daily Times, N.Y., link now dead)

  4. Thursday: Church teacher sacked | A First Baptist Church member who recently criticized the church's direction publicly was dismissed Thursday as the congregation's Sunday School teacher (Watertown Daily Times, N.Y., link now dead)

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Church life:

  1. Pastor leaves after church turns away biracial boy | Twelve-year-old Joe recently asked Jesus to live in his heart. Yet the church where Joe accepted his Savior not even two weeks before will no longer allow the biracial boy to enter (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)

  2. Friends frustrate some of their flock | Quakers bogged down by process, two leaders say (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  3. Church members sue popular pastor, treasurer | New Mount Olive Baptist Church's Rev. Mack King Carter faces a new lawsuit that also names Benjamin Williams, the church's treasurer and chairman of the Broward School Board (The Miami Herald)

  4. LaBorg: 'Pastor's passion — not power trip' | School's future at heart of pastor, teacher fracas (The News Examiner, Gallatin, Tenn.)

  5. Priest removed from St. Joseph Church | Worm was pastor for seven years (The Morning News, Springdale, Ark.)

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  1. A church debates where sports fit in | When the Rev. John McCartney arrived at St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church in Dix Hills as its new pastor just weeks ago, one of his first decisions was also one of his most divisive. He shut down the entire St. Matthew athletic program, including its popular summer day camp, saying the organization that served 2,000 children had become too large and complex for the church to run. His decision came as the Suffolk County district attorney began looking into possible financial irregularities in the program run by a Dix Hills couple  (Newsday)

  2. Bellevue church, pastor go separate ways to heal | Bellevue Community Church leaders say they are moving ahead with a search for their new pastor by hiring a nationally recognized search firm. Elders are also in the process of having hours and hours worth of "cottage meetings" with their flock, attempting to heal wounds from the tumultuous ousting of the popular pastor, David Foster (Nashville City Paper)

  3. Moving day for a Santa Ana parish | Our Lady of La Vang's dedication is done in 3 languages. It's absorbing a nearby Latino church (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Sunday: New church blends two cultures in Santa Ana | Our Lady of La Vang, which will be dedicated today, seeks to unify Vietnamese and Latino Roman Catholic congregations (Los Angeles Times)

  5. For this priest, 'heaven's the limit' | A priest known for celebrating "jazz Mass" at a New Orleans landmark is now assigned to Texas (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

  6. Lutheran bishop to release book, retire | Blom helped keep churches together after hurricanes (Houston Chronicle)

  7. What are Born-agains up to going to church daily? | Frequenting church attracts varying interpretations and reactions among spouses. While some families see it and interprete it positively, others find fault with the practice (The Monitor, Uganda)

  8. Might as well be Latin | Church liturgy needs to use more metaphors in order to help people communicate with God in new ways (Glynn Cardy, The Guardian, London)

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  1. Lawsuit against bishop dismissed | A bitter theological battle between six Episcopal priests and a Connecticut bishop that is rooted in a dispute over the role of gays in the church has no place in a civil courtroom, a federal judge has ruled (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  2. Also: Federal judge: Church, not court, should settle Episcopal dispute | Court dismisses lawsuit brought by six parishes that had sought to break away from Connecticut diocese over bishop's support for election of gay bishop (Associated Press)

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  1. Holy downshifters swell vicars' ranks | The Church of England has become the latest destination for downshifting professionals in search of a quieter, more vocational lifestyle (The Times, London)

  2. Fairfax congregation could leave U.S. Episcopal Church | Truro to have 40-day period of discernment to decide the issue (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  3. Virginia cleric to lead new Anglican group | Assumption of bishop's post in Nigeria Sunday could add to tensions in church (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  4. Archbishop fears gay divide | Dr Rowan Williams said that his "nightmare" was that the worldwide Church could disintegrate into rival groups within a decade, with each demanding a share of the Church's wealth in costly court actions (The Telegraph, London)

  5. Canterbury asks for bishops meeting | The spiritual leader of world Anglicanism has asked six Episcopal bishops to meet in New York next month to try and resolve differences over homosexuality tearing at their church (Associated Press)

  6. Religion in the news: Gordon-Conwell goes Anglican | A new concentration in Anglican-Episcopal studies gives traditionalist Episcopalians a place in one of the nation's best-known conservative seminaries at a time when many don't feel at home in their own church (Associated Press)

  7. City's Anglican bishop named | It was the fourth and final scheduled night of the second election synod since Peter Watson resigned 13 months ago. The first in February broke off in stalemate after four days, and senior Anglicans feared the diocese would be seen as dysfunctional if it couldn't elect someone this time (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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  1. Pope replaces Intelligent Design critic at observatory | Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a new director of the Vatican Observatory, replacing the Rev. George Coyne, a long-serving Jesuit astronomer and a vocal opponent of "intelligent design" theory (Religion News Service)

  2. When sales fall, they call St. Joe | St. Joseph statues have long been used by sellers to help move property. Tradition has it that if you bury a statue upside down and facing the property you are trying to sell, St. Joseph will direct a buyer your way (The Boston Globe)

  3. Priests struggle to cope with new Polish flock | Roman Catholic clergy are so overwhelmed by the influx of devout Poles to Britain that they are appealing for priests to come from Poland to help them cope (The Telegraph, London)

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  1. DiFranco willing to stand up for her beliefs | There are those who might characterize Eileen McCafferty DiFranco as a publicity hound because she has not remained silent about celebrating Mass as a Roman Catholic priest. But the 54-year-old Philadelphia resident said it is only natural for her as a former teacher to want to educate the world about women such as herself who want to serve God as men in their religion do (Editorial, Delco Times, Pa.)

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Pope on workaholism:

  1. Pope: Working too hard harms the spirit | Benedict quoted Bernard as advising pontiffs to "watch out for the dangers of an excessive activity, whatever … the job that you hold, because many jobs often lead to the 'hardening of the heart,' as well as 'suffering of the spirit, loss of intelligence'" (Associated Press)

  2. Also: Pope says don't work too hard (Reuters)

  3. You won't become a saint by working too hard, says Pope | For those either gearing themselves up to return to the office or factory after a summer break or rushing to clear their desks before going away, the Pope yesterday had a message: don't work too hard, it's bad for the spirit (The Times, London)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Pastor sued by missionaries | Church hit by payment row (The Belfast Telegraph)

  2. Shopping spree | How to get free books, CDs, and movies from Focus on the Family—thereby taking money out of the pockets of anti-gay bigots—in 12 easy steps (The Stranger, Seattle)

  3. Faith in action | Before agencies aided Katrina's victims, religious groups did - and still do (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  4. Doing unto seniors | Religions are picking up where public services leave off (Newsday)

  5. Years after genocide, shipping hope to Rwanda | Esther's Aid for Needy and Abandoned Children has foot, clothing, and other items, but is short of shipping money (The New York Times)

  6. Religious differences unite campers | Christians, Jews, Muslims mix, play, teach, and learn (The Boston Globe)

  7. Inmates find hope in religious program | Volunteers at prison offer a way to reform (The Toledo Blade)

  8. Evangelism in Major League Baseball | Are the Faith Days about God or ticket sales? (ABC News/ESPN)

  9. Creature comfort | Lort Smith's appointment of the world's first animal hospital chaplain recognises the bond between pet and owner (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  10. Anglicans desert welfare to work | The Anglican Church is the latest religious organisation to back out of the government's controversial welfare to work program. The church's welfare arm, Anglicare, joins a growing list of faith-based welfare organisations turning away from the program, which pays charities to help vulnerable Australians who have been stripped of unemployment benefits for failing to meet new job seeking requirements (AAP, Australia)

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  1. Purpose Driven Life: Can Rick Warren change the world? | He's an evangelical superstar. His runaway best seller has transformed lives. But can Rick Warren's message change hell-on-Earth or has he bitten off more than he can chew? (Fox News)

  2. Faithful to God, science | Dr. Francis Collins has mapped the human genome and embraced Christ. He sees no conflict, but there are skeptics on both sides (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Andrew Young steps down from Wal-Mart | Civil rights leader Andrew Young, who was hired to help Wal-Mart Stores Inc. improve its public image, said early Friday he was stepping down from his position as head of an outside support group amid criticism for remarks seen as racially offensive (Associated Press)

  4. Protestant church leader passes away | Kang Won-yong, the senior pastor who has led Korea's protestant churches for the past decades, died at the age of 89 (The Korea Herald)

  5. Has Christianity deteriorated into a cult following? | Saying there's no such place as hell has cost one of the most prominent spiritual leaders in the country his job, church and place on Christian radio (News-Record, Greenboro, N.C.)

  6. Relative of Joel Osteen believed slain | Officials continue to investigate mysterious death of pastor's great aunt (Associated Press)

  7. The joys of life without God | Skeptics Society founder Michael Shermer explains why Darwin matters, how believing in God is the same as believing in astrology, and why it doesn't take divine faith to experience something bigger than ourselves (Salon)

  8. Shun Mel Gibson | Obscurity, not public service announcements, should be the consequence for Gibson's transgressions (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  9. Domino's illuminatio mea | Tom Monaghan goes from pizza delivery to educational deliverance (Naomi Schaefer Riley, The Wall Street Journal)

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  1. Evangelist joins Global Fund chief in battle against AIDS | Evangelist and best-selling author Rick Warren and Richard Feachem, who oversees billions in AIDS spending, said Wednesday that they'll team up to channel more money to faith-based groups in Warren's global church network (USA Today)

  2. African clerics ask for divine help in AIDS fight | What would Jesus do about AIDS? The question has drawn together thousands of African Christians who are praying God will provide the solution to the epidemic devastating the continent (Reuters)

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  1. Sen. Clinton delays AIDS law's renewal, citing cut in N.Y. funds | Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is holding up renewal of the primary federal law that battles HIV/AIDS, the 1990 Ryan White Act, causing a rift among activists on the subject and threatening approval of the legislation this year (The Washington Post)

  2. And now for the good news | Progress is being made in the fight against AIDS in Africa, thanks in no small part to the president's aid program. But that's not what some people want to hear (John Donnelly, The Boston Globe)

  3. Fighting AIDS with ABC plan | If Rick Warren can get Bill Clinton, Angelina Jolie, Bill Gates and Kofi Annan cooperating with, say, the Catholic Church and a myriad of other faith-based servants in doing what works -- changing behavior -- well, preach it, brother! (Kathryn Jean Lopez)

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Life ethics:

  1. Anti-abortion activists eye inner cities | There are more than 2,300 crisis pregnancy centers across America, yet relatively few in inner cities where abortion rates are typically highest (Associated Press)

  2. Florida restricts 5 abortion clinics | State agencies have accused a doctor of failing to follow proper procedures in two late-term abortions, suspended his license and blocked his five clinics from performing abortions (Associated Press)

  3. Also: 5 clinics shut on accusations of late-term abortions | Florida officials have halted abortions at five clinics in the state -- two indefinitely -- and have suspended the medical license of the problem-plagued owner of the facilities in connection with accusations that he performed illegal late-term abortions (The Washington Times)

  4. Update: Abortion doctor appeals suspension | A doctor suspended for allegedly performing two improper abortions filed an appeal Tuesday defending the procedures (Associated Press)

  5. Husband takes Schiavo fight back to politicians | Michael Schiavo, whose wife was the focus of a national debate about life and death, has emerged as a political weapon (The New York Times)

  6. Mo. plans appeal in inmate abortion case | The state will appeal a federal court ruling requiring that pregnant inmates be taken to abortion clinics when they request the procedure, Attorney General Jay Nixon said (Associated Press)

  7. Stem cell bill worries Abbott | Health Minister Tony Abbott has warned that any move to overturn a ban on therapeutic cloning would be just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the growing demands of some scientists (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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  1. Petitioning for life | "I had an abortion," Ms. Magazine urges its readers to declare. How about "I wasn't aborted"? (Julia Gorin, The Wall Street Journal)

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Contraceptives and Plan B:

  1. Bush supports limits on morning-after pill | President George W. Bush said on Monday he supports restricting access to emergency contraception for minors, as regulators weigh wider access to the "morning-after" pill (Associated Press)

  2. Also: Anti-abortion groups oppose FDA nominee | Anti-abortion groups are urging President Bush to withdraw his nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration, angry that the agency may allow nonprescription sales of the morning-after pill (Associated Press)

  3. States move to legalize pharmacists' right to refuse | Lawmakers in nearly half the states have introduced bills in this year's legislative sessions to allow pharmacists not to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception or other birth-control medicines based on their religious or moral objections (The Washington Times)

  4. Rights board says plans can't exclude contraceptives | The Michigan Civil Rights Commission came to Muskegon Monday to tell employers they must cover prescription contraceptives for women, just like many of them cover Viagra and Cialis, which are male sexual enhancement drugs (Muskegon Chronicle)

  5. God's protection | Evangelicals embrace the "contraception culture" (Christine J. Gardner, The Wall Street Journal)

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Sexual ethics:

  1. Church of God of Prophecy rethinks position against divorce, remarriage | East Tennessee-based group wrestles with ever-increasing rates (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  2. Debate grows on out-of-wedlock laws | Some 1.6 million Americans in seven states are breaking old anticohabitation rules (The Christian Science Monitor)

  3. His God doesn't hate fags | Andrew Marin wants to build a bridge between his fundamentalist Christian peers and his friends in the gay community. And oddly enough, some of them want to cross it (Chicago Reader)

  4. New law helps same-sex couples | Some advantages of retirement accounts once reserved for spouses can now be used by other beneficiaries, a change lauded by gay and lesbian groups as a boon for unmarried couples (Associated Press)

  5. Same-sex marriage is surely a civil right | Many blacks oppose such unions for religious reasons, but bigotry is bigotry, even if it's cloaked in faith. Blacks should know this better than most (Sheryl McCarthy, USA Today)

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  1. "Beyond gay marriage" | The stated goal of these prominent gay activists is no longer merely the freedom to live as they want (Ryan T. Anderson, The Weekly Standard)

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Boycott the (water) bottle:

  1. Drink tap water, church urges | United Church opposes selling of 'sacred gift' (Ottawa Citizen)

  2. United Church considers boycott of bottled water | Richard Chambers, the social policy co-ordinator with the national office of the church, said that water is a human right, and no one should profit from it (CBC, Canada)

  3. Church policy on tap | The well-meaning United Church of Canada is coming out against bottled water because doing so is "commodification" of a basic resource (Editorial, Calgary Herald)

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Art and entertainment:

  1. They pity the fools | Mr. T isn't the only 1980s TV personality using retro-star status to spread his gospel (Time)

  2. Fire and brimstone, guns and ammo | Left Behind: Eternal Forces isn't due out until October, but its violence has attracted considerable controversy already (The Washington Post)

  3. God moves in hilarious ways | The unknown comedy duo God's Pottery have lit up the Edinburgh Fringe. Praise the Lord (The Times, London)

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  1. Books on the Book of Books | Top tomes on the Bible (Roberta Alter, The Wall Street Journal)

  2. Christian comic books still seeking a boffo market | Artists hope to draw more readers to graphic novels, which have yet to find a wide audience (Los Angeles Times)

  3. 9/11 book rankles Presbyterian faith | A book suggesting the September 11 attacks were engineered by the U.S. government is raising hackles among the faithful because its publisher is an agency of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest of several Presbyterian denominations (The Washington Times)

  4. Also: The truth behind 9/11 | According to a new book from the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, Bush brought down the towers (Mark Tooley, The Weekly Standard)

  5. The village atheist | Daniel Dennett's answers avoid the Big Questions (Thomas W. Merrill, The Weekly Standard)

  6. Going green with God | In his new book Serve God, Save the Planet, Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth tells the story of his transition from the "good life" to a life built on serving God by being a proper steward of the environment (The Washington Times)

  7. Mind matters | Ramesh Ponnuru's scary thoughts on life and moral status in The Party of Death (Neil Sinhababu, The American Prospect)

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  1. Archaeologists challenge link between Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient sect | Two archaeologists are raising new doubts about the link between the Dead Sea Scrolls and an ancient settlement known as Qumran (The New York Times)

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  1. What Luther wrought | Protestant Europe and the invention of the modern world (Jay Weiser, The Weekly Standard)

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The Exodus Decoded:

  1. 'The Exodus Decoded': A biblical theory in video game graphics | Simcha Jacobovici presents theories of ancient religious history that in a less stentorian voice might sound like baloney (The New York Times)

  2. Plagued by no doubts, a filmmaking detective turns to the Exodus | Simcha an Emmy-winning documentary maker, directed, produced and narrated "Exodus Decoded," based on six years of research and three years of filmmaking (The New York Times)

  3. Unearthing clues to the Exodus | There has been growing scholarly doubt about the story of the Exodus, Simcha Jacobovici said, with some calling it only a fairy tale. But Jacobovici and executive producer James Cameron ("Titanic") challenge those doubts in the two-hour documentary "The Exodus Decoded" (The Washington Post)

  4. Cameron takes on epic of biblical proportions | He's better known for making movies in which things explode or crash or sink in a big -- read very expensive -- way, but James Cameron says it's no big stretch for him to do a low-cost documentary in which the most blood-curdling scenes involve archaeologists scraping around in the dust with toothbrushes (The Miami Herald)

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  1. 'Crusades': Storming the castle | It's not exactly art, and its history is a trifle tendentious, but the "Castles of the Crusades: A View in Miniature" exhibit at the National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall is a model of medieval romance that any fan of "The Lord of the Rings" -- or any fan of Orlando Bloom who braved "Kingdom of Heaven," for that matter -- will adore (The Washington Post)

  2. How Bible found a popular language | "In The Voice of the People," a display of four Bibles running until year's end at the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston, spotlights the market demand for accessible versions of the Scripture (Rich Barlow, The Boston Globe)

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  1. The pilgrim's progress of Bob Dylan | Against a backdrop of mortality and dark visions, faith is again raised. But it's no sure thing (The New York Times)

  2. The long and winding road . . . to God? | In The Gospel According to the Beatles, Steve Turner theorizes that the Beatles vs. Jesus incident marked a kind of cultural turning point, when music fans -- young people in particular -- started to pay attention to what their favorite musicians were saying about their religious or political beliefs as closely as they followed their fashion and hairstyles (Chicago Sun-Times)

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  1. A vow of poverty? Not for visitors to these convents | Some ex-convents are going decidedly upscale (The New York Times)

  2. Highways to heaven | When one thinks about forces on religion, does the spirit of the open road come up for consideration? (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. Kony applies for asylum | The rebel Lord's Resistance Army leader, Joseph Kony has formally approached the Central African Republic government pleading for asylum (Daily Monitor, Uganda)

  2. Keeping the faith | World Bank projects are usually free of words like "faith" and "soul." Most of its missions speak the jargon of development: poverty reduction, aggregate growth and structural adjustments. But a small unit within the bank has been currying favour with religious groups, working to ease their suspicions and use their influence to further the bank's goals (The Economist)

  3. Canadian church group drops anti-Israel divestment program | Jewish groups are cautiously welcoming a decision by the United Church of Canada to drop an overt program of divestment in Israel in favor of "a pro-peace investment strategy for the Middle East" that aims for "a just peace in Palestine and Israel." (The Jerusalem Post)

  4. E. coli death is state's first in 3½ years | As many as 30 people in the Longville area were sickened in the past six weeks. Officials say ground beef at church supper was likely to blame (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  5. Evangelism in fashion | Forever 21, a popular chain of cheap-chic clothes with stores throughout New York, is literally spreading the Gospel with every sale (The New York Sun)

  6. Religion news in brief | Pope doesn't want to travel much, Dobson renews support for Mel Gibson, Gay Evangelical Lutheran pastor could be defrocked, and other stories (Associated Press)

  7. When cutting isn't cruel | Why stop with girls? Why not rescue boys, too? That's the argument of the anti-circumcision movement (William Saletan, The Washington Post)

  8. Cool Jesus | For more than two decades Cool Jesus has been right by my side. He's got a big toothy smile, he hates my Church, and he's always telling me I've got it all wrong. But he never tells me what's right (Rebecca Robinson, GodSpy)

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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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