1. Lebanon church attacked; was priest's murder part of Muslim outrage?
As worldwide protests against caricatures of Muhammad turn deadly, they have also turned anti-Christian. Retaliation against Christians for European publication of the cartoons has been especially notable in Lebanon, where Christian-Muslim tensions are more acute than they are elsewhere in the Middle East. Rioters with "Prophet's soldiers" headbands attacked a Maronite church in Beirut's largely Christian Achrifiyeh neighborhood, not far from the Danish embassy, and the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox archbishop.

"I thought, 'These are not people. These are monsters,'" Father Elias Feghali, pastor of St. Maron Catholic Church, told Catholic News Service. Some Muslim leaders apparently tried to stop the attack.

Some government officials, church leaders, and others in Turkey are suggesting that the murder of Roman Catholic priest Andrea Santoro on Sunday was also connected to the demonstrations. The murderer, who is thought to be between 14 and 17 years old, shouted "Allahu Akbar" (the frequent Muslim declaration meaning "God is great") as he shot the priest, who was praying after celebrating Mass.

The Vatican called the publication of the cartoons as "equally deplorable" as the "violent actions of protest," and suggested that European countries should crack down against newspapers that published the cartoons. "Authorities might and should intervene eventually according to the principles of national legislation," the Vatican press office said in an unsigned statement. Seriously. The Vatican says the violent riots, which have resulted in deaths, are equally deplorable to the publication of satirical cartoons, and says governments should consider limiting press freedom on this issue. "The freedom of thought and expression, confirmed in the Declaration of Human Rights, cannot include the right to offend religious feelings of the faithful," the Vatican said. "That principle obviously applies to any religion."

Weblog's offended at this kind of moral equivalence from the Roman Catholic Church, which usually has such good things to say about life ethics and human dignity. Since I'm offended, perhaps the governments of the world should crack down and censor the Vatican's comments.

2. Pa. court rules against eminent domain decision
In 2003, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority condemned Mary Smith's home in a blighted neighborhood, and then handed it over to the Hope Partnership for Education to build a middle school. But a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court panel ruled 4-3 Monday that the action "demonstrates the entanglement between church and state" and called it an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

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Here's what's so crazy: While the executive director of Hope Partnership is a nun, and workers' religious beliefs motivate them to help the poor, the school isn't religious. It's not a Catholic school, doesn't have any religious qualifications for its students, and it doesn't offer religious instruction. Still, the court ruled, the "land acquisition for the Hope Partnership had a primary religious effect because it directly aided the religious organization's mission to provide faith-based educational services, among other things, to residents in the blighted area."

Nonsense, said Judge Dan Pellegrini in his dissent. "There is no possible Establishment Clause violation because there is no proof that the project is a religious enterprise, but only that it is being run by groups who have religious motivations to educate the poor," he wrote. "What the majority is suggesting is that the Authority or, for that matter, any governmental entity could not convey property that it has in its possession for a church, school, nursing home, a college run by a religious group, or a shelter run by the Salvation Army because that would aid religion and violate the Establishment Clause. To the contrary, what that outcome suggests is 'viewpoint discrimination' against religious groups, which is an impingement on their First Amendment rights that has been condemned by the United States Supreme Court in Good News Club v. Milford Central School."

Pellegrini is right, and Weblog can't see any chance of the majority opinion being upheld in higher courts. If it is, a lot of faith-based ministries serving the poor—even those that don't take government funds—could be in peril. Another question is whether the religious organizations that were so outraged by the Supreme Court's Kelo decision on eminent domain will support Hope Partnership in this case.

3. Church parking battles heat up
Keep your eye on disputes over Sunday morning parking in America's cities. It could be a major issue in the near future, since several cities are having their own localized controversies. In Manhattan, the fight has been over free meters on Sundays and religious holidays. In Pittsburgh, it's over whether a church parking lot is vital to a church's existence, and thus exempt from property taxes. Now comes a Washington Post report noting that D.C. parishioners who park illegally on Sunday mornings get a free pass—even when their double parking prohibits residents from driving to church. "Love your neighbor" isn't quoted in the piece.

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4. Priest punished for preaching about Mary's cervix
Thomas J. Quinlan Jr. is 77 and retired as a priest, but the clergy shortage means he still gets asked to preach and perform priestly duties around Virginia Beach. But his Christmas Eve sermon, where he "mentioned the Virgin Mary's birth canal," according to The Virginian-Pilot, got him barred from such duties in the diocese. "Your shock content was crude, offensive, and disturbing," particularly to families, youth, and visitors, Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Richmond Diocese told Quinlan in a letter last month. Quinlan's behavior "engenders such anxiety and emotional upset that it interferes with the pursuit of the individual's religious experience," the diocesan newspaper said this week. Good thing Denver's Scum of the Earth church isn't part of DiLorenzo's diocese. On a more serious note, though, at what stage does attempting to maintain "good taste" in church cross over into a problematic denial of the earthy, physical realities of life? Discuss.

5. What good are films?
Calvin College film studies professor Bill Romanowski had the Monday religion slot on the USA Today op-ed page this week, and he calls for films that spark conversation, not conversions. "Evangelicals can influence Hollywood when they think of the cinema as an arena for cultural discourse but not a place for converting members of that culture to a specific Christian orientation," he writes. "In other words, evangelicals' goal for the movie industry should be to encourage discourse, not merely evangelizing." Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of The Passion's audience accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior as a result of the film, he says, and Brokeback Mountain isn't turning anyone gay. But movies get people talking, he says. Once evangelicals understand that, he says, "they are in a position to shape that vital discussion."

Romanowski's column was answered in large part a day earlier, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed by Maria DiBattista. Not only are movies poor evangelistic tools, but they're not changing people's minds about anything. "Movies can take on the great social problems of their time, but they may be the least effective — or appropriate — medium for solving them," she writes. "Name any 'problem film' — whether it deals with discrimination (racial, ethnic, sexual, or religious), social reform (of schools, prisons, legislatures) or corporate corruption (national or global) — and you will come up with the same unimpressive results. The more designs a movie has on us, the less willing we are to change our minds, much less our social and business practices." If you want to see the power of film, she says don't look for the "message"—look for the pictures. "What moves us to want to change things—even ourselves—when we watch a movie are its images, not its social agenda, however creditable."

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In other words, while Romanowski sees film's changing power in tongues and ears, DiBattista sees the power in the eyes.

Quote of the day:
"It's important to make the first service after what happened. It shows we are still here. All the members are here today. They may have burned the building, but the church is still here. We will go on."

Patsy McElroy, attending Rehobeth Baptist Church in Lawley, Alabama, one of five area churches set ablaze Friday morning. She was quoted by the Montgomery Advertiser.

More articles

Cartoon controversy | Priest killed in Turkey | Religious liberty | Slaves and captives | Military | Church and state | Eminent domain | Education | Higher education | Evolution | Politics | Georgia religion bills | Abortion | RU486 in Australia | Life ethics | Sex and marriage | Abuse | Catholicism | Church life | Ala. church burnings | Megachurch study | Azusa Street memorial | History | Books | Music | Film and TV | Money and business | Missions & ministry | Spirituality | Other stories of interest

Cartoon controversy:

  1. Beirut rioters attack church | Muslims outraged over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad target a Christian community and Danish Consulate. Some see Syria's hand (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Protesters torch Danish mission in Beirut | Christian neighborhood ransacked (Associated Press)

  3. Beirut mob burns Danish mission over cartoons | The violence in the predominantly Christian Achrafieh section of East Beirut raised fears of deepening divisions in Lebanon (The New York Times)

  4. Religious leaders condemn drawings | In a joint statement, the seven-member executive committee of the European Council of Religious Leaders said the drawings "are a misuse of the freedom when it is done without regard to the damaging affect on people or groups" (PA, U.K.)

  5. Invoking Islam's heritage, Iranians chafe at 'oppression' by the West | The West is crashing into a religious identity that has over the centuries, even before the Islamic revolution, melded with a national identity (The New York Times)

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  1. We are all Danes now | That anything so mild could trigger a reaction so crazed -- riots, death threats, kidnappings, flag-burnings -- speaks volumes about the chasm that separates the values of the civilized world from those in too much of the Islamic world (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)

  2. Cartoon debate | The case for mocking religion (Christopher Hitchens, Slate)

  3. Vatican says freedom of expression does not mean offending religions | At the same time, the Vatican said, violent reactions are equally deplorable (Catholic News Service)

  4. Also: Vatican condemns cartoons of Mohammed | Also denounces violent reaction of Muslim world (Zenit)

  5. Q&A: Depicting the Prophet Muhammad | There is no specific, or explicit ban int he Koran on images of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad - be they carved, painted or drawn (BBC)

  6. Q&A: The Muhammad cartoons row | What the cartoons portray, and how people have responded (BBC)

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Priest killed in Turkey:

  1. Catholic priest shot to death in Turkey | A teenage boy shot and killed the Italian Roman Catholic priest of a church in the Black Sea port city of Trabzon on Sunday, shouting "God is great" as he escaped, according to police and witnesses (Associated Press)

  2. Shooting kills priest in Turkey | An Italian Catholic priest has been shot dead outside his church in north-east Turkey (BBC)

  3. Turkey says priest probably killed by lone gunman | Turkish leaders said on Monday the killing of a Catholic priest appeared to be the work of a lone gunman, but also signalled fears of a possible link with the rage sweeping the Muslim world over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (Reuters)

  4. Benedict XVI hopes priest's murder stirs solidarity | Missionary Slain in Turkey after celebrating Mass (Zenit)

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Religious liberty:

  1. A 'single' church | Working with a 'breakthrough' bishop, the Vatican is drawing closer to Beijing (Newsweek)

  2. Pastors thrashed on church premises | Two pastors of Kabitkhedi church were beaten up inside their residence on the church premises by local youths who suspected them of being involved in distribution of inflammable material (Hindustan Times, India)

  3. Bethlehem Christians fear for future under Hamas | The shrinking Christian population of Bethlehem is struggling to conceal its fears for the future after the victory for Islamists of Hamas in the Palestinian general election (AFP)

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  1. Islamic prayers could be illegal under new laws | Standard Islamic prayers in mosques may be illegal under new anti-terror laws, international law specialist Ben Saul told a conference in Melbourne (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  2. Haitian priest thankful to be out of jail | A Roman Catholic priest who was jailed in Haiti for his political activities thanked his supporters for pressuring the country's government to release him so he could be treated for leukemia (Associated Press)

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Slaves and captives:

  1. A modern-day abolitionist battles slavery worldwide | Ambassador John R. Miller is on a mission to help nurture a "21st-century abolitionist movement" against human trafficking (The New York Times)

  2. Out of bondage, into the pulpit | Fleeing slavery, Robert T. Hickman and others journeyed to St. Paul and founded Pilgrim Baptist Church (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

  3. Fatigue, worry clear in faces of captives: ex-hostage | The faces of four Christian peacekeepers paraded in front of a video camera by their kidnappers in Iraq are hauntingly familiar to an American colleague, a former foreign correspondent for CNN, who spent almost a year as a hostage (Canadian Press)

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  1. Navy's debate over use of Jesus' name places spotlight on priest | Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt, a Navy chaplain, has become the focal point of the debate over a chaplain's right to pray in the name of Jesus (The Toledo Blade)

  2. Government wants Air Force suits dismissed | The Justice Department claims an Air Force Academy graduate has no legal standing to sue the Air Force over allegations of proselytizing by chaplains, and asked a federal judge to dismiss the case (Associated Press)

  3. Russian Army looks to enlist Orthodox chaplains | The influence of the Orthodox Church in the military has been growing with the encouragement of the top brass over recent years, and it could get a further fillip later this year as officials look for ways to improve morale after a brutal hazing on New Year's Eve that led to a conscript's legs and genitals being amputated, prompting a national outcry (The Moscow Times)

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Church and state:

  1. Logan Circle group prays for deliverance | Illegal church parking mostly ignored (The Washington Post)

  2. 2nd Circuit upholds NYC policy on school holiday displays | Public schools can feature reindeer, Christmas trees, menorahs, Islamic symbols — but not Nativity scenes (Associated Press)

  3. City split by church school's request | Presbyterian Church child care grant request pared by City Council over religious concerns (The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, Ca.)

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  1. Is ritual circumcision religious expression? | The uneasy state of church and state (Jeffrey Rosen, The New York Times Magazine)

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Eminent domain:

  1. Pa. court: Eminent domain can't aid religious groups |,A deeply divided Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court panel has ruled that a city agency cannot take private property marked as blighted and give it to a private, religious organization (The Legal Intelligencer/Law.com)

  2. Also: Court rules agency should not have condemned house | Taking property by eminent domain to make way for a church-affiliated school raised concerns (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  3. Also: Pa. court rules city can't seize home | A city agency violated the separation of church and state when it seized a woman's home to help a religious group build a private school in a blighted Philadelphia neighborhood, a state appeals court ruled Monday (Associated Press)

  4. Land at heart of clash between church, state | Caltrans and a congregation in Riverside can't agree on a price and head to court (Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)

  5. Also: Riverside church for deaf says Caltrans underpaid for its land | A church that has served the deaf community for half a century in Riverside is fighting for survival more than two years after Caltrans evicted the congregation and razed its sanctuary to make way for new ramps on Interstate 215 (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Ohio public school drops morning prayer | Lord's Prayer had been recited over loudspeaker until newspaper questioned school district about the practice (Associated Press)

  2. Some public schools offer courses on the Bible | U.S. law allows the Bible to be taught in public schools as long as the schools offer the courses as electives, and as long as teachers teach about the Bible rather than teaching the text as Scripture (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  3. On Long Island, Catholic Church's shift draws critics | The church hopes changes to its education system will help increase attendance and giving. Critics see the reorganization as a shift toward orthodoxy (The New York Times)

  4. Senate approves Bible classes in public schools | Public high school students could learn about Jesus and study the Bible in state-funded courses under a bill approved 50-1 by state senators Friday (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Higher education:

  1. Money, state, church collide | Suit seeks state funding for Christian college aid. The Justice Department has come to the university's support in a case with big implications on how states can restrict funds for religious institutions (The Denver Post)

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  1. Local clergy eye Christian college | Campus would enroll evangelical Penn State students (Centre Daily, State College, Pa.)

  2. Fuller melds psychology, Christianity | While some people see Christianity and psychology contradicting each other, Fuller Theological Seminary has pioneered their integration (Pasadena Star-News, Ca.)

  3. War of worldviews: Christian schools vs. University of California | Court case could pit evangelical Christian curricula against college requirements (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

  4. Schools of reeducation? | Stirred by professional opinion and accreditation pressures, teachers colleges have begun to regulate the dispositions and beliefs of those who would teach in our nation's classrooms (Frederick M. Hess, The Washington Post)

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  1. Evolution measure splits state legislators in Utah | The bill, which has divided lawmakers, may not have the outcome people would expect in a state as deeply religious as Utah (The New York Times)

  2. Taft may re-ignite fuss over intelligent design | Gov. Bob Taft says that although he's convinced the state's 10th-grade biology teaching standards do not include intelligent design, there should be a legal review of the companion lesson plan to ensure Ohio is not vulnerable to a lawsuit (The Columbus Dispatch, Oh.)

  3. Eden and evolution | Religious critics of evolution are wrong about its flaws. But are they right that it threatens belief in a loving God? (Shankar Vedantam, The Washington Post)

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  1. God's green soldiers | A new call to combat global warming triggers soul-searching and controversy among evangelicals (Newsweek)

  2. The believer | Michael Gerson, George W. Bush's loyal speechwriter (Jeffrey Goldberg, The New Yorker)

  3. Ralph Reed's first try for office falters | For a while, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed looked almost unstoppable in his bid for lieutenant governor of Georgia. Then he got tripped up by the Jack Abramoff scandal (Associated Press)

  4. Now cleric wants parliament symbols destroyed | Presbyterian Church of East Africa head, Dr David Githii, has said Parliament should not be recalled until symbols engraved on its walls are removed (The East African Standard, Kenya)

  5. Meet Jim Wallis, the Chancellor's religious guru | He doesn't like the Iraq war. And he's no friend of George Bush. So who exactly is the American evangelical pastor and why has Gordon Brown agreed to endorse his latest work? (The Guardian, London)

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  1. Also: Chancellor supports evangelist's best-seller that criticizes war in Iraq | Gordon Brown has given his personal endorsement to a book by an American evangelist that attacks the "unjust" war in Iraq (The Telegraph, London)

  2. No Jesus, please: We're praying | Congress and a lot of political Washington met last week for their annual National Prayer Breakfast. Even the president was there, but Jesus was odd man out (Wesley Pruden, The Washington Times)

  3. Time to revisit health care's Conscience Act | In Illinois, at least, time has come for our Conscience Act to be amended to more clearly define which workers fall within its protection (Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune)

  4. The valley's not so civil war | In Central California, Mark Arax sees what fear--over terrorism, over our commitment in Iraq--can do to a community. Hatred between Right and Left. Hawk and Dove. Too bad they aren't listening to one grieving parent, who found some peace (Mark Arax, Los Angeles Times)

  5. Exec tells CBCP: Don't demonize mining industry | While mining executives are seeking a dialogue with Catholic bishops, an official of the Philippine Mines Safety and Environment Association is attacking the bishops, describing their move to demonize the mining industry as a throwback to the Spanish colonial era when the friars held sway over the fate of the indios (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

  6. Also: The mining industry | It is wrong to engage willy-nilly in mining activities that result in the destruction of the environment and endanger human lives, just as it is equally wrong to leave untouched all those God-given bounties underground just waiting for man to exploit them for his own benefit (Editorial, The Sun Star, Philippines)

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Georgia House's religion bill extravaganza:

  1. Ga. House moves to protect 'Merry Christmas' | Bill says state, local governments can't prohibit public employees from uttering celebratory sentiments concerning public holidays (Associated Press)

  2. Local support strong for Ten Commandments bill | Democrats: Are taxypayers ready to ante up court costs? (Walker Daily Messenger, LaFayette, Ga.)

  3. Thomas says courthouse is not place for religion | Rep. Brian Thomas wasn't just the only member of Gwinnett County's House delegation to vote against the so-called "Merry Christmas" bill last week. The freshman Democrat from Lilburn also was the only Gwinnett lawmaker to oppose the Ten Commandments bill the following day (Gwinnett Daily Post, Ga.)

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  1. Legislature gets religion (must be an election year) | Within a four-day span last week, lawmakers upheld the right of students and state employees to say "Merry Christmas," authorized counties to display the Ten Commandments and put Georgia on course to teach the Bible in public schools (Dave Williams, Gwinnett Daily Post, Ga.)

  2. Bible thumping | While it certainly doesn't signal any sort of a "comeback," or even improved chances of ousting Republicans from the governorship or control of the General Assembly, a bill introduced by Sens. Tim Golden, D-Valdosta, and Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna, to allow public high schools to offer an elective course on Bible studies seemed to hoist the GOP on its own petard (Editorial, Rome News-Tribune, Ga.)

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  1. Britain defies US with funding to boost safe abortion services | Attempt to replace lost dollars after 'global gag' (The Guardian, London)

  2. Also: Britain defies U.S. with world abortion funding | Britain announced funding on Monday for safe abortion services in the developing world and urged other countries to join it, in defiance of Washington (Reuters)

  3. Kansas' top court limits abortion record search | The state's attorney general wants the records of two abortion clinics as part of an investigation into illegal abortions and child rape (The New York Times)

  4. Partial-birth law needs high court ruling | With two separate federal appeals courts on the same day overturning the law Congress passed in 2003 banning partial-birth abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court needs to settle the issue once and for all (Editorial, The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  5. An abortionist's world | As a reporter, I usually am able to understand why people with whom I disagree think and act the way they do; but I am at a loss to understand how an abortionist finds his daily vocation in deliberately, brutally ending a human life (Nat Hentoff, The Washington Times)

  6. Stop the bloodshed and pass Holly's Law | Holly's Law is a very modest bill. It provides only for the temporary suspension of FDA approval of RU-486 and for a review by the Comptroller General limited to the agency's adherence to applicable regulations in its process of approving the drug (Susan E. Wills, The Washington Times)

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RU486 in Australia:

  1. RU486 campaign all but lost | Anti-abortionists fighting to keep the RU486 drug out of Australia concede their campaign is all but lost days before Parliament votes on the issue (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)

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  1. Abortion vote still close | The MP conscience vote on lifting restrictions on the abortion pill RU-486 remained too close to call as debate escalated yesterday (The Advertiser, Adelaide, Australia)

  2. Lobbying storm in abortion pill debate | Politicians are being inundated with emails, letters and phone calls warning them of a voter backlash if they agree to an amendment that would end the effective ban on the so-called abortion pill, RU486 (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  3. Australian parliament set to debate abortion drug | Scrapping Australia's effective ban on an abortion drug could open the way for risky backyard miscarriages, Health Minister Tony Abbott said as debate heats up ahead of a free parliamentary vote on the issue this week (Reuters)

  4. RU486 won't reduce abortions: Church | Making the controversial RU486 pill available in Australia will do nothing to cut the number of abortions, the Catholic Church says (AAP, Australia)

  5. AMA slams backyard miscarriage claim | The nation's peak doctors group has dismissed Health Minister Tony Abbott's warning about backyard miscarriages caused by the abortion drug RU486 (AAP, Australia)

  6. Anti-abortion opinion poll attacked | Democrats leader Lyn Allison has dismissed an opinion poll of 1200 people carried out on behalf of anti-abortion campaigners as "devious and desperate" (AAP, Australia)

  7. A medical matter | Political interference has no place in drug regulation (Editorial, The Australian)

  8. Abolish Abbott's abortion pill veto | Let health regulators, the best evaluators of RU486, make the decision (Lyn Allison, The Australian)

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Life ethics:

  1. Stem-cell research divides GOP in Missouri | The split between social conservatives and moderate Republicans over embryonic stem cells could undermine the re-election chances of a Missouri Republican senator who favors long prison terms for those who conduct some types of research (Associated Press)

  2. Md. stem cell bill stalls as block looms | Panel will get first look this week at governor's plan to fund research (The Washington Post)

  3. Pope urges renewed respect for all life | In a strong condemnation of abortion, Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged the faithful to develop a new respect for life even when it is "sick or damaged" (Associated Press)

  4. Pope salutes pro-life group | Pope Benedict welcomed Italy's leading anti-abortion group to his weekly blessing on Sunday, saluting its work in a world where, he said, selfishness and hedonism often undermined the sanctity of life (Reuters)

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Sex and marriage:

  1. Dating site takes next step: marriage help | For $75, couples can fill out an EHarmony questionnaire and get a computer-generated analysis of their relationship (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Learning the lessons of marriage | In terms of preparing our children for their future, one area generally skipped over completely by traditional educational institutions is that of marriage and relationship preparation (The Washington Times)

  3. Ancient divorce laws' modern quandary | Sarah Rosenbloom is stuck in a marital netherworld. She and her husband divorced seven years ago in Maryland civil court. But she remains married under Jewish law because he has refused to give her a religious divorce document known in Hebrew as a get (The Washington Post)

  4. State Dept. defends vote on gay groups | The State Department said Friday that concern over potential support for pedophilia was behind the U.S. vote to exclude two gay rights groups from membership on a United Nations panel (Associated Press)

  5. Va. Senate to weigh gay workers' protections | Supporters and opponents of gay rights are about to clash again in the Virginia General Assembly, this time over a proposal to ban discrimination in government employment (The Washington Post)

  6. Bid in Md. House to save gay marriage ban fails | Measure unlikely to reach Nov. ballot (The Washington Post)

  7. In Virginia, a step backward | Now that the Virginia legislature has passed the marriage amendment for a second time and the measure is almost certainly headed to the November ballot, Virginia voters should understand exactly what the amendment does (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  8. A fresh focus on domestic partners | Focus on the Family is supporting legislation to provide expanded legal benefits for heads of untraditional households including gay couples (Editorial, The Denver Post)

  9. Dissolving marriage | If everything is marriage, then nothing is (Stanley Kurtz, National Review Online)

  10. The Vatican and moral relativism | Setting aside the contentiousness of telling minors that adult pre-marital sex is a sin, the Catholic establishment seems to be oblivious to the reality of Taiwanese society (Editorial, Taipei Times, Taiwan)

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  1. Parishioners reeling amid abuse inquiries | One church in shock; another tries to heal (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Healing broken trust | Allegations of child sex abuse by a priest give parishioners an unwanted test of their faith (Chicago Tribune)

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  1. 4 priests protected by bishop | Deposition reveals Imesch found jobs for abusive clerics (Chicago Tribune)

  2. George urged to resign if he blocked removal | A prominent Chicago priest has called on Cardinal Francis George to resign his position as head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago if he impeded the removal of a priest accused of molesting young boys when the allegations first arose last year (Chicago Sun-Times)

  3. Chaput says church target of abuse bills | Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput appealed to his 375,000- member flock this weekend to demand changes in legislation that, if approved, would unleash damage caps and end the statute of limitations in sex abuse crimes against children (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  4. Priest cases to stay in state court | With a judge's decision Friday that clergy sexual-abuse lawsuits against the Denver Roman Catholic Archdiocese should be argued in state court, the legal battle is about to shift (The Denver Post)

  5. Also: Clergy-abuse suits sent to state court | Federal judge accuses lawyers of 'forum-shopping' (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  6. Church faults accuser in abuse suit | he Archdiocese of Miami expressed sympathy toward a youth allegedly abused by the Rev. Neil Doherty. Now church leaders blame the youth in response to his lawsuit (The Miami Herald)

  7. Church accuser confronts Bishop Murphy after Mass | A man who says a former Long Island priest abused him and four of his younger siblings decades ago confronted the leader of the diocese yesterday, as about 25 members of two survivor advocacy groups demonstrated outside St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre (Newsday)

  8. Saving face trumps saving children | I am so angry with the leaders of the archdiocese, these men who just don't seem to see how their inaction, their dragging of the collective feet, is destroying our church. How many times do they think we can pick up the pieces? (Sue Ontiveros, Chicago Sun-Times)

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  1. St. Eugene parishioners say account frozen; diocese won't fund repairs | Parishioners of a battered but standing Catholic church here say the Diocese of Lake Charles has blocked, for now, their attempts to rebuild and reopen the church in lower Cameron Parish (American Press, Lake Charles, La.)

  2. 'Black Pope' to stand down | The head of the Jesuits, known as the "Black Pope" because of his black robes, is to step down voluntarily for the first time in the order's 500-year history (The Times, London)

  3. How significant is the Vatican's new order barring gays from seminaries? | Readers respond (The Washington Post)

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  1. A needed warning | Pope Benedict's latest encyclical hints at the possibility he could turn out to be the feminists' friend (Catherine Pepinster, The Guardian, London)

  2. What's love got to do with sex? | Is sexual love the same thing as the love of God, or are we just using the word "love" to describe completely different things? (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)

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Church life:

  1. Retired priest reprimanded after ''offensive'' sermon | The Rev. Thomas J. Quinlan Jr. famously loves to jar congregations with bluntly worded homilies, but he went too far when he mentioned the Virgin Mary's birth canal during a Christmas Eve service—a Catholic bishop has banned him from performing any priestly function in public (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads)

  2. Minister arrested mid-sermon | The trespassing charge stems from an internal dispute among members of the church, said Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the Chicago Police Department (Chicago Sun-Times)

  3. Golf course is Promised Land | First Presbyterian's new home was revealed in a dream, but not all consider it heaven sent (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

  4. Despite eviction, church holds hope | After yearlong fight, congregation may have had last service (Baltimore Sun)

  5. What's playing at the local movie theater? Church | Congregations without a home find one. And the big screen is a big resource (Los Angeles Times)

  6. Congregations consider sharing church | Two historic downtown churches with dwindling memberships may share the same building to save money and better serve their neighbors (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)

  7. Forget The Da Vinci Code: Carvings at Rosslyn reveal symphony for the devil | Last year, Scottish composer Stuart Mitchell was hailed a "genius" when his research led to the unravelling of musical codes embodied in 213 stone cubes in the ceiling of the Midlothian chapel. The music, since transcribed and dubbed by Mitchell as The Rosslyn Canon Of Proportions, contained notation designed to be performed by mediaeval players and was described as "sounding like a nursery rhyme" (Sunday Herald, Glasgow)

  8. Venetians are turned off by sex museum near St Mark's | A museum of erotic art due to open this week yards from St Mark's Basilica in Venice has provoked outrage from the Catholic Church and local officials (The Telegraph, London)

  9. Synod tackles women bishop debate | The Church of England synod meets in London this week aware that it can little afford further division, with another difficult dispute to defuse - this time about women bishops (BBC)

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Ala. church burnings:

  1. Church faithful 'begin again' | Bibb congregations 'strengthened' on heels of fires (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  2. Sunday: Churches optimistic of survival | Despite fires, services planned this morning (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  3. Churches not stopped by burnings | "They may have burned the building, but the church is still here. We will go on." (Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)

  4. Ala. faithful attend services after fires | Investigators said they had no suspects or apparent motive, but the FBI said it was looking at possible civil rights violations under laws focusing on attacks on religious institutions (Associated Press)

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Megachurch study:

  1. Megachurches growing in number and size | A new survey on U.S. Protestant megachurches shows they are among the nation's fastest-growing faith groups, drawing younger people and families with contemporary programming and conservative values (Associated Press)

  2. Megachurches' way of worship is on the rise | The number of megachurches - Protestant congregations with regular weekly attendance of more than 2,000 - has doubled over the past five years, according to a national study released on Feb. 3 (The Christian Science Monitor)

  3. Study: Megachurches Today 2005 (Leadership Network and Hartford Seminary's Hartford Institute for Religion Research)

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Azusa Street memorial:

  1. Pentecostal memorial is poised for a revival | Stalled project would honor the Little Tokyo birthplace of the religious movement. But some residents in the neighborhood oppose it (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Religious, civic leaders push Pentecostal memorial | The project in the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles has been bogged down for nearly 10 years in part because the Japanese American Community and Cultural Center has refused to allow a mural on a wall it owns on the Azusa Street site where the Rev. William J. Seymour's church stood in the early 1900s (Associated Press)

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  1. A spiritual place to touch every heart | It is intriguing that the reputation of the saint who made Iona famous is higher today than the martyr of Canterbury celebrated in Eliot's play (The Scotsman)

  2. Faith, political duty and one man's costly grace | The theologian whose defiance of Nazism made him a martyr for everyman (The Times, London)

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  1. Blessed aren't the 'burbs | Do religious conservatives need to get off their material treadmills and find true spirituality? (The Denver Post)

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  1. The Word of God, as shaped by nature | In The Natural History of the Bible, Daniel Hillel examines the Hebrew Bible for its accounts of how societies develop in relationship to the natural world (The New York Times)

  2. Faith based | A girl from a conventionally religious family attends a Christian school (Leah Hager Cohen reviews Christine Rosen's My Fundamentalist Education (The New York Times)

  3. Also: First chapter: 'My Fundamentalist Education' | "My first encounter with the Almighty did not go as planned" (Christine Rosen, The New York Times)

  4. The common touch | A historian takes an admiring look at a great American populist who never became president. Alan Wolfe reviews Michael Kazin's A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan (The Washington Post)

  5. Also: The great commoner | Matthew Price reviews A Godly Hero (Los Angeles Times)

  6. Without a prayer | Just how "mainstream" are mainstream churches? Mark D. Tooley reviews Dave Shiflett's Exodus: Why Americans Are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity (The Weekly Standard)

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  1. Dove nominee not eligible for award | The Gospel Music Association is dropping one of its nominees for the Dove Awards after it found that singer Shawn McDonald doesn't qualify for the best new artist award under its guidelines because he has already released two recordings (Associated Press)

  2. Grammy nod puts Christian hip-hop's Grits on new playing field | Gotee Records hip-hop duo Grits is up for a best rock/gospel album Grammy, an award that Gotee label head and fellow Nashville artist TobyMac has taken home before with his CCM band dcTalk (The Tennessean)

  3. Voices take flight at Grand Central terminal, in competition of gospel choirs | Twenty choirs from eight states, from as far south as South Carolina, gathered in Midtown yesterday to compete in a gospel singing contest for $10,000 in prizes (The New York Times)

  4. Michael Jackson may sing late Pope's prayers | Pop star Michael Jackson could sing some of the prayers written by the late Pope John Paul, the head of the music company coordinating the project said on Monday (Reuters)

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Film and TV:

  1. Lights, camera, introspection: Soul-searching via DVD club | The theme unifying each film the Spiritual Cinema Circle sends subscribers: 'You feel better about being human after you see it' (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Can movies change our minds? | Movies can take on the great social problems of their time, but they may be the least effective — or appropriate — medium for solving them (Maria DiBattista, Los Angeles Times)

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  1. It's Clark Kent, superstar | After three decades battling to save Earth, Superman has a new mission. This time he must brighten up religious education as a modern-day model of Jesus Christ (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  2. Will & Grace story not as AFA has stated | Ater the Tupelo-based American Family Association pressured NBC to pull the plug on one TV series recently, rumors began to swirl about an upcoming episode of the popular "Will & Grace" show on which pop story Britney Spears will make a guest appearance (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)

  3. Evangelicals miss the big picture | Evangelicals' goal for the movie industry should be to encourage discourse, not merely evangelizing. (William Romanowski, USA Today)

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Money and business:

  1. From the Zoo to the pews | Onetime radio zany has a new career, providing Web services to churches (The Dallas Morning News)

  2. The separation of church and job | At work, many forms of religious expression are protected. But there are limits as well (The New York Times)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. By the thousands, faithful toil to resurrect Gulf cities | Sojourners in the South leave behind jobs, schools, lives (The Washington Post)

  2. American evangelist to mourn with Rwandans | Evangelist and ministry leader Joyce Meyer has announced her involvement with Hope Rwanda, a global missions project designed to instil hope into the people of Rwanda over 100 days between 7 April and 15 July this year. (New Times, Rwanda)

  3. Bush budget plan would cut many programs that support charities | White House offers some charity tax breaks (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)

  4. White House announces date of conference on grant makers and religious giving | The conference will be held on March 9 in Washington and "will highlight the important role corporations and foundations play in funding social service groups," said Alyssa J. McClenning, a spokeswoman for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)

  5. Church gets $5 million to build apartments for seniors | When Light of the World Christian Church forgave a $250,000 debt it was owed by another church, it expected nothing in return (The Indianapolis Star)

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  1. Desire for religion grows out of human experience | Philosopher posits it evolved in the absence of the supernatural (San Francisco Chronicle)

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  1. Losing their religion? Not really | Teens follow the adults in their religious lives (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  2. As roadside memorials multiply, a second look | The memorials have become so numerous, and so distracting, highway officials say, that more states are trying to regulate them (The New York Times)

  3. Religious progressives, the next generation | The emergent network — encompassing progressive evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Catholics and maybe even Jews —may be the kind of saints we need right now (Diane Winston, Los Angeles Times)

  4. An atheist's view of life's progress | With no higher power to guide, an atheist needs principles to live by (Sudhir Jain, The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. The saintly sinner | The two-thousand-year obsession with Mary Magdalene (Joan Acocella, The New Yorker)

  2. King honored at Ebenezer Baptist Church | After a rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" stirred worshippers at the new Ebenezer Baptist Church, the congregation paused to mourn the loss of Coretta Scott King — who remained a faithful member until her death (Associated Press)

  3. Pastor faces trial over kidnap | Police authorities at the zone two headquarters Onikan, Lagos, have launched a man -hunt for General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly (CPA), located at the Ajao Estate area of Lagos, for alleged kidnap of five children of same parents (This Day, Lagos, Nigeria)

  4. Fred Phelps confronted | Chief investigative reporter Jeff Golimowski went inside Fred Phelps's world looking for answers (KAKE, Wichita, Kan.)

  5. South Sudan militias, army clash, killing seven | The United Nations has been slow to deploy around 10,000 soldiers to monitor a ceasefire in the south between former foes the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the northern Islamist government. (Reuters)

  6. God, country, Florida State | In the Deep South, it's not so much where you were born as where you choose to spend your Saturdays (The New York Times Magazine)

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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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