Today's Top Five Stories

1. Evangelicals dislike media, but they dislike 'Islamo-fascists' more
"Many conservative Christians have long regarded the media as enemy territory, where traditional values are at best misunderstood and often mocked," writes Matt Stearns of the Knight Ridder news service. "So you might think they would relate sympathetically to Muslim outrage over the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban." You might think it, that is, if you haven't been paying attention to much conservative Christian rhetoric since 9/11. "They see this phenomenon as part of an orchestrated effort by what they call Islamo-fascists to take over the Islamic world," explains the University of Oklahoma's Allen Hertzke, who has chronicled earlier Christian-Muslim political alliances. The ubiquitous John Green says the anti-Semitic tone of many Muslim responses has also turned off evangelicals. For NAE head Ted Haggard, it's all about the violence: "Maybe the radical protests are validating the cartoon instead of proving that cartoon wrong." Not quoted, unfortunately: the very solid statement from the European Evangelical Alliance.

2. Churches observe "Evolution Sunday"
The ratio of churchgoers who this week celebrated "Evolution Sunday" to the newspapers that covered it is almost even. The New York Times notes two churches taking part: one with 85 parishioners, the other with 21. Sounds like these churches should be more concerned about their own extinction than about evolution. Then the paper also warns that the official numbers may be inflated: "The Clergy Letter Project [which sponsored the celebration] said that 441 congregations … were taking part in Evolution Sunday, but that was impossible to verify independently. Around Chicago, two churches that were listed on the project's Web site as participants in the event said they were in fact not planning to deliver sermons on the subject." From the media reports, it sounds like the sermons were more about opposing "fundamentalists" than about how science declares the glory of God.

3. Black churches in danger
The biggest threat to historic black churches isn't fire, says the Chicago Tribune: It's changing demographics and social issues. "Churches such as Pilgrim Baptist [one of Chicago's most historic black churches, which recently burned in an accident] have largely lost the vibrant community of middle-class blacks who built them up and now are struggling to attract a younger generation," the paper reports. At a time when many of the mid-19th century buildings need major repairs, renovations, and replacements, there's less money to fund such projects. "While we value the architecture, it should not be at the expense of ministry, and oftentimes that's the dilemma that we're faced with," says Michael Noble, pastor of Olivet Baptist Church.

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4. Evangelicals to get a worship center on Mount of Olives
While all eyes have been on plans for an evangelical center near the Sea of Galilee—it particularly made headlines when Israel banned Pat Robertson from participating—along comes news that another evangelical tourism site will open on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives. The Jerusalem Post reports that "a large prayer tent" will host up to 500 worshipers, and that the driving force behind it is evangelicals from Asia rather than from North America. It's temporary for now, but "organizers hope that the center will become a permanent fixture," says the Post.

5. Is ECI DOA?
The folks behind the Evangelical Climate Initiative have to be happy that op-eds and news stories are still talking about its call-to-action statement. But they're probably not thrilled with the Associated Press reporting that it won't make any real political change. "Activists banking on a quick shift in President Bush's environmental policies will be disappointed — support from just any evangelical figure won't do," writes AP religion reporter Rachel Zoll. "Evangelical activism on AIDS in Africa, the civil war in Sudan, and sex trafficking has deeply influenced the Bush administration. But environmental causes don't yet store the same kind of passion among conservative Christians." The suggestion is that the ECI's power won't be in getting Bush's attention, but in getting the attention of evangelical churchgoers. "If you look at public opinion surveys, there's a basis in the evangelical community for these kinds of initiatives on the environment," explains John Green (there he is again!) "But they're not there yet." Well, if they get desperate, there's always the potential for Air Pollution Sunday …

Quote of the day:
"I'm a patient victim. I put up with everything. I sacrifice myself for everyone."
—Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, explaining why he calls himself "the Jesus Christ of Italian politics."

More articles

Politics | Italy's PM Jesus remark | Pat Robertson | Divestment | Church and state | Education | Evolution | Evolution Sunday | Church life | Old churches | Catholicism | Limbo | Abuse | Crime | Alabama church fires | Prisons | Missions & ministry | India's anti-conversion rally | Human rights | Caricature conniption | Entertainment and media | Music | Books | Bible | Spirituality | Other stories of interest
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  1. Ind. proposal: Life starts at conception | Only one state — South Dakota — has gone so far in what it orders doctors to tell women before they can get abortions, and that law has been blocked by a court (Associated Press)

  2. Clinic bill goes beyond abortion | An inspection proposal that has been vetoed twice now covers all clinics that perform outpatient surgery (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)

  3. Judge upholds Fla. parental-notification law | Minor girls must tell their parents or get a judicial waiver before an abortion (The Orlando Sentinel)

  4. Parental notification ballot article in Milton | Parental notification relating to minors seeking abortion will again be an issue in Chittenden County come Town Meeting Day (Burlington Free Press, Vt.)

  5. Indian wedding vow: we will not abort daughters | Couples in the western Indian state of Gujarat have added a promise to avoid "female foeticide" to their wedding vows amid growing concern about the effects of selective abortion on the balance between the sexes (The Times, London)

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Abortion debate in Australia:

  1. Women 'aborting away the future' | Pro-life Liberal MP Danna Vale has warned that Australia risks becoming a Muslim nation if women continue to abort children at the current rate (The Australian)

  2. Also: Abortion will lead to Muslim nation: MP | Australia could become a Muslim nation within 50 years because "we are aborting ourselves almost out of existence", a Government backbencher says (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  3. MPs may get final say on abortion pill | Government MPs are considering whether to support an amendment that would give the drugs regulator the power to assess abortion pills such as RU486 but give Parliament the final say on whether or not they are made available to the public (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  4. Pro-lifers warn MPs on supporting RU486 | Pro-life groups have warned MPs they may have to pay an electoral price for supporting a bill to strip the health minister of his control over the abortion pill RU486 (AAP, Australia)

  5. Opponents of bill stare down defeat | Opponents of the private members' bill on RU486 will propose a parliamentary check on Health Minister's Tony Abbott's power over the abortion drug in an effort to head off defeat (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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Embryonic stem-cell research:

  1. Steele expands stem cell position | Research backed with conditions (The Washington Post)

  2. Earlier: Steele apologizes for Holocaust remarks | Compared stem cell research to Nazi medical experiments (The Washington Post)

  3. Also: Md. official elaborates on stem cell views | Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele said Saturday he supports stem cell research as long as scientists approach it cautiously, one day after he apologized for comparing the research to Nazi medical experiments (Associated Press)

  4. Talent takes new tack on stem cells | In a surprise turnabout, Sen. Jim Talent withdrew his support Friday for a controversial ban on human cloning and offered what he said was a compromise proposal that would heal the deep divide over stem cell research (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  5. Update: Talent's stem cell switch is under fire | "If nobody likes it, why in the world would I be doing it for political reasons?" he asks (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  6. Talent's blunder | The senator gets cloning wrong (Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review Online)

  7. Stem cell bill | 'Pander-monium' rules divisive issue (Editorial, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.)

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Life ethics:

  1. Planning on Plan B | Experts say students are increasingly using it as a supplement to their usual contraceptives—and apparently, in some cases, as their primary birth control (Newsweek)

  2. Supreme Court decision in right-to-die debate may signal time out | A month after the Supreme Court rejected federal efforts to block Oregon's doctor-assisted suicide law, the issue has not yet hit the top of the national agenda as some predicted. (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

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Evangelical Climate Initiative;

  1. As evangelicals warm to climate, Bush cool | Evangelical activism on AIDS in Africa, the civil war in Sudan and sex trafficking has deeply influenced the Bush administration. But environmental causes don't yet store the same kind of passion among conservative Christians (Associated Press)

  2. Hotter issue in red states: global warming | From evangelicals to students to business groups, climate change is a rising political concern (The Christian Science Monitor)

  3. Faith leads to action on global warming | A group of evangelical leaders properly urges Christians, including the president, to confront climate change (Editorial, The Oregonian)

  4. Church of global warming | It's dismaying to see another group of prominent religious figures trying to make a difficult policy issue into a religious crusade (Editorial, Boston Herald)

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  1. Stewards of nature | Calls to conjoin our concern with a sense of Christian mission are noteworthy (William F. Buckley Jr.)

  2. And on the eighth day, God went green | We may as well acknowledge that America has one truly national religion: environmentalism (John Tierney, The New York Times¸ sub. req'd.)

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Sexual ethics:

  1. Hundreds of teenagers plan to make Valentine's a 'Day of Purity' | Teens from about 200 schools and about 800 youth groups plan to participate (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Conference offers gays a chance to change | Two Christian groups that claim to help homosexuals change their sexual preferences will hold a conference in St. Louis this month. A local gay rights group calls the gathering's theme "harmful" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  3. The more they like sex, the more women like women | Bisexuality is on the rise—but only on one side of the gender gap (The Independent, London)

  4. Conservative's bill offers some rights to gay couples | It came as a surprise to political analysts — and to gay and lesbian activists — when Focus on the Family endorsed a bill this month that would give same-sex couples in Colorado some of the same rights as heterosexual spouses (Los Angeles Times)

  5. Also: Colorado eyes rival referendums | Voters in Colorado could become the first in the nation to have two marriage-related initiatives on the same ballot—one affirming traditional marriage and the other establishing domestic partnerships for homosexual couples. (The Washington Times)

  6. Polygamy next in line? | Recent developments in the Netherlands portend the future in the so-called marriage revolution (Gary L. Jarmin, The Washington Times)

  7. Church's stand on gays strained by 'marriage' | The United Church of Christ's endorsement of homosexual "marriage"—a lone stance among the largest Christian denominations—has stirred debate and divided dozens of its churches. Some have stopped sending money to the church's national office; others have left the denomination (Associated Press, via Washington Times)

  8. Church draws fire on marriage stance | Archdiocese backs ban on gay unions (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

  9. Religion fails to embrace diversity it espouses | With relentless attacks on homosexuality, conservative evangelicals communicate the message that diversity is dangerous and discrimination acceptable (Tom Erich, The Indianapolis Star)

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  1. House approves prayer resolution | The Indiana House approved a resolution today opposing a federal judge's ruling that limits official prayer in their chamber (The Indianapolis Star)

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  1. Also: Coming together in prayer | Prayer may be divisive in Indiana politics. But in the even more divided world of politics in the nation's capital, prayer has a way of bridging divisions (Russ Pulliam, The Indianapolis Star)

  2. Ralph Reed's questionable coalition | Reed has not been charged with any crime. However, a mountain of e-mails and other documents unearthed by a still-unfolding federal investigation makes it clear that his work as a political consultant was an integral part of Jack Abramoff's scheme to swindle his Indian-tribe clients out of tens of millions of dollars (The Virginian-Pilot)

  3. Obama speaks | He's been talking to Rick Warren and will make a series of speeches on religion (Time)

  4. When a pulpit turns to politics | Are we in need of pointers on how to behave at a funeral? (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune)

  5. Air Force flies Right | The military caved to evangelical pressure and reaffirmed, rather than reformed, the continual eroding of the separation of church and state (Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation)

  6. Praying for Levy and other politicians | We wonder what type of Christian nation Zambia is, if it's one that doesn't listen to its religious leaders (Editorial, The Post of Zambia)

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Italy's PM Jesus remark:

  1. Berlusconi says 'I am like Jesus' | "I'm a patient victim. I put up with everything. I sacrifice myself for everyone," said Italian Prime Minister (BBC)

  2. Also: Berlusconi says he is like Jesus (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Also: Berlusconi's boundless modesty: first it's Napoleon, now he's Jesus (The Guardian, London)

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Pat Robertson:

  1. A wholly controversial holy man | Televangelist Pat Robertson's incendiary remarks raise concerns, even within the religious right movement he helped found (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Robertson to get some in-ear coaching on air | Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson is reining in his television commentaries with the help of a former news producer, according to an interview in World magazine (The Virginian-Pilot)

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  1. Archbishop criticized over backing for bulldozer motion | Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was facing a torrent of Anglican criticism last night over his backing for the Church of England to disinvest from an American company which makes giant bulldozers used by the Israeli army to demolish homes in Palestinian areas (The Guardian, London)

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  1. Archbishop apologizes for divestment | Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has written to British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks to apologize for the Church of England's vote last week to divest from companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the territories. This despite the fact that Williams himself backed the anti-Israel vote (The Jerusalem Post)

  2. The church's cheap shot | The effects of this call for divestment, regardless of how much Arcibishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams may wish it not so, are to question the legitimacy of Israel and its right to self defense, to inflame anti-Semitism in England and elsewhere and to encourage terrorism against Israel (Editorial, The Jerusalem Post)

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Church and state:

  1. Does art violate church-state law? | A Bible. A clerical collar. A hat that says "I Love Jesus." Those symbols and other religious imagery prompted Deltona's interim city manager to remove three paintings from a display at City Hall celebrating Black History Month (The Orlando Sentinel)

  2. 10 Commandments sign violates covenants | Dean Pride tried to deter burglars from breaking into his home by posting a sign with the commandment "Thou shall not steal" underlined, but in doing so he violated the property owner's association's covenant stating thou shall not post (The Morning News, Springdale, Ark.)

  3. Church 'spent indigenous grants on staff' | Indigenous development grants to Hillsong's benevolent arm have gone almost entirely to employing and providing offices for church staff, with only a trickle reaching Aborigines (The Australian)

  4. Also: Hillsong rejects Indigenous grant spending claims | An evangelical church's charitable arm has rejected claims it has not been transparent in spending a Federal Government grant to help Indigenous business (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

  5. Arts lobby raises pressure for blasphemy law repeal | Philip Pullman and Nicholas Hytner are leading a campaign to repeal blasphemy laws after the Government's failure to outlaw "abusive and insulting" criticism of religion (The Times, London)

  6. Rwanda targets 'noisy' churches | Rwandan police are cracking down on noisy churches, confiscating instruments from 11 congregations around the country in recent days (BBC)

  7. 'Satanic' pastors deported | Two Brazilian pastors of an evangelical church accused of Satanism were deported from Zambia, an official said on Monday (SAPA, South Africa)

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  1. Philadelphia school questioned | Some say students at Lutheran Christian only hit the boards (The Washington Post)

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  1. In small town, 'Grease' ignites a culture war | In small corners of the country, like Fulton, Mo., only a few objections to high school books or plays can rattle an entire community (The New York Times)

  2. Faith schools 'too selective' | Faith schools should be prevented from discriminating in the way they select pupils, one of Tony Blair's former advisers has warned (The Observer, London)

  3. Also: 'Richer pupils' at church schools | Church primary schools in England are less likely than local authority schools to admit children from poorer homes, updated research shows (BBC)

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  1. Their own version of a big bang | Those who believe in creationism—children and adults—are being taught to challenge evolution's tenets in an in-your-face way (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Unlocking cell secrets bolsters evolutionists | Biologists are beginning to solve the riddles on which intelligent-design advocates have relied (Chicago Tribune)

  3. Teachers often caught up in tug of war over handling of evolution, creationism | No matter what is decided at the state level, it will be teachers who determine how best to tackle what for some is a confrontation between faith and science (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  4. 'Analysis' of evolution is a threat, lawyer says | Attorney in Pa. case warns Ohio standards are asking for trouble (The Columbus Dispatch, Oh.)

  5. Overwhelming support in Ohio for teaching both sides of evolution, Zogby poll shows | By more than a 3-to-1 margin, Ohio residents strongly support public school teachers presenting both the evidence for evolution, as well as the evidence challenging the theory, according to a new poll by Zogby International released today (Press release)

  6. Claims made by 'origins of life' supporters don't hold water | Proponents of SB96, the amended "origins of life" bill presently in Utah's House, have made a number of points in the bill's defense which need clarification (Duane Jeffery, The Salt Lake Tribune)

  7. Why we can't dilute Darwin | A scientist weighs in on the stakes involved in the evolution-intelligent design debate (Murray Peshkin, Chicago Tribune)

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Evolution Sunday:

  1. At churches nationwide, good words for evolution | Ministers at hundreds of churches preached that the opposition many Christians say exists between science and faith is false (The New York Times)

  2. Churches to mark Darwin's birthday | Hundreds to join `Evolution Sunday,' organized by a Wisconsin academic (Chicago Tribune)

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  1. Compromise between Darwin and God | In effort to challenge the belief by some that God, Darwin's theories don't jibe, clergy group calls for coexistence (Newsday, Long Island, N.Y.)

  2. Faithful sing praises of science, creation | Churches celebrate Evolution Sunday across state, nation. At least 11 congregations in Colorado tailored worship and classes to the notion that believers don't have to choose either evolution or the Bible (The Denver Post)

  3. Churches exploring how we got here | This weekend is "Evolution Sunday" for more than 400 churches across the country, including six in Connecticut (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

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Church life:

  1. Judge dismisses lawsuit seeking to block demolition of church | Justice Barbara R. Kapnick of State Supreme Court declined to interfere, citing legal precedent related to religious property (The New York Times)

  2. New church study adjusts 'big' picture | Megachurches seemed so 1990s. But it turns out that the phenomenon of American congregations swelling to unprecedented sizes is still hot news in the 21st century (The Dallas Morning News)

  3. Church accused of profiting from phone pornography | Protesters have launched a campaign against mobile phone masts on an Edinburgh church—accusing it of profiting from the spread of pornography (Edinburgh Evening News)

  4. I'm not gay — rejected bishop | Rejected Anglican bishop-elect of the Lake Malawi Diocese Nicholas Henderson has said although he is a member and chairman of a liberal church organization, he is not homosexual (The Nation, Malawi)

  5. Preacher steps down, stilled by own spirit | Decades of lengthy sermons have reduced voice (The Washington Post)

  6. Pastor confirms he may be leaving | First Baptist leader to give sermon in Jacksonville, await vote (The Dallas Morning News)

  7. Also: First Baptist of Dallas pastor moves on | The Rev. Mac Brunson is expected to step down from the legendary pulpit of the First Baptist Church of Dallas to succeed the Rev. Jerry Vines as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  8. The crowning touch | For religion and tradition, these black women don a Sunday hat (Des Moines Register, Ia.)

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Old churches:

  1. Struggling to fill needs, pews | Some historic black congregations face choice between ministry, preservation (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Mainline Christians struggle with shifts | The head of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, will urge delegates to fully recognize global spiritual shifts and begin serious dialogue with Pentecostal and other groups, who have often regarded the WCC as a threat to their independence, fundraising methods and animated worship style (Associated Press)

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  1. Old churches and new choices | In their efforts to reach more people, especially youth and young adults, churches are feeling the need for change (The Shreveport Times, La.)

  2. Time for a tricky bit of rewiring | Rewiring a historic church leaves scars (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)

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  1. Appearances can be downright deceptive | A rash of dubious miracles and rival congregations is trying the Vatican's patience (The Times, London)

  2. D.C. papal museum struggles for financial foothold, focus | 5-year-old Catholic center facing debt, low attendance (The Washington Post)

  3. Church audit heading to Warren prosecutors | St. Joseph parishioners hear little. Bishop tells members he wishes he could provide more details (The Express-Times, Easton, Pa.)

  4. Also: A community in distress relies on faith | Church loyalties aside, people need to know that their contributions, countless volunteer hours and faith in their leaders are well-placed (Joseph P. Owens, The Express-Times, Easton, Pa.)

  5. Church digs Mel Gibson's $5 million | He's continuing to build a religious compound in Malibu for Catholics who reject Vatican II, and is implicitly endorsing his controversial father's beliefs by helping him launch a similar church in Pennsylvania (Fox News)

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  1. Limbo, still, for Catholic churches awaiting an overhaul | Some churches and schools have been waiting for months to see if they will be shut (The New York Times)

  2. Limbo goes to heaven | There are practical reasons to eliminate limbo, and limbo was already being squeezed out by hell, which has been going through its own transformation both at the Vatican and among various Christian branches (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Kennebunk priest cleared of abuse charge | The Rev. Laurent Laplante had been on paid administrative leave since early December, after a high school student claimed the priest touched her pants on her knee and inner thigh six years ago (Portland Press Herald, Me.)

  2. Cardinal's supporters speak up | More than 100 allies rally at Holy Name (Chicago Tribune)

  3. George extends his apology to churchgoers | In addressing his handling of sex abuse cases, Cardinal Francis George has issued apologies to priests, the media and members of affected parishes (Chicago Sun-Times)

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  1. Letter from Cardinal George asks priests to come forward | Archbishop: 'All of us are ashamed' (WLS, Chicago)

  2. Woman reveals settlement with church | A Florida woman who said she was sexually abused by three Catholic priests more than 35 years ago came forward Saturday with the details of a $125,000 settlement she reached with the Chicago Roman Catholic Archdiocese in 2004 (Chicago Sun-Times)

  3. Bishop: Bankruptcy an option for diocese | Bishop Donald Kettler announced to parishioners Saturday and Sunday that the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese may have to consider bankruptcy among other options if the church loses pending court decisions in sexual abuse lawsuits (Fairbanks News-Miner, Ak.)

  4. Man suing diocese arrested on theft charge | One of the men suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pueblo over allegations of sexual abuse is facing a charge of theft (Associated Press)

  5. Church sways sex-abuse bills | Dems to include public schools in legislation making it easier for victims to sue (The Denver Post)

  6. Extend window of justice for sex abuse | The legislature should extend the statute of limitations for victims to sue over abuse by priests and others whose assaults took place years ago (Editorial, The Denver Post)

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  1. Darien police probe more reports of tampered juice | Police are investigating a report of tampered fruit juice bottles discovered by CVS employees during a store inventory check Friday (The Stamford Advocate, Ct.)

  2. Also: CVS store may have found tampered bottles | Bottles of fruit juice that appeared to be tampered with were found at same drug store where grape juice that sickened dozens of churchgoers had been purchased, police said (Associated Press)

  3. Arson suspected in Minnedosa church fire | The congregation of the Minnedosa United Church is struggling to deal with a fire that destroyed their 105-year-old church building (CBC, Canada)

  4. Ex-employee charged in theft of church funds | Priscilla Garbers, a former office employee at St. Paul Lutheran Church, is accused of stealing more than $100,000 while she managed the church's funds (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  5. Pastor resigned after audit | Congregation troubles followed, official says (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)

  6. Friday: Couple accused of taking cash from church | Macedonia church's ex-pastor, wife arrested (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)

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Alabama church fires:

  1. Investigators have profile in church arson | Investigators believe a pair of men in their 20s or 30s, likely "bosom buddies," are responsible for a string of church fires in rural Alabama, as authorities confirmed the latest blaze at a Baptist church was the 10th case of arson (Associated Press)

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  1. Sunday: Another church fire in Ala. ruled arson (Associated Press)

  2. Victims of church fires lose the center of a rural life | The fires, apparently arsons, that razed small rural churches in Alabama last week have left communities hurting and trying to figure out how to recover (The New York Times)

  3. Beaverton residents dismayed at fire | Residents Sunday said they were dismayed that their small Lamar County town is the latest to be struck in a string of Baptist church arsons across west Alabama, but said they were not changing their habits nor fearful for their safety (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  4. Burned, but not broken | Churches meet after burnings (Mobile Register, Ala.)

  5. Suspects sought in Alabama church burnings | Many congregations are planning to rebuild, and vow not to be intimidated (Weekend Edition, NPR)

  6. Church burnings: 'Who on earth could be so mean?' | Church burnings in rural Alabama prompt reflections on the state's "black belt," a former plantation community that has played a pivotal role in African-American religious and political history (Weekend Edition, NPR)

  7. Ala. parishioners seek answers to arsons | "It's a person that does not believe in Jesus," says pastor James Posey (USA Today)

  8. Church arsonists won't kill faith, only make it stronger | The best way for the average person to respond is with prayer and a helping hand. (Editorial, The Decatur Daily, Ala.)

  9. Evangelicals take stand against church arson, global warming | The same faith that called those Alabama congregations to praise God in those sanctuaries now calls them to forgive their enemies (Errol Castens, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)

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  1. Push for Christian prison is faith-based on two levels | Ex-convict's dream since 1986 is closer to reality in San Angelo (Houston Chronicle)

  2. Okla. inmates entitled to kosher meals, court says | Federal judge makes permanent January 2005 ruling that three Orthodox Jewish prisoners have First Amendment right to food that meets religious guidelines (Associated Press)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Some 40 U.S. missionaries leave Venezuela | Denying any wrongdoing, the missionaries have gathered in an eastern city and are wondering what comes next — for themselves and the tribes (Associated Press)

  2. Religious institutions try innovative fund-raisers | Skyrocketing energy costs, fewer members to pay for them and competition from charities are forcing Long Island's religious institutions to wrestle anew with fund-raising (The New York Times)

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  1. Called to evangelize | The faithful commit to adding to the fold (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  2. Churches call for more youth outreach efforts | Robida rampage offers chance for reflection (The Boston Globe)

  3. D.C. church offers orphans hope | Four years of saving by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Northeast Washington came to fruition over the weekend with the opening of a shining new orphanage and village financed by contributions from the congregation (The Washington Times)

  4. Student pallbearers, performing a service | Dan Sklenka is a member of the St. Joseph of Arimathea Pallbearer Society at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. As a public service, students at Ohio school help staff funerals that lack pallbearers. (Weekend Edition, NPR)

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India's anti-conversion rally:

  1. Christians heave sigh of relief as Kumbh ends peacefully | A Christian priest, who has been running a school in Dangs for a decade now today said the Sangh Parivar's allegations of conversions levelled against missionaries were ''baseless'' and had ''not an iota of truth'' in them (UNI, India)

  2. Indian Hindus head west to "reconvert" tribals | Tens of thousands of Hindu activists gathered in a tribal district of western India on Sunday for a religious fair, sparking fear among Christians of communal violence and forcible conversions to Hinduism (Reuters)

  3. Kumbh Day 1: Message for missionaries | Quoting from the Bible and a Bollywood number, it was an open call from kathakar Morari Bapu to missionaries, asking them to stop conversions (The Indian Express)

  4. Kumbh's agenda: Anti-conversion | Confirming the apprehensions of Christian and human rights organisations, the first-ever 'Shabari Kumbh' began with a tirade against alleged conversions of tribals in the district (Hindustan Times, India)

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Human rights:

  1. Report: U.S. is abusing captives | A U.N. inquiry says the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay at times amounts to torture and violates international law (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Desperation in Darfur | Can the United Nations now succeed where African peacekeepers have failed? (US News & World Report)

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Caricature conniption:

  1. Evangelical Christians express little sympathy for Muslims' outrage | Concerns about the goals of radical Islamic leaders, a sense that a double standard pervades the Muslim media and a general distaste for organized violence have overridden any empathy most Christian conservatives might feel for angry Muslims (Knight Ridder)

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  1. Our faith in letting it all hang out | Why liberals condescend to those with strong beliefs (Stanley Fish, The New York Times)

  2. Let's be honest about cartoons | Now that the media is proclaiming religious sensitivity, should newspapers and television networks refuse to accept advertising for The Da Vinci Code, since plainly that would be promoting hate speech? (Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times)

  3. Tradition vs. modernity | Fundamentalist Christians, traditionalist Catholics and ultra-Orthodox Jews do not, with very few exceptions, call for violence in response to heresy; that is a key distinction. But they too often equate criticism (let alone mockery) of their beliefs with ''religious bigotry" or ''hate speech." And they, too, often seek not simply to protest but to shut down offensive speech (Cathy Young, The Boston Globe)

  4. Destructing and deconstructing images | Unlikely though it seems, iconoclasm links Milton, Marx and the Sex Pistols with the Jewish and Islamic worlds (Giles Fraser, The Guardian, London)

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Entertainment and media:

  1. Film, in a pickle, turns to Larry Ross | A. Larry Ross Communications wasn't the main P.R. company for the film, but was hired "at the eleventh hour" to help spread the word among Christian publications as casting concern spread (The Dallas Morning News)

  2. Personalizing 'truth' makes it less divisive | Radio host believes those who differ on religious issues can have a dialogue (Houston Chronicle)

  3. Positively progressive | Every Thursday at 5 p.m., Barbara Nixon brings her "God Talk" to KOPT, billed as Eugene's progressive radio station, 1600 on the AM dial (The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.)

  4. In ' Freedom Files,' the ACLU struggles for religious freedom, but not for balance | The most effective way to make a point is to hear out the other side, too (The Boston Globe)

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  1. 'Missa Solemnis,' a divine bit of Beethoven | The Catholic mass which Beethoven called the Missa Solemnis is rarely performed. It's eclipsed by the better-known Ninth Symphony. But taken together, the two works shed light on the composer's spiritual world view (Weekend Edition, NPR)

  2. Country artist Alan Jackson takes gospel turn | What was originally intended as a Christmas gift for his mother will soon become a treat for all of Alan Jackson's fans (Reuters)

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  1. Evangelicals and the law | Noah Feldman reviews Jay Sekulow's Witnessing Their Faith: Religious Influence on Supreme Court Justices and Their Opinions (The New Republic)

  2. The new pope, without prejudice | Martin Sieff reviews Michael S. Rose's Benedict XVI: The Man Who Was Ratzinger (The Washington Times)

  3. Opus Dei tackles "Da Vinci Code" image problem | Portrayed in the best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code" as a secretive cult willing to murder to defend a fictional 2,000-year-old Catholic cover-up, Opus Dei is promoting its softer side before the movie of the book arrives in May (Reuters)

  4. Should we treat religion as a science? | Is religion a natural phenomenon, like photosynthesis, evolution or belly-button fluff? (The Guardian, London)

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  1. Bible stories 'eyewitness accounts' | Leading biblical scholar Richard Bauckham is to use a series of prestigious Scottish theology lectures to make the controversial claim that the Gospels represent eyewitness accounts of historical events (Sunday Herald, Glasgow)

  2. Falling in love with the erotic Song of Solomon | Tiny book in Hebrew Bible seldom addressed from pulpit (Religion News Service)

  3. Also: Sex and the Bible, and you can sing along | "Song of Solomon" is soft-core God porn. Bible erotica. Pious passion. (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)

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  1. Pastor feels called to fight demons | Globe-trotting minister Bob Larson has performed 6,000 exorcisms in 20 years (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  2. Earlier: Possessed or Obsessed? | Many Christians say they are in need of deliverance but some may be giving demons more than their due (Christianity Today, Aug. 24, 2001)

  3. What has happened to America's Jesus? | I remember when Jesus Christ was about religion (Rob Borsellino, USA Today)

  4. Dussault is praying for a miracle | Cross-country skier is guided by the spirit of a beatified patron of the poor (The Washington Post)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. Evangelical center coming to J'lem | The Jerusalem Municipality has authorized the temporary establishment of an Evangelical Christian center for worship on the Mount of Olives for the benefit of those visiting the Holy Land, according to the city and the organizer (The Jerusalem Post)

  2. Rabbi says Messianic Jews are Christians in disguise | Rabbi Tovia Singer seeks to discredit groups such as Jews for Jesus and Messianic Jews, contending that they deceive people by hiding Christian beliefs behind Jewish terms and symbols (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  3. French to test reputed remains of Joan of Arc | A team of experts plans a series of tests to determine whether Joan of Arc's supposed remains — a rib bone and some skin — may indeed have belonged to the 15th-century French heroine burned at the stake after a trial for heresy (Associated Press, via Toronto Star)

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Related Elsewhere:

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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