Today's Top Five

1. Nigeria holds its breath: Are riots over?
Onitsha is calm after two days of anti-Muslim riots, say press reports, but all is not well in the southern Nigerian city. "Mobs stopped killing and looting in this battered Nigerian city Thursday and turned to disposing of the evidence in the crudest of ways," reports The Washington Post. "With smoldering bonfires fueled by pieces of wood and old tires, men burned the remains of their Muslim victims on downtown streets, leaving behind charred legs, skulls, and shoulders that motorists swerved to avoid." Both the Post and the Associated Press quote Ifeanyi Ese (Eze), who was found writing on one of the destroyed mosques, "Muhammad is a man, but Jesus is from above."

"We don't want these mosques here anymore," he told the reporters. "These people are causing all the problems all over the world because they don't fear God. We don't want Muhammad anymore."

Reuters quotes another resident saying, "We are very happy that this thing is happening so that the north will learn their lesson."

The concern now is that Muslims in northern Nigeria will retaliate for the retaliatory attacks, which reportedly killed twice as many people as the attacks against Christians in Maiduguri and elsewhere earlier in the week.

2. South Dakota's abortion ban returns
In 2004, South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds vetoed a bill banning almost all abortions in the state, saying he was worried that existing abortion restrictions would be eliminated during the certain court fight. Now a very similar bill has returned to his desk. If Rounds signs it this time, it would be a clear opportunity for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Indeed, that's pretty much the point of the bill. But there almost surely aren't enough anti-Roe justices on the Court at this time. Whether there would be enough by the time the case worked its way through the court system is the gamble. Some pro-life groups say it's too big a gamble, and a ruling against South Dakota would derail efforts to overturn Roe. Others say the risk is worth it.

3. Dutch politician suggests forced abortions
Marianne van den Anker, city councilor/alderman for Rotterdam, says she's frustrated by her efforts to prevent child abuse. So, she presented a new idea on her political party's website: "Obligatory abortions for bad mothers." Drug addicts, people with mental handicaps, and Antillean teenage mothers should be prohibited from having children, she said. If they get pregnant, she said, they should be forced to abort their children. "Van den Anker said children from these groups run an 'unacceptable risk' of growing up without love and with 'violence, neglect, mistreatment and sexual abuse,'" says the Dutch news site Expatica, picking the story up from the newspaper NRC Handelsblad. The site notes that van den Anker's plan has no chance of actually being implemented at this time, but it's amazing that such a blatantly racist, nationalist, and eugenic proposal could actually get a serious hearing.

4. World Council of Churches head attacks megachurches
We just don't pay attention to the WCC. As many say these days, it's the World Council of Churches Nobody Goes To Anymore. But World Council of Churches General Secretary Samuel Kobia is getting a fair bit of press for an interview he did with Reuters. In it, he slams the megachurch as having "no depth, in most cases, theologically speaking, and has no appeal for any commitment. It's a church being organized on corporate logic. That can be quite dangerous if we are not very careful, because this may become a Christianity which I describe as 'two miles long and one inch deep.'"

Now, one can criticize megachurches in particular, and one can talk about the challenges of size, but recent research has demonstrated that it's almost impossible to say anything uniformly about "megachurches." A few trends that did emerge from the Hartford Seminary's Hartford Institute for Religion Research study, however, directly contradict Kobia's statements about theological depth and lack of commitment. What's notable about Kobia's statement is how familiar it sounds. Theologically shallow? A religion-is-for-Sunday-only mentality? That's not the megachurch, friend—that's the mainline churches that form the majority of the WCC. And as for being organized on corporate logic, if ever there were churches that look like boardrooms and shareholders' meetings, it's the mainline denominations and their ecumenical bodies. Still, it's safe for Kobia to slam megachurches. After all, most churches he represents don't have anything to worry about when it comes to getting too big.

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5. $3,200,000,000 and rising for Katrina relief
Some organizations have raised so much money for Katrina relief that they're not taking any more, says The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Charities have raised about $3.2 billion, according to the publication's survey. Among the top recipients: The Salvation Army ($325M), Catholic Charities USA ($154.5M)

Habitat for Humanity ($95M), The United Methodist Committee on Relief ($62.4M), Samaritan's Purse ($36.9M), Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief ($20.1M), and World Vision ($10.9M).

Quote of the day:
"The faith community must step forward and tell leftist activists that undermining border security is not a religious imperative."

—U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R.-Colo., attacking the U.S. Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church , and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for criticizing H.R. 4437. The bill, The bill, which is in the Senate after passing the House in January, would make it a crime for churches and nonprofit groups to aid someone if they have entered the country illegally.

Among the "radical activists" Tancredo attacked as misrepresenting the beliefs of the faith community is apparently Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael Sheehan of New Mexico, who has led Catholic criticism of the bill. "We don't condone illegal entry, but when someone is here, we try to take care of them," he told Scripps Howard News Service this week. "There is a kind of mean-spiritedness about immigrants, and as a Christian people, we try to show respect and love for all people, regardless of their status." Offended by his use of religious language? Tancredo says he is.

More articles

Nigeria riots | Muslim-Christian relations | Sudan | Uganda | Politics | Indiana House prayer fight | Immigration | Israel | Missions &ministry | WCC head criticizes megachurches | Church life | Abuse | New cardinals | ECUSA's second gay bishop | Sexual ethics | South Dakota abortion ban | Abortion | Death penalty | Courts & law | Religious drug use | UK faith schools | Evolution | Education | Art, entertainment, and media | Ala. fires | Other stories of interest

Nigeria riots:

  1. Nigerian Christians mob Muslims | Christians in this southern Nigerian city burned Muslim corpses and defaced wrecked mosques Thursday, showing little repentance after days of sectarian violence that has killed more than 120 people across the country (Associated Press)

  2. Bodies burned in open after Nigeria riots kill 138 | Christian youths burned the corpses of Muslims on Thursday on the streets of Onitsha in southeastern Nigeria, the city worst hit by religious riots that have killed at least 138 people across the country in five days (Reuters)

  3. Bodies pile up after Nigeria riot | The city of Onitsha in south-eastern Nigeria is calm after two days of anti-Muslim riots left many dead (BBC)

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  1. Nigeria violence highlights deep Christian-Muslim divide | Mobs stopped killing and looting in this battered Nigerian city on Thursday and turned to disposing of the evidence in the crudest of ways (The Washington Post)

  2. Earlier: Christians turn on Muslims in Nigeria; more than 30 die | Hordes of angry men marauded through Onitsha armed with machetes, guns and boards with nails pounded into their ends, witnesses said (The Washington Post)

  3. Onitsha: Death toll rises to 100 | 4,000 take refuge in barracks (This Day, Nigeria)

  4. Religious crisis: CAN calls for State of Emergency | Following reprisal attacks that trailed religious crisis in some states in the northern part of the country, the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), in the South-south geo-political zone, has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the affected states (This Day, Nigeria)

  5. 38 killed as Onitsha riot spreads | Govt extends curfew to Awka, Nnewi (Vanguard, Nigeria)

  6. Lagos warns against religious unrest | Lagos state government has alerted members of the public on what it called a sinister plan by unscrupulous and unpatriotic elements in the state to instigate conflict among the people in the name of religion following recent religious tension in parts of the country (This Day, Nigeria)

  7. Cartoon violence: Arrest perpetrators, Obasanjo orders police | President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday ordered the Nigerian Police to arrest and prosecute all those involved in the recent religious disturbances in Maiduguri (This Day, Nigeria)

  8. Death toll rises in Nigerian violence | Bodies littered the streets of the southern Nigerian city of Onitsha on Wednesday as the death toll from days of Christian-Muslim violence across Nigeria rose to at least 93. (Associated Press)

  9. Protesters attack Onitsha prisons; 585 inmates escape | The crisis in Onitsha, Anambra State, yesterday took a dramatic twist as youths still protesting the killings of their kinsmen in the North set ablaze Onitsha prisons and freed 585 inmates (Daily Champion, Nigeria)

  10. Ngige imposes curfew on Onitsha | Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State, has imposed a dusk-to- dawn-curfew on Onit-sha, the state's commercial nerve centre (This Day, Nigeria)

  11. ACF: Punish perpetrators of Maiduguri mayhem | Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Chief Sunday Awoniyi in a statement noted that the action must be condemned in all its ramifications and in the extreme, adding that from all indications, the violence could not have been anti-Christian (This Day, Nigeria)

  12. 22 killed as mayhem spreads to Onitsha | Mosques burnt, govt imposes curfew; 2,000 policemen drafted to stop killings (Vanguard, Nigeria)

  13. Mob on rampage in Onitsha | Angry mob on yesterday attacked two mosques and Northerners resident in Onitsha, Anambra State, in what is feared to be reprisal attacks of the violent riots that took place over the weekend in some parts of the North (Daily Trust, Nigeria)

  14. 21 killed, mosques razed (Daily Champion, Nigeria)

  15. Nigeria's leader challenged at home | Recent attacks on oil facilities and Christian-Muslim violence threaten the stability of the nation (The Christian Science Monitor)

  16. News photos of Onitsha violence | Warning: Includes several graphic images of burning bodies, machete wounds, etc. (Yahoo News)

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Muslim-Christian relations:

  1. Attacks on Copts expose Egypt's secular paradox | Tensions between Muslims, Christians grow violent in time of more openness (The Washington Post)

  2. World Council of Churches slaps cartoons | The world's biggest group of Christian churches criticized the use of military forces to fight terrorism Thursday, and denounced both the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad and the Muslim rage they unleashed (Associated Press)

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  1. German court convicts man for insulting Islam | A German court on Thursday convicted a businessman of insulting Islam by printing the word "Koran" on toilet paper and offering it to mosques (Reuters)

  2. Vatican to Muslims: practice what you preach | After backing calls by Muslims for respect for their religion in the Mohammad cartoons row, the Vatican is now urging Islamic countries to reciprocate by showing more tolerance toward their Christian minorities (Reuters)

  3. A failure of the press | Over the past few weeks, the press has betrayed not only its duties but its responsibilities to print cartoons that were at the center of widespread turmoil among Muslims (William J. Bennett and Alan M. Dershowitz, The Washington Post)

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Sudan:

  1. US tells UN to hurry up with Darfur planning | The Bush administration, under growing pressure from religious groups over Sudan's Darfur region, urged the United Nations on Tuesday to quickly finish its planning for an international force to help end violence in Darfur (Reuters)

  2. Worsening security could hinder Darfur peace deal | Peace talks for Sudan's Darfur region are in their final stretch, but worsening security on the ground could hinder the implementation of any deal, the European Union's special representative to Sudan said on Wednesday (Reuters)

  3. From Bosnia to Darfur | Troops with the right mandate, numbers and equipment, backed by an internationally endorsed peace deal — as happened in Bosnia — is the way to change history in Darfur (Editorial, USA Today)

  4. Eradicating slavery in Sudan | Failure to eradicate slavery—with all its overtones of racism and religious bigotry—will leave in Sudan a deadly cancer, destroying possibilities of national reconciliation, and undermining chances of sustainable peace and stability (John Eibner, The Boston Globe)

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Uganda:

  1. Pastors and prophecies call Uganda election | Hundreds of born-again Christians drop their Bibles and begin singing songs hailing Uganda's long-serving President Yoweri Museveni (Reuters)

  2. Candidates flock churches for blessings | Parliamentary candidates in Tororo on Sunday flocked churches for blessings from church leaders ahead of the today's polls (Daily Monitor, Uganda)

  3. US man found with guns had political aim: Uganda | An American evangelical and IT consultant, arrested in Uganda with assault rifles this week, planned to set up a political party, police said on Wednesday (Reuters)

  4. Yet another of Uganda's many sects with complex doctrines | It started as a small group amidst strong opposition and criticism. 40 years later, the Abasimuki are increasing significantly and are still committed to reviving "dying" Christian values (The Monitor, Uganda)

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Politics:

  1. Prayer breakfast boycott | Mayor had wanted to affirm 'inclusive nature of the event' (The Kansas City Star)

  2. Christian movement moving in | Cory Burnell of Christian Exodus wants Christians to move to South Carolina (USA Today)

  3. For next Md. governor, a supreme opportunity | Picks could swing court on death penalty, gay marriage (The Washington Post)

  4. Candidate champions oppressed Christians | A Tory candidate who stands a good chance of being elected to the National Assembly next year works for a charity that is in conflict with Islamic fundamentalist countries over their oppression of Christians (Western Mail, Wales)

  5. Bible bending propaganda | Was Jesus an early opponent of global warming? (Paul Chesser, The American Spectator)

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Indiana House prayer fight:

  1. Sodrel: Prayer measure fights 'judicial activism' | U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel, R-Ind., said Tuesday he is confident Congress would vote to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over the content of speech in state legislatures (The Indianapolis Star)

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  1. Turn to courts for prayer intercession | Legal, not legislative, solution should be pursued in response to judge's ban on praying in the name of Jesus (Editorial, The Indianapolis Star)

  2. Prayers from Washington | U.S. representatives climb aboard the battle over official prayer in the Statehouse (Editorial, The News-Sentinel, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)

  3. Statehouse wisdom? | House Speaker Bosma's we-outnumber-you comment to a Jewish delegation represents a stunning display of immaturity (Editorial, The Journal Gazette, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)

  4. Meanwhile, in Ohio: Hartville council to pray | Members reject recommendation they open meetings with moment of silence (Akron Beacon Journal, Oh.)

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Immigration:

  1. Bishops: Show mercy to illegals | As the Senate girds for Round 2 of the immigration reform battle, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is lobbying to persuade senators to pass a more forgiving bill than the one passed by the House last year (Scripps Howard News Service)

  2. Churches out of step, Tancredo says | Rep. Tom Tancredo has accused leaders of some of the country's biggest religious denominations of being out of step with their own followers on the issue of illegal immigration (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  3. Immig foe smears churches, pols | Tancredo is mad. And his rage is truly ecumenical (Albor Ruiz, New York Daily News)

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Israel:

  1. U.S. Christians create umbrella organization to lobby for Israel | A new group in the United States, Christians United for Israel, will serve as an umbrella organization for Christian congregations that support Israel, and will lobby for Israel (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)

  2. Strange bedfellows | The connection between David Irving and Rowan Williams (Daniel Johnson, The New York Sun)

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Missions &ministry:

  1. Three large charities end solicitations for Katrina relief as total tops $3-billion | With about $3.2-billion raised to help Hurricane Katrina victims — and contributions still coming in — three of the largest charities that solicited such donations have now stopped raising money for Gulf Coast relief efforts (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)

  2. When sermons get sexy | Thanks to Heather Veitch, things seem to be looking up for the word of God (Fox News)

  3. Messages use a medium on the move | The Western Union telegram is no more, but the Prayer-A-Gram is still bringing encouragement (The News-Sentinel, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)

  4. A pub ministry spreads the faith | Arlington diocese holds seminars in bars (The Washington Post)

  5. Kings' dream lives on in a church's kitchen | Coretta Scott King is dead, but the parishioners at the First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Petworth say her spirit and her husband's legacy continue to live through their work with the homeless and the hungry (The Washington Post)

  6. Habitat for Humanity builds homes on faith | Adherents to multiple religions find unity in working together (San Mateo County Times, Ca.)

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WCC head criticizes megachurches:

  1. Growth of megachurches worries church council head | The head of the World Council of Churches expressed concern on Tuesday about the spread of megachurches around the world, saying they could lead to a Christianity that is "two miles long and one inch deep" (Reuters)

  2. Rise of megachurches may be dangerous, top cleric warns | The megachurch is a modern trend in religious life, but its vision to make religion more relevant has come under fresh fire for being light on theology and heavy on corporate logic (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  3. The good and bad of religion-lite | They have been called religion-lite, Disney-Jesus, and self-help saviours. Big, booming, wealthy megachurches in the US—and, increasingly, churches like Hillsong here—are becoming the scourge not just of the naturally suspicious secular world but also the traditional church (Julia Baird, The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Church life:

  1. Religion Today: World Council of Churches questions modern ecumenism | "The ecumenism of structures, the ecumenism of papers and documents and speeches has reached its limits," said Norberto Saracco, a Pentecostal pastor and theologian from Argentina. "We cannot continue in this way" (Associated Press)

  2. United, churches can address social ills more effectively | One goal of annual church conference is to foster more interfaith cooperation (Houston Chronicle)

  3. Church wins land value battle | In a settlement, Caltrans will pay a deaf congregation in Riverside County $4.5 million for land taken for freeway work (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Also: Deal leaves church ready to house hunt | Caltrans pays a Riverside congregation $4.35 million for its land near a freeway project (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)

  5. Villagers claim church fresco is lost Michelangelo | Parishioner's confession leads to discovery of monogram behind altar (The Guardian, London)

  6. Being part of the miracle | Church's musical praise group lets all participate (San Angelo Standard Times, Tex., reprinted in Houston Chronicle)

  7. Priest wants to bring Catholics back to Mass | Robert Barron takes a page from Billy Graham (Oak Park Oak Leaves, Ill.)

  8. FBI probes vandalism at O.C. church | The FBI is investigating the defacement of Emanuel Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in Yorba Linda, which was spray-painted last weekend with violent pictures and obscenities (Los Angeles Times)

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Abuse:

  1. Confessions of child abuse to remain private in N.H. | The House on Wednesday effectively killed a bill that could have required priests and other religious leaders to report suspicions of child abuse even when revealed in confession (Portsmouth Herald News, N.H.)

  2. Bill's genesis disturbs church | Calif. abuse law backed by trial lawyer is model for Colo. effort (The Denver Post)

  3. Court rejects abuse claims citing church | New York's highest court refused yesterday to waive the statute of limitations and allow dozens of old sexual abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Church to go to trial (The New York Times)

  4. Ex-pastor Norwich faces sex charge | Charles Johnson Jr., who resigned as pastor of from Norwich Assembly of God under pressure because of alleged "immoral" activity, was charged Tuesday by Norwich police with first-degree sexual assault and two counts of risk of injury to a minor (Norwich Bulletin, Ct.)

  5. Chicago diocese, welfare agency make deal | The Chicago Archdiocese and the state's child welfare agency announced a joint agreement to more quickly respond to abuse allegations after both came under fire for not doing enough to protect youngsters in a recent priest abuse case (Associated Press)

  6. Iowa archdiocese to pay $5M to settle 20 abuse cases | Dubuque archdiocese also agreed to publish the names of the nine accused priests, give each victim the chance to meet privately with archbishop Jerome Hanus and the opportunity to speak about their ordeal in their home parishes (Associated Press)

  7. Vatican bars priest accused of sex abuse | The Vatican has permanently barred from ministry Gerald Moffat, a local priest accused of child sexual abuse (The Seattle Times)

  8. Also: Vatican defrocks priest in abuse case | The Vatican has defrocked a local priest accused of sexually abusing an altar boy who later committed suicide, the Archdiocese of Seattle announced Monday (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  9. Wempe is convicted on 1 count | A mistrial on four other charges against the pedophile priest is declared when the jury can't reach verdicts. He could face a new trial (Los Angeles Times)

  10. Also: Jury: L.A. ex-priest guilty of molestation | A retired priest who admitted molesting 13 boys in the 1970s and '80s but claimed he never did so again was convicted Wednesday of abusing a youngster in the 1990s (Associated Press)

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New cardinals:

  1. Pope names two Americans as cardinals | Sean P. O'Malley and William Levada among the 15 named (Associated Press)

  2. Pope names 15 new cardinals | Pope Benedict XVI named 15 new cardinals Wednesday, including John Paul II's longtime private secretary and prelates from Boston and Hong Kong, adding his first installment to the elite group of churchmen who will elect his successor (Associated Press)

  3. Boston archbishop is named a cardinal | New appointment will be solemnized at ceremony next month (The Boston Globe)

  4. Cheong backs bioethics, humanitarian aid | Archbishop Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, South Korea's new cardinal, is a vocal supporter of humanitarian aid for the poor, while on some social issues he has voiced concerns as a conservative (The Korea Times)

  5. U.S. cardinals helped lead response to abuse scandal | The two American archbishops named to be cardinals, Sean P. O'Malley and William J. Levada, both had major roles in responding to the church's sexual abuse crisis (The New York Times)

  6. Pope picks 15 cardinals, one a China critic | Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong is a critic of China, but has also led efforts to open diplomacy between Beijing and the Vatican (The New York Times)

  7. Cardinal in Hong Kong among 15 newly named | Pope Benedict XVI named his first batch of cardinals Wednesday, sending a strong political messages with nominations in Hong Kong and Venezuela and promoting two Americans with experience in the church sex abuse scandal (Associated Press)

  8. Benedict appoints 15 cardinals | Two Americans and an outspoken Hong Kong prelate are among the first group elevated to 'princes of the church' by the new pontiff (Los Angeles Times)

  9. Pope names 15 cardinals, including 2 Americans | Pope Benedict XVI named 15 cardinals yesterday, including an outspoken critic of China's record on human rights and two Americans who have played pivotal roles in responding to the clergy sex abuse scandal (The Washington Post)

  10. Red hat for Boston | The elevation of Archbishop Sean O'Malley to cardinal shows the importance that Pope Benedict XVI attaches to the Boston Archdiocese and his high regard for O'Malley's 2 1/2-year tenure as its leader (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  11. O'Malley and his flock get a boost | In naming him cardinal, Rome sends message (The Boston Globe)

  12. Pope honours a critic of China | One of China's fiercest critics was yesterday included in a list of new cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI (The Telegraph, London)

  13. A papal shot across Beijing's bows | Hong Kong can take renewed pride in its courageous pastor. And Benedict's stature has been enhanced (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)

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ECUSA's second gay bishop:

  1. Episcopal bishop issue stirs up schism fears | Gay, lesbian among 5 candidates for local post (San Francisco Chronicle)

  2. Also: California opens door to electing gay bishop | The move will delight liberals but dismay the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who has backed calls for a moratorium on the election of gay bishops (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Gay Calif. Episcopal priests up for bishop | Two openly gay priests are candidates to become bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, and the election of either could worsen the rift over homosexuality in the bitterly divided church (Associated Press)

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Sexual ethics:

  1. Gay rights group criticizes Senator Clinton's stance on same-sex marriage | The New York group is encouraging gays and lesbians to stop giving money to Hillary Rodham Clinton's re-election campaign (The New York Times)

  2. Homosexuality in east Africa is still taboo | Homosexuality is outlawed in many African countries, including Kenya, and is often condemned as being "un-African" - a "disease" imported from the West (Pretoria News)

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  1. Conference participants and protesters need tolerance | The idea of converting gays, through Jesus, sounds simplistic and wacky. But, hey, if homosexuals are looking to the Lord for lifestyle changes, I, for one say; "Hallelujah! Go forth. Be gay no more!" (Sylvester Brown Jr., St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  2. Standing out | The sharp increase of non-marital births in the Netherlands needs some explaining (Stanley Kurtz, National Review Online)

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South Dakota abortion ban:

  1. Senate okays abortion ban | Amendments send bill to House to reconcile changes before Rounds' decision (Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S.D.)

  2. Senate passes abortion ban | Before the eyes of the nation and a standing-room-only gallery, the South Dakota Senate on Wednesday voted 23-12 to ban nearly all abortions (Rapid City Journal, S.D.)

  3. Ban on most abortions advances in South Dakota | Abortion rights advocates braced to make an immediate challenge to the first effort by a state in 14 years to attack Roe v. Wade (The New York Times)

  4. S.D. abortion bill takes aim at 'Roe' | Senate ban does not except rape, incest (The Washington Post)

  5. S.D. closer to strict abortion limits | South Dakota moved closer to imposing some of the strictest limits on abortion in the nation as the state Senate approved legislation that would ban the procedure except when the woman's life is in danger (Associated Press)

  6. South Dakota passes abortion ban | South Dakota became the first U.S. state to pass a law banning abortion in virtually all cases, with the intention of forcing the Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 decision legalizing the procedure (Reuters)

  7. The abortion debate gets real | South Dakota ban should make reproductive rights a front-and-center political issue in 2006 (John Nichols, The Nation)

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Abortion:

  1. Abort 'unloved' Antilleans, says Rotterdam politician | Alderman Marianne van den Anker for the Leefbaar Rotterdam (LR) party has called for a debate in Rotterdam on compulsory abortion and contraception for mothers she believes are responsible for raising unloved babies that fall victim to child abuse (Expatica, Netherlands)

  2. Forced abortions for Netherlands Antilles teenage women? | Rotterdam's outspoken city councilor, Marianne van den Anker says forced abortions for Antillean teenage mothers, drug addicts and mentally handicapped women will prevent child abuse and a recent rise in anti-social behavior in Holland (Caribbean Net News)

  3. Justices agree to hear abortion case | Court-watchers eager to see how Alito and Roberts rule (The Boston Globe)

  4. Senate panel overhauls abortion legislation | Effort to limit procedure is severely weakened (The Indianapolis Star)

  5. Justice Alito's welcome | The newly reconstituted Supreme Court has set the stage for a legal showdown with potentially far-reaching implications (Editorial, The New York Times)

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Death penalty:

  1. State halts execution to review procedure | Officials are unable to meet a judge's demand that a lethal injection be overseen by a doctor. Effects on the death penalty are unclear (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Doctors' doubts put off Calif. execution | A convicted killer's execution was postponed for the second time in less than a day amid continuing concerns over the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection policy (Associated Press)

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Courts & law:

  1. Allstate and ex-worker settle online-essay suit | Man claimed he was fired from Allstate Corp. for writing an online essay that denounced same-sex marriage (Chicago Tribune)

  2. A legal lightning rod bows out | Longtime conservative advocate Chester Darling takes down his shingle (The Boston Globe)

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Religious drug use:

  1. Religious liberty gets boost in hallucinogenic tea case | Chief justice's maiden First Amendment opinion is clear victory for free-exercise clause (First Amendment Center)

  2. An unassuming decision | The Court's recent decision on religious freedom is excellent (Richard Garnett, National Review Online)

  3. Couple agree to end peyote use if feds drop drug charges | A Utah County couple who battled for years for the right of non-Indians to use peyote in religious ceremonies have agreed to stop using and distributing the hallucinogenic cactus, in exchange for the dismissal of federal drug charges against them (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  4. Peyote charges dropped | Mooney links action to top court's ruling, vows to resume ceremonies (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)

  5. Charges dropped vs. couple in peyote case | Federal prosecutors on Wednesday dropped charges against a husband and wife accused of illegally distributing peyote after they agreed to stay away from the hallucinogenic drug (Associated Press)

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UK faith schools:

  1. Faith schools to teach other religions | Faith schools, criticised last year for failing to give pupils an understanding of other religions, are to broaden their teaching. Under an agreement published on Wednesday, they are to teach pupils about other religions as well as their own in an effort to broaden understanding and combat prejudice (Reuters)

  2. Faith schools pledge on religions | Religious leaders have signed a declaration backing the teaching of not only their own religion, but an awareness of the "tenets" of other faiths in schools (Press Association, U.K.)

  3. Faith schools broaden RE teaching | Leaders from the Church of England, Hindu, Sikh, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist faiths have signed a joint statement to promote the scheme. (BBC)

  4. Q & A: Faith schools and Religious Education | Pupils in faith schools should be taught about other religions, faith leaders have said. We explain their agreement (BBC)

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Education:

  1. Court upholds student's dismissal for suggesting church | The case, decided by a Florida federal judge some 8 months ago, involved John Watts, a state university student, who was terminated from a Master of Social Work program "for inappropriate behavior related to patients, involving religion" (Religion Clause)

  2. NNU wise to reconsider its nickname | Given the university's global missionary and outreach programs, the board should do away with the Crusaders (Editorial, The Idaho Stateman)

  3. Earlier: Northwest Nazarene University students want new mascot | The university is known as the Crusaders, but some worry that religious connotation does not represent Christianity today (KTVB, Boise, Id.)

  4. In God they trust | A class at Bell Shoals Baptist Church embraces an alternate history that advocates the United States as a nation by Christians for Christians (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

  5. Thorny words all restored, show to go on | Clergy planning prayer protest on opening night of 'Ragtime' (The Indianapolis Star)

  6. Earlier: Leaders see double standard | School officials cut wording some parents disliked but have kept racial slur in musical (The Indianapolis Star)

  7. Protective land-use bill decried | Christian school would be barred from building on its land (The Washington Post)

  8. Clinton raps vouchers | Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton slammed private-school voucher proposals yesterday, predicting that vouchers would eventually lead to the creation of taxpayer-financed white supremacist academies—or even a government-funded "School of the Jihad" (Newsday, Long Island, N.Y.)

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Evolution:

  1. Evolution of mutual respect | Science, religion rift is less polarized here (The Boston Globe)

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  1. Creation nation | Ken Ham, who says creationism is the cure for racism, brings his $15-million-a-year crusade to Rocky Mount (Independent Weekly, Raleigh, N.C.)

  2. We're free to define our own meaning | A kind of evolutionary existentialism suggests that despite our genuine meaninglessness and the fact that we are unwitting, unwilled products of that improbability generator called natural selection -- or, rather, because of it -- we are enabled and even required to define our own meaning, not by seeking to decipher God's intention for us, but by accepting responsibility for ourselves, making up our own minds, and then acting accordingly (David P. Barash, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

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Art, entertainment, and media:

  1. Sixpence's Nash goes solo | After more than a decade, Nashville pop singer finds her own voice (Rolling Stone)

  2. Gospel pianist Anthony Burger dies | Gospel music pianist Anthony Burger, who played for the popular Gaither Homecoming shows and earned Dove Award nominations for his albums of instrumental music, collapsed and died during a performance. He was 44 (Associated Press)

  3. 'Sinful and immoral' Mountain hits Jamaica | Religious leaders are outraged by a government decision not to ban the film (The Guardian, London)

  4. Looking to fulfill a cinematic mission | Shorn of faith, can 'End of the Spear' reach secular audiences? (South Bend Tribune, Ind.)

  5. The focus group | Los Angeles Times hires "Hell House" creator Keenan Roberts to briefly review movies (Los Angeles Times)

  6. The art of worship | Conference will show how art can be used to honor God (The News-Sentinel, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)

  7. Hundreds in TV3 prayer protest against controversial cartoon | More than 350 people staged a protest outside the TV3 headquarters against the airing of the "Bloody Mary" cartoon (The New Zealand Herald)

  8. The internet is new ground for the Gospels — some stony, some good | As a medium, it seeks to empower because it dispenses information: and it is up to us to insist that this information be accurate (Lavinia Byrne, The Times, London)

  9. A peek behind the pundit curtain | Why the Christian right is at the receiving end of criticism (Sean Gonsalves, Cape Cod Times, via WorkingforChange.com)

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Ala. fires:

  1. Warehouse fire ruled accidental | Day 20 Church fires case file (Tuscaloosa News, Ala.)

  2. Fire at Ala. warehouse called accidental | A fire that destroyed a warehouse containing Christian apparel was accidental, authorities said Wednesday as agents continued probing a rash of church arsons in rural Alabama (Associated Press)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. Casinos rise out of Katrina's wreckage | Amid the monumental wreckage of the Gulf Coast, gambling is up and running (The New York Times)

  2. Believers are at home in a secular society | A secular society lets religions play to their strengths (Tony Bayfield, The Times, London)

  3. A heaven with no sex could give us pause | In the end, the desire for our sexual selves to live beyond our short time on Earth isn't so shocking. Eternity is a long time to remain celibate (Faye Flam, Philadelphia Daily News)

  4. Right goes 'crunchy' | An interview with Crunchy Cons author Rod Dreher, who argues that the conservative movement in America has fallen prey to a materialism that reduces everything to market values (The Washington Times)

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Weblog
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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