Today's Top Five

1. Religious violence in Nigeria continues
The cities that have already experienced riots have been locked down with curfews and military presence. But Nigeria is a large country, and the violence continues to spread. Reuters reports: "In the northern town of Kontagora, machete-wielding Muslim mobs killed nine people and torched four Christian churches, a Nigerian Red Cross official in Lagos told Reuters. They also looted shops owned by minority Christians, police said. In the city of Enugu in the southeast, Christian youths armed with machetes and clubs attacked Muslims, beating one motorcycle taxi driver to death and burning a mosque. … In northeastern Potiskum, Muslim youths burned shops, churches, and houses belonging to minority Christians early on Friday."

2. "Anglicans hold archbishop under hostage"
Late last year, liberal British priest Nicholas Henderson was elected as the new bishop of Lake Malawi, but the appointment was rejected by church leaders, reportedly because he supported gay rights. "He has actively demonstrated that he was not of sound faith—that's what the court of confirmation decided," Archbishop Bernard Malango told the BBC in December. The matter became complicated with false rumors that Henderson himself was gay. Now that he has rebutted those rumors, some Anglicans say he should be allowed to be bishop. On Wednesday, Henderson supporters attempted to take Malango hostage in protest. When Malango escaped, the protesters shut down the diocesan headquarters. Ah, church politics.

3. Administration agrees against further funding for Silver Ring Thing
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has given more than $1 million over the past three years to the Silver Ring Thing, a sexual abstinence advocacy program launched by a Christian ministry. The ACLU sued over the program last year, saying it was distinctly evangelistic. HHS responded by suspending funds, and yesterday it announced that Silver Ring Thing won't get any more government funds unless it changes its program.

4. IRS issues report on political activity by nonprofits and churches
Lots of interesting figures in the report issued today by the IRS about its investigation into accusations of illegal political activity by tax-exempt groups during the 2004 election. "Three-quarters of 82 examinations completed to date have concluded that the tax-exempt organizations, including churches, engaged in some level of prohibited political activity," the report says. "Most of these exams concerned one-time, isolated occurrences of prohibited campaign activity, which the IRS addressed through written advisories to the organizations. In three cases—involving tax-exempt organizations that were not churches—the prohibited activity was egregious enough to warrant the IRS proposing the revocation of the organizations' tax-exempt status." Unfortunately, while the statistics are helpful (how many groups distributed illegal printed materials, etc.), they probably would have been even more so had they distinguished between charities and churches. In the one category that's purely religious, the IRS says it received 19 reports of candidate endorsements or oppositions from church pulpits. Of those reports, 12 were determined to be accurate.

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5. Thomas Kinkade gallery owners win $860,000 arbitration ruling
Two former Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery owners said the artist and his company committed fraud in getting them to invest in the "Painter of Light's" empire, then financially ruined them. An arbitration panel ruled 2-1 on Thursday that the company "failed to disclose material information" that would have raised red flags, and awarded the former owners $860,000. What's particularly notable is the panel's critique of the company's Christian language, which it said created "a certain religious environment designed to instill a special relationship of trust."

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Nigeria riots | War & terrorism | Politics & law | Human rights & religious freedom | Silver Ring Thing | Abortion | Life ethics | Evolution & ID | Education | Church life | Bishop held hostage | Church arsons & crime | People | Money & business | Music | Spirituality | Other articles of interest

Nigeria riots:

  1. Nigeria counts 100 deaths over Danish caricatures | The violence linked to anger over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad has reignited old ethnic and political tensions between Nigeria's Muslims and Christians (The New York Times)

  2. Religious fighting breaks out again in Nigeria | Christian youths armed with machetes, stones and clubs attacked Muslims in the southeastern Nigerian city of Enugu on Friday and a Reuters witness saw a mob beat one man to death. Meanwhile, in north-central Niger state, in the town of Kotangora, the Red Cross reported that Muslims attacked Christians and churches had been torched (Reuters)

  3. Calm returns to Onitsha | Calm yesterday returned to Onitsha, Anambra State's main commercial city after two days of reprisals for the killing of Igbo Christians by Moslem fanatics in Maiduguri, Borno State last weekend (This Day, Nigeria)

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  1. Onitsha crisis youths burn corpses | Rioters burnt the corpses of the dead yesterday on the streets of Onitsha, the city worst hit by religious riots that have killed at least 138 people across the country in five days (Daily Trust, Nigeria)

  2. Religious crises: More attacks likely | As tension continues to mount in parts of the country over Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammed, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), yesterday, raised alarm over fresh plot by some muslim fanatics to attack Christians and churches again in Borno State and other states in the north (Daily Champion, Nigeria)

  3. Nigeria's killing fields | It is unacceptable that a demonstration to protest blasphemy was then allowed to lead to the killing of innocent Christians and the destruction of churches in Maiduguri (Editorial, Daily Trust, Nigeria)

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War & terrorism:

  1. Christians under cover | If Hamas installs strict Islamic religious rule, Palestinian Christians stand to become a legally subjugated minority inside Palestinian society (Lauren Gelfond Feldinger, The Jerusalem Post)

  2. Church leaders praise Muslim community | Toledo's Muslim community was praised by a Christian minister and a rabbi last night for its role in helping authorities identify three terrorist suspects arrested Tuesday (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  3. Praying for the soldiers | More than 100 people gathered before sunrise for the National Prayer Breakfast at the fort in Hampton (Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)

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Politics & law:

  1. IRS: Charities overstepping into politics | IRS exams found nearly three out of four churches, charities and other civic groups suspected of having violated restraints on political activity in the 2004 election actually did so, the agency said Friday (Associated Press)

  2. Judge okays vote on gay-marriage ban | ACLU to appeal, says legislature broke rules (The Tennessean)

  3. A marriage of many? | Is gay marriage a slippery slope toward legal polygamy, or are conservative warnings a red herring? (Washington Blade, gay newspaper)

  4. Romney reaches out to party's evangelical base | Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, sought Thursday to clear up any confusion South Carolina voters might have about his stance on abortion (The State, Columbia, S.C.)

  5. Tough questions | Marvin Olasky vs. James Dobson (World, second item)

  6. Latino churches protest immigration law changes | On Saturday, the newly formed Coalition of Latino Pastors of Northeast Ohio will play host for a demonstration against a hotly debated immigration reform bill (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

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Human rights & religious freedom:

  1. China detains two underground Catholic priests: group | Chinese police detained two underground Roman Catholic priests this week and has held a 70-year-old bishop for three months, the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation said (Reuters)

  2. Campaigning for human rights, and fishing for souls | For some Christian groups, securing human rights in North Korea is an important goal, but comes second to evangelizing (The New York Times)

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Abstinence program funds stopped:

  1. US to end funding of abstinence program | Settles a lawsuit filed by the ACLU (The Boston Globe)

  2. Abstinence group loses federal grant over 1st Amendment | The Silver Ring Thing, based in Moon, has received more than $1 million in federal funding over the past three years (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  3. Abstinence program funds stopped | The federal government has agreed to stop funding a popular Moon-based abstinence program for teens, settling a lawsuit claiming that tax money was being used to promote Christianity (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

  4. U.S. agrees not to fund abstinence program | The agreement was reached Wednesday between the Department of Health and Human Services and the American Civil Liberties Union (Associated Press)

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  1. S.D. House approves abortion ban bill | State lawmakers voted Friday to ban nearly all abortions in South Dakota and sent the measure to the governor, who said he is inclined to sign it (Associated Press)

  2. Could this be the end of Roe v Wade? | The South Dakota legislators who have approved a bill all but outlawing abortions in the sparsely populated state have loftier aims - an end to the Supreme Court ruling which made terminations legal across America more than 30 years ago (BBC)

  3. 'My illegal abortion regrets' | Ghanaian market trader, Esinam, 42, told the BBC's Africa Have Your Say programme why she decided to have an illegal abortion at a back-street clinic in Accra (BBC)

  4. Twilight time for partial-birth abortion? | If the two new justices really are in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas, as the president believes, then the days when partial-birth abortion is a constitutionally sanctioned procedure may be coming to an end (Editorial, The Washington Times)

  5. Never say never | The arrogance of the partial-birth abortion ban (William Saletan, Slate)

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Life ethics:

  1. Plan B battle shifts to states | FDA's inaction on 'morning-after' pill boosts momentum (The Baltimore Sun)

  2. Blagojevich has gay old time in interview | Illinois governor said he went into the interview believing it was a serious report about Illinois' emergency-contraception debate. Blagojevich said he had never watched "The Daily Show," and didn't know what it was when he saw it on his schedule (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  3. Doctors and executions | After two refuse to assist a lethal injection in California, debate over end-of-life ethics grows (The Christian ScienceMonitor)

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Evolution & ID:

  1. The divine irony of 'intelligent design' | Once you have made intelligence supreme, you have elevated science to the highest form of knowing. And with that move, the self-appointed champions of religious tradition paint themselves into the same corner that they would like to lead us out of. (Garret Keizer, Los Angeles Times)

  2. In praise of the Dalai Lama | Following this week's reports of the spread of creationism through Britain's campuses—driven by both Islam and evangelical Christianity—we should take this opportunity to salute the Dalai Lama for his insistence that reason can trump faith (Editorial, The Guardian, London)

  3. Broward selects biology text with watered-down passages on evolution | Science teachers picked Florida Holt Biology this month in a countywide vote, favoring it over another book that discussed the controversial idea of intelligent design (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

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  1. When teen sex education goes too far | Do we want to return to those wonderful yesteryears when women were supposed to be sexually inert until their wedding night when they magically became eager sexual partners? (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)

  2. Uninvited guests | How hospitable should Christian campuses be to visitors who oppose their beliefs? (Joel Belz, World)

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Church life:

  1. Churches struggle to get by in New Orleans | Across the region, churches, temples and mosques have struggled not only to rebuild their homes but to re-gather their members (USA Today)

  2. Church excommunicates 15 for cult membership | The Presbyterian Church has excommunicated all 15 elders of one of its largest Melbourne congregations because of their conduct as members of a cult known as the Fellowship (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  3. Getting hip to religion | Hip-hop Christianity? Get used to it (Dave Shiflett, The Wall Street Journal)

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Bishop held hostage:

  1. Anglicans hold archbishop under hostage | Anglican Church members from four Lake Malawi Archdeaconries on Wednesday held the Archbishop of Central Africa, Bernard Malango under hostage and closed the Diocesan Offices in Lilongwe in protest against the appointment of a retired Zambian clergy James Mwenda as the new bishop elect (The Nation, Malawi)

  2. Cracks in Anglican Church over bishop-elect worsen | Supporters of rejected Anglican Church bishop-elect Nicholas Henderson on Wednesday sealed Diocese of Lake Malawi offices in Lilongwe to bar Archbishop Benard Malango (The Daily Times, Malawi)

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Church arsons & crime:

  1. The evil of church arsons | In rural Alabama, religious expression is under assault not by Congress but by a person or persons who think that one of the most cherished values of American life can be torched with impunity (Editorial, The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  2. Burned churches will rise again | Speculation is fine, but the truth is that it doesn't matter why they have burned these churches. Burning churches is evil (David Person, The Huntsville Times, Ala.)

  3. Killer's confession debated before trial | In a letter from prison, anti-abortion extremist James Kopp stands by published statements detailing his shooting of an abortion provider, and says he wants to halt efforts to keep them out of his next trial. (Associated Press)

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  1. Gallery owners win ruling in Kinkade case | An arbitration panel on Thursday awarded $860,000 to two former Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery owners who accused the self-proclaimed "Painter of Light" and his company, Media Arts Group Inc., of fraudulently inducing them to invest in the business — and then ruining them financially (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Panel finds fraud by Kinkade company | Arbitrators awarded $860,000 to two former Thomas Kinkade gallery owners who accused the artist and his company of hiding business risks and using Christian themes to win their trust (Associated Press)

  3. Earlier: Darkness Looms for 'Painter of Light' | Economic struggles and criticism smudge Thomas Kinkade's work (Apr. 17, 2002)

  4. Televangelist passes torch to son | Outside observers wonder if the Crystal Cathedral will continue to thrive without the constant hand of the elder Schuller, whose strong personality and charisma attracted millions of followers with his lively televised sermons (Associated Press)

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Money & business:

  1. Britain's Christian bookshops talk about merger | Britain's two biggest Christian bookstores, Wesley Owen and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), would have a combined presence in over 60 cities if the collaboration goes ahead (The Church of England Newspaper)

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  1. Nelson's CEO talks up benefits of going private | As CEO of a public company, Mike Hyatt of religious book publisher Thomas Nelson Inc. estimates he had to spend 30% of his time on regulatory issues and dealing with investors (The Tennessean)

  2. Ash etiquette | Some workers take crosses back to office (Religion News Service)

  3. Happy, touchy-feely and driven by God | The Serco chief Christopher Hyman is unusual for his values of doing business, with staff and customers coming first and profit last (The Guardian, London)

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  1. Christian punk attracts fans from the fringes | 'They just like to attack Satan' (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  2. Gospel's healing power | Soweto choir blends African, American musical traditions (The Salt Lake Tribune)

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  1. Looking into the face of God | Teens find different religions have eye-opening similarities (David Crumm, Detroit Free Press)

  2. I'm a Christian turning agnostic | Should I confess my loss of faith? How? To whom? (By Cary Tennis,

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Other articles of interest:

  1. God's 'motherly' role | A Church of England bishop has urged Christians to recognise the "motherhood" of God (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Brazil bishops say go easy on Carnival sex, booze | "We are not against people having fun but caution them against hurting others or abandoning good customs," said Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, head of the National Conference of Brazil Bishops (Reuters)

  3. Trimble ready to make his mark on the wing with a prayer | Although Andrew Trimble is a committed Christian and proud to declare his faith in God, there will be no Chariots of Fire conundrum for the young Ulster wing, who makes his first RBS Six Nations Championship start against Wales in Dublin on Sunday (The Times, London)

  4. Is 'Bachelor' in Paris, or is it Sin City? | Some see romance in bloom; others say show encourages

  5. immorality (The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

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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.
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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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