Today's Top Five
1. Multnomah Publishers is selling
PW Daily, the online newsletter from Publishers Weekly, reports from the International Christian Retail Show in Denver: "Multnomah had a huge hit five years ago with The Prayer of Jabez, which sold over 8 million copies in 2001, more than any other book that year. Multnomah made ambitious expansion plans based on those sales, but eventually took heavy returns and was forced to reduce staff and title output. Still, the company remains well positioned in the Christian market."
Now the Christian publisher is selling. Rumors reported by PW Daily say it's going to Random House (which owns WaterBrook Press) and that "the acquiring publisher will absorb Multnomah's backlist, but close down its operations." An announcement, due Friday, will clarify the rumors.
2. Sen. Grassley wants nonprofit crackdown
In what will certainly send shivers down the backs of many nonprofit leaders, Sen. Chuck Grassley says in an op-ed in today's edition of The Hill, "Nonprofit organizations must earn the privilege to keep their tax-exempt status." Complaining about excessive compensation, political activity, lack of financial transparency, and "nonprofit groups that act more like for-profit businesses than charities," he says, "Just as Congress has acted in the public interest to protect shareholders and workers from corporate mismanagement, so too must Congress demand transparency, accountability and good governance from the nonprofit sector." Well, it's not like nonprofits were untouched by The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, to which Grassley is apparently referring. But it's not like there are no problems in the nonprofit world, either. But surely Grassley must agree that some organizationschurches, for exampleshould be tax-exempt simply by their very nature and shouldn't have to "earn the privilege."
In Ohio, for example, a fact sheet explaining a new effort to more tightly regulate nonprofits has this language: "Faith-based organizations that are not closely controlled by churches, including many hospitals and a few nursing homes, would be required to file an annual report under the new rules. However, the rules would clarify that churches and strictly religious organizations remain exempt from registration."
3. Speaking of churches, charities, and government intervention
Word comes from Australia that the megachurch (and international praise music juggernaut) Hillsong has a charity called Hillsong Emerge that is now "the biggest non-government provider of services to unemployed people in New South Wales under a new Federal Government welfare-to-work program." Other charities have boycotted the government's welfare-to-work program, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
4. Motto crossed
In Ohio, according to a new law signed Tuesday by the governor, if you give a school a copy of either the national motto (In God We Trust) or the state motto (With God, All Things Are Possible), the school has to post it. Apparently, the law counts even if the motto display is very, very tacky. Or very, very large. Or, one imagines, if it has offensive symbols on it. The aftermath of this law could be very, very interesting. Anyone want to sponsor a "craziest motto display" contest?
5. Texas tribe sues Abramoff, Reed
Don't miss the religious overtones of the suit filed by the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Livingston, Texas. The tribe emphasizes its "strong Christian values," and there's clearly a feeling of betrayal that Reed allegedly portrayed the fight against expanded gambling as a Christian duty.
Reed and Abramoff "made it appear as if they were operating on behalf of religious groups, but in fact they were operating on behalf of the Louisiana-Coushatta," attorney Fred Petti tells the Associated Press. "They pitted Christian against Christian, tribe against tribe and cousin against cousin."
Quote of the day:
Graham's message wasn't just for Sunday or weddings or funerals. What he was offering was the promise of grace at any moment, including in left field under an Esskay hot-dog sign. Too frail to walk, the old man left the stage as he arrived, driven across the field on a golf cart. It's the same way they bring relief pitchers from the bullpen. He was departing after one more save.
John Dickerson, writing in Slate about Billy Graham's Baltimore sermon.
Books | Bible | Media and entertainment | Missions & ministry | Ministry and state | Education | Church and state (U.S.) | Church and state (non-U.S.) | Politics | Crime and lawsuits | Abuse | Catholicism | Church life | Anglicanism | Homosexuality | History | Other stories of interest
- Multnomah to be sold; is Random the buyer? | Multnomah Publishers, the Oregon-based evangelical Christian house, is being sold, according to president and publisher Don Jacobson. But the buzz at the International Christian Retail Show in Denver this week is all about Random House (PW Daily)
- Simon & Schuster to launch new Christian imprint | "Mini-imprint," Touchstone Faith, which will publish some of the books they acquire jointly with Howard (Religion BookLine)
- Change and continuity at Christy Awards | Win for This Heavy Silence was not surprising based on merit but because of its honest depiction of the character's life and some themes and language not usually associated with Christian fiction (Religion BookLine)
- Seven football fields of religious retail | What's billed as the largest gathering of Christian retailers in the world started Monday at the Colorado Convention Center (KUSA, Denver)
- And God said: let's have some light, mate | The first installment of Kel Richards's Aussie Bible was a runaway bestseller, selling 100,000 copies since its August 2003 release. The second installment gives the "Aussie" treatment to the Book of Genesis, Proverbs, the Gospel of John and John's first letter, translating the stories of Adam and Eve and the beginning of time using well-worn, laconic Australian vernacular (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Blogging the Bible | He's made it to Leviticus (David Plotz, Slate)
- 'Decoding' the Bible | The Exodus Decoded claims to present proof of the biblical account of Jacob's descent into Egypt, his son's rise to power there, his people's enslavement, and their eventual liberation under the leadership of Moses after a series of miracles (Gershom Gale, The Jerusalem Post)
- Homegrown gospel | A ceremony for Willa Ward, last of the Ward Singers, was a chance to sing the praises of the pioneering Philadelphia group (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Praise the Lord and pass the ball | The Christian origins of football are charted in the latest book of a Wirral author who is also helping to keep God in the beautiful game (The Daily Post, Liverpool, England)
- Rabid rabbi | KSFO's latest right-wing shock jock is an unlikely apologist for endgame evangelicals and a player in still-unfolding political corruption scandals (San Francisco Bay Guardian)
- Graham's show of hope on its way to Winnipeg | 'You see a great sense of unity' (The Winnipeg Sun)
- Get your God at the ballpark | Billy Graham comes out of retirement to preach at Camden Yards (John Dickerson, Slate)
- Travelin' salvation show | Members of the Merrymakers Caravan bring their message of God by bus to Kennedy Plaza (The Providence Journal, R.I.)
- Missionary activity on rise in New York area | A recent mailing of DVDs from the Jews for Jesus organization to thousands of Orthodox Jewish homes throughout the New York-New Jersey area was just the beginning of what promises to be a summer filled with missionary activity (The Jewish Press)
- I won't fall pray to Jews for Jesus | Jews can't accept Christ. That was decided 2,000 years ago. The Jews for Jesus effort is an invitation to betrayal dressed up as a celebration of my roots. (Lenore Skenazy, New York Daily News)
- Hillsong emerges to serve jobless | The welfare arm of the Hillsong Church will be the biggest non-government provider of services to unemployed people in NSW under a new Federal Government welfare-to-work program (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- IRS questioned on political activity crackdown against faith groups | A new report by a taxpayer watchdog group says an IRS crackdown on political activity by religious organizations and other charitable groups may hinder them from playing a role in public policy debates (The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy)
- New disaster report cites ways to improve use of faith-based groups | Citing the response of faith-based and community groups as "significant" following last year's Gulf Coast hurricanes, the Aspen Institute has issued a report which offers recommendations for more effective use of such groups in future disasters (The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy)
- Ohio charity rule amendments will impact faith-based groups | Interested parties have until July 28 to file comments on Proposed Rules Changes for charitable organizations issued by Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro on June 30. The Attorney General's Fact Sheet says: "Faith-based organizations that are not closely controlled by churches, including many hospitals and a few nursing homes, would be required to file an annual report under the new rules. However, the rules would clarify that churches and strictly religious organizations remain exempt from registration" (Religion Clause)
- Strengthening the nonprofit sector | Nonprofit organizations must earn the privilege to keep their tax-exempt status. (Chuck Grassley, The Hill, D.C.)
- Ohio mandates displaying donated mottoes in schools | National 'In God We Trust,' state's 'With God, All Things Are Possible' must be displayed in any public school to which someone donates them (Associated Press)
- Do school workers leave rights at the door? | The controversy over the ACLU lawsuit to force the principal at Bridgeport High School in Harrison County to take down a portrait of Jesus is getting national media attention (Michael Queen, Charleston Daily Mail, W.V.)
- Court upholds school fees for Good News Club | Even though other groups offering after-school programs , such as the scouts and the YMCA, came within the school's fee waiver policy, the court held that the District had valid reasons for treating CEF differently, and that administrators had not applied school policy in a discriminatory manner (Religion Clause)
- Court has no place in dispute between rabbis, ruling says | The civil judicial system cannot interfere with religious organizations' administrative matters, New York State appellate court rules (The New York Times)
- Respecting a soldier's faith | There's no excuse for being so slow to do something basic to the American way: respect each person's right to make religious choices (Editorial, Chicago Tribune)
- Barring faith | A federal judge strikes down prison ministries (Robert P. George & Gerald V. Bradley, The Weekly Standard)
- Kerala Christians assured protection of minority rights | Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday is understood to have assured Kerala Christian leaders that the controversial law on professional colleges would not be included in constitution's ninth schedule as demanded by the state government (India eNews)
- Evangelicals reject Dominican-Vatican pact | Representatives of the more than 1,600 evangelical churches today rallied in front of the Dominican Supreme Court (SCJ), to file an appeal as unconstitutional against the agreement between the Dominican State and the Catholic Church -known as the Concordat- and to protest against gay marriages (Dominican Today, Dominican Republic)
- Democrats attempt to close the faith-gap with the GOP | Voters are making choices based more on their faith than on their physical needs, says House Democratic Caucus Chairman James Clyburn (The Hill, D.C.)
- House passes bill to restrict internet poker | Legislation would forbid use of electronic payments (The Washington Post)
- House backs crackdown on gambling on internet | The crackdown on Internet wagering would ban not only sports bets but also online poker and other games (The New York Times)
- Amid veto threat, Senate poised to weigh trio of stem-cell bills | But Mr. Bush may get a chance to seek political cover with an alternative measure promoting research that doesn't destroy embryos (The Wall Street Journal)
- Mormons and Christians | Mitt Romney's success with evangelicals is the X factor in 2008 (Frank Cagle, Metro Voice, Knoxville, Tenn.)
- Barack Obama's profession of faith | (Joseph Knippenberg, The American Enterprise)
- Democrats need old-time religion | After years of polarized politics, the public is hungering for voices that can bring the nation together, even in matters as divisive as faith and politics. Democrats can do it, if they can bring themselves together first (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune)
- No charges said likely in Mo. drownings | But the family of one victim retained attorneys and questioned whether there was proper supervision (Associated Press)
- Texas tribe names Abramoff, Reed in civil suit | A Texas Indian tribe filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday alleging ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed and their associates engaged in fraud and racketeering to shut down the tribe's casino (Associated Press)
- Abortion case 'not a referendum', court told | The trial of a doctor accused of killing a baby through an illegal termination is not a "referendum" on the legality or morality of abortion, a Sydney court has been told (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Pastor pleads not guilty in rape case | Followers show support for churchman accused of four assaults; DNA suggests girl, now 12, had his child (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)
- $145,000 payout for boy abused by church official | Adrian Cornelius Floris claimed that the boy, who was 13 when he first started molesting him on Christmas Day in 1998, hounded him for sex (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Diocese of Spokane can raise $35 million for settlements, bishop says | But a lawyer for sex abuse victims said $35 million will not be nearly enough to settle the dozens of lawsuits filed against the diocese (Associated Press)
- Man sues bishop over public humiliation | A man who previously battled a Catholic priest over allegations of abuse files a lawsuit against a bishop today in Tulsa County District Court (Associated Press)
- Pope's death cost Holy See $9m | The funeral of Pope John Paul II and election of his successor Pope Benedict XVI cost the Vatican 7m euros ($9m) last year, according to new figures. But the Vatican still made a profit of 9.7m euros ($12.4m) in 2005 - its best budgetary performance for eight years (BBC)
- Vatican announces $12.4M budget surplus | The Vatican has been struggling to contain spending for years, with much of its money going for labor costs and diplomatic missions worldwide (Associated Press)
- Mubarak refuses to intervene in Coptic Church affair | Egyptian President stressed that when he spoke to Pope Shenuda III, who heads the Coptic Orthodox Church, it was only to welcome him back after a month of medical treatment abroad. (AFP)
- Inmates won't face strip-searches | Southside prison will hold multiple Sunday services to avoid the security check (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)
- 'Elvis' to rock cathedral aisles | Truro Cathedral is hoping to boost its congregation by enlisting the aid of an Elvis impersonator (BBC)
- Rick Warren: Jesus would not have approved | Rick Warren is no innovator. He's just another pastor who treats Christianity like big business
and business is good (Matt Hutaff, The Simon)
- Woman priest appointed to top job | The Very Reverend Nangula Kathindi, the Dean of St George's Anglican Cathedral in Windhoek, Namibia, will take up a new post as provincial executive officer the most senior administrative position in the Church of the Province of Southern Africa after Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane (iAfrica.com)
- Episcopal chief to again protest Israeli actions | M. Thomas Shaw of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts wants Gaza withdrawal (The Washington Post)
- Top dean attacks gay 'witch-hunt' | The Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London has attacked traditionalists in the Anglican church for conducting a "witch-hunt" against homosexuals (BBC)
- Church must keep to 'middle ground' | Archbishop of Cape Town pleads for return to tolerance as Anglicans grapple with divisive issues (The Times, London)
- Synod vote on women clergy is setback for traditionalists | The Church of England will force traditionalists for the first time to accept that the ordination of women as priests and bishops is valid (The Times, London)
- Give married couples an even break on benefits, says Synod | The Church of England urged the Government yesterday to reinforce marriage by removing the "considerable" financial penalties faced by couples who tie the knot (The Telegraph, London)
- The Synod's solid sense | Marriage provides the best circumstances for raising children, and therefore it is morally and practically desirable for government to support it (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)
- What's going on in the Anglican Communion? | Despite the headlines, the Episcopal Church crisis has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with power (Robert Bruce Mullin, Beliefnet)
- Orange bars housing bias against gays | With little opposition from conservative Christian groups, the Orange County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a fair-housing ordinance that prohibits discrimination against gays (The Orlando Sentinel)
- Faiths in Jerusalem united over gay march | Christian leaders condemned it. Jewish radicals put a bounty on participants. Muslim clerics threatened to flood the streets with protesters. Jerusalem's conflicting religions have found rare common ground: opposition to an international gay pride parade next month (Associated Press)
- Mass. gay marriage debate sparks rallies | Dozens of people on both sides of the gay marriage debate rallied Wednesday outside the Statehouse, where a series of proposed constitutional amendments awaiting lawmakers' consideration included one that would define marriage as the union of a man and woman (Associated Press)
- Not-so-free love | Two gay marriage-busting rulings restore moral clarity (Lisa Fabrizio, The American Spectator)
- After toil and trouble, 'witch' is cleared | Va. resident's quest leads to pardon for woman convicted in 1706 (The Washington Post)
- Lay of the land | The cave-dwelling, hunchbacked English dwarf is one of Philly's finest (Steven Wells, Philadelphia Weekly)
- Feeding the Christian craving | Pecos Monastery's School for Spiritual Directors aims to help spiritual directors and to bring together Christians from different traditions (The New Mexican)
- Hidden secrets and spiritual treasures | Dateline: Medieval Macedonia (Richard Bangs Adventures, Yahoo)
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