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Church Youth Nights an 'Illegal Nightclub,' Albany Says

Plus: Valedictorian sues over cut speech, Vatican statement on Mideast violence, Lauren Winner on pastors' wives, Provincetown's intolerance, and other stories from online sources around the world.

Today's Top Five

1. City shuts down church's rock and roll
"An organ recital is a church event. This is not a church event." That's the ominous argument of Albany (N.Y.) Police Chief James Tuffey, who sent his officers to break up a concert at Trinity Methodist Church and summon pastor Maurice E. Drown to court for running "an illegal nightclub."

Tuffey says that the church's taking donations at the door for the youth rock shows (where smoking and alcohol are banned) is akin to charging admission, which makes it a nightclub.

(Actually, according to the Albany City Code, it would not be a nightclub, since the code's definitions require such establishments to sell or allow the consumption of alcohol. Now, the city might make a case that the church is violating its code by running a "nonalcoholic dance club," but if Drown's summons actually uses the word nightclub, it seems clear that he can win his case outright.)

The church has been using its stage for entertainment ministries since 1931 and has long hosted sock-hops, dances, fashion shows, and other events. The Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau even lists it as a "creative meeting space" for hosting outside events. So why the problem now? Ask neighbor Colleen Ryan: "You've got a herd of kids standing out there with spikes and studs and what look like prison tattoos," she told the paper. "We are trying to promote the city as a good place to live in and raise children in."

Let's complicate things a bit by noting that the church's youth music nights, called "New Age Cabaret," include bands like Drown Retarded Children and Clitorture (which has a lovely song called "Why Won't Jesus Die" that starts like this: "Why won't Jesus [expletive] die? Hopelessly turning the pages, ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. 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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