Who turned on the religion news fire hose? It's not Easter or Christmas—in fact, it's summer vacation season—but we're seeing religion news coverage on an almost unmanageable scale. We'd like to blame war in the Middle East or "social policy" votes in Congress, but the reality is that coverage is remarkably broad: hence our 59 categories below. The breadth makes it hard, but we'll still try to narrow it down to …

Today's Top Five

1. Beyond the headlines in the Lebanon-Israel War
Woe to the religion reporter—or just the bewildered churchgoer—looking for "Christian reaction" to the Israel-Lebanon conflict. Since Lebanon has the Middle East's largest population of Christians, you might think there'd be a trove of possibilities. But mainstream news coverage so far has been minimal, and the items from outside the mainstream media aren't terribly helpful. Respectable organizations on both the Left and the Right are offering little analysis or answers, instead just begging and hoping for "all sides" to cool off. Among the statements: Middle East Council of Churches, World Council of Churches, Pope Benedict XVI.

No statement yet from groups like the World Evangelical Alliance, the National Association of Evangelicals, the U.K. Evangelical Alliance, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, or other such umbrella bodies.

Evangelical umbrella bodies might be silent, but specific groups and personalities are quite sure they know the cause and solution of the Middle East's problems. One theme: Israel's only fault is that it didn't strike harder and earlier. A (thankfully) less common theme: Blame the gays (The news said Lebanese, dude, not lesbian).

There's an interesting statement circulating from Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant church leaders in Jerusalem, but there seems to be some important variations. One version begins, "The Israeli violence and aggression of this present moment is without proportion or justification." Another version drops the word "Israeli."

Mainstream media coverage of the Christian angle in the conflict focuses (with good cause) on the Maronite church. Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Nasrallah Sfeir, the Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon, telling him "the international community has to help you."

What does the patriarch want help with? Enforcing UN Security Council Resolution 1559 which called for Syria to withdraw its forces and involvement in Lebanon, and for "the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias" (i.e. Hezbollah). At his meeting with Rice, Patriarch Sfeir seemed—as many of us do—at a loss for a solution.

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The world says the Resolution 1559 will it be applied. But it is not up to the Lebanese Government to apply it. It is so weak to do so. There is another way to apply this, but I do not know how. But our interest is that all the citizens will be equal (inaudible). When some are having arms and the others have not there is no equality and I've said this a long time that -- how to apply this I don't know. [Through a dialogue] perhaps, some other -- some pressure to …

Sfeir, coincidentally, has been on a long-planned, month-long tour of the U.S. since July 2. As for Christians still in Lebanon, there have been a few meager scraps of information. The Swiss media reports that foreigners are flocking to Christian churches to await evacuation. The hawkish Israeli site Debka.com—sometimes way ahead of mainstream news reports, sometimes way off in its facts—reports that rockets are being launched from Christian villages due to "Israel's reluctance to attack Christian targets. … [Hezbollah] is using Lebanese Christians as human shields for its attacks and their towns and villages as supply centers to pump ordnance to the launch teams in forward positions."

One of the few news articles to quote Lebanese Christians was Monday's front-page Washington Post story, which ended with a discussion among three young Lebanese Christians:

"If I'm supposed to respect [Hezbollah leader Hasan] Nasrallah, he should respect me. If he respects us, I respect him," said Fadi Geagea, a 21-year-old student, smoking a cigarette. "To be honest, he's not respecting us." …
Geagea and his friends say they know what [Lebanon] is now becoming: a Shiite fiefdom of Hezbollah. And to stop Hezbollah, to take away its weapons, to diminish its influence, they were willing to see Israel attack their country.
"If we don't have weapons, then no one should have weapons. If Hezbollah keeps its weapons, then why shouldn't we have them?" asked 21-year-old Joseph Muhanna. His friends nodded.
"They need to either surrender their weapons or have their heads cracked," said 18-year-old George Khouri.
They argued about various Christian leaders. One slapped the other, more in play than anger. They differed on whether Nasrallah should be killed. But they agreed about Lebanon's identity and what the future would hold.
"Islam is controlling us, and we've known that for a long time," said Khouri, wearing a cross crafted as an emblem of a Christian party. "Lebanon is a Christian country. We're steadfast, and one day we'll be in charge of Lebanon again."
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"God will be good to us ahead," Muhanna said.

God will surely be good. Whether he will be good in precisely the way that Muhanna and Khouri expect him to—or in the way that many premillennial dispensationalist Christians expect him to, etc. God will work good in his own way. In the meantime, Venture International head Len Rodgers suggests a few action steps for concerned Christians:

1. We need to pray and encourage the followers of Jesus in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and Palestine; the lands where the church had its start.
2. We need to pray for humility and wisdom for the leaders—may they make peace their priority.
3. We must respond in practical ways to help the injured, the refugees, and those struggling with anger, discouragement, and depression. This is what Jesus would do.

2. Malawi church attacked
Malawi is no hotbed of persecution. Between 70 and 80 percent of the country is Christian, and about one of every four Malawians are Roman Catholics. There has been a touch of Christian-Muslim tension in recent years, but not as much as in nearby countries. So the nation  is mystified about what happened Sunday, when someone set off a gas bomb at a Catholic Mass in the capital, Lilongwe. About 800 people were at the service—about two dozen were injured. The suspect—whom some reports say was dressed as a choir member—escaped during the exit stampede and is still at large.

3. IRS "stepping up efforts" on enforcement of church politics ban
The Los Angeles Times reports that 15,000 tax-exempt organizations, churches, and tax preparers are getting a memo from the IRS reminding them of the Political Activity Compliance Initiative, which was announced earlier this year. It's the same rules (too vague, say critics) for churches, but new rules for the IRS. For example, it will no longer wait until it gets a tax return or until the end of the tax year to investigate allegations of wrongful campaigning. "The rule against political campaign intervention by charities and churches is long established,"  IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said. "We are stepping up our efforts to enforce it."

4. Religio-political smear of the year
Scott MacLean won a Republican convention delegate vote to be the candidate for Connecticut's first Congressional district. But Miriam Masullo is seeking a primary election, and she has a unique cornerstone campaign issue: MacLean is an ordained (though retired) minister in the United Church of Christ. (He's also a newscast director at Hartford's CBS affiliate). It's not a church-state separation complaint. In an open letter, she complained, "The political arm of the UCC is actively waging a fight against Republican values and principles through a well-organized quest to undermine the support that Republican candidates get from what we think of as the Christian Right." She also says the UCC promotes "economic sanctions against an ally of the United States in the war on terror," and supports "immoral justification of suicide bombings."

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MacLean defended his church (which he says Masullo mischaracterizes) and his affiliation. "While I don't agree with everything that comes out of the national setting of the UCC, I don't agree with everything my wife says either and I have no intention of divorcing either one," he said.

No media reports seen by Weblog name Masullo's religious affiliation.

5. Are conservative Christian schools worst?
An Education Department report says public school students "performed as well or better in reading and mathematics than comparable children in private schools," The New York Times reports. "Additionally, it found that students in conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind their counterparts in public schools on eighth-grade math. … The report separated private schools by type and found that among private school students, those in Lutheran schools performed best, while those in conservative Christian schools did worst."

What conservative Christians schools? asks Ken Smitherman, president of the Association of Christian Schools International (ASCI). The complex hierarchical linear modeling strategy, he notes, "created a computerized model student in a conservative Christian school that in reality does not exist. It is purely hypothetical."

Were these "conservative Christian schools" the kind of schools that join ASCI, or the kind of insular church-run school that doesn't play well with others? And if you're a conservative Lutheran school, then where do you fit? The study won't say. "For several years ACSI has been working to persuade NCES to give the Association of Christian Schools International its own category, as it does the Lutheran and Catholic schools," Smitherman complains. "With the current categorization we are unable to find out even how many schools tested are ACSI, members or even which ACSI member schools participated in the testing. NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] does not report individual school test results back to the schools, so it is an extremely difficult position to speak to."

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The methodology is problematic too, notes Times columnist John Tierney. "The best way to compare schools is not to simply look at test scores one year, because it's impossible to account for the students' intrinsic advantages and disadvantages, and their varying motivations for choosing one type of school over another. Researchers can try to control for factors like family income and ethnicity or race, but these are crude measures."

Joe McTighe, Executive Director for the Council for American Private Education, puts it this way: "Sacramento is one of the sunniest cities in America; Seattle is one of the cloudiest. But let's overlook that fact for now and instead compare the weather in both cities by neutralizing any advantages Sacramento might have. We'll discount all those extra sunny days, disregard above-average temperatures, and ignore the below-average rainfall. Not surprisingly, our filtered comparison yields a suspicious finding: that Sacramento's weather is just as bad as Seattle's."

NAEP's studies consistently show that "All categories of Christian schools reported reflect higher average scores than the public schools," Smitherman notes. But there's ample room for improvement, he says. "The results reported for conservative Christian schools are the lowest of the private school sector. This has been stressed to our membership for the past several years." Whether that membership is actually dragging down  the numbers is impossible to tell. Sometimes when someone complains that they can't do the math, it's because the numbers aren't there.

Quote of the day
"If I were forced to choose between a pro-life Jew who would protect babies and a Southern Baptist who pledged to lower taxes but who was pro-abortion, I would vote for the Jew."

—Richard Land, president of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

The next top five

It's a pretty full list below, so here are another five highlights:

6. Pregnancy centers lie, says Democrat's report

7. The College that arsonists attended gives burned churches $368,000

8. Creationist Kent "Dr. Dino" Hovind says tax fraud charges don't count because "everything he owns belongs to God" and the U.S. has no jurisdiction in the matter.

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9. "Thank you, Jesus" exclamation gets man contempt of court citation and short jail stint

10. Report criticizes overgenerous, self-aggrandizing tsunami aid

Oh, and one more thing: We haven't grabbed Wednesday's stories yet. The articles below ran in media outlets sometime between Friday night and Tuesday evening. We know Ralph Reed lost, the stem cell vote succeeded, the marriage amendment vote failed, and that we're back to debating "under God" in the Pledge. But you knew that too, right? So you'll be okay sifting through these articles for another few hours before we get to the rest of Wednesday's news.

More articles

War in Lebanon | War & terrorism | North Korea | Sudan | India | China | Malawi church bombed | Philippines
Politics | Democrats and the Religious Left | Candidates | Ralph Reed | Environmentalism | Stem cell fight (news) | Stem cell fight (opinion) | Pregnancy centers | Abortion | Mississippi abortion fight | South Dakota's abortion ban | Life ethics | Conscience and healthcare | New IRS program on church politicking | Church & state | Church building fights | War on Christmas in July? | Education | Evolution
Sexual ethics | Homosexuality and politics | Focus on the Family | Homosexuality and religion | Anglican woes | Anglican woes not about sex
Church life | Church meetings | Church vehicles | Catholics and ecumenism | Priest shortage and church closings | Vandalism | Crime | Abuse | Jamaica sex abuse scandal | Pastor axed for kissing student | Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo | People | Deaths
Spirituality | Missions & ministry | Youth rally in Ottawa | Gas ministry | Money & business | Gambling | Film, theater, and TV | Sports | Music | Books | History | Travel | Islam | Other stories of interest

War in Lebanon:

  1. At a nearby church, concern for the homeland | As the conflict in the Middle East engulfed their homeland half a world away, members of the Maronite Christian community -- many with relatives and homes in Lebanon -- expressed concern yesterday over the escalating violence (The Star Ledger, Newark, N.J.)

  2. U.S. Jewish, Christian groups back Lebanon operation | Jewish and pro-Israel Christian groups in both Israel and the United States have expressed support for the Israel Defense Forces operation in Lebanon (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)

  3. Firepower won't solve Mideast strife, Baptist observers say (Baptist Press)

  4. Hard decisions for missionaries | Family who were vacationing in Germany must decide whether to return to Lebanon (News-Leader, Springfield, Mo.)

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  1. Church of Scotland hotel forced to shut | A hotel in Israel owned by the Church of Scotland has been forced to close during the crisis (The Herald, Glasgow)

  2. A patriarchal visit to Lawrence | Religion is not to blame for the bloodshed, Lebanon's leading Christian leader insists (Rich Barlow, The Boston Globe)

  3. The battle between good & evil | There are many Christians, like myself, who are relieved that the power of Israel has finally been unleashed (Alicia Colon, New York Sun)

  4. Christian Zionist links gay pride to Lebanon conflict | Christine Darg, at Exploits Ministry, says "sometimes God answers in ways that nobody wants" (Bartholomew's notes on religion)

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War & terrorism:

  1. 'I don't just work with nice people' | In the midst of the chaos in the Middle East stands an unlikely figure: Andrew White, a bespectacled priest from Bexley in Kent. He's the Anglican vicar of Baghdad, a diplomat, a hostage negotiator and an adviser to the US government—so what motivates him? (The Guardian, London)

  2. Iraqi Christians flee fighting | Caught up in the sectarian attacks claiming dozens of Iraqi lives each day is the country's small Christian community. The Dora neighborhood of Baghdad has traditionally been home to many Iraqi Christians, but many have fled to the calm of the northern city of Ainkawa, where they are trying to resume their lives (Voice of America)

  3. Uganda demands Lord's Resistance rebels disarm | Ugandan negotiators at talks to end one of Africa's longest wars demanded on Sunday that Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels disarm and hand over all their weapons in order to receive amnesty (Reuters)

  4. Friendships to bridge a religious divide | Northern Ireland teens play baseball (The Boston Globe)

  5. Right, wrong? In a group, it's harder to tell | In Iraq or at home, social dynamics can make it difficult -- surprisingly so -- for individuals to keep their moral compass (Los Angeles Times)

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North Korea:

  1. Pastor Warren's visit to N. Korea delayed | Statement says O.C. pastor may reschedule the meeting with government, church (The Orange County Register, Ca.)

  2. Franklin Graham on North Korea | "I'm not breaking the ranks with the president. I'm encouraging the president to change his strategy just a little bit." (Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, PBS)

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  1. Ex-Sudanese rebel left a legacy of what-ifs | A year after a new southern government won autonomy for the region, little has changed, residents say (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Fresh warnings of Darfur disaster | Aid agencies and the EU have warned Darfur is teetering on the brink of catastrophe and have called for urgent efforts to bolster the peace process (BBC)

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  1. The fugitive's tale | Hashim Adam Mersal, who has witnessed the genocide in Darfur, has come to America to tell his story (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times)

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  1. Three held for propagating foreign religion | Three persons distributing books on Christianity were prevented from doing so at Mc Gann Hospital on Monday by Hindu Sene activists (NewIndPress.com, India)

  2. Memorable mission | The tercentenary of Tranquebar Lutheran Mission is celebrated in Chennai (Frontline,  India)

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  1. China: Strength from their faith | More civic activists are becoming Christian and finding support for their causes in the Bible (Newsweek International)

  2. Jesus in China | A California priest is helping replace stained-glass windows at a Shanghai cathedral smashed during the Cultural Revolution. They abound with Chinese imagery (Adam Minter, Los Angeles Times)

  3. Freed in Beijing | It is perhaps encouraging that Beijing's authoritarian rulers apparently were embarrassed enough by the Journal exposé to release Mr. Wu. But his detention is also an important reminder of the repression that remains the norm -- for the millions of Christians who worship secretly outside government-sanctioned churches and for those, like Mr. Wu, who attempt to tell the truth about life in modern China (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)

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Malawi church bombed:

  1. Malawi church petrol-bomb attack | Police in Malawi are investigating a petrol-bomb attack at a church service in the capital, Lilongwe, which injured some 20 people, two of them seriously (BBC)

  2. Church in Malawi petrol-bombed during mass | More than 800 people were in the church at the time of the incident (SAPA)

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  1. Informant affirms CEO racket vs. SDA Church | Information regarding the illegal money-making activities of unscrupulous employees at the City Engineer's Office continue to pour in although the ad hoc committee headed by City Councilor Perla Zulueta already ended its investigation (The News Today, Iloilo City, Philippines)

  2. 'Bribe for bishops despicable'—rebels | Communist rebels weighed in with their own opinion on reports that Malacañang allegedly offered gifts of money and other goodies to Catholic bishops for them to back away from supporting current impeachment efforts against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (The Philippine Inquirer)

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  1. Post-CBCP plenary dinner was private—Palace | Several members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) were indeed treated to dinner the evening of July 9, after their plenary assembly, but not by Palace officials as news reports alleged, Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor said on Monday (The Philippine Inquirer)

  2. Howling wilderness | It is time, again, to update Euripides. Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first smear with rumors. In the case of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the gods' method of choice was simple and familiar enough: the old envelope trick (Editorial, The Philippine Inquirer)

  3. Church movements | The Church has figured in the news lately for two reasons; one, its supposed stance against the impeachment complaint in light of reports that the Palace supposedly wined and dined some of its bishops and second, the condemnation of a ranking Church official of the continued unsolved killings of peasant leaders and media practitioners (Editorial, Sun Star, Philippines)

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  1. House GOP orders from the values menu | The Middle East may be careening toward all-out war, Iraq may continue to boil and oil prices may be nearing record highs, but Congress has social policy -- and a hefty dose of political calculation -- on its mind this week (The Washington Post)

  2. Megachurches build a Republican base | The fastest-growing faith group in America, evangelical Christians have had a growing impact on the nation's political landscape, in part because adherents believe conservative Christian values should have a place in politics -- and they support politicians who agree with them (Reuters)

  3. SBC official visits area, relays policies | "If I were forced to choose between a pro-life Jew who would protect babies and a Southern Baptist who pledged to lower taxes but who was pro-abortion, I would vote for the Jew," said Richard Land, president of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the convention's chief policy spokesman (Tuscaloosa News, Ala.)

  4. Bishop says be wary of anyone claiming to know 'the' Christian view | Will Willimon: Don't be so sure on abortion and gay marriage (The Decatur Daily, Ala.)

  5. Black pastors called to turn up volume | Black pastors need to lay off the prosperity gospel and return to Bible-based preaching that addresses political and social controversies, including the Iraq War (The Dallas Morning News)

  6. 'It's a marriage of principle and politics' | Harper plays to constituency of small-c conservatives with Israel stand (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

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  1. A beautiful friendship? | In search of the truth about the Israel lobby's influence on Washington (Glenn Frankel, The Washington Post)

  2. Net ignorance of the Christian Coalition | Their support for Net neutrality is erratic, misguided, and at odds with every serious conservative organization on this issue (Dick Armey, CNet)

  3. The church and Ceasar, er, politics | I propose these four church-state guidelines to you for the purpose of starting conversation, not to close it down (Jimmie Johnson, Waco Tribune-Herald, Tex.)

  4. God is winning | Global politics is increasingly marked by what could be called "prophetic politics." Voices claiming transcendent authority are filling public spaces and winning key political contests. (Timothy Samuel Shah and Monica Duffy Toft, The Dallas Morning News)

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Democrats and the Religious Left:

  1. Minister becomes force on 'religious left' | James Forbes is a man with feet in two worlds (Associated Press)

  2. Clinton, in Arkansas, says Democrats are 'wasting time' | Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, returning to her red-state ties, chastised Democrats Saturday for taking on issues that arouse conservatives and turn out Republican voters rather than finding consensus on mainstream subjects (The New York Times)

  3. My difficult friend, Matthew | I don't think anymore that the Democrats should align themselves with St. Matthew (Charles M. Madigan, Chicago Tribune)

  4. The Democrats' unreligious fringe | Republicans kowtow to the religious right, but Democrats have their own pesky religious voting bloc: the secular left (Gregory Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Gov. hopeful's press secretary under fire for lack of disclosure | Evangelical Christian newspaper publisher supports boss in editorial (Lawrence Journal-World, Kan.)

  2. 1st District challenger makes religion an issue | Masullo says GOP primary rival's church supports terrorists (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  3. The politician plays the pulpit | Standing near the altar of Grace Baptist Church of Christ in East New York yesterday morning, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi clapped his hands and sang with parishioners, "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand" (Newsday, Long Island, N.Y.)

  4. Back to his voter base | Lieberman visits black churches, appeals to labor (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

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Ralph Reed:

  1. Link to disgraced lobbyist taints race | Ralph Reed, who galvanized evangelical Christians into a political force, is struggling in a low-profile Georgia race (The New York Times)

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  1. Reed hopes voters keep faith, forget Abramoff | His foe in Georgia's GOP primary criticizes the PR work he did for his lobbyist friend (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Ralph Reed runs for president, er, lt. governor | With all the flack he's taking, the politically-savvy Reed would have backed out of this race if he was just running for the not-particularly-exciting office of lieutenant governor. He would not have risked the defeat that polls suggest could be handed him by Cagle (John Nichols, The Nation)

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  1. Climate change and the church | Evangelicals among those who see stewardship of Earth as God's mandate (Des Moines Register, Ia.)

  2. Having faith in Earth is the real deal | More environmentalists with a religious bent are taking up roles in organisations that lobby on subjects such as climate change and fuel economy -- issues they see as critical to being good stewards of the Earth (Herald Sun, Australia)

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Stem cell fight (news):

  1. What a Bush veto would mean for stem cells | The President's stand could slow research, but scientific ingenuity is cooking up new breakthroughs (Time)

  2. Stem cell therapies years away | Here's a reality check amid Congress' showdown with President Bush over stem cell research: The potential treatments for diabetes, spinal cord injury and other devastating disorders are years away from being tested in people (Associated Press)

  3. Bush promises veto of stem cell bill | In an emotional session marked by tales of death and hope, the Senate debated on Monday whether the government should pay for new embryonic stem cell research, pushing a measure to do it toward passage and President Bush's first veto (Associated Press)

  4. Stem cell debate wedges bush between a rock and a hard place | George W. Bush has signed 1,116 consecutive bills into law since becoming president. He probably wishes he had vetoed just one of them (The Washington Post)

  5. Bush set to use first veto on stem cell bill | Despite divided GOP, president says he will not ease restrictions on federally funded research (The Washington Post)

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Stem cell fight (opinion):

  1. Standing up for stem cell research | The Senate should pass a bill that would greatly expand the number of embryonic stem cell lines that can be used in federally financed medical research (Editorial, The New York Times)

  2. Science, not politics, for stem cells | Senate has a chance to right the right's wrong (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

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  1. End Bush's stem cell club | Patients who could benefit from this research should not have to wait until there is a new president for the federal government to marshal its resources in this promising approach to treating disease (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  2. For ethical stem-cell research | Senators should vote for imposing some ethical limits on stem-cell research, for funding ethical research, and against funding the embryo-killing kind. (Editorial, National Review)

  3. Meeting stem cells' promise—ethically | While a law that would expand the range of stem cells eligible for federal funding has received the most attention, I think it is equally important that the Senate pass measures that will place "moral guardrails" around future research and accelerate efforts to find alternative means of securing cells for research (Bill Frist, The Washington Post)

  4. Encouraging a callous approach to embryos | Michael Kinsley suggests that since in vitro fertilization (IVF), like embryonic stem cell research, destroys many human embryos, federal policy on the latter should be the same as on the former. That would mean Congress should not fund such research (Richard M. Doerflinger, The Washington Post)

  5. Stem cells in Senate spotlight | This week's Senate debate on stem cell research will be freighted with consequences -- for the future health of humanity and for the politics of 2006 and 2008 (David S. Broder, The Washington Post)

  6. Stem the tide | What Congress should--and shouldn't—do (Eric Cohen & William Kristol, The Weekly Standard)

  7. Stemmed progress | Science has moved past the president's five-year-old position on stem-cell research, but federal policy remains paralyzed (Jonathan D. Moreno and Sam Berger, The American Prospect)

  8. Bans and cures | Language problems in the embryonic stem cell debate (Joseph Bottom, First Things)

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Democrats say pregnancy centers lie about abortion:

  1. Pregnancy centers found to give false information on abortion | Federally funded "pregnancy resource centers" are incorrectly telling women that abortion results in an increased risk of breast cancer, infertility and deep psychological trauma, a minority congressional report charged yesterday. (The Washington Post)

  2. Report: Women misled on abortion risks | Women who consult with pregnancy resource centers often get misleading information about the health risks associated with having an abortion, according to a report issued Monday by Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee (Associated Press)

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  1. Pregnancy centers mislead girls: congressman | Advisers working at some federally funded pregnancy resource centers mislead pregnant teens about the risks of abortion, falsely telling callers it raises the risk of breast cancer, infertility and mental illness, a U.S. congressman said on Monday (Reuters)

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  1. Gardai probe clinic's videos on abortion | A woman who received advice from a pregnancy counseling agency in Limerick has filed a complaint with gardai after being subjected to videos and pictures of late-stage abortions (The Times, London)

  2. Abortion doctor: 'I've done something silly' | Suman Sood had allegedly given abortion drugs illegally to a five-months-pregnant woman, the NSW Supreme Court has been told. The woman gave birth at home to a premature baby who died, and Sood is now on trial for manslaughter (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  3. S.D. tribal president reinstated for now | A tribal president who was ousted for proposing an abortion clinic on the reservation has been reinstated at least through next week. A tribal judge reinstalled her temporarily Monday after she argued that council members didn't follow procedure when voting to remove her from office (Associated Press)

  4. Body politics | O'Connor has left the Supreme Court, states are passing evermore restrictive laws, and center-left male pundits keep arguing that it'll all be better in the end if Roe disappears. We say otherwise (Editorial, The American Prospect)

  5. All eyes on Kennedy | There's a new swing vote on abortion. He'll probably protect Roe, but he won't protect much else (Helena Silverstein and Wayne Fishman, The American Prospect)

  6. What the Left didn't do | Below the Supreme Court level, the right has spent years fighting the abortion wars law by law, state by state. Why haven't pro-choice activists done the same? (Allison Stevens, The American Prospect)

  7. Men overboard | It's not just "contrarian" for center-left pundits to claim Roe doesn't matter. It's stupid (Scott Lemieux, The American Prospect)

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Mississippi abortion fight:

  1. Divided on abortion | Day 3 sees more arrests, vandalism, false report (The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.)

  2. Closed doors greet abortion protestors | Closed doors at Jackson Women's Health Organization met Operation Save America protestors this morning as their campaign to shut down Mississippi's last abortion clinic entered its fourth of eight planned days (The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.)

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  1. Anti-abortion activists ignore protest permit restrictions | Jackson police told anti-abortion protestors gathered this morning outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization on North State Street to turn off their loudspeaker, limiting them to use of a bullhorn (The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.)

  2. 5 abortion opponents arrested | Windshield broken during incident (The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.)

  3. Unrest at rallies | Abortion protesters unfazed by bomb scare (The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.)

  4. Abortion backers, foes square off in Miss. | Hundreds of abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion protesters squared off in a contentious rally Saturday with both sides proclaiming Mississippi a new key battleground state in the fight over Roe v. Wade (Associated Press)

  5. Protesters battle over Mississippi abortion clinic | Hundreds of abortion-rights advocates and abortion opponents rallied in Jackson, Miss., on Sunday for the second day of a planned weeklong battle over attempts to shut down the state's last abortion clinic (USA Today)

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South Dakota's abortion ban:

  1. Pastors plot courses on HB1215 | South Dakotans will take their religious beliefs about abortion into the voting booth with them in November, but area pastors are divided about how they will approach the upcoming referendum on HB1215 in their pulpits (Rapid City Journal, S.D.)

  2. Official promotes pro-life position from pulpit | The Republican leader in the South Dakota House of Representatives will be among the singers and speakers at a Proclaiming Life and Liberty rally sponsored by several churches July 23 in Newell (Rapid City Journal, S.D.)

  3. HB1215 proponents rally supporters in five-city tour | Abortion opponents came to Rapid City Friday for their last stop in a five-city tour to honor their supporters in the state Legislature, find campaign recruits and raise money to uphold HB1215 in a statewide vote in November (Rapid City Journal, S.D.)

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Life ethics:

  1. Judge rules Irish man didn't okay embryo use | A judge ruled Tuesday that a Dublin man has never given his consent for his estranged wife to use the couple's frozen embryos, a verdict that opens up a wider legal battle over whether fertilized human eggs should enjoy a constitutionally protected right to life (Associated Press)

  2. Infant mortality | Churches and doctors at faith-based health centers are involved in trying to reverse the rising death rate among babies born in the U.S. (Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, PBS)

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  1. The hoodie needs a daddy, not a hug | It's official: families don't need fathers. Last week the government declared that fertility clinics should no longer be obliged to consider the child's need for a father when providing women with sperm for IVF (Jill Kirby, The Times, London)

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Conscience and healthcare:

  1. A medical crisis of conscience | Faith drives some to refuse patients medication or care (The Washington Post)

  2. Seeking care, and refused | Sometimes religious health care providers proselytize gay or unmarried patients but do provide care. Sometimes they refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control or morning-after pills but refer patients elsewhere. Other times they refuse to treat them at all (The Washington Post)

  3. For some, there is no choice | Many religious health workers find no conflict between their beliefs and their jobs. But others describe what amounts to a sense of siege, with the secular world increasingly demanding they capitulate to doing procedures, prescribing pills or performing tasks that they find morally reprehensible (The Washington Post)

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New IRS program on church politicking:

  1. IRS warns churches to stay neutral on politics | Opponents of the policy say that by threatening groups' tax-exempt status, the government is interfering with their 1st Amendment rights (Los Angeles Times)

  2. IRS warns churches to avoid campaigning | In notices to more than 15,000 tax-exempt organizations, numerous church denominations and tax preparers, the agency has detailed its new enforcement program, called the Political Activity Compliance Initiative (Associated Press)

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Church & state:

  1. Federal court date set for three crosses' lawsuit | Suit seeks to have the three crosses removed from city logos and city buildings (Las Cruces Sun-News, N.M.)

  2. Marching as to war | Former Air Force officer Mikey Weinstein zeroes in on proselytizing in the military (The Washington Post)

  3. Soldier's widow fights to place symbol on husband's grave | There are 38 religious symbols approved for placement on government-issued grave markers and memorials for military veterans, but the pentacle isn't one of them (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  4. Also: Wiccans are soldiers too | The Department of Veterans Affairs is wrong to exclude a soldier's religion from his grave marker (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  5. Tear down the Mt. Soledad cross | The 43-foot San Diego landmark represents clear government favoritism toward one religion (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

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Church building fights:

  1. McLean Bible Church sues Fairfax County to keep religion classes | Offering courses violates zoning ordinances, officials ruled (The Washington Post)

  2. Discrimination suit dropped as church, Chesapeake talk out of court | The predominately black Great Bridge church that filed an $8 million federal racial and religious discrimination lawsuit against the city agreed to drop the case and go to the negotiating table instead (The Virginian-Pilot)

  3. Church going back to court | Southfield case to open in August (Detroit Free Press)

  4. Complaints silence late-night bells after 100 years | The bells in the tower of St. John Cantius Church have rung over the Near West Side since they heralded the church's opening on Dec. 11, 1898 (Chicago Sun-Times)

  5. Arlington Heights church backs pastor, delays growth | An Arlington Heights church settled an internal conflict this week by affirming support for its leadership and in the process decided to put a $30 million expansion on hold (Chicago Tribune)

  6. Also: Church shifts focus to healing | Congregation's leaders back off expansion plans (The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  7. RDA vs. church: Give-and-take minus the give | Miller Memorial Baptist Church's attempt to add space became a loss of space (Chris Brennan. Philadelphia Daily News)

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War on Christmas in July?:

  1. City likely to stay the course on decorations | The city's holiday display probably won't include religious symbols - or a menorah. At a study session Tuesday night, most City Council members seemed to back a policy to maintain current city practice, which means Christmas trees, wreaths and white lights on city property from Thanksgiving to January (Coloradoan, Ft. Collins)

  2. Holiday display decision really no decision | City Council should revisit issue to allow for public conversation (Editorial, Coloradoan, Ft. Collins)

  3. City holiday display is a symbol of exclusion | "My only concern is that we don't get ourselves into a lawsuit." That statement was made by Fort Collins City Council member Diggs Brown after City Council decided not to change its practice of displaying only Christmas trees during the holidays. (Karen Schwartz, Coloradoan, Ft. Collins)

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  1. Long-delayed education study casts doubt on value of vouchers | The report separated private schools by type and found that among private school students, those in Lutheran schools performed best, while those in conservative Christian schools did worst (The New York Times)

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  1. Also: Spinning a bad report card | Thanks to a new federal report comparing public and private schools, there's no doubt that public schools have one huge advantage: the leaders of their unions are unrivaled masters of spin (John Tierney, The New York Times, sub. req'd.)

  2. Harrison board to hear from groups backing Jesus picture | At least five organizations have offered to represent the Harrison County Board of Education in its fight to keep a portrait of Jesus hanging at a county high school (The Charleston Gazette, W.V.)

  3. Arkansas Supreme Court dismisses claims against parochial school as involving religious doctrine | Calvary Christian School wanted to force student to stay silent about video camera in dressing room (Religion Clause)

  4. Why no child of mine will go to a faith school | My Muslim values were transmitted through my parents who would not have dreamed of expecting my school to provide them. I find it hard to understand why today's parents - Muslim, Sikh, Hindu or Christian - believe schools should have a role in teaching religious faith. (Sarfraz Manzoor, The Guardian, London)

  5. End busing and improve education | I have a little memo to all of you Christian public school teachers out there. Please, do not give me your canned speech about how God is still in the public schools because he lives in you, and thus, he goes where you go. Likewise, please stifle your urge to corner me in the aisles of Wal-Mart to share your Christian testimony about how God "called you out" to be salt and light on the "mission field" in public schools (Jessalyn Bailey, The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  6. Religion in class? Lord, deliver us | Scars remain from public experience of what should be private (Avis O. Gachet, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  7. Free speech is loser where religious expression is concerned | One problem here is the great bugaboo of the culture wars: sensitivity. Many people think they have a right never to be annoyed, never to hear anything they disagree with. (John Leo)

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  1. Teaching of evolution target of petition | Former professor wants teachings on the ballot (The Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wi., link via Religion Clause)

  2. Magazine promotes, explores creationism | Answers, a magazine launched this summer by the Answers in Genesis, looks at camels, the star of Bethlehem, whether leaves die and global warming (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

  3. Religion is not a primary need | How can such behavior be viewed as an evolved, qualified "tool" for the long-term survival of any species, and in this particular case, ours? (John F. McBride, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

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  1. When man mated monkey | Icky as it sounds, we mingled across species in the past, which could help us win evolution wars in the future (David P. Barash, Los Angeles Times)

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Sexual ethics:

  1. Bishops rebel as cardinal defends aide over 'affairs' | Some of Britain's leading Roman Catholic bishops have mounted a protest against their cardinal over his refusal to sack an aide accused of having a series of affairs, one of which led to his girlfriend having an abortion in direct contravention of the church's teaching (The Times, London)

  2. Dutch court okays 'pedophile' political party | A Dutch court refused Monday to ban a political party whose main goal is to lower the age of sexual consent from 16 to 12. The judge said it was the voters' right to judge the appeal of political parties (Associated Press)

  3. Playing the sex card | Ads for new apartments are getting racier, but opinions differ on whether they are welcome diversions or expose a lack of creativity (The New York Times)

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Homosexuality and politics:

  1. House rejects gay marriage ban amendment | The House rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on Tuesday, a setback that conservatives hope to turn to their advantage in the fall elections (Associated Press)

  2. In Nebraska and Tennessee, more setbacks to gay rights | Courts in Nebraska and Tennessee sided with efforts to amend state constitutions to prohibit same-sex marriages (The New York Times)

  3. Gays still waiting for Washington's answer | The Supreme Court in the state has spent 15 months deliberating same-sex marriage (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Optimism on both sides of gay-marriage debate | State votes will show whether bans are losing steam or gaining ground (The Washington Post)

  5. Cleaver at odds with other clergy, other lawmakers | The congressman, a minister, opposes amending Constitution to bar gay marriages (The Kansas City Star)

  6. Lesbian couple files malpractice suit | A lesbian couple filed a medical malpractice lawsuit Tuesday claiming cancer treatments damaged their sexual relationship. Their attorneys say it is the first lawsuit of its kind under Connecticut's civil unions law (Associated Press)

  7. The numbers game | Couples raising children (The Washington Post)

  8. SJC treads carefully | Those activist judges of Massachusetts are becoming much less activist (Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe)

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Focus on the Family:

  1. Focus on the Family to counter ads on gay rights | Focus on the Family also defended itself against charges that it distorts research on homosexuality and fosters discrimination against gays (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

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  1. Gay rights group: Dobson manipulated data | Members of Soulforce accused Focus on the Family founder James Dobson of manipulating research data to say gays and lesbians are not good parents, and began a 65-mile march Monday to confront him at his Colorado Springs headquarters (Associated Press)

  2. Marching and praying for Dobson's soul | I plan to be there, to witness a courageous act: Hundreds of gays and lesbians praying for a man whose powerful organization lobbies for anti-gay legislation and spews damaging mistruths about gay people (Cindy Rodríguez, The Denver Post)

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Homosexuality and religion:

  1. Church: gay law 'is threat to freedom' | Leaders of the Catholic church in Scotland have branded new legislation banning denominational schools from teaching that homosexuality is a sin "totalitarian", claiming it amounts to "thought control" (The Times, London)

  2. Married, but certainly not to tradition | Put "Catholic" and "gay wedding" together, and you get an extravaganza of rituals (The New York Times)

  3. Uniting Church schism widens | Rebel conservative ministers refuse to attend a meeting this week with the church's hierarchy (AAP, Australia)

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Anglican woes:

  1. Leaning Left, but not when it comes to gay bishops | All Angels Church on the Upper West Side has become a battleground as it clings to a conservative theology in an overwhelmingly liberal diocese (The New York Times)

  2. Episcopal turmoil is test of Anglican faith | The same challenge to tradition that created the Episcopal Church in 18th-century America, and compelled it to embrace women's rights and gay rights in the 20th, now threatens to fracture it - and split worldwide Anglicanism as well (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  3. Episcopal bishop twice divorced to set precedent | Until recently, Episcopalians, like fellow Anglicans in other nations, opposed remarriage while the original spouse is living, based on Jesus' strict teaching (Associated Press)

  4. Episcopalians: Diversity, loyalty evident at convention | Although the work of convention was terribly important, one of the most outstanding elements in and among all of those working and praying together was the atmosphere and attitude of deep love for the Episcopal Church and respect for one another (Lauren Wilkes Auttonberry, The Clarion Ledger, Jackson, Miss.)

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  1. New doctrine may lead to empty pews | The leadership of the Episcopal Church in America may have trouble deciding what they believe, but here in Bakersfield the local diocese isn't afraid to call sin a sin (Marylee Shrider, The Bakersfield Californian)

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Anglican woes not about sex:

  1. Church fury over historic mistakes on 'English kirk' | The leader of Scotland's 43,000 Episcopalians has claimed that his church has been "written out" of Scottish history and hit out at the caricature of his church as the "English Kirk" (The Scotsman)

  2. Anglican Church under fire over 'harshness' | The Anglican Church in Melbourne has a harsh corporate culture that is wearing people out, one of the city's four bishops has said (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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Church life:

  1. Mainline denominations losing impact on nation | Notwithstanding mobilizations in response to humanitarian needs after hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year, the mainline churches have more often mimicked the U.S. Congress' creeping, negative partisan debates than taken bold action of their own (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  2. Cleaning a church is 'just too risky' for teen volunteers | For a quarter of a century young people have spent holidays helping to maintain some of Britain's most important historical buildings while learning traditional skills in cleaning stained glass windows and restoring ancient monuments. But now the charity which has sent thousands of teenagers on its week- long camps has been closed down by health and safety regulations (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Storefront churches | These eclectic houses of worship in America's poorest urban neighborhoods inspire faith, resilience, and deep religious feelings (Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, PBS)

  4. Successful church housed in storefront | Sometimes the people who drive by are so engrossed at the sight that they forget to look up and see the traffic light has turned green (The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.)

  5. Minister to the possessed | LifeZone Church pastor Kehinde Olufemi Akojenu attracts parishioners through fliers listing symptoms of demonic attacks (The New York Times)

  6. Answered prayers | This is the church, this is the steeple. Open it up and see all the … cellular antennas? (Newsweek)

  7. Holy order at last for tin church | A tin church in the south Wales valleys is finally to be made sacred, 109 years after it was built (BBC)

  8. Parishioners protest end to Mass in Portuguese | The Rev. Mark A. Sauriol, pastor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, in Pawtucket, said the decision is based on economics (The Providence Journal, R.I.)

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  1. Fewer churches decision up to congregations | Uniting Church members across Ballarat have been asked to vote on a new proposal which will reduce the number of congregations in the city from 12 to four. They could do worse than look to the book of numbers for guidance (The Courier, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia)

  2. Bee hive near Boynton church brings activities to a halt | Church board member Charlie Bradshaw said First Presbyterian is afraid of potential liability if an angry swarm of bees was to attack anyone on church property (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

  3. Churches take part in "old-fashioned" mass baptisms | There was a lot of singing, and a lot prayer. Organizers call the mass baptism was one of the "largest ever" in our area (WBIR, Knoxville, Tenn.)

  4. Different worship styles spark controversy | With over 900 churches registered in a population of less than two million people has emerged a wide range of different kinds of worship and a whole lot of issues about which way is the right way to approach God (The Voice, Botswana)

  5. Who owns Christianity? | Christianity is about forgiveness, and for the past two decades, as fundamentalism swept through every Protestant denomination, moderates and liberals have been driven out, and were roundly condemned as they left. Along with them went tolerance and forgiveness, not to mention love. (Deepak Chopra, San Francisco Chronicle)

  6. Churches: It's not the size, it's the spirit | A church in Rochester, Texas, a small West Texas town, celebrated its 100th birthday recently — by closing forever. (Jeff Mullin, Enid News & Eagle, Ok.)

  7. Axis denied | What should we learn from the demise of Willow's Next-Gen ministry? (Dan Kimball, Out of Ur)

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Church meetings:

  1. Baptist Convention to begin today | Hurricanes and family will be some of the pressing issues the Louisiana Baptist State Convention will consider during their annual meeting this week in Shreveport (The Shreveport Times, La.)

  2. Meeting of Greek Orthodox starts | Members to worship, talk about key issues (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  3. What's in a name? | The PCUSA's document is sound, and the committee that drafted it is to be commended—especially if it serves to generate new discussion and contemplation of the triune God of Christian confession (Editorial, The Christian Century)

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Church vehicles:

  1. 12 injured, 10 released in church van accident on I-29 | A blow out caused the van to travel off the roadway. The van then struck a sign and overturned, coming to rest on its wheels (KQTV. St. Joseph, Mo.)

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  1. Church's bus fleet overdue for inspection | Kids fell ill on vehicle that may have never been okayed (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

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Catholics and ecumenism:

  1. Methodists to join Declaration on Justification | Expected to agree to 1999 consensus reached with Lutherans (Zenit)

  2. Cardinal Kasper heads seminar on Pentecostal challenge | Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, is presiding this week at a seminar in Seoul, South Korea, on the challenges posed by the rise of Pentecostalism (Catholic World News)

  3. Card. Kasper in Seoul for ecumenism meeting with Asian bishops | The cardinal will be present at a celebration during which the World Methodist Conference will adhere to the Joint Declaration on Justification, agreed between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999 (AsiaNews.it, Catholic news service)

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Priest shortage and church closings:

  1. Who will lead the flock? | Fewer priests means juggling duties, combined parishes, but an active laity (Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

  2. More than ever, church thrives on laypeople | Some rules have relaxed, but volunteerism is up for other reasons too (Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

  3. What's age got to do with it? | Seminarian: Older colleagues help me on path to priesthood (Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

  4. Frustrated priest starts new journey | Father Bob Timchak's anguish over diocese's actions has him leaving his duties for a year (Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

  5. Parishioners say goodbye to churches in Clutier, Dysart | A shortage of priests and declining populations in rural Iowa bring transition and change to many Catholic communities, priests and parishioners said (The Courier, Waterloo, Ia.)

  6. R.I. fares better than other states in solving church's shortage of priests | In fact, Our Lady of Providence Seminary has even expanded to meet the growing numbers of men interested in entering religious life (The Providence Journal, R.I.)

  7. Churches farming out masses abroad | Catholic churches in Canada -- indeed, across North America -- are so short of priests that they "outsource" hundreds of requests for special masses to priests abroad, especially to India (The Ottawa Citizen)

  8. Catholic priests become sought-after Polish export | Priests have become a top "export product" as Poland, where the Catholic Church retains a vibrant strength lost in the rest of Europe, helps fill the dwindling ranks of clergy in the West (Reuters)

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  1. Downsizing and the Catholic Church | Decisions should not be left to the government (Richard W. Garnett, USA Today)

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  1. Vandals strike Logan museum's crosses | Only four of the 19 crosses that overlook a hill on U.S. Highway 30 near Logan were left standing after vandals paid an unsolicited visit to the Museum of Religious Artifacts this week (The Daily Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Ia.)

  2. Two local churches hurt by vicious vandal attacks | Church members put their own signs over the vandalism (The Vindicator, Youngstown, Oh.)

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  1. Burned churches will split $368,000 | Birmingham-Southern garners donations to aid rebuilding (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  2. Park owner pleads not guilty to tax fraud | Evangelist says he's owned by God (Pensacola News Journal, Fla.)

  3. Thanking the Lord draws ire of judge | When it was announced in the courtroom last month that the jury found him not guilty of abusing his son, Junior Stowers raised his hands and exclaimed, "Thank you, Jesus." But instead of leaving the courtroom, Stowers was cited for contempt of court by Circuit Judge Patrick Border for the "outburst" (Honolulu Advertiser)

  4. Also: Judge puts man behind bars over 'Thank you, Jesus' | Four seconds before the verdict was read, the judge whispered a warning to the attorneys: "No displays of emotion one way or another by anyone in the case." (KITV, Honolulu)

  5. Employee arrested in juice tampering | Police yesterday arrested a Stamford man on charges of tainting juice that sickened more than 40 parishioners of a Darien church in February and another woman in a separate incident (The Stamford Advocate, Ct.)

  6. Son of Sam: Faith should set me free | David Berkowitz once admitted he wasn't fit to be free - but now the Son of Sam killer wants a shot at freedom. The notorious serial slayer-turned-born-again Christian is hoping that his years as a spiritual adviser will convince the parole board to spring him from Sullivan Correction Facility in two years (New York Post)

  7. Killen to remain in prison | Klansman's appeal bond denied (The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.)

  8. Winkler attorneys seek bond reduction | Judge's decision expected next week (The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  9. Darien case spotlights church problem | The FBI and U.S. attorney's office are investigating the Darien case. Little has been said about what happened in Greenwich (The Stamford Advocate, Ct.)

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  1. Study shows savvy seniors more likely to be conned | One con artist, knowing his victims were often religious, would spend the first 15 minutes of a call praying with his victim (USA Today)

  2. Anti-Christian violence erupts in Mississippi | The Unitarian Universalist Church and St. James Episcopal Church were both scenes of terror for church attendees yesterday. As folk filed into the church, a group of masked anarchists sprang up from nowhere like threatening storm clouds out of the blue. Group members threatened to murder the Christians--all for trying to make their way inside to attend services (Judi McLeod, Canada Free Press)

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  1. Christian school worker charged with sex crime | The athletic coordinator at Mission Viejo Christian School was charged Monday with molesting a 14-year-old girl and sexually annoying two others, authorities said (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Justice is put on hold | The one-year anniversary of a shocking grand jury report on sexual abuse of children in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia will soon come and go - without any legislative remedies from Harrisburg (Editorial, Centre Daily Times, State College, Pa.)

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Jamaica sex abuse scandal:

  1. Prime Minister condemns sexual abuse of teenager | She urged pastors and church-going persons to be diligent in observing the law as they balanced cases that demand confidentiality (Jamaica Gleaner)

  2. It's a judgment call | Pastors says they cooperate with police, sometimes (The Jamaica Observer)

  3. The Church and secrecy | Everybody, including some who may well be sex perverts themselves, has condemned the action of the 46-year-old married deacon, Donovan Jones, who was allegedly complicit in the sexual escapade of some teenagers involving a 14-year-old girl. We now have to move beyond that to some larger issues (Ian Boyne, Jamaica Gleaner)

  4. Finding a true Church | Sexual abuse of a minor for commercial purposes is abhorrent. And the community must express abhorrence at the crime while extending love to the offender (Devon Dick, Jamaica Observer)

  5. Sex and the church | The church is not beyond public scrutiny. It is certainly not above the law. If its officers commit illegal actions they are subject to the laws of the state, just as any other citizen is. To suggest that the media's handling of this incident is insensitive or irresponsible is reprehensible (Raulston Nembhard, The Jamaica Observer)

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Pastor axed for kissing student:

  1. You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss | Arguably, the complexity of kissing strangers has never been greater (The Telegraph, London)

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  1. When a kiss is just a kiss | We all might be glad to see politicians stop kissing babies, but let us remember why that dubious tradition began: it denotes friendly affection from the old to the young (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)

  2. The day we kissed innocence goodbye | One thing is true in life. You see in the world what you want to see. If you want to believe that people are essentially bad, there is ample proof around if you go looking for it. But that's the lazy way out. Far more challenging - and more rewarding - is to look for the good in others (Viv Groskop, The Observer, London)

  3. You must remember this | We need to insist that an innocent gesture is just that. Panic about child protection does nothing to help children (Josie Appleton, The Times, London)

  4. Paying lip service to sexual equality | Acts of public kissing far more offensive than those of Barrett and Putin are committed daily by decent, well-meaning people everywhere (Emily Maguire, The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo:

  1. Zambian archbishop breaks with Rome | Wants to help reconcile married priests with the Catholic church, he says (National Catholic Reporter)

  2. Could the real Bishop Milingo rise up? | He has never ceased to cause ripples and occasional waves since his ordination as a priest in 1958 in the parish of Chipata, in Zambia (Chris Oyuga, Kenya Times)

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  1. The catwalk finds God | A leading fashion college is setting itself apart from the industry's more lurid standards of sexual excess, drug addiction and furious egos with the addition of a Church of England chaplain to its staff (The Times, London)

  2. Christianity gets a reality check | A Michigan pastor takes center stage where rock 'n' roll usually rules (Houston Chronicle)

  3. Ken Shuman is 'the poker-playing pastor' | Shuman is the general manager of Main Street Crossing, a popular coffee shop and live-music venue in Tomball, Texas, that has become a kind of Christian community center. By day, it's just a coffee house. But on nights and weekends several ministries, including Shuman's Wellspring Church, hold their worship services there. They also run a host of activities, including discussion groups and poker games three nights a week (SF Gate)

  4. Celebrating 53 years of Sunday tradition | Berryhill Baptist honors Mary Payne (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  5. I nearly stood for Libs: ABC boss | The new managing director of the ABC, Mark Scott, said some church people who thought they had a "pretty tough time" from journalists were excited to find a Christian in a senior media role. "I am who I am, but I don't view myself as a secret agent." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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  1. Preacher Paula | Paula White has gone from a self-proclaimed "messed up Mississippi girl" to the immaculately dressed and French-manicured host of a Christian television show aired throughout the world (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)

  2. Pastor lives his lesson on priorities | You might think that a pastor who tells his congregation -- in writing -- that his responsibility to the church is No. 3 on his priority list might get called into an emergency meeting with the deacons. Well, then, you haven't met the Rev. Bobby Morrow, who has turned a family challenge into a living, breathing sermon (Ken Garfield, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  3. Is this woman the living 'Code'? | Meet Kathleen McGowan, novelist and self-proclaimed descendant of a union between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. McGowan, who says she is from the "sacred bloodline" Brown made famous in his mega-selling novel, says she's ready to cope with people who think she's crazy or a heretic (USA Today)

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  1. Autopsy confirms carbon monoxide killed pastor | Carbon monoxide results from combustion, suggesting that the water heater was the source (The Roanoke Times, Va.)

  2. Also: Pastor mourned after carbon monoxide leak | Members of a Lutheran congregation gave spontaneous testimonials Sunday to their retired pastor who died in a college dormitory where more than 100 people were sickened by a carbon monoxide leak (Associated Press)

  3. Minister dies here amid trek across America | He falls ill on his way to Gallatin (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  4. Also: Baptist minister Ted Stone dies at 72 | Ted Stone, a North Carolina minister who turned his drug addiction into a mission of preaching the gospel through walking tours across the country, died on his way to a speaking engagement in Tennessee (Associated Press)

  5. Dead woman's mother strives to move forward | The mother of the Jamaica Plain woman killed last week in a Big Dig tunnel collapse said she is anxious to bury her daughter and move on (The Boston Globe)

  6. Rebirth after tragedy | A congregation returns to University Baptist Church (Waco Tribune-Herald, Tex.)

  7. 'Our Daily Bread' writer dies at 88 | The Rev. A. Purnell Bailey inspired readers through his column for six decades (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

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  1. Ted W. Engstrom, ex-president of World Vision International, dies at 90 (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Did Everest climber Sharp have to die? | A Good Samaritan story, but without the happy ending (Associated Press)

  3. St Ken of Enron leads Bush's new Christianity | Few expected that Lay would be described not just as a flawed but loved family man, but as the emblem of Christian sacrifice — an icon of fundamentalist victimology, almost a saint. In fact, the minister who gave the sermon compared Lay to Martin Luther King and, yes, Jesus Christ (Andrew Sullivan, The Times, London)

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  1. Different readings of the Bible's final chapter | Global turmoil piques interest in apocalypse (The Orange County Register)

  2. Measuring the human benefit of heavenly entreaties | For a topic so incorporeal, there have been plenty of attempts to measure scientifically the impact of intercessory prayer (The Times, London)

  3. Psychologist investigates stigmata claims worldwide | Mario Martinez follows the trail of blood to one of the biggest mysteries in religion — the human capacity to produce stigmata, the "wounds of Christ" on the hands, feet and forehead (Ray Waddle, The Tennessean)

  4. Psychedelic mushrooms earn serious 2d look from science | Research shows that scientists can safely and reliably provoke a mystical experience in a laboratory, meaning they now have an unprecedented chance to study the nature of the mystical experience itself, using brain scanning and other techniques to probe the biological basis of a puzzling human phenomenon that has powerfully shaped the world's religions (The Boston Globe)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Tsunami charities 'swept locals aside in rush to spend cash' | International aid agencies "brushed aside" the work of local communities in their haste to be seen to be responding to the Asian tsunami, a report said yesterday (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Bush-Clinton Katrina fund director quits | The head of a Katrina charity established by former Presidents Bush and Clinton resigned Friday under duress following the exodus of seven members of one of its committees (Associated Press)

  3. Mission work upsets church's neighbours | Charity meals attract criminals and drug users say residents in vicinity of Tenth Avenue Alliance (Vancouver Sun)

  4. Many ministers following their calling to the open sea | Hundreds of clerics, many retired from their landlocked flocks, have taken to the seas to tend to cruise ship passengers (The New York Times)

  5. Jews for Jesus spread spiritual message in region | The summer campaign of Jews for Jesus is under way all right, and the reactions are the same as anytime these most unorthodox missionaries take to the streets: curiosity, befuddlement, indignation and a whole lot of indifference (The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y.)

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  1. Teens love JC's Café | Ankeny First UMC members donate time, money for youth center that has video games, a pool table and smoothies (Des Moines Register)

  2. Faith-based prison draws praise, criticism | Minnesota officials plan to expand the InnerChange prison program next month, making it available to female convicts at the Shakopee women's prison (Associated Press)

  3. Fairy-tale failure | How Africa's one AIDS success story, Uganda, became a disaster when Christianity trumped science (Esther Kaplan, The American Prospect)

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Youth rally in Ottawa:

  1. Praising God and country | Young Christians gather on Hill to celebrate Canada's diversity, conservative values (The Ottawa Sun)

  2. Prayers and protest on Parliament Hill | Christian group shares space with Falun Gong (The Ottawa Citizen)

  3. Faith in ideas | The passion for public affairs on display at a Christian youth rally Saturday ought to inspire those adults who were beginning to fear that young people are disengaged from politics (Editorial, Ottawa Citizen)

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Gas ministry:

  1. Get free gas for going to church | A west side church is putting people in the pews with the promise of free five dollar gas cards. (WKYC, Cleveland)

  2. Finding salvation at the filling station | $10 gas giveaway was presented by Covina Vineyard Community Church, whose members donated around $5,000 to sponsor the event (San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Ca.)

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Money & business:

  1. A bid to get religion? Wal-Mart hires ex-nun | Firm seeks to address critical areas (The Washington Post)

  2. Creative media firm sees growth from ministry-related clients | Devotion Media is not exclusively for Christian companies, but it's now more focused (Orlando Business Journal)

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  1. High stakes as gambling chiefs bet on TV adverts | Casinos, betting shops and other forms of gambling could be advertised on television under proposed new rules published yesterday (The Herald, Glasgow)

  2. Gambling ads to be allowed on TV | Salvation Army and Evangelical Alliance express dismay (ITN)

  3. Churches push for new controls on pokies | A church leaders' group is urging the South Australian Government to speed up the introduction of new measures to combat problem gambling (ABC, Australia)

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Film, theater, and TV:

  1. An uprising on the Right in a world that leans Left | Something besides liberal bias is responsible for a striking shortage of conservative nonfiction cinema (The New York Times)

  2. Rated "R" for religion? | How the MPAA might view overly-religious classics (Anne Morse, The Weekly Standard)

  3. Take that as a warning | Theatres and films now routinely caution their audiences against hazards such as nudity, smoke, gunfire and even 'mild peril'. Have they gone too far? (The Guardian, London)

  4. A riveting tale of the end of days, believe it or not | "Secrets of Revelation," oxymoronic title and all, is a thing of beauty: a real aesthetic and moral achievement by Jonathan Halperin, a San Franciso-based filmmaker (The New York Times)

  5. BBC gets a Muslim to ask: were Jesus' miracles for real? | The BBC is placing Christianity at the heart of primetime entertainment for the first time, with programmes examining faith and spirituality set to replace copycat "lifestyle" shows (The Times, London)

  6. Solid performances sag in drawn-out 'Last Days' | "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" is set in purgatory. With nearly three hours of overinflated rhetoric, flabby structure, and sketchy characterization, it feels just like the real thing (The Boston Globe)

  7. Collapse of cinema industry, boost for churches | Pen Cinema is arguably the most popular bus-stop in Agege, a sprawling slum in Lagos metropolis. Its popularity grew to the point that it became a landmark and rallying point for residents of the densely populated neighbourhood. Today, Pen Cinema just exists as a bus-stop but the cinema house that bears that name has since died. The property has been bought by one of the most popular Pentecostal churches in the country which is now redeveloping the building as a worship centre (Vanguard, Nigeria)

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  1. Focus cries foul on Liberty baseball bid | Springs group says 'pornographers' not suited to own Braves (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  2. Soccer team throws a Hail Mary mass | Religion in its more traditional sense has recently shown a synergy with professional sports (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Also: La Virgen is queen of court | Mexican religious relic gets the star treatment at Mass held before the soccer game in Carson (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Amid scandal, church shuts sports program | The Rev. John McCartney of St. Matthew Church in Dix Hills told many of his parishioners for the first time yesterday that he was closing the popular athletic program today because of fiscal mismanagement (Newsday)

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  1. Spirited appeal | Faith-based promotions help sports teams pack in crowds (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  2. Sports-based academy planned for K'ville | A former professional athlete turned Christian evangelist plans to establish an all-male high-school-level private academy in Kernersville designed to provide promising young athletes with focused training in both sports and academics (The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area)

  3. Giant deal: Third Coast Sports lines up movie sponsorship | Third Coast Sports, the Nashville company that conducts Faith Nights at professional athletic events across the country, has inked the controversial Christian film "Facing the Giants" as a major sponsor for 2006 (Nashville Business Journal)

  4. Kitna discovers faith during reckless college years | Some people might be put off by the bold display of his Christian faith; others might be inspired by it. That's OK with Kitna. (Detroit Free Press)

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  1. Dedicated to Jesus and Jimi | Hendrix bassist Bill Cox feels the spirit of his friend and calling of the Lord (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  2. Rocker-turned-preacher pursuing pop fame again | Rocker-turned-preacher Richard Furay, a founding member of Buffalo Springfield and Poco and now pastor at Calvary Chapel Broomfield (Colo,), says he long felt overlooked for his contributions to two 1960s bands that pioneered the next decade's country-rock explosion (Reuters)

  3. Rock 'n' roll gets religion | If Third Day spent more time finding their own niche, and less time mimicking the flavour of legends, they might stand a chance (Calgary Sun)

  4. When priests get jiggy | If Father Anthony Aliddeki Musaala lacks anything, it is not fame. The 50-year-old Catholic priest first caught the attention of the media when he stormed the Pearl of Africa Music Awards in 2005, winning in the Best Gospel Artiste and Best Gospel Song categories (New Vision, Uganda)

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  1. Pope Benedict writing book on Jesus | The book, expected to be completed by the end of the summer, focuses on Jesus, the human race and Christianity's relationship with other faiths (Reuters)

  2. The gospel of love | The Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, an eloquent champion of abolition and woman suffrage, became a celebrity of a far less exalted kind as a result of a sex scandal. Michael Kazin reviews The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate (The New York Times Book Review)

  3. 'God is on our side': When faith is used to justify conquest | Two books look to the past to examine the intersection of religion and imperialism (The Christian Science Monitor)

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  1. Back to the big questions | Now comes C. John Sommerville, a historian at the University of Florida, with a provocative explanation for the malaise described by Mr. Wolfe, Mr. Douthat, and others (Colleen Carroll Campbell, The Washington Times)

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  1. Ethiopia's rich culture, steeped in history | Christian and Muslim traditions are kept alive in this diverse country, a crossroads of East Africa (Los Angeles Times)

  2. San Juan Capistrano families to honor elders | Descendants will gather at the old mission cemetery to celebrate the return of Mass. The priest will wear Father Junipero Serra's vestments (Los Angeles Times)

  3. The darkness between stars | The poet and Anglican priest R.S. Thomas, in his 1,500 finished poems, caught the images of sea and stone, raptor and wren. But, in church, he glimpsed at best his own shadow wrestling with the unseen God, like Jacob (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)

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  1. Not a secret anymore | Rich with Christian history, Jordan has become a prime destination for tourists (Religion News Service)

  2. Pilgrimage progress | Forget its kitsch reputation—the true significance of Lourdes is that it is a place of spiritual restoration (Terry Philpot, The Guardian, London)

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  1. Seeking a new mosque, they find a cultural turf war | A Muslim congregation is stunned when black leaders in Pompano Beach angrily protest their building plans (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

  2. Also: Plan for mosque riles black ministers | Plans to build a mosque in a predominantly black neighborhood in Pompano Beach, Fla., have led to angry protests from some local ministers, one of whom referred to Islam as a "dangerous religion" (The Washington Times)

  3. Morocco tries televangelism | It hopes big-screen TVs in mosques can counter Islamic extremism (Bart Schut, Los Angeles Times)

  4. Fury as Karzai plans return of Taliban's religious police | The Afghan government has alarmed human rights groups by approving a plan to reintroduce a Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the body which the Taliban used to enforce its extreme religious doctrine (The Independent, London)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. Methodist church can't giveaway "free" house | The house had been empty for some time before the church bought it and initially the church hoped it could find someone who would be willing to move the house to another location, instead of razing it (Clay Center Dispatch, Kan.)

  2. Report: Vatican Museums to buy modern art | "I would like very much to have a Picasso," the director, Francesco Buranelli told the La Stampa newspaper. He said the Vatican Museums intend to obtain new works "above all in sectors like contemporary art" (Associated Press)

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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 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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