Today's Top Five

1. Lent: It's not just for Catholics and mainliners anymore

Yes, the "Happy Ash Wednesday" title is supposed to be ironic. But it may represent a way in which the holy day and the Lenten season are changing as they're adopted by happy evangelical Protestants who once rejected the church calendar as "too Catholic." The Tennessean subtly notes the parallels between the imposition of ashes and evangelical altar calls: "There is something about coming forward, walking down the aisle with a purpose," Thomas Kleinert, senior minister at Vine Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), tells the paper. "On Ash Wednesday, that purpose is very much about a person acknowledging that they want to concentrate on God and reduce whatever is keeping them from God." Roman Catholics would agree, but they probably wouldn't describe Ash Wednesday in quite those same terms.

2. Pope Benedict XVI relinquishes a title
In other church unity news, the Italian news agency ANSA takes note of a quiet story that may have long-term significance. Pope Benedict XVI has ordered that one of his nine official titles—Patriarch of the West—be dropped in the new edition of the Vatican yearbook. He took the move to ease tensions with Eastern Orthodox churches, but at least one observer worries that the move could signal "indirect affirmation of himself as 'universal patriarch.'" Indeed: it's the titles like "Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church" and "Vicar of Jesus Christ" that are more problematic for church unity.

3. Dirty laundry in Orthodox Church in America?
The Washington Post reported Sunday that the OCA's former treasurer says top church officials "misappropriated millions of dollars in donations … to cover personal credit card bills, pay sexual blackmail, support family members and make up shortfalls in various church accounts." The church's governing Holy Synod is scheduled to meet today to consider an internal investigation and an independent audit.

4. Da Vinci Code goes to court
Nobody has a monopoly on truth, it's often said (though not frequently by evangelicals). Now that a British court is considering whether Dan Brown ripped off Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the question arises: Can you have a monopoly on a specific falsehood?

5. Fearing the media—the Christian media
"It's the liberal mainline churches whose congregations are shrinking and the conservative evangelical ones that are growing," Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley's Stewart Heller tells the San Francisco Chronicle. His analysis: It's the media. So for his "Electronic Christian Media" class, he's bringing in conservative evangelicals as guest lecturers at the notoriously liberal school. Some students are worried that they'll be "marginalized" by the instructors, some of whom see their classroom mission as evangelistic. But don't worry, Heller told his students. "They don't hate you." One thing that doesn't show up either in the Chronicle story or, seemingly, Heller's class: the reason conservative evangelical churches are growing faster than liberal mainline ones may not have anything to do with media savviness.

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Quote of the day:
"I would say that there was broad dismay with some of Pat's comments and a feeling they were not helpful to Christian broadcasters in general, but by no means was there any broad effort in our association to dissociate ourselves with him."

—National Religious Broadcasters president Frank Wright, on Pat Robertson's failure to be re-elected to the NRB's board, despite being one of 36 candidates for 33 slots. He was quoted by The Washington Post (second item).

Beyond the top five
Since we haven't had the opportunity to post a new weblog since Friday (sorry about that, folks), there are many stories beyond the "top five" worth noting. For example, the Supreme Court's abortion protest decision, Time's article on home churches, a statement of principles from Roman Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House, and a survey of professors' faith. The links below really are worth combing through.

More articles

South Dakota abortion ban | More abortion | Embryonic stem-cell research | Life ethics | Politics | Free speech | Church and state | Silver Ring Thing | Education | Higher education | Hinduism textbook controversy | Evolution | Immigration | IRS rules and churches | Church life | Church evangelistic strategies | Missions & ministry | Catholicism | Abuse | Detroit church shooting | Crime | China | World conflicts | Nigeria | Sudan | Church of England divestment | Anglicanism | Homosexuality and the church | More on homosexuality | Family | Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday | Protestants and Lent | Bible and theology | History | Da Vinci Code suit | Books | Music | Entertainment, art, and media | Roadside crosses | Other stories of interest

South Dakota abortionban (news & analysis):

  1. South Dakota's governor says he favors abortion ban bill | If Mike Rounds, the governor, signs the bill in the coming 15 days, it will be the broadest measure to outlaw abortion anywhere in the United States (The New York Times)

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  1. S.D. Gov. 'inclined' to sign abortion ban | Gov. Mike Rounds said he is inclined to sign a bill that would ban nearly all abortions in South Dakota, making it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless it was necessary to save the woman's life (Associated Press)

  2. Bush differs with South Dakota abortion bill | Bush told ABC News in an interview that he has not paid close attention to the South Dakota bill but said his position would allow three exceptions to a ban on abortion, as opposed to one in the state law (Reuters)

  3. Huckabee supports S.D. bill restricting abortions | Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Friday evening that he supports the kind of sweeping anti-abortion bill that South Dakota legislators approved this week (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

  4. Romney veers right on abortion, gay adoption | Lunging to the right on two red hot social issues, Gov. Mitt Romney said he would sign a bill outlawing abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, and agreed to meet with the state's Roman Catholic bishops to discuss their bid to exempt Catholic Charities from gay adoptions (Boston Herald)

  5. Vilsack: No tighter restrictions on abortion | Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said at the National Press Club today that he would not favor tighter restrictions on abortion similar to those recently approved in South Dakota (Des Moines Register, Ia.)

  6. Sizing up the opposing armies in the coming abortion battle | As abortion opponents declared a "full frontal attack" on Roe v. Wade, one question emerged: Which side of the abortion battle will benefit? (The New York Times)

  7. Abortion measure could mean big U.S. legal battle | Restrictions on abortion that would be the most severe since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the practice 33 years ago are likely to turn South Dakota into an expensive legal battleground should they become law (Reuters)

  8. Reality check for 'Roe' | With the hard right hoping for reversal, the black-and-white war over abortion finds itself immersed in shades of gray (Newsweek)

South Dakota abortion ban(opinion):

  1. Emboldened, abortion foes attack 'Roe' head-on | Unless checked, the process South Dakota is starting could lead to the most draconian rollback of personal liberties in U.S. history (Editorial, USA Today)

  2. Our time has come | Momentum builds to fight for rights for unborn babies (Roger Hunt, USA Today)

  3. Pro-lifers may do best by taking gradual steps on abortion | While I wish the fence-swingers well and hope they hit a home run, my guess is they will not succeed; not now. Perhaps a better strategy would be to attempt to get on base with a simpler plan that is even now causing abortion-minded women to choose to have their babies (Cal Thomas)

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  1. Abortion returns to center stage | The abortion issue is back, one might say, except that it has never gone away (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

  2. Amid the abortion rifts, a history of court shifts | A vote to allow bans on certain abortion procedures won't, by itself, prove that Roberts and Alito lack open minds, or that the Supreme Court is driven by politics (Peter S. Canellos, The Boston Globe)

  3. South Dakota's fetal position | State would ban more than abortions (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

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More abortion:

  1. Supreme Court backs abortion protesters | The Supreme Court dealt a setback Tuesday to abortion clinics in a two-decade-old legal fight over anti-abortion protests, ruling that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used to ban demonstrations (Associated Press)

  2. Also: Court rules pro-lifers not racketeers | The Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used against protesters at abortion clinics, ending a legal battle that has gone on for 20 years (The Washington Times)

  3. Clinic clash : Right to protest v. right to choose | In matters of this kind, it is usually best to err on the side of dissent and dissenters (John Nichols, The Nation)

  4. Miss. bill to ban most abortions advances | The bill approved by the House Public Health Committee on Tuesday would allow abortion only to save the pregnant woman's life (Associated Press)

  5. 24-hour wait for abortion is upheld in Missouri | The Missouri Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the waiting period is constitutional and that doctors may use their own judgment to decide what risk factors to discuss with a patient (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  6. Also: Mo. court upholds 24-hour abortion wait | The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld the state's 24-hour waiting period for abortions, a decision that turns the focus of the legal battle to federal court (Associated Press)

  7. Politics of choice | As the pro-life movement gains ground, abortion activists are holding an unprecedented summit to re-examine their strategies—and the ethical aspects of the debate (Newsweek)

  8. 'Name and shame' tactic stops Indians aborting baby girls | Khrishan Kumar, a civil servant in the northern Indian state of Punjab, stalks pregnant women. If he hears even a hint that someone plans an ultrasound test to discover whether their baby is a girl, he arrives on their doorstep (The Telegraph, London)

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  1. Nurse raped for refusal to carry out abortions | The gang rape of a nurse who refused to perform illegal abortions has outraged Pakistan and intensified calls for the repeal of its rape laws (The Telegraph, London)

  2. SCOTUS tries to get a little bit pregnant | Why the broader abortion ban is the one that's constitutional (Jacob Sullum, Reason)

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Embryonic stem-cell research:

  1. Calif. stem cell agency fights for life | The future of embryonic stem cell research could be shaped in a suburban courtroom where two taxpayer groups are challenging the legality of California's new agency dedicated to the controversial field (Associated Press)

  2. Also: Stem cell institute's legality goes to trial | Foes challenge the lack of state control over money. Backers say the ballot measure modified the constitution to allow fiscal independence (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Arguments begin in lawsuits over state stem cell institute | Opponents of the $3-billion stem cell research initiative approved by California voters characterized it Monday as fraught with conflicts of interest and so unaccountable to the state and taxpayers that it is unconstitutional (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Campaign against stem cell proposal kicks off | Leaders of a new social conservative group say they're confident that they can change the minds of Missouri voters who, according to early polls, support a ballot proposal to protect some forms of embryonic stem cell research (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  5. Coalition begins campaign against stem cell initiative | A coalition of social conservatives — including legislators, anti-abortion groups and some religious organizations — kicked off on Monday its campaign to defeat a likely ballot proposal aimed at protecting some forms of embryonic stem-cell research (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mo.)

  6. Conflicting laws hinder research | Conflicting national policies in embryonic stem cell research hamper international collaboration, leading scientists and ethicists have said (BBC)

  7. Stem-cell hypocrisy | How serious are Republican—and some Democratic—politicians who go on and on about the need to restrict embryonic stem-cell research? Not very. (John Nichols, The Nation)

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Life ethics:

  1. Pope says pre-implanted embryo is sacred | The Vatican has long held that human life begins at conception, but Benedict's comments were significant because he specified that even an embryo in its earliest stages — when it is just a few cells — is just as much a human life as an older being (Associated Press)

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  1. Also: Pope says embryos have rights from conception | Pope Benedict on Monday reaffirmed Catholic teaching that life begins at the moment of conception, saying embryos are "sacred and inviolable" even before they become implanted in a mother's uterus (Reuters)

  2. Plan B battles embroil states | Proposals mirror red-blue divide (The Washington Post)

  3. New York bill to offer 'morning after' pill | Lawmakers said the new version addresses most of the concerns that led to Gov. George Pataki's veto of an earlier bill allowing pharmacists to offer the "morning after" contraceptive pill to girls and women without prescription. (Associated Press)

  4. Study: State family-planning efforts vary | A wide gap exists among states in their efforts to help women reduce unplanned pregnancies and gain access to contraception, according to new research released Tuesday (Associated Press)

  5. Unintended pregnancy linked to state funding cuts | First-of-its-kind study cites impact on teenage girls and poor women (The Washington Post)

  6. Lethal objection | An execution is postponed after two doctors refuse to take part. Is the needle on the ropes? (Time)

  7. Wal-Mart and the death penalty | No one disputes that there are circumstances in which people have a fundamental right to assert a moral or religious objection to performing duties and thus cannot be pressed by law into performing them. The problem lies in sorting out who can opt out and when (Dahlia Lithwick, The Washington Post)

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  1. The House's Catholic Democrats detail role religion plays | Still reeling from the attacks on Sen. John F. Kerry's brand of Roman Catholicism during the 2004 presidential race, 55 House Democrats issued a joint statement yesterday on the central role that the Catholic faith plays in their public lives (The Washington Post)

  2. Also: Public officials under God | A "Statement of Principles By Fifty-Five Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives" is, to the best of my knowledge, an unprecedented attempt by a large number of elected officials to explain the relationship between their religious faith and their public commitments (E. J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post)

  3. Boston College topic is Catholics and the swing vote | ''Can a Catholic officeholder be a good Republican and Catholic, and a good Democrat and a Catholic?" asks Tim Russert (Rich Barlow, The Boston Globe)

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  1. Mrs Museveni wins in Uganda, other 'Mamas' falter | Most famous for her support for abstinence programmes to fight HIV/AIDS, the staunchly born-again Christian first lady was making her first foray into politics by joining the parliamentary race (Reuters)

  2. What's a 'red-letter Christian'? | Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. That's why we created a new name for our Christian political movement (Tony Campolo, Beliefnet)

  3. The other Christians in politics | Anybody who thinks the church should stay out of politics can take up the argument with three groups in Texas. Conservative Christians, moderate Christians and liberal Christians. (Rick Casey, Houston Chronicle)

  4. Praise the Lord and pass the petition | An activist Christian left is slowly emerging of late, practicing "faith-based community organizing" for social and economic justice (Ira Chernuss, Mother Jones)

  5. Onward Christian organizers | A lot of activism on the Left springs from deeply held faith (David Hilfiker, Mother Jones)

  6. Lord, have mercy | The U.S. delegation to the World Council of Churches apologizes for America (Mark D. Tooley, The Weekly Standard)

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Free speech:

  1. 9th Circuit finds Ore. city violated street preacher's rights | Panel says Portland gave groups that held events at city parks too much discretion to eject people (Associated Press)

  2. Offensive religious T-shirt angers | Tauranga's James Marx was so outraged by an offensive message brandished on another man's T-shirt he complained to police. Papamoa police now want to find the man (Bay of Plenty Times, New Zealand)

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Church and state:

  1. Restraining order denied in challenge to Navy's chaplain selection system | DC federal district court says chaplains unlikely to succeed on the merits of case and had not show irreparable injury (Religion Clause)

  2. Indian River refuses deal on prayer | Hymn-singing crowd praises Jesus after board's decision (The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.)

  3. Council to reconsider creation of ethics board | In February, the council sent the proposal back to the drawing board after Mayor Mark Johnsrud raised concerns including whether a clergy member could be appointed to the board in light of separation of church and state issues (La Crosse Tribune, Wi.)

  4. Mayor's 'faith' proposal raises concerns | Council leader, ACLU question Bush initiative (Lansing State Journal, Mi.)

  5. Steele wants more Md. funding for faith-based programs | Event shows groups how to get help (The Washington Post)

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  1. 'Pizza pope' builds a Catholic heaven | A former marine who was raised by nuns and made a fortune selling pizza has embarked on a £230m plan to build the first town in America to be run according to strict Catholic principles (The Times, London)

  2. Also: New Florida town looks to ban abortions | If Domino's Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan has his way, a new town being built in a quiet corner of southwest Florida will be governed by strict Catholic principles, particularly when it comes to sex (Associated Press)

  3. The 'Jewish' con | Incarcerated gang members and murderers here and elsewhere are abusing freedom of religion to get special treatment (Seattle Weekly)

  4. Same-sex marriage banner nixed | Quincy decision based on size, not message, board says (The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.)

  5. A church-state schism in Spain | Socialist leader backs policies at odds with Catholic doctrine (The Washington Post)

  6. Greek lawmakers lift ban on cremation | The law, which human rights groups have long demanded, stressed that cremation would not be available for Orthodox Christians, in a bid to mollify the country's powerful Orthodox Church (Associated Press)

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Silver Ring Thing:

  1. Goode in the 'Ring' for teen abstinence | Former Mayor W. Wilson Goode is initiating an effort to make Philadelphia one of the hubs for a faith-based sexual abstinence program, known as "The Silver Ring Thing" (Philadelphia Daily News)

  2. Going too far | Silver Ring Thing loses federal funds (Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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  1. Keeping the faith | Groups try to help students strengthen their beliefs (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  2. Va. schools win Christian poster dispute | Virginia school district didn't violate a teacher's free-speech rights by removing Christian-themed postings from his classroom walls, a federal judge has ruled (Associated Press)

  3. Student request poses dilemma | Bayfield teen asks school board to change name of Winter Break to Christmas Break (The Durango Herald, Co.)

  4. Islamic holiday closings rejected | The Baltimore County Board of Education endorsed a subcommittee recommendation last night not to close schools on two Islamic holidays, as proposed by a Muslim group (The Washington Times)

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Higher education:

  1. Spiritual, but not in the classroom | Survey of professors finds plenty of faith — and a correlation between life of the soul and teaching styles (Inside Higher Ed)

  2. Cartoons depict Jesus, cause stir at Radford University | University officials will meet with students to discuss balancing free speech and good taste (The Roanoke Times, Va.)

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  1. Also: When the image is of Jesus | Muhammad isn't the only figure who can set off a debate about religious sensitivities and free speech (Inside Higher Ed)

  2. Going to church in quest for students | Seeking to boost the enrollment of black youths, Cal State officials urge parents in South L.A. to push their children to go to college (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Back in class after expulsion over paper | Scott McConnell's paper advocated corporal punishment in the classroom and dismissed multiculturalism (The New York Times)

  4. Divinely inspired bias? | Legal experts say U. of Charleston job requirements for "In God We Trust" chair suggest violation of Civil Rights Act (Inside Higher Ed)

  5. Muhammad cartoons rile Calif. college | A student panel discussion that included a display of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons descended into chaos, with one speaker calling Islam an "evil religion" and audience members nearly coming to blows (Associated Press)

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Hinduism textbook controversy:

  1. Committee sends textbook edits to state board | Hindu groups fail to get mention of castes deleted from history of India (The Daily Review, Hayward, Ca.)

  2. Panel suggests revising textbooks | A state school board committee recommends changing descriptions of Hinduism, adherents (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Monday: A textbook debate over Hinduism | Some adherents seek changes in information taught to sixth-graders. Their critics object (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Groups seeking textbook revisions | Lessons on life in ancient India stir education hearing (San Francisco Chronicle)

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  1. Henry Morris, intellectual father of 'creation science,' dies at 87 | Founder of Institute for Creation Research wrote The Genesis Flood (The Washington Post)

  2. Bill on evolution proves unfit to survive | House forces changes in Buttars' proposal, then fails to pass it anyway (The Salt Lake Tribune, Ut.)

  3. Also: Anti-Darwin bill fails in Utah | The Utah House of Representatives voted down a bill intended to challenge the theory of evolution in high school science classes (The New York Times)

  4. Nev. proposal raises evolution questions | A proposed constitutional amendment would require Nevada teachers to instruct students that there are many questions about evolution — a method viewed by critics as an opening to teach intelligent design (Associated Press)

  5. Also: Evolution a theory, father says | Files Truth in Science initiative petition to change teaching ways (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

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  1. Resolution touts academic freedom | Mirecki furor speeds legislative proposal (Lawrence Journal-World, Kan.)

  2. Canadian scientists want out of Darwin's 'rut' | A handful of Canadian scientists are speaking out against evolution as an explanation for all of life as we know it, saying the complexity of living things simply cannot be attributed to biological chance. (National Post, Canada)

  3. Group spreads info before debate | Repent America plans to distribute information about creationism next week (York Daily Record, Pa.)

  4. Dover needs some benign indifference | Watch out, Dover. Not only will they be bending your ear during a door-to-door campaign touting the "truths" of religion against the "unproven" facts of evolution -- it's almost certain they'll be looking for any excuse to file a legal action somewhere to keep their profile high (Editorial, The York Dispatch, Pa.)

  5. Evolution debate needs even chance | The debate of origins and life development should not be framed as science versus religion or reason versus faith (Gordon S. Cruickshank, The Washington Times)

  6. The Oracle suggests a truce between science and religion | The truth is that science and spirituality have the potential to coexist in peace, complementing rather than constantly battling each other (William J. Broad, The New York Times)

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  1. Priests speak out for illegal workers | But they fear legislation that threatens their aid (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Immigrants gain the pulpit | Cardinal Mahony says he will ask priests to provide aid without proof of documentation even if proposed restrictions become law (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Protest of bill planned | Thousands of pro-immigration advocates will protest next week at the U.S. Capitol against a bill that they fear would result in fines or jail time for operators of businesses, churches, day-laborer centers and other facilities that help illegal aliens (The Washington Times)

  4. Churchmen and coyotes | Sensenbrenner and other supporters of H.R. 4437 deserve thanks, and those clergymen who have lined up in opposition to a serious effort to crack down on the coyotes who prey on illegals have some soul-searching to do (The Washington Times)

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IRS rules and churches:

  1. IRS finds sharp increase in illegal political activity | The tax agency found problems at three-quarters of the 82 organizations it examined after it got complaints about their political activities (The New York Times)

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  1. Church politicking 'disturbing' to IRS | To prevent a repeat in the upcoming congressional elections, the agency said it is gearing up to quickly investigate and quash any violations that arise this year (The Washington Times)

  2. Political gifts by churches break IRS rules | At least 115 in Maryland have donated money to candidates since 2000 (The Baltimore Sun)

  3. The collection plate | Because a church is a tax-exempt institution, any money it gives a politician is in essence also tax-exempt, and that's just not allowed by the law (Editorial, The Baltimore Sun)

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Church life:

  1. Accusations of misused money roil Orthodox Church in America | Former treasurer says top officials misappropriated millions of dollars in donations from agribusiness titan Dwayne Andreas, U.S. military chaplains and ordinary parishioners across the country (The Washington Post)

  2. There's no pulpit like home | Some Evangelicals are abandoning megachurches for minichurches—based in their own living rooms (Time)

  3. 'Heretical' Unitarians cast out by cathedral | Chester Cathedral has denounced the Unitarian Church for heretical views and banned its ministers and members from holding their annual service there (The Times, London)

  4. Polish Church investigates spies | Poland's Catholic Church is launching a fresh investigation to identify church collaborators who worked for the communist-era secret police (BBC)

  5. Church leaders explain pastor's departure | Parishioners speak (KOAT, Albuquerque)

  6. Also: Calvary Chapel congregation stunned after announcement | A shakeup at the top of Calvary Chapel of Albuquerque has congregation members wondering what happened (KOAT, Albuquerque)

  7. Pentecostals spearhead big rise in new churches | More than 1,000 new Christian churches have been created over the last seven years, double the number of Starbucks coffee shops, new research has found (The Telegraph, London)

  8. Also: Challenging the Church | New figures show that Christian faith in these islands is tenacious of life (The Telegraph, London)

  9. Selling church can be a less than blessed effort | But buyers, and alternative uses, can be found (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)

  10. Mysterious orbs of light at North Texas church | Riverwalk Fellowship Church's senior pastor has reported, among other things, an oil substance manifesting on the balcony and on the baptismal and the pulpit of the sanctuary (KTVT, Dallas)

  11. Church born of faith and music | 3 pastors bring plan to fruition in Pilsen (Chicago Tribune)

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  1. Pastor challenges volunteers to spend $100 on good deeds | The Rev. Gary Marzolf challenged church members to further God's kingdom on Earth (Des Moines Register, Ia.)

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Church evangelistic strategies:

  1. Preaching the Word and quoting the Voice | Timothy J. Keller, an evangelist who embraced New York City, is drawing crowds (The New York Times)

  2. At the drive-in church | You don't even have to leave your car at this place of worship. A photo essay (Time)

  3. Sunday Service goes 'on demand' | A church has introduced a come and go system to make it easier for worshippers to attend Sunday Service (BBC)

  4. Joe for young, old: Church opens coffee shop | Aging congregation in North Austin turns its library into a cafe and gallery (Austin American-Statesman, Tex.)

  5. Lord works in high-tech ways | Pastors use Internet to reach congregations (Boston Herald)

  6. Recipe bringing youth back to church | Mega-churches have adapted their services and financial practices to the 21st century (Gary Bouma, The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Two-thirds of Katrina donations exhausted | Charities faced with difficult decisions and countless requests as they spend what is left (The Washington Post)

  2. Tsunami set church's missions in motion | The Crossroads Community Church congregation was talking about doing more good deeds overseas when the Indian Ocean tsunami gave them a concrete opportunity to act (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  3. Bible handouts in Kashmir relief work embarrass some Christians | Churches working in Indian Kashmir say that four evangelists forced to stop earthquake relief work after villagers complained about Bibles being distributed along with material such as blankets and food, caused problems for them (ENI)

  4. Catholics not wedded to practice of tithing | A study shows they give less than Protestants do. Experts attribute the difference to a lack of a feeling of ownership toward the church (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Pope drops a title | Benedict does not want to be called Patriarch of the West (ANSA, Italy)

  2. Vatican issues defense of gypsies | Document admits Church's own past prejudice (ANSA, Italy)

  3. New fervor among young Italian Catholics | Dissatisfied with material life, 550 Italian women became nuns last year - up from 350 two years before (The Christian Science Monitor)

  4. .O'Malley's elevation uplifts parish | Archbishop tries to maintain sense of normality (The Boston Globe)

  5. Diocese defends use of church by pro-choice pair | The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland on Sunday defended its decision to allow two pro-abortion-rights state representatives to sponsor a charity event at one of its churches (Portland Press Herald, Me.)

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  1. O.C. congregation's 40 years of wandering are over | St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic parish opens its renovated church (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. 5 reform school employees are cleared of child abuse | Five employees of Heartland Christian Academy have been cleared of wrongdoing nearly five years after they were charged with child abuse for requiring misbehaving students to stand in and shovel cow manure (Associated Press)

  2. Ex-youth minister, church sued by teen | A Wauseon teenager who says that a 15-year-old boy sitting beside her on a church bus trip forced her to put her hand down his pants has filed suit against Crossroads Evangelical Church and its former youth minister, who she says told her not to tell anyone about the incident (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  3. Attorney general chides church on reforms | The Boston Archdiocese still hasn't implemented key reforms promised three years ago in its plan to prevent the sexual abuse of children by church personnel, according to the state attorney general's office (Associated Press)

  4. Gaps alleged in church plan to prevent sexual abuse | But overseer says program achieves goals (The Boston Globe)

  5. Cardinal stays course | Critics have no place asking George to quit, spokesman says (Chicago Tribune)

  6. Also: Activists demand cardinal's resignation | Angry activists demanded Saturday that Cardinal Francis George resign as head of the Chicago Archdiocese for failing to aggressively investigate child sex abuse allegations against several priests, including the Rev. Daniel McCormack (Chicago Sun-Times)

  7. Alleged victim demands names of accused priests | A man who says a priest abused him more than 30 years ago in Downers Grove filed suit Tuesday, demanding the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet name all priests accused of abusing minors since 1950 (Chicago Tribune)

  8. Joliet diocese hit with class-action suit | More than 35 years after he says a Roman Catholic priest molested him at a Downers Grove parish, a 52-year-old Minneapolis man has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Diocese of Joliet, saying its bishops "revictimized him" for decades (Chicago Sun-Times)

  9. Board urged archdiocese to pull priest, official says | Despite the recommendation, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago did not remove a priest accused of molesting young boys, an Illinois official said (The New York Times)

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  1. Diocese escapes sex suit | $300M case ruled too late (New York Daily News)

  2. Woman says priest story not retracted | An Arlington woman said Tuesday that she, her sister and her family never backed away from sexual misconduct accusations against a former Arlington priest (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  3. Two removed from priesthood | The Vatican has imposed its strictest penalty against two Roman Catholic priests from Maine who had been accused of sexually abusing children, Bishop Richard Malone of Portland announced Tuesday (Portland Press Herald, Me.)

  4. Lawyers team up to take on sex-abuse cases | Seattle-area attorneys Michael Pfau, left, and Timothy Kosnoff represent most of the sex-abuse victims who've sued the Catholic Church in Seattle and Spokane (The Seattle Times)

  5. Church settles with sex-abuse victims | The long-running compensation case involving 36 victims of serial pedophile Robert Brandenberg has all but been settled—at a cost to the Anglican Church of between $3.5 million and $4 million (, Australia)

  6. Church rules out investigating paedophile activity | The Catholic Church has refused to launch an investigation into paedophile activity on the north-west coast of Tasmania (ABC News, Australia)

  7. Also: Anger of predator's victims | The hurt and anger of four men who were sexually abused as boys was revealed yesterday as a former teacher and priest was found guilty of preying on them (The Mercury, Tasmania, Australia)

  8. Bill was a breach in state, church wall | A bill proposed in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would have required Catholic priests to report suspicions of child abuse revealed during the sacrament of confession was well-intentioned, but fatally flawed (Editorial, Portsmouth Herald, N.H.)

  9. Man charged with molestation taught Sunday school | A Davidson church has started its own investigation of a Sunday school teacher after he was arrested for abusing middle school students (WCNC, Charlotte, N.C., video)

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Detroit church shooting:

  1. Police missed chance to stop church shooter | Would-be victim had reported previous assault (The Detroit News)

  2. Another family grieves in Detroit church shootings | As second victim dies, kin of first criticize police (Detroit Free Press)

  3. Fatal shooting shakes church, but not its faith | 2 others hurt; gunman kills self as cops close in (Detroit Free Press)

  4. 'Where can you be safe?' | Fatal Detroit church shooting may have been revenge (The Detroit News)

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  1. 2nd victim dies in Mich. church shootings | Alarie Davis, 54, had been shot in an arm and the chest while defending his wife during a carjacking attempt by the gunman several blocks from the church, police said (Associated Press)

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  1. Yemen executes US hospital killer | A man who killed three US Christian missionaries in southern Yemen in 2002 has been executed by firing squad (BBC)

  2. Argument leads to gunfire at Vidalia church | An argument led to gunfire at a church in Vidalia just after yesterday's service. Church members say chaos broke loose when a running feud turned violent (WTOC, Savannah, Ga.)

  3. Agents check church blazes in other states | Agents trying to solve a recent string of Alabama church arsons are checking out fires at churches in other states to see if they could be linked. So far, they say, no other blazes have been connected to the Alabama cases (Associated Press)

  4. Police arrest man in church arson | GBI doesn't suspect link between Marion County, Alabama fires (Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus, Oh.)

  5. Terror charge for US man found with guns in Uganda | Ugandan police said on Saturday a U.S. man found with guns in his bedroom days before this week's national election had been charged with terrorism (Reuters)

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  1. New Chinese cardinal: Beijing must change | Hong Kong's newly appointed cardinal said Tuesday that China's communist government needs to overcome "old prejudices" toward the Roman Catholic Church for the Vatican to make a breakthrough in forging relations with Beijing (Associated Press)

  2. Scholar, activist doubt China confessions | Leaders of an underground Chinese church who are accused of killing of 20 members of a rival group were tortured into confessing in a crackdown on unofficial religious organizations, a U.S.-based activist and a Chinese legal scholar said Tuesday (Associated Press)

  3. Also: Trial starts in China for underground church leader accused in killings | The leader of an unofficial Chinese church went on trial Monday over the killings of up to 20 members of another church, an official said, as a U.S.-based group warned that China has used such charges to persecute underground religious groups (Associated Press)

  4. Religion in China still restricted, rights group says | Two Tibetan Buddhists jailed for "splittism" have had their sentences reduced, but a rights group said on Wednesday that one year after China introduced new regulations on religious rights, freedom to worship remains restricted (Reuters)

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World conflicts:

  1. Forgiveness in a culture stripped of grace | How forgiveness may arise from even bitter hatred (Miroslav Volf, The Times, London)

  2. Faith, in its place | What we are experiencing is a growing "value split," where identity lies more in belief than in job or background (Mortimer B. Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report)

  3. Civil war or holy war? | That the Holy One is wholly other is the first principle of human toleration, since no single person or group has an exclusive claim on the divine. The second principle of toleration is that God, as its author, belongs to the entire cosmos, not to any mere part of it (James Carroll, The Boston Globe)

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  1. Police arrest 448 over sectarian crises | No fewer than 448 persons have so far been arrested by the police in connection with the sectarian crises that rocked some states of the federation last week. (This Day, Nigeria)

  2. Also: Stop killing our people - S/East govs | South East governors yesterday in Enugu strongly condemned recent killings and destruction of properties over cartoons of Prophet Muhammed saying that they were tired of incessant attacks on Southerners resident in the north (Daily Champion, Nigeria)

  3. Missionary couple safely flee violence | The missionary couple from Grand Rapids drove for seven hours into central Nigeria, taking 50 people away from danger, but leaving hundreds of vulnerable Christians behind (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)

  4. Pope condemns religious violence in Iraq, Nigeria | Pope Benedict on Sunday condemned religious violence in Iraq and Nigeria, saying God would punish those who killed in his name (Reuters)

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  1. Egypt is uneasy stop for Sudanese refugees | dark-skinned Sudanese Christians stand out among the Egyptians, typically lighter-skinned Muslim Arabs. Human rights workers say the Sudanese are subject to taunts, discrimination and violence (The Washington Post)

  2. Archbishop of Canterbury visits Sudan | "Together as groups, as tribes … as religions, we know that God alone is king and we can therefore be at peace with each other," he said (Reuters)

  3. Realism and Darfur | Idealists may have the best case for stopping the Darfur genocide, but they do not have the only case. Why America's national interest demands intervention in Darfur (James Forsyth, The New Republic)

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Israel divestment:

  1. Chief rabbis to meet Anglican head | Israel's two chief rabbis have questions for the Archbishop of Canterbury, but will not cancel plans to meet the leader of Britain's state church this May in light of the vote by the General Synod of the Church of England to divest its shares in companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the territories (The Jerusalem Post)

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  1. Carey 'ashamed' by Synod decision on Israel investments | The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has told Israel that he is "ashamed to be an Anglican" after a decision by the Holy Synod to reconsider its investments in companies used by the Israeli army (The Telegraph, London)

  2. The Church and politics | The argument that boycotts harm most those they are intended to support is also simply not supported by the facts (Editorial, The Herald, Glasgow)

  3. The radicals behind the Anglican Church | If there is a lesson from this debacle, it is that attention must be paid to Palestinian NGOs, rather than assuming that such groups are too blatantly biased to influence mainstream institutions. (Sarah Mandel, The Jerusalem Post)

  4. Walk in each other's shoes | Only through dialogue can Britain's Christian and Jewish religious leaders deal with our differences (Tony Bayfield, The Guardian, London)

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  1. St. Thurgood? It just might be | Episcopalians in the nation's capital seek sainthood for the 1st black high court justice (Chicago Tribune)

  2. St. Andrew's joins conservative Episcopalians | The 38-year-old congregation marks a new era with an uneventful vote Sunday (Savannah Morning News, Ga.)

  3. Election could set off 'firestorm' in Episcopal Church | Surprising because Seattle is one of America's least "churched" cities, one of our highest-profile clergypeople could become part of a major division and possible reshaping of his church. (Joel Connelly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  4. Churchgoers warned to reject secretive group | The warning came after the excommunication of 15 elders of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Camberwell Victoria over their links to the Fellowship, a sect accused of wielding strong control over its followers (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)

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Homosexuality and the church:

  1. Gay union clouds pastor's future | Ministerial post at local Lutheran church imperiled (Pasadena Star News, Ca.)

  2. Sexuality and salvation | Gays who worship God reveal struggles in documentary (The Mercury News, San Jose, Ca.)

  3. Quebec priests challenge same-sex stand | Church has been wrong about political, social and sexual issues before, letter says (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  4. Also: Quebec priests slam Catholic church on gay unions | A small group of priests in French-speaking Quebec has taken the rare step of openly criticizing the Catholic church for its opposition to same sex marriages and the ordination of active homosexuals (Reuters)

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  1. A gospel of intolerance | The support of Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, for an anti-gay Nigerian law violates numerous Anglican Communion documents that call for a "listening process" involving gay Christians and their leaders (John Bryson Chane, The Washington Post)

  2. A memo from the Vatican | The following questionnaire should be used to help identify and root out such truly committed homosexuals (Paul Rudnick, The New Yorker)

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More on homosexuality:

  1. Ex-gays promote the straight life | A traveling conference advocating the heterosexual lifestyle came to the suburbs of west St. Louis County on Saturday (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mo.)

  2. France broadens gays' parental rights | France's highest court ruled Friday that homosexual parents may extend parental rights to their partners, a move long sought by gay rights campaigners (Associated Press)

  3. Wis. proposed gay-marriage ban faces vote | Wisconsin voters will decide this fall whether to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage and civil unions (Associated Press)

  4. Kaine order to shield gays called unlawful | Virginia's Republican attorney general said Friday that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine had violated the state constitution by issuing an executive order banning discrimination against gay men and lesbians in the state workforce (The Washington Post)

  5. Patrick, at pulpit, lists his priorities | ''I'm going to step into sensitive territory here, because some have tried to discredit me and divide us over the whole question of gay marriage," Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval L. Patrick said. ''Don't let that happen." (The Boston Globe)

  6. Romney shifts on adoption by gays | To weigh exemption for Catholic agency (The Boston Globe)

  7. Ban on adoption by gays and lesbians is next target for US Right | Conservative activists are pushing for adoption by gays and lesbians to be prohibited, having been buoyed by recent success in securing bans on same-sex marriages and restrictions on abortion rights (The Telegraph, London)

  8. State investigating gay marriage signature forgery allegations | Did workers gathering support for an anti-gay marriage amendment forge the signatures of some voters last year? (Associated Press)

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  1. No Nordic bliss | There's no refuting the claim that same-sex partnerships harm marriage (Stanley Kurtz, National Review Online)

  2. Marriage activists headed for Colorado showdown | Two of the West's most influential power brokers are headed for a turf war in November over Colorado's proposed constitutional amendment affirming traditional marriage (The Washington Times)

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  1. Bring on the daddy wars | How the younger generation of fathers is starting to wrestle with its own juggling dilemma—and why that's a good thing (Nancy Gibbs, Time)

  2. Rules of engagement | Before saying 'I do,' many couples are seeking help in resolving inevitable conflicts—to better their odds against divorce (The Washington Post)

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Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday:

  1. Anything goes at German carnival—except religion | But one of Duesseldorf's float depicted Pope Benedict wearing the jersey of the city's battered soccer club Fortuna (Reuters)

  2. On Ash Wednesday, some employees take their cross back to work | On the first day of Lent, Christians face a dilemma: Wear an ashen cross to work or wipe it off? (Religion News Service)

  3. Show of faith, matter of choice | To wear or not to wear the ashen cross after you leave church this morning? (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  4. Burning question about Ash Wednesday | Don't try burning palm fronds at home (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  5. Every Ash Wednesday comes the question about ashes: to burn or to buy? | It's the tradition that counts (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  6. Pope urges attention to poor during Lent | "Lent is, in the end, through almsgiving, the occasion for sincere sharing of gifts received with one's brothers and for attention to the needs of the poorest and abandoned ones," Benedict told pilgrims and tourists at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square (Associated Press)

  7. Bishops to live on minimum wage | Three area bishops have agreed to live on the minimum wage for weeks donating the difference in their incomes to the Bishop of Lichfield's Lent Appeal (BBC)

  8. Going without | Lent begins on Wednesday and one charity is appealing for people to give up alcohol. The nation is always being asked to give up something, so why do it? (BBC)

  9. Christians seek a place to be still and know God | Many plan retreats as Lent starts (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, N.Y.)

  10. Recharging the spiritual batteries | As Lent begins Wednesday, even those who do not consider themselves "spiritual" or "religious" can benefit from learning about the season dedicated to self-examination and personal growth (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

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  1. Christians mark solemn season as Lent begins | While Mardi Gras—Fat Tuesday—is much publicized for its celebration of excess, today is the more significant occasion (Editorial, Norwich Bulletin, Ct.)

  2. Days of Lenten penance should bring focus on similarities, not differences | Millions of orthodox Christians today enter the penitential season of Lent, one of the holiest times of their liturgical year, even as religious differences and conflict highlight much of our news around the world (Editorial, The Brownsville Herald, Tex.)

  3. Lent is a good time to celebrate the old-fashioned virtue of courtesy | We may no longer live in a culture of deference, but there are still serious questions to be raised about a culture of brash assertiveness insensitive to the virtues of reverence and courtesy (Geoffrey Rowell, The Times, London)

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Protestants and Lent:

  1. Get Lent | Protestants do the sober season (Andrew Santella, Slate)

  2. Lent: Not just for Catholics | Protestant churches embrace the sacrifice and repentance, traditionally observed by the Catholic Church (Des Moines Register, Ia.)

  3. More denominations join Lent observance | Sense of purpose in ritual attracts people, minister says (Tennessean, Nashville)

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Bible and theology:

  1. Another take on gospel truth about Judas | Manuscript could add to understanding of gnostic sect (The Washington Post)

  2. Film resurrects interest in Mary Magdalene | Redeemed sinner, prostitute, wife of Jesus? Mary Magdalene's image has gone through myriad incarnations over the centuries, and this Lenten season she's drawing new attention thanks to the upcoming movie version of The Da Vinci Code, a slew of books and Internet arguments (Associated Press)

  3. 100,000 copies of 100-Minute Bible sold | Originally, only 11,000 copies were printed, for distribution to churches and schools (BBC)

  4. Falwell: Jews can get to heaven | Televangelist John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, whose Cornerstone Church and Rodfei Sholom congregations are based in San Antonio, told The Jerusalem Post that Falwell had adopted Hagee's innovative belief in what Christians refer to as "dual covenant" theology (The Jerusalem Post)

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  1. It could be the head of Nicolaus Copernicus | Breakthrough in search for remains forces reckoning in Poland (The Washington Post)

  2. Rediscovering a relic of a past long obscured | For the longest time, no one disturbed the two boxlike enclosures at the rear of the balcony in St. Augustine's Episcopal Church on the Lower East Side (The New York Times)

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Da Vinci Code suit:

  1. 'Da Vinci Code' trial opens with claim of theft | The authors of a nonfiction book contend that Dan Brown stole their ideas for his megaselling thriller (The New York Times)

  2. Da Vinci Code idea 'in public domain' | Two British-based writers who claim that Dan Brown, the Da Vinci Code author, stole their ideas for his novel have repeatedly made "spurious and bogus" allegations, the High Court was told yesterday (The Telegraph, London)

  3. 'Da Vinci Code' court case opens in London | It's the latest twist for the mega-selling conspiracy thriller "The Da Vinci Code": a lawsuit against the book's publisher for breach of copyright that could taint the novel and delay the much-anticipated movie version (Associated Press)

  4. Who cracked the 'Code' first? | Authors' suit over 'Da Vinci' is heard in London court (The Washington Post)

  5. Da Vinci Code 'copied book ideas' | Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh say Mr Brown stole "the whole architecture" of research that went into their 1982 book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (BBC)

  6. In a packed high court, a new twist in The Da Vinci Code begins to unfold | Authors of holy grail book sue publishers, claiming Dan Brown borrowed their central theme (The Guardian, London)

  7. Jesus hoax born of a fascist's fantasies | In the legal drama over Dan Brown's best-seller, The Da Vinci Code, history remains the big loser (Dean Bertram, The Australian)

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  1. Harry Potter then Devil: Vatican | The Vatican's chief exorcist yesterday claimed the Harry Potter stories could lead children into Satanism (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  2. Christian comic book takes look at dark side | What if instead of dying on the cross Jesus had lived to sire an army of holy warriors bent on forging a New Covenant? (Dayton Daily News, Oh.)

  3. Getting serious for 40 days | An introduction to the Great Canon of St. Andrew (National Review Online)

  4. The Lenten bookshelf | Forty days' reading (National Review Online)

  5. Two atheists with different approaches challenge the biblical God | Daniel C. Dennett vs. Sam Harris (Associated Press)

  6. The conservative imagination | Success has widened the fissures between religious populists and Sunbelt libertarians. George F. Will reviews Jeffrey Hart's The Making of the American Conservative Mind and Bruce Bartlett's Impostor (The New York Times)

  7. Days of grace | A warm, funny memoir evokes a childhood where the Bible was a textbook. Amy Sullivan reviews Christine Rosen's My Fundamentalist Education (The Washington Post)

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  1. Religion and the Left: The politics of meaning | Amy Sullivan reviews Michael Lerner's The Left Hand of God (The Washington Post)

  2. The private lives of priests | Katherine A. Powers reviews The Diary of a Country Priest and The Witness of St. Ansgar's (The Boston Globe)

  3. The European struggle over church and state | Paul Baumann reviews Michael Burleigh's Earthly Powers (Chicago Tribune)

  4. Doing the Lord's work | A new biography of William Jennings Bryan challenges the stereotype of him as faith-based demagogue (Inside Higher Ed)

  5. Also: God's demagogue | Rabble-rousing Christian, harsh critic of Big Money, champion of the working man, William Jennings Bryan was the original American populist—and politicians from Wallace to Clinton to George W. Bush are his grandchildren (Andrew O'Hehir,

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  1. Gospel artist Clark Sheard says it's far from "Over" | Just mention the Clark Sisters, and fans like Missy Elliott, Mariah Carey, Faith Evans and Mary J. Blige line up to sing their praises (Reuters)

  2. Arms and the Mass, or: why does this liturgy sound so familiar? | No fewer than 50 Masses of the Renaissance are set to "The Armed Man," a French song that is far from holy (The New York Times)

  3. Alan Jackson records gospel CD | Alan Jackson's mother had been after him for 10 years to make a gospel record. Last year, when the country superstar's father-in-law died, he recorded "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" for the funeral. Then the whole family got after him, too. (Associated Press)

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Entertainment, art, and media:

  1. Liberal Christians look to conservatives | At Berkeley theology school, evangelicals advise on using media (San Francisco Chronicle)

  2. Event signals boom in media | Faith-based business is big business. That much was clear from a day at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention (The Dallas Morning News)

  3. Gamers' good news | Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition: Christians are finally getting a high-caliber shoot-'em-up videogame of their own (Newsweek)

  4. Christian groups plan Springer pickets in Glasgow | Christian groups are to picket a Glasgow playhouse and urge theatregoers to boycott Jerry Springer: The Opera which begins a week-long run next week (The Herald, Glasgow)

  5. Loud and clear, an outlet for churches, immigrants | Nearly all of the air time on two new stations will be leased to religious organizations, most of them Hispanic churches, but also some Brazilian and African-American groups (The Boston Globe)

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  1. Power, maturity steer Christian movement | Muted Brokeback Mountain reaction shatters other stereotypes (Michael Medved, USA Today)

  2. Crowds throng to Damien Hirst opening | "The Death of God," the result of Hirst's three-month stay in Mexico, includes human skeletons, animals preserved in formaldehyde and skinned lambs, propped up as if praying or splayed upon crucifixes (Associated Press)

  3. Errors of faith: The urban, liberal media meet religion | In boardrooms, newsrooms and at dinner parties in the big cities, you can be gay, disabled or an immigrant, and you'll be welcomed in the spirit of diversity—as you should be. But mention you're a Pentecostal or a Mormon and you risk getting funny looks. (Leonard Stern, Ottawa Citizen)

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Roadside crosses:

  1. Display erected along U.S. 41 on north side of Terre Haute | Some say cross an "eyesore" (Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind.)

  2. UHP memorial crosses in the cross hairs | Professor agrees with atheists that 'religious symbols' should not be on public land (The Salt Lake Tribune, Ut.)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. Heavens, Asia's going Christian | Singapore is one of the fastest-growing Christian communities in Asia, along with Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. (Michael Vatikiotis, Asia Times)

  2. 1 cafe, 1 gas station, 2 roads: America's emptiest county | At last count, 16 people make Mentone, Tex., their home and 55 more are spread throughout the rest of Loving County (The New York Times)

  3. The march of the Mormons | The Latter-day Saints are on the rise in the US, and a Republican named Mitt Romney has hopes of becoming the first Mormon president. But the church has one serious image problem: polygamy. Which is why HBO's new drama, about a man with three wives, is stirring up controversy (The Guardian, London)

  4. Miraculous metal? | Hardware store workers say piece of sheet metal shows face of Jesus (Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Ct.)

  5. Atheist Packer buried by Anglican | Kerry Packer may have been an avowed atheist but he was buried by one of the nation's most powerful church leaders (The Australian)

  6. Inside Scientology | Unlocking the complex code of America's most mysterious religion (Rolling Stone)

  7. Study: Few Americans know First Amendment | Only one in four Americans can name more than one of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. Just one in 1,000 can name all five (Associated Press)

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Related Elsewhere:

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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