Today's Top Five

1. University of Wisconsin allows RAs to lead Bible studies
Last July, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire told resident assistant Lance Steiger that he would face disciplinary action if he continued to lead a Campus Crusade for Christ Bible study in his dorm basement. The argument was that RAs are state employees, and allowing them to promote a specific faith in such a position would unconstitutionally establish religion. The policy was suspended after Steiger sued the school, and a new policy would allow RAs to "participate in, organize, and lead any meetings or other activities" to the same extent as other students. "However," the policy states, "they may not use their positions to inappropriately influence, pressure, or coerce student residents to attend or participate." The policy now goes to the University of Wisconsin board of regents for approval.

2. 'In God We Trust' chair no longer has to trust in God
The University of Charleston (W.V.) is looking for a professor to fill its Herchiel and Elizabeth Sims "In God We Trust" Chair in Ethics. The school's original ad at the Chronicle of Higher Education listed the necessary qualifications: an earned doctorate and expertise in ethics, experience in faculty development, and "a belief in God and present moral and ethical values from a God-centered perspective." When critics objected that this requirement apparently violated the Civil Rights Act's bar on religious discrimination, the university changed the ad. It now says candidates "must have the ability to teach moral and ethical values from a God-centered perspective."

3. Evangelicals are keeping America international, some say
"Even as many in Washington trumpet the return of realism to US foreign policy and the decline of the neoconservative hawks, the staying power of the evangelicals is likely to blunt what might otherwise have been a steep decline in Wilsonian ideals," The Christian Science Monitor reports in a must-read article. The basic argument is that evangelicals' passion for global issues is preventing America from becoming isolationist. Are evangelicals, whom New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof called the "new internationalists" now America's dominant internationalists? It's an interesting theory that deserves more discussion. Let's hope some academic journals and other news outlets investigate this idea further.

4. Fearing Hillsong's long shadow
Australia has been having a debate on religion and politics that in many ways mirrors and mimics the discussion in the U.S. But one part of the Australian debate is unique: the discussion is dominated by one church. You may not know Hillsong, but you've almost certainly sung the church's music. The latest wrinkle in the Hillsong-and-national-politics debate is the recent revocation of federal funds for the church's aid programs amid accusations of financial mismanagement. The church denies the accusations. And now some members of Australia's Labor party are worried that the church will use its influence to retaliate against its critics in Parliament.

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5. Dobson reads Alito note on air
The biggest non-story of the day is the thank-you note that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito sent to Focus on the Family host James Dobson for his "help and support during the past few challenging months." Groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Alliance for Justice are suggesting that the note proves Alito is a tool of the religious right. Dobson sees the letter as evidence of his listeners' influence. Alito's note, however, suggests he's mostly grateful for people praying for him. Sometimes a thank-you note is just a thank-you note.

Quote of the day:
"This commission believes that, beyond any reasonable doubt, the leadership of the USSR took the initiative to eliminate the pope."

—Italian Senator Senator Paolo Guzzanti, head of an parliamentary commission investigating the 1981 shooting of Pope John Paul II. The successor to the KGB called the report, which marks the first time the accusation has been made by an official government body, "completely absurd."

More articles

U. Wis. allows RA Bible study | Higher education | Education | Lent | Church life | Missions & ministry | Immigration | Abortion | Life ethics | Politics | Government prayers | Church and state | Religious freedom | Nigeria riots | Crime | Abuse | Sexual ethics | Spirituality | Books | Media and entertainment | Dobson reads Alito thank-you note | Pat Robertson | People

U. Wis. allows RA Bible study:

  1. Policy allows dorms RA's Bible study | A student who supervises student housing in the University of Wisconsin System has the same rights as the students being supervised (Wisconsin State Journal)

  2. UW closer to allowing RA-led Bible studies | Regents to vote on proposal springing from UW-Eau Claire debate (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

  3. Wisconsin's battle of the Bible | University moves to allow R.A.'s to hold religious meeting in dorm rooms. (Inside Higher Ed)

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Higher education:

  1. Charleston ends illegal job requirement | West Virginia institution says it erred in requiring applicants for endowed chair to believe in God (Inside Higher Ed)

  2. Abortion rights group causes stir at Boston College | Officials balk at student event (The Boston Globe)

  3. The right-wing debate champs | These guys often have to argue from the opposite ideological side, and in doing so, must master, for example, pro-choice arguments. This is, to say the least, pretty scary. The right is already better at resonating with the public in a visceral, emotional way; our advantage is that we're the logical ones (The Nation)

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  1. Pupils' Ash Wednesday absence unexcused | Bakersfield City School District does not excuse absences due to religious holidays—a policy some parents say is unreasonable and unfair. Both her children now have unexcused absences (The Bakersfield Californian)

  2. Appeal planned in classroom poster case | Last week, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith rejected arguments that York County school officials deprived Lee of his First Amendment rights when they ordered him to remove the materials at the start of the 2004-2005 school year (Associated Press)

  3. Text controversy heats up | A one-act drama unfolded on live television as a Cheshire pastor demanded answers about the world religions portion of a seventh-grade course being taught at Dodd Middle School (The Cheshire Herald, Ct.)

  4. Home-schooling grows quickly in United States | Nobody is quite sure exactly how many American children are being taught at home, but there is no disagreement about the explosive growth of the movement (Reuters)

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  1. Returning to the rituals | Some evangelical churches are exploring high liturgy (The Baltimore Sun)

  2. Fasting practiced by many of the world's religions | Purposely scaling back meals and drinks often is done for mental, physical and spiritual reasons across religious traditions, from practitioners of earth-based spirituality to evangelical Christians (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  3. For St. Patrick's new rector, an old rite: Making crosses of ash | The Rev. Robert T. Richie, who was just appointed rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, began a busy season in the Catholic calendar with Ash Wednesday (The New York Times)

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Church life:

  1. Religion Today: Katrina's diaspora | With many in his flock not planning to move back, Bishop Paul Morton decided to come to them. He's opened a permanent church in suburban Atlanta to serve the spiritual needs of those who have found a new life hundreds of miles from their once-flooded homes (Associated Press)

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  1. Southern Baptists weigh mission takeover | The Southern Baptist Convention is weighing a proposal to bring the Woman's Missionary Union, the world's largest Protestant missionary group for women, under the control of the denomination. Critics say the move would reinforce the conservatism and male dominance of the SBC (Associated Press)

  2. Divided Uniting Church battling against extinction | Some Sydney Uniting Church congregations are said to be living off the "last gasps" of the Billy Graham crusades and the Sunday School movement and could be all but extinct in a single generation (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  3. Touchy-feely' Sentamu: the backlash begins | Traditionalists within the Church have criticised a PR stunt in which the archbishop was photographed praying at a Sikh temple in Leeds (The Independent, London)

  4. Biotech campus could alter church culture | First Presbyterian Church is trying to reach the changing community in the area (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  5. Religious group to buy Concord church | Archdiocese will keep medallions (The Boston Globe)

  6. Sex scandal rocks CPA church | Pastor accused of sleeping with member's wife (Daily Independent, Nigeria)

  7. Some pastors use witchcraft to collect money from people, says Akin-John | President of International Church Growth Ministries talks about Nigerian Christianity (Daily Independent, Nigeria)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Churches still await Katrina aid | Bush-Clinton fund criticized for delay in allocating $20 million (The Washington Post)

  2. Human services groups gather for funding advice | Md. governor hosts statewide summit (The Washington Post)

  3. His pulpit comes with pedals | A bicyclist gives away Bibles and spreads his message along the roads of Central Florida (The Orlando Sentinel)

  4. A minister walks into the bar … | Justin Wise takes his ministry out to the clubs (Des Moines Register, Ia.)

  5. Conference targets men's spirituality | Getting men into church on Sunday is a task that can challenge even the most dynamic congregation, said Brian Doyle, director of men's ministries for Vision New England, an evangelical Christian ministry (Hartford Courant, Ct.)

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  1. Mahony's Lenten message irritates some at service | Stepping up his campaign for humane immigration reform, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony urged his Roman Catholic flock at a packed Ash Wednesday service to "make room in our hearts" for immigrants, but his message drew mixed reviews (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Cardinal vows to defy anti-immigrant bill | When asked if he would be willing to go to jail for the stance, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said "yes" because "helping people in need were actions that are part of God's mercy (Associated Press)

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  1. Abortion foes split on tactics | After years of chipping away at Roe, they weigh S. Dakota's frontal assault (The Christian Science Monitor)

  2. Bill to tackle crime of abortion | The Victorian Parliament could have a conscience vote on the decriminalization of abortion in the lead-up to this year's state election (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  3. $100,000 award after failed abortion | A Melbourne woman has been awarded $100,000 towards the cost of raising a child she originally tried to abort (AAP, Australia)

  4. Abortion clinics banned from hotline | Professional counselors with links to abortion clinics will be barred from claiming a new taxpayer-funded subsidy to counsel pregnant women about their options (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  5. Also: Mixed response to $51m pregnancy hotline | The Federal Government's $51 million pregnancy support counselling scheme has been hailed by anti-abortion groups, but has drawn a cool response from doctors and others caring for women with unwanted pregnancies and abused children (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  6. Safe, legal, and remorseless | Why are Democrats calling abortion bad? Real "pro-choicers" want to know (George Neumayr, National Review Online)

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Life ethics:

  1. Paralysed baby's life is in hands of judge | The High Court will be asked at a private hearing today to allow a paralysed 17-month-old baby to die (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Korean cloning expert questioned | South Korean prosecutors have begun questioning disgraced cloning expert Hwang Woo-suk and three members of his research team in the capital, Seoul (BBC)

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  1. Evangelized foreign policy? | Even as many in Washington trumpet the return of realism to US foreign policy and the decline of the neoconservative hawks, the staying power of the evangelicals is likely to blunt what might otherwise have been a steep decline in Wilsonian ideals (The Christian Science Monitor)

  2. Does God want you to protect the Earth? | Some evangelicals say caring for environment is a moral imperative (The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, Ca.)

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Government prayers:

  1. Bid to lift prayer ban in House fails | A federal appeals panel on Wednesday rejected a bid to put on hold a judge's ban on sectarian prayer in the Indiana House of Representatives (The Indianapolis Star)

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  1. Indian River insists on expounding Christian faith in public forums | Keep religion in houses of worship and stop bringing it into public chambers (Editorial, The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.)

  2. PM wants to retain parliamentary prayers | Prime Minister John Howard has dismissed as absurd a bid by minor parties to have prayers dropped from parliamentary proceedings (AAP, Australia)

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Church and state:

  1. ALP fears Hillsong reprisals | Sections of the Labor party are moving to placate Hillsong Church, fearing attacks over funding scandals could result in political retaliation from the evangelical church (The Australian)

  2. Also: Hillsong stripped of more funding | Hillsong Church's benevolent arm has parted with its third source of federal funds in a month, amid allegations the organisation misused millions of dollars in grants intended for Aboriginal communities (The Australian)

  3. On a mission from God | Pizza billionaire Tom Monaghan is pouring $400 million into creating a Catholic town in Florida And that means no birth control, no X-rated movies — and lots of controversy (Toronto Star)

  4. Air Force got it right first time | Religious rules now too broad (Editorial, Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

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Religious freedom:

  1. Chinese police detain 36 in raid on school | A U.S.-based group reported that Chinese police on Wednesday raided a bible school run by an underground Protestant church, detaining 36 people amid a crackdown on Christians worshipping outside Communist Party control (Associated Press)

  2. Christians in Rajasthan demand security | Christian leaders in Rajasthan have urged the government to provide security to the community in the wake of an increase in cases of violence and vandalism at churches and educational institutions (IANS, India)

  3. Also: Rajasthan to adopt anti-conversion law | State government is led by nationalist BJP. Catholics oppose the bill but local authorities turn a deaf ear to their appeals. With this law, the government is giving its tacit approval to anti-Christian violence, says bishop of Jaipur (AsiaNews, Catholic site)

  4. Christians protest church arson | Christians in Pakistan said special prayers and protested on Wednesday, against unidentified people who set a United Presbyterian Church on fire at Basti Noori in Sargodha on Tuesday (Daily Times, Pakistan)

  5. Missouri man sues over firing, claiming religious discrimination | A former QuikTrip store manager has sued the company, claiming that he was fired because his religious beliefs required him to refuse to be fingerprinted (Associated Press)

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Nigeria riots:

  1. Business resumes in Maiduguri | Business operations have resumed in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, after the mayhem unleashed on the christian population by alleged Muslim fanatics (Daily Champion, Nigeria)

  2. Mu'azu orders arrest of 13 over Bauchi unrest | Governor Adamu Mu'azu of Bauchi State has ordered the arrest of 13 people who were involved in the religious crisis that recently engulfed the state (This Day, Nigeria)

  3. Muslim group condemns killing of Christians | The Supreme Council for Shari'ah in Nigeria, a Muslim Consultative Assembly of Islamic organisations, rose from a meeting in Kaduna yesterday, and condemned the killing of Christians and destruction of Churches in Maiduguri and Bauchi (This Day, Nigeria)

  4. Killing under false pretences | Where are the true Muslims in Nigeria? Why is nobody speaking out to condemn these heinous crimes against humanity and great sins against God all these years? (Samuel Bayo Arowolaju, Daily Champion, Nigeria)

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  1. Italian Panel: Soviets behind pope attack | An Italian parliamentary commission concluded "beyond any reasonable doubt" that the Soviet Union was behind the 1981 attempt to kill Pope John Paul II — a theory long alleged but never proved, according to a draft report made available Thursday (Associated Press)

  2. Officials clear 400 of 700 arson leads | Investigators have cleared about 400 of 700 leads received in 10 Alabama church arsons, and the man leading the probe said Thursday the team of 60 investigators is in a position to catch the culprits (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  3. Ex-fiance sentenced in killing | A man who was convicted of abducting his ex-fiancee from a Sheraden church and killing her in 2004 was sentenced to life in prison yesterday (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  4. Also: Starks gets life for church kidnap, killing | A Sheraden man who kidnapped his ex-girlfriend from a church and killed her on the Pennsylvania Turnpike was sentenced today to life in prison plus 19 to 38 years (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

  5. Rev. Coonan charged with domestic assaults | The pastor of St. John's Church in Worcester, who was placed on administrative leave in 2002, was arrested Tuesday and arraigned yesterday on charges that he assaulted his mother and sister at their Oxford home (Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Mass.)

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  1. Parishioners ask O'Malley to clear pastor | Participation in church drops (The Boston Globe)

  2. Past can present a future | Amid all the negative, Randy "Duke" Cunningham still can take some positive, responsible steps (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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  1. Chaput to flock: hit back | Archbishop claims pending abuse laws a 'systematic' attack (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  2. Anglican sex abuse rules 'not working' | National rules governing the behaviour of priests and lay preachers—introduced by the Anglican Church following controversy over its handling of sexual abuse claims—are not working properly (The Advertiser, Adelaide, Australia)

  3. West Side priest puts in plea of not guilty | Cleric is charged in 3 molestations (Chicago Tribune)

  4. Also: Chicago priest pleads not guilty in abuse | The Rev. Daniel McCormack is charged with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse between September 2001 and January 2005 (Associated Press)

  5. Letter chastises cardinal on abuse case | A psychologist chosen by America's Roman Catholic bishops to address them about the clergy sex-abuse crisis when it erupted four years ago sent a scathing letter to Cardinal Francis George this week, suggesting he might be considered "an accessory to soul murder" for letting Rev. Daniel McCormack remain in ministry after being accused of abuse (Chicago Tribune)

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Sexual ethics:

  1. Minister challenges church law | Presbyterian pastor on trial for officiating same-sex weddings (San Francisco Chronicle)

  2. Also: Minister faces reprimand for marrying gays | A Presbyterian minister accused of marrying two lesbian couples in violation of the faith's position that marriage is between a man and a woman could face a reprimand or be forced to leave the ministry after more than 30 years (Associated Press)

  3. Seven quit Catholic Charities over policy of bishops | Deplore effort to exclude same-sex adoptions (The Boston Globe)

  4. Kirk 'preparing way for civil partnerships for ministers' | A Church of Scotland report on the implications of the civil partnership laws is preparing the way for openly homosexual ministers to enter into such a union and continue their calling, it has been claimed (The Herald, Glasgow)

  5. Where prostitutes also fight AIDS | Brazil's sex workers hand out condoms, crossing U.S. ideological line (The Washington Post)

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  1. Rebels with a cross | The new counterculture is a Christian movement with music, clothes, and alternative churches of its own (The New York Times)

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  1. Driven by faith, playing with passion | For Herndon's Reynolds, family, religion are the ties that bind (The Washington Post)

  2. God, the biggest joke of all | Linda Smith who died on Monday is to have a humanist funeral. Cahal Milmo finds out why the comedian spent her final years promoting a movement that counts most of us as unwitting members (The Independent, London)

  3. Blessing to go to highest bidder | Oak Cliff: Tree with Virgin Mary likeness listed on eBay (The Dallas Morning News)

  4. Also: Virgin Mary tree up for sale | Crowds as large as 500 people have mingled around a tree where they see an image of the Virgin Mary, and the throngs could increase during Lent (KXAS, Dallas)

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  1. Harvard-bound? Chin up | Read Reinhold Niebuhr. Religion is a crucial driving force of this century, and Niebuhr is the wisest guide (David Brooks, The New York Times, sub. req'd.)

  2. Roots | Europe's salvation. Maximilian Pakaluk reviews Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Marcello Pera (National Review Online)

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Media and entertainment:

  1. Religious broadcasters fear lost viewership under pay-by-channel idea | The idea of paying for only the cable channels they want might have strong appeal for consumers, but to religious programmers, the prospect seems just short of apocalyptic (The Virginian-Pilot)

  2. Praise the Lord and pass the joystick | The makers of "Left Behind: Eternal Forces," a game that contains biblical messages and lessons, hope to convert non-Christians into fanatical players (The New York Times)

  3. Honors, praise for gospel's longtime music masters | Long before Donnie McClurkin, Kelly Price and other hot-selling gospel artists recorded their popular tracks, Shirley Berkley directed choirs with the Rev. James Cleveland, and Myrna Summers recorded hits such as "Uncloudy Day." (The Washington Post)

  4. Teacher's Sudan film mixes despair, hope | Movie about genocide also points out how individuals can help (Chicago Tribune)

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Dobson reads Alito thank-you note:

  1. Dobson says Alito sent thank-you note | Alito wrote that "the prayers of so many people from around the country were a palpable and powerful force. As long as I serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep in mind the trust that has been placed in me," Dobson said on his radio broadcast (Associated Press)

  2. Alito's note to Dobson debated | What Sen. Wayne Allard considers "nice manners" has prompted debate about the proper correspondence between a Supreme Court justice and a politically influential conservative Christian leader (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

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  1. Alito thanks Focus for support | New Supreme Court justice sends letter to group founder James Dobson. A critic says Alito's letter suggests he is pursuing a right-wing agenda, but other observers disagree (The Denver Post)

  2. Alito's note to evangelist is called just thanks | Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. note pledged that "as long as I serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep in mind the trust that has been placed in me" (The New York Times)

  3. Alito thanks Focus | New Justice is also thankful for prayers from around the country (Family News in Focus, Focus on the Family)

  4. Issues update: March 2006 | Dr. Dobson and his guests discuss a variety of current issues including the South Dakota abortion ban and an Air Force decision allowing greater freedom of religious expression for its chaplains (Focus on the Family, audio)

  5. Transcript: Thanks from Alito (via The Washington Post)

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Pat Robertson:

  1. Pat Robertson: Raked over the coals while raking in the dough | Robertson's unique commentaries may be costing him the respect of longtime colleagues, but his Operation Blessing is receiving serious faith-based money from the Bush Administration (Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange)

  2. Pat Robertson not re-elected to broadcasters' board | He's a pioneer and heavyweight in evangelical television, but Pat Robertson lost re-election to the National Religious Broadcasters' board of directors last month (The Virginian-Pilot)

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  1. Hagee, Falwell deny endorsing 'dual covenant' | Pastors John Hagee and Jerry Falwell have both denied a report in The Jerusalem Post earlier this week that they embrace the "dual covenant" theology, which holds that Jews are saved through a special relationship with God and so need not become Christians to get to heaven (The Jerusalem Post)

  2. Henry M. Morris, 'father of modern creation science,' dies at 87 | Morris was a staunch "young Earth" creationist who believed with unbending certainty that the Earth was less than 10,000 years old and was made in six 24-hour days (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  3. Pastor addressed in King's jail letter dies | One of moderate white clergy who welcomed rights activists to church, suffered harassment (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
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Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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