This is the second Weblog we've posted today. The earlier one has bigger stories.
1. Melissa Berels: An American martyr
From The Detroit Press:
Melissa Berels was a devout Christian who spent her work breaks on a phone chat line, likely spreading the word of her faith, police said.
Patrick Selepak has confessed he was one of the people in spiritual peril on the other end of one of those calls, New Baltimore Detective Ken Stevens said Thursday.
"We knew that she talked to people all the time and was very involved in the church and trying to get the message out," Stevens said.
It was those brief conversations from inside V.G.'s Food Center in New Baltimore that probably led to Selepak's visits there, police said. Now Selepak is accused of killing Berels, who was 10 weeks pregnant, and her husband, Scott Berels, on Feb. 15. Police discovered their bodies wrapped and bound in plastic and stashed under a tarp in a bedroom of the couple's home in New Baltimore.
Expect to hear more about Berels and her faith as Selepak and Bachynski's trial continues.
2. Christian college applications spike
"Applications have jumped between 8 percent and 10 percent at the 238 colleges that belong to the North American Association of Christian Admissions Professionals," Religion News Service reports. "More applications mean more students on campuses next fall and that's good news since 25 percent of those schools are barely breaking even financially. Enrollment has increased 70 percent since 1990, from 135,000 to 230,000, at the 102 evangelical schools belonging to the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities."
3. Catholic Charities of Boston quits adoption business
If providing adoption services requires placing children in sexually disordered homes, the Boston Archdiocese said, then we're not interested. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco told The Boston Globe that it's reconsidering its practice of allowing gays to adopt children through its Catholic Charities arm, especially now that San Francisco's former archbishop William Levada, now head of the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is reiterating Vatican policy on the matter.
4. Handicapping the Santorum-Casey race
"Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the Republican Party's most vulnerable incumbent, trails state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. by 10 to 15 percentage points, but the race will tighten when Democrats learn more about Mr. Casey's pro-life views, pollsters and campaign advisers said yesterday." That ludicrous lead is in today's Washington Times. Does anyone who knows enough to have an opinion in that race know anything about Casey other than that he's pro-life? What the Times really means is that if a third-party candidate who supports abortion enters the race, Casey could face trouble. No kidding. And if a Republican were to enter the race either as a pro-life or a pro-choice candidate, Santorum would probably face additional problems. But so far party leaders have done everything they can to keep others out of the race.
Quote of the day:
"Anti-abortion advocates? Bring 'em on, Texan says"
Headline in today's New York Times, over a story about the new president of Planned Parenthood of America, wherein Cecile Richards never says "Bring 'em on" or compares pro-lifers to Iraqi militants, as the headline suggests.
Ala. church bombings | Crime | Abuse | Abortion | Life ethics | Politics | Climate change initiative | Faith-based initiative | Religion & homosexuality | Church & state | Boy Scouts | Education | Charity | Catholicism | Inmate priest to be paroled | St. Patrick's Day | Church life | Uganda church collapse | Missions & ministry | Grahams in New Orleans | Sudan | Books | More articles of interest
- At college, moral obligations are felt on church burnings | Birmingham-Southern College's students and administrators struggled to come to terms with the arrests of two sophomores in the burning of nine rural churches last month (The New York Times)
- Neighbors are at a loss over students' arson arrest | 'This is so out of the bounds of what we deal with here,' says one Alabama professor (Los Angeles Times)
- Victim was trying to convert suspect | New Baltimore slaying began on chat line, cops say (Detroit Free Press)
- Judge lets stand larceny charges against Manhattan priest | A judge on Thursday refused to drop grand larceny and other charges filed against a Roman Catholic priest who is accused of stealing more than a $1 million from his parish (Associated Press)
- Church vandal attack 'was racist' | A Catholic church in east Belfast has been targeted by vandals who daubed racist slogans (BBC)
- Arbitrator to decide awards in Boston church abuse cases | A second group of plaintiffs who say they were abused by priests in Boston has reached a settlement with the archdiocese (The New York Times)
- Md. urged to widen window for sex abuse suits | Under the state's current law, a victim of child sexual abuse has seven years after reaching 18 to file a civil suit against his or her abuser (The Washington Post)
- 88 victims accept offer from church | Arbitrator will decide awards in abuse cases (The Boston Globe)
- Anti-abortion advocates? Bring 'em on, Texan says | Cecile Richards is the new and instantly embattled president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (The New York Times)
- In South Dakota, at least the pretense is finally over | There's no such thing as common ground on abortion (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)
- 'Morning after' pill bill defeated | No immunity for druggists who refuse (The Concord Monitor, N.H.)
- Nurse of the Year is the target of anti-abortion hate campaign | Militants accuse her of being a cold-hearted baby murderer (The Times, London)
- Senate approves stem-cell legislation | The Maryland Senate passed a stem-cell research bill yesterday that would allow for the use of embryos and adult stem cells, leaving House lawmakers to accept it or push for embryonic research only, which could kill the legislation (The Washington Times)
- Stem cell proposal divides Mo. Republicans | A ballot proposal promoting embryonic stem cell research is turning conservatives against each other and threatening to tear apart Missouri's Republican Party at the very height of its modern-day influence (Associated Press)
- Senate passes stem cell bill | Lawmakers must reconcile differences with House proposal (The Baltimore Sun)
- Lead projected to slip for pro-life Democrat | Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the Republican Party's most vulnerable incumbent, trails state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. by 10 to 15 percentage points, but the race will tighten when Democrats learn more about Mr. Casey's pro-life views, pollsters and campaign advisers said yesterday (The Washington Times)
- The sorry state of politics today | I am not sure that I have ever seen anything quite this vicious since the McCarthy era (Charles Colson, Breakpoint)
- The twisted religion of Blair and Bush | Religious fundamentalism has often been used to justify extreme political ideologies. Currently both sides of the war on terror legitimate their actions by perverted theological reasoning. (Phillip Blond and Adrian Pabst, International Herald Tribune)
- Who is the enemy in the "War on Christianity?" | The putative War on Christianity looks a lot more like disagreements between Christians (Jeffrey Weiss, The Dallas Morning News)
- Black clergy's silence hurts gays | The Republican Party continues to use the issue of gay marriage as an inroad to garner the support of black ministers and black voters (Yolanda Young, USA Today)
- God's green earth: Evangelicals set ecological goals | The ecological initiative creates an odd alliance between the goals of evangelical Christians, who are often conservative in their political views, and traditional environmentalists, who tend to bend toward the left (The Dallas Morning News)
- A warm welcome | Scientists should embrace a move by evangelicals to join the debate on climate change (Editorial, Nature)
- Bush urges more money for religious charities | President Bush said corporate foundations should give more to social programs run by churches, synagogues and mosques (The New York Times)
- Bush touts grants to religious charities | President Bush said yesterday that the federal government gave more than $2.1 billion in grants to religious charities last year -- a 7 percent increase from the prior year and proof, he said, that his administration has made it easier for faith-based groups to obtain taxpayer funds (The Washington Post)
- Federal faith-based funding rose sharply in fiscal 2005 | Two days after creating a faith-based office in the Department of Homeland Security, the White House released a report showing that more than 10 percent of grants from federal agencies with faith-based offices went to religious charities (The Washington Times)
- Faith-based programs flourishing, Bush says | Five years after Bush introduced the idea, the grants are routine and have quietly increased to the point where groups affiliated with churches, synagogues, mosques or other faith communities now receive more than $2.1 billion a year from the federal government, or about 11% of the $19.7 billion awarded last year to community groups (USA Today)
- Boston Catholic Charities halts adoptions | The Boston Archdiocese's Catholic Charities said Friday it would stop providing adoption services because of a state law allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children (Associated Press)
- Also: Calif. archdiocese to reconsider its adoption policy | Its ex-leader calls for gay parent ban (The Boston Globe)
- Md. lawmakers reject impeachment of judge | The Maryland House has rejected a call to impeach a Baltimore judge who recently ruled in favor of gay marriage (Associated Press)
- Exporting homophobia | The Bush administration's anti-gay rights policies are maddening in the United States, but their implications abroad are much more devastating (Nicole Makris, AlterNet)
- Gay activists arrested at Va. university | More than 20 gay rights activists were arrested on trespassing charges Friday as they tried to step onto the campus of Liberty University, the school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell (Associated Press)
- Plaintiffs say Air Force recruiters told to use religion as tool | A vocal critic of Pentagon policies on religion in the ranks filed court papers Thursday alleging that an Air Force recruiter in New Mexico was asked "to use Jesus Christ as a recruiting tool" (USA Today)
- Military ban on evangelism already exists | Precedent for Air Force suit used for 6 years in Mideast (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)
- Keep them separate | The country doesn't need the Missouri House to officially recognize its Christian roots. The full House should respect the separation of church and state and quickly put the resolution aside (Editorial, Kansas City Star)
- Montana church found to have violated state campaign restrictions | East Helena Baptist Church violated Montana campaign finance and practices laws and regulations by its activities in support of a 2004 ballot measure prohibiting gay marriage (Religion Clause)
- Refusal to subsidize scouting is upheld | Nonprofit groups such as the Boy Scouts that refuse to comply with an anti-bias policy can be denied government support, justices rule (Los Angeles Times)
- Berkeley wins Boy Scouts-marina case | The city of Berkeley can charge marina fees to youth sailors connected with the Boy Scouts of America in response to the Scouts' discriminatory policies, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday (Associated Press)
- Record numbers flocking to Christian colleges | Growth lets schools be more selective, curb tuition hikes (Religion News Service)
- Nonaccredited recruits face new scrutiny | A slam-dunk admission may soon become a rejection (The New York Times)
- Notre Dame clears priest of plagiarism | The University of Notre Dame has dismissed a plagiarism complaint lodged against a well-known liberal theologian by a conservative Roman Catholic group (Associated Press)
- House says no to vouchers | Opponents said bill hurt education (The Concord Monitor, N.H.)
- School ruling has familiar ring for some | Veterans of funding wars have seen it before (The Concord Monitor, N.H.)
- Creationism to be taught on GCSE science syllabus | Exam board is accused of confusing pupils by including religion (The Times, London)
- Join up, repent, get a free showbag | Welcome to the religious marketplace, where Jesus, Muhammad and the Buddha vie for the attention of the latest crop of undergraduates (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Teacher seeks new job after 'Faust' flap | Despite support, educator sees no future in Bennett (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
- Earlier: Teacher who showed 'Faust' video awaits her fate (Rocky Mountain News, Feb. 22)
- Poll: Religious history belongs in textbooks | To understand the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and Colonial America, you have to look at both religion and history. But does religious history belong in textbooks in the public school classroom? (The Bristol Press, Ct.)
- Marquette bans feminist play | University calls it too distracting; critics say move limits free speech (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- O.C. foundation giving its all | The Harry and Grace Steele fund, supporter of the Performing Arts Center, Hoag hospital and much more, is down to its last dollars. It has given to both abortion groups and Christian ones (Los Angeles Times)
- Many nonprofit leaders ready to quit | Three-quarters of charity CEO's are so fed up with their jobs that they plan to quit within the next five years, according to a new survey (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)
- Catholic leader objects to new cardinal | A leader of China's state-controlled Catholic church said Friday he suspected the Vatican appointed an anti-communist Hong Kong bishop to be cardinal because the pope wanted to play a role in the Communist Party's demise (Associated Press)
- Mahony vs. Olivares | The cardinal finally matched the priest's compassionate example. But survival, not grace, is the reason why (Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times)
- Bravo, Cardinal. And about that pope of Hollywood tag
| I may have to revise my somewhat irreverent description of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony as the pope of Hollywood in light of his sudden, and powerful, realization that immigrants are people too (Al Martinez, Los Angeles Times)
- Calif. Gov. to parole killer turned priest | Schwarzenegger rejected parole for James Tramel a year ago (Associated Press)
- Inmate who became a priest is paroled by Gov. | The freeing of convicted murderer James Tramel is a turnabout for Schwarzenegger (Los Angeles Times)
- Bishops okay meat for St. Pat's | Roman Catholic bishops in North Jersey have given their okay for Catholics to eat meat on St. Patrick's Day, which occurs next Friday during the holy period of Lent (The Record, N.J.)
- Corned beef gets green light | Catholics in Fairfield County may indulge in the traditional corned beef on St. Patrick's Day even though it falls on a Lenten Friday, when they are supposed to abstain from eating meat. (The Stamford Advocate, Ct.)
- Putting St. Patrick back into his day | Often, the man of honor gets lost. At its core, the holiday is a holy recognition of St. Patrick's commitment to spreading Christianity throughout Ireland (Newhouse News Service)
- Battle for St Patrick | The patron saint of Ireland, once an exclusively Catholic icon, is the subject of some rivalry for ownership between the Protestant and Catholic communities. But his adoption by both sides could have a cohesive effect, as his image becomes an increasingly secular symbol (The Tablet, U.K.)
- brothers, where art thou? | The absence of single men is emerging as one of the key trends in Christian dating. Here's the problem through the eyes of two expert observersand some suggestions for fixing it (Camerin Courtney and Todd Hertz, Today's Christian, a Christianity Today sister publication)
- Churches get in groove with jazz | Services become toe-tapping, knee-slapping experiences as hymns are spiced up with rhythmic riffs--and worshipers add their `Amens!' (Chicago Tribune)
- It's not always hip to be holy | Young evangelicals know that being holy doesn't always mean being hip with peers (The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)
- Today, blasphemy is harder to define | We don't really talk much about blasphemy, or its cousin, sacrilege, anymore. It kind of sneaks up on us and catches us by surprise when we're not looking (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)
- Pastor ignored KCC directives | The church was an illegal structure without an approved architectural plan, reports revealed yesterday (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)
- Rival pastor blamed for evil spell on church | Residents said there was rivalry between the Pastor of the ill-fated church, Godfrey Luwagga and another pastor (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)
- SMU senior focused on helping women in India | Q&A with Ludia Butts: 'See the things you can change' (The Dallas Morning News)
- Repent America calling | The group was in the Dover area to publicize a seminar on creationism (York Daily Record, Pa.)
- 'I just want people to know that they're loved and they're prayed for' | The Rev. Billy Graham, who is in New Orleans this week with his son Franklin to conduct a two-day crusade, sat down Thursday morning for a brief interview in First Baptist Church, New Orleans (Citizen-Times, Asheville, N.C.)
- Billy Graham urges hope in New Orleans | Though frail in movement, the 87-year-old evangelist spoke with the familiar, clear deep voice with which he has preached to millions around the world the basic gospel message of repenting of sins and turning to Jesus. His message for New Orleans: hope (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)
- Graham shows he hasn't lost his magic | Evangelist shares hope with pastors (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)
- Rescue Darfurnow | Sanctions alone won't stop slaughter (Editorial, The Sacramento Bee, Ca.)
- Darfur's horrors | Can an individual do anything to stop a genocide? Let's hope so, because governments certainly aren't doing much (Trudy Rubin, The Sacramento Bee, Ca.)
- Finding the heart of Jesus amid the many apparent contradictions | Gentle and fierce, kind and rude, human and divine, Jesus of Nazareth is at once the most confounding and consequential figure in Western history. (International Herald Tribune)
- Blessing of Da Vinci date error | Dan Brown's mistake over the Crusades could prove a weapon in his defence against plagiarism (The Times, London)
- Zoegirl grows up | Christian band remains true to itself (The Journal Gazette, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)
- Religious zeal not conducive to progress | All great religions look forward to a better world, driven by their trust in a gracious God and the inquisitive spirit God gives his creation. Religious institutions, on the other hand, tend to look backward to some imaginary golden age and try to preserve that fantasy and the power they derive from it (Steve Gushee, Palm Beach Post, Fla.)
- Satellite sleuth closes in on Noah's Ark mystery | High on Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey, there is a baffling mountainside "anomaly," a feature that one researcher claims may be something of biblical proportions (Space.com/USA Today)
- Tree said to contain religious image staying in Oak Cliff | An Oak Cliff tree that has drawn thousands of visitors because of what many believe is a likeness of the Virgin Mary in its bark has been sold in an online auction. Yet, its former owner now says it's not going anywhere (The Dallas Morning News)
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