Today's Top Five

1. Tom Fox's body discovered
Tom Fox, who had worked as a Quaker youth leader and as a musician in the United States Marine Band before joining the pacifist Christian Peacemaker Teams' efforts in Iraq, was found dead in Baghdad Thursday evening. A group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigades had held him and three other Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) activists hostage since November 26. The three others remain captive.

Not everyone has been sympathetic. Columnist Cal Thomas called the death "doubly tragic … because the likelihood that the presence of Mr. Fox and his colleagues would change the attitude or behavior of their captors was zero to none." He also criticized CPT's theology, noting the group's statement about Fox having "firm opposition to all oppression and the recognition of God in everyone."

"Perhaps if Christian Peacemaker Teams had gone to Iraq during Saddam Hussein's murderous regime, or to China while Mao Tse-tung was slaughtering millions, or to Moscow while Josef Stalin practiced genocide on his people, or to any number of other capitals of carnage, they might be taken more seriously, though under those regimes they might have disappeared much quicker," Thomas wrote. "Was God 'in' these mass murderers, or was it Lucifer?"

In a sense, Fox addressed this question in an item he wrote the day before his abduction. Even our enemies—and there are indeed enemies in this world—bear the image of God, he wrote. And we're called to show them radical love:

Why are we here? If I understand the message of God, his response to that question is that we are to take part in the creation of the Peaceable Realm of God. Again, if I understand the message of God, how we take part in the creation of this realm is to love God with all our heart, our mind, and our strength and to love our neighbors and enemies as we love God and ourselves.

2. Fight over religious adoption exemption grows
The op-ed pages were ablaze over Friday's decision from Catholic Charities in Boston to withdraw from all adoptions because of a new state law requiring it to place children in gay and lesbian homes. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says his staff is drafting a "very narrow" bill to give Catholic Charities an exemption. "They have within their religion the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that children should not be sent into homes without a mother and a father," he said. "We'd like them to be able to be true to their religion." Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey disagrees: "I believe that any institution that wants to provide services that are regulated by the state has to abide by the laws of this state, and our anti-discrimination laws are some of the most important."

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Everyone seems to acknowledge that this isn't just about homosexual sex. "Why, on a matter of public policy, should a religion's practices trump the state's?" The Boston Globe says in an editorial, which calls on Catholics to abandon the archdiocese and form their own social services group. "What if a well-meaning group wanted to discriminate against blacks, or against a religious group such as the Catholic Church? Would Romney file a bill to protect that bias?"

Let's pose the question a different way, says Globe columnist John Garvey. Why not treat sexual orientation the same way we treat gender? "Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act forbids employment discrimination on the basis of gender. It doesn't make an exception for churches. However, courts have interpreted Title VII to exempt churches. This is not surprising. Catholics, Mormons, and certain Orthodox Christians do not ordain women as priests. Orthodox Jews do not ordain women as rabbis. Traditional schools of Islam do not allow women to act as imams. The Constitution would not permit the government to change these church rules even if it wanted to."

The Globe editorial claims that Romney is trying to turn church-state separation "on its head." But it's the Globe that doesn't understand that such separation as articulated in the Constitution and interpreted by the courts means the church's practices really do trump the state's in matters like this. Arguments like those made by Healey would essentially create a state religion, and force organizations to choose between compromising their mission and compromising their message. If you have a Bible that claims that true religion is "to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world," then that's awfully troubling.

"Corporal works of mercy are no less important to the life of the Church than its sacramental ministry," writes Garvey. "Forbidding the Church to perform them is a serious blow to its religious liberty. Why would the government do that?"

3. The New York Times Magazine examines "wrongful birth"
"The practice of terminating specific pregnancies, as opposed to aborting pregnancies so as not to have a child at all, is seldom discussed in its baldest terms. It is also poised to rise," writes Elizabeth Weil in a troubling but important article in this week's New York Times Magazine. "Should it be O.K. to terminate a deaf child? What about a blind one? How mentally retarded is too mentally retarded?" Also poised to rise are wrongful birth lawsuits "if a doctor's poor care leads to the delivery of a child the parents claim they would have chosen to terminate in utero had they known in time of its impaired health." Fear of such malpractice suits may mean that doctors will be more eager to push for selective abortions, but Weil focuses more on the personal. "The moral quandary we find ourselves in pits the ideal of unconditional love of a child against the reality that most of us would prefer not to have that unconditional-love relationship with a certain subset of kids," she writes, noting that she herself had to face the decision on whether to abort her "unborn son," who had been diagnosed with cytomegalovirus.

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4. Billy in the Big Easy
It's your modern Billy Graham template story. The focus on his age and frailty, the assertion that this could be the last time he preaches to an audience like this, the crowds coming down for the altar call. It's awesome, even if there's not much news to report.

5. Pat doesn't like Islam
Pat Robertson shoots his mouth off more frequently than Billy Graham preaches evangelistic sermons, and yet papers around the country keep treating it like news. For some reason, reporters and editors think there's something newsworthy in Robertson disliking the radical Muslims who are calling for the death of those who published Muhammad caricatures. The papers are shocked that he thinks radical Islam is "satanic." The news story here, folks, is that he's actually saying something that most evangelical and Pentecostal Christians agree with for once. Usually it seems he's just saying crazy stuff.

Quote of the day:
"He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians. … [We] never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."

—Matt Stone, creator of South Park, on Scientologist Isaac Hayes quitting the television show. "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," Hayes said. "Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored. … I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices." The show launched with a 1995 cartoon about Jesus fighting Santa Claus.

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More articles

Gay adoptions and Catholic Charities (news) | Gay adoptions and Catholic Charities (opinion) | Homosexuality | Soulforce Equality Ride | Marriage and family | Paternity law | Abortion poll | Abortion | Life ethics | Christian Peacemaker killed | Sudan | War and terrorism | Christianity and Islam | Religious freedom | Church and state | Commandments displays | Other religious displays | IRS and churches | Politics | Claude Allen arrest | Crime | Milwaukee church shooting, one year later | Alabama church fires | Abuse | Catholicism | Ecumenism | Church life | D.C.'s Sunday parking dispute | Uganda church collapse | Missions & ministry | U.K. education | Education | Higher education | Evolution | Museums | History | Books | Da Vinci Code lawsuit | Entertainment and media | Ford boycott | Money and business | Spirituality

Gay adoptions and Catholic Charities (news):

  1. Catholic Charities stuns state, ends adoptions | Gay issue stirred move by agency (The Boston Globe)

  2. Catholic Charities pulls out of adoptions | The recent decision by Catholic Charities of the Boston Archdiocese to stop offering adoption services to avoid placing children with homosexuals is reverberating through child welfare circles and sparking fears that other Catholic Charities agencies may follow suit (The Washington Times)

  3. Romney seeks way out of letting gays adopt | Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has asked his staff to draft a "very narrow" bill that would let Catholic Charities provide adoption services without serving gay couples (Associated Press)

  4. Charities' decision leaves Catholics torn | The decision by Catholic Charities of Boston to abandon adoption work rather than allow adoptions to same-sex couples left a tumultuous wake of misgivings among the city's Catholics, whether they support or oppose the Vatican's ban on adoption by gays (The Boston Globe)

  5. Catholics face moral dilemma over gay adoption | U.S. Catholics, already divided over the Vatican's ban on homosexuals in seminaries, could soon face another polarizing question: should Catholic charities stand together against gay adoption? (Reuters)

  6. Romney shifts tone on gay adoption | Says couples have a 'legitimate interest' (The Boston Globe)

  7. Romney eyes bill exempting religious groups on bias laws | Calling it a matter of ''religious freedom," Governor Mitt Romney said yesterday that he plans to file a bill that would exempt religious organizations from the state's antidiscrimination laws to permit Catholic Charities and other religious groups to refuse to provide adoption services when doing so violates their faith (The Boston Globe)

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  1. Church's rift with Beacon Hill grows | The decision yesterday by the state's largest religious denomination to end its century-old adoption program illustrates a dramatic and intensifying clash between church and state, as Beacon Hill and the Vatican move in opposite directions on a wide variety of social policies, including not only homosexuality, but also abortion, bioethics, and emergency contraception (The Boston Globe)

  2. Workers rush to fill void left by Boston agency's decision | Adoption specialists say the risks for children are real: Foster children could face longer waits in an already backlogged system, and specialists say other agencies will have to scramble to pick up the Catholic Charities' caseload (The Boston Globe)

  3. Adoptions by gays targeted | Catholic Charities seeks policy covering 'contrary' placements (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

Gay adoptions and Catholic Charities (opinion):

  1. Romney's retreat | Governor Romney's moves to the right, as he explores a campaign for national office, have been well noted. But now, if he carries out his intention to file legislation exempting Catholic Charities from state discrimination laws, he will be taking a giant step backward—46 years backward (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  2. Adoption folly catching | It seems foolishness is contagious. First the Catholic bishops in Massachusetts manufactured a controversy where none existed over the placement of needy children with same-sex couples. Now their counterparts in San Francisco are considering the same thing (Editorial, Boston Herald)

  3. Kids take back seat to gay agenda | Catholic Charities made no effort to block same-sex couples from adopting. It asked no one to endorse its belief that homosexual adoption is wrong. It wanted only to go on finding loving parents for troubled children, without having to place any of those children in homes it deemed unsuitable (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)

  4. Why courts are adopting gay parenting | A heads-up to those of you still fretting about the alleged evils of gay marriage: The parade has moved on (Dahlia Lithwick, The Washington Post)

  5. State putting Church out of adoption business | Is our commitment to equality so strong that we are willing to put Catholic Charities out of business because it won't promote an agenda that it views as morally wrong? (John Garvey, The Boston Globe)

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  1. Ignoring children's needs is true immorality | Catholic Charities is throwing the baby out with the bath water (Joyce Kauffman, The Boston Globe)

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  1. California weighs up cost of electing first lesbian bishop | Appointment would defy Anglican moratorium, increasing fears of schism (The Guardian, London)

  2. Also: Election of lesbian bishop 'will cause Church to unravel' | An Anglican clergywoman in a long-term, same-sex relationship is set to become the first lesbian bishop, causing uproar among traditionalists (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Quebec bishops downplay rebel priests | Quebec's Catholic bishops Friday downplayed a recent public outburst of 19 priests against the Vatican's stand on homosexuality, but called for an internal debate on the matter (Associated Press)

  4. Religious group merges with gay rights task force | 1,400 'welcoming' congregations are represented—hopes for 10,000 in 5 years (San Francisco Chronicle)

  5. Being gay, Christian and African | A 32-year-old Kenyan student, angered by a campaign in Cameroon "outing" top personalities for their alleged homosexuality, speaks anonymously to the BBC News website about his struggle to accept his sexuality (BBC)

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Soulforce Equality Ride:

  1. A drive for understanding | Gays, colleges hope tour helps dispel mutual stereotypes (The Washington Post)

  2. Activists arrested | Twenty-four members of the Soulforce Equality Ride, an activist group seeking to discuss homosexual issues at Christian campuses, were arrested Friday when they attempted to enter the Liberty University campus (Lynchburg News & Advance, Va.)

  3. Regent University, police block gay-rights group from campus | Proponents for gay rights challenged Regent University's stance on homosexuality, staying on the sidewalk and off campus Monday in a face-off with dozens of university guards and city police (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va., photos)

  4. Earlier: Event targets Regent's stance on gay students | Regent University says its policies don't bar enrollment of gay students , but a Lynchburg-based gay rights organization will challenge that assertion when it deploys "equality riders" today in Virginia Beach near the campus (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.)

  5. Signs of change | Ten of the 18 schools on Equality Ride's itinerary have agreed to have riders on their campuses and are working with organizers to plan events (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

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  1. Compassion crusader | When Jacob Reitan and 23 others were arrested at the first stop of a gay rights tour, Reitan didn't shrink in the face of intolerance. He has been fearless since he was a child (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  2. One university's response, and students speak out | Quotes on the Equality Ride (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  3. Opponents wrong about Liberty, gays | As a faculty of Liberty University I can say that identifying LU as one of the colleges that bans gay students is faulty because there is nothing in our policies that says they cannot enroll. We are not on a witch hunt here (Will Honeycutt, Lynchburg News & Advance, Va.)

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Marriage and family:

  1. Stealing babies for adoption | With U.S. couples eager to adopt, some infants are abducted and sold in China (The Washington Post)

  2. Mormons don't want to be misunderstood | They're concerned that HBO show could reinforce polygamy myth (The Boston Globe)

  3. Who's afraid of polygamy? | If the specter of legalized polygamy is the best argument against gay marriage, let the wedding bells ring (John Tierney, The New York Times)

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Paternity law:

  1. Unwilling father tests men's rights | A Michigan man who says he was tricked into fatherhood sues to establish a man's right to decide whether to have children in what's being called the Roe vs. Wade for men (Chicago Tribune)

  2. The right to abandon your child | Roe v. Wade and the sexual carnival we've encouraged in this country since have planted the idea that men and women have some sort of constitutional right to enjoy sex without consequences (Mona Charen, The Washington Times)

  3. Mich. paternity law dispute: A weak man, weaker case | Memo to Matthew Dubay: When it comes to sex between a man and woman, the man is — in the parlance of corporate America — a general partner with a minority ownership stake in the outcome of that relationship (DeWayne Wickham, USA Today)

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Abortion poll:

  1. Poll: Americans inconsistent on abortion | A solid majority long have felt that Roe v. Wade should be upheld. Yet most support at least some restrictions on when abortions can be performed. Most think having an abortion should be a personal choice. But they also think it is murder (Associated Press)

  2. Abortion poll glance | Some demographics and details about the AP-Ipsos poll and polling generally on attitudes about abortion (Associated Press)

  3. Abortion poll method | Questions asked, etc. (Associated Press)

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  1. Abortion opponents divided on strategy | South Dakota law is exposing a serious internal divide within the pro-life community about how best to make abortion illegal (Morning Edition, NPR)

  2. Tone shifting in abortion-rights movement | Backers of abortion rights have their own internal disputes over how—or whether—to reframe their message (Morning Edition, NPR)

  3. Black churches urged to battle abortion | A higher rate of blacks undergo the procedure than whites, CDC says (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  4. Pill sharpens abortion division | Although few are affected, 'Plan B' contraceptive for rape victims provokes strong reactions (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  5. Catholic Democrats scolded on abortion | Top U.S. Roman Catholic leaders told Democratic lawmakers that there is no wiggle room in church teaching on abortion and that they are duty-bound to work against "the destruction of unborn human life." (The Washington Post)

  6. Catholic glamour | Democrats need more than a "Statement of Principles" to escape abortion politics (Joseph Bottum, First Things, via The Wall Street Journal)

  7. A warning from South Dakota | South Dakota's law banning most abortions should serve as a warning that the threat to abortion rights has reached a new level (Editorial, The New York Times)

  8. Abortion, from a distance | South Dakota's new ban on abortion simply codifies a worrisome trend (Eyal Press, The New York Times)

  9. Overrule in part, affirm in part | The United States Supreme Court should grant review of South Dakota's prohibition of abortion except to save the mother's life. It should then overrule in part and affirm in part its landmark Roe v. Wade precedent (Bruce Fein, The Washington Times)

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Life ethics:

  1. A wrongful birth? | Mothers are suing over poor prenatal care, claiming that if they'd known they were going to give birth to severely disabled children, they would have terminated their pregnancies. But legally, and morally, what does it mean to say that a child should not have existed? (Elizabeth Weil, The New York Times Magazine)

  2. Silent struggle: A new theory of pregnancy | A Harvard biologist argues that a mother and her unborn child engage in an unconscious struggle over the nutrients she will provide it (The New York Times)

  3. EU fails to agree on common embryo research policy | The European Union was unable to agree on Monday on a common approach to human embryonic stem cell research, banned in some member states, and is set to keep a piecemeal approach to funding such work, officials said (Reuters)

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  1. Fertility: The frozen ones | A bitter legal battle is being fought over the future of six embryos, but there are 100,000 more in freezers at clinics across the country. Welcome to the chilly world of the almost-people (The Independent, London)

  2. Scientists have 'moral duty' to help us live beyond 100 | Humanity has a "moral duty" to pursue scientific research that could enhance intelligence and allow people to live well beyond 100 years as a matter of routine, according John Harris, professor of bioethics at the University of Manchester (The Times, London)

  3. The liberal baby bust | What's the difference between Seattle and Salt Lake City? There are many differences, of course, but here's one you might not know. In Seattle, there are nearly 45% more dogs than children. In Salt Lake City, there are nearly 19% more kids than dogs (Phillip Longman, USA Today)

  4. Rabbis train for questions about fertility medicine | "This is stuff that comes up every day," said course instructor Rabbi Kenneth Brander, a dean at Yeshiva University (The New York Times)

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Christian Peacemaker killed:

  1. Peace activist slain in Iraq is mourned around U.S., world | Relatives, friends and a nationwide network of Christian peace advocates reacted with anguish and shock Saturday to the death of Tom Fox, a Quaker whose belief in nonviolence led him to Iraq, where he was kidnapped, tortured, and killed (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Captors tortured American, then killed him, Iraq says | Tom Fox, the kidnapped American peace advocate whose body was found this week, had apparently been tortured by his captors (The New York Times)

  3. Friends remember slain American hostage | A group of Quakers sat in silence as they have done every week since Tom Fox was taken hostage in Iraq last year, but on Saturday they prayed not for him, but his killers (Associated Press)

  4. Quakers remember U.S. hostage's mission | Tom Fox's body was found Thursday evening, three days after he didn't appear in a video of Christian activists who had been taken hostage in Iraq (Associated Press)

  5. American hostage knew the dangers in Iraq | When Tom Fox didn't appear this week on a video of Christian activists taken hostage in Iraq, members of his Quaker congregation prepared themselves for the worst while praying for the best (Associated Press)

  6. Peace team stays in Iraq despite hostage killing | The three women from Christian Peacemaker Teams remaining in Iraq have no plans to leave or change their routine despite the killing of Tom Fox, one of four men from their group kidnapped and held since last November (Reuters)

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  1. The Tom Fox tragedy | It is tragic whenever an innocent person is murdered. It is also tragic because the likelihood that the presence of Fox and his colleagues would change the attitude or behavior of their captors was zero to none (Cal Thomas)

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  1. Teaching Sudan a lesson | California's regents should use the UC's investment pool as a weapon against genocide (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  2. Student aid | How a bunch of college kids did more than their government to stop the Darfur genocide (Jason Zengerle, The New Republic)

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War and terrorism:

  1. Terrorist's mom gets hug | As legal jousting continued over Zacarias Moussaoui's fate in Washington, an extraordinary scene was taking place at a church in White Plains—his weeping mother was enfolded in a hug by the mother of a 9/11 victim (New York Daily News)

  2. Nigeria sees 3 mln displaced by conflict in 7 yrs | Ethnic and religious fighting, land disputes and communal conflicts have driven more than three million Nigerians from their homes since the return to democracy in 1999, an official report showed on Monday (Reuters)

  3. Christian Association of Nigeria orders 2-day sit-at-home | Group directed faithful nationwide to stay at home on March 27 and 28, to mourn fellow believers killed in recent religious riots in parts of the country. It also demanded immediate prosecution and trial of persons arrested in connection with the religious uprisings (Daily Champion, Lagos, Nigeria)

  4. Also: Beware of God's wrath, PFN warns killers of Christians | Kaduna State chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has warned those who have taken the killing of Christians as their stock-in-trade to be prepared for the wrath of God (Daily Champion, Lagos, Nigeria)

  5. US evangelist held in Uganda on terrorism charges | Police say he was planning to start a political party based on Christian principles when he was arrested (Reuters)

  6. In Uganda, a fresh start for former child fighters | Center helps those who escaped rebels face their traumas (The Washington Post)

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Christianity and Islam:

  1. Pat Robertson lashes out at Muslim faith on ''700 Club'' | Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said the goal of Islam is "world domination" and called radical Muslims "satanic" during live comments on his "700 Club" program Monday (The Virginian-Pilot)

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  1. Also: Robertson finds radical Muslims 'satanic' | Television evangelist Pat Robertson said Monday on his live news-and-talk program "The 700 Club" that Islam is not a religion of peace, and that radical Muslims are "satanic" (Associated Press)

  2. Missionary faiths need reciprocity and détente | The Bishop of Rochester talks to Michael Binyon about Muslim and Christian relations (The Times, London)

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Religious freedom:

  1. LS furore over attack on Christian outfit | The Lok Sabha on Monday witnessed a furore over an attack on Emanuel Mission, a Christian organisation working in Rajasthan, allegedly by Sangh Parivar activists with CPI (M) and BJP members trading charges, forcing adjournment of the House for 40 minutes (PTI, India)

  2. Cuba rules raise churches' fears | New government regulations for home churches have some concerned (The Miami Herald)

  3. Rethinking the first freedom | Despite the increasing appeal of democratic ideas around much of the world, a core democratic principle—freedom of religion—continues facing stiff resistance (Grace V. Smith, The Washington Times)

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Church and state:

  1. Long Beach church fights land seizure | The Redevelopment Agency Board approved using eminent domain to take a church building in Central Long Beach for an affordable housing project on Monday, despite pleas from churchgoers who called the site "holy ground." (Long Beach Press-Telegram, Ca.)

  2. Opening words invoke strong opinions over place for prayer | Rabbi Michael Panitz of Norfolk was asked to drop part of the prayer he planned to give before the Senate. Panitz's prayer, which focused on the values underlying democracy, had called Hamas a terrorist group with "blood-stained hands" (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.)

  3. Trees cost church $27,000 | First Church of the Nazarene is fined for cutting down 18 native trees without a permit (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.)

  4. Turkey's foreign minister asks the EU for blasphemy laws to protect Islam | Deep divisions have appeared among European Union governments over suggestions that they should alter their blasphemy laws to protect Islam, and not just Christianity (The Telegraph, London)

  5. Government petitioned over cult churches | Church leaders have asked the government to institute measures to deter born-again churches from false teachings and cultism (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)

  6. What the military shouldn't preach | As the military wrestles with the proper place of religion in its ranks it is important to remember that the freedom of the Stars and Stripes applies to everyone—not just those who believe what the majority of the United States believes (Scott Poppleton, The Washington Post)

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Commandments displays:

  1. Commandments bill gets final passage | Measure would return marker to Capitol grounds (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  2. Monument display wins approval | House gives final passage to Ten Commandments bill (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

  3. Will they never learn? | Legislators keep repeating Commandments error (Editorial, Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

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Other religious displays:

  1. In historic area, church's pro-gay sign wins permit | The desire of Quincy's historic ''Church of the Presidents"—which contains the tombs of John Adams and John Quincy Adams—to hang a prominent banner supporting same-sex marriage has provided a local twist on the hotly debated Beacon Hill issue (The Boston Globe)

  2. Owen backs motto battle | He wants 'In God We Trust' on the wall at a city building (Lodi News-Sentinel, Ca.)

  3. Christian icon could reignite specialty tag battle | Lawmaker proposes fish symbol on license plates (Associated Press)

  4. Also: Christian-symbol plate only hurts good program | Here we go again. Will there ever be a session of the Tennessee General Assembly where some lawmaker doesn't try to get the state to endorse a religious belief? (Editorial, Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

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IRS and churches:

  1. IRS overreach | The IRS wants to strike the fear of God into priests, ministers and rabbis who venture too far into politics and activism. It should tread lightly (Editorial, The Washington Times)

  2. Bullying the pulpits | The IRS threatens church leaders who talk about politics (Brendan Miniter, The Wall Street Journal)

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  1. Churches resist tougher immigration laws | Faith leaders aim to recast the issue as a moral imperative (The Christian Science Monitor)

  2. Religious leaders form group to speak on issues | On Tuesday, a group of religious leaders will launch We Believe Ohio, a group committed to speaking "on behalf of the poor, the voiceless and the unrepresented" (Dayton Daily News, Oh.)

  3. Also: New clergy group hopes to influence political debate (Associated Press)

  4. Blackwell met with pastors more often than IRS says | Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has met with two conservative pastors more often than alleged in an IRS complaint accusing the pastors of improperly supporting his campaign for governor, according to a review of documents by the Associated Press (Associated Press)

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  1. Abortion-rights activist won't run in Pa. | Abortion-rights activist Kate Michelman won't be an independent candidate in Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race (Associated Press)

  2. Romney winds up and makes a Southern pitch | But so far, conservatives down there not swinging (The Boston Globe)

  3. Religious rights already protected | Proposed bills are waste of state legislators' time (Editorial, Springfield News-Leader, Mo.)

  4. Nigerian Catholics to rulers: don't stay too long | Nigeria's Catholic bishops urged politicians not to "manipulate" the constitution to stay in power, and said promises of democracy in Africa's most populous nation remain unfulfilled (Reuters)

  5. Not heard from the pulpit | Pastors must focus on basics of religious morality (Tom Ehrich, USA Today)

  6. Jefferson, Madison & their evangelical pals | Religious freedom resulted from an unlikely alliance: evangelicals and skeptics (Steven Waldman, Beliefnet)

  7. Wanted: Pro-life Democrats | Enough of this "big tent" Catholicism from the party with little room for pro-lifers (Father Thomas Williams, National Review Online)

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Claude Allen arrest:

  1. Former aide's arrest surprises friends and colleagues | The arrest on theft charges of Claude A. Allen, a former top Bush adviser, was an apparent fall from power (The New York Times)

  2. Arrest of ex-Bush aide shocks associates | Once-soaring GOP career man said to be devoted to his family and church (The Washington Post)

  3. For Bush's ex-aide, quick fall after long climb | An adviser friends said was the "goody-two shoes" of his family was charged last week with stealing from Target and other stores (The New York Times)

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  1. Congregants wary after second attack | Vandals threw bricks through four windows at Metropolitan Baptist Church, causing the congregation's leaders to wonder Monday about the motive behind the attack (Pasadena Star News, Ca.)

  2. Ex-priest arrested after hotel disturbance | James T. Hanley, 69, was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon—a baseball bat—for an unlawful purpose (

  3. Thieves prey on NW churches | "Whoever is doing this knows how churches operate," said the Rev. Amy Butler, senior pastor at the Calvary Baptist Church in Northwest. "It seems like somebody is making a really studied approach." (The Washington Times)

  4. Willingboro man slain by police at church | A 19-year-old Willingboro man was fatally shot by a township police officer Saturday morning, after reportedly threatening people inside a church with a knife (Courier-Post, Cherry Hill, N.J.)

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  1. Also: Friends suggest shooting victim sought solace | A violent past and a quest for salvation set the scene for a troubled man's death this past weekend (Courier-Post, Cherry Hill, N.J.)

  2. Brezhnev hatched plot to kill Pope | This week an Italian parliamentary commission will officially conclude that Agca was part of a huge conspiracy masterminded by the GRU, the Soviet military secret service, on the orders of the politburo and Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary of the Communist party (The Times, London)

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Alabama church fires:

  1. Possibility of release delayed for 3 suspects | Ages, past make chances of bond good, experts say (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  2. Religious bias had no role in fires, bishops say | Methodists and Baptists have a friendly rivalry, one that centers more on being first to the restaurant for Sunday lunch than anything dark or unsettling (Associated Press)

  3. Motive behind church blazes studied | Was it a joke, as a witness told authorities? Or the act of someone with deep-seated issues, as psychologists theorize? (Montgomery Advertiser)

  4. The devil made arsonists do it? Oh, heck, no | It strikes me as just too easy to blame the devil for these stupid, selfish, disrespectful crimes (Cynthia Tucker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Milwaukee church shooting, one year later:

  1. Questions of shooting remain for church | Living Church of God stays together, holds one-year anniversary service (The Freeman, Milwaukee)

  2. Church members' bond unites their families after savage shooting | Miller, Oliver were friends, victims in Ratzmann killings (The Freeman, Milwaukee)

  3. More: Brookfield hotel shooting: one year later (The Freeman, Milwaukee)

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  1. Questions arise about church abuse reforms | Whatever trust the nation's Roman Catholic bishops had restored with their response to clergy sex abuse has been badly eroded in recent weeks by a combination of missteps and outside criticism (Associated Press)

  2. Official to oversee Ky. church settlement | Special Judge John Potter was upset that lawyers for the victims had failed to properly alert their clients about how they could object to the 30 percent legal fees — which could total $25.5 million — the lawyers are seeking. (Associated Press)

  3. Deal reached in Franciscan sex abuse suits | The Catholic Church tentatively agrees to pay more than $28million to 25 alleged victims. It may be a benchmark for L.A. Archdiocese cases (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Also: Friars make tentative deal in abuse claims | The Franciscan friars have reached a preliminary settlement of more than $28 million with about two dozen people who claimed they were sexually abused at a now-defunct Santa Barbara seminary and mission, officials said Monday (Associated Press)

  2. Claims of sex abuse soar in Spokane | At least 176 alleged victims filed by Friday's deadline, and costs could reach millions (The Oregonian)

  3. Abuse by priest led to suicide, suit says | A widow from the St. Louis area filed a wrongful death suit Monday against a jailed priest and the Roman Catholic Church, claiming the priest's sexual abuse of her husband caused him to commit suicide last year (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  4. Charges against priest detailed | An arrest affidavit says Timothy Joseph Evans tried to buy the silence of a youth who accused him of sexual abuse in Fort Collins (The Denver Post)

  5. Also: Former Fort Collins pastor accused of sexual assaults | A Catholic priest removed from his large parish three years ago assaulted two boys and one young man over a period of several years, according to an arrest affidavit released Monday (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  6. Church abuse moves 'are welcomed' | The Catholic Church's move to share all information on the possible abuse of children with the PSNI has been welcomed by the government (BBC)

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  1. Pope begins streamlining Vatican bureaucracy | Pope Benedict on Saturday began a long-awaited streamlining of the Vatican's central bureaucracy by merging the leadership of four departments, including one which promotes dialogue with Islam (Reuters)

  2. On 'holy ground,' a new set of choices | Nuns get creative so they can keep their convent (The Washington Post)

  3. Pope meets Egyptian president at Vatican | Pope Benedict XVI and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks at the Vatican Monday about Iran, Iraq and the prospects for lasting peace in the Middle East, the Holy See said (Associated Press)

  4. Catholic Church to close parishes, share clergymen | Vt. plan deals with priest shortage (Rutland Herald, Vt.)

  5. Did pope perform miracle after his death? | The sudden recovery of a young French nun suffering from Parkinson's disease is at the heart of the sainthood case for Pope John Paul II, the Polish priest who heads the inquiry said Monday (Associated Press)

  6. PNG Catholics object to condom call | Papua New Guinea's Catholic Church says a government minister's call for churches to fully support condom use to combat HIV/AIDS is asking them to ignore their beliefs (The Age, Australia)

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  1. Church funds at focus of drive | A lay Catholic group has launched a petition drive urging church leaders to be more financially accountable to donors. The campaign begins today with an advertisement in Newsday (Newsday)

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  1. Canterbury and Rome on road to heal rift of centuries | Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is expected to make his first formal visit to Pope Benedict XVI in Rome this year in an attempt to heal the centuries-old rift between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches (The Times, London)

  2. Road to Rome | The Archbishop of Canterbury should encourage dialogue (Editorial, The Times, London)

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Church life:

  1. Bishop sees his alcohol treatment as 'a blessing' | Some parishioners thanked him for going public with his struggle (Portsmouth Herald, N.H.)

  2. Ex-convict priest meets his Calif. flock | Trading in his state-issued blue denim for a black robe and white collar, the Rev. James Tramel left prison and arrived at the small Episcopal church where he'll now serve as assistant pastor (Associated Press)

  3. Pastor takes reality course in teen life | 33-year-old youth minister Scott Greene has returned to school for two weeks to get a glimpse of the pressures facing teenagers (Associated Press)

  4. Pulpit politics divide Unitarian church | Unitarian minister gets mixed reviews for sermon accusing Bush administration of terrorism (Austin American-Statesman, Tex.)

  5. Storied black New Orleans parish may close | Mass at one of the nation's oldest black Roman Catholic parishes was filled with jazzy renditions of gospel songs and prayers that church officials would reverse their decision to merge it with another parish, a move prompted by the financial strain of Hurricane Katrina (Associated Press)

  6. Also: Seeking a revival in New Orleans | St. Augustine, seen as a symbol of racial unity, is set to close. Congregants say they won't let it go quietly at a time when the city needs it most (Los Angeles Times)

  7. Urban churches enjoying a spiritual renaissance | With high-rise condos sprouting up around them, Miami's downtown churches are hoping to reverse a decades-long decline in membership (The Miami Herald)

  8. From retail to religion | Churches are buying former stores to meet expansion needs (Houston Chronicle)

  9. Big buildings, big myths | Megachurches aren't what they're perceived to be, study says (The Kansas City Star)

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  1. Before a secondhand altar | As city parishes close, their artifacts find new life in the suburbs (The Washington Post)

  2. Cowboy churches put blue-jeans spin on worship | The trappings of stained-glass windows and hard pews are not for the worshipers at the Wythe County Livestock Exchange (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  3. Early morning fire destroys 110-year-old Juneau church | Built in 1896, structure was a capital cornerstone (Associated Press)

  4. 'A cross I have to bear' | St. Adalbert pastor's faith, spirit endure as he adjusts after loss of leg last year (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

  5. Return all grabbed land, churches told | Churches and faith-based organisations mentioned in the Ndung'u report should lead other Kenyans in surrendering illegally acquired land to the State. The demand was made by the Kenya National Human Rights Commission and the Kenya Human Rights Network at the weekend (The East African Standard, Kenya)

  6. Why this atheist is a Christian (sort of) | The answer lies in the conception of faith that anyone can join the church (Robert Jensen, Houston Chronicle)

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D.C.'s Sunday parking dispute:

  1. DDOT forbids double parking | The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has declared zero tolerance for double-parking on Sundays, even though the practice has been accepted in the city for more than 60 years (The Washington Times)

  2. New parking spaces to curb Sunday spats | The District's Department of Transportation (DDOT) says it will begin creating next month 77 new, permanent parking spaces and 78 Sundays-only spaces in the Logan Circle area (The Washington Times)

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Uganda church collapse:

  1. Collapsed church poorly built—expert | The walls of the City of the Lord Church, which collapsed and killed 26 people, were bonded with under-mixed cement-sand ratio, a Kampala City Council (KCC) report has revealed (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)

  2. Pastor vows to rebuild collapsed church | Construction of the church which collapsed last week, killing 26 people, is to resume, its leader Pastor Godfrey Luwagga said (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)

  3. When church walls came tumbling down | Even to a person who knows nothing about construction, it is obvious the church was an accident waiting to happen (Editorial, New Vision, Uganda)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Billy Graham's N.O. appearance may be swan song | Evangelist reaches out to storm-ravaged city (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)

  2. Also: God, Satan, and Katrina | Billy Graham on the storm, the mystery of evil, and a regret from his long ministry (Newsweek)

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  1. Clergy join war on drugs | Forum slated in Saugus (The Boston Globe)

  2. Bikers & Bibles | Chaplain Dave Drenth helps the Christian Motorcycle Association along the spiritual road (Sacramento Bee, Ca.)

  3. Accusations swirl around leaders of Orthodox Church in America | Did church mismanage funds? (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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U.K. education:

  1. Archbishop of Canterbury defends faith schools | Faith schools are not divisive and do not just take children from mostly wealthy middle class families, the Archbishop of Canterbury will say on Tuesday (Reuters)

  2. Archbishop defends faith schools | Claims that faith schools cherry-pick bright, wealthy pupils have been denied by the Archbishop of Canterbury (BBC)

  3. Church schools to cut cherry-picking | The Archbishop of Canterbury will tell a conference that he wants to standardise admissions criteria (The Times, London)

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  1. Complaint challenges moment of silence in schools | Perry aide says state law doesn't force students to pray (The Dallas Morning News)

  2. School's church connection sets off alarms | Head of new academy at Jefferson is senior pastor tied to conservative congregation (Portland Tribune, Ore.)

  3. Upper St. Clair families sue over abolition of school program | At the heart of the suit are comments made by board member Daniel Iracki, head of the board's curriculum committee, that the program went against "Judeo-Christian" values (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  4. Also: Parents sue school board | Parents in Upper St. Clair sued five school board members Monday, charging they imposed their religion on students and punished political opponents by axing a popular international academic program (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

  5. Plan to shutter weak school "insensitive" | Denver African-American and Latino church leaders called Monday on Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet and the school board to reverse the decision to close the Manual High Education Complex at the end of this school year (The Denver Post)

  6. Also: Ministers blast shutdown of Manual | Black, Hispanic pastors want district to reconsider move (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

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Higher education:

  1. Gift furthers study of Koreans and Christianity | L.A. County employee Dong Soon Im and his wife, Mi Ja Im, donate a $1-million windfall to fund an academic chair at UCLA (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Divine direction | After a communication professor at Hope College was inspired to do a class film project on a 25-year-old unsolved murder, police arrested a suspect (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

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  1. Catholic scientist has faith in both God and evolution | In court, in classrooms, and on late-night cable television, cell biologist and practicing Catholic Kenneth R. Miller defends evolution (The Boston Globe)

  2. Darwin's defender | America's answer to Richard Dawkins is a self-confessed 'bright', his term for atheists, agnostics and defenders of Darwinism, a man who has made it his crusade to confront what he sees as the pernicious influence of the religious right in the United States (The Observer, London)

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  1. From love letters to a thimble, Darwin on display | The Darwin exhibit is a spicy and enormously satisfying melange of history, science, and human interest (The Boston Globe)

  2. "F Word" exhibit examines "forgiveness" | "The F word: images of forgiveness" exhibition showcases the personal stories of those struck by tragedy around the world, asking how victims are able to forgive the seemingly unforgivable and sometimes bringing them face to face with their attackers (Reuters)

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  1. Archaeologists find tunnels from Jewish revolt against Romans | Archaeologists said Monday they have uncovered underground chambers and tunnels constructed in northern Israel by Jews for hiding from the Romans during their revolt in 66-70 CE (Associated Press)

  2. A history of religious communities in the U.S. | From the arrival of the Puritans in the 17th century to the establishment of utopian communes two centuries later, America has a long tradition of communities created around religious ideals (All Things Considered, NPR)

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  1. Osteen sees green | Houston preacher gets $13 million for new book with Free Press (PW Daily)

  2. Also: Lakewood Church leader lands new book deal | Houston pastor Joel Osteen has signed a new book deal with a division of Simon and Schuster Inc (Houston Business Journal)

  3. Scholars take a new approach to classic tale | Loyola students translate journal of early Christian Perpetua (The Baltimore Sun)

  4. Moosewood Republicans | Rod Dreher identifies a new species of ecologically minded, religiously orthodox and socially traditionalist conservative. David D. Kirkpatrick reviews Crunchy Cons (The New York Times Book Review)

  5. Why God is fair game | The Right to Ridicule, by Ronald Dworkin, looks critically at the decision of the American and British press not to print the Danish cartoons that angered many Muslims (The New York Times)

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  1. The radical | Garry Wills finds the real meaning of Jesus in faith, not history. Jon Meacham reviews What Jesus Meant (The New York Times Book Review)

  2. Washington's Sun God | Reviewing a review (Michael Novak, National Review Online)

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Da Vinci Code lawsuit:

  1. Dan Brown "astounded" at plagiarism claim | Author Dan Brown said on Monday he was "astounded" at allegations by two historians that he copied their work wholesale when writing his best-selling religious thriller "The Da Vinci Code" (Reuters)

  2. "Da Vinci" author reveals secrets of his success | A strict exercise regime and an ambitious, hard-working wife appear to be key ingredients to literary fame (Reuters)

  3. 'Da Vinci Code' author testifies in London | Dan Brown defended himself against charges that he stole the central themes of his thriller from another book (The New York Times)

  4. Star witness | 'Da Vinci Code' author testifies about doodles and dates in plagiarism trial (The Washington Post)

  5. Holy grail wars | The latest battle over The Da Vinci Code (Slate)

  6. Da Vinci code of justice | No one owns the facts of history. Two British historians, however, are claiming title to a juicy historical myth at the core of the bestseller "The Da Vinci Code," and their claim should trouble anyone whose book or film was inspired by someone else's theories (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

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Entertainment and media:

  1. Turner seeks divine intervention for Channel 7 | He wants to do daily Christian radio show; WXYZ says no

  2. (Detroit Free Press)

  3. Pastor: Three 6 Mafia are pawns of the devil | Spencer tells 3,000 that violent lyrics undo strides (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)

  4. Taking a walk out of 'Park' | Show agrees to release Hayes over episodes he says go too far in mocking religions (Los Angeles Times)

  5. Also: Isaac Hayes quits 'South Park' | "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology," says "South Park" co-creator Matt Stone. "He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians." (Associated Press)

  6. Christian radio website to maximize hosts' heft | A senior aide from President Bush's 2004 campaign has crafted a multimedia strategy for the Christian broadcasting giant Salem Communications to maximize the political power of its conservative talk-radio hosts (The Hill, D.C.)

  7. Indie labels multiply in gospel realm | Though mainstream corporations have become a major presence in Christian music as EMI, Warner Bros. and Sony BMG have staked claims on the Christian/gospel landscape during the past decade, independents manage still to enjoy a share of the pie. And even though the climate is difficult, new companies keep springing up (Reuters)

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  1. "No Limits" for gospel artist Munizzi | "She's the Charley Pride of gospel music," ABC Radio personality Cedric Bailey says (Reuters)

  2. Kirk Franklin defines himself in many ways | A martyr. The "Earth Wind and Fire" of gospel music. A man set free from an addiction to pornography (Associated Press)

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Money and business:

  1. Granting enrichment | Lilly endowment's focus on religious projects stems from belief that good churches create good communities (The Indianapolis Star)

  2. Faith-based funds a growing subset of socially responsible investing | Morningstar analyst David Kathman says, "a lot of the factors that result from Islamic law are actually good long-term investment strategies anyway" (San Francisco Chronicle)

  3. Busy bookstore's fare runneth over | Timeless Treasures Christian Gift & Bookstore, city's largest and oldest Christian bookstore, will officially reopen next month (Charles W. Bell, New York Daily News)

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Ford boycott

  1. Gay ads spur Ford boycott | Conservative coalition says automaker reneged on agreement to stop ads in alternative media (The Detroit News)

  2. Antigay groups boycott Ford | Coalition says ads threaten values (Detroit Free Press)

  3. Ford faces renewed conservative boycott | Ford Motor Co. is facing a boycott from a coalition of 19 conservative groups that have challenged the automaker's decision to resume advertising in gay-themed publications after an initial decision not to advertise (The Washington Post)

  4. Also: 19 groups to reinstate boycott of Ford | Nineteen conservative groups said Monday they would reinstate a boycott of Ford Motor Co., contending the automaker reneged on an agreement to stop supporting gay rights organizations (Associated Press)

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  1. Hallelujah and Namaste | Sunday soul yoga at Laughing Lotus melds vinyasa, an ancient flowing yoga, with gospel hymns and sermons inspired by the music (The New York Times)

  2. Defenders of the faith | Why Europe's Muslims should be grateful for Europe's atheists (Slavoj Zizek, The New York Times)

  3. Before prayer, silence | If we pray with brutal honesty, we might find God, and the 'acute peace beyond the unendurable' (Fred Sedgwick, The Guardian, London)

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What is Weblog?

See our past Weblog updates:

March 10b | 10a | 8
March 3 | 2 | 1
February 24 | 23 | 22 | 21
February 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13
February 10 | 9 | 7
February 3 | 2 | 1
January 25 | 20 | 19 | 18 | 17
January 13b | 13a | 10

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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