Today's Top Five

1. 'Is this the fruit of democracy?'
It doesn't look good for Abdul Rahman. The judge in his case says the 41 year old clearly violated Islamic law by converting to Christianity. "If he doesn't regret his conversion, the punishment will be enforced on him," the judge said. "And the punishment is death."

The Chicago Tribune has changed its headline from "Afghan man faces death for being a Christian" to "Afghan man faces death for abandoning Islam." But both the judge and prosecutor (Rahman doesn't have a defense attorney) have said his crime isn't just conversion.

"It is illegal to be a Christian and it should be punished," the judge was quoted as saying in the Toronto Globe and Mail. Prosecutor Abdul Wasi told The Times of London, "We are Muslims and becoming a Christian is against our laws. He must get the death penalty."

A human rights expert in Kabul lays out the problem in The Times: "The constitution says Islam is the religion of Afghanistan, yet it also mentions the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 18 specifically forbids this kind of recourse. It really highlights the problem the judiciary system faces."

The judiciary seems not to have a problem. It's just disregarding what it considers Western law. It's all a matter of perspective, the judge explained to The Times: "In your country two women can marry. I think that is very strange. In this country we have the perfect constitution. It is Islamic law."

The Chicago Tribune notes that "Islamic rules are violated in Afghanistan every day—whether by alcohol being sold openly on the streets, or by prostitutes who cater to both foreigners and Afghans, or by the booming opium trade." But religion is still a hot button, the paper says: "One Afghan liberal scholar, Ali Mohaqeq Nasab, spent almost three months in jail last fall after publishing a magazine challenging many traditional views on Islamic law, including the belief that Muslims who convert to other religions deserve to die."

Charles Colson is mad. "Is this the fruit of democracy?" he asks on today's Breakpoint radio commentary. He continues:

Is this why we have shed American blood and invested American treasure to set a people free? What have we accomplished for overthrowing the Taliban? … I have supported the Bush administration's foreign policy because I came to believe that the best way to stop Islamo-fascism was by promoting democracy. But if we can't guarantee fundamental religious freedoms in the countries where we establish democratic reforms, then the whole credibility of our foreign policy is thrown into serious question.
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Others, including Al Mohler and Family Research Council's Tony Perkins are raising similar questions. It may be that nothing would turn evangelicals against military action abroad quicker than Rahman's execution would.

2. Contributions to Robertson have almost doubled in less than a decade
While evangelical political leaders are set for a disillusionment on foreign policy, Weblog is having a disillusionment of his own. For years, I have been arguing that Pat Robertson has no real constituency. That he may have a few viewers left, but he doesn't need them anymore due to some savvy and questionable business deals. It may be true that he doesn't need viewer donations, but he apparently still has them. "Donors gave $160 million to Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, according to tax statements for the year ending in March 2005, an increase of 21 percent from the previous year," The Virginian-Pilot reports today. "Contributions to CBN have increased steadily since 1997, when it received $84 million." Who are these people, and why are they giving to Robertson? Is Robertson saying crazy things so that he'll get media attention, which he can spin as media persecution, which then brings in more donations? Is that the game? Or do people say, "Boy, he may call for the assassination of elected world leaders, support and enrich some of the world's worst dictators, proclaim faulty theology about God's wrath, support China's one-child policy, break his promise on selling his race horses, and use his humanitarian ministry's planes for his own personal diamond mining operation, but I can't think of a better ministry leader to write a check to?" Weblog is having a hard time believing these people really exist. If you've given money to Pat Robertson lately, please e-mail me. I'd love to know why, and I promise to be nice.

3. Is Paulk trying to move assets?
Mona Brewer, the former church employee who is suing pastor Earl Paulk for sexual misconduct, says Paulk and his megachurch are trying to transfer property to protect it from the suit. "We wanted to make sure we had funds available for legal fees," Chapel Hill Harvester Church treasurer Dan Rhodes told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

4. changes coding after abortion activists complain
As you probably know, has various automated suggestions to correct spelling errors and display related items. These are based on computer algorithms of other users' activity. Type in plaque, and Amazon asks, "Did you mean: plague?"

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But the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice suspected bias at work, and complained to the company that when you typed in abortion, Amazon asked, "Did you mean: adoption?"

"I thought it was offensive," retired Episcopalian minister James Lewis told The New York Times. Actually, Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith explained, "Adoption and abortion are the same except for two keystrokes." But to avoid offense, the company went in and changed the coding so that the question is no longer asked. "Amazon's sensitivity and willingness to act are rare," the RCRC responded in a press release. "Anti-choice bias is so deeply ingrained in American culture that even fair-minded people fail to notice it."

Hmm. Think Amazon would have been so amenable if Christians had complained that the first search that comes up when you type Jesus is a book that denies all the central tenets of Christianity? (Don't complain about it. I'm just saying … )

5. Turkmenistan President's messianic complex
There's a new holy book on the market: It's Rukhnama (Book of the Soul), written by Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov. "A person that reads Rukhnama becomes smart … and after it, he will go straight to heaven," Niyazov said Monday. "I asked Allah that for a person who reads it three times — at home, at sunset, and at dawn — to go straight to heaven." The book "has been deemed a sacred text by the government," reports the Associated Press. "It is required reading for every child in school." Niyazov has long been one weird dude.

Quote of the day
"The answer is — I haven't really thought of it that way. … The first I've heard of that, by the way. I guess I'm more of a practical fellow."

—President Bush, asked if he believes "that the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism are signs of the apocalypse."

More articles

Afghan Christian's capital case | Christianity and Islam | War and terrorism | India | Church and state | Politics | Pastor tapes politician in Minn. | Immigration | Life ethics | Abortion | Michigan ultrasound bill | Plan B in Conn. | Family | Gay adoptions and Catholic Charities (news) | Gay adoptions and Catholic Charities (opinion) | Soulforce Equality Ride | Education | Tex. suit on Bible study ad | Evolution | Astronomy | Rowan Williams on creationism and other subjects | Church life | Missions & ministry | After Katrina | Catholicism | The new cardinals | Catholic-Orthodox relations | Orthodox finance probe | Alabama church fires | Abuse | Crime | Courts | Da Vinci Code | Books | Art, entertainment, and media | Money & business | People | Theology | Other stories of interest
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Afghan Christian's capital case:

  1. Afghan man faces death for being a Christian | Prosecutors, judge, family insist convert should die (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Afghan Christian could get death sentence | An Afghan man is being prosecuted in a Kabul court and could be sentenced to death on a charge of converting from Islam to Christianity, a crime under this country's Islamic laws, a judge said Sunday (Associated Press)

  3. Afghan faces death penalty for Christian faith | An Afghan who has renounced his Islamic faith for Christianity faces the death penalty under Afghan law in a throwback to the brutal Taleban regime (The Times, London)

  4. 'Whoever changes religion—kill him' | The Koran is contradictory on the fate of those who deny the truth of Islam (The Times, London)

  5. Afghan on trial for Christianity | Abdul Rahman is charged with rejecting Islam and could face the death sentence under Sharia law unless he recants (BBC)

  6. Afghan man faces death for turning to Christianity | The judge deciding whether an Afghan man should be executed for converting to Christianity does not understand what all the fuss is about (The Globe and Mail)

  7. Democratic apostasy | The martyrdom of Abdul Rahman (Charles W. Colson, Breakpoint)

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Christianity and Islam:

  1. Church recalls 'Prophet' magazine | The Church in Wales has recalled 500 copies of its magazine featuring a cartoon caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad (BBC)

  2. Also: Welsh Church recalls magazine over Muhammad cartoon | The Anglican Church in Wales has apologized to Muslims after printing a cartoon satirizing the Prophet Muhammad in its Welsh-language magazine (The Times, London)

  3. Also: Church sorry for prophet cartoon | The Anglican Church in Wales has apologized to Muslims after a cartoon satirizing the Prophet Mohammed was printed in its Welsh-language magazine (CNN)

  4. Mother Teresa statue creates friction | Albania's largest Muslim group said Monday that placing a bust of Mother Teresa in a northern city would not damage religious harmony, rejecting claims from smaller Muslim associations (Associated Press)

  5. Vatican change of heart over 'barbaric' Crusades | The Vatican has begun moves to rehabilitate the Crusaders by sponsoring a conference at the weekend that portrays the Crusades as wars fought with the "noble aim" of regaining the Holy Land for Christianity (The Times, London)

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  1. Faith and respect | Why religious intolerance must not be tolerated (Editorial, The Times, London)

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War and terrorism:

  1. Bush on the "apocalyptic" war | "I haven't really thought of it that way" (Associated Press, second item)

  2. Many faithful speak in 1 voice | Hundreds protest Iraq war at interreligious peace march (San Diego Union-Tribune)

  3. Clergy silent about opposing war | Pastors stress prayers for families (The Argus, Fremont, Ca.)

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  1. Catholic priest found murdered in Goa | A Catholic priest was found murdered at his residence within the church premises early today at Macasana in south Goa (PTI, India)

  2. Also: Murdered: Goa parish priest who spoke out against inter-faith violence | The motive and the killers remain a mystery. It may have been two men who had asked for shelter the previous night. The archdiocese has condemned the "cold-blooded crime" and called on the authorities to "intervene rapidly against the culprits of this vile act" (AsiaNews, Catholic news service)

  3. Rajasthan maltreating Christians: Raj Babbar | Terming the deregistration of the Emmanuel Mission and the freezing of its accounts by the Rajasthan government as "illegal", cine actor and expelled Samajwadi Party leader Raj Babbar on Tuesday criticised the state government for its "treatment" of Christians. (PTI, India)

  4. NGO seeks help after missionary's arrest in Rajasthan | Hopegivers International, a US-based NGO, has sought contributions for an 'emergency legal defence fund' to seek release of Samuel Thomas, head of a Christian mission in Rajashtan, who has been detained in connection with a controversial book (IANS, India)

  5. 50,000 quit Assam BJP for anti-Christian stance | About 50,000 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in Assam have quit, accusing the party of ignoring Christian ticket seekers for next month's assembly elections (IANS, India)

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Church and state:

  1. State high court to rule on loss of view of church | The Colorado Supreme Court will review a Court of Appeals ruling that Marilyn Hickey Ministries' Orchard Road Christian Center, a non-denominational evangelical Christian church, can collect damages from the state because a T-Rex retaining wall on Interstate 25 blocks motorists' view of the church's property (Rocky Mountain News)

  2. Also: Church may be paid because T-REX obstructs its highway views | Supreme Court to review settlement ruling (Associated Press)

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  1. City stopped from seizing Englewood church | A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction stopping the City of Chicago from seizing the property of an Englewood church, the kind of place its attorney said "might keep a gang-banger from shooting a little girl" (Chicago Sun-Times)

  2. Pastors' get-out-the-vote training could test tax rules | Pennsylvania pastors are being enlisted by a conservative coalition at the same time the IRS is promising to crack down on political activities by churches (The New York Times)

  3. Mass. loses ground in faith-based funding | Sharp decline shown in state's share of grants (The Boston Globe)

  4. Church snarled in dispute | PAN officials' actions mirror the PRD's closure of Hotel María Isabel Sheraton (El Universal, Mexico)

  5. Turkmen president says to read his book | Turkmenistan's autocratic leader told his nation's youth to read his book three times a day in order to go to heaven, Turkmen television reported Monday (Associated Press)

  6. Provinces want a Christian state | Preachers from Fiji's leading Christian churches have been called on to administer in the various provinces in a bid to make Fiji a Christian state (

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  1. Cardinal says Catholic politicians must stick to church teaching | An Italian cardinal today stressed the need for Catholic politicians to adhere to church teaching and said Italians should keep ethical issues about family and life in mind when they vote in next month's election for Parliament. (Ireland Online)

  2. Are churches the key to black vote? | Some say win the right ministers, you've won the city (The Times, Munster, Ind.)

  3. Harris puts her faith ;on the line' | U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris aimed to inspire Christian activists gathered Saturday at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale (The Miami Herald)

  4. Also: Harris tells Christian group she believes God wants her in public service | Finding inspiration from God, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Lord of Rings, Katherine Harris told hundreds of conservative Christians Saturday that she is "a work in progress" (Palm Beach Post, Fla.)

  5. Half of Hoosiers oppose lifting Sunday alcohol laws | Support for liquor sales restrictions remains strong (The Indianapolis Star)

  6. The fear of God: The religious right is afraid to speak and the left is afraid to listen | Why conservative faith in the public square is both less -- and more -- scary than we thought (Jenny Jackson, The Ottawa Citizen)

  7. New leadership for a nation | As we spread freedom around the world, I think there is concern, judging from much of what we see going on at home, that we're losing a sense of what the pillars are that hold our own free society together. If we're losing our compass at home, can we really spread the word abroad? (Star Parker, Scripps Howard News Service)

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Pastor tapes politician in Minn.:

  1. Johnson comments energize both sides in battle over gay marriage | Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson's comments about the Minnesota Supreme Court and gay marriage have energized both sides in the highly charged debate, Johnson acknowledged as he apologized for what he characterized as embellishments (Associated Press)

  2. Fearing protestors, pastor requests extra police | There were no protestors (West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minn.)

  3. Johnson admits embellishing | Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, a Lutheran pastor, confessed to Minnesotans Friday, admitting he was "not completely accurate" in relating conversations with Supreme Court justices (West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minn.)

  4. Johnson says taped comments about gay marriage 'poorly chosen' | Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson apologized Friday for claiming that three Supreme Court justices told him they would not deal with a gay marriage issue (West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minn.)

  5. DFL Senate leader: 'I need a 2nd chance' | He says he distorted justice's comments on gay-marriage ban (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

  6. Behavior of both men brings need for apologies | Two Willmar ministers were caught not being forthright with their audience at a January meeting. Their behavior is not something either should be proud of (Editorial, West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minn.)

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  1. Rift on immigration widens for conservatives and cardinals | Some prominent Republicans have turned their swords against a formidable foe in their battle to tighten the borders: the Roman Catholic Church (The New York Times)

  2. Catholic bishops urge calm in debate on immigration | Three Colorado bishops on Saturday called on politicians to slow down with immigration reform so comprehensive legislation can be crafted that respects the rights of migrants and immigrants (The Denver Post)

  3. Whether to aid migrants may be question of faith | Bill could force religious leaders into a moral quandary: Obey civil law or God's mandate to show compassion to the poor (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)

  4. What would Jesus do for immigrants? | When you're fighting for the weakest members of society, Christ is standing next to you. The only outcome is victory (Domenico Maceri, Los Angeles Daily News)

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  1. Gospel of dealing with illegal immigrants | While ministering to least of these among us, Cardinal Mahoney could spare some prominent words for good citizenship -- which doesn't have a prayer of a chance without actual citizenship (Kathryn Lopez, Albany Times-Union, N.Y.)

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Life ethics:

  1. Dutch furious at Italian minister's Nazi jibe | The Dutch government is furious after an Italian minister this week branded the country's euthanasia laws as akin to the policies of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, according to Dutch news agency ANP (Reuters)

  2. Ugandans report mixed message on AIDS plan | The question of why some Ugandans don't use a condom is at the heart of a dispute between some health activists and the U.S. government (Associated Press)

  3. Egg-donor business booms on campuses | Students offered up to $35,000 to sell eggs (USA Today)

  4. UK Catholic hospital must tighten ethics: Cardinal | The leader of England's Roman Catholics called on Monday for tighter ethical controls in a fashionable Catholic hospital embroiled in a complex morality debate (Reuters)

  5. Catholics to fight assisted suicide bill | The Roman Catholic Church is to launch its biggest ever political campaign this week in an effort to prevent assisted suicide being legalised by Parliament (The Telegraph, London)

  6. Life and death decision our leaders can't face | They've been successfully dodging the issue since 1983 but sooner or later the Irish government is going to have to produce a piece of legislation which defines the term "unborn" (Sarah Carey, The Times, London)

  7. Embryonic problems | The South Korean cloning scandal offers a good opportunity to rethink stem-cell research (Robert George & Eric Cohen, National Review Online)

  8. The battle to ban birth control | Using bogus health facts to scare women about the "dangers" of contraception, a fledgling movement fights for a culture in which sex = procreation (Priya Jain, Salon)

  9. The conscience clause | If anti-abortion pharmacists merit protection, then why not vegetarian workers at the deli counter? (Jaana Goodrich, The American Prospect)

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  1. After 2 more deaths, Planned Parenthood alters method for abortion pill | The change partly resolves a dispute between the group and the F.D.A. over the safest way to provide pill-based abortions (The New York Times)

  2. Also: FDA says 2 more women have died after taking abortion pill | Agency is investigating; 7 fatalities now tied to RU-486 (The Washington Post)

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  1. State to offer 'Choose Life' anti-abortion license plates | Anti-abortion license plates bearing the message "Choose Life" will be available in Kentucky within a few months, a state official said yesterday (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  2. The holy war over abortion | American politics is often plagued by the same self-righteous rigidity that is damaging democracy in Baghdad (Cokie Roberts and Steven V. Roberts, Newspaper Enterprise Assn)

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Michigan ultrasound bill:

  1. Granholm agrees to abortion regulation | Bill to add ultrasounds to the rules (Detroit Free Press)

  2. Mich. governor to sign ultrasound bill | Gov. Jennifer Granholm will sign a bill requiring abortion providers to give pregnant women the option to see ultrasound images of their fetuses, a spokeswoman says (Associated Press)

  3. Nothing worth headlines in ultrasound bill | Doing the ultrasound is solely up to the doctor, viewing it and taking home a picture is completely optional—no different from current law (Maxine Berman, Detroit Free Press)

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Plan B in Conn.:

  1. Plan B bill dies at capitol | Panel fails to vote on contraceptive measure (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  2. Does church doctrine trump rape victims' needs? | The competency of Catholic bishops to make medical and scientific judgments is questionable (Frances Kissling, Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  3. Emergency rape medication not an option | Catholic hospitals can't offer chemical abortions (Barry Feldman, Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  4. The mourning after | The story of my rape & the politics of abortion (Elizabeth Hamilton, Hartford Courant, Ct.)

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  1. What wives want | Girls may "just wanna have fun," as Cyndi Lauper once sang. But when girls become wives, they want love and support like what country heartthrob Randy Travis says: "forever and ever, amen." So says research published this month in the journal Social Forces by University of Virginia sociologists W. Bradford Wilcox and Steven L. Nock (The Washington Times)

  2. Unwed fathers fight for babies placed for adoption by mothers | At a time when one in three American babies is born to unwed parents, birth fathers' rights remain an unsettled area (The New York Times)

  3. The entrapments of unwanted pregnancies | One can hardly castigate men for treating an unwanted child as a burden to be avoided unless one recognizes that prochoice feminism has fostered such a mentality (Cathy Young, The Boston Globe)

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  1. Millions a year for marriage | For the first time, the federal government will invest $100 million a year to strengthen marriage over the next five years. Local religious leaders need to demand a voice in the allocation. That will not be easy (Michael J. McManus, The Washington Times)

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Gay adoptions and Catholic Charities (news):

  1. Are gay adoptions shaping up as nation's next culture clash? | Move to place children only with heterosexual couples gains some ground, but many doubt it will succeed (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Divide deep between Catholics, state | Legislature battles in Mass. have pitted church vs. state (Berkshire Eagle, Mass.)

  3. Archdiocese halts same-sex adoptions at Catholic Charities | Spokesman points to stance taken by new archbishop (San Francisco Chronicle)

Gay adoptions and Catholic Charities (opinion):

  1. Cardinal Levada's edict | At a time when the church is seeing a steady decline in attendance, Cardinal Levada should focus more on supporting Catholic agencies that strengthen communities, and less on enforcing outdated edicts that rip them apart (Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle)

  2. Bill's a waste of time | We aren't typically in the habit of recommending that lawmakers send bills to that legislative wasteland known as a "study." But that's right where Gov. Mitt Romney's bill, filed last week to exempt the Catholic Church from state anti-discrimination laws, belongs (Editorial, Boston Herald)

  3. Bringing the Catholic Church to its knees | We live in interesting times when the Catholic Church has to defend its doctrinal beliefs regarding the adoption of children against those who insist that the church adjust its policies to reflect the preferences of gays and lesbians (Kathleen Parker, The Orlando Sentinel)

  4. Let Catholic Charities be Catholic | When political agendas prevail over the best interests of children, sloppy moral reasoning is sure to follow (Thomas D. Williams, National Review Online)

  5. Don't do that to children | Sooner or later, there is going to be a massive backlash against the intense pressure homosexual activists are applying in many areas of our national life (Michael Reagan, Statesman Journal, Salem, Ore.)

  6. Make room for 'bias' in adoption | The public policy issue is not whether Catholic Charities is correct about the harmfulness of same-sex parenting; it is whether an agency with by all accounts a highly successful record of adoption placement is to be prevented by over-regulation from exercising its best judgment about which families are suitable (Charles Glenn, The Boston Globe)

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  1. Political correctness leaves kids out in the cold | Welcome to another round of Catholic bashing. (Taylor Armerding, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.)

  2. Now hypocrites rip Catholic Church for being right | Isn't it odd that those who've long clamored for the church to be separated from the state now claim to be offended when the former refuses to be governed by the latter? (Joe Fitzgerald, Boston Herald)

  3. Gay overreaching on adoption? | Whenever the topic of same-sex marriage came up in conversation, its well-meaning supporters liked to say: "Well, now how will this hurt you? What possible difference can same-sex marriage make in your life or in society?" Next time anybody says that, think "Catholic Charities, Catholic Charities, Catholic Charities." (Frank Mazzaglia, MetroWest Daily News, Mass.)

  4. Mitt has my vote for Pope | It's a shame that Catholic Charities has seen fit to end its adoption program, but that's not a legitimate reason for Massachusetts to soften its anti-discrimination law (Glenn Ickler, MetroWest Daily News, Mass.)

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Soulforce Equality Ride:

  1. Gay protesters arrested at ORU campus | More than 30 protesters called "Soulforce Equality Riders" stood in the cold across the street from Oral Roberts University. On the other side, a cluster of Tulsa Police waited for them to make their move (KOTV, Tulsa, Ok.)

  2. Gay rights group visits Union | A gay rights group made about an hour-long stop Saturday at Union University, calling on straight and gay students to help them to put an end to religion-based discrimination (Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  3. Erasing a message of hate | Lee University students scrub Equality Ride bus (WTVC, Chattanooga, Tenn.)

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  1. Ga. poised to okay Bible studies bill | Under the measure, which passed the House on Monday by a vote of 151-7, high school students could take state-funded elective courses on the history and literature of the Scriptures. Other states offer similar classes, but none is believed to have a law specifically authorizing classes on the Bible (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  2. Holier Than U. | Pensacola Christian College controls student life with strict rules. That doesn't bother some students as much as the realization, later on, that the college's lack of accreditation can harm them (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

  3. Ministers of debate | Why is the debate team at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University the best in the country? Resolved: It's all about Brett O'Donnell (The New York Times)

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  1. Suspended students still study at Norfolk church | For four hours, five days a week, suspended students can work on school assignments with direction and guidance from Land and other retired teachers (The Virginian-Pilot)

  2. More students choosing faith-based college life | Study shows a 70 percent increase in enrollment since 1990 (Orlando Business Journal)

  3. RC schools to purge non-Catholics | Catholic education leaders last night set themselves on a collision course with the courts after they pledged to purge their primary schools of teachers who don't actively practise the faith (Scotland on Sunday)

  4. To be a Christian college | One of Wheaton's top profs on the Hochschild affair (Alan Jacobs, First Things)

  5. Let all churches enjoy the freedom to teach | No philosophy of education is free of ideology. If as a parent I think faith is fundamental, why should I not be free to shape my child's education according to a religious ethos rather than a secular ideology to which I don't subscribe? (Stephen Plant,. The Times, London)

  6. A moral battleground, a civil discourse | Tragically, public schools have become front lines in the culture war over homosexuality — and the biggest losers are the kids caught in the crossfire of incendiary rhetoric and bitter lawsuits (Charles C. Haynes, USA Today)

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Tex. suit on Bible study ad:

  1. Plano district is sued again | Firm alleges violation of Bible study group's 1st Amendment rights (The Dallas Morning News)

  2. Student group sues Plano district | Students Witnessing Absolute Truth, a Bible-study group, was prohibited from posting an organizational description in the "Campus Programs" section of the Plano school district Web site (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  3. Student group sues Texas school district | A student organization sued a school district Monday, alleging officials prohibited them from posting information about their Bible study group on the district's Web site (Associated Press)

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  1. Scopes trial featured on religious trail | Project looks to detail area's diversity of beliefs (Associated Press)

  2. "Religious belief itself is an adaptation" | Sociobiology founder Edward O. Wilson explains why we're hard-wired to form tribalistic religions, denies that "evolutionism" is a faith, and says that heaven, if it existed, would be hell (

  3. S.C. standards don't require teaching Darwin's origin theory | Why are we really having this argument — to counter teaching that conflicts with some Christians' faith, or simply to fan the flames of the culture wars? (Cindi Ross Scoppe, The State, Columbia, S.C.)

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  1. Astronomy illuminates the glory of God | Astronomy has transformed the simple-minded, life-averse, meaningless Universe of the sceptical philosophers (John D Barrow, The Telegraph, London)

  2. The gods of cosmology | Questions about why we and the universe exist are worth asking even if there are no answers (Tim Radford, The Guardian, London)

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Rowan Williams on creationism and other subjects:

  1. Archbishop: stop teaching creationism | Williams backs science over Bible (The Guardian, London)

  2. 'I am comic vicar to the nation' | Gay priests … faith schools … a church at war with itself. Rowan Williams's first three years as Archbishop of Canterbury have been fraught with difficulties, and his critics have begged him to provide moral leadership. But, he tells Alan Rusbridger in a rare interview, that's just not his style (The Guardian, London)

  3. Transcript: Interview: Rowan Williams | This is the transcript of an interview between the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Guardian's editor Alan Rusbridger (The Guardian, London)

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Church life:

  1. Sermon surfin' | Preachers going online (The Winnipeg Sun)

  2. Illumination of a historic basilica | Baltimore Cathedral to reopen in November after restoration marking 200th anniversary (The Washington Post)

  3. Diocese fails to elect new bishop | Episcopalians in 'stalemate,' will resume voting Saturday (The Tennessean)

  4. Climbing Brokeback Mountain with the Anglicans | While it is still too early for despair over the future of the Anglican Communion (hopelessness is, after all, a mortal sin), it is much too late for optimism (David C. Steinmetz, The Orlando Sentinel)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Prison ministry spreads to 3 states | What started as one Bible study at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center has grown to an effort that has included thousands of volunteers lending support during the last quarter century (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)

  2. eBay atheist | Emerging markets: Souls, for sale and/or saving (The Village Voice)

  3. Why are the God botherers back? | Round comes the spring again, late, but with the usual goings-on: huge, bobbing clusters of frogs in the pond, snow, freezing winds, end-of-financial-year multiple roadworks and one new, rather worrying feature - a blossoming of religious groups (Michele Hanson, The Guardian, London)

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After Katrina:

  1. Spring ache | Instead of lolling on a beach, student volunteers are doing the back-breaking, muddy work of cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, alt.)

  2. Clergy urge Washington to end Katrina aid delays | Members of the clergy from 80 cities and 30 denominations called on Congress to quickly pass $4.2 billion in supplemental housing funding Louisiana has requested so thousands of evacuees scattered around the country can come home (Reuters)

  3. Methodists mull future of churches | Plan tackles post-Katrina reality (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)

  4. Storied church may be victim of Katrina | St. Augustine, founded in 1841, is called vital link to culture of New Orleans (The Washington Post)

  5. Also: Supporters of parish hold fast | Activists take stand in rectory (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)

  6. Also: Protesters lock themselves in rectory | Ten people locked themselves into the rectory of one of the nation's oldest black Roman Catholic churches Monday to protest a decision to merge it with another parish (Associated Press)

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  1. John Paul the miracle worker? | Last year, Monsignor Slawomir Oder opened one of the many letters he receives from people who think Pope John Paul should be declared a saint. He felt a strange sensation. This letter was different (Reuters)

  2. Hispanic Catholics celebrate faith in harmony | Worshipers jam D.C. Armory for weekend revival (The Washington Post)

  3. Three SB parishes to be condensed | Booming population and a shortage of priests is forcing the Diocese of San Bernardino to consolidate three parishes into a single larger one, a move that will eventually close three local churches (San Bernardino Sun, Ca.)

  4. A battle for the very soul of the church | History of Catholicism condemns Benedict, yet author Robert Blair Kaiser remains hopeful (San Francisco Chronicle)

  5. Pope could show charity to women | Benedict dropped a bombshell, saying it is right to ask if 'more space' can be given women in ministry (Phyllis Zagano, Newsday)

  6. Pope Benedict XVI's gracious governance a refreshing surprise | Far-right conservatives have been disappointed and liberals relieved (Patrick J. Howell, The Seattle Times)

  7. Life with my father, the rebel priest | The Da Vinci Code court case has renewed interest in Charles Davis's theory, first explored in The Observer, that Jesus could have married. Here the priest's daughter, Claire Henderson Davis, tells how her father found in his own marriage a sacred love that the church could not offer (The Observer, London)

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  1. In the dark about gays | Her church stumbles when it draws the line (Beverly Beckham, The Boston Globe)

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The new cardinals:

  1. O'Malley: 'Many signs of hope' | 'Passing on faith' is key challenge (The Boston Globe)

  2. Also: A Globe conversation with Archbishop O'Malley | Full transcript of interview (The Boston Globe)

  3. Sentiment-filled journey | In small groups, Catholics plan trip for O'Malley (The Boston Globe)

  4. 10 questions for William J. Levada | On Friday, William J. Levada, former Archbishop of San Francisco, will become the first new Cardinal to be elevated by Pope Benedict XVI at a Vatican ceremony. Levada already has the Pontiff's old job maintaining Roman Catholic orthodoxy as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, making him the most influential U.S. prelate in history (Time Europe)

  5. Local Catholics fete a flock of Angeleno cardinals | William J. Levada's installation will put three L.A. natives in the College of Cardinals (Los Angeles Times)

  6. Long Beach group celebrates new cardinal | Old high school friends and students of his alma mater are heading to Rome to watch the installation of William Levada by the pope (Los Angeles Times)

  7. Romney takes a trip to the Vatican | Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a possible presidential candidate in 2008, has received a special invitation — to attend the elevation of Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley to cardinal at the Vatican (Associated Press)

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Catholic-Orthodox relations:

  1. Russian patriarch communicates with pope | The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has told Pope Benedict XVI he hopes for a "rapid resolution" of ongoing problems that divide the Catholic and Orthodox churches, according to a letter released Friday by the Vatican (Associated Press)

  2. Pope Benedict greets Armenian patriarch | Pope Benedict XVI recalled the "terrible persecution" Armenians suffered under Turkish rule 90 years ago during an audience Monday with an Armenian Catholic patriarch (Associated Press)

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Orthodox finance probe:

  1. Orthodox Church fires chancellor, orders probe | Facing allegations of financial mismanagement, the Orthodox Church in America has fired its longtime chancellor and brought in an independent law firm to conduct a full investigation, church officials said yesterday (The Washington Post)

  2. Church looks to clean house | The Orthodox Church in America, facing an escalating financial scandal, has ousted its longtime chancellor and launched an investigation into how church officials spent millions of dollars in charitable donations (The Bergen Record, N.J.)

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  1. Top Orthodox Church official dismissed in controversy over finances | A prominent critic of the church's financial practices praised the moves, while an attorney for the Rev. Robert Kondratick, the ousted chancellor, said his client is a scapegoat (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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Alabama church fires:

  1. Suspects will not make bond | If they were released, state would arrest them (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  2. Also: Church fire suspects decline to post bond | Three college students accused in a string of rural Alabama church fires will not seek release on bond on the federal charges, their attorneys said (Associated Press)

  3. Case remains unsolved in last of 10 church fires | Authorities are still pushing to solve the 10th and final fire in a series of church arsons in rural Alabama last month (Associated Press)

  4. Church fires spur decency | There was no hate here, just stupidity and incalculable indifference to the consequences of such an unthinkable act (Editorial, The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

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  1. Norwich ex-pastor pleads not guilty | The former head of the Norwich Assembly of God faces charges of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of risk of injury to a minor for two alleged incidents involving the daughter of church member who also claims she was inappropriately groped (Norwich Bulletin, Ct.)

  2. 8 clergymen are dismissed by the Vatican | Boston-area clerics accused of sexually abusing children (The Boston Globe)

  3. Also: Vatican defrocks Boston monsignor, priests | In a statement, Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley expressed his "deepest sorrow for the grievous harm" done by Monsignor Frederick Ryan and the other Boston priests (Associated Press)

  4. Quest to heal leads abuse victim to face old demons | Psychologists and victims' advocates say it is common for survivors of child sexual abuse to want to meet their abusers (The Washington Post)

  5. Abuse scandals lower church's status in Ireland | Many hold Catholic priests in lower regard after revelations of sexual abuse (Austin American-Statesman, Tex.)

  6. Cardinal: I should've done more | Two damning reports released by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago Monday show how missteps by Cardinal Francis George and a host of other church officials allowed an accused pedophile priest to remain in ministry for years with unfettered access to scores of children (Chicago Sun-Times)

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  1. Audit says archdiocese botched abuse inquiry | Outside study says monitoring of priests was deeply flawed (Chicago Tribune)

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  1. Plaintiffs in Paulk lawsuit ask judge to ban property transfer | Plaintiffs suing Bishop Earl Paulk for alleged sexual misconduct asked a judge on Friday to prevent his south DeKalb County megachurch from transferring property to protect it from their legal claims (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  2. State: Juice was spiked with soap | The grape juice that sickened 40 people at a Darien church last month was spiked with dish soap, the state reported (Stamford Advocate, Ct.)

  3. Unheard cries | It was no secret that Dena Schlosser suffered from postpartum psychosis. So why wasn't Maggie saved? (The Dallas Morning News)

  4. A pastor's worst nightmare | One of your parishioners is in the headlines, the police have filed charges, he's telling you he's innocent, and your phone's ringing off the hook. This is the dilemma faced by Covenant Life Church, the mega-church in Gaithersburg attended by Claude Allen (The Washington Times)

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  1. Lakeport priest sues law firm for bad advice | A Lakeport priest ordered to pay more than $1.6 million for allegedly allowing the estate of a monsignor to lose its value has filed a lawsuit against the law firm he hired to assist him (The Citizen, Laconia, N.H.)

  2. Scalia loosens up | It is one thing when politicians and pundits deplore activist judges who claim to discover rights in the Constitution that had lain undiscovered for 200 years. It is something different when a jurist of undoubted brilliance declares flatly that ''judges are unqualified to give the people's answer to moral questions" (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)

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Da Vinci Code:

  1. The Daily Grail: 'Da Vinci Code' trial wraps up | The "Da Vinci Code" copyright infringement trial, which ended in a London courtroom Monday, combined lively peeks into a celebrity author's lifestyle and hours of legal arcana so numbing that they put a white-wigged attorney to sleep within feet of the judge (The Washington Post)

  2. 'Da Vinci' lawyer casts doubt on Brown | Arguments closed in "The Da Vinci Code" copyright case with the lawyer for the men suing the publisher of the blockbuster novel suggesting that author Dan Brown's testimony was unreliable and questioning why his wife, who helped research the best seller, did not testify (Associated Press)

  3. "Da Vinci Code" case ends, ruling by early April (Reuters)

  4. Leonardo couldn't dream up better publicity | The Da Vinci Code goes from best-selling book to big-screen blockbuster amid the sort of ticket-selling controversy that studios pray for (Business Week)

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  1. `Da Vinci' galvanizes Christians | But best-seller flourishes, despite critics and suits (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

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  1. 'Best Life' redux | Osteen's megadeal is one more layer of religious crossover (Houston Chronicle)

  2. Clear and present dangers | A former Republican strategist characterizes the movement he helped build as ideologically extreme and dangerously shortsighted. Alan Brinkley reviews American Theocracy (The New York Times)

  3. The unholy alliance | Kevin Phillips believes the U.S. is threatened by a combination of petroleum, preachers and debt (Time)

  4. Reviewing the evidence regarding Founders' religion | Claude Marx reviews The Faiths of the Founding Fathers by David L. Holmes (The Washington Times)

  5. Is it all piety in the sky? | As fundamentalism increasingly affects us all, Lewis Wolpert and Daniel Dennett address the very nature of religion. Robin McKie reviews Six Impossible Things and Breaking the Spell (The Guardian, London)

  6. Putting the heat on rich and powerful Sydney for the woes of Australian Anglicanism | Barney Zwartz reviews The New Puritans: The Rise of Fundamentalism in the Anglican Church by Muriel Porter (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  7. In Christian chick lit, God trumps sex, booze | An echo of the enormously popular "Left Behind" series, but with cute shoes and nail polish (Debra Pickett, Chicago Sun-Times)

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Art, entertainment, and media:

  1. Donations rise 21% for Robertson's TV ministry | Pat Robertson's television ministry continues to ride a wave of ever-mounting contributions, which have almost doubled in less than a decade (The Virginian-Pilot)

  2. Borrowed images | John Singer Sargent's murals for the Boston Public Library were to be his 'American Sistine Chapel.' Instead the paintings touched off a nationwide controversy over their depiction of religious figures (The Boston Globe)

  3. Rich in faith | A photographer documents the unusual places used for worship by impoverished congregations in Baltimore and 20 other U.S. cities (The Baltimore Sun)

  4. 'South Park'-Scientology battle rages on | "So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!" the "South Park" creators said in a statement Friday in Daily Variety. "Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies … You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail!" (Associated Press)

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  1. Catholic weekly 'The Tablet' re-launches | As Catholic weekly 'The Tablet' seeks to build on its recent successes with a re-launch, Ciar Byrne talks to its editor, and assesses the impact of the Christian press (The Independent)

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Money & business:

  1. Amazon says technology, not ideology, skewed results | modified its search engine after an abortion rights organization complained that search results appeared skewed toward anti-abortion books (The New York Times)

  2. Also: modifies 'abortion' queries | Inc. said Monday it had modified the way its search engine handles queries for the term "abortion" after receiving an e-mail complaint that the results appeared biased (Associated Press)

  3. Go with God | Through Africa on a luxury Christian safari (The New York Times)

  4. Values chain | How a Mennonite retailer taps into "other centered" purchasing behaviors (The New York Times)

  5. Melding Quaker ethics and business | Margaret Benefiel's Executive Soul firm promotes the coupling of Quaker tradition, known for its commitment to peace and social justice, with the hard-headed pursuit of business success (The Boston Globe)

  6. Investing as an act of faith | Some put their money where their beliefs are, but the passion of their convictions may have a price (The Kansas City Star, Mo.)

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  1. Civil rights pioneer delivers last sermon | The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who worked with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the fight against segregation, retired from the ministry Sunday, delivering his final sermon as pastor of the church he founded 40 years ago (Associated Press)

  2. The cost of courage | Pastor suffered for attempts to make peace between two historic forces (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)

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  1. Most evangelicals are seeing the error of 'replacement theology' | So says John Hagee (David Horovitz, The Jerusalem Post)

  2. Wanted: Gap-spanning theologians | As Reinhold Niebuhr once did, who can speak credibly to church and world? (William McKenzie, The Dallas Morning News)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. Rabbi says wrath of God behind Israel bird flu | "The Bible says that God punishes depravity first through plagues against animals and then in people," Rabbi David Basri said in a religious edict quoted by his son (Reuters)

  2. Faith debate familiar to Franklin | What would Ben do? Same as us, one philosopher posits—wonder (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  3. Church members see God in sanctuary's drywall | Members of a Saraland church say a buckling of drywall in the sanctuary resembles a crucifixion and works miracles (Mobile Register, Ala.)

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March 17 | 16 | 15
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

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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