Some of this week's top stories:

1. Afghan Christian takes refuge in Italy

Abdul Rahman, who earlier this week was on trial for converting to Christianity from Islam, has been released and is now applying for asylum in Italy. Prosecutors dropped apostasy charges against him, saying they didn't have enough evidence (earlier this week Rahman was reported as saying, "I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in Christ. And I am a Christian") and that he may suffer mental illness. The U.N. said it intervened in the case to ensure Rahman's rights and that Afghanistan did not want to ruin relationships with its backers in the West.

2. S.F. officials protest Christian youth rally

"They're loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting, and they should get out of San Francisco." That's what San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno told a crowd protesting against a Christian youth rally. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Battle Cry for a Generation is led by a 44-year-old Concord native, Ron Luce, who wants 'God's instruction book' to guide young people away from the corrupting influence of popular culture." The Chronicle editorialized, "The irony was obviously lost on the clueless San Francisco supervisors when they passed a resolution warning that a Christian youth gathering could 'negatively influence the politics of America's most tolerant and progressive city.'"

3. Baylor prof. denied tenure

Francis Beckwith was denied tenure at Baylor University. Is this a hint at the direction in which the school is heading? Beckwith was one of several scholars brought in as part of the school's Vision 2012. Jody Bottum at First Things lists his accomplishments: "Author of several books, including a new volume forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, he was associate director of the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State studies, associate professor of Church-State studies, and associate editor of the Journal of Church & State. … None of this, of course, proves that he deserves tenure, but it looks awfully impressive when compared with the publication records of other faculty members."

Beckwith is appealing the decision, and Weblog has seen no comment from Baylor.

You'll want to read Bottum in full (as well as Graduate Student "X" in The American Spectator). In summary, Bottum says, Vision 2012 "is in tatters, and Baylor has apparently decided to sink back into its diminished role as a not terribly distinguished regional school." Today, Bottum asks potential profs, "Why would you risk your career at a place like Baylor?" and students, "If you were one of those bright, young Christian students, why would you want to go to Baylor in the first place?"

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Abdul Rahman | War & terrorism | CPT hostages | Islam | Judaism | Catholicism | Closing Catholic parishes | Marriage & family | Church life | Missions & ministry | Religion & homosexuality | Same-sex marriage | Politics & law | 'War on Christians' | Ralph Reed | Immigration | Church & state | Georgia okays Bible as textbook | Life ethics | U.K. pro-life group targets Catholic school | Crime | Sex trafficking | People | Da Vinci | Books | Entertainment & media | Science & health | More articles of interest

Abdul Rahman:

  1. Afghan Christian given asylum in Italy | The Afghan man who faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity received asylum in Italy Wednesday, despite requests by lawmakers in Afghanistan that he be barred from fleeing the conservative Muslim country. (Associated Press)

  2. Italy welcomes man who fled Afghanistan | Italy granted asylum Wednesday to an Afghan who faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity, and Premier Silvio Berlusconi said the man was in the care of the Interior Ministry after arriving in Italy earlier in the day. (Associated Press)

  3. U.N. defends intervention in Afghan convert case | The United Nations said on Thursday it intervened in the case of an Afghan Christian who had faced death for abandoning Islam to ensure his rights and because the country's ties with its main backers were in grave danger. (Reuters)

  4. Afghan Christian convert granted asylum in Italy | An Afghan Christian convert who had faced the death penalty for abandoning Islam arrived in Italy and was granted asylum, Italy said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

  5. Afghan convert vanishes after release | An Afghan man who had faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity quickly vanished Tuesday after he was released from prison, apparently out of fear for his life with Muslim clerics still demanding his death (Associated Press)

  6. Afghan Christian convert is freed | An Afghan threatened with execution for abandoning Islam for Christianity has been freed, Kabul said on Tuesday, after pressure from the Western states whose troops helped bring the Afghan government to power (Reuters)

  7. 'I want to read Bible in peace': Afghan convert | Abdul Rahman, the Afghan who risked the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity, has thanked Italy for granting him political asylum, saying he will finally be able to read the Bible in peace. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

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  1. Convert case causes row between Afghan Supreme Court and parliament | The release of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan national who risked the death penalty for converting to Christianity, has triggered a row between the Afghan Supreme Court and the newly established parliament, reports said on Thursday. (Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates)

  2. UN may be protecting Afghan freed in conversion case | Abdul Rahman, threatened with the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity in a case that drew Western condemnation, disappeared yesterday. (Chicago Tribune, via The Boston Globe)

  3. Afghan convert arrives in Italy as protests mount in homeland | Abdul Rahman, the Afghan convert to Christianity who faced a possible death sentence in his homeland for rejecting Islam, has arrived in Italy and will be granted political asylum here, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday. (Washington Post)

  4. In Kabul, a test for Shariah | The news that a man in Afghanistan might face a death sentence for converting to Christianity brought cries of outrage around the world last week (The New York Times)

  5. Afghan convert to Christianity is released | The Justice Ministry has released a jailed Afghan man who faced the death penalty for converting to Christianity, a spokesman said (The New York Times)

Opinions & editorials:

  1. Muslims demand respect - but not for Christians | Abdul Rahman's case is just one among many in the Islamic world of people who are facing the ultimate penalty (Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, The Telegraph, London)

  2. Inequality in taking offense? | The impending execution of Abdul Rahman for embracing Christianity is, of course, offensive to Westerners, and so around the world we reacted equally violently by issuing blood-curdling threats like that made by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack: "Freedom of worship is an important element of any democracy," he said. "And these are issues as Afghan democracy matures that they are going to have to deal with increasingly" (Mark Steyn, The Washington Times)

  3. Unfathomable zealotry | What strikes me about the threat to execute Abdul Rahman, the Afghan who converted to Christianity, is not that Afghanistan remains deeply medieval and not even remotely the democracy that George W. Bush would like it to be, but that with the exception of the (largely) Christian West, the rest of the world has been mostly silent (Richard Cohen, The Washington Post)

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  1. The crescent and the gavel | Abdul Rahman's case should remind us of how important it is to help Afghanistan develop competent and independent judges if we want its democracy to succeed (J Alexander Thier, The New York Times)

  2. Cheating death | God only knows what finally saved Abdul Rahman, an Afghan who last week faced death for converting from Islam to Christianity. Afghan judges were ready to try and execute him for apostasy, but they threw out his case over the weekend. (Editorial, Toledo Blade)

  3. High price of freedom | Though the timing of the two events was entirely coincidental, we couldn't help notice that on the same day that a Canadian soldier, Pte. Robert Costall, died defending his fellow soldiers in a firefight with Taliban insurgents, Abdul Rahman was freed from an Afghanistan prison where he had been held while on trial for apostasy for the crime of converting from Islam to Christianity, and had potentially been facing the death penalty. (Editorial, Winnipeg Sun, Canada)

Other reactions:

  1. Converting the intolerant | Bush and other Western leaders must convey to Muslim moderates how deep the divide with the West will become if they let fundamentalists enforce laws that violate basic human rights (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  2. Sacking Jesus, saving a convert | Sometimes an editor is tempted to assign the religion reporter to cover war, revolution and other hostile gunplay and sectarian sword fighting (Wesley Pruden, The Washington Times)

War & terrorism:

  1. A pointed symbol brings cross words | Around the nation, the icons erected as memorials to service members killed in Iraq inspire bitter exchanges, even violence (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Uganda deports US evangelist accused of terrorism | Uganda deported an American evangelist who was charged with terrorism after detectives found assault rifles hidden in his bedroom just days before last month's election, the country's police chief said on Tuesday (Reuters)

CPT hostages:

  1. Hostage's homosexuality was kept quiet | Fears that Iraqi captors might harm a Canadian hostage if they knew he was gay forced his partner to remain silent as loved ones called for an end to the ordeal, a director from the freed hostage's aid group said Monday (Associated Press)

  2. Freed Canadian hostage returns home | A Canadian held hostage in Iraq for four months before being rescued by U.S. and British forces reunited with his family Sunday, expressing disbelief at being retrieved from "a black hole" (Associated Press)

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  1. Local Islam experts see religion, politics in Afghan's travails | Conversion outcry part of growing pains (Denver Post)

  2. 'Cancer in its midst' | During the dark days of our Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, "That these are the times, that try men's souls." As an American Muslim, I feel the sentiment of these words like a red-hot brand on my brain. (M. Zuhdi Jasser, The Washington Times)

  3. Muslim woman wins case vs. Dutch school | A Muslim woman who refuses to shake men's hands for religious reasons cannot be barred from a Dutch teacher-training program (Associated Press)

  4. Conversion prosecutions rare to Muslims | In the Middle East, Jordan is known as a tolerant country, but when a Muslim man converted to Christianity two years ago, a court convicted him of apostasy, took away his right to work and annulled his marriage. Such prosecutions are rare — because they're hardly ever needed (Associated Press)

  5. Skullcap on recruit's head keeps him from serving in Coast Guard | Wearing a visible piece of religious garb violates Coast Guard regulations, which has kept Jack Rosenberg from serving his country (The New York Times)

  6. What Islam says on religious freedom | Freedom of belief is enshrined in the Koran - the foremost textual authority in laying down the principles of Islamic law. But there is disagreement among Muslim scholars as to the limits of that freedom (BBC)

  7. Absorbing Europe's Muslims | Europe simply cannot get used to the fact that it has become an immigrant target. From about 1800 to 1920, Europe exported some 85 million people to the New World. Now this trend has reversed itself, and Europe has become a net importer. (H.D.S. Greenway, The Boston Globe)

  8. Law, family, and society discourage conversion in Muslim nations | The law heavily discourages -- or outright forbids -- conversion by Muslims in most nations in the region. But weighing against it even more heavily are the powerful influences of family and society. (Associated Press)

  9. Canberra tightens rules on religious visas | Australia is seeking to impose stricter conditions on Muslim clerics entering the country on religious workers' visas, in an attempt to keep out extremists. (UPI)


  1. As a synagogue comes down, a culture disappears, too | The synagogue is the last in Tajikistan, and will soon fall victim to redevelopment and the declining Jewish population in this remote post-Soviet state. (The New York Times)

  2. Kindling the spirit of Passover | For Jewish cookbook author Joan Nathan, the best part of the Seder is keeping alive old family recipes and traditions. (Sun-Sentinel, Fla.)

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  1. Non-Catholics support John Paul II's cause | The Vatican reports that support for the beatification of Pope John Paul II is coming from Protestants, non-Christians and even agnostics. (UPI)

  2. Fewer churches, but Mass attendance in Boston Archdiocese rises | The number of people attending Mass in the Boston Archdiocese has risen slightly since widespread church closings began, despite dozens fewer parishes, some tumultuous closings and a sharply falling Catholic population. (Associated Press)

  3. Hearing God's call in search for happiness | Catholic leaders focus on positive to combat drop in priests and nuns (Washington Post)

  4. Catholic bishops undergo another audit | The nation's Roman Catholic bishops have undergone another audit to see if they are complying with the U.S. church's toughened sex abuse policy, though not all the dioceses have been visited by investigators. (Associated Press)

  5. Call to prayer for mobile Catholics | The Roman Catholic Church is offering mobile phone users the chance to "pray, protest and ponder" by text message (The Times, London)

  6. Irish spirituality undimmed by scandal | The generally warm welcome last month for a disgraced former bishop of Galway, after years in self-imposed exile, and new data suggesting church-going may be rising, show prosperity and scandal need not spell the end of spirituality (Reuters)

  7. Pope visit to Moscow looks increasingly possible | Some differences remain to be ironed out before Pope Benedict could make the trip, but a new spirit in bilateral talks has already brought progress, Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican's Council for Christian Unity, told Reuters (Reuters)

  8. Pope to use Turkey trip to help West-Islam dialogue | So says Walter Kasper (Reuters)

  9. For priests, a weighty matter | Hectic schedules and solo living make weight gain a job hazard for Christian clergy (The Washington Post)

  10. A shift at Arlington altar | Female servers make debut at Our Lady Queen of Peace (The Washington Post)

  11. Reports: Pope says he will visit China | Pope Benedict XVI told a delegation from Hong Kong he will visit China in what would be an extraordinary papal visit to the communist nation, but he said the trip's timing depends on "God's wish," media reports said Tuesday (Associated Press)

  12. For a parish in the suburbs, it's time for a big new church | The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York's plans for a sweeping reorganization, announced on Tuesday, offered good news for St. Margaret and a handful of other parishes that will get new and larger churches. (The New York Times)

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  1. Albanian Muslims resist statue of Teresa | Muslims in Shkoder, in northern Albania, are opposing plans to erect a statue to the Roman Catholic nun Mother Teresa, an ethnic Albanian who is in line for elevation to sainthood by the Vatican. (The New York Times)

Closing Catholic parishes:

  1. As the East Village revives, a church withers | The plain church on Second Avenue near Second Street inspired hope for many in the East Village during the neighborhood's worst of times — the crime-ridden, drug-infested decades of the 1960's, 70's and 80's. Today, the neighborhood has rebounded. Paradoxically, however, that has helped pave the way for a once-thriving church's demise. (The New York Times)

  2. New York Archdiocese sets biggest closing in its 150 years | The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York announced plans yesterday for the most sweeping reorganization in its history of more than 150 years, recommending the closing of 31 parishes and 14 schools throughout the metropolitan region. (The New York Times)

  3. Detroit Archdiocese to reduce parishes | The Archdiocese of Detroit announced plans Wednesday to close or merge 16 parishes, most of them in or near the city, under a five-year reorganization plan. (Associated Press)

  4. Archdiocese of New Orleans closes church | One of the nation's oldest black churches will be shut down indefinitely because protesters fighting a consolidation plan interrupted Mass, the archbishop of New Orleans said Monday (Associated Press)

  5. Windows of faith move to new walls | Churches welcome saved stained glass (The Boston Globe)

Marriage & family:

  1. The long divorce | Modernizing New York's divorce law will not be easy, but it is the right and humane thing for lawmakers to do (Editorial, The New York Times)

  2. Adoption 'priority' bill assailed | An Arizona adoption bill that gives "priority" to married couples has set off protests about discrimination against homosexual and single parents. (Washington Times)

Church life:

  1. Church aims to counter 'entertainment-driven' worship | Christ Church is a serious "teaching church," drawing both thinking skeptics who struggle with the intellectual credibility of the Christian faith, and those who want an in-depth understanding of the Bible from a more traditional viewpoint. (Contra Costa Times, Calif.)

  2. A different kind of Lent | Orthodox have it their way (San Mateo County Times, Calif.)

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  1. Twain evoked by both sides in church flap | Mark Twain's name is being evoked by both sides in a dustup over plans to demolish the First Presbyterian Church in Carson City to make room for a new one (Associated Press)

  2. African Christianity boom spills to U.S. | The Redeemed Church is part of a boom in African churches establishing American outposts (Associated Press)

  3. Redeemed Church takes Nollywood by storm | Now playing across Nigeria: The saga of a church that self-produced a few films and became an instant mogul in the country's giant movie marketplace known as Nollywood (Associated Press)

  4. Archbishop holds talks over fear of a schism | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has invited senior bishops and advisers to a private meeting in London in the clearest indication to date that Anglican church leaders are braced for a schism (The Times, London)

  5. Church ousts dominatrix from vicarage | A South African dominatrix has given up her battle to live in a vicarage, telling the church's congregation they can "shove" the disputed residence, a local newspaper reported Wednesday. (Reuters)

  6. Wejryd named as Swedish archbishop | Anders Wejryd, the bishop of Växjö, has been named Sweden's new archbishop after winning Thursday's decisive vote, the Swedish Church has announced. (The Local, Sweden)

Missions & ministry:

  1. Eyes opened to the homeless | Activists spring from program in which churches take turns as shelters (Washington Post)

  2. Both sides in parody dispute agree on a term: Unhappy | Justin Watts, a blogger who posted a parody of Exodus International's ad aimed at gay people, received cease and desist letters from the Christian group's lawyers (The New York Times)

  3. Former Muslims reach out | A Bay Area alliance spreads the Gospel by satellite to Iran and elsewhere in the world of Islam, where a leap of faiths can put converts in danger (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Ex-stripper spreads gospel to those in sex industry | Heather Veitch and volunteers do their evangelizing in strip clubs and online (Los Angeles Times)

  5. Easter sunrise service returning to the Bowl | Canceled the last two years because of construction work, the nondenominational event will celebrate its 85th anniversary (Los Angeles Times)

  6. Isaiahs are in short supply | Truly reducing violence involves changing hearts and minds (Diane Winston, Los Angeles Times)

  7. Churches urge sexual abstinence on May 25 | In an effort to intensify the battle against HIV/Aids, the Eastern Cape Provincial Council of Churches (ECPCC) has called for Ascension Day to be a day of sexual abstinence and fasting. (Dispatch Online, South Africa)

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  1. San Bernardino event to unite area ministers for discussions | Hundreds of pastors who share the same vision for reducing violence, the same fervor for feeding the hungry and the same passion for ministry will gather this weekend to discuss how they can do these things together. (Minnesota Daily)

Religion & homosexuality:

  1. Gay priest to lead Lutheran congregation in SF | Saint Francis Lutheran Church sets itself up for a possible confrontation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (KCBS, San Francisco)

  2. B&B law sparks Bible backlash | Hundreds of B&B owners across the country have been writing to ministers complaining that the new rules will force them to 'betray God' and their consciences by allowing 'undesirables' to enjoy their hospitality. (The Observer, London)

  3. Soulforce seems to confuse Scripture on homosexuality | Soulforce is a group of homosexual activists, targeting religious schools with the purpose of challenging adversaries to end what Soulforce sees as discrimination. This past week, the gay/lesbian organization visited two of Oklahoma's privately funded Christian universities. (Anita Fish, The Edmond Sun, Okla.)

Same-sex marriage:

  1. Mass. high court says nonresident gays cannot marry in Mass. | The court that made Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage ruled Thursday that same-sex couples from other states cannot marry here. (Associated Press)

  2. Gay marriage among looming ballot issues | The divisive issues that spurred voter turnout in 2004 and helped decide the presidency will be back with a vengeance in November. (Associated Press)

  3. Australian government to block gay civil unions | Australia's conservative national government, which opposes homosexual marriages, said on Thursday it will overturn any new law legalizing gay civil unions in the national capital. (Reuters)

  4. Minnesota amendment could curb gay rights | A marriage amendment to the Minnesota Constitution would open doors for legal challenges to benefits for unmarried couples -- gay and straight. (UPI)

  5. Gay-marriage storm could erupt in Minnesota | The political storm in the Badger State could swirl into Minnesota. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

S.F. officials protest Christian youth rally:

  1. Evangelical teens rally in S.F. | More than 25,000 evangelical Christian youth landed Friday in San Francisco for a two-day rally at AT&T Park against "the virtue terrorism" of popular culture, and they were greeted by an official city condemnation and a clutch of protesters who said their event amounted to a "fascist mega-pep rally." (San Francisco Chronicle)

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  1. Intolerant city | The Irony was obviously lost on the clueless San Francisco supervisors when they passed a resolution warning that a Christian youth gathering could "negatively influence the politics of America's most tolerant and progressive city." (Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle)

Politics & law:

  1. Fighting an `unholy alliance' | Rabbi's calls out to `religious left' (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  2. Christian heads in Israel, PA warn against unilateral moves | The leaders of the Christian faith in Israel and the Palestinian territories expressed concern over the possibility that the newly elected Israeli government will continue its unilateral withdrawal from the territories. (Ha'aretz, Israel)

  3. Evangelicals reconsider Bush's drive in Mideast | Case of Christian in Afghanistan alarms activists (Forward)

  4. Sinners in the hands of an angry GOP | At a messianic "War on Christians" conference, Tom DeLay warned that "the future of man hangs in the balance" as other righteous souls demanded that gay sex be explicitly described to restore "shame." (Salon)

  5. Time to stall a Bush nominee | The vote on the nomination of Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach to become commissioner of the F.D.A. should not take place until the agency tackles the morning-after pill (Editorial, The New York Times)

  6. Former DeLay aide enriched by nonprofit | Bulk of U.S. Family Network's funds tied to Abramoff (The Washington Post)

  7. Romney, a Mormon, supports Catholics as he eyes White House | Four decades after John F. Kennedy reassured a nervous electorate that a Catholic could be president, another Massachusetts politician with presidential ambitions is hoping to break a different religious glass ceiling at the White House (Associated Press)

  8. 'Values voters' call for congressional action | A summit of evangelical Christians and conservative Catholic and Jewish activists yesterday produced a "Values Voters' Contract with Congress," an outline of what the religiously minded expect their elected representatives to bring about in the near future (The Washington Times)

  9. Conservative groups warn GOP | Social-conservative groups have warned Republicans that their voters feel unappreciated and frustrated with Congress and that the party must get more aggressive on such values issues as marriage, human cloning, religious freedom and abortion if they want a decent turnout from the conservative base in November (The Washington Times)

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  1. Christian right weighs in on GOP nomination battle | Republicans who may run in '08 affirm their views (Los Angeles Times, via The Boston Globe)

  2. Moscow Patriarchate: The US is not objective in assessing religious freedom oversees | Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for external church relations metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad thinks that the USA use biased sources of information for assessing religious freedom in other countries. (Interfax, Russia)

Opinion & editorial:

  1. Breaking the faith | Whom is DeLay calling 'enemies of virtue'? (Editorial, Dallas Morning News)

  2. Fault lines widen between evangelicals and the GOP | The alliance of religious conservatives and the Republican Party, which has come to dominate American politics over the past three decades, is in trouble. (David Domke, Seattle Times)

  3. Santorum's challenge | Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has the dubious distinction of being the GOP's most vulnerable incumbent, but all that could change once Democratic voters know more about his pro-life opponent (Donald Lambro, The Washington Times)

  4. Right is might for GOP's aspirants | But social and religious conservatives' influence may be limited by the fact that they have not rallied around one candidate (Los Angeles Times)

  5. Keeping the faith, globally | Evangelical Christians have no interest in the U.S. becoming isolationist (Gregory Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times)

'War on Christians':

  1. 'War' on Christians is alleged | Conference depicts a culture hostile to evangelical beliefs (Washington Post)

  2. Redemption among the faithful | Tom DeLay fell from power because he is a Christian. That, at least, is the view of Rick Scarborough, convener of a conference this week called "The War on Christians." (Washington Post)

Ralph Reed:

  1. From a conservative, a lack of compassion for Ralph Reed | One of his toughest critics is Marvin Olasky, a close associate of President Bush who helped developed the administration's faith-based initiative and the concept of "compassionate conservatism." (The Washington Post)

  2. Prosecutor won't look into lobbying by Ralph Reed | A Texas prosecutor rejected a request by watchdog groups to investigate whether Christian activist Ralph Reed violated lobbying-registration laws, removing a potential headache for Reed in his campaign for lieutenant governor of Georgia (Bloomberg)

  3. Reed off the hook: Texas case too old | Prosecutor ends lobbying probe (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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  1. Coast-to-coast 'movement' rages on | The Roman Catholic Church, dozens of grass-roots coalitions and Spanish-language radio disc jockeys have helped fuel protests nationwide against congressional efforts to tackle illegal immigration. (The Washington Times)

  2. Immigrants to be proud of | Everybody says the Republicans are split on immigration. The law-and-order types want to close the border. The free-market types want plentiful labor. But today I want to talk to the social conservatives, because it's you folks who are really going to swing this debate. (David Brooks, The New York Times)

  3. Church groups coalesce in support of immigrants | A wide range of religious groups have been serving a critical role in recent efforts to push Congress to pass what they call humane immigration reforms. (Scripps-McClatchy Western Service)

Church & state:

  1. Tennessee's religious heritage trail | The courthouse where the Scopes evolution trial took place will be the signature attraction of a religious heritage trail opening in April in southeast Tennessee, but promoters hope the diversity of sites will surprise visitors and upend stereotypes (Associated Press)

  2. The Air Force's retreat | It's unfortunate that the Air Force, having struck the balance so well last year, was bullied by evangelical Christian groups and members of Congress into this unwise retreat (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  3. Chaplains group opposes prayer order | Guarantee on using Jesus's name not needed, it says (Washington Post)

  4. Government should stay out of religion | The United States was established by people who considered religion central to their lives. (Editorial, Centre Daily Times, Pa.)

  5. Controversial religious scholar to visit Lawrence | Wendy Doniger knows something about religious controversy. The University of Chicago religion professor has been in the middle of a national debate over whether books on Hinduism, especially those taught in schools, should be written by scholars who are not Hindu. (Lawrence Journal World, KS)

Georgia okays Bible as textbook:

  1. Georgia passes bill to fund Bible courses in public high schools | Georgia's Legislature on Monday passed a bill to fund elective Bible courses in public high schools, sparking concern among 1st Amendment advocates and generating praise from lawmakers worried that children are losing their grasp on one of Western civilization's most influential texts (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Georgia may OK Bible as textbook | If a new law passes, it would be the first state to make the Bible part of public school curriculum in modern times (The Christian Science Monitor)

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  1. Teaching the Bible in Georgia's public schools | Georgia is about to become the first state to approve the use of the Bible as a textbook in public schools. (The New York Times)

  2. Georgia may approve Bible as textbook | Georgia may become the first U.S. state to approve the Bible as a textbook in schools under a measure before the state legislature. (UPI)

Life ethics:

  1. Morning-after pill draw Catholic concerns | A growing number of states are considering laws that would require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims, drawing criticism from supporters of the Roman Catholic Church, which likens the morning-after pill to abortion (Associated Press)

  2. Desperate Kenyan women risk last-resort abortions | Health activists say tens of thousands of unsafe abortions are carried out every day worldwide, and by far the most take place in developing countries such as Kenya (Reuters)

  3. A man's right to choose | This is Joe's sperm. It contains his genetic material. When joined with an egg, it can produce offspring--as well as certain legal responsibilities. Does Joe have any say in all this? (The Boston Globe)

  4. Germans announce stem cell advance | Technique avoids use of embryos (The Boston Globe)

U.K. pro-life group targets Catholic school:

  1. Pro-life militants attack RC school | A militant anti-abortion group inspired by the pro-life movement in America has stepped up its campaign of intimidation in Britain by targeting a private Roman Catholic school because it teaches pupils about contraception (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Anti-abortionists turn sights on schools and hospitals in US-style campaign | Catholic teachers targeted by pro-life website (The Guardian, London)


  1. Minister's wife at first court appearance | Winkler had her first court appearance Monday to hear the charges against her. She was not called on to enter a plea, and her only words were "no sir," in a strong, clear voice, when the judge asked if she had any questions about her legal rights (Associated Press)

  2. Slain Tennessee minister eulogized | A slain minister was eulogized in front of his three young daughters at the church where he preached while his wife sat in a jail cell a few miles away, accused of his slaying. (Associated Press)

  3. Three students indicted for church fires | A federal grand jury indicted three college students Wednesday on conspiracy and arson charges related to nine church fires that plagued rural Alabama last month. (Associated Press)

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  1. Pastor accused of sexual abuse | L.A. and St. Louis police are investigating claims against Ward AME's Sylvester Laudermill (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Arrest is made in killing of veteran Harlem minister | A Brooklyn man was arrested last night and charged with stabbing to death a minister credited with helping to bring a blighted block of Harlem back to life. (The New York Times)

  3. National car scam preyed on faith | William and Pam Ulmer thought they were getting a legitimate bargain on a lowcost, late-model car because the sellers, like them, were billed as honest Christians. (Columbus Dispatch, Ohio)

Sex trafficking:

  1. A woman without importance | The judicial system in Pakistan may hand a young woman over to a brothel owner to do with her as he wants (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times, sub. req'd.)

  2. In disgrace, and facing death | A challenge for Asians and Americans alike is to change our worldview and put gender issues like sex trafficking higher on the global agenda (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times, sub. req'd.)


  1. Homage to the matriarch of First Baptist | Legacy, 95th birthday celebrated in Landover (Washington Post)

  2. Justice Scalia gives a sign, but no finger | Scalia was leaving Mass on Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross when the reporter asked the justice if he had to deal with much flak related to his conservative Roman Catholic beliefs, according to the newspaper (Associated Press)

  3. Desmond T. Doss, 87, heroic war objector, dies | Desmond T. Doss saved the lives of dozens of fellow soldiers under fire on Okinawa in World War II and became the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor (The New York Times)

  4. Desmond Doss, 87; WWII hero who refused to carry a gun (Los Angeles Times)

  5. Gilded martyr | A little saint looms large on a popular pilgrimage path (The Boston Globe)

  6. A preacher's credo: Eliminate the negative, accentuate prosperity | After a warm-up of rousing original rock and gospel hymns with lyrics and videos flashing on jumbo screens around the arena, Mr. Osteen began to speak. "We come with good news each week," he told the packed crowd at his gigachurch in his native Texan twang. The news for Mr. Osteen has lately been very good indeed. (The New York Times)

  7. Dutchman's biblical mission | Some people think he's crazy. His wife's not exactly thrilled either. But like the biblical Noah, Dutchman Johan Huibers is steadfast in his mission: he's building an enormous working replica of Noah's Ark as a testament to his faith in the literal truth of the Bible. (Sydney Morning Herald)

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Da Vinci:

  1. 'Da Vinci Code' rival releases new book | Dan Brown's novel goes on sale in paperback Tuesday with an advance printing of 5 million copies, the same day that HarperSanFrancisco is issuing "The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History" by Michael Baigent, with an initial hardcover print run of a much more modest 150,000 (Associated Press)

  2. "Da Vinci Code" fuels US religious publishing boom | A wave of religious books is coming to bookstores to cash in on "The Da Vinci Code" movie in May, including a book saying Jesus survived crucifixion and an Evangelical novel with a modern-day Mary Magdalene heroine. (Reuters)


  1. A historian's faithful account | Once rejecting religion, Karen Armstrong now sees it as a guidepost (Washington Post)

  2. Holy comic books! Saints are the latest superheroes | The lives of the saints have been turned into comic books by a publishing company hoping to attract young people to the Catholic Church (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Axis of ills | An indictment of recent Republican policies, domestic and foreign. Scott McLemee reviews American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips (The Boston Globe)

  4. Founder's faith | Biographers and historians have characterized the religious beliefs of George Washington as deist, saying he had a general belief in God but did not subscribe to Bible-based Christianity. This assertion is an error, say Michael Novak and Jana Novak, authors of "Washington's God: Religion, Liberty, and the Father of Our Country" (The Washington Times)

Entertainment & media:

  1. 'Narnia' reaches churches for Lent | Local ministers are drawing parallels between a novel from C.S. Lewis' famous series and Christ's death and resurrection. (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

  2. Bearing witness to outlaw faith | Show depicts the secret world of English Catholics (The Boston Globe)

  3. Nicholas Meyer's CBS pilot suggests Scientology-like design | Could a CBS fall pilot be the next flashpoint in Hollywood's growing conflict with Scientology? (Los Angeles Times)

  4. 'Soul' launches an absurd attack on Catholic art | ''The Rape of the Soul" is a fear-mongering, small-minded, and pathetically smutty polemic about art and the Roman Catholic Church. (The Boston Globe)

  5. Christian version of 'Idol' under way | First came "Pop Idol" in Britain; then the idea crossed the pond and morphed into "American Idol"; now comes "GIFTED," the Christian music version. (UPI)

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  1. Major networks shun liberal church ads | The four major U.S. broadcast networks have refused to run a liberal TV ad by the United Church of Christ showing churches ejecting unwanted people. (UPI)

  2. Church moderates seek airtime | Say TV networks interested only in conservative voices (Hartford Courant, Conn.)

Science & health:

  1. Drawing on faith to fight depression | Religious faith is a place for believers to find grounding, but it is no guarantee against mental illness (The Boston Globe)

  2. Why the intelligent design lobby thanks God for Richard Dawkins | Anti-religious Darwinists are promulgating a false dichotomy between faith and science that gives succour to creationists (Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, London)

More articles of interest:

  1. Legislative committee kills bill on workplace meetings | In a victory for businesses, a legislative committee on Monday killed a bill that would have prohibited companies from requiring employees to attend meetings in which management offered up political or religious messages (Associated Press)

  2. Why do we have creation myths? | The other week, the New Scientist published a lengthy report about an Amazonian tribe called the Piraha. They are, it is believed, unique: they have virtually no notion of time, little oral history, almost no art, and the simplest kinship system known. They are also believed to be the only society with no creation myth. But why are there not more like them? (Julian Baggini, The Guardian, London)

  3. Why we need hell | Eternal misery is a horrifying possibility. But it won't be a fiery cavern where demons poke you with pitchforks. (Frederica Mathewes-Green, Beliefnet)

  4. Do you take this blue-eyed, blond clergyman to be your lawful vicar? | Fake clergy are in great demand for Japan weddings (The Times, London)

  5. Today's sermon: Hip-hop, too, can be holy | The rector of a church in the South Bronx is celebrating hip-hop Masses to reach out to young people (The New York Times)

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
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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