Church Life

  • Manhattan: Pamphlets allowed | A federal judge ruled yesterday that a pamphlet from the evangelical group Jews for Jesus that included the name and caricature of the comedian Jackie Mason was constitutionally protected speech (The New York Times)

  • Christians struggle to preserve a balance of power | As the country's Shiite population, embodied by Hezbollah, gains political prominence, Lebanon's Christians are struggling to maintain their influence (The New York Times)

  • Church of England leader, Pope to meet | The Archbishop of Canterbury will have his first private meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this month, the Church of England said Thursday (Associated Press)

  • Are we sinning yet? | The United Church of Canada hopes an ad featuring a can of whipped cream and the question, "How much fun can sex be before it's a sin?" will fill its pews as Christmas nears (Reuters)

  • Missouri Baptist Convention expels 19 churches | The Missouri Baptist Convention voted this week to oust 19 churches for donating money and having other ties to more moderate Baptist groups (Associated Press)

  • Episcopal congregations seeking spiritual shelter in Africa | Angry over their U.S. church's position on homosexuality, a growing number of Episcopal congregations are seeking spiritual shelter thousands of miles away, in the Anglican churches of Africa (McClatchy Newspapers)

  • Tension behind the pulpit - it has always been so | Why do churches separate? (Martyn Percy, The Sydney Morning Herald)

Elections and Analysis

  • Who won, who lost in midterm elections | Efforts by Democratic candidates to display their faith and connect with religious voters helped produce huge electoral wins in Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to analysts and independent pollsters (Religion News Service)

  • Democrats win control of Congress | In a rout once considered almost inconceivable, Democrats won a 51st seat in the Senate and regained total control of Congress after 12 years of near-domination by the Republican Party (Associated Press )

  • Ohio Democrats win races for Senate and Governor | Representative Ted Strickland became the first Democrat to win election as governor in Ohio in 16 years, and Democrat Representative Sherrod Brown, defeated Senator Mike DeWine (The New York Times)

  • Religious voting data show some shift, observers say | White evangelical and born-again Christians did not desert Republican Congressional candidates and they did not stay home, nationwide exit polls show (The New York Times)

  • Exit polling | So that we all may better understand what happened in Tuesday's midterm elections, why it happened and how it happened, herewith is a summary of the more salient results of the national exit poll for House races (Editorial, The Washington Times)

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  • Republican blame game begins | Recriminations flew from every which way against Republican leaders as voters turned out yesterday for the culmination of an election campaign that had President Bush's party on the defensive (The Washington Times)

  • Dobson: GOP failed | Focus on the Family founder James Dobson blames Republicans' crushing election losses on a failure to reach out to their social conservative base and warned that the GOP would err badly in taking a more moderate course as some have suggested (The Denver Post)

  • The outlook for religion in politics | The Democratic resurgence in Congress heralds a new dynamic in the long-standing tug-of-war over religion and politics in public life (

  • Emanuel's star on the rise after guiding Dems to wins | "We got one-third of the evangelical vote … because we reached out," Democratic party Chairman Howard Dean said (USA Today)

  • U.S. Republicans in dilemma over 'Religious Right' | Thumped in Tuesday's elections, the Republican Party faces a dilemma as it prepares for 2008: trying to claw back support in the center while keeping loyal conservative Christians happy (Reuters)

  • A new spin on the values vote | This year "values" expanded beyond what politicos call "gays and God" (Ellegn Goodman, The Boston Globe)

  • A pounding at the polls | Why conservatives lost (Chuck Colson, Breakpoint)

  • Pro-gun, anti-abortion and fiscally conservative: meet the neo-Dems | The forging of a cohesive domestic reform agenda will be complicated by the fact that several of the new intake of Democrats in the Congress are socially conservative and in favour of policies traditionally associated with the Republicans they ousted (The Guardian, London)

  • GOP coalition fractured by opposition to the war | The coalition that re-elected President Bush and bolstered Republican margins in Congress just two years ago fractured Tuesday under the weight of an unpopular war, economic unease and a series of scandals (USA Today)

Ballot Measures

  • Losses on ballot measures jolt religious | From the country's heartland, voters sent messages that altered America's culture wars and dismayed the religious right — defending abortion rights in South Dakota, endorsing stem cell research in Missouri, and, in a national first, rejecting a same-sex marriage ban in Arizona (Associated Press)

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  • By a whisker | In Missouri, a measure supporting stem-cell research passes narrowly. But the fight isn't over (Newsweek)

  • Split state decisions on "culture war" issues | Here are the results of some of the most contested state ballot measures on issues related to religion and public life, as tracked by (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life)


  • God and the global politic | Whether or not the new pro-life Ortega is sincere is an interesting question, but it's irrelevant to a more interesting phenomenon: the resurgence of religion around the globe, including America (Jonah Goldberg, Chicago Tribune)

  • Nicaraguans' votes are in, and Ortega is back | Daniel Ortega, the onetime cold-war nemesis of the United States, was assured of winning the presidency here and fulfilling his 16-year struggle to regain power (The New York Times)


Movies and Entertainment

  • Evangelical summer camp shown in film to end | Organizers of an evangelical summer camp for children featured in the documentary "Jesus Camp" are discontinuing the camp because of negative reaction sparked by the film and recent vandalism at the camp site in Devils Lake, North Dakota (Reuters)

  • Killers lose "spirit" in new Christian video game | A Christian video game based on prophecies from the Bible's Book of Revelation takes a new twist on video game violence -- draining the "spirit" of characters who slay enemies rather than making them stronger (Reuters)

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  • Christ, with a color change | The promoters of "Color of the Cross," a reimagining of Jesus' final days with all the good bits left out, are making a big deal out of the relatively tame suggestion that Jesus was black (The New York Times)

  • 'Pilate's Wife': The birth of Christianity, with a feminist twist | Like Anita Diamant's Old Testament blockbuster The Red Tent, Pilate's Wife makes the female experience of past millennia exotic yet universal (USA Today)

  • 'Today' team on a journey of faith | The four-day series on religion begins this morning with Matt Lauer reporting live from Jerusalem, where he visits the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock and Via Dolorosa and interviews Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (New York Daily News)

  • Inspiration Networks breaks ground in S.C. | Big names in television evangelism gathered over the weekend to break ground for a new broadcast center for the Charlotte-based Inspiration Networks, which is building a $98 million complex in South Carolina (The State, Columbia, S.C.)

  • Sorkin plays kiss 'n' tell with Chenoweth | Studio 60 shows Kristin's quirks 700 Club, CNN imitation all true (Toronto Star)

Sects, new religious movements, and other religions:

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  • The church of the non-believers | A band of intellectual brothers is mounting a crusade against belief in God. Are they winning converts, or merely preaching to the choir? (Wired)

  • Faces of the new atheism: The punk rocker | In a few hours, Greg Graffin will be singing about human suffering and redemption in front of thousands of frenzied punk rock fans at the Nokia Theater Times Square, but right now he's in the American Museum of Natural History showing his two children the first-known evolutionary diagram Charles Darwin ever drew (Wired)

  • Faces of the new atheism: The illusionists | Penn & Teller got famous catching bullets in their teeth, eating fire, and making rabbits vanish. But now they're trying something even more ambitious: They want to make religion disappear (Wired)

  • Faces of the new atheism: The scribe | For the past six decades, Warren Allen Smith has engaged in an unusual form of correspondence (Wired)

  • The new unbelievers | Books on atheism are hot. But do they have anything fresh to say? (U.S. News & World Report)

Abortion and Life Ethics

  • On abortion | In the conservative state of South Dakota, where the nation's most restrictive ban on abortion had been passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, voters again sent the message that they resent efforts by the most fervid "pro-life" forces to enlist government to impose their morality on everyone else. Maybe this time, someone will listen (Editorial, USA Today)

  • Our view on 'partial-birth' abortion: Congress claims an M.D. | Justices will decide whether politics can set medical facts (Editorial, USA Today)

  • Keep 'partial-birth' ban | Congress already found proof this procedure isn't necessary (Jay Sekulow, USA Today)

  • S.D. rejects abortion ban | Opponents say 'strong message sent' (Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S.D.)

  • Abortion foes energized by their losses | Activists seek new ways to limit access and change minds. One aim: Make women view their fetuses in the womb (Los Angeles Times)

  • Stem cell research gets green light | Australian scientists are set to create cloned embryos for stem cell research after the Senate Tuesday night passed a bill legalising the controversial practice (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Clerics blast cloning vote | Church leaders have condemned the Senate's vote in favour of the human cloning bill, claiming the narrowness of the margin vindicates their view the community is split on the issue (The Australian)

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  • Judge: Group can subpoena White House | A federal magistrate judge has ruled that a reproductive rights group can seek White House e-mails and other documents as part of its lawsuit promoting broader access to the morning-after pill (Associated Press)

  • ABCs of Plan B | 'Morning-after' pill available in drugstores next week (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Will the Vatican change course on condoms? | Pope Benedict faces the daunting challenge of softening the Catholic Church's anti-contraceptive stance without violating doctrine (Peter C. Boulay, Los Angeles Times)

Church and State

  • Church, state and justice | Cardinal Roger Mahony's legal strategy does little to help victims of abuse recover (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  • Bishop Wanjiru hopes to be president | Tele-evanglist Bishop Margaret Wanjiru Kariuki of the Jesus is Alive Ministry, says her goal in entering politics is to seek the presidency (The East African Standard, Kenya)

  • Pastors part ways | Timothy Sserwadda, co-founder of the House of Prayer, formerly Christian Revival Mission in Mengo, Kampala, has denounced Christianity and become a Muslim. He now says many born-again churches are not registered and pose a security threat to the nation (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Turkish parliament approves EU-sought religion law | Turkey's parliament approved on Thursday a law required by the European Union that will improve property rights of non-Muslim religious minorities, but it is likely to fall short of EU expectations (Reuters)

  • Scholars offer data on religion's role in American life | More than 500 researchers met here recently for the joint meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Religious Research Association. Here are some of their findings (Newhouse News Service)

  • Leaders back faith in public life | People who campaign against religion in public life have an "intolerant faith position," Anglican and Roman Catholic church leaders have said (BBC)

  • Faith's comeback | How demographics will reawaken religion in Europe (Newsweek International)

  • Notion of theocracy is sheer escapism | PCEA Moderator David Githii fantasises about taking over the reins of power from our failed politicians. Does he even understand our problems well enough to have a solution, or is this his latest caper in his crusade to make wilful ignorance an ecumenical movement? (Okiya Omtatah Okoiti, The Nation, Kenya)

Belief and Science

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  • Pro-evolution state school board candidates win | Ohio's scientists laid down their test tubes and flexed some political muscle Tuesday as four pro-evolution candidates they backed were on their way to capturing or retaining seats on the state Board of Education (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  • New sermon from the evangelical pulpit: global warming | "The Great Warming" - a documentary made in Canada and narrated by actor Keanu Reeves and singer Alanis Morissette - tells the same disturbing story as Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." But it has become a strategic vehicle for reaching out particularly to Evangelicals, many of whom were unlikely to rush to see the Gore production (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • God vs. science | We revere faith and scientific progress, hunger for miracles and for MRIs. But are the worldviews compatible? Time convenes a debate (Time)

  • Why God needs heretics | The fact that there is no rational basis for choosing between gods is precisely what makes them such a good way to decide political questions (Andrew Brown, The Guardian, London)

  • 4,000-year-old cemetery uncovered in Jerusalem | Containers for ritual offerings, weapons and jewelry are among the finds uncovered this week after builders in Jerusalem's Bayit Vagan neighborhood stumbled upon a 4,000-year-old Canaanite cemetery (The Jerusalem Post)

Gay Marriage


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Ted Haggard

  • `Superstar' pastors pose challenge | As evangelical megachurches have sprung up around the country, concerns have grown over whether superstar pastors help or hurt faith communities (Associated Press)

  • Haggard begins spiritual 'restoration' | There will be prayer, and perhaps the laying on of hands. There will be counseling and a confession. And there will be advice, confrontation and rebuke from "godly men" appointed to oversee the spiritual "restoration" of the Rev. Ted Haggard (Associated Press)

  • The code of the callboy | Today it is arguably more shameful and damaging to be a hypocritical closet case than it is to be a sex worker (Dan Savage, The New York Times)

  • Where do evangelicals go from here? | Beyond Colorado pastor's scandal with escort (by Joel C. Hunter, The Orlando Sentinel)

  • New Life flock to pick leader | The process begins Sunday, using bylaws created 21 years ago by the disgraced pastor himself (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Church responds to kids' questions | Church leaders have drafted guidelines for parents (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Center ring of a media circus | Haggard's accuser answers questions on 99.9 radio show (Gazette, Colorado Springs)

  • The real Ted Haggard | Just how comprehensive was Haggard's self-confessed deception? (Vincent Carroll, Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • 'Pastor Ted' had feet of clay | Documentary shows evangelical idol's fall will be hard on flock (Associated Press)

  • The human condition | The decent thing, the tolerant thing, the forgiving thing is now to leave Haggard and his family alone. Everyone in the media and everyone in public and private life is not required to render judgment against him (Gary Hart, The Denver Post)

  • Pastor's scandal not the shocker, but a shift on gay love would be | Self-hate, hatred of gays, hatred of the sexual urge, hatred of his own body -- but also hatred of a world, a culture that will not let Haggard live his life as he really is, even though -- and here's the real karmic kicker -- even though he's one of the very people who helped make it that way (Mark Moford, San Francisco Chronicle)

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  • Living a lie is not moral | But it's a sad state of affairs when people advocate a moral code in which openly consorting with prostitutes is a worse sin than living a lie that requires the secret emotional betrayal of one's wife on a daily basis (Paul Campos, The Cincinnati Post)

  • Haggard's agony | The evangelist's biggest sin was hypocrisy (Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Haggard and hypocrisy | Because of his political agenda and the Republican Party's pandering to homophobia, Haggard's hypocrisy matters to the nation (Editorial, Palm Beach Post)

  • Inner demons | The religious right is down but not out (The Economist)


  • Greenwich, Conn.: Former music director arrested | Robert F. Tate, who resigned as the music director of Christ Church after child pornography was found on a church computer that has since disappeared, was arrested on Tuesday in Los Angeles, the authorities said yesterday (The New York Times)

  • Rwandan nun sentenced to 30 years for genocide | A local Rwandan traditional court sentenced a Catholic nun to 30 years in prison for helping militiamen kill hundreds of Tutsi hiding in a hospital during the country's 1994 genocide, an official told Reuters on Friday (The Washington Post)

  • Priest forgiven, boy forgotten after sex abuse | The Anglican Church ignored the needs of a teenage boy who was sexually abused by a priest for more than two years, a judge said yesterday before sentencing the disgraced former cleric to a year in jail (The Australian)

  • Priest's sodomy conviction is reversed | The Missouri Supreme Court overturned the sodomy conviction of a St. Louis priest Tuesday, reversing what prosecutors had seen as a landmark victory for bringing charges on sex crime accusations from years, even decades, before (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  • Jehovah's Witness in door to door sex assault scandal | When a Kitchener (Ontario, Canada) man inadvertently discovered his teenage daughter's diary in his basement, he was shocked to see it contained the name of a former elder at the family's Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. (The Kentucky Lake Times)


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  • Briton says his kidnappers in Iraqi custody | Former British hostage Norman Kember said he had learned that Iraqi police had arrested the people who kidnapped him, two Canadians and an American but was reluctant to testify against his captors (Reuters)

  • Eritrean gospel singer 'released' | An Eritrean Christian gospel singer, detained by the authorities without charge for more than two years, has been freed, Amnesty International says (BBC News)

  • The good martyr | The non-reaction to the murder of Father Boulos Islander Behnam (Mark D. Tooley, The Weekly Standard)

  • Missionaries murdered in Tete | A group of six unidentified assailants, armed with a Makarov pistol, murdered two Catholic missionaries in the western Mozambican province of Tete on Monday (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique)


  • Girls slain as 'Idul Fitri gift', court told | One of three militants charged with beheading three Christian schoolgirls last year in Poso carried out the attack a to avenge the slaying of Muslims during the sectarian conflict in the Central Sulawesi province between 1998 and 2002, a Jakarta court heard Wednesday (The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)

  • Indonesia beheadings trial opens | A Muslim man has gone on trial in Jakarta over the beheading of three Christian schoolgirls in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. (BBC News)

  • Beheaded girls 'Ramadan trophies' court hears | Three Christian high school girls were beheaded as a Ramadan "trophy" by Indonesian militants who conceived the idea after a visit to Philippines jihadists, a court heard yesterday (The Courier Mail)

  • Muslim man goes on trial over Indonesia beheadings | An Indonesian Muslim man was accused in court on Wednesday of being the mastermind behind the beheading of three Christian girls last year in Central Sulawesi, a charge that could lead to death by firing squad if proven. (Reuters)


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Other stories of interest

  • Red poppy 'less Christian' claim | The red poppy is a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers. A Christian lobby group has claimed the wearing of red poppies is "politically correct" and stifles debate (BBC News)

  • U.S. firm's anti-gay e-mail sparks online fury | A U.S. landscaping firm has been inundated with hate mail after an e-mail it sent rejecting a client because he was gay was made public (Reuters)

  • Bible saves man's life | A tiny Bible is being credited with saving a man's life.But this isn't a story about faith (WLTV, Jacksonville)

  • Mommy, what's an evangelical? | There could be more than 100 million of them in America (Slate)

  • A faith short of compassion | Social democrats embrace the discipline of markets tempered by the demands of human decency. And this is where we find common ground between secular social democracy and the social justice tradition of the Christian church (Kevin Rudd, The Sydney Morning Herald)

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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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