Today's Top Five

1. Turkey time
It's no surprise that Turkey is in the news this week. But the big story has nothing to do with Thanksgiving: Pope Benedict XVI making his first trip to a Muslim nation, which warrants a cover story from Time. Richard John Neuhaus and Tariq Ramadan face off in op-ed sidebars.

2. Bush goes to church in Vietnam
"Though no sermon was delivered Sunday in the church where President Bush took a 'moment to converse with God,' he offered his own precept outside," the Associated Press reported. "'A whole society is a society which welcomes basic freedoms,' Bush said, adding that there's none more basic than 'the freedom to worship as you see fit.'"

A separate Associated Press dispatch notes that "harassment has eased enough that the United States decided this week to remove Vietnam from a list of the world's worst violators of religious freedom. … [But] if things have opened up for ordinary Catholics, the Vietnamese government continues to place restrictions on the church hierarchy, limiting the number of priests it can train, churches it can build or seminaries it can open."

3. Nicaragua bans all abortions
Even those to save the life of the mother. Some Nicaraguans opposed the bill, saying the six-year prison term wasn't long enough.

4. Canada's approval of gay marriage has galvanized the country's evangelicals
So reports The New York Times.

5. Norway's Lutherans vote to spin off from state control
But the Church of Norway "would likely still rely heavily on state funding," says Aftenposten. "Political rhetoric was already running high over the weekend about what this might mean, and whether a separation is a good idea."

Quote of the day
"You don't want to take the trucks out. You want to keep shining the trucks."

—Tim Ralph, a firefighter, senior pastor of New Covenant Fellowship in Larkspur, Colorado, and member of the New Life Church board of overseers. He was referring both to his firefighting work and to New Life's bylaws regarding discipline of a senior pastor. He was quoted by The New York Times.

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Vietnam | Religious freedom | Catholicism | U.S. Catholic bishops' statements | Homosexuality | N.C. Baptist and gays | Anglicans | Church life | Ted Haggard | Nicaragua's abortion ban | More abortion | War and violence | Politics | Environment | Mormons | Church and state | Higher education | Education | British Airways cross dispute | Art, media, and entertainment | People | Books | Thanksgiving | Crime | Abuse | Other stories of interest
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  • Religious restrictions ease in Vietnam | If things have opened up for ordinary Catholics, the Vietnamese government continues to place restrictions on the church hierarchy, limiting the number of priests it can train, churches it can build or seminaries it can open (Associated Press)

  • President calls for religious freedom | President Bush, touting "the freedom to worship as you see fit," attended an ecumenical service at a Catholic church in Hanoi on Sunday morning before flying south to this city that once stood as the capital of resistance against the communist government of the north (Chicago Tribune)

  • Bush spreads gospel of religious freedom | "A whole society is a society which welcomes basic freedoms," Bush said, adding that there's none more basic than "the freedom to worship as you see fit." (Associated Press)

  • Bush's church visit rewards Vietnam | When US President George W Bush attended a church in Vietnam on Sunday, his visit was a political statement as well as an act of faith (BBC)

  • Martyrdom commemorated | Vietnamese American Catholics gather in O.C. to pay homage to 117 persecuted saints (Los Angeles Times)

  • Praying in Hanoi | That the president of America is needed to deliver this message in Vietnam, even 30 years after the war's end, is a sign of what a loss for freedom the American defeat in that war was. That Mr. Bush was able to do so — and to a receptive audience — is a sign that in the long run the victory may yet belong to those American ideals shared by the people of Vietnam (Editorial, The New York Sun)

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Religious freedom:

  • China criticizes U.S. list of religious freedom violators | "The United States' action violates the basic rules of international relations, and constitutes a rude intervention in the internal affairs of another country," Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu said (Associated Press)

  • Christian pressure kills off bias ban | The South Australian Attorney-General has admitted dropping a planned ban on religious-based discrimination from a new law because of fears from Christians they would be prevented from converting non-Christians (The Australian)

  • Allowing everything but the veil | The Netherlands, famously tolerant of prostitution and drug use, wants to outlaw face veils in public places (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  • Strength in numbers | Allies across the political and religious spectrum need to come together to defend freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Salma Yaqoob, The Guardian, London)

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  • The passion of the Pope | With his blunt talk on Islam, Benedict XVI is altering the debate between the Muslim world and the West. On the eve of his visit to Turkey, Time looks at the roots of the Pope's views--and how they may define his place in history (Time)

  • What the Pope gets right … | By decrying the use of violence in the name of God, Benedict is challenging Muslims to confront hard truths (Richard John Neuhaus, Time)

  • … And where he's still in the dark | Benedict's definition of what it means to be European ignores the positive contributions of Islam (Tariq Ramadan, Time)

  • Pope to make 1st visit to Muslim nation | When | Pope Benedict XVI goes to Turkey this month for his first papal visit to a Muslim nation, he will in effect be making two distinct journeys (Associated Press)

  • Also: Orthodox chief urges Turks on pope visit | The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians cautioned Turks in an interview published Sunday against creating "unpleasant incidents" during Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming trip to Turkey — his first to a Muslim country (Associated Press)

  • Russian Orthodox cleric says Catholics are allies | A top Russian Orthodox cleric said on Sunday that the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church were allies in the face of hostile secularism (Reuters)

  • Satirical humor aimed at the Vatican strikes a nerve | Msgr. Georg Gänswein, Pope Benedict XVI's secretary, has suddenly found himself the butt of jokes in the Italian news media (The New York Times)

  • Tucson's Catholic bishop emeritus dies | Bishop emeritus Manuel D. Moreno, the son of a migrant farmworker who rose to became the nation's sixth Hispanic bishop and led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson for 21 years, has died. He was 75 (Associated Press)

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U.S. Catholic bishops' statements:

  • Bishops see a new generation turning to classic teachings | There is no question that Church teaching on contraception has remained the same for centuries or that American Catholics have largely ignored that teaching for the last 50 years. The real question about "Married Love and the Gift of Life" is: Why now? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  • New Catholic edict keeps gays close to the closet | The bishops' document probably didn't lower barriers much, if any, for the gays and lesbians who sought the Catholic Church's embrace (Roger Chesley, The Virginian Pilot)

  • Bishops struggle to convince | If you're a leader of a church in which almost nine of every 10 members disagrees with one of the church's most profound moral teachings, just who is it that you are "leading?" (Bill Wineke, Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Wi.)

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  • Gay marriage galvanizes Canada's right | Canada's legalization of gay marriage was a wake-up call for the country's conservative Christians (The New York Times)

  • New tactic in fighting marriage initiatives | Opponents cite effects on straight couples (The Washington Post)

  • A first: Same-sex couple granted divorce | A judge says he didn't know both were women; the ruling may be set aside (Tulsa World, Ok.)

  • Silver lining for gays and lesbians | Marriage and adoption may still be off-limits, but at least the U.S. Catholic bishops admit that there's no 'cure' for homosexuality (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  • The antigay obsession | All in the same week, Governor Mitt Romney, the US Catholic bishops, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and the Presbyterian Church USA drove themselves nuts over homosexuality (Derrick Z. Jackson, The Boston Globe)

  • When religion loses its credibility | Galileo was persecuted for revealing what we now know to be the truth regarding Earth's place in our solar system. Today, the issue is homosexuality, and the persecution is not of one man but of millions. Will Christian leaders once again be on the wrong side of history? (Oliver "Buzz" Thomas, USA Today)

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N.C. Baptist and gays:

  • Gay ruling splits local ministers | The N.C. Baptist Convention last week either took a stand for morality or possibly set the stage for a witch hunt for sins in churches, observers said (Rocky Mount Telegram, N.C.)

  • Anti-gay pastor sees role as shielding flock from sin | For a man who has become a voice for the conservative majority in the state's largest denominational group, Sanderson is neither stern nor stodgy (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • Gay ban by N.C. Baptists evokes mixed reaction | The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina voted last week to send a clear message to its churches - ban gays or leave the membership (The Robesonian, Lumberton, N.C.)

  • What would Jesus do? | The convention last week, in what many will label an un-Christian-like measure, decided that while there is room in the church pews for sinners, there apparently isn't for those whose sin is practicing homosexuality (Editorial, The Robesonian, Lumberton, N.C.)

  • Baptists again side with cause of exclusion | How long before N.C.'s Southern Baptists apologize this time? (Kevin Jennings, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

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  • The Sunday Profile: Rowan Williams | For God's sake, man … why are you so nice? That's what the Archbishop of Canterbury's fractious flock want to know (The Independent, London)

  • State of the church | The new leader of the Episcopal Church talks about squaring evolution with the Bible, why Episcopalians don't have more children and why she loves the word "shalom" (The New York Times Magazine)

  • Episcopal split reaches Mass. diocese | N.E. churches leaving over teachings on gays, salvation (The Boston Globe)

  • Priest sues church over early retirement | An Anglican priest is seeking court orders restraining the Church of Uganda from retiring him at the age of 62 (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Appeal for new leader is affirmed | Delegates at the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth convention on Saturday overwhelmingly affirmed Bishop Jack Iker's appeal for an alternative denomination leader to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who this month became the first woman to hold that post (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Secede: the only option? | The Episcopal Church today is like the United States in 1860 — on the verge of civil war (Tracey Smith, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

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Church life:

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Ted Haggard:

  • Minister's own rules sealed his fate | The board that removed Ted Haggard as pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs said a deciding factor was a TV interview in which he lied about his actions (The New York Times)

  • Haggard headed on long journey | Following an extraordinarily public fall, the Rev. Ted Haggard now enters a period of self- reflection guided by three spiritual elders whose mission is defined with a nebulous term: restoration. What exactly does that mean? (The Denver Post)

  • New Life women miss leader | Gayle Haggard faces latest challenge (Rocky Mountain News, Denver) Purity of pastors questioned | Christian authors cite studies that many watch porn (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Meeting of senator, evangelist canceled | Salazar, Haggard had scheduled brainstorming time (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • How Pastor Ted got outed | The tale of how this latest clerical fall from grace nearly failed to make headlines before the vote is a cautionary one for every journalist who has ever wondered when she has enough to go with a story (Columbia Journalism Review)

  • On call | Mike Jones wasn't the only one to get regular visits from "Art." (Westword, Denver—warning: language)

  • Off the pedestal | The Haggard case underscores the importance of congregations being part of a structure that holds pastors accountable and that has a process of disciplining leaders and a means of ministering to wounded parishioners (Editorial, The Christian Century)

  • A debt of gratitude | Liberals are being urged to send funds to a male prostitute, by way of thanks for the part he played in the Republican party's midterm defeat (Andrew Brown, The Guardian, London)

  • Media crossed line in Haggard 'outing' | Radio, dailies, TV yielded to their basest instincts in abetting attack on privacy (Dave Kopel, Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Heal the harm we do to loved ones of outed gays | Clucking, condemnation pierce so many caring hearts (Ermalou Roller, Houston Chronicle)

  • Honest, it's not the sex, it's the lies on the videotape | Alas, everyone has a reason for paying attention to the Haggard story, and most of it had to do with his gayness (D. Paravas, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

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Nicaragua's abortion ban:

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More abortion:

  • Lawmakers lobby Amnesty International | More than 70 House lawmakers are urging the human rights group Amnesty International to reject a proposal that would end its neutral position on abortion and instead support the termination of pregnancies when women are victims of rape or other violence (Associated Press)

  • Partial-birth's trojan horse | Why the Supreme Court's looming decision on partial-birth abortion bans actually matters. (Scott Lemieux, The American Prospect)

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War and violence:

  • Brazilian missionary killed in Timor violence | A Brazilian missionary has been killed after being caught up in communal fighting in East Timor's capital, a U.N. spokeswoman and a government statement said on Monday (Reuters)

  • Meanwhile in Darfur … | So how come we haven't stopped it? (John Prendergast, The Washington Post)

  • The modern face of slavery | Mende Nazer calls upon religious scholars to find a solution to the problem that sacred texts allow slavery (Bernadette Brooten, The Boston Globe)

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  • Religion still factor in U.S. elections | UA's John Green looks at midterms while on faith, politics fellowship (Akron Beacon Journal, Oh.)

  • To oversee family planning | Someone whose clinics won't offer it (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  • The great stem cell error | Feeble if not deceptive science feeds on man's craving for immortality. (Tom Bethell, The American Spectator)

  • The religious divide | The split is not just between people who believe and people who do not; it is between those who see religious faith as society's foundation and those who see it as society's bane (Cathy Young, The Boston Globe)

  • What really divides America | The question for America is not whether all religious people are good, or all secular people are rational. The question is, which path has history shown is the one more suitable for society's betterment? (S.R. Lewis, The Washington Times)

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  • Greenhouse masses | One New England church makes global warming a crusade—but finds sacrifice isn't always easy (The Christian Science Monitor)

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  • Election 2008: 43% would never vote for Mormon candidate | Only 38% say they would consider casting such a vote while 19% are not sure. Half (53%) of all Evangelical Christians say that they would not consider voting for a Mormon candidate. Only 38% say they would consider casting such a vote while 19% are not sure. Half (53%) of all Evangelical Christians say that they would not consider voting for a Mormon candidate (Rasumssen Reports)

  • Reid leads Mormons into D.C. mainstream | U.S. senator, D-Nev., will be highest-ranking elected Mormon ever when he becomes the majority leader (The Salt Lake Tribune, Ut.)

  • 'Pres. Romney' sounds good to many | 4 evangelicals "enthused" (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)

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Church and state:

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Higher education:

  • Brown bans evangelical organization of students | An evangelical student group that has been banned from advertising or meeting on the Brown University campus has enlisted the help of a national organization that defends the free-speech rights of students on college campuses (The Providence Journal, R.I.)

  • The 'great divide' in religious studies | In intro courses, study finds that students want discussion and facts, but professors want critical thinking (Inside Higher Ed)

  • Room to grow | Gordon College students expand horizons from new base in Lynn (The Boston Globe)

  • Baptist chief sees Belmont slipping away | But new state leader wants to retain other institutions (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Praying for an 'A' might not impress your prof | College professors aren't all godless heathens, but they are more secular than the general population, according to a new study. And the more elite the institution, the more secular the professors are likely to be (The Dallas Morning News)

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British Airways cross dispute:

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Art, media, and entertainment:

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  • Break from tradition causes a stir | Rick Warren built 'the Linux of Christianity' that every church can run. But critics and cutbacks may threaten Saddleback's dominance (The Orange County Register)

  • Also: God's business | At home or in Rwanda, Rick Warren believes in corporate help to fight poverty, disease and 'spiritual emptiness' (The Orange County Register)

  • The spiritual spin doctor | PR man A. Larry Ross has a new client in Rick Warren and a new mission: 'to influence the influencers.' (The Orange County Register)

  • A Baldwin brother's journey to Jesus | How Stephen Baldwin is making Jesus 'gnarly' (Nightline, ABC News)

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  • Two who hopped off the faith train | Anthony Doerr reviews The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan (The Boston Globe)

  • The problem apostle | How Garry Wills rehabilitates Paul. Richard Wightman Fox reviews What Paul Meant (Slate)

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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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