1. Nebuchadnezzar official mentioned on newly deciphered cuneiform tablet
"The British Museum [Wednesday] hailed a discovery within a modest clay tablet in its collection as a breakthrough for biblical archaeology—dramatic proof of the accuracy of the Old Testament," says the London Times.

The Telegraph likewise reports: "Michael Jursa … made what has been called the most important find in Biblical archaeology for 100 years, a discovery that supports the view that the historical books of the Old Testament are based on fact."

What Jursa found was this inscription, on one of the 130,000 Assyrian cuneiform tablets housed in the British Museum:

(Regarding) 1.5 minas (0.75 kg) of gold, the property of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, the chief eunuch, which he sent via Arad-Banitu the eunuch to [the temple] Esangila: Arad-Banitu has delivered [it] to Esangila. In the presence of Bel-usat, son of Alpaya, the royal bodyguard, [and of] Nadin, son of Marduk-zer-ibni. Month XI, day 18, year 10 [of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

In other words, chief eunuch Nebo-Sarsekim gave gold to the Temple of Esangila. Not impressed? Here's Jeremiah 39:3 (NIV):

Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came and took seats in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officials of the king of Babylon.

The British Museum's Irving Finkel told the Times, "A mundane commercial transaction takes its place as a primary witness to one of the turning points in Old Testament history. This is a tablet that deserves to be famous."

Likewise, he told The Telegraph: "This is a fantastic discovery, a world-class find. If Nebo-Sarsekim existed, which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that it means that the whole of the narrative [of Jeremiah] takes on a new kind of power."

Bible scholar and blogger Jim West isn't so sure. "I'm not really sure why a cylinder naming Nebo-Sarsekim is big news at all. No one has ever argued that there was no Babylonian of that name," he wrote on his blog. "The artifact demonstrates the use by the biblical authors of archival materials gleaned from contacts with those archives. But even this is not 'proof' of the biblical narrative."

Peter Kirk gloats over at TNIV Truth, noting that Nebo-Sarsekim is named only in NIV, TNIV and NLT translations of Jeremiah 39:3. "For once we have clear and new archaeological evidence that TNIV is more accurate than ESV," he writes.

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2. Ghana "miracle" pastor arrested in Uganda for magic trick
When Ghanaian pastor Obiri Konjo Yeboah (or Kojo Nana Obiri-Yeboah or Yeboah Nana Kojo, depending on the news source) entered Uganda, officials at the airport seized his luggage. Inside was a machine that they believed was a piece of bomb-making equipment.

It turns out that it was the Yigal Mesika Electric Touch, a gadget sold in magic stores that sends a 12-volt charge into anyone touching the person who's wearing it. The company says it will "create excitement, mystery, curiosity, and supernatural powers all in one forgettable experience."

Ugandan officials are worried about that "supernatural powers" part, and the pastor is now being investigated for fraud.

It's about time, says an editorial in the Ugandan newspaper The Monitor:

Probably, for the very first time our vigilant police may have stumbled upon the explanation to the 'miraculous' falling down that has been going on in many churches. Most of us have either seen in real life or watched on television how pastors touch people who then simply collapse! …
Ugandans are presently caught up in the global billion dollar industry that television evangelism has become. We urge the police to carry out a no-nonsense inquiry into the activities of all pentecostal and other churches known to indulge their faith in this manner. Pastors who practice the falling down brand of 'healing' must subject themselves to police investigation. Whoever objects to this course of action, taken in the public interest, immediately becomes a suspicious character.

The police apparently agree. "Police are investigating the conduct of churches for born-again Christians in the wake of rising cases of pastors' impropriety," a separate Monitor article reports. "The detectives will be interested in the idea of sowing, the term used to describe the generous tithes that pastors manipulate churchgoers into giving in the honest expectation of miracles."

The pastor told the BBC that he didn't use the Electric Touch for religious purposes. "This is a toy. It was sent for my daughters' birthday," he told the BBC.

3. Time: Can Democrats really overcome the "God gap?"
If you've avoided all the talk about the "God gap" and the 2008 election so far, Time has a very good primer on Democrats' efforts to win over evangelical Protestants and rekindle its relationship with Catholics. But a sidebar on results of the magazine's polling has some real news: "The conventional wisdom about the two political parties and religion may be so ingrained that no amount of evidence to the contrary can change perceptions. That may very well help Republicans in 2008 despite their various religion issues. And it may also mean that most Democrats, with one important exception, will have to try twice as hard to reach faith-minded voters." Amy Sullivan, the voice crying in the Democratic wilderness four years ago, has a piece laying out her take on how Democrats lost religious conservatives.

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4. Holsinger distances himself from his 1991 Methodist white paper
His 1991 paper for the United Methodist Church's Committee to Study Homosexuality on the physical risks of gay sex "does not represent where I am today. It does not represent who I am today," the nominee for U.S. surgeon general told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions today. "Questions have been raised about my faith and about my commitment to ensuring the health and welfare of all Americans, including Gay and Lesbian Americans [they're capitalized in his statement]. I am deeply troubled by these claims, which do not reflect who I am, what I believe, or the work I have accomplished in over 40 years of practicing medicine." While Holsinger has been savaged by the Left for the paper, he has received at best tepid from the Right, probably because he supported embryonic stem cell research in 2002. Asked about the issue in the final moments of today's hearing, he refused to say what his views are. "Since 2002, I have not had reason to stay engaged in the stem cell discussions," he explained.

I liveblogged the hearing over at our other blog. I'm most interested to see if there's any opposition to Holsinger's appointment from conservatives now that he has backed away from his 1991 paper. I'm also interested to see how many people talk about his most controversial statement at the hearing: He wants to ban drug companies from advertising to the general public.

5. Anglican Canon Andrew White leaves Iraq
The Church of England's Andrew White has been one of the most visible faces of Western Christianity in Iraq, and tenaciously stayed in Baghdad amid the violence to minister to his church there. He has now left the country amid death threats.

Quote of the day
"Times may be tough, but God has not forgotten Zimbabwe. Disasters are often God's loudspeakers to his people. People hear better during these times."

— Baptist pastor Ray Motsi, who was arrested with other Zimbabwean ministers for holding illegal prayer meetings. He was quoted by Baptist Press in one of two excellent dispatches from Harare.

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More articles

James Holsinger | Homosexuality | Politics (U.S.) | 2008 election | Immigration and refugees | Gambling | Politics (non-U.S.) | Religious freedom | Church and state | Education | Lawsuits | Crime | Preacher arrested with magic shock device | Mungiki | Abuse | Church life | Assemblies of God head stepping down | Anglicanism | Catholicism | Latin Mass | Vatican document on proper churches | Tadeusz Rydzyk | World Youth Day | The Pope's books on Jesus | Books | Charles Marsh | Tony Dungy | Audio Old Testament | Media and entertainment | Soccer (football) | Music | Times Square butt billboard | Money and business | Poverty and corruption | Zimbabwe | Israel | Iraq | Christianity and Islam | Deaths | AIDS | Missions and ministry | Spirituality | People | Other stories of interest

James Holsinger:

  • Holsinger: Politics won't trump science | 1991 paper "does not represent where I am today. It does not represent who I am today" (Associated Press)

  • Bush surgeon general nominee defends views on gays | President George W. Bush's surgeon general nominee, Dr. James Holsinger, disputed claims by critics that he holds "anti-gay" views during a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday (Reuters)

  • Concerns raised as Holsinger's hearing nears | Kentuckian is up for surgeon general (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Bush nominee runs into crossfire | Homosexual advocacy groups are objecting strongly to President Bush's nominee for surgeon general, but Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr. also faces questions from conservative groups about his views on human cloning and embryonic-stem-cell research (The Washington Times)

  • Health group opposes Bush surgeon general pick The American Public Health Association opposed President George W. Bush's surgeon general nominee on Wednesday, a day before Dr. James Holsinger, already under fire by Democrats and gay rights groups, faces a tough Senate confirmation hearing (Reuters)

  • A nominee's abnormal views | There are disturbing indications that Dr. James Holsinger, who has been nominated to be surgeon general, is prejudiced against homosexuals (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • Ask the doctor | President Bush has nominated Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., a Kentucky cardiologist, to be surgeon general. Today he is to go before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Here are 15 questions the committee members might want to ask (Op-ed, The New York Times)

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  • Faith in medicine | Are doctors' primary obligations to their patients or their religious convictions? (Richard P. Sloan, The New York Times)

  • Can a Methodist be U.S. Surgeon General? | Democrats have guns aimed at Dr. James Holsinger, alleged holder of "abnormal views." (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

  • Related: Surgeon general sees 4-year term as compromised | Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona said that Bush administration officials tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports (The New York Times)

  • Also: Former Bush surgeon general says he was muzzled | The first U.S. surgeon general appointed by President George W. Bush accused the administration on Tuesday of political interference and muzzling him on key issues like embryonic stem cell research (Reuters)

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  • Boycott of gay pride event at Padres game fizzles | Roughly 75 protesters showed up outside Petco Park's front gate dressed in red T-shirts emblazoned with the message "Save Our Kids." Official attendance for the game was 41,026, just short of a capacity crowd for the 42,685-seat ballpark. (San Diego Union Tribune)

  • Also: Protests at ballgame were unsportsmanlike | Members of a gay-pride group were simply trying to enjoy themselves at Petco Park in San Diego, but a few people made an issue of it (Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times)

  • Psychologists to review stance on gays | "We believe that psychologists should assist clients to develop lives that they value, even if that means they decline to identify as homosexual," said a letter from conservative religious leaders and counselors (Associated Press)

  • Pridefest draws mixed blessings in Colorado Springs | The city's mayor has refused to sign a proclamation honoring the event, which will be held Sunday at Acacia Park, because it includes same-sex marriage ceremonies (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • The life and death of a young gay American | In a 90-minute telephone interview, Michael Glatze talked in detail about the crisis he said led to his Christian rebirth, how that experience motivated him to reject his self-identification as a gay man, his feelings of "repulsion" at the thought of sex with another man, and his conclusion that his work at Young Gay America was all about "peddling homosexuality to youth." (Gay City News)

  • Pride event wasn't really open to everyone | So let's have a public, civil debate about homosexuality (Julian Raven, Star Gazette, Elmira, N.Y.)

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Politics (U.S.):

  • Hindu prayer in Senate disrupted | A Hindu clergyman made history Thursday by offering the Senate's morning prayer, but only after police officers removed three shouting protesters from the visitors' gallery (Associated Press, video via NRO)

  • A senator's moral high ground gets a little shaky | Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, whose phone number was on a client list kept by the so-called D.C. Madam, had depicted himself as a champion of family values (The New York Times)

  • Thou shalt not judge | Bible Belt judge Roy Moore's insistence on having a granite block carved with the Ten Commandments in his courthouse led to his dismissal. But his cause became a rallying point for the Christian right, and in 2006 he ran for the governorship of Alabama (The Guardian, London)

  • Amplifying charity | New rules for political engagement (Alan Jacobs, Books & Culture)

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2008 election:

  • Leveling the praying field | The Democratic front runners are leading their party's crusade to win over religious voters (Time)

  • Time poll: Faith of the candidates | The conventional wisdom about the two political parties and religion may be so ingrained that no amount of evidence to the contrary can change perceptions (Time)

  • The origins of the God Gap | The relationship between religion and politics changed abruptly in the turbulent decade that spanned the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. (Amy Sullivan, Time)

  • Evangelicals see dilemmas in GOP field | The calculus for social conservative voters is replete with tradeoffs over who best adheres to their values and who is ultimately electable (The New York Times)

  • GOP hopefuls skip chance to woo liberal groups | Broad pattern of rejection seen among candidates (The Boston Globe)

  • Finding religion on the campaign trail | Whether they're going to pray for endurance, or for votes, polls suggest it's a good idea for candidates to show up at church (The New York Times)

  • Brownback, Schiavo's brother to campaign | Republican presidential hopeful Sam Brownback is embarking on a campaign trip with the brother of the late Terri Schiavo, whose fate touched off a political firestorm over government intervention and end-of-life issues. He is also traveling with Francis Bok, an escaped slve from Sudan (Associated Press)

  • Group says it hired Fred Thompson in abortion rights bid | The presidential candidate, who has positioned himself as an opponent of abortion rights, appears once to have been hired as a lobbyist to work on the other side of the issue (The New York Times)

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  • Faith intertwines with political life for Clinton | Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has increasingly been alluding to her spiritual life, but she has come under attack for it (The New York Times)

  • Hillary on her faith | Sen. Clinton is entitled to whatever faith she wants to practice, but when she uses it as an election tactic, she should not be allowed to alter classic Christian theology (Cal Thomas)

  • A religious test for the presidency | We all know there is no religious test for the U.S. presidency. But there should be (Stephen Prothero, Beliefnet)

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Immigration and refugees:

  • Woman finds refuge in city church | The congregation at Port Credit's Trinity Anglican Church is rallying around one of its own, providing sanctuary since last October to a Nigerian woman slated for deportation (The Mississauga News)

  • Christian converts 'may not be deported' to Iran | A German court said Monday that asylum-seekers from Iran who have converted to Christianity may not be deported (Middle East Times)

  • Simi church to shelter illegal immigrants | Congregants will protect those who have deportation orders but won't attempt to hide them (Ventura County Star, Ca.)

  • Sanctuary: The churches are right when the system is wrong | Although the federal government does not condone the practice of sanctuary, it rarely arrests those who have sought asylum or who have helped facilitate it. This makes the practice appealing for desperate refugee claimants who believe that their lives are in danger if returned to their homelands (Jennifer Cole, Vancouver Sun)

  • Faith groups oppose new rules on religious-worker visas | Critics of the new rules, which were announced in April and could take effect as early as September, say they could deprive many religious communities of the workers they need to lead services, do missionary work and perform other important tasks (Religion News Service)

  • Day-labor protesters accused of bigotry | The national Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has issued a statement criticizing the San Diego Minutemen for their protests at a Fallbrook church that facilitates the hiring of day laborers, describing the group's actions as Catholic bashing (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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  • Local leaders pick sides as W.Va. gambling battle heats up | Elected officials in West Virginia's largest county are set to vote Thursday on a resolution endorsing table games for a racetrack in Nitro, arguing a full-blown casino would draw more tourists and help encourage economic development. (Associated Press)

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  • Churches begin effort to block table games | Gambling is a menace to society, and the church has a responsibility to stand up and speak out on social and moral values, said Rev. Okey Harless (The Charleston Gazette, W.V.)

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Politics (non-U.S.):

  • CBCP: Change Comelec chief | Roman Catholic bishops want the Arroyo administration to implement much-awaited poll reforms, starting with the removal of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos and other officials (Philippine Star)

  • Rudd spared by voters on faith, but Howard hit | Kevin Rudd's Christian faith is less offensive to non-Christian voters than John Howard's, according to an online poll of more than 3000 Australians (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Catholic voters deserting Howard: poll | Catholics are spurning John Howard, once credited with having "catholicised" the Liberal Party, a survey suggests (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Religious symbolism in politics | There is a long tradition of religious symbolism in Jamaican politics that did not begin with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (Michael Burke, The Jamaica Observer)

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Religious freedom:

  • China jails 2 church leaders | Two ministers in China's unrecognized Protestant church have been sentenced to one year each in a labor camp on charges of using an "evil cult" to obstruct the law, a U.S. monitoring group said Monday (Associated Press)

  • Eritrea denies violating religious freedoms | Eritrea has accused "fringe" religious groups of sowing dissent in the Red Sea state and defended its right to arrest members who assemble illegally (Reuters)

  • 'Religious authorities should listen to grouses' | Religious authorities should be prepared to listen to Muslims who wanted to leave Islam, the prime minister said (New Straits Times, Malaysia)

  • Six African countries win high marks in new study of religious freedoms | Six African countries—Botswana, Mali, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, and Kenya—rank among the world's most tolerant societies in terms of religious freedoms. That's according to the latest study by the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom (Voice of America)

  • First freedom | Preying on prayer (Paul Marshall, National Review Online)

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Church and state:

  • Jews for Jesus group sues town in free speech dispute | Jews for Jesus has filed a federal court action against Oyster Bay, N.Y., claiming a section of the town code is unconstitutional because it prevented the group's members from freely distributing leaflets in a public park (New York Law Journal)

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  • A calling behind bars | Columbia International University offers ministry degree to inmates (The State, Columbia, S.C.)

  • All-male Christian fraternity sues UF | A Christian fraternity filed a federal lawsuit against the University of Florida Tuesday because the fraternity's efforts to be recognized as a registered student group have thus far been denied, according to the lawsuit (The Gainesville Sun, Fla.)

  • Also: Christian frat sues University of Fla. | A Christian fraternity sued the University of Florida on Tuesday, claiming discrimination because the university refuses to recognize it as a registered student group (Associated Press)

  • Professors find God in groves of academe | Contrary to popular opinion, the majority of professors — even at elite schools — are religious believers, a new study shows (The New York Sun)

  • Taking B-school on faith | Is your business school experience going to be all that different if you attend a religiously affiliated institution? (Business Week)

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  • The possibility of God | Religious studies is enjoying a boom. But in a multicultural society, what is it now for? (The Guardian, London)

  • Fear and loathing at Wycliffe | Oxford's theological college is being rocked to its foundations (The Independent, London)

  • Public schools grapple with Muslim prayer | A San Diego school adjusts its schedule to accommodate Muslim worship (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Religious schools will get state vouchers for disabled | Dozens of religious schools — including those based in Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Baptist and Christian faiths — will be among more than 100 private campuses that will take part in the first year of the state's new scholarship program for disabled students (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Vouchers fortify city Catholic schools | Amid talk of closings in diocese, their numbers stabilize (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  • Catholic school opens gates to Hell boy | The Hell family says it may tell a Catholic school in Australia where to go after it objected to enrolling their son because of his name (Associated Press)

  • Earlier: Hell of a name for school | A man claims his son was rejected by a Catholic school because he has the surname Hell (Herald Sun, NSW, Australia)

  • Update: Hell family may reject school offer | A father might tell the Catholic school where he was planning to send his son to "go to Hell" after the family's surname spelt trouble for parish leaders (Herald Sun, NSW, Australia)

  • Biblical wisdom | The folks at the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools are right on one count: The Bible should be taught in public schools. But they shouldn't be the ones to do it (Editorial, Chicago Tribune)

  • For high school students, free speech is no joke | Narrowly drawn as Supreme Court justices tried to make 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' ruling, don't be surprised when many school officials and judges use it to find new grounds for censoring students (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

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  • Dozens take steps to move on | U.S. marshal and community unite to safely bring in fugitives at church; Akron man gets help of ex-officer, is among 136 who turn selves in (Akron Beacon Journal, Oh.)

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  • Earlier: Fugitives get chance to give up at church | Nonviolent offenders eligible for program starting Wednesday (Akron Beacon Journal, Oh.)

  • Brazil Indian leader killed in land dispute-Church | An Indian tribal leader fighting for land rights in southwestern Brazil was shot dead by a gunman who his wife said was acting on behalf of local ranchers, a Roman Catholic church watchdog said on Monday (Reuters)

  • The preacher's wife | A small-town preacher was killed early one morning in his own parsonage as he slept in his own bed. The accused? His soft-spoken wife, who had a surprising tale to tell (Dateline, NBC)

  • Cult members arrested for trying to bomb church | Group described as radical Christian activists (Cleburne Times-Review, Tex.)

  • Threats by religious group spark probe at CU-Boulder | University of Colorado police are investigating a series of threatening messages and documents e-mailed to and slipped under the door of evolutionary biology labs on the Boulder campus (The Denver Post)

  • No prison for man who poisoned juice | Members of the Calvary Baptist Church urged the court to show mercy on 29-year-old Wendell Woodroffe, and a judge sentenced him to five years of probation over the wishes of the prosecutor (Stamford Advocate, Ct.)

  • Also: No jail for spiking Conn. church juice | A man who sickened more than 40 members of a Darien church last year by spiking their grape juice with soap was spared prison time at the request of parishioners. (Associated Press)

  • Priest bound in attack | A Catholic priest was bound and his church robbed in a shocking home invasion at Virginia (The Advertiser, Adelaide, Australia)

  • Slain Springfield pastor loved God, church, family | Why someone would kill the Springfield resident at a favorite fishing hole along the Edisto River late Friday night is hard for members of his church and biological families to comprehend (The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C.)

  • Sex offender lived at church | Used brother's ID; leaders didn't know he was wanted (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

  • Trespassing charge dismissed for woman arrested at church | Karolyn Caskey will not be prosecuted on trespassing charges following her arrest during Sunday services June 17 at Allen Baptist Church. Caskey was removed in handcuffs by a Hillsdale County Sheriff's Department deputy responding to a call from the church (Hillsdale Daily News, Mi.)

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  • Former church employee charged with theft | A former Fifth Avenue Baptist Church employee has been charged in connection with almost $72,000 in credit card fraud (Rome News Tribune, Ga.)

  • Woman charged in church fraud | Police said Lynn Carlisle charged over $73,000 on a church credit card when she was working at the church as a part-time financial secretary (WXIA, Atlanta)

  • Theft from churches 'hits £1m' | Hundreds of churches have been raided by thieves for their lead and copper amid a surge in the metals' value, insurers said yesterday (The Telegraph, London)

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Preacher arrested with magic shock device:

  • Pastor arrested with 'miracle' machine | It's as strange as it's true. A man of God of Ghaniain extraction was arrested and interrogated at Entebbe Airport after he attempted to clear a machine which, police say, he has been using to deliver electric current on unsuspecting worshippers during church service (The Monitor, Kampala, Uganda)

  • Ugandan police seize magic trick from preacher | Ugandan police are holding a Ghanaian preacher over a stage magic device they fear may dupe people into believing they have experienced miracles (Reuters)

  • Police start hunt for wired pastors | Police are investigating the conduct of churches for born-again Christians in the wake of rising cases of pastors' impropriety. Police publicist Asan Kasingye said all allegations - from sodomy to fraud - would be investigated (The Monitor, Uganda)

  • Uganda pastor denies miracle scam | A Uganda-based preacher has denied charges he tried to import an electric shock machine to make people believe he could pass on the Holy Spirit. He says it was a toy for his daughter (BBC)

  • Police must act on the crooks in our churches | The arrest of 'Pastor' Obirir Konjo Yeboah while trying to clear an electric charge releasing device at Entebbe Airport Customs Office is a revelation (Editorial, The Monitor, Uganda)

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  • Catholic abuse crisis starts to fade | If a settlement in the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars is worked out, it will be placed near the end of a list of American Catholic dioceses coming to financial terms with victims of clergy sexual abuse, not the beginning (Associated Press)

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Church life:

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Assemblies of God head stepping down:

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  • Also: Church moves to reclaim lost wedding market by loosening rules on venues | The Church of England yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favour of relaxing its wedding rules in an attempt to recover its shrinking share of the marriage market (The Guardian, London)

  • Also: CofE changes law for couples marrying in church | The Church of England voted overwhelmingly today to relax the laws on where couples can get married, giving them new rights to marry in a parish where they have a "connection" (The Times, London)

  • Parish falls out of step, and favor, with diocese | Connecticut's Episcopal bishop has retaliated against the leadership of a congregation in Bristol for objecting to the church's position on homosexuality (The New York Times)

  • Anglicans: a church in confusion | By agreeing that the blessing of same-sex unions is a 'matter indifferent,' the general synod would appear to have approved the rite, despite efforts by the bishops to stop it (Eric Beresford, The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • What is Anglicanism? | Few would deny that the Anglican Communion is in crisis. The nature of that crisis, however, remains a question (Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, First Things)

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  • Vatican agrees to reforestation project | The Vatican is pushing its green agenda, joining a reforestation project aimed at offsetting its CO2 emissions for this year, officials said Thursday (Associated Press)

  • Pope names new Baltimore archbishop | The pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal William Keeler as archbishop of Baltimore on Thursday and named Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, who leads the U.S. military archdiocese, as his successor (Associated Press)

  • New bishop fails to get everyone's blessing | There is concern that the choice of Vitus Huonder, a former close aide to a controversial ultraconservative church leader, could create tensions within the Catholic community (Swissinfo)

  • Homosexual group labels Catholics as 'un-Christian' | The Catholic Church in Liverpool has been labelled "un-Christian" after it stopped a gay and lesbian group using a church building in the city (Liverpool Daily Post)

  • Indigenous plan gets church backing | Adelaide's Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson says the federal government should be applauded for trying to tackle poverty and child abuse issues in remote Aboriginal communities (AAP, Australia)

  • Mexico's Roman Catholic Church to lobby | Proposed changes would include "total" freedom of expression in political affairs and allowing public schools to offer religious education (Associated Press)

  • Update: Mexico won't rule soon on church initiative to reform constitution | A government official has ruled out the immediate approval of constitutional reforms that would allow Mexico's Roman Catholic Church to get involved in politics (Associated Press)

  • The Pope and the Boy Scouts | A papal tribute to a valuable character-forming association (Hal G.P. Colebatch, The American Spectator)

  • Latino Christians: A branding exodus? | Latino Americans' abandonment of traditional Catholic services also serves—or, ought to serve—as a serious wake-up call for leading brands and those who market them (BrandWeek)

  • Evangelicals and the Great Tradition | Beckwith's decision to return to the Church of Rome is best seen in the context of his own spiritual journey (Timothy George, First Things)

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Latin Mass:

  • Pope eases restrictions on Latin Mass | Pope Benedict XVI dismissed fears that its revival could divide the church or dilute the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (The New York Times)

  • Concilium Vaticanum IIum, vale! | Catholics around the world should now have no illusions. Pope Benedict XVI's recent decision to encourage wider use of the traditional Tridentine Mass in Latin is the latest move in his long campaign to undo liberal reforms in church practices popular with Catholics since the 1960s (Frank K. Flinn, The Boston Globe)

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  • Bene, Vidi, Vici | Pope Benedict XVI brings back the old Latin Mass—but will Catholics embrace it? (Andrew Santella, Slate)

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Vatican document on proper churches:

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Tadeusz Rydzyk:

  • Call to punish Polish priest for anti-Semitic remarks | The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on the Vatican to discipline a powerful Polish priest for making anti-Semitic comments (The New York Times)

  • Polish priest faces removal call | Polish President Lech Kaczynski and a major Jewish human rights organisation have called on the Catholic church to punish a controversial Polish priest (BBC)

  • PM hopes Radio Maryja founder will apologize | PM Kaczynski expressed hope that Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, the founder and director of the Catholic station Radio Maryja will apologize to the First Lady after he offended the presidential couple (Poland.pl)

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  • Earlier: Polish president 'a fraudster' says priest | A Polish priest and broadcaster has branded the country's president a "fraudster" who is in the pockets of a Jewish lobby, and described the first lady as a "witch", according to a news magazine (The Scotsman, July 10)

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World Youth Day:

  • World Youth Day 'may entice youth back to church' | Next year's World Youth Day celebrations are expected to entice a large number of young people to the Catholic faith. But who will be there to greet them? And how can the church encourage back into the fold the estimated 4.2-million Australians who call themselves lapsed Catholics? (PM, ABC, Australia)

  • Church plans to lure back lost sheep | The Catholic Church is drawing up a campaign to entice 4.2 million lapsed believers back to the fold before World Youth Day, the biggest religious gathering in Australian history (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Return of the prodigal parishioners | The Catholic Church has begun rounding up its lost flock (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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The Pope's books on Jesus:

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  • No chance | Michael Behe is back. Ric Machuga reviews The Edge of Evolution (Books & Culture)

  • Waiting for Harry | Will the Boy Who Lived live? (Alan Jacobs, Books & Culture)

  • Unbelievable Hitchens | His new book opposing theism stacks the deck against the faithful. (Robert VerBruggen, The American Spectator)

  • Bar opens doors to Mike Jones | Low-key signing after bookstores turn him away (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

  • Reporter asks: Why did God let it happen? | Religion reporter Gary Stern embarked on a 14-month quest, interviewing dozens of the country's leading religious figures from various faiths to explain these "acts of God." The result is Stern's first book, "Can God Intervene? How Religion Explains Natural Disasters" (Gannett News Service)

  • A book for no seasons | The forgotten aspects of John Scopes's famous biology textbook (Garin Hovannisian, The Weekly Standard)

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Charles Marsh:

  • Religion and politics don't mix | Becoming a political power broker is not part of Jesus' plan. In fact, theologian Charles Marsh argues, it's nowhere in the Bible (Robin T. Reid, Politico.com)

  • God and country | What it means to be a Christian after George W. Bush (Charles Marsh, The Boston Globe)

  • Be silent—and read my book | A jeremiad against the "political captivity of the gospel" among American evangelicals (John Wilson, Books & Culture)

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Tony Dungy:

  • Book excerpt: 'Quiet Strength' | In 2007, Tony Dungy Became the First Black Coach to Win a Super Bowl (Good Morning America, ABC)

  • Colts coach hits road to promote memoir | Colts coach Tony Dungy said some football fans may be surprised that his memoir "Quiet Strength," which hits stores Tuesday, goes beyond Super Bowl tales and delves into his Christian faith (Associated Press)

  • Book bears witness to Dungy's strength | It wasn't anything he sought. Although he's a public figure, "I'm private by nature" (Tampa Tribune)

  • Dungy's new book transcends football | The first thing I wanted to do after reading Tony Dungy's new book, "Quiet Strength,'' was renounce my membership in the human race (Bob Kravitz, The Indianapolis Star)

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Audio Old Testament:

  • Zondervan's Bible prequel features honored cast | The Old Testament version will be similar to the New Testament version released last fall and includes dramatic performances set to an original musical score and Hollywood-style sound (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)

  • Also: The words of God are made flesh | Now, Inspired By … Media Group is back with an Old Testament edition, set to go on sale in November as both a separate audio edition and part of the 72-CD "Complete Bible" edition (USA Today)

  • Black stars featured on new audio Bible | Whitaker to voice Moses on new audio version of Old Testament (Associated Press)

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Media and entertainment:

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Soccer (football):

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  • Tribute to gospel legend | Dorsey's widow, 93, attends musical celebration (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • The sound of Hillsong | Joel Houston needed to come to terms with being the pastor's son before stepping into the spotlight (The Bulletin, Australia)

  • Christian artist Camp shows feet planted in beliefs | Whether his wholesome image is inciting goo-goo eyes from the teen crowd at an intimate, small-stage show or he's strumming like mad on the guitar under thousand-watt stage lights inside big arenas, 29-year-old Jeremy Camp is gallant in sharing his faith (The Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wis.)

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Times Square butt billboard:

  • The Rev. 'Moon' | Times Sq. church big fights to spank butt ad (New York Post)

  • In billboard for bidet, church sees Times Square's seedy past | A church in Times Square is challenging the installation of a two-story billboard featuring naked derrières painted with smiley faces, saying it is indecent (The New York Times)

  • Judge temporarily bars cheeky billboards | In response to a minister's complaint, a judge on Monday temporarily barred bare buttocks billboards that a bidet company had planned to put up in Broadway's theater district on a building that houses a church (Associated Press)

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Money and business:

  • Church can't hide its worth | At the Oregon Supreme Court, the LDS church loses a round in a fight to keep its finances secret on religious grounds (The Oregonian)

  • Direct mail provides mixed returns for charities | Charities that raise money from direct mail and other mass appeals say they are garnering more dollars from such solicitations than they did in the past, but many organizations face a harder time recruiting such donors and persuading them to give again, a new survey has found (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)

  • Christian-themed items are big business | The International Christian Retail Show at the Georgia World Congress Center is flexing $4.6 billion worth of financial muscle in Atlanta this week (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Trade association: Sales of Christian products reach $4.6 billion | A new CBA study shows that 52 percent of Christian products are sold by Christian retailers while general market retailers -- including stores such as Wal-Mart and Borders -- sold 33 percent (Religion News Service)

  • The cult of Chick-fil-A | The fast-food purveyor seeks employees and operators who believe serving chicken is God's work (Forbes)

  • Suit accuses clinic of religious bias | 2 former employees say they were pressured to participate in prayers (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • Sunday offering, weekday click | Churches learn to welcome tithes paid online and charged to credit cards (Detroit Free Press)

  • Family values, Detroit style | The recent fight over fuel efficiency standards in Congress included a surprise pleader on the side of the auto industry: the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition (The Washington Post)

  • Flood-hit farmers get church aid | The Archbishop of York has backed an appeal fund for farmers who lost crops and livestock in the June floods (BBC)

  • Morally sound stocks sought | The love of money doesn't have to be the root of all evil, according to several organizations active in "values investing." (The Washington Times)

  • TV Christians hold on to disabled man's donation | His wife begs them to return it so she can feed her children (Dispatch, South Africa)

  • Also: An empire of God or man? | The manner in which Trinity and Roebert dealt with the Maphuma family raises uncomfortable questions about this church, its ethics and its preaching (Editorial, Dispatch, South Africa)

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Poverty and corruption:

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  • The eight commandments | In 2000 the world set itself goals to cut poverty, disease and illiteracy. It will take more than aid to meet them (The Economist)

  • Are we nearly there yet? | Mid-way through, the UN's drive against poverty remains half crusade and half charade (Editorial, The Economist)

  • Orombi urges church to spearhead anti-corruption war | The Church should lead the fight against corruption, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, has suggested (New Vision, Uganda)

  • African corruption 'on the wane' | African nations have taken the biggest steps in reducing corruption over the past 10 years, the World Bank has said (BBC)

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  • Israel to step up Christian tourism | The Tourism Ministry has launched a program to bring Christian "youth pilgrimages" to Israel (The Jerusalem Post)

  • Court rejects Jerusalem, Israel, as birthplace on passports | A federal policy that bans Canadians from listing Jerusalem, Israel, as their birthplace on their passports does not violate the Charter of Rights, says the Federal Court of Appeal (CanWest News Service)

  • Also: 'Israel' banned from Canadian passports | A federal policy that bans Canadians from listing Jerusalem, Israel, as their birthplace on their passport does not violate the Charter of Rights, the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal has ruled (The Jerusalem Post)

  • Israel gets tough on Sudanese refugees | It seeks to stop immigrants and deport some already there. Critics say it must help those fleeing conflict (Los Angeles Times)

  • Christian group urges sanctions on Iran | International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem has launched a worldwide petition urging the United Nations to take stronger measures to confront Iran's nuclear program and incitement to genocide against Israel (The Jerusalem Post)

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Christianity and Islam:

  • Evangelicals, Muslims meet | Muslims and evangelical Christians are talking — at least behind closed doors at the Egyptian Embassy — according to several guests at a top-secret lunch last week (The Washington Times)

  • Moyo Christian, Muslim leaders clash in meeting | The religious row between Christian and Muslim students in Itula Secondary School, which resulted into a bloody clash on July 1 remains unresolved (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Also: Religious bigotry wrong | The battle between Muslim and Christian students at a school in Moyo recently, leading to the injury of at least five, cannot go unattended. The issue of who reserves the right to slaughter animals for human consumption has skipped the attention of our legislators and religious leaders over the years, and yet it could cause a worse catastrophe (D.T. Kabwende, The Monitor, Uganda)

  • Do business and Islam mix? Ask him | Aiming to present a less threatening face of Islam on the global stage, the Aga Khan, one of the world's wealthiest Muslim investors, preaches the ethical use of wealth (The New York Times)

  • Church warning over terror fear | Fear of terrorism can cause people to draw false conclusions about Muslims, the Archbishop of York has warned (BBC)

  • Fatah Islam blamed for Gemayel's death | Police suspect that an al-Qaida-inspired militant group battling army troops in northern Lebanon was behind the assassination of a Christian Cabinet minister last year, a security official said Saturday (Associated Press)

  • Sultan : I love Christians| No plan for jihad (Daily Champion, Nigeria)

  • New outrages spur Muslims, at last, to decry cult of death | Too many on both sides have been in denial about nature of threat (Editorial, USA Today)

  • We repudiate terrorism | American Muslims aren't silent about the taking of innocent lives (Ibrahim Hooper, USA Today)

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  • Church members remember Lady Bird | For so many at St. Barnabas, Lady Bird was simply an extension of their family (KEYE, CBS)

  • Litany of Saints prayer delivered as Lady Bird died | The words of the Litany of the Saints — a prayer that calls on holy people from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible — ushered Lady Bird Johnson from this world, according to the priest who was with her and her family as she died (Houston Chronicle)

  • Andre Chouraqui, French-Israeli author and politician, dies at 89 | A poet, Chouraqui was best known for translating religious texts, including "La Bible hebraique et le Nouveau Testament" (The Hebrew Bible and New Testament), published in 26 volumes between 1974 and 1977 (Associated Press)

  • The cartoonist as tenacious as kudzu | A Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, Doug Marlette was also a comic strip writer, novelist, librettist -- and a Southerner through and through (The Washington Post)

  • Site: Kudzu (Tribune Media Services)

  • Harold O.J. Brown (1933–2007) | "Joe Brown was one of the greatest evangelical theologians of his time, and yet he always put people before his scholarship." (John D. Woodbridge, First Things)

  • Church: Poisoning victim was inspiration | Rodney Burris stayed at the church overnight Friday to guard food donated for the needy. But the church's new location didn't have electricity yet, so a rented generator kept the food cold. Authorities said Mr. Burris died of carbon monoxide poisoning from the generator (The Dallas Morning News)

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  • Group that targets AIDS in black churches expands focus | Pernessa Seele, the founder and CEO of The Balm in Gilead, told dozens of Washington-area black religious leaders Tuesday that her organization is also focusing on cervical cancer and hepatitis C (Religion News Service)

  • How Bush's AIDS program is failing Africans | The president's much-lauded AIDS initiative has succeeded in saving lives through treatment. But its abstinence- focused prevention programs have put many more lives in jeopardy (Michelle Goldberg, The American Prospect)

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Missions and ministry:

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  • Christian Exodus leader still planning to move to Upstate | Cory Burnell is not giving up on moving to the Upstate. His next move, he said, is up to God (The Independent Mail, Anderson, S.C.)

  • The balance between power and prayer | Weekdays find Erin Houg working as scheduler for Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), but on weekends she has an unusual side job. Houg spends her spare time doing administrative work and technical-media support for the City Church, a nondenominational Christian church in D.C. that began in May 2006 (The Hill, D.C.)

  • Victoria Beckham says no religion talk with stars | Victoria Beckham and her soccer star husband might be moving near their friends Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in Los Angeles, but the former pop star is clear about one thing -- it's not about religion (Reuters)

  • Did the mobster get religion? | Frank Calabrese Sr. apparently found religion while in prison. Or at least found some messages in the Bible that spoke to him. (Chicago Sun-Times)

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Other stories of interest:

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Priest Must Decide Between Episcopal Priesthood and Islam | Also: Did God smite Evan Almighty? Should police make arrests during church services? And other stories from online sources around the world (July 6)
Can Public Schools Ban Churches from Renting Space? | Plus: European court rules against mandatory religious education, abortion politics in Sweden, and other stories from online sources around the world (July 3)
Another U.K. Jewelry Row | Also: Supreme Court rulings, Canadian Anglicans vote on same-sex blessings, and indulgences as 'lasting souvenirs.' (June 27)
Catholic School and Church Attacked as Gaza's Christians Worry | Plus: Ruth Graham laid to rest, an Episcopal priest converts to Islam (but stays an Episcopal priest), and other stories (June 18)

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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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