1. Accusers lose in sexual misconduct cases against prominent pastors
Several sexual misconduct cases we've been watching ended this week—all in favor of the accused pastors. In a surprising turn, Mona Brewer and her husband dropped their sexual misconduct suit against Atlanta megachurch pastor Earl Paulk. "We were having difficulty even at this point getting witnesses to speak out against the acts of Bishop Paulk and the church," their lawyer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Sometimes you just have to do this." The trial was to begin April 2.

In another prominent case, Lonnie Latham, who was pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church and a former member of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee before his arrest on a misdemeanor charge of lewdness, was found not guilty. Latham had been accused of inviting an undercover male police officer to engage in oral sex. His lawyer appealed to Lawrence v. Texas, a Supreme Court decision throwing out Texas's anti-sodomy law, saying, "If it's not illegal to engage in that conduct, then it shouldn't be illegal to talk about it." The judge did not rule on the constitutionality of Oklahoma's anti-lewdness law.

And finally, Gerald Griffith is not a name that many evangelicals know, but the pastor and founder of Baltimore's Redemption Christian Fellowship Church apparently has an international following. He has also been charged with sexually abusing three different teenagers during counseling sessions. The first of his trials was declared a mistrial Tuesday when one of the witnesses referred to another of the cases. A deacon at the church was acquitted in November in a separate abuse case.

2. Time's David van Biema: What does Akinola really think about Nigeria's anti-gay bill?

Apparently as part of Time's retooling, David van Biema has been doing a bit more opinion writing lately. This week, he calls Church of Nigeria head Peter Akinola to take a stance on his country's anti-homosexuality bill. Homosexuality is already illegal in Nigeria, but this bill would put a five-year prison term on anyone who:

  • "goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex,"

  • "performs, witnesses, aids, or abets the ceremony of same-sex marriage" (including clergy)

  • or "is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies, and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same-sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private."

"Akinola either needs to publicly renounce, in strong terms, his early support of the bill's punitive clauses and to amplify the rather tepid concern he later expressed about them, or else he needs to explain why he's not doing so to the dozen or so churches in Virginia whose congregants were largely ignorant of the legislation when they voted to join Akinola's archdiocese in December," van Biema writes.

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Many commenters on the conservative Anglican blogs accuse van Biema of a kind of neo-colonialism. One writes, "Too bad that these folks who call for this don't really care about Nigeria or they would understand the context of this law, instead of imposing American cultural thinking onto this country. And we wonder why internationals despise Americans so much. We think the entire world revolves around us—and so it does."

3. William and Mary puts the cross back in Wren Chapel
It's under a glass case away from the altar, so it won't hurt anybody. A disclaimer plaque explaining the college's historical Anglican roots (it's now a public university) will help reassure anyone who thinks it might actually mean something to the institution in this day and age.

4. Jars of Clay too chicken to release protest songs
"People want to buy what they want to be told," Jars of Clay lead vocalist Dan Haseltine told the Argus Leader this week. "They want people to lie to them." And so, the Argus Leader reports, Haseltine obliges. "Haseltine says Jars of Clay can't release the war protest songs it has written — its fans probably aren't ready for them," the paper's Robert Morast writes. "It's also why Haseltine rarely shares his political opinions. 'If you rock the boat too much, your records won't appear in certain Christian record stores anymore,' Haseltine says … . 'There are just taboo subjects that make it hard to be a Christian artist.'" Morast ends his column by saying that he "has new respect for Jars of Clay." Why? Because Haseltine won't say or sing what he really believes because he's worried about the effect on sales? What is respectable about that?

5. Religious visa fraud hurting Christian ministers
Last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found that 35 percent of religious worker "green card" visas were based on fraudulent information. A significant percentage of those were from "special risk" countries— Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, Syria, and Iraq — where 3 of every 4 visa applications were fraudulent. This week, Cox News's Eunice Moscoso says the fallout is bad news for priests, nuns, missionaries, and other religious workers hoping to enter the U.S. Crystal Williams of the American Immigration Lawyers Association says the visas "seem to have come to a grinding halt." Among those hardest hit: the Catholic Church, which wants foreign priests to fill empty pulpits.

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Exchange of the day
From today's Focus on the Family broadcast:

James Dobson: [In a private meeting a few weeks ago,] I asked you a pretty bold question. And I appreciate the fact that you didn't seem offended by it. But I asked you if the rumors were true that you were in an affair with a woman obviously who wasn't your wife at the same time that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky were having their escapade.
Newt Gingrich: Well, the fact is that the honest answer is yes. But it was not related to what happened. And this is one of the things the Left tries to do and one of the places where, frankly, I think the way this report of the special counsel was written weakened the case. …
I drew a line in my mind that said, "Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept felonies and you cannot accept perjury in your highest officials."
Dobson: Well, you answered that question with regard to Bill Clinton instead of referring to yourself. May I ask you to address it personally? You know, I believe you to be a professing Christian and you and I have prayed together, but when I heard you talk about this dark side of your life when we were in Washington, you spoke of it with a great deal of pain and anguish, but you didn't mention repentance. Do you understand that word, repentance?

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Crime | Abuse | Violence | Military | Sudan | Iran | China | Nigeria | Homosexuality | HPV | Gingrich on Focus on the Family | Rudy Giuliani | Mike Huckabee | Romney and Mormonism | John Edwards | Obama's pastor | Politics | Environment | Life ethics | Church and state (U.S.) | Church and state (non-U.S.) | Czech cathedral battle | William and Mary cross | Higher Education | Education | Stephen Prothero's Religious Literacy | Evolution | History | "Lost Tomb of Jesus" | Books | Film | Music | Art and media | Money and business | Prayer Palace | New Life Church and Ted Haggard | Church life | Anglicanism | Catholicism | Atheism | Missions and ministry | People | Other stories of interest
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  • Fondling ex-pastor gets conditional sentence | Ogling and fondling the breasts of two young members of a city church earned a former minister an eight-month conditional sentence yesterday (Edmonton Sun)

  • Church relying on faith after pastor's arrest | Kevin Ogle sits in a Walton County, Ga., jail for allegedly sending pornographic messages and pictures of himself over the Internet to a police officer posing as a teenage girl (The State, Columbia, S.C.)

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  • Violent scripture may increase aggression-study | Violent passages in religious texts can increase aggressive behavior in people, especially if they are true believers and the violence is sanctioned by God, according to a new U.S. and Dutch study (Reuters)

  • Shutting out terrorism's victims | American law currently bars the entry to the United States of some of terrorism's most abused victims: refugees who have been forced to provide so-called material assistance. (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • Faith as a peacemaker | Religion and violence are often seen as kindred souls — one always leads to the other. In fact, bloodshed is a sign of religion's failures, not its successes. Faith can be an essential ingredient in ending the violence, inviting the peace (Henry G. Brinton, USA Today)

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  • A soldier's freedom of religion | Whether members of our military die in action or not, they, and all our veterans, deserve the right to have whatever they want put on their grave marker — as an expression of their right to religious freedom (Gary Clark, The Seattle Times)

  • Why they pray | The trials of war strengthen many soldiers' faith (Andrew Carroll, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Real threat to Christianity drags on in Iraq | The American mismanagement of Iraq has been particularly unkind to Christians (Brian Katulis and John Podesta, Des Moines Register, Ia.)

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  • Apologizing for Iran | According to the Religious Left, anything the Mullah regime does is justified, given the CIA's role in Iran in 1953 (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

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  • In Nigeria, Christians and Muslims in uneasy calm | While it's true that a rough peace seems to be holding today, and that dialogues between Muslims and Christians are growing, many locals say that dialogue may never have begun if Nigerian Christians hadn't learned to stand up for themselves (John Allen Jr, National Catholic Reporter)

  • Denying rights in Nigeria | Billed as an anti-gay-marriage act, a poisonous piece of legislation making its way through the Nigerian National Assembly is a far-reaching assault on basic human rights (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • Crunch time on gays for Anglican archbishop | The Anglican Primate of Nigeria, one of the most powerful churchmen in Africa, needs to clarify his stance on a Nigerian anti-homosexuality bill he initially supported, which assigns a five-year prison term not only for practicing gays, but also for those who support them (David Van Biema, Time)

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  • A vital discussion, clouded | Concerns about promiscuity can misinform the debate about a new vaccine for the human papillomavirus (The New York Times)

  • A Merck-y business | The case against mandatory HPV vaccinations (Michael Fumento, The Weekly Standard)

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Gingrich on Focus on the Family:

  • Gingrich tells Dobson he had affair during Clinton probe | Gingrich argued in the interview, however, that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite for pursuing Clinton's infidelity (Associated Press)

  • Abolish 9th Circuit, Gingrich tells Dobson | Gingrich advocated reconstituting the court with different judges. Because federal judges are appointed for life, such a move would require impeachment of the Ninth Circuit judges (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

  • Earlier: Gingrich to describe repentance on radio | Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential Republican presidential candidate, will appear on James Dobson's Focus on the Family radio show and describe getting on his knees and seeking God's forgiveness for his moral failures, according to excerpts released Wednesday by the evangelical group (The Denver Post)

  • Audio: "Rediscovering Our Nation's Spiritual Heritage" (Focus on the Family, day 1, day 2)

  • Related: Gingrich, the non-candidate, focuses on the GOP's church-based family | Gingrich will give the May 19 commencement address at Liberty University in Lynchburg, founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Rudy Giuliani:

  • Baptist: Evangelicals doubt Giuliani | Richard Land says evangelicals believe the former New York City mayor showed a lack of character during his divorce from second wife, television personality Donna Hanover (Associated Press)

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  • Giuliani family values | Richard Land's salvos launched at Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani were the warning shots in the evangelical primary (Time)

  • Evangelist has a Rudy awakening: 'He can win' | As 2008 hopefuls start to woo different slices of the electorate, one of the more unexpected shifts appears to be a slow migration of white evangelical conservatives toward the thrice-married Giuliani (New York Daily News)

  • No deal, Rudy | Rudy Giuliani hopes pro-lifers will accept a bargain and support his bid to be president. We won't (Editorial, National Catholic Register)

  • Rudy & the Right | An equal among sinners (Zev Chafets, New York Post)

  • He's not for me | Why pro-life conservatives will not support Rudy Giuliani (Daniel Allott, The American Spectator)

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Mike Huckabee:

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Romney and Mormonism:

  • To Romney strategist, questions on faith fair game | It's appropriate for the public to ask questions about Mitt Romney's Mormon faith as he pursues his presidential campaign, a top Romney campaign strategist said yesterday (The Boston Globe)

  • Opinions are diverse on 'those Mormons' | Survey snapshots range from cults to big, close-knit families (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)

  • Also: Americans' views of the Mormon religion | Most frequent top-of-mind impression of Mormons is polygamy (Gallup News Service)

  • A Mormon president? I don't think so | These set pieces serve mainly to make the not particularly religion-savvy political commentariat feel good about themselves. The writer appears unbiased, and the article inevitably validates the cherished American myth about our tolerance for diversity. Can a Mormon be elected president in 2008? No. (Alex Beam, The Boston Globe)

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John Edwards:

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Obama's pastor:

  • Disinvitation by Obama is criticized | Some black leaders are now questioning Senator Barack Obama's decision to distance his campaign from the senior pastor of the popular Trinity United Church of Christ (The New York Times)

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Life ethics:

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Church and state (U.S.):

  • Move to deregister church blocked by court | The High Court has halted a decision by the registrar of societies to cancel the registration of Presbyterian Outreach Mission Church (The Nation, Kenya)

  • Suit claims Gilbert unfair on church's signs | The Scottsdale-based Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Gilbert in federal court on Thursday, alleging the town is discriminating against a church wanting to post signs for prospective parishioners (East Valley Tribune, Mesa, Az.)

  • Church fights land acquisition | The battle continues between a church and the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education for a small tract of land off Bethlehem Road (Rocky Mount Telegram, N.C.)

  • Cowboy Church stays in the saddle | The United States Department of Justice is no longer looking into whether Bedford County's zoning ordinance violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (Bedford Bulletin, Va.)

  • Yes, they have standing to sue | Supreme Court weighs taxpayer challenges under the establishment clause (John W. Whitehead, Legal Times)

  • No, they don't have standing to sue | Supreme Court weighs taxpayer challenges under the establishment clause (Douglas W. Kmiec, Legal Times)

  • In Coatesville, Jesus governs | Lord knows, Coatesville could use a miracle or two. But could ministers moonlighting as City Council members wind up costing the struggling city big bucks for crossing the line between church and state? (Monica Yant Kinney, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Fighting religious discrimination: Bush administration's quiet campaign | Skeptics aside, this Justice Department has shown a commitment to protecting religious freedom no matter which faith is involved (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

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Church and state (non-U.S.):

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Czech cathedral battle:

  • Cathedral's interior decoration belongs to church, says archbishop | The interior furnishing of Prague's St Vitus Cathedral, which the Supreme Court recently returned to the state, belongs to the Catholic Church and the church will not give it up, Prague Archbishop Cardinal Miloslav Vlk told public Czech Television (Prague Daily Monitor, Czech Republic)

  • Cardinal against handing Prague Cathedral over to state | Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk does not want to hand over the St Vitus Cathedral back to the state even though the latest court decision cancelled the previous rulings according to which the church owned the cathedral (Prague Daily Monitor, Czech Republic)

  • Less than half of Czechs for church property return—poll | Compared with 2002, the number of people who want property to be returned to churches has slightly grown, according to the poll that also showed that more than a half of the polled do not consider churches useful institutions (Prague Daily Monitor, Czech Republic)

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William and Mary cross:

  • Cross on display permanently | The Wren Chapel will store the brass cross in a glass case with a plaque describing the university's Anglican roots (Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)

  • Cross returns to chapel -- but not on the altar | The College of William and Mary's president and board agreed yesterday to restore the altar cross to permanent display in historic Wren Chapel to quell a controversy that began with its removal in the fall (The Washington Post)

  • College returns cross to chapel | Administrators at the College of William & Mary, responding to months of harsh criticism from alumni, ordered the immediate return of a cross to the Williamsburg school's historic Wren Chapel yesterday (The Washington Times)

  • W&M alumni reopening their wallets | The compromise on permanent display of the Wren cross seems to have eased the "fuss" (Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)

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  • Internet-petition group backs W&M cross compromise | Creators of SaveTheWrenCross.org said the Web site will continue but will change its emphasis to providing information about the discussion, and about answers to questions the group is raising about the compromise plan (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  • Return of cross quiets debate at William & Mary | College President Gene R. Nichol and his supporters lauded as a compromise the recommendation of a special committee to study the role of religion at public universities, while those who never wanted the 18-inch brass cross removed see its return as a win. For others, many questions remain (The Washington Times)

  • Creative compromise on fate of Wren Cross | This week's decision to return the cross to William and Mary's Wren Chapel is the kind of elegant, thoughtful compromise that should satisfy everyone, but probably won't. (Editorial, Virginian-Pilot)

  • A first step at W&M | This is being sold as a compromise. The connotation seems clear: The cross can be in the chapel so long as its primary function is historic, not religious. (Editorial, The Washington Times)

  • True diversity | Cross controversy is less about religion than history & heritage (Linda Arey Skladany, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  • Ideology to the fore at W&M | Some folks seem intent on replacing old-school racial prejudice with religious intolerance (Michael Paul Williams, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

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Higher Education:

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  • Back home after crash, an agonizing wait | Nine hours passed before officials of the Bluffton University released the names of the four students who were killed in Atlanta along with the bus driver and his wife (Associated Press)

  • Also: Mennonites rally around bus survivors | Though small in numbers, Mennonites are taught to put their faith into action. So when a bus crashed carrying baseball players from Mennonite-affiliated Bluffton University, church members offered their prayers and their homes (Associated Press)

  • Professor fears tenure change will stifle inquiry | "We feel this will cause a serious decline in the quality of education at Cornerstone," said English professor David Landrum (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)

  • Also: Cornerstone's new policy abolishes tenure | The new policy will offer future hires a term contract. Current faculty on the tenure track — half of the university's 61 professors—will be given the choice between tenure and a contract (The Chimes, Calvin College)

  • Gay, lesbian group harassed in Sioux Center | Bus was defaced, as it was at an early stop last year (Sioux City Journal, Ia.)

  • Asbury College picks new president | Asbury College reached within its own ranks yesterday to make the historic choice of its first female president since the Christian liberal arts school in Wilmore was founded in 1890 (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

  • Unusual mix of prayer and politics | Yale Divinity School students burn the Ten Commandments and Bill of Rights — in prayer, not protest (Inside Higher Ed)

  • Homeschoolers find university doors open | Last fall, UC Riverside joined a growing number of colleges around the country that are revamping application policies to accommodate homeschooled students (Associated Press)

  • Campus exposure | A new crop of college sex magazines shows students baring it all. In the age of MySpace and confessional blogs, is this the ultimate in self-revelation? (The New York Times Magazine)

  • SMU seeking church approval for Bush library site | SMU will seek permission from a 23-member council of the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church at a meeting in Dallas next week (Associated Press)

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  • Educators could aid understanding of religion, experts say | Conference at First Amendment Center explores ways to prevent conflicts in public schools as student religious expression increases (First Amendment Center)

  • Where two or more students are gathered in God's name . . . there is controversy | Immigrants seeking religious liberty are among those suspended at a Vancouver-area school (The Oregonian)

  • Also: Schools have latitude to restrict prayer | In schools, students are generally free to practice their religion -- by praying before meals, handing out leaflets or reading their Bibles -- so long as they're not being disruptive, coercing or proselytizing other students (The Oregonian)

  • A call for separation of school and state | Parker v. Hurley was not just a victory for gay-marriage advocates or a defeat for Judeo-Christian traditionalists. It was a reminder that on many of the most controversial subjects of the day, public schools do not speak for the whole community (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)

  • No place for religious rituals in the classroom | Daubing desks with oil goes a step — or several — beyond a few like-minded educators sharing a good vibe for the collective benefit of their students. What they did, no matter how casual and well-intentioned, was a religious ritual; it should not have happened in a public school (Jeff Webb, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

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Stephen Prothero's Religious Literacy:

  • Holy book learning | Americans are shockingly illiterate when it comes to religions -- including their own. That's a problem in today's world, a BU professor argues. But it won't be easily fixed (The Boston Globe)

  • Blind faith | Americans believe in religion -- but know little about it. Susan Jacoby reviews Stephen Prothero's Religious Literacy (The Washington Post)

  • Religious literacy could create common ground | Stephen Prothero is right (Elizabeth Welch, The Dallas Morning News)

  • Q&A: What Americans don't know about religion could fill a book | Stephen Prothero calls religious illiteracy a "major civic problem." (U.S. News & World Report)

  • The gospel of Prothero | A Boston University professor argues that Americans, though 'spiritual,' are woefully ignorant about religion (Newsweek)

  • Americans get an 'F' in religion | Sometimes dumb sounds cute: Sixty percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments, and 50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married. Stephen Prothero isn't laughing (USA Today)

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  • Darwin's God | In the world of evolutionary biology, the question is not whether God exists but why we believe in him. Is belief a helpful adaptation or an evolutionary accident? (The New York Times Magazine, new link)

  • Educational crusader | A Ventura County Board of Education member sparks the debate over evolution and creationism (VC Reporter, Ca.)

  • More pressing board issues | Don't base book vote on religion (Editorial, Ventura County Star, Ca.)

  • Who's a monkey's uncle? | Debate over evolution masks a more serious issue (Richard Larsen, Ventura County Star, Ca.)

  • Earlier: Textbook teaching evolution debated | School board postpones vote (Ventura County Star, Feb. 28)

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  • Gift of the Gospels | Local pastor helps Vatican get ancient manuscripts (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  • Old religious text goes missing from library | "It's a page from a codex, which is, ah, like our books today that we know today, not a roll, but a codex with pages and it's the first page of a book of what was probably a book of psalms." (The World Today, Radio Australia)

  • Monks seek help as Ukraine Orthodox treasure crumbles | Awed by its mysterious beauty and intrigued by catacombs containing the remains of scores of monks, thousands pray every day at the Caves Monastery, spiritual symbol of Slav culture. But visitors are unaware of impending danger -- the monastery is crumbling (Reuters)

  • How Korea embraced Christianity | Former missionaries look back at a nation that's now the No. 2 source of Christian mission workers (The Christian Science Monitor)

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"Lost Tomb of Jesus":

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  • The Jesus tomb meets the internet | I have now seen the show, read the book, and followed the role of the blogosphere. Here's where I think we stand (Bruce Feiler, Huffington Post)

  • Jesus R.I.P. | Our rabbi reflects on the claim that Christ's tomb has been found (Marc Gellman, Newsweek)

  • 'Lost Tomb': Why a fuss? | Had Jacobovici given scholars the respect he claims to have for their work, he might have found enthusiastic partners. Instead, he has discovered that most of us see Lost Tomb as a "docu-drama" that cannot be taken seriously as either (Chris Frilingos, The Orlando Sentinel)

  • 'Why seek ye the living among the dead?' | Search as they might, people aren't going to find Christ in a tomb. The only Christ many will see is the Christ in Christians (Warren Bolton, The State, Columbia, S.C.)

  • Christian faith shouldn't fear box of bones | Finding the bones of Jesus should not threaten Christianity. Such a highly unlikely discovery might, in fact, liberate the faith from the shackles of literalism that undermine its mission. (Steve Gushee, Palm Beach Post)

  • Why billions of Christians can't be wrong | We are told that religion is dead. But the figure of Jesus Christ haunts us (A.N. Wilson, The Herald Sun, Australia)

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  • 'The Jesus Machine' tracks James Dobson's rise | Dan Gilgoff — a senior writer at U.S. News & World Report — gained rare access for a reporter to the Focus on the Family organization. He writes about how Dobson's group became the most powerful group in the Christian Right (Fresh Air, NPR)

  • 'Why are you poor?' | Without condescension or glib judgment, Vollmann circles the globe to find the answer (The Boston Globe)

  • Pope gives blessing to gospel of Jeffrey Archer | Archer's new book about Judas Iscariot has been given an endorsement from the Vatican (The Times, London)

  • Early Christianity's martyrdom debate | Q&A: A new book on 'The Gospel of Judas' reveals sharp divisions among early Christians on issue of death as a validation of faith. David Van Biema discussed the issue with author Elaine Pagels (Time)

  • Defender of the faith | Michael Burleigh seeks to write Christianity back into European political history. Tony Judt reviews Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, From the Great War to the War on Terror (The New York Times, preview, sub. req'd.)

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Art and media:

  • Eric Gorski named AP religion writer | Gorski, 37, has worked the religion beat for nine years, first at The Gazette of Colorado Springs and then at The Denver Post, where he began work in 2003 (Associated Press)

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Money and business:

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Prayer Palace:

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New Life Church and Ted Haggard:

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Church life:

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  • Top attorneys square off in case of embattled priest | The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado has hired the law firm of Hal Haddon—known for defending such high-profile figures as basketball star Kobe Bryant—to pursue an allegation of "misapplied funds" against the Rev. Don Armstrong, of Colorado Springs. Meanwhile, Armstrong's first lawyer has withdrawn from the case because he says there aren't the financial resources to adequately fight the diocese (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Bishop demands 'better theology' of sex | The Christian church has a deeply flawed understanding of sex that has led to morally groundless objections to masturbation, birth control, abortion and homosexuality, says a leading Canadian Anglican bishop (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Also: Bishop's take on sexuality ignites debate | 'Sex is not a sport,' one critic argues (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Also: Some Anglicans welcome debate on theology of sex | Some feel Right Rev. Michael Ingham went too far, however, when he singled out historical Christian objections to masturbation, birth control, abortion and homosexuality as the result of deeply flawed interpretations of the Bible and theology (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Anglican head says Catholic merger not on the cards | "There is no plan at all (to reunite)," said Rowan Williams, "We will continue discussions as we have for the past 40 years." (Reuters)

  • Anglican leader extolls unity on poverty, AIDS | "The tensions are perfectly real, but one of the remarkable things is the willingness to work together on development goals," Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told reporters (Reuters)

  • Anglican church urged to speak out on Zimbabwe | The spiritual head of the world's 77 million Anglicans urged the church to speak out against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and said on Wednesday the impact of sanctions should be considered (Reuters)

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  • Episcopal bishop-elect confirms loyalty | "To put it as clearly as I can," says Mark Lawrence, "my intention is to remain in the Episcopal church." (Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)

  • Also: Clock is ticking for S.C. diocese | Conservative bishop-elect Mark Lawrence 10 votes shy of needed majority for "consent" (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)

  • Anglican church, beset by new rift, has deep roots in Loudoun | Virginia's first settlers were of the Anglican faith, though it was not the evangelical and charismatic brand of the religion adhered to by many of today's Anglicans (The Washington Post)

  • An Episcopal switch reflects divisions in church | Former Albany assistant bishop joins group that opposes policy on gays (Times Union, Albany, N.Y.)

  • Episcopalians face ultimatum in Anglican civil war | The civil war in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion over human sexuality and biblical authority entered what appears to be a new and decisive stage at a meeting of the Anglican primates -- or chief presiding officers -- on Feb. 14-19 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (David C. Steinmetz, The Orlando Sentinel)

  • Episcopalians and the New World | The Episcopal church gets ready to celebrate its 400th anniversary in America (Mark D. Tooley, The Weekly Standard)

  • The end of the Anglican Communion | The gnosticism that infects the Episcopal Church USA has just about driven the Anglican Communion over the cliff. (George Weigel, Denver Catholic Register)

  • Going it alone | The Church of England must declare its independence from the Anglican communion, otherwise its historic role in British life is at an end (Theo Hobson, The Guardian, London)

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  • Priest seeks shield of poverty vow | Two men fathered by the retired Jesuit in Spokane seek restitution and child support (The Oregonian)

  • Priest admits fathering kids | Testimony reveals from 1961-1976 he had four children, visited prostitutes (Anchorage Daily News, Ak.)

  • Pope names new archbishop of Warsaw | Kazimierz Nycz, the 57-year-old bishop of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg in northern Poland, replaces former Warsaw Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, who abruptly stepped down at what was to be his installation Mass on Jan. 7 after admitting he cooperated with the secret police (Associated Press)

  • Prayer not "an optional" for Christians, Pope says | Prayer is not "an optional" or an accessory for Christians but an essential part of the life of the faithful, Pope Benedict said on Sunday (Reuters)

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Missions and ministry:

  • Housing charities face hometown disaster | Habitat for Humanity International has built homes all over the world. But now it has some work to do in its own backyard: A twister cut a devastating path through the organization's hometown last week (Associated Press)

  • Faith's battlefield | S.F. event designed to get teens energized about evangelical Christianity divides believers with its combative language and emphasis on culture war (San Francisco Chronicle)

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  • Also: A youth ministry some call antigay tests tolerance | At a two-day event called BattleCry, young Christians plan to speak out against homosexuality, obscene music and violent video games (The New York Times)

  • Good word | Kathleen Kennedy Townsend wants to refocus faith on service (Newsweek)

  • Religion Today: Models for Christ | . The non-denominational organization has since expanded to 19 other major fashion centers, including Los Angeles, London, Paris, Milan and Tokyo — and hundreds participate (Associated Press)

  • Churches pick up HIV/AIDS fight | Facing a growing AIDS epidemic in Florida's black community, local black churches have fortified their efforts to combat the disease by hosting prayer summits, distributing condoms, offering HIV testing at their churches and launching counseling ministries and support groups for those living with AIDS (The Miami Herald)

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Other stories of interest:

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  • Girl placed with Protestant foster parents sues | A Roman Catholic teenager has brought a landmark legal action against a council for sending her to live with Protestant foster parents (The Times, London)

  • Rise of the funerals that leave out God | More than 30,000 funerals in Britain last year were nonreligious, as families turn increasingly to "celebration-of-life" ceremonies rather than church services, according to new figures (The Telegraph, London)

  • Numbers drop for the married with children | Institution becoming the choice of the educated, affluent (The Washington Post)

  • Muslims are too sensitive, says Pell | The Muslim community is overly sensitive and is the only migrant group to have plotted violence against Australia, Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell has claimed. (The Australian)

  • Baptists in the Holy Land | As a Baptist journalist in Israel for the past 25 years, I've often been shocked at how little Israelis know about my denomination (David Smith, The Jerusalem Post)

  • The value of their values | It is much easier for the international community in theory than in practice to admire and empower an unfamiliar society (Rory Stewart, The New York Times)

  • Scriptural violence can foster aggression (Nature, sub, req'd.)

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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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