1. Focus on the Family veep: "We applaud the NAE's decision"
Time magazine is overloaded with good religion stories this week, from its cover story on the Bible in public schools, to Joe Klein's item on "Second Commandment Republicans," to ministry in New Orleans, to the marketing of monk-made liqueur, to the drop in religion web traffic. Hooray for Time.

Newsweek counters with America's top 50 rabbis. But its real scoop might be in its letters pages. Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family's senior vice president for government and public policy, responds to Lisa Miller's recent piece, "Tree Hugger," on the Focus-circulated letter against Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals.

"[A]lthough most in the media failed to note it, the board reiterated its support for a broader social agenda than just the single issue of global warming Cizik has been emphasizing," Minnery wrote. "We applaud that decision. In fact, we assisted the NAE in writing its well-rounded 'Call to Civic Responsibility' two years ago."

Minnery's statement is worth noting precisely because the letter criticizes a broad social agenda. "Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, notably the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children," the letter states.

Minnery is not the only one saying that it's Cizik, not James Dobson and the other signatories, who are pushing for a narrow or even single-issue agenda. His statement echoes the assertion of The Institute on Religion and Democracy that "the issue that gets more attention than any other is the environment—especially global warming." It offers a chart of media mentions of the NAE unrelated to the Ted Haggard scandal. "By far the leading issue linked to the NAE was the environment and global warming, with 37 percent of the non-Haggard-scandal mentions," says the IRD's Alan Wisdom. "If this Nexis search is any indication, the NAE certainly has not been caught up in the 'hot button' culture wars issues. Only three percent of the NAE media mentions related to its opposition to same-sex marriage, and less than one percent involved opposition to abortion. … Is it possible that the association has come to resemble its old nemesis, the National Council of Churches?"

Uh, or is it possible that there's a phenomenon known as pack journalism, wherein reporters tend to quote each others' sources, follow up on each others' stories, and feed the same narrative? And it's also possible, as George Gerbner postulated, that mass media coverage cultivates attitudes about people that do not correspond to reality. That media outlets keep covering Cizik's environmental views means that reporters find those views interesting. It doesn't mean that Cizik talks about the environment 37 percent of the time. And that reporters seldom quote Cizik on same-sex marriage and abortion may simply mean that they have others in their Rolodexes that they prefer to call on those subjects.

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Focus on the Family executives often complain that reporters distort how much effort they devote to politics and give short shrift to all of the organization's efforts in parental advice, counseling, and other areas where it "focuses on the family." It's a bit ironic, then, that Minnery thinks Cizik is Johnny One-Note.

2. Speaking of Dobson …
The Focus on the Family founder placed an unsolicited phone call to U.S. News senior editor Dan Gilgoff Tuesday. Gilgoff writes, "It marked Gilgoff's first discussion with Dobson in over two years, since the magazine's political writer began work on The Jesus Machine: How James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America are Winning the Culture War, published this month by St. Martin's Press. Dobson had agreed to answer only written questions for the book." Weblog finds it odd that Gilgoff would write about himself in the third person like that, but let's move on.

Unfortunately, if Dobson talked about Gilgoff's book at all, Gilgoff isn't saying. His article focuses almost entirely on what Dobson had to say about actual and possible Republican presidential candidates.

On Fred Thompson: "Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for. [But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression." (Thompson is a member of the Stone-Campbell Church of Christ. A Focus spokesman later said Dobson meant "evangelical" and that Dobson "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith.")

On Newt Gingrich: He's the "brightest guy out there" and "the most articulate politician on the scene today."

On Mitt Romney: "There are conservative Christians who will not vote for him because of his Mormon faith. I'm not saying that's the correct view or my view. But [presidential nominees] lose elections by 5 or 6 percent of the vote, so you don't have to lose much of the conservative Christian vote."

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On Rudolph Giuliani: "I do not believe that the current excitement over Giuliani will continue."

On McCain: Nothing quoted, other than a note that the McCain campaign, like the Giuliani campaign, hasn't called.

On whether he'll step down from Focus on the Family entirely as he turns 71 next month: "I have 10-to-12-hour-a-day energy. I feel that God has asked me to do what I'm doing. I have no intention to stay away."

In a related story, The Boston Globe reports that members of the executive committee of the Arlington Group (a network of politically conservative Christian organizations) "have questioned several declared and potential White House hopefuls with the intention of settling on a single candidate." Members insist that the Arlington Group as such won't endorse a candidate. The Globe also reports that "the Arlington Group website was abruptly disabled earlier this month after the Globe began making inquiries."

3. Evangelicals prominent on both sides of the U.S. attorney firings
"Who is Monica Goodling?" asks a widely published article by McClatchy's Ron Hutcheson. Simply put, Goodling is senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Department of Justice White House liaison. But she was apparently deeply involved in planning last fall's dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys, and on Monday chose to take the Fifth rather than testify to Congress. She is now on an indefinite leave of absence.

As for her background, Hutcheson notes:

Goodling, 33, is a 1995 graduate of Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., an institution that describes itself as "committed to embracing an evangelical spirit."
She received her law degree at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. Regent, founded by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, says its mission is "to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world."

Hutcheson has been covering the firings extensively. He does not note, however, that the most prominent of the fired lawyers also graduated from an institution committed to embracing an evangelical spirit. David C. Iglesias—who says he was fired because he wouldn't time corruption charges against New Mexico Democrats to coincide with the November elections—is a 1980 graduate of Wheaton College, spoke (RM | WMA) at the school's homecoming weekend in 2005, and still sits on its nongoverning board of visitors.

"The core of who I am is a practitioner of Christianity," he told Wheaton's alumni magazine in 2001. "No one ever gets it perfect, but we practice and live by grace."

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In Iglesias's home state of New Mexico, Albuquerque Tribune columnist Gene Grant praises him as "a man of strong faith, beholden to no man."

Weblog doesn't know the religious affiliations of other people in the firings controversy (well, yes, Gonzales is a Roman Catholic).

4. Colorado's largest Episcopal congregation leaves
Add to northern Virginia (more), Connecticut (more), South Carolina (more), and probably Florida and San Joaquin, California, another big battleground in the fight between the liberal Episcopalians departing from the Anglican Communion and orthodox Anglicans departing from the Episcopal Church: Colorado Springs. After the 2,000-member Grace Episcopal Church received news that the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado was again delaying any information about the suspension of its rector, Don Armstrong, the church's vestry voted Monday to leave the diocese and affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. "The showdown looms on Palm Sunday as Episcopal Bishop Rob O'Neill or a representative and Armstrong, his longtime nemesis, both plan to take control of the parish pulpit at the 8 a.m., 9 a.m., and 11 a.m. services," the Rocky Mountain News reports.

Armstong doesn't seem too worried about O'Neill. "He doesn't have an army," he told the Associated Press.

Update: The diocese either blinked or is taking time to amass its army. Or the Rocky Mountain News was wrong about Palm Sunday's showdown in the first place.

For Anglican news geeks only: In a comment on TitusOneNine, Armstrong writes that he deliberately did not tell the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI), where he has been executive director for the past three years, about the church's departure. "I was inhibited from talking about these issues and knew as well that their own work did not need to be tainted by the necessity of our own decisions as a parish," he wrote. He continued:

It is clear to me that the [Episcopal House of Bishops] has rejected the plan developed by ACI and approved by the Primates. That does not mean the plan is not a good one or that it can't be implemented by conservative dioceses. But as a number of Windsor Bishops have said to me over the last couple of months, there is nothing they can do for a parish in a revisionist diocese — and for us the only real solution was CANA or AMiA. My point is that our decisions as a parish and my own as a priest were made only because the ACI solution was no longer an option for us and does not suggest that ACI's plan is faulty.
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5. Time's cover story: Why the Bible should be taught in public schools
This weblog started off by talking about all the great stories in Time this week. Be sure not to miss David van Biema's "The Case for Teaching the Bible." But be sure also to read Mark Galli's October 2005 piece on The Bible and Its Influence.

Weblog remains skeptical and is probably in the minority here at CT: I'm not terribly eager to see more "religious literacy" classes in schools. But then again, I attended a Hawaiian public school where one teacher taught students Buddhism, another made each student name their religion so he could mock it, and another ran tests on students to measure psychic abilities. Later I went to a Hawaiian private school where mandatory chapels and ethics classes proselytized for the worst kinds of liberal Protestantism and Unitarianism. Does anyone really think that widespread classes on "The Bible and Its Influence" are more likely to improve religious literacy than they are to spread bad history about "the Crusades," "the Inquisition," and the "Salem Witch Trials"?

Quote of the day
"Bring it on. And you know, frankly, they like to threaten that, but they don't actually like to do it. Because if they did it, they would raise the awareness of the whole problem to a higher level."

—Rusty Leonard, founder of Ministrywatch, on organizations that threaten to sue him for reporting on their finances. Leonard was profiled by ABC's 20/20.

More articles

2008 race | Politics | Abortion | Life ethics | Alcohol laws | Church and state | European Union at 50 | Religious liberty | Zimbabwe | Africa | Immigrants and refugees | Missions and ministry | Slavery | Reconciling history | History | Education | Evolution | Books | Hell | Catholicism | Church life | Colorado's Grace Church | Anglicans and Episcopalians | Sexual ethics | Abuse | Stephen Foley | Crime | Money and business | Music | Media | Mormons | Pat Robertson | Graham library | People | Obituaries | Research | Other stories of interest

2008 race:

  • Coalition seeks to reframe GOP race | Leaders of secretive Arlington Group interview 2008 candidates (The Boston Globe)

  • Dobson offers insight on 2008 Republican hopefuls | Focus on Family founder snubs Thompson, Praises Gingrich (U.S. News & World Report)

  • The Second Commandment Republicans | There is a striking change in the 2008 Republican presidential field. There are two candidates with strong religious credentials, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas and former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and both spend far more time talking about good works than about sin (Joe Klein, Time)

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  • History of schooling distorted | Although his campaign has denied that Obama was a practicing Muslim, the "Islam" issue is not likely to go away soon for the presidential candidate (Chicago Tribune)

  • Huckabee: Conservative view will prevail | "If people of genuine conservative convictions don't support a conservative with convictions, then quite frankly I'm not sure what the point would be to be in politics," he said in an interview (Associated Press)

  • Christian Coalition officer backs Romney | Drew McKissick, the national coalition's secretary and board member, will be a paid "South Carolina grass roots adviser" for the campaign, Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said Thursday (Associated Press)

  • Liberals biggest hurdle for Romney? | Conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt thinks Mitt Romney's biggest opposition comes not from evangelical Christians who view Mormonism as a cult, but rather from secular liberals who remain skeptical of anyone who believes in revelation, divine intervention or miracles (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  • Romney fan club | Hugh Hewitt and Kathryn Lopez talk Mitt and Mormons (National Review Online)

  • A site for sore eyes | Mark DeMoss's Evangelicals for Mitt website has been using opposition research provided by the Romney campaign, as well as accepting funds from donors steered to the site by the Romney camp (The American Spectator, second item)

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  • Hill group cites power of prayer | Rep. J. Randy Forbes of Virginia says that with "so many negative things going on in the world today," Americans would be well served to remember the power of prayer. To that end, Mr. Forbes and about 40 other members of Congress from both parties and 19 states will gather outside the Capitol at noon to issue what they are describing as a call to bring "America back to prayer." (The Washington Times)

  • Politicians hear bipartisan note in 'Amazing Grace' movie | When politicians like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., emerged from the screenings, the buzz wasn't so much about spiritual lessons as it was about the movie's message of political civility and bipartisanship (USA Today)

  • In a national pulpit, Cleaver to preach on global warming | Congressman will reach out to religious leaders on subject of protecting Earth (The Kansas City Star)

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  • A new Crusade for GOP evangelicals | Defeating Islamic radicals has become a priority for religious conservatives (Dan Gilgoff, Los Angeles Times)

  • Now they're campaigning on a wing and a prayer | What happened between 1967 and 2007? How did the matter of someone's religion get back into the dead center of the public square, not to mention the cable shows and the blogosphere? (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)

  • Conscience, calling, and the Christian conservative agenda | Without denying for a moment the central importance of some issues, can't we admit that Christ came to redeem all things? (Ken Connor, Center for a Just Society)

  • Prepare for biblical floods and droughts | The charlatanism aimed at rank-and-file evangelicals now comes from the left (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

  • Anglicans v Greens | The powerful Sydney Anglican diocese has intervened in the state election campaign, suggesting a vote for the Greens could force schools and religious organisations to employ gays and lesbian teachers in contradiction of their Christian ethics (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Hundreds protest anti-smacking bill | The voices were tense, but there was no violence when supporters from both sides of the smacking debate clashed at Parliament today (The New Zealand Herald)

  • N. Ireland foes reach accord | Protestants and Catholics to share power in local government (The Washington Post)

  • How Mr Blair is prising apart Church and State | Any substantial reduction or abolition of the role of bishops in the House of Lords will result in the unravelling of the Establishment of the Church of England (George Carey, The Times, London)

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  • Mexican Catholics protest abortion bills | Reciting the rosary and chanting prayers, several thousand abortion opponents summoned by Mexico's Roman Catholic Church marched through the capital to oppose a proposal to legalize the procedure in the first three months of pregnancy (Associated Press)

  • Proposal for complete ban on abortion draws supporters to Warsaw streets | Thousands of Poles took to Warsaw's streets on Wednesday to demand a complete ban on abortion, including in cases of rape or incest (Associated Press)

  • Labor row over pregnancy bill | Kevin Rudd's shadow cabinet has faced its first backbench revolt on policy and is being forced to reconsider its support for a bill aimed at making pregnancy counseling services declare their position on abortion (The Australian)

  • Mississippi passes what-if abortion bill | The governor signed a bill Thursday that would criminalize abortion in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 decision that legalized the procedure (Associated Press)

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Life ethics:

  • Kaine vetoes death penalty expansion | "I don't think we need to expand capital punishment in Virginia to protect human life and keep people safe," Kaine said. "It's just that simple" (The Washington Post)

  • Also: Va. Gov. vetoes 5 death penalty bills | Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced Monday he had vetoed five bills that would have expanded the crimes punishable by death in Virginia, the state second only to Texas in executions (Associated Press)

  • Archbishop works on Plan B solution | Hartford Archbishop Henry J. Mansell Thursday said he was working with legislative leaders to craft a "mutually respectful" solution to legislation that would require all hospitals that receive public funds - including Catholic hospitals - to offer emergency birth control (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  • Also: 'Plan B' compromise possible | A way out of this dilemma would be for a third party, perhaps a rape crisis counselor, to deliver the contraceptives. That would appear to be a reasonable compromise to balance the needs of the victims and the rights of the church (Editorial, The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  • Doubts cloud adult stem cell research | A report in New Scientist magazine finds "apparently duplicated (images) being used to describe results from different experiments" in a 2006 patent obtained by University of Minnesota researchers (USA Today)

  • Cloning doubletalk | Dianne Feinstein and Orin Hatch pretend that their bill to legalize human cloning is actually a ban (Wesley J. Smith, The Weekly Standard)

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Alcohol laws:

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  • Sunday booze not in the mix | Senate Republicans put a cork in the Sunday alcohol sales bill on Monday, all but guaranteeing Georgians won't get a chance to vote on the issue this year (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Spirits move House to keep last call | Foes derail bill aiming to boost convention business at big-city hotels (The Dallas Morning News)

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Church and state:

  • Not blue: Drivers like new plates | Design, faith top reasons some go with 'God' (Marion Chronicle Tribune, Ind.)

  • Mennonites leaving Mo. over photo law | Around Huntsville, community members say more than a dozen families altogether are preparing to move south to Arkansas, where state law offers a religious exemption to the photo requirement (Associated Press)

  • Church worship finds a champion | With equal measures of outrage and frustration, Del. Lionell Spruill took the highly unusual step of appearing before the Chesapeake City Council to scold its members. He wants the harassment of a local church to cease, and he laid the blame squarely at the feet of the council, a body on which he once served, for not stepping in (The Virginian-Pilot)

  • Settlment reached in FL community center's exclusion of religious groups | The Marion County public facility allows groups and individuals to rent rooms at the community center, except that the community center and park would not be rented out "for formal religious services, informal study programs, or revivals" (Religion Clause)

  • Contractor removes cross from Bradford County tower, not GRU | A court document, filed by an attorney representing the city of Starke, says they did. But Gainesville Regional Utilities and now a Starke official say the court record was mistaken and a crew from the company did not remove a cross from atop the Bradford County city's water tower earlier this year (The Gainesville Sun, Fla.)

  • Street preacher vows to bring more protesters to challenge law | Street preacher Billy Ball returned to Four Seasons Boulevard on Thursday, only to be issued a second citation for violating the city's public demonstrations ordinance (Hendersonville News, NC)

  • State cuts ties with We Care America | Ohio ended the $2.1 million contract because the nonprofit didn't answer the state's questions (The Dayton Daily News, Oh.)

  • Also: We Care America did nothing wrong (John Pentz, The Dayton Daily News, Oh.)

  • Church zoning decision delayed | The Cincinnati Board of Zoning Appeals won't decide until mid-April whether the Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church should receive a building permit to change the sanctuary of its auxiliary building on Erie Avenue into a multiuse room (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

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  • Also: Battle grew to biblical proportion | You need to look no farther than people's front yards to find evidence of the bitter conflict between Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church and its neighbors. (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

  • On churches, some see increased preservation effort | The city is stepping up its efforts to save houses of worship from the wrecking ball, some preservation advocates say, contending that recent decisions to landmark churches are emblematic of an increasingly aggressive approach (The New York Sun)

  • Municipal officials discuss religious land use law | Concerns that a federal anti-discrimination law usurped local zoning and land-use rules brought dozens of municipal officials together yesterday to hear an expert's opinion. (The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y.)

  • China's lesson on freedom of religion | Some Americans see 'separation of church and state' as a manufactured way to keep God out of public view. But Beijing's repressive government illustrates that without that separation, the church — not the state — is ultimately in the greatest jeopardy (Richard W. Garnett, USA Today)

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European Union at 50:

  • Pope criticises EU for excluding God | Pope Benedict strongly criticized the European Union on Saturday for excluding a mention of God and Europe's Christian roots in declarations marking the 50th anniversary of its founding (Reuters)

  • Lost in faith | The Pope has accused Europe of ignoring its Christian roots - but religious leaders don't have a great track record when it comes to politics (Denis MacShane, The Guardian, London)

  • President Kaczynski - Christianity is the EU foundation | Poland's President Lech Kaczynski, in an article for the tabloid 'Fakt' that: 'The Union cannot build its future with no reference to the centuries old history of Europe and European roots. This is why it is so difficult for us to accept opposition to a reference to Christian values in the preamble to the future Constitutional Treaty.' (Poland.pl)

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Religious liberty:

  • Muslims torture for hours Christian "blasphemer" now in jail | A mob of some 150 Muslims in Punjab stormed the home of Amanat Masih, a Protestant charged with burning some pages of the Qur'an. Police intervene after hours of torture and arrest him (AsiaNews.it)

  • Nobel prize winner testifies about Timor | Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, whose resistance to Indonesian rule in East Timor won him a Nobel prize, described Monday how Jakarta-backed militias burned down churches and killed priests after his tiny nation's independence vote (Associated Press)

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  • Forceful conversion | While Islamic adherents would naturally frown at such forceful conversion if carried out against their faith, it is also right, proper and expected that they should not force adherents of other religions to accept Islam. No religion is propagated by force. It is simply immoral, illegal and unconstitutional to do so (Editorial, Daily Champion, Nigeria)

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  • Archbishop urges Zimbabweans to protest | Archbishop Pius Ncube urged Zimbabweans to fill the streets to protest a surge in state-orchestrated violence, saying Thursday he was willing to lead a campaign of peaceful resistance to force President Robert Mugabe out of office (Associated Press)

  • Churches speak out on Zimbabwe | The Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) has called on Government to use its peer country status with Zimbabwe to try and bring a lasting solution to what it calls "the Zimbabwe crisis" (The Naimibian)

  • Zimbabwe church leaders launched an appeal for democracy | In the most outspoken comment so far, Zimbabwe's Roman Catholic bishops said the crisis had reached a flashpoint and further bloodshed and a mass uprising could only be averted by democratic reforms (Associated Press)

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  • Rebirth on the continent | A new gallery at the National Museums of Kenya, which opens in July this year, could ignite debate on the relevance of modern religious practices in Africa (The East African Standard, Kenya)

  • 'Mungiki' houses set ablaze | Angry touts burnt houses of suspected Mungiki followers in Githunguri, Kiambu District, while protesting against harassment by sect members.They acted after a tout was attacked and seriously wounded by people believed to be members of the sect in Ngara area, Nairobi (The East African Standard, Kenya)

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Immigrants and refugees:

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  • State Dept. defends Iraq refugee policy | The Bush administration defended itself Monday against congressional charges that it is not doing enough for thousands of Iraqi refugees, including many who are at great risk because of their service to the American-led coalition in Iraq (Associated Press)

  • Related: Christians, targeted and suffering, flee Iraq | Although they make up only about 5% of Iraq's population, Christians make up nearly 40% of the refugees fleeing Iraq, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (USA Today)

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Missions and ministry:

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Reconciling history:

  • Evangelicals to present Knesset with 'letter of repentance' | In a highly symbolic move, dozens of evangelical Christian leaders will present the Knesset with a "letter of repentance" on Wednesday for crimes committed by Christians against the Jewish people over the centuries (The Jerusalem Post)

  • Swiss reach out to Anabaptist communities | State and church authorities have launched a series of commemorative events to reconcile the Swiss with a dark chapter from their past (SwissInfo)

  • When churches became 'killing fields' | Evaluating the Christian Church, in such a context where members of all Christian congregations played a part in the 1994 atrocities, what most differentiates the Rwandan churches is how they have chosen to live with the shame some members brought on them. While some have asked Rwandans for forgiveness, other churches still carefully avoid the issue of guilt (Rwembeho Stephen, The New Times, Rwanda)

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  • Nun a mystery in John Paul sainthood | It's one of the Roman Catholic Church's closely guarded secrets: the identity of the French nun whose testimony of an inexplicable cure from Parkinson's disease is likely to be accepted as the miracle the Vatican needs to beatify Pope John Paul II (Associated Press)

  • Also: From faithful, push for sainthood | John Paul II is on the fast track to become a saint, but Vatican isn't rushing to judgment (Chicago Tribune)

  • Straddling liberalism and conservatism | The Rev. Benedict J. Groeschel, a wise-cracking, street-smart Jersey boy, preaches orthodox Catholicism around the world and teaches pastoral psychology in Westchester (The New York Times)

  • Rev isn't always short for reverend | A Portuguese group campaigning for safe roads has asked the Vatican to ensure that a priest who owns a souped-up Ford Fiesta "resist the temptations of speed." (Reuters)

  • Hungary's military bishop resigns for love | Hungary's Catholic military bishop has resigned because he wants to marry a woman he met in the church's renewal movement, media reported Friday (Reuters)

  • Both a craft and calling for rosary makers | Whether creating or repairing, they find artistic and spiritual fulfillment in the traditional Catholic beads-and-crucifixes (Los Angeles Times)

  • The lost parish | An agonizing battle to save a church reaches the Vatican and puts the faith of believers to the ultimate test (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Don't let the door hit you, your eminence, on the way out | Will Edward Egan's successor be 'Archbishop of the Capital of the World,' in John Paul II's words—or just another prelate in a diminishing Archdiocese as Southwest continues its migratory Catholic ascent? (David Gibson, New York Observer)

  • Two conclusions about Catholicism in the south | In the north, when Catholics become frustrated with the church, they usually just drop out, drifting into non-practice. In the south, when Catholics become frustrated, they often become Pentecostals (John L. Allen Jr., National Catholic Reporter)

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Church life:

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Colorado's Grace Church:

  • Question of authority | A deep rift that continues to take hold of Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish one day after church leaders voted to secede from the denomination and join a more conservative, Africa-based Anglican church (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

  • Showdown on Palm Sunday at parish pulpit | Vote to secede Episcopal Church may bring lawsuits (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Breakaway parishioners get notice of eviction | "Our position is, we're happy to talk to the diocese about the property," says parish spokesman. "Christians shouldn't be taking other Christians to civil court." (The Denver Post)

  • Colo. Episcopal church battles diocese | Colorado's largest Episcopal congregation was left in turmoil Tuesday after leaders voted to leave the denomination and the bishop responded by dismissing the parish's leadership (Associated Press)

  • Parish panel votes to exit state diocese | The dissension that has spread across the Episcopal Church has come to Colorado as leaders of the state's second-largest parish voted Monday to break away from the church (The Denver Post)

  • Leaders of Grace vote to leave Episcopals | Leaders of one of Colorado's largest Episcopal churches voted Monday to abandon the denomination over ideological differences, pledging loyalty instead to an Africa-based Anglican church led by a controversial archbishop (The Colorado Springs Gazette)

  • Parish votes to secede | Episcopal church joins breakaway Anglican network (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Episcopalians in Colorado plan to leave denomination | The parish is a largely conservative congregation that disagrees with the Episcopal Church's decision to consecrate gay bishops and sanction same-sex unions (The New York Times)

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  • A Graceful battle? | The March 25 meeting at Grace Episcopal has apparently been pushed back until after Easter. Here's an update from before the church left the Episcopal Church (Faith at Altitude, Colorado Springs Gazette)

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Anglicans and Episcopalians:

  • US Episcopalians move away from Tanzania communique | Rejection by the end of September and an American reaffirmation of principles welcoming homosexual clergy and same sex marriages boost chances that the Anglican Communion will try to expel some two-point-three million American Episcopalians from the Anglican Communion (Voice of America)

  • Bishop search puts focus on S.C. | Like it or not, the diocese has been at the center of attention as it searches for a new bishop. That search coincides with the widening rift between those who insist on an orthodox view of Scripture and those who prefer to emphasize the inclusive nature of the Episcopal Church. (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)

  • New Virginia Beach church begins its future split from Episcopal Church | "From hearing some things at the Episcopal church at the top level where … they weren't really lifting up Jesus as Lord and Savior," explained member Carlos Rodriguez (WAVY, Portsmouth, Va.)

  • New church hopes to build relations with other congregation | While the congregation that renamed itself St. John's Anglican Church on Dec. 17 continues to meet at 40 Fifth St., another congregation bearing the church's former name, St. John's Episcopal Church, has splintered off and is meeting in members' homes (Petaluma Argus-Courier, Petaluma, Ca.)

  • Elton's b'day simply divine | Singer toasted at cathedral bash (New York Post)

  • Communion no more | The Archbishop of Canterbury's plan to save the Anglican Communion lies in near ruins (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)

  • It's all over for the Archbishop | Rowan Williams is finished as Archbishop of Canterbury. His authority has been utterly destroyed by the decision of the American bishops to reject his scheme to hold together the Anglican Communion (Damian Thompson, The Telegraph, London)

  • Bishops to primate: drop dead | When Rowan Williams meets his flock these days, he seems happy just to get out of the room in one piece (Stephen Bates, The Guardian, London)

  • A painful split in Attleboro | Maybe the split in Attleboro was bound to happen. But the sense of loss is palpable (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

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  • Liberal Christians, conservative world | Hey, the Africans are trying to impose their culture on us! (Jonathan Zimmerman, The Providence Journal, R.I.)

  • Openness in the Episcopal Church | We bishops affirmed our desire to continue in the discernment process with the wider Communion about our church's place in it, but not at the expense of our polity, which is part of our church identity, and not at the expense of gay and lesbian members seeking full inclusion (M. Thomas Shaw, The Boston Globe)

  • The Episcopalian civil war intensifies | Why the Episcopal Church gets so much press coverage (Leo Sandon, Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)

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Sexual ethics:

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Stephen Foley:

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  • Ga. parents sentenced in boy's death | A suburban Atlanta couple was sentenced Tuesday to life plus 30 years in prison in the beating death of their 8-year-old son, a case that prompted authorities to raid the family's church because it supports corporal punishment (Associated Press)

  • Earlier: Brentwood church leads appeal drive | Couple to face sentencing today for son's death (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Parents of slain minister file wrongful death suit against wife | The parents of a slain Church of Christ minister have filed a $2 million wrongful-death lawsuit against his wife, Mary Winkler, who is scheduled to stand trial for first-degree murder next month. (Associated Press)

  • Ex-pastor, 2 others suspected in theft | A Pima County pastor may be saying extra prayers after his arrest last week for allegedly ripping off the church he once served, according to a Pima County Sheriff's Department report released Tuesday (Tucson Citizen, Az.)

  • Also: Local pastor arrested, accused of stealing | Detectives started investigating Galvan in late February after he was suspended by the governing board of the Church of God denomination which runs Iglesia de Dios Sinai on Nogales highway (KOLD, Tucson, Az.)

  • Former pastor charged | The former pastor of the Chickaree Union Church, often called the Jesus Saves Church, has been charged with stealing more than $25,000 in church funds by cashing two certificates of deposit (The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.)

  • Pastor requests Bible theft charges be dropped | A judge has taken under advisement a former Royersford pastor's request that all charges be dismissed against him in connection with allegations he stole antique Bible books and ripped off a church fund for the needy (The Pottstown Mercury, Pa.)

  • Police plan to cut religion crime | The Scottish Police Service (SPS) has unveiled its new action plan to reduce religious hatred and intolerance (BBC)

  • President Kibaki urges churches to help resolve clashes | President Mwai Kibaki has urged members of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) to complement the ongoing efforts by the Government to find a lasting solution to the clashes in Mt. Elgon District (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)

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Money and business:

  • Life coaching for the soul | Another breed of manager — the spiritual coach — is heeding the call of people who speak of inner guidance systems and reconnecting to their heart (The New York Times)

  • Religious about marketing | With liqueur sales rising, an order of monks figures out how to quietly get its share (Time)

  • Faith and work collide in Minneapolis | Somalian immigrants create a stir by declaring certain jobs offensive to Islam (Los Angeles Times)

  • Holy seas | Christians convert cruise ships (Los Angeles Daily News)

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  • God, indie rock don't mix for critics | In an indie scene where fashion, drugs, attitude and hair can determine one's authenticity, there is apparently zero tolerance for Christ (The Baltimore Sun)

  • Christian rockers say goodbye | Vocal problems for lead singer force Audio Adrenaline to leave stage for good after 15 years together (Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

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  • Trinity beams gospel shows into non-Christian world | Network wants gentle tone in messages (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Also: Trinity beams Christian shows into Muslim homes | The world's largest religious broadcasting network just got a whole lot bigger, striking a deal to beam nonstop Christian television shows into a wide global slice of the most populated — and least Christian — places on earth (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Gospel Music Channel has faith in the future | GMC, which launched in October 2004, ended 2006 in 96 major markets, and expects to be in about 154 this year, says Brad Siegel, co-founder/vice chairman of GMC. "We are on target to pass 20 million homes by the end of this year," he adds (Reuters)

  • GodTube | It's a goofy, fascinating window into the world of Christian youth (Newsweek)

  • Looking for God online | Despite the fact that religion is always in the news, visits to religious websites in the U.S. are declining rapidly. They dropped over 30% within the last year, down 35% the last two years (Time)

  • Christmas or Easter, it's all the same to BBC "Songs of Praise" | Seasonal specials filmed back to back to save costs; Bishop reveals 'air of unreality' in spring festival (The Guardian, London)

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  • Judge tosses cybersquatting suit against pro-Mormon group | U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled that a Web site purportedly set up for The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR) was a parody and visitors could recognize immediately that it did not belong to Utah Lighthouse Ministry, a Salt Lake City-based organization that is critical of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  • Ministry distributes anti-LDS DVDs across state | A ministry opposed to Mormonism distributed 18,000 copies of a DVD to homes across the state on Sunday as part of a nationwide effort to convince members to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Arizona Republic)

  • Also: Utahns receiving anti-Mormon DVDs | By the end of this week, an estimated 300,000 "Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith" DVDs will be delivered by mail and by hand to Utahns' doorsteps as a part of a collaborative effort "exposing what we believe are the problems with Mormonism itself," said Daniel "Chip" Thompson, general director of the Solid Rock Christian Fellowship at Snow College (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)

  • Movie examines violent religious fanaticism | "September Dawn," a new movie depicting the slaughter of 120 innocent pioneers by zealous Utah Mormons in 1857, features Jon Voight as a fanatical bishop who claims the travelers took part in the assassination of church founder Joseph Smith (Politico.com)

  • When the Mormons go, you've really got a problem | Is there anyone left outside the White House who supports the war in Iraq? (Foreign Policy)

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Pat Robertson:

  • Shake lawsuit opens rare window on Pat Robertson's media empire | At the heart of the case is an issue that has bedeviled Robertson repeatedly over the years: the fuzzy line between his tax-exempt operations and his profit-making ventures (The Virginian-Pilot)

  • Robertson's words 'inappropriate' but not a threat, judge rules | So did Pat Robertson really threaten the life of a bodybuilder who is suing him over his diet shake venture? It's still not certain exactly what was said, but court documents make clear that the broadcaster did chastise his accuser in some fashion, apparently invoking the wrath of God in the process (The Virginian-Pilot)

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Graham library:

  • Grahams put finishing touches on new library | Just two months before the opening of the Billy Graham Library, workers are busy installing exhibits and family members are trying to identify everyone in some of the old photos that will fill the galleries (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

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  • Cathy Seipp, 49, noted columnist and blogger, dies | "People with different ideas are not necessarily evil bigots, even if some of them do go to church," she said (The New York Times)

  • Obituary: The Rt Rev John Ward | The paedophile priest scandal that has shaken Catholicism in recent times caused the downfall of Archbishop John Ward, the head of the church in Wales, who has died, aged 78 (The Guardian, London)

  • Obituary: The Reverend Cormac Rigby | Rigby, who died yesterday aged 67, was the original voice of Radio 3, the BBC's classical music network, and - as presentation editor for 14 years - the station's single most influential on-air figure; he later fulfilled a lifelong Christian faith by becoming a Roman Catholic priest (The Telegraph, London)

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Other stories of interest:

  • S. Korean religious leaders to visit Pyongyang in May | The Korean Conference on Religion and Peace is a group of religious leaders representing seven of South Korea's religions: Roman Catholicism, other Christian denominations, Buddhism, Won Buddhism, Confucianism, the "Chondogyo" indigenous Korean religion, and a group of other indigenous religions (Yonhap)

  • Keeping the faith | Rumours of the death of religion among young people have been grossly exaggerated (Radar, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

  • Believers are away with the fairies | We'd be better off without religion (AC Grayling, The Telegraph, London)

  • Feast of the Annunciation celebrates a proud Mary | Depending on whether you are of Orthodox or Catholic faith, the feast of the Annunciation was either Sunday or Monday. For one woman, it's a holiday that's always worth celebrating (Caroline Langston, All Things Considered, NPR)

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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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