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South Korea Orders All Aid Groups Out of Afghanistan

Plus: Military ministry video faulted, all eyes on Christian voters (in Lebanon), and other stories from online sources around the world.

Today's Top Five

1. No progress in Korean hostage situation
The South Korean government, which last month banned travel to Afghanistan, has now ordered Korean organizations already in the country to pull out by the end of the month, the Associated Press reported. Reuters, meanwhile, reported that South Korean Christians are pulling back their short-term missions programs around the world this summer. However, there are few actual developments in the efforts to free the 21 Koreans from Saemmul Presbyterian Church being held by the Taliban.

The New York Times and others have quoted a letter from the hostages' families to presidents Bush and Karzai: "We do not want world order and principles to be undermined for the sake of the release and safe return of the Koreans. Saving these people, however, will also serve as an opportunity to reaffirm the precious values of humanity as a whole."

There has been deadly fighting between the Taliban and Afghan police in the district where the hostages are being held, but it appears unrelated.

2. Pentagon report criticizes seven military leaders' appearance in Christian video
Four generals and three other military officers appeared in uniform and "in official and often identifiable Pentagon locations" in a video for Christian Embassy, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. That's a violation of military rules, and "corrective action" should be taken, says a 47-page report from the Defense Department's inspector general.

"The overall circumstances of the interviews emphasized the speakers' military status and affiliation and implied they were acting within the scope of their official positions as DoD spokespersons," the report said.

3. Is Romney Mormon enough? Is Giuliani Catholic enough?
While much of the buzz about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney focuses on whether his Mormon faith will dissuade evangelical voters, a video making the rounds is raising questions of whether Romney is actually Mormon enough for conservatives.

In the now-famous interview, WHO's Jan Mickelson repeatedly asks Romney about his Mormon faith and repeatedly asserts that Romney's church disciplines anyone who encourages abortion in any way. Mickelson explained, off-air, "What I was trying to get to was: People who will reject your Mormonism on a theological basis can, would put up with that and might vote for you if they thought you were a consistent, morally consistent, Mormon."

"Well, I am," Romney responded. "I am. I am!" But Mickelson was wrong in her views on Mormonism, he said. "There are people in my church who are pro-choice. That is not against my church's view to allow people to have their own position on political positions."

After the interview, Romney said he would not return to the program. "I don't like coming on the air and having you go after me and my church," he said.

"I'm not going after your church; I agree with your church!" Mickelson said.

Meanwhile, at a town-hall meeting, fellow candidate Rudy Giuliani refused to answer whether he is a "traditional, practicing Roman Catholic."

"My religious affiliation, my religious practices, and the degree to which I am a good or not so good Catholic I prefer to leave to the priests," he said. "That would be a much better way to discuss it. That's a personal discussion, and they have a much better sense of how good a Catholic I am or how bad a Catholic I am."

Of questions about his faith, Giuliani said, "It's just sort of gossip. I've never been big on gossip."

Still, the week's most interesting religion news from the campaign trail came on the Democratic side, and not from one of the candidates. Here's what Elizabeth Edwards had to say about God:

I have, I think, somewhat of an odd version of God. I do not have an intervening God. I don't think I can pray to him—or her—to cure me of cancer. I appreciate other people's prayers for that, but I believe that we are given a set of guidelines and that we are obligated to live our lives in a view to those guidelines. And I don't believe we should live our lives that way for some promise of eternal life, but because that's what's right. We should do those things because that's what's right.

4. Lebanon election divides country's Christians
The story of Lebanon's Christian political influence is complicated and difficult to summarize here. But Associated Press has a good outline:

Sunnis are the base for the ruling coalition, which opposes Syrian influence. Shiite Muslims, led by Hezbollah, overwhelmingly back the pro-Syrian opposition. Neither side has been able to decisively lure the Christians, around a third of Lebanon's 4 million people, to their camp.
That deadlock was reinforced when pro-government candidate Amin Gemayel, a former president and the head of one of Lebanon's most powerful Maronite Christian families, conceded defeat by a mere 418 votes in Sunday's election in the Christian stronghold of Metn north of Beirut. …
Under Lebanon's division of power among its sects, the presidency must be held by a Maronite Christian-chosen parliament. Now, no Maronite leader can boost his bid among lawmakers by claiming to represent the entire community.

The Toronto Globe and Mail's analysis puts it this way:

[T]he surprising victory of Camille Khoury, a candidate from General Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, in a predominantly Christian riding in the mountains east of Beirut immediately makes the controversial Gen. Aoun the favourite to win a presidential election this fall.
It also allows the Shia Hezbollah to claim it has the support of the majority of the country's Christians in its prolonged showdown with Mr. Siniora and his Sunni-dominated government.

5. Trying to convert in Egypt
Mohamed Hegazy, a journalist and political activist, is married, and his wife is four months pregnant. They're Christians and want their child to be identified as Christian when born. But the Egyptian interior ministry refuses to let Hegazy change his official religious identification from Islam to Christianity. Hegazy, 24, converted to Christianity several years ago (Reuters says four years; Compass Direct says eight). Now Hegazy has filed suit to have the change made. Yesterday, after a series of death threats — including some, reportedly, from the security police, Hegazy's lawyer resigned. "If you add to the state of alert in Egyptian society, and to protect the feelings of our Muslim brothers, and to protect our national unity … we decided to abandon this case," said the lawyer, Mamdouh Nakhla. "We ask all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, to close this file and refrain from talking about this sensitive area. Not speaking about this is much better than blowing up such subjects, which could set society on fire."

Quote of the day
"Whether a woman works outside or strictly in the home, her first priority is her family and home. We just really want to step up and provide some of these skills."
Terri Stovall, dean of women's programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, which is offering a new bachelor of arts in humanities degree with a 23-hour concentration in homemaking. Only women may enroll in the program, which offers courses on food and nutrition, design and apparel, the value of a child, and the "biblical model for the home and family." She was quoted by the Associated Press.

More articles

South Korean hostages (news) | South Korean hostages (opinion) | South Korean missions | Christianity and Islam | Christianity and Judaism | Jean-Marie Lustiger | Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist | Billy and Ruth Graham | People | New Life's new pastor? | Hillsong | Church life | ELCA meeting | Anglicanism | Homosexuality | Sexual ethics | Life ethics | Abortion | Giuliani's Catholicism | Romney's Mormonism | 2008 candidates | Politics | Politics (Australia) | Faith-based initiatives | Church and state | Christian Embassy video | Iraq | Lebanon election | Egypt | Religious freedom | China | Uganda | Court: Priest was killed | Genocide | Abuse | Crime | Pastor accused of insurance scam | Money and business | Giving | Missions and ministry | Harvest Crusade | Healthcare study | Health care | Minneapolis bridge collapse | Entertainment and media | Sports | Theater | Evan Almighty | Books | Education | Evolution | New Texas laws | Using school buildings | Higher education | Scientology | Other stories of interest

South Korean hostages (news):

  • Options in Korean hostage crisis | What happens next? (Associated Press)

  • Taliban: 21 Korean hostages are alive | The military said the mission was weeks away and wasn't connected to the hostages, denying media reports claiming a rescue attempt had been launched (Associated Press)

  • Afghans say they won't free prisoners | South Korea and relatives of 21 kidnapped Koreans appealed for U.S. help Tuesday, but Afghanistan said for the first time it will not release insurgent prisoners — the Taliban's key demand to free the captives (Associated Press)

  • Afghan leaders: Free female hostages | Political and religious leaders invoked Afghan and Islamic traditions of chivalry and hospitality Sunday in attempts to shame the Taliban into releasing 18 female South Korean captives (Associated Press)

  • Taliban warn of more kidnappings | A purported Taliban spokesman said Monday that the militants will continue kidnapping foreigners in Afghanistan, as Afghan doctors dropped medicines for the ailing South Korean hostages held by the group since July 19 (Associated Press)

  • Taliban, Koreans negotiate over meeting | As the Taliban and South Korean officials negotiated over a possible face-to-face meeting, a South Korean diplomat in Afghanistan spoke by telephone to one of the 21 captives being held by the militant group, an official said Monday (Associated Press)

  • Taliban say Bush and Karzai responsible for Koreans | Taliban insurgents said Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. President George W. Bush, meeting in Camp David on Monday, must agree to free jailed rebels or be responsible for the deaths of 21 Korean hostages (Reuters)

  • SKorea focuses anger over hostages on US | South Korea's frustration over the plight of Christian volunteers seized by the Taliban is starting to focus on the United States, a frequent target of resentment in Seoul (Associated Press)

  • South Korea makes first contact with hostage | South Korean officials have made their first contact with one of the 21 hostages kidnapped by Taliban insurgents more than two weeks ago, an official in Seoul said on Monday, but there have been no signs of progress (Reuters)

  • Afghan doctors deliver medicine for Korean hostages | The head of a private Afghan clinic said his team had dropped more than $1,200 worth of antibiotics, pain killers, vitamin tablets and heart pills in an area of desert in the Qarabagh district of Ghazni province as instructed by the rebels. (Reuters)

  • Taliban: Bush meeting had 'no result' | The spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said Bush and Karzai must accept Taliban demands that militant prisoners be released in exchange for the lives of South Koreans or there will be a "bad result" (Associated Press)

  • Taliban weigh hostage fate after Bush and Karzai meet | Taliban leaders are deciding what to do with 21 Korean hostages after Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. President George Bush ruled out making any concessions to free them, one of the kidnappers said on Tuesday (Reuters)

  • South Korea denies report hostages seriously ill | "The hostages can't be perfectly healthy after nearly 20 days in captivity," the ministry quoted Song Min-soon as telling local reporters. But he added: "There are no signs of health problems that could pose a threat to their safety." (Reuters)

  • New appeal to free hostages | Korean and Muslim Americans in L.A. seek the release of 21 aid workers held captive by rebels in Afghanistan (Los Angeles Times)

  • Taliban in no hurry over Korean hostages | US President George W Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai avoided the slightest public mention on Monday of the single most immediate issue pressing the alliance in Afghanistan (Asia Times)

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South Korean hostages (opinion):

  • Killing Korean Christians | Taliban executions -- and Western Churches' silence (Mark Tooley, FrontPageMagazine.com)

  • Aid workers naïve | The disastrous outcome of the journey to Afghanistan of 23 South Koreans who wanted to make a difference should serve as a warning to other would-be do-gooders (Mindelle Jacobs, The Edmonton Sun)

  • Invisible martyrs | The blood of innocent Christian missionaries spills on Afghan sands. The world watches and yawns. The United Nations offers nothing more than a formal expression of "concern." Where is the global uproar over the human rights abuses unfolding before our eyes? (Michelle Malkin, The Washington Times)

  • Hostages held to dumb ideology | Sometimes standing on your principles leads to the worst consequences. The theory of not negotiating with terrorists is based on the sappy assumption that by negotiating you only encourage them. The truth is that terrorists don't need encouragement from us. They manage to get all fired up all on their own (Tom Plate, The Korea Times)

  • After the Bush-Karzai summit | Some Koreans had hoped that the Bush-Karzai summit could lead to a breakthrough in the hostage crisis. But as expected, the summit served as an opportunity to reaffirm international standards of refusing to negotiate with terrorists (Editorial, Chosun Ilbo)

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South Korean missions:

  • South Korea orders organizations out of Afghanistan | South Korea ordered organizations from the Asian country to leave Afghanistan by the end of August on Thursday, citing safety reasons and in an apparent effort to help free 21 hostages being held by Taliban militants (Associated Press)

  • Missionaries aware of danger in volatile areas | The 21 South Korean hostages held by the Taliban in Afghanistan are missionaries but say they were providing humanitarian aid at hospitals and schools. Mike Pocock, head of the World Missions and Intercultural Studies department at the Dallas Theological Seminary, talks with Renee Montagne (Morning Edition, NPR)

  • Further fervor | Why those South Korean missionaries were in Afghanistan (Leslie Hook, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Abductions spotlight Koreans' missionary zeal | The seizure of 23 aid workers in Afghanistan prompts soul-searching about South Korean churches' approach to proselytizing in dangerous areas (Los Angeles Times)

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Christianity and Islam:

  • Christians to seek converts at mosques' doorsteps | Led by a California pastor, a group of Christians will gather outside some Seattle-area mosques today in hopes of winning converts among Muslim worshippers coming to midday prayer (The Seattle Times)

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Christianity and Judaism:

  • Israel urges condemnation of priest | Israel is urging Polish and Roman Catholic authorities to condemn a prominent priest over reported anti-Jewish comments, which its ambassador described Monday as the worst case of anti-Semitic speech in Poland in decades (Associated Press)

  • Also: Italian priest apologises to Jews for gaffe | One of Italy's best-known priests has apologised for accusing a liberal Jewish lobby of trying to weaken the Roman Catholic Church, saying he meant to refer to a a Masonic lobby instead (Reuters)

  • Pope meets controversial Polish priest | Pope Benedict XVI met briefly this week with Tadeusz Rydzyk, a Polish priest who has been accused of making anti-Jewish comments (Associated Press)

  • Also: Pope meeting doesn't alter policy on Jews-Vatican | The Vatican, trying to allay Jewish concern over Pope Benedict's meeting with a radical Polish priest accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, said on Thursday its stance toward Jews had not changed (Reuters)

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Jean-Marie Lustiger:

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Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist:

  • Head of Romanian Church dies | The head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, who made history when he invited the late John Paul II to his Orthodox country in 1999 but was criticized for being too close to former Communists, died Monday. He was 92 (Associated Press)

  • Patriarch Teoctist, 92, Romanian who held out hand to John Paul II, dies | As head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Teoctist helped begin healing the thousand-year schism between Christianity's Eastern and Western churches (The New York Times)

  • Romanian Orthodox leader buried | The leader of the Romanian Orthodox Church was buried Friday with a 21-gun salute after a controversial two-decade leadership that included a highly symbolic papal visit after a 950-year rift with Rome (Associated Press)

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Billy and Ruth Graham:

  • Billy Graham: Hillary's solace | The evangelist and counselor to presidents was "incredibly supportive to me personally" during the Monica Lewinsky ordeal, the former First Lady says (Time)

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New Life's new pastor?:

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Church life:

  • Jamaica's Anglican church to use reggae | Marley's "One Love" and Tosh's "Psalm 27" will be the first reggae tunes to appear in songbooks alongside traditional worship music (Associated Press)

  • Church signs: Provocative or offensive? | Last month, for example: "If we didn't abort our children, the U.S. wouldn't have to hire illegals." (The Boston Globe)

  • Stereotype smackdown: Dispelling the myths of megachurches | Scholar Scott Thumma's favorite myth is that the people sitting in megachurches tend to all be from the same racial, ethnic, political or economic group (The Washington Post)

  • Religion's communal impulse | What is the point of the cathedral -- the artistic, the religious, the communal impulse -- if not to draw us out of ourselves? Out of ourselves and toward what, I don't know (Roland Merullo, The Boston Globe)

  • Young adults aren't sticking with church | Protestant churches are losing young adults in "sobering" numbers, a survey finds (USA Today)

  • Church members sue pastor | Picture of divided congregation arises from lawsuit over money (Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Police act on complaints against independent church | The pastor of an independent church here is being investigated by the police following allegations of intimidation, deception and wrong teachings by several of its former followers (The Star, Malaysia)

  • Churches' call divides flock | Samoan churchgoers have been divided in a bitter legal battle for control of their assets, including a multi-million-dollar property in south Auckland. About 40 of the 85 Samoan Assemblies of God in New Zealand (SAOG) A churches are said to have aligned with the Assemblies of God in New Zealand, which is claiming the Pacific church comes under its authority (The New Zealand Herald)

  • Priest: Skaters taunted me for years | The Catholic priest at the centre of the skateboarder slur scandal has fled Victoria (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Also: I egged on Monsignor Baron, admits skater | A teenage skate-boarder who goaded a priest into a foul-mouthed tirade has apologised for the verbal clash that led to the Catholic clergyman's suspension (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Prayers are answered: Church remains open | In June, Chase Bank was threatening to foreclose on the property after the church fell behind on its payments on $775,000 in loans. But the church and the bank settled the case out of court late last month, allowing the doors to stay open (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Obama's church has a new pastor for a new generation | Otis Moss was handpicked by Trinity's senior pastor, Jeremiah Wright, to succeed him in 2008 because of Moss' growing reputation in reaching inner-city youth (Religion News Service)

  • Priests will need training in Latin Mass | Almost all of the local active priests -- including Bishop Peter Jugis -- were ordained in the English-Mass era and aren't practiced in the Latin liturgy (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  • Vatican welcomes meeting with patriarch | The Vatican on Wednesday welcomed a meeting this week in Moscow between a senior Roman Catholic cardinal and the Russian Orthodox patriarch intended to improve relations between the two churches. (Associated Press)

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ELCA meeting:

  • Lutherans gather to elect president, tackle issues | Martin Luther was famous for "table talk" discussions about theology and that's the strategy Lutherans hoping to lift a celibacy rule on gay and lesbian clergy are taking at a churchwide assembly at Navy Pier this week (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Lutheran pastors' 'outing' spurns celibacy policy | More than 80 homosexual Lutheran pastors challenged their denomination's celibacy policy this week by "outing" themselves at a denominational meeting in Chicago (The Washington Times)

  • Lutherans debate gay-clergy rule | Some worried vote could split church (Chicago Tribune)

  • Lutherans to consider gay clergy | Evangelicals will vote on same-sex unions (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.)

  • Lutherans to debate celibacy rule | Prompted by the sudden dismissal of a popular Atlanta pastor in a committed same-sex relationship, impatient supporters of gay clergy will push an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America assembly in Chicago next week to stop its navel-gazing and lift the celibacy requirement imposed on gay and lesbian pastors (Chicago Tribune)

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  • Church court: Armstrong guilty | Panel says he took nearly $400,000 (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

  • Episcopal bishop ejects clergy | Virginia Episcopal Bishop Peter J. Lee has ejected 20 of his former clergy from the priesthood after they quit the denomination in December over the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who is openly homosexual (The Washington Times)

  • 20 defrocked priests dismiss bishop's order | Conservative priests reacted dismissively to an announcement by Virginia Episcopal Bishop Peter J. Lee that he was defrocking them for abandoning the church in a dispute over theological interpretations, church authority and homosexuality (The Washington Times)

  • Episcopal diocese settles lawsuit | Breakaway group returns some funds (The Boston Globe)

  • Episcopal Diocese, All Saints settle suit | A legal battle between the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and breakaway parish All Saints Anglican Church has been settled out of court (The Sun Chronicle, Attleboro, Mass.)

  • Church fight may head to High Court | All Saints', other breakaway Episcopal churches battle diocese over control of property (Long Beach Press Telegram, Ca.)

  • Church appeals to high court | St. James files petition with California Supreme Court for control of waterfront property given to the Episcopal Diocese. (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

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  • Doctors accused of using faith to violate gay bias laws | When does the freedom to practice religion become discrimination? The California Supreme Court is being asked to answer that question when it hears a legal dispute between a lesbian mom and two doctors who refused to artificially inseminate her for religious reasons (USA Today)

  • No hate required for hate crime in gay man's death, judge rules | A judge said that prosecutors need show only that the victim was chosen because of his sexual orientation to pursue charges against three suspects under the state's Hate Crimes Act of 2000 (The New York Times)

  • Bush vows to veto hate-crime expansion for gays | A coalition of religious leaders, many of them black Christian pastors, have lobbied the White House to reject the amendment, saying it could lead to suppression of free speech and religious expression (The Washington Times)

  • Pastors attack Cohen on bill | A group of Memphis pastors is encouraging people to call and write the offices of U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., and other supporters of a hate crimes bill they believe restricts their right to preach against homosexuality (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)

  • Justice | The United Parcel Service agreed to offer health benefits to partners under New Jersey's civil union law. Now the State Legislature should legalize same-sex marriage (Editorial, The New York Times)

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Sexual ethics:

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Life ethics:

  • Assisted suicide attacked from an unlikely front | Disability rights groups, typically supportive of individual liberty, have helped defeat bills out of fear that HMOs would see a chance to cut care (Los Angeles Times)

  • Goal achieved by discredited scientist | Remember the spectacular South Korean stem cell fraud of a few years ago? A new analysis says the disgraced scientist actually did reach a long-sought scientific goal. It's just not the one he claimed (Associated Press)

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  • Poisonous choices, women at risk | The true intent of the partial-birth abortion ban is to make all abortions as burdensome, as difficult and as emotionally and physically trying for women — and for doctors — as possible (Judith Warner, The New York Times)

  • How much jail time? | If abortion is made a crime, then surely the woman who has one is a criminal. But, boy, do the doctrinaire suddenly turn squirrelly at the prospect of throwing women in jail (Anna Quindlen, Newsweek)

  • Abortion in Maryland | Under Maryland's still-untested fetal homicide law, the questions of when, how and by whom an unborn child's life is extinguished would be crucial in determining whether the state could charge the perpetrator with murder (Editorial, The Washington Times)

  • Warning on abortion bill | Proposed changes in Victoria to a controversial bill to decriminalise abortion could "re-criminalise" the procedure and achieve nothing, health groups say (Herald Sun, Australia)

  • Getting beyond Roe | Why returning abortion to the states is a good idea (Radley Balko, Reason)

  • Shifting strategies, changing minds | Opponents of abortion are changing hearts and minds (Gary Bauer, National Review Online)

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Giuliani's Catholicism:

  • Giuliani questioned about Catholicism | Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Tuesday that whether he was a practicing Catholic was a personal matter as he declined to answer questions about his religion (Associated Press)

  • Giuliani: Religious test wrong for candidates | Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani drew a line today on public discussion of his religion, telling a Bettendorf audience that it's between him and his priest as to whether he's a "good or not so good Catholic" (Des Moines Register, Ia.)

  • Divine comedy | Conservatives give Rudy Giuliani a free pass (Michelle Cottle, The New Republic)

  • The art of getting personal | In Iowa, Giuliani touts resume, averts personal questions, deftly choosing when to reveal those details (Newsday)

  • Bedeviled by faith | Rudy dodges questions about whether he's a 'good Catholic' (New York Daily News)

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Romney's Mormonism:

  • Mitt Romney: proudly, quietly Mormon | The former governor of Massachusetts is a Mormon in full. But, facing a wary public, he has played his faith cautiously on the presidential campaign trail (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Mitt's faith isn't an issue | As governor, he didn't try to convert us (Michael Graham, Boston Herald)

  • On another subject: Romney's honesty problem | Every time Romney tries to explain his evolution from supporter to opponent of abortion rights, his honesty comes into question. That's because his explanations over the years don't add up (Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe)

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2008 candidates:

  • 2 GOP contenders duel over religion | Republican candidates Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee have been trading charges of religious bigotry (The New York Times)

  • Brownback complains about Catholic slur | Republican presidential hopeful Sam Brownback said rival Mike Huckabee should apologize for a supporter's "prejudiced whisper campaign" against him for being Catholic (Associated Press)

  • Power of prayer takes on power of money | Lonnie Berger, who calls himself Brownback's "Prayer Coordinator," has a website called prayforbrownback.com and sent out an e-mail urging everyone to "pray that God would supernaturally activate the Christians in Iowa to pray and go to the straw poll to vote for Sam." (Politico.com)

  • Robinson had endorsed a candidate previously | Bishop backed John Kerry in 2004 (The Boston Globe)

  • Conservatives: GOP straying on social issues | Some national Republican Party officials worry that their party is moving away from its conservative stands on social and religious issues in preparation for the 2008 elections (The Washington Times)

  • Religion looms large over 2008 race | All the Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls have been grilled on their religious beliefs. Most seem eager to talk publicly about their faith as they actively court religious voters (Associated Press)

  • The original theology of Elizabeth Edwards | John Edwards's campaign left me cold. But now that I've met his wife and her Higher Power, things are warming up (Adele M. Stan, The American Prospect)

  • Christian soldiers campaign | Beware when sniping starts between preachy professed Christians all pent up in political pursuit of the presidency of a country that's supposed to have free religion (John Brummett, The Morning News, Fayetteville, Ark.)

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  • Bush down to his base of support | To see the type of person who still backs him, President Bush need only look in the mirror. The president fits the composite of today's Bush supporter: a conservative, white, Republican man, an evangelical Christian who goes to church regularly (Associated Press)

  • Warming draws evangelicals into environmentalist fold | The emerging rapprochement is regarded by some as a sign of how dramatically U.S. public sentiment has shifted on global warming in recent years (The Washington Post)

  • The Aquarians and the Evangelicals | How left-wing hippies and right-wing fundamentalists created a libertarian America (Brink Lindsey, Reason)

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Politics (Australia):

  • Christian vote may be decisive in Australian election | At a Christian rally in Canberra today Liberal Prime Minister John Howard and main opposition Labor leader Kevin Rudd outlined their religious views and policies, with their comments broadcast live over the Internet to 1,400 churches around the country (Bloomberg)

  • Hillsong hosts Howard, Rudd in online telecast | Prime Minister John Howard hit the right notes tonight, drawing more applause from Christians at one Sydney church while Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd won more votes—just (AAP, Australia)

  • Earlier: PM, Rudd to address Christians over Net | Politics, religion and the internet will mix when Prime Minister John Howard and Labor leader Kevin Rudd take part in a webcast chat about Christianity (AAP, Australia)

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Faith-based initiatives:

Faith-based initiative backfires | Mental-health and addictions-treatment professionals are wary of spiritual interventions, which they associate with one religious brand: the conservative Christianity of Bush partisans (The Christian Science Monitor)

Faith-based office downsized | Less money, fewer employees in mayor's proposed budget (The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville)

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Church and state:

  • Inmate wins prison preaching fight | A convicted killer who had been barred from preaching in prison will be allowed to resume the practice under an agreement announced Monday that ends a three-year legal battle (Associated Press)

  • Some fix-up grants illegal | Money to spruce up churches for Super Bowl ruled unconstitutional (The Detroit News)

  • Also: Judge: Super Bowl funds OK for churches | Most of the $736,000 the city promised to three churches as part of a program to clean up the city ahead of the 2006 Super Bowl was justified, but some were not, federal judge has ruled (Associated Press)

  • Court okays using churches as polling places | Using a Catholic church as a polling place does not violate the Constitution, even if voters are told to cast their ballots in a room containing crucifixes and other religious icons, a federal judge in Florida ruled (The New York Sun)

  • Also: Church polling sites OK, judge says | Polling sites located within houses of worship do not violate the constitutional separation of church and state, a federal judge has ruled (Associated Press)

  • Also: Court rejects challenge to use of churches as polling places | Florida resident Jerry Rabinowitz alleged that allowing voting at houses of worship amounted to government endorsement of religion (First Amendment Center)

  • Queen's grandson could lose birthright to throne | The Queen's grandson Peter Phillips is tenth in line to the throne but his marriage could cost him his birthright because his fiance, Autumn Kelly, is a Roman Catholic (The Times, London)

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Christian Embassy video:

  • Officers' roles in Christian video are called ethics breach | The Defense Department's inspector general has found that four generals and three other military officers improperly participated in a fundraising video for an evangelical Christian group, inappropriately offering support for the religious organization while appearing to operate within the scope of their official government duties, according to a 47-page investigative report (The Washington Post)

  • IG faults generals who appeared in video | Christian fundraising effort was filmed at Pentagon (Air Force Times)

  • Officers' role in Christian video probed | The Army and Air Force are considering disciplinary action against seven officers — including four generals — who violated ethics rules by assisting a Christian group in the production of a fundraising video (Associated Press)

  • Geren cleared in inquiry of Christian group's video | An 8-month Pentagon inquiry has cleared Army Secretary Pete Geren of participating in a Christian promotional video three years ago but concludes that seven high-ranking military officers who also appeared in the video violated Pentagon ethics rules (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Langley general could be punished for role in Christian video | A general at Langley Air Force Base could face discipline for violating regulations by wearing his uniform in a fundraising video for an evangelical Christian group, according to a government report (The Virginian-Pilot)

  • General got 2006 reprimand | The Langley Air Force Base general facing punishment for appearing in a 2004 Christian fundraising video was reprimanded last year for using his military e-mail account to solicit support for a Christian congressional candidate (Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)

  • Pentagon: Hold on, Christian soldiers! | The new Inspector General's report will hardly reduce the flow of Weinstein's hate mail. But it constitutes an instance of official support for some of his concerns (Time)

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  • War and peace: Did evangelicals' support for Iraq invasion damage credibility? | In the months leading up to the now-unpopular Iraq war, did the United States' powerful conservative evangelical community step away from its responsibility to speak hard truths to the government? (Associated Baptist Press)

  • Praying for the Chaplains | The United Church of Christ's left-wing leadership is staunchly anti-Iraq War. Yet the UCC's chaplains are among the war's unsung heroes (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

  • Iraq's Christian exodus | Targeted by all sides, Christians must choose to leave, or stay and face death (Keith Roderick, National Review Online)

  • Kill or convert, brought to you by the Pentagon | The Pentagon endorses an End Times evangelical group that proselytizes among US troops, plans a "crusade" to Iraq, and promotes a post-apocalyptic kill-or-convert video game. (Max Blumenthal, The Nation)

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Lebanon election:

  • Lebanese opposition wins parliament seat | The government suffered a blow Monday when a little-known opposition candidate defeated a former president in a tense parliament by-election that showed the divisions among Lebanon's once-dominant Christians (Associated Press)

  • Earlier: Lebanon Christians divided ahead of vote (Associated Press)

  • Lebanon by-election highlights Christian disunity | Lebanon's Christians emerged on Monday from a by-election split down the middle after opposition leader Michel Aoun's candidate narrowly beat former President Amin Gemayel, a pillar of the Western-backed government (Reuters)

  • Who are the Maronites? | Lebanon's Maronites make up the largest Christian community in the country - a community where religion and politics are inextricably mixed (BBC)

  • Lebanese Christian voices | Three people from different Lebanese Christian communities reflect on Sunday's by-elections, which saw a government seat fall to an opposition candidate (BBC)

  • Fresh blow for Lebanese government | The evidence suggests that some two thirds of Christian Maronites did not actually vote for Mr Aoun's party - instead they voted for the Government's candidate in the by-election, Amin Gemayel. It appears to have been the pro-Syrian groups and the Armenians who secured the victory for Mr Aoun (The Times, London)

  • Lebanese Christians turn backs on PM | Victory allows the Shia Hezbollah to claim it has the support of the majority of the country's Christians in its prolonged showdown with Mr. Siniora and his Sunni-dominated government (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Hizballah's Christian Soldiers? | Why Lebanon's Maronites are turning to a political party aligned with the Iran-backed opposition (Time)

  • Lebanon's opposition wins parliament seat | Most of the attention was focused on the other vote in the Metin, part of the Christian heartland of Mount Lebanon (Morning Edition, NPR)

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Religious freedom:

  • 'Hamas forced professor to convert' | Fatah officials in Ramallah claimed over the weekend that Professor Sana al-Sayegh, who teaches at Palestine University in Gaza City, was kidnapped by Hamas militiamen who forced her to convert to Islam against her will (The Jerusalem Post)

  • Saudis might take Bibles from tourists | Despite a series of initiatives aimed at generating foreign tourism, the Saudi Arabian government continues to bar Jews and Christians from bringing items such as Bibles, crucifixes and Stars of David into the country and is threatening to confiscate them on sight (The Jerusalem Post)

  • Christians held in Egypt for work on Web site | Egyptian police have detained two Egyptian Christians for their work on the Web site of a Christian Arab group based in Canada, police sources said on Thursday (Associated Press)

  • Building belonging to church attacked | In a pre dawn attack on Saturday, some 200 masked men demolished a building under construction belonging to the Catholic Church in Chavand area in South Rajasthan's Udaipur district (The Hindu, India)

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  • Christianity finds a fulcrum in Asia | I suspect that Christianity will have become a Sino-centric religion two generations from now. China may be for the 21st century what Europe was during the 8th-11th centuries, and America has been during the past 200 years: the natural ground for mass evangelization. I (Spengler, Asia Times)

  • China tells living Buddhas to obtain permission before they reincarnate | The rules effectively exclude the Dali Lama from any role in recognising a living Buddha (The Times, London)

  • God lives in China | China's one-party state is certainly powerful, ruthlessly so. But claiming the power to regulate the metaphysical workings of the cosmos is absurd (Editorial, The Dallas Morning News)

  • China bans crude birth control slogans | China has banned crude and insensitive slogans promoting the country's 'one-child' family planning policy, such as "Raise fewer babies but more piggies," which have stoked anger in rural areas, state media said Sunday (Associated Press)

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  • Orombi urges the Acholi to forgive | The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Rt. Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, has urged the Acholi to forgive the LRA rebels and UPDF soldiers for the crimes committed against them (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Orombi's grandpa had small gods | Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi has said his grandfather had 12 "small gods" (New Vision, Uganda)

  • 'Don't touch our pastors' | A plan by the Government to check the activities of some religious groups is widely viewed as an infringement on the freedom of worship of Ugandans (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Media exposure of fake pastors was great | But one thing many people tend to forget is that fake men of God -- those who masquerade as servants of God -- have been around since time immemorial (Peter Nyanzi, The Monitor, Uganda)

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Court: Priest was killed:

  • Kenya court says American priest killed | The death of an American priest who openly criticized the Kenyan government was homicide, not suicide as an earlier investigation found, a Kenyan court ruled Wednesday. The court also ordered the government to launch a new probe (Associated Press)

  • Church calls for fresh probe after court finds Fr Kaiser was murdered | A Catholic missionary priest, Fr. Anthony John Kaiser whose body was recovered in Naivasha seven years ago, was murdered, a court in Nairobi ruled (CISA)

  • Father Kaiser saw it coming | Catholic priest Father Anthony Kaiser had a premonition of his death. The American-born cleric wrote a book in which he expressed fears that he could be killed (The Nation, Kenya)

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  • 2 suspects in Rwanda genocide freed | A French court on Wednesday ordered a priest and a political official suspected in the 1994 Rwandan genocide freed from jail while they are being investigated. (Associated Press)

  • Rebel disorganisation delays east Sudan peace deal | Squabbling among east Sudanese rebels and disorganisation in their ranks are hampering implementation of a deal that ended a decade long insurgency, a former rebel leader said on Monday (Reuters)

  • A genocide not to be denied | As an organization concerned about human rights, The Anti-Defamation League ought to acknowledge the genocide against the Armenian people during World War I, and criticize Turkish attempts to repress the memory of this historical reality (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  • Darfur rebels agree to peace talks | In a major step forward, more than a dozen rebel groups agreed on peace terms with Khartoum, and hope for talks in two to three months (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • No time to take the pressure off | The proposed UN force is a sweet and sour deal for desperate Darfuris (Editorial, The Economist)

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  • Victims want abusive priests ID'd | A national support group for people sexually abused by priests wants Vermont's Catholic Church to publicize the names and whereabouts of all personnel accused of molesting parishioners (Rutland Herald, Vt.)

  • Also: 'Suspending is obviously not enough' | Advocate for priest abuse victims says diocese should make public names of workers who harmed children (Burlington Free Press, Vt.)

  • Mexican cardinal deposed in abuse case | Mexico's most prominent cardinal was deposed Wednesday in a U.S. lawsuit accusing him of complicity in the alleged rape of a child by a Mexican priest (Associated Press)

  • Also: U.S. lawyers grill top Mexico cardinal in abuse case | Mexico's leading Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, was questioned on Wednesday by U.S. lawyers who accuse him of protecting a priest wanted for child sex abuse (Reuters)

  • Italian priest investigated for abuse | An 82-year-old priest is under investigation after addicts accused him of sexually abusing them at a rehabilitation center, a spokesman confirmed Friday. The cleric says the allegations are baseless (Associated Press)

  • Also: Italian priest accused of sexual assault by ex-clients | A prominent Italian priest who is close to some of Italy's most powerful politicians has been accused by men who were once clients of his drug rehabilitation charity of sexually abusing them (The New York Times)

  • Victim says church makes her relive sex abuse | Interrogation by insurer designed to discourage claims, woman says (CanWest News Service)

  • Sex slavery in church | At least 300 believers have so far come up to accuse born-again pastors of various crimes including extortion, sex slavery, fraud and manipulation. (The Monitor, Uganda)

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  • Prodi asks church's help with tax cheats | Premier Romano Prodi has called on Roman Catholic priests to help him battle Italy's widespread tax evasion by invoking the seventh commandment — thou shalt not steal (Associated Press)

  • U.S. marshals let fugitives come to them, in church | A program by the United States Marshals Service works to give nonviolent fugitives a chance to resolve their court problems in a neutral setting (The New York Times)

  • Also: Marshals program eases road to surrender | The Fugitive Safe Surrender program was started by the U.S. Marshals Service in Cleveland two years ago and spread to Indianapolis, Phoenix and Akron, Ohio, before Nashville (Associated Press)

  • Course helps churches handle offenders | Balancing Acts is designed for Unitarian Universalists, but its ideas can be adapted to other denominations, and its creators hope preachers from all faiths find it useful (Associated Press)

  • Priest appeals murder conviction in 1980 death of nun | More than a year after he was convicted for the 1980 murder of a nun, Gerald Robinson has appealed his conviction (The Toledo Blade)

  • Quick thinking saves stabbed priest | A chef who provided first aid to a Sydney priest who had his throat cut in a vicious stabbing attack yesterday morning has been hailed by police as a hero (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Also: Priest conscious after stabbing | Father Ho Tran, 55, from the Divine Word Mission in Marsfield, was allegedly stabbed when he disturbed an intruder near the mission's communal dining area about 4.30am (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Gunman shoots Lord's Chosen members | Two members of the Lord's Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministries (aka) The Lord's Chosen were early yesterday shot and wounded for allegedly preaching the gospel in Lagos (Daily Champion, Nigeria)

  • Two presenters injured in armed attack on evangelical radio station | Reporters Without Borders today condemned an attack by gunmen on Believers Broadcasting Network (BBN), a protestant-run radio station in Freetown, in the early hours of 4 August in which two radio presenters were shot and seriously injured (Reporters Without Borders)

  • Pastor ordered to release children | A pastor from the Christian Fellowship Church at Oshakati was ordered to release by last Friday a number of children that he had taken under his care without their parents' consent (New Era, Namibia)

  • Charges revived against preacher who hit officer with Bible | A street preacher accused of assaulting an Athens, Tenn., police officer won't face assault charges but was indicted on charges of obstructing a highway and resisting arrest for a February incident (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

  • Man charged in church bomb scare | A Hometown man faces criminal charges after he told an usher at Parkview Christian Church in Orland Park Sunday he had a bomb in his briefcase (Daily Southtown, Chicago)

  • Hearing is set on case against priest | A judge set Aug. 27 as the date to hear arguments on whether to toss out embezzlement charges against the priest accused of misusing donation money for two Catholic churches. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  • Frederick priest busted for jogging in the nude | A Catholic priest who said he was jogging naked to avoid sweating profusely faces an indecent exposure charge (The Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Co.)

  • Also: Parishes ponder naked, jogging priest | The leadership councils at three northern Colorado Catholic parishes met tonight with a vicar from the Archdiocese of Denver to discuss what to do about a priest charged with going for a naked jog. (The Denver Post)

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Pastor accused of insurance scam:

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Money and business:

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  • Researchers say giving leads to a healthier, happier life | Benefits of altruistic love are broken down in a new book, 'Why good things happen to good people' (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Church giving turns digital | To keep up with the times, houses of worship offer electronic payment options (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • The ATM in the church lobby | Credit and debit card swipe machines in churches may startle some of the pious, but such kiosks, already present in some houses of worship, might become even more commonplace now that a new IRS regulation is in effect (Time)

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Missions and ministry:

  • Christians move towards code on seeking converts | Christian churches are moving closer to a common code of conduct on how they go about winning converts among themselves and from other religions, the World Council of Churches said on Monday (Reuters)

  • Also: Religious conversion: In Toulouse, a common code of conduct gets closer | With Evangelical and Pentecostal representatives joining in at an 8-12 August consultation in Toulouse, the joint Vatican-WCC study process on religious conversion gets one step closer to its goal of a common code of conduct in seeking converts to Christianity (Press release, World Council of Churches)

  • Focus helping AIDS benefit| Group a sponsor of Springs ride (The Denver Post)

  • Separation of church & play gets smudged | An Evangelical Christian group is causing a stir in Park Slope playgrounds by proselytizing young children using methods that irk some parents (New York Daily News)

  • Group to deliver Bibles with newspapers | International Bible Society-Send the Light wants to deliver custom-designed New Testaments to newspaper subscribers around the country as part of an effort to find innovative ways to spread a Christian message. But even in the Bible Belt, not everyone thinks that's a good idea (Associated Press)

  • Church house is free, but you move it | A church is giving away a house, but nothing's really free. The new owner will have to move it elsewhere. First Wesleyan Church is offering the house because it blocks the view of the church from the road, pastor Ernest Martin said (Associated Press)

  • Going in and out of jail for 25 years | He could have cruised. Instead, without a round of golf or a swing in a hammock, without a vacation and without passing Go, Don Dickinson went to jail. As a volunteer chaplain (Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times)

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Harvest Crusade:

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Healthcare study:

  • Religious doctors no more likely to care for underserved patients | Although most religious traditions call on the faithful to serve the poor, a large cross-sectional survey of U.S. physicians found that physicians who are more religious are slightly less likely to practice medicine among the underserved than physicians with no religious affiliation (Press release, NewsWise)

  • Doctors' faith disputed as factor in helping poor | Religious doctors are more likely to consider their profession a "calling" but no more likely to treat underserved patients than their secular counterparts, according to a new study from the University of Chicago (Chicago Tribune)

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Health care:

  • Some doctors refuse services for religious reasons | Doctors are becoming more assertive in refusing to treat patients for religious reasons, expanding the list of services they won't provide beyond abortion to include artificial insemination, use of fetal tissues and even prescribing Viagra (USA Today)

  • Faith healers | A growing number of parish nurses are acting as links between spiritual and medical communities and helping churches become places of holistic healing. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Christian view on postpartum depression | A Coon Rapids mother hopes her story of coping with the illness with help from God will inspire other women (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

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Minneapolis bridge collapse:

  • 1,400 gather at bridge collapse memorial | Across the Twin Cities, in Spanish, Greek and English, the prayers rose up Sunday. Prayers of peace for grieving families. Prayers of strength for those still searching the Mississippi River. And prayers of gratitude from those who were spared (Associated Press)

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Entertainment and media:

  • Godcaster | Minister delivers sermons through TV, Internet, radio (Sun-Journal, Lewiston, Me.)

  • Downloading heaven | The audio-Bible craze poses a question: should Jesus and Madonna (the singing one) go on the same iPod? (Newsweek)

  • Sinead O'Connor has new `Theology' CD | Fifteen years after she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II during an appearance on NBC-TV's "Saturday Night Live," Sinead O'Connor has released "Theology," an album about God (Associated Press)

  • FCC denies United Church of Christ Miami license challenges | Agency rules in favor of Miami's WTVJ, WFOR (Broadcasting & Cable)

  • Church offers text messages from pope | Organizers of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Austria next month are offering the faithful a foretaste: daily cell phone text messages with quotes from the pontiff (Associated Press)

  • Man finds 19th-century periodicals | Dozens of issues of Grace Greenwood's "Little Pilgrim" discovered. Grace Greenwood was the pen name of Sara Jane Clarke, a native of Pompey, N.Y., and descendant of the preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards (Associated Press)

  • Churches vow to fight for free press | Churches want President Kibaki not to assent to the controversial Media Bill (East African Standard, Kenya)

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  • Judas as criminal defendant | The traitor of Jesus gets a feisty defense attorney in 'The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,' which combines TV drama with theology (Los Angeles Times)

  • God: the musicals | A satirical cabaret about Evangelical Christianity, one of a number of religion-based musicals opening in Scotland this month, has become the most controversial show on this year's Edinburgh Fringe (The Times, London)

  • Edinburgh Fringe satirists aim their fire at Christian right | We have nothing to fear from al-Qa'ida. Christian fundamentalists are the real extremist threat. That's the message from the writers of a new play being shown at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival (The Independent, London)

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Evan Almighty:

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  • Dungy's book rises to no. 1 spot on list | Already best on the field, Tony Dungy is now tops in the bookstore. Six months after becoming the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, he's about to grab the No. 1 spot on The New York Times' bestseller list (Associated Press)

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  • Beach School Board wants people to pray for them | Three times since September, board Secretary Dianne Alexander has been unable to find a clergy member willing to deliver a non sectarian blessing. (The Virginian-Pilot)

  • Principal ousted over NYC school ritual | A public school principal accused of paying a woman to lead Santeria rituals and sprinkle chicken blood on the high school in an attempt to cleanse it of negative energy will be fired, the Department of Education said Tuesday (Associated Press)

  • Catholic school board unanimously reverses decision on veteran teacher | Columbus High School is looking for a new social studies teacher after local Catholic officials Monday unanimously reversed their earlier support for Tom Girsch at the behest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque (The Courier, Waterloo, Ia.)

  • Education officials accused of religious bias | A faith-based education provider says her company was the target of a "witch hunt" (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

  • Movie theater ads tout Catholic schools | Struggling Philadelphia Archdiocese has used banner ads on buses and print and radio ads to get across its message about its schools, but this is the first foray into movie houses (Associated Press)

  • Missing Mass? It'll cost you | Parish to end school discounts to uninvolved (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

  • Catholic Church drops school fidelity vows | The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney has withdrawn plans to have its 167 school principals, deputy principals and religious education co-ordinators commit publicly to a "vow of fidelity" by adhering to church teaching on homosexuality, birth control and women's ordination (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Also: Catholic schools deny student squeeze | The Catholic church denies it is squeezing students of other faiths out of its NSW schools but is open about its desire for a return to strict religious values (AAP, Australia)

  • Should non-believers be banned? | Our columnists debate the merits of George Pell's proposal (Anita Quigley and Michelle Cazzulino, The Daily Telegraph, Australia)

  • Preschool plan to spread the Catholic word | Sydney's Catholic Church may run its own preschools as a way of bolstering its student population through primary and secondary schools and spreading the Catholic faith from "cradle to the grave" (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Russian church: School must teach morals | A Russian Orthodox Church spokesman said Wednesday that the country's schools should teach religious principles and moral values, and he accused some leading scientists of trying to impose the "ideology of science" on the education system. (Associated Press)

  • New secular civics class riling Catholic Church in Spain | The course will also deal with issues like gender, sexuality and the family, and the church is up in arms (International Herald Tribune)

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  • Fossils challenge old evolution theory | The discovery by Meave Leakey, a member of a famous family of paleontologists, shows that two species of early human ancestors lived at the same time in Kenya. That pokes holes in the chief theory of man's early evolution — that one of those species evolved from the other. And it further discredits that iconic illustration of human evolution that begins with a knuckle-dragging ape and ends with a briefcase-carrying man (Associated Press)

  • Twin fossil find adds twist to human evolution | Homo erectus had an unexpected neighbour, and a surprising lifestyle too (Nature)

  • Understanding evolution is crucial to debate | A well-thought-out curriculum in science does not guarantee that evolution will be taught in all its glory -- or even coherently (Sally Lehrman, The Boston Globe)

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New Texas laws:

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Using school buildings:

  • Religious group sues Gadsden school board | The Child Evangelism Fellowship of Alabama has sued the Gadsden Board of Education, alleging the board is discriminating against the Christian organization by not allowing it to use school property as secular groups do (Associated Press)

  • Church use of school probed | City principal defends waiving required fee for wife's congregation (The Baltimore Sun)

  • Scouts on hunt for new homes | Officials with School District U-46 decided that to be fair, they either had to start charging Scouts or waive fees for all non-profits - - something they thought would be too expensive (Chicago Tribune)

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Higher education:

  • School to install foot baths for Muslims | Students at a Michigan university have been washing their feet in bathroom sinks before prayers. Critics see preferential treatment (Los Angeles Times)

  • Also: Universities install footbaths to benefit Muslims, and not everyone is pleased | As the nation's Muslim population grows, issues of religious accommodation are becoming more common, and more complicated (The New York Times)

  • Synod votes to keep seminary open | Concerned about the denomination's long-term spiritual growth, delegates at the biennial convention of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod have voted to keep Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw open and to refrain from trimming $600,000 from the synod's world missions programs (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

  • Purge at Ave Maria Law? | Push to fire tenured faculty member — one of the school's founders — leaves many professors worried about state of academic freedom (Inside Higher Ed)

  • Catholic college crosses new ground | Ave Maria's defining feature is its promise to remain true to Ex Corde Ecclesiae (USA Today)

  • Bland's words at Christian college echo Kofi Annan's | Prince George's County Council member Marilynn Bland recently touted the "academic journey" that has led her to receive a doctoral degree, including in her news release quotes from the dissertation she said she wrote (The Washington Post)

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Other stories of interest:

  • Preaching transformation, U.S. sect goes global | How did a boisterous religious movement born in a U.S. street revival go on to claim a global following, according to the World Christian Database, of 500 million people? (Reuters)

  • Hitting children not justified—churches | There can be no biblical justification for corporal punishment of children in the 21st century, a spokesperson for the SA Council of Churches said yesterday (Dispatch, South Africa)

  • Waging peace in the name of religion | International coalition focuses on shared struggle against common enemies of humankind — and harnesses that energy for common action (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

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