Today's Top Five
1. No charges filed in fight between prominent preacher couple
Juanita Bynum is one of the most prominent female preachers in America. Her husband, Thomas W. Weeks III, founded a series of churches called Global Destiny. The two married in 2002 in a televised ceremony; her ring famously sported a 7.76-carat diamond. But the couple has apparently been in for a rough patch lately,and they met at an Atlanta hotel to try to reconcile. It apparently didn't go well. At 4 a.m., the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, a physical fight broke out and a bellman had to pull Weeks off of Bynum. "She was bruised up and battered," a police officer told the paper. "She had purple bruising around her neck and upper torso." No charges have been filed against Weeks, the paper reports.
2. Billy Graham recovering after treatment
Evangelist Billy Graham, 88, had a colonoscopy Wednesday night, and his gastroenterologist cauterized an area of bleeding. "Mr. Graham was alert during the procedure, watching the monitor, talking with the physician and hospital staff, and asking them about their families," a statement from the hospital said. "Mr. Graham has resumed a liquid diet will continue to rest and be under observation for the next 72 hours. This evening, he has been watching television and visiting his daughter, Gigi Graham Foreman, and his daughter-in-law, Jane Austin Graham, wife of son Franklin Graham. He will soon return to his routine of walking in the nursing unit, as he has been throughout his hospital stay."
3. The Reformation isn't over in Louisiana
The governor's race in Louisiana is getting nasty, and sectarian. Democrats are running television ads against Republican candidate Bobby Jindal, quoting from a 1996 New Oxford Review article (alt.) "The party claims Jindal once characterized non-Catholics as being burdened with 'utterly depraved minds,'" says the Baton Rouge Advocate. Actually, what Jindal, who was raised Hindu, wrote was:
Post-Reformation history does not reflect the unity and harmony of the "one flock" instituted by Christ, but rather a scandalous series of divisions and new denominations, including some that can hardly be called Christian. Yet Christ would not have demanded unity without providing the necessary leadership to maintain it. The same Catholic Church which infallibly determined the canon of the Bible must be trusted to interpret her handiwork; the alternative is to trust individual Christians, burdened with, as Calvin termed it, their "utterly depraved" minds, to overcome their tendency to rationalize, their selfish desires, and other effects of original sin. The choice is between Catholicism's authoritative Magisterium and subjective interpretation which leads to anarchy and heresy.
Yeah, sounds like New Oxford Review. But he doesn't really, as the ads say, "refer to Protestants as scandalous, depraved, selfish, and heretical." Yet Louisiana Democratic Party chairman Chris Whittington insists that the commercial reflects Jindal's own words about religion. "I'm not analyzing. I'm not commenting. I'm not saying he's right or wrong," he told the Advocate. Looks like this has a huge potential to backfire against Jindal's Democratic opponents and the state party. I expect we'll soon see pressure on the national party to condemn the ads.
When a new couple arrived at Southside Christian Fellowship Church in August 2005, members welcomed them with open arms.
Soon, the new couple talked their way into private group support sessions in the Stockbridge home of church member Ken King.
During the private talks, church members confessed abortions, sexual orientation issues, drug addictions and other dark secrets.
No one knew the couple wasn't actually interested in joining the church. Instead, they were private investigators hoping two church members, Bill and Leandra Pitts, would spill something they could use to discredit the pair in an ongoing lawsuit over a traffic accident.
The private eyes even tape-recorded the sessions.
The paper asks some good questions about expectations of privacy in group confessionals at a minister's home.
5. Christians and Muslims in Norway agree on the right to convert
The Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relation and the Islamic Council of Norway have issued a joint statement. It reads, in part: "We denounce, and are committed to counteracting all violence, discrimination and harassment inflicted in reaction to a person's conversion, or desire to convert, from one religion to another, be it in Norway or abroad." That's significant, since many Muslim countries prohibit conversion out of Islam.
As far as we know, this is the first time that a church and representative national Muslim organization have jointly acknowledged the right to convert," the Church of Norway's Olav Fykse Tveit told the Associated Press. "By issuing this declaration we hope to contribute to the international process on this important matter."
Quote of the day
"Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me The silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, Listen and do not hear the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak I want you to pray for me that I let Him have [a] free hand."
Mother Teresa, to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet in 1979, quoted in the new book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, and reprinted in Time.
Televangelist assaulted by husband | Crime | Abuse | People | Elvira Arellano | Romney and Mormonism | Politics | Louisiana gubernatorial race | Exclusive Brethren | Church and state | Education | Canada religious schools | Life ethics | Armenian genocide | Right to conversion | Missions & ministry | Church life | African church life | Uganda | Zimbabwe | Kenya | Israel | Korean hostages | Tamil newspaper apologizes for Jesus picture | Media and books | Sports | Other
- Evangelist Juanita Bynum attacked by husband in parking lot | Bynum, whose ministry is based in Waycross, and her estranged husband, Thomas W. Weeks III, had met up at Renaissance Concourse Hotel near Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to try to reconcile, Atlanta police said (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Televangelist Bynum assaulted in Atlanta | Police said Juanita Bynum, a televangelist who has won a national following with sermons about women's empowerment, was assaulted by her preacher husband in the parking lot of an Atlanta hotel early Wednesday (Associated Press)
- Priest facing federal charges | Louisa priest indicted on federal money-laundering charges (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)
- Also: Catholic priest now faces federal charges (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)
- Cleveland diocesan official led kickback scheme, accountant testifies | Ten years ago, the chief financial officer of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese made a proposition to the co-owners of an accounting firm working for the diocese (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
- Prostitution case brings guilty plea, apology note | Privette's legal trouble at end, but political future may be in doubt (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)
- Judge denies move by indicted lawyer to dismiss charges | Philip Russell was charged Feb. 16 with destroying a computer that contained child pornography at Christ Church in Greenwich (Associated Press)
- Private eyes listen to support group secrets | Lawsuit charges couple invaded church members' privacy in sessions (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Indicted pastor, trainer draw support at rally after dragging assault charges | Speaking before a crowd of about 400 supporters, including several pastors from other churches in San Antonio, Flowers said, "I want to thank God I'm no longer in jail." (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)
- Church where killer hid student's body reopens | Prayers were today being said for murdered Polish student Angelika Kluk as the church where her body was hidden reopened to worshippers (Evening News, Edinburgh)
- A prayer for the dead, and first name was Angelika | In a building devoted to God, it is no longer possible to pinpoint the exact spot where evil visited St Patrick's Church in Glasgow (The Scotsman)
- Despite new church rules, sex abuse in Catholic school went unreported | For nearly two years, students at St. Dominic Savio Middle School here particularly the girls referred to Christian Butler, a part-time computer teacher, as "the Perv." (The New York Times)
- Diocese lawyers: Mistrial was judge's mistake | Lawyers for the state's Roman Catholic diocese, blamed by Judge Ben Joseph for causing a mistrial in a recent priest molestation case, say the church should not be financially punished because it's the judge who made a mistake (Burlington Free Press, Vt.)
- Affidavit says Naugatuck priest gave 15-year-old boy wine, money for sex favors (Republican-American, Waterbury, Ct.)
- Jury takes hour to convict San Jacinto church volunteer | A Hemet man who volunteered at Shepherd's House Church of the Nazarene was convicted of molesting three boys and distributing child pornography by a Riverside County Superior Court jury that deliberated about an hour Wednesday (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)
- Story of abuse by priest not true, man tells Cornwall inquiry | Felt 'pressured' by cop (Ottawa Sun)
- Allegation of abuse slow to reach police | Arrest warrant details sexual assault case against priest (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)
- No predators in the pulpit | Church should have kept sex offenders away from kids (Editorial, Chicago Sun-Times)
- Billy Graham undergoes colonoscopy, bleed cauterized | Evangelist Billy Graham, who was hospitalized Saturday with intestinal bleeding, underwent a colonoscopy Wednesday evening. His physician, a gastroenterologist, located an area of active bleeding and treated it with cauterization (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)
- Mother Teresa's crisis of faith | Her secret letters show that she spent almost 50 years without sensing the presence of God in her life. What does her experience teach us about the value of doubt? (Time)
- No sanctuary | Elvira Arellano is back in Mexico -- but for how long? (Christopher Orlet, The American Spectator)
- Dozens pray for deported immigrant | The story of 32-year-old Elvira Arellano, an illegal immigrant who took refuge in a Chicago church for a year to avoid being separated from her son by deportation, happened far from Denver. Yet dozens of people gathered tonight at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver to pray for the woman and others across the state who fear the same fate (The Denver Post)
- Romney shrugs off Mormon history film | "That was a terrible, awful act carried out by members of my faith," Romney said during an interview Wednesday. "There are bad people in any church and it's true of members of my church, too (Associated Press)
- Romney struggles to define abortion stance | Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said this week that as president he would allow individual states to keep abortion legal, two weeks after telling a national television audience that he supports a constitutional amendment to ban the procedure nationwide (The Washington Post)
- Albright: Ignore religion 'at our own peril' | "Religion is instrumental in shaping ideas and policies," she says (CNN)
- Presidential contenders talk religion | A national leader's belief that his (or her) policies are sanctioned by God or perhaps driven by God's will should be viewed as prominent a danger sign as a cross on fire (Bonnie Erbe, U.S. News & World Report)
- Christian opposition leaders discuss joint plan on presidency | US: vote must comply with constitution (The Daily Star, Lebanon)
- Jindal: Dems' ad 'twists' religious view | The state Democratic Party on Monday began running a TV commercial in north Louisiana that contends U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal "insulted thousands of Louisiana Protestants" (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)
- Also: Furor over religion in La. gov's race | A political ad from the Louisiana governor's race is drawing a storm of criticism for accusing Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal of calling Protestants "scandalous, depraved, selfish and heretical" (Associated Press)
- Jindal declares prayer ban for school boards absurd | "I'm not worried about them (children) being exposed to prayer. I'm worried about them being exposed to Paris Hilton," Jindal told supporters at the Sabine Shrine Club in Many (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)
- Howard attacked for links to secret Christian sect the Brethren | When the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, admitted that he had recently met leaders of the ultra-conservative Exclusive Brethren, his critics smelt something unsavoury (The Independent, London)
- Exclusive Brethren attacks Rudd | The separatist conservative Christian movement, the Exclusive Brethren Church, has accused Kevin Rudd of unwarranted and inaccurate slurs against its members (The Australian) Rudd attacks PM over sect meeting | Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has branded the Exclusive Brethren Christian sect a cult and criticised Prime Minister John Howard for meeting with the group's world leader (AAP, Australia)
- Howard defends meeting the Exclusive Brethren | Are the Exclusive Brethren a religious group with the same rights as any other, or an 'extremist cult that breaks up families'? (PM, Australian Broadcasting Corp.)
- Long-ignored state policy bans religious events at State House | ACLU says policy is blatantly unconstitutional (The Providence Journal, R.I.)
- Not so fast, Christian soldiers | The Pentagon has a disturbing relationship with private evangelical groups (Michael L. Weinstein and Reza Aslan, Los Angeles Times)
- The Gospel and hate crimes | The argument of the pastors that the proposed legislation in any way threatens their right to preach their version of the Gospel is, to be frank, ridiculous. (Geoffrey R. Stone, Los Angeles Times)
- Court rules Right to Life not limited | A state campaign-finance reform law designed to limit corporate influence on elections does not apply to the Colorado Right to Life Committee, justices on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today (The Denver Post)
- 2 New York prisoners sue to get their banned religious books back | Moshe Milstein, an Orthodox Jew, and John J. Okon, a Protestant, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. They withdrew a similar lawsuit two months ago after a judge said they needed to register complaints with the prison system first (Associated Press)
- Godless | The U.S. Mint ought find a way to incorporate "In God We Trust" into the new presidential $1 coins in a way that can be seen (Editorial, The Courier, Findlay, Oh.)
- Federal jury rules in favor of Unit 2 | Father had sued over school district allowing evangelist to lead anti-drug assemblies (Marion Daily Republican, Ill.)
- Split Mercer board approves Fellowship of Christian Athletes | Mercer Area School Board votedwith some reservationsto let the Fellowship of Christian Athletes try its hand at operating in the schools (The Herald, Sharon, Pa.)
- God's Harvard: The new grooming ground of the evangelical movement |A small Christian school outside the nation's capital is dispatching the next round of evangelicals to the front lines of science and politics, where they will battle for control of the nation (Hanna Rosin, Harcourt, via Alternet)
- Ban on Bible distribution upheld | Law group representing school district says practice is constitutionally sound (Associated Press)
- IFES World Assembly welcomes new leader | At its 2007 World Assembly in Ontario, Canada, the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) appointed Dr Daniel Bourdanne of Chad as General Secretary (Mission Network News)
- Premier rejects Tory's all-faith funding plan | Issue of financing religious schools marks clear difference between Liberals, Conservatives (The Toronto Star)
- School funding a key issue: McGuinty | Tory vow of tax dollars for faith-based schools will `define' election (The Toronto Star)
- Classroom controversies | Faith-based schools idea backward: McGuinty; Tory's pledge seized as an election issue (National Post, Canada)
- Sales soar for morning-after pill | In the year since it was approved for over-the-counter sales, the morning-after pill has become a huge commercial success for its manufacturer, but its popularity and solid safety record haven't deterred critics from seeking to overturn the milestone ruling (Associated Press)
- Cloning opponents seek initiative toward 2008 Missouri ballot | A fledgling political group calling itself Cures Without Cloning launched an initiative campaign designed to overturn the key provision of last year's Amendment 2 (The Kansas City Star)
- For longtime ADL leader, a rare reversal of course | Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, reversed course and acknowledged that the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks was genocide (The Boston Globe)
- No room to deny genocide | The Armenian genocide is an incontestable fact of history. Shame on anyone who refuses to say so (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)
- Religion: Joint declaration on the right to conversion | The Islamic Council of Norway and the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations have presented a joint declaration on the freedom of religion and the right to conversion (Norway Post)
- Norwegian Christians, Muslims adopt declaration on right to covert between religions | I think they meant convert. (Associated Press)
- Christian dance group going on tour to spread the gospel | Meet Krump (San Diego Union-Tribune)
- Mega-churches reach out with modern style | Bill Hybel's three-day leadership summit -- carried live in churches nationwide earlier this month -- provided ministers in places like North Jersey with a chance to soak up his secrets of success (The Record, Hackensack, N.J.)
- Training evangelists is their mission | Greenwood-based Facilitators International provides scholarships to people in faraway countries who want to receive Christian training to become evangelists in their homeland (The Indianapolis Star)
- Preacher embraces a hostile venue | Most people attending Thursday at the Square go for the music, and a few to save souls (The Buffalo News, N.Y.)
- Ministry's closed doors reflect on us all | It's ironic that a non-profit organization annually providing food, clothes, rent and utility assistance to 9,000 folks has been homeless itself for more than a year (Susan Gast, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- City shouldn't meddle when religious groups perform good works | City officials recently told the Tenth Avenue Alliance Church, an evangelical Christian congregation at Ontario and Tenth, that its good works were not so good -- at least not without the imprimatur of the city (Editorial, The Vancouver Sun)
- Mold, structural problems mean the end for 141-year-old church | One of the oldest church buildings in the county will begin its return to ancient dust because of a modern problem (Ottawa Herald, Kan.)
- Christians to do good works all week | Last year's "Kindness festival" was purely an IMI-church project, but this year Christians are queuing up to do good works all over town (Aftenbladet, Norway)
- Methodist Church workers go on strike | Workers of Methodist Church Sierra Leone in the eastern region this week commenced an indefinite sit-down strike, according to them, until all backlog salaries are paid (Concord Times, Sierra Leone)
- Highland Park church missionaries attacked in Kenya | No mission team members seriously hurt during jungle ambush (The Dallas Morning News)
- Churches should stand more for communities than for pastors | It is embarrassing for our so-called pastors to promote self comfort first than actual ministering. (Editorial, New Times, Rwanda)
- Church pastors fight over FRW74M donations | A financial scandal has rocked Maranatha Church Mission of Rwanda, splitting its leadership and there are growing fears of total collapse (New Times, Rwanda)
- Fake ex-prison inmate swindles church through false testimony | Those who indulge in fraudulent acts seem to have gone high-tech as a fake ex-prison inmate cunningly got financial help from the congregation of a pentecostal church where he went to give 'testimony' on his prison experience (Nigerian Tribune)
- Ugandans hold anti-gay demonstration | Hundreds of people held an anti-gay protest in Uganda's capital Tuesday, denouncing what they called an "immoral" lifestyle and demanding the deportation of an American journalist writing about gay rights in the deeply conservative country (Associated Press)
- Janet warns against abuse of churches | First Lady Janet Museveni has advised Christians to respect Churches and avoid using them for divisive politics (New Vision, Uganda)
- Religious groups demonstrate against homosexuals | The police stopped the groups from marching through the streets before the rally (New Vision, Uganda)
- Rally denounces homosexuality | Born-again Pastor Martin Ssempa of Makerere University Community Church was the key organiser of the event (The Monitor, Uganda)
- Christians' planned protest against homosexuality cancelled | There were fears it would turn violent. What? Huh? (Ecumenical News International)
- Church leaders criticize regional support for Zimbabwean president | Southern African leaders' support for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is "sickening," said a South African bishop, while a priest in Zimbabwe said the region's governments are more interested in clinging to power than working for the common good (Catholic News Service)
- Church opens probe into Ncube affair | The Catholic Church has opened its own investigations into allegations that Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube had an affair with a married parishioner (Financial Gazette, Zimbabwe)
- 15 pastors arrested in Chitungwiza | At least 15 church leaders were arrested from their homes on Monday for allegedly attending a prayer meeting in Chitungwiza without police approval (SW Radio Africa)
- Mugabe and the churches | In his twenty-seven years of dictatorial rule, Mugabe has shorn himself of anything his religious upbringing might have instilled. (James Kirchick, First Things)
- Dispute mars rich history of second oldest church | Until two weeks ago very little was known about the rich history of St Emmanuel ACK parish - the second oldest church in Kenya's history after the one built by Dr Johann Ludwig Krapf in Rabai (The Nation, Kenya)
- Arrest reported in Kenya beheading spree | Police arrested a suspected leader of an outlawed Kenyan group blamed for a string of beheadings and fatal shootings this year, the man's family said Wednesday (Associated Press)
- Banned Kenyan gang leader caught | A suspected leader of Kenya's outlawed Mungiki gang, linked to a series of grim beheadings, has been arrested (BBC)
- Offer to help Christian asylum seekers facing deportation from Israel | A Christian group has offered to relocate about 1,000 Christian Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel to the West to rescue them from planned expulsion to Egypt by the government (The Scotsman)
- Liberal evangelicals, Israel, and bad hair | The "new" Religious Left (Mark Tooley, The Weekly Standard)
- Ramadan amnesty offers hope in hostage crisis | A special Ramadan amnesty could provide a solution to the protracted hostage standoff involving 19 Koreans in Afghanistan (Chosun Ilbo)
- Taliban spokesman wounded in battle | Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, purported spokesman of the Taliban holding 19 Korean hostages, was wounded during a strike by the NATO and Afghan forces against the militants in Afghanistan, according to a report (Korea Times)
- Freed hostages appeal for release of colleagues in interview with Al Jazeera | "My heart is aching for the people who remain." (Yonhap)
- Malaysian paper apology for Jesus image | A newspaper catering to Malaysia's ethnic Indians published a front-page apology Thursday for printing an image of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette (Associated Press)
- Uproar over picture of Jesus holding beer | A police report was lodged yesterday against a Tamil newspaper for publishing a front-page picture of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette in one hand and a can of beer in the other (New Straits Times, Malaysia)
- Tamil daily says sorry over Jesus pic | A Tamil daily has apologised for using a picture of Jesus Christ, downloaded from the Internet, to highlight the sayings of great sages and leaders (The Star, Malaysia)
- Don't play with religion, says Abdullah | The prime minister said that publishing a picture of Jesus Christ would only invite problems although this time it involved the sanctity of Christianity (Bernama, Malaysia)
- Call for probe against Tamil daily over Christ's picture | The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism wants the authorities to investigate a Tamil newspaper, which published on its front page a picture of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette in one hand and a can, which looks like a beer can, in the other (Bernama)
- Harry Potter books are 'gateway drug' of the 'good' stuff | Rowling has a wonderful talent for tapping into Biblical and literary symbolism (Jerry Bowyer, Fox News)
- The Christian resonances of modern epic | Behind the phenomenal and enduring worldwide success of The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Harry Potter (Hal G.P. Colebatch, The American Spectator)
- Seattle needs grace | Clean hands, sick souls. An interview with David Klinghoffer about Shattered Tablets: Why We Ignore the Ten Commandments at Our Peril (National Review Online)
- History in the making up | CNN's warrior princess Christiane Amanpour hosts a modern crusade (Jay D. Homnick, The American Spectator)
- US Christians seek God's return to footy | A Christian sports juggernaut from the United States wants to host massive religious concerts after AFL games (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
- Defending those who call the games | Baptist minister Lamell McMorris is the lead negotiator for the referees in the National Basketball Association and the umpires in Major League Baseball (The New York Times)
- The name of God | A Dutch Bishop's unilateral attempt at interreligious dialogue gone awry (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)
- Of church and steak: farming for the soul | In the past few years protecting the environment has emerged as a religious issue. Now, something similar is taking place in the way people of faith view their daily bread (The New York Times)
- Evangelicals go green -- will conservative candidates follow suit? | Some Christians lead the charge in environmental policy (ABC News)
- No votes in aid for family planning | Fears of a conservative backlash against the Federal Government mean that a ban on foreign aid money going to family planning programs is unlikely to be lifted before the election. And a move to give gay couples the same financial and legal rights as heterosexuals has been deferred (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Devil's in the detail: trainers fuming at church's about-face | Pope Benedict XVI's hosting of World Youth Day at Royal Randwick racecourse next July was at the centre of a dramatic upheaval yesterday, with trainers at headquarters declaring the Catholic Church's actions "despicable" (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Earlier: Church backdown in races dispute | Instead of 10-week closure, it'll be three days (Sydney Morning Herald)
- Catholic Church takes big step toward transparency | Publishing financial statements should be viewed as a milestone in enhancing financial transparency in a major Korean religious group, where lack of financial transparency has been cited as the main weakness (Editorial, Chosun Ilbo, South Korea)
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