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Weblog Friday Update: New Catholic Archbishop of Warsaw Said to Be Communist Collaborator

Plus: Religion in the new Congress, and other stories from online sources around the world.
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Congress | Politics | Romney and Mormonism | Australia | U.K. | Life ethics | Sex and marriage | Abuse | Crime | Money and business | Theology and ethics | Church life | Catholicism | Education | Books and history | These kids today | Other stories of interest

Congress:

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Politics:

  • Ford and faith | Though "quiet and off the record," religious beliefs shaped the former president (Edward E. Plowman, World)

  • The Sunday alcohol sales debate: Laws stand on secular grounds | Despite the strongly religious origin of these laws, beginning before the eighteenth century, nonreligious arguments for Sunday closing began to be heard more distinctly and the statutes began to lose some of their totally religious flavor (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Even on Sunday, alcohol sales should flow freely | Why are we allowing a bunch of Baptist preachers to control our choices and restrict our commerce? In a secular, pluralistic democracy, does the will of a few theocrats determine whether we can buy beer and wine on Sundays? (Cynthia Tucker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Australia:

  • The church, the state and the minister | This week's spat over the involvement of pro-life agencies in government-funded pregnancy counselling has again brought the uncomfortable interface between politics and religion — church and state — into the spotlight (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Also: Abbott sermon defies belief | Here we go again. Just when it seemed our leaders had accepted there's little political mileage to be found in the issue of abortion, Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott seeks to muddy the waters once more (Sarrah Le Marquand, The Daily Telegraph, Australia)

  • Hillsong blesses Rudd Labor | The hugely influential leader of the Hillsong Church has praised Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd's Christian values in a sign the Labor leader is breaking through in key marginal Sydney seats (The Daily Telegraph, Australia)

  • Room for religion as moral compass | With the ascension, of Rudd both major parties now have leaders who represent the strands within the Christian tradition that promote private piety around family values, and social piety around justice and compassion - a self-help faith that says "Bless me Lord", or a social reform faith that says "Bless the poor through me" (Tim Costello, The Sydney Morning Herald)

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U.K.:

  • A new old-fashioned Christmas | Why the post-Christian English are delighted to wish everyone a "Happy Christmas." (Daniel Allott, The American Spectator)

  • Secularising Christianity | My hope is that a new sort of Christian culture will emerge: one that is critical of religious institutionalism and affirms secular freedom (Theo Hobson, The Guardian, London)

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Life ethics:

  • Medicine faces ban on rabbit-human embryos | The proposed ban on fusing human DNA with animal eggs is an affront to thousands of Britons suffering conditions such as Alzheimer's, scientists said (The Times, London)

  • Hybrid embryo work 'under threat' | UK scientists planning to mix human and animal cells in order to research cures for degenerative diseases fear their work will be halted (BBC)

  • Stem cell research could be jeopardized | British scientists have warned that an impending government decision that may ban stem cell research using animal eggs will jeopardize finding treatment and cures for degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and spinal muscular atrophy (Associated Press)

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Sex and marriage:

  • Foundation wants stricter rules for splits | After its victory in last year's fight over a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Virginia, the Family Foundation of Virginia announced Thursday that it will push to change the state's divorce laws to make it more difficult for parents to end their marriage (The Washington Post)

  • Suit against legislators who recessed is pulled | Opponents of same-sex marriage are withdrawing a federal lawsuit that sought $5 million from lawmakers who voted in November to recess a joint session of the Legislature, a move that threatened to kill a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (Associated Press)

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Abuse:

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Crime:

  • Embezzlement is found in Catholic dioceses | Eighty-five percent of dioceses said that they had discovered embezzlement in the last five years (The New York Times)

  • Also: Study finds embezzlement to be common in dioceses | A new study by Villanova University has found that 85 percent of Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States have discovered embezzlement during the last five years, with 11 percent having been embezzled out of more than a half-million dollars each (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Church tries to win return of stolen treasure from Spain | The Church of Sweden is going on the offensive to try to get objects stolen from churches in northern Sweden returned from Spain. Around one hundred objects were stolen over a period of twenty years from churches in Norrland. A Spanish man was jailed for four years for the thefts by a court in Sundsvall in July (The Local, Sweden)

  • Priests hope to find missing IRA victims | The outlawed IRA, which is rooted in the Catholic minority in the British territory of Northern Ireland, in 1999 admitted it killed and buried nine people in unmarked graves from 1972 to 1981 (Associated Press)

  • Man arrested in killing near Greektown church | Police arrested a church custodian early this morning in connection with the shooting death of 47-year-old Suzanne Ware at historic Second Baptist Church (Detroit Free Press)

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Money and business:

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Theology and ethics:

  • Bishop wants to see Christianity go native | The Anglican Church of Canada's newly appointed national bishop to native peoples said yesterday his job will be to bend mainstream Christian theology so that it fits with aboriginal spiritual beliefs (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Drink to that? | Have Baptists watered down their objections to alcohol? (The Baptist Standard, Tex.)

  • The end of the world is coming … well, eventually | I thought the whole point was to behave like spiritual Boy Scouts -- always prepared -- by living lovingly, not by peeking at the skies from behind the shutters of our metaphorical bomb shelters for evidence of Jesus' right foot stepping through the clouds (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)

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Church life:

  • Rosalynn Carter ordained as deacon by Baptist church | Though raised a Methodist, Carter, 79, has been active in Baptist congregations since her marriage more than 60 years ago to former President Jimmy Carter, a longtime Baptist deacon (Associated Baptist Press)

  • Cortland resident: Church bells are too noisy | The planning commission decided Wednesday to wait one more month before voting on a request from the Cortland United Methodist Church to operate an electronic bell system, after one neighbor said the noise from the chimes hurt her property's value (Daily Chronicle, DeKalb, Ill.)

  • 'Anatomy' of a push to fill up the pews | Are there spiritual lessons to be learned from "Dr. McSteamy"? That and other burning questions linked to the characters on one of television's hottest shows, "Grey's Anatomy," will be explored during a series of five weekly sermons beginning Sunday at Snellville United Methodist Church (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Here's the church, here's the garage? | … here's all the people protesting (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

  • Thursday: Fort Lauderdale P&Z board rejects Colee Hammock church project | The city's planning and zoning board late Wednesday rejected a controversial $24 million life center and parking garage project proposed by the First Presbyterian Church in the Colee Hammock neighborhood (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

  • Exclusive? That's the problem | Many mainstream Christians are a little embarrassed at what is being done by those claiming to share their religion and, with the wider community, a bit bewildered about what this narrow group is trying to achieve (Barney Zwartz, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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Catholicism:

  • Poland archbishop tied to secret police | Roman Catholic church officials in Poland said Friday they have evidence that Warsaw's new archbishop collaborated with the hated Communist-era secret police, but they said they had no proof that his actions hurt anyone. Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus conceded he had contact with the secret service but denied working as an informer (Associated Press)

  • Also: Polish archbishop takes office amid scandal over communist-era role | Polish media in recent days published files showing that Wielgus was recruited by the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa (SB) secret police in 1967 as a 28-year-old philosophy student and continued to collaborate for two decades (AFP)

  • Catholic schools head shortage 'scandalous', says report | The failure of the Roman Catholic church to deal with the long-running shortage of headteachers for its schools is highlighted in a report today (The Guardian, London)

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Education:

  • Church's eviction of charter school disputed | The Village of Oak Creek Community Church of the Nazarene evicted Desert Star Community School from its basement on Dec. 21. Church members objected to lessons in Greek mythology, fliers that used images of dragons and some of the books used by the school that contradict their beliefs (The Arizona Republic)

  • Church fought to open preschool | Neighbors say business park is unsafe for children; Talega Life official argues there are few locations available (The Orange County Register, Ca.)

  • Christian Union takes legal action over suspension | A Christian Union suspended from using student facilities at the University of Exeter is taking legal action against the student guild under the Human Rights Act, it emerged today (The Guardian, London)

  • Also: Christian students in legal fight | Exeter University Evangelical Christian Union was suspended from the student guild and had a bank account frozen (BBC)

  • Sex-ed plan could revive heated debate from 2005 | Montgomery County school officials previewed new middle and high school lesson plans yesterday on sexual orientation and condom use, topics that could refuel the debate on how much the county's teenagers need to know about homosexuality and premarital sex (The Washington Post)

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Books and history:

  • Black priest's story unknown to many | There are only small signs that Augustine Tolton was here in Chicago. And few know the story of the man himself — a slave who grew up to become the first acknowledged black Catholic priest in the United States (Associated Press)

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These kids today:

  • Meeting in St. Louis | Thousands of young Christians gather to find their missions (The Wall Street Journal)

  • Young people express views on religion, politics | Forty-four percent of young American adults agree that religion is a very important part of their lives, according to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Generation Next's changing attitudes toward faith and politics (The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS)

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Other stories of interest:

  • Reviving Judaism | Consultant-speak goes religious (Naomi Schaefer Riley, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Inside Christian Embassy | An exclusive interview with the chief of staff of Christian Embassy, the behind-the-scenes ministry in the news for proselytizing in the Pentagon (The Revealer)



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