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Priest Must Decide Between Episcopal Priesthood and Islam

Also: Did God smite Evan Almighty? Should police make arrests during church services? And other stories from online sources around the world.

1. Bishop corrects priest who announced, "I am both Muslim and Christian"
The June 2007 newspaper for the Seattle-area Episcopal Diocese of Olympia had an article on Ann Holmes Redding, proclaiming her "both a practicing Muslim and an Episcopal priest." The Seattle Times followed up, and paraphrased Diocese of Olympia Bishop Vincent Warner (identified as Redding's bishop) as saying "he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting."

Now it turns out that Redding is actually a priest under the Diocese of Rhode Island. Bishop Geralyn Wolf doesn't find the interfaith possibilities so exciting, and announced Thursday that Redding is undergoing church discipline.

"After meeting with her I issued a Pastoral Direction giving her the opportunity to reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and what I see as the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam," Wolf wrote in an e-mail message to clergy and diocesan leaders. "During the next year she is not to exercise any of the responsibilities and privileges of an Episcopal priest or deacon. Other aspects of the Pastoral Direction will remain private."

"I'm deeply saddened, but I've always said I would abide by the rulings of my bishop," Redding told The Seattle Times today. "I understand that one of my options would be to voluntarily leave the priesthood … The church is going to have to divorce me if it comes to that. I'm not going to go willingly."

Warner tells the paper that he still accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, but says Wolf's pastoral direction is "a good way to have a timeout and provide an opportunity for Ann to continue to teach … and at the same time take a look at her relationship both with the Episcopal Church and the Christian faith and Islam."

What will she continue to teach? Turns out that she'll be teaching theology at Seattle University, a Jesuit school.

2. ELCA showdown
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said Thursday that the church had followed through on a February disciplinary committee decision to remove Bradley Schmeling from the ministry because he engages in homosexual behavior. The disciplinary committee had recommended that the denomination wait to remove Schmeling until after its national meeting in August, and urged the denomination to allow gay clergy. Schmeling says he refuses to leave St. John's Lutheran Church in Druid Hills, Georgia.

3. ACLU sues over courthouse Jesus icon
Jesus pictures seem to be the latest hot religious image to fight over in government buildings. Last year, Bridgeport High School in West Virginia fought to keep a copy of Warner Sallman's "Head of Christ" until the painting was stolen and the school decided not to replace it.

Now the ACLU is suing over an icon in the Slidell, Louisiana, City Court building. The icon shows Jesus with an open book, and is displayed with the message, "To Know Peace, Obey These Laws."

4. Evan Almighty deemed a bomb
The Los Angeles Times sounds a bit gleeful over the lack of enthusiasm for Evan Almighty. "Karma may not be a part of Christian theology, but it's awfully tempting to apply it to 'Evan Almighty's' underwhelming reception at the box office," Jay Fernandez writes. "With its uneasy mixture of juvenile pratfall humor and shallow piety, the Most Expensive Comedy Ever Made isn't connecting with as many of the film faithful as the filmmakers hoped. … The wreckage left in the wake of the screenplay's development — a more entertaining story than the film itself, if as convoluted as the bloodlines in Genesis — may hint at a little divine retribution."

Fernandez suggests that the movie was too religious for audiences: "Some feel that the version of the screenplay that was green-lighted had much of its funny bulldozed by Shadyac's effort to frontload the religious message. What was amusing about 'Bruce [Almighty]' was the way it illustrated what a human being would actually do with godly power — namely, abuse it. But the remote-orgasm and punishing-your-enemies wish fulfillment of 'Bruce' became an eye-glazing Sunday school sermon about submitting to God's will in 'Evan' — a sermon many moviegoers were happy to miss."

Maybe. But Weblog noticed a trend among some of the kinds of viewers Universal was trying to reach with the film: conservative Christians. See, for example, Tim Challies' blog post, where he says the film "necessarily project[s] a false image of God, a false understanding of Him" or CBN's repeated defenses of the film against the anger of its readers. James Dobson called it "bad theology and a radical distortion of Scripture."

While Jay Fernandez says the movie bombed because of a disconnect with the "film faithful," it may be a disconnect with the other kind of "faithful viewer" that really hurt.

5. Should police avoid arrests during church services?
On Sunday in Springfield, Illinois, Robert Collins reportedly drove away from police officers during a traffic stop and fled to his church, Abundant Faith Christian Center, which was in the middle of services. Police followed him as he ran in, grabbed him, and arrested him.

Pastor Jerry Doss wasn't happy, and told The State Journal-Record, "I often ask myself, would this have happened at one of the [predominantly white] west-side Catholic churches? Would they have just barged in unannounced, without making me aware of anything or any of our leadership aware of anything?"

The debate has continued in the paper for several days.

Quote of the day
"Jesus calls on us to love one another. Size doesn't matter. Being relevant matters."

— Bob Edgar, former director of the National Council of Churches, rejecting concerns about the radical decline of attendance at mainline churches. Is relevance really the highest value?

More articles

Index | Romney and Mormonism | Politics | Church & state | British politics | UK floods | Cathedral video game | Anglicanism | Catholicism | Seven Wonders of the World | China and Catholicism | Akinola | Nigeria | Religious rights | Islam | Bossi | Crime & lawsuits | Argentina chaplain war crimes trial | Abuse | Arrest in church | Life ethics | Assisted suicide | Homosexuality | Missions & ministry | Church life | Muslim-Anglican priest | Lufkin crusade | Education | People | Media & entertainment | Science | Other

Romney and Mormonism:

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  • Ratings for Bush, Congress sink lower | Among usually loyal GOP voters, his approval was down from about eight in 10 to roughly half of both conservatives and white evangelicals (Associated Press)

  • Giuliani support hints at shift | Emphasis on defense, not social issues, attracts some Republicans (The Wall Street Journal)

  • One of our own | Mike Huckabee is pro-life, pro-family and the happily married father of three who is a former pastor. After being governor of Arkansas for 10 years, he may be the best qualified candidate to become U.S. president in 2008 (New Man)

  • Also: Christian magazine endorses Huckabee for president | New Man editor and publisher Stephen Strang not only wrote a glowing full-page endorsement, he also urged "godly men" to contribute $1,000 apiece to the Huckabee campaign (Bible Belt Blogger)

  • Evangelical eggshells | Giuliani wins over Regent audience by avoiding the "A" word (World)

  • Conformists | Some pundits were stunned to hear God-talk coming from Democrats (Gene Edward Veith, World)

  • Unhealthy debate | Half-truths and whole falsehoods cloud discussion of Bush's surgeon general nominee (Lynn Vincent, World)

  • The internet, gay sex, and the surgeon general appointee | Opposition to Holsinger looks remarkably like the imposition of a religious litmus test on a political candidate: oppose your church on the gay issue, or say goodbye to any political future. (Jason Byasse, Theolog, Christian Century's weblog)

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Church & state:

  • ACLU sues city over Jesus painting | The American Civil Liberties Union sued the city of Slidell on Tuesday for displaying a painting of Jesus in a courthouse lobby, saying it violates the constitutional separation of church and state (Associated Press)

  • State's faith-based services get boost | Aside from connecting groups to federal funds, a state faith-based program will expand the network of people offering services, officials say (Nashua Telegraph, N.H.)

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British politics:

  • Brown calmly prevails in first days as premier | He's avoiding using the words "Muslim," "Islam," and "Muslim," and "war on terror," intending to frame the problem of extremist violence not as a struggle against a religious ideology, but as a struggle against individual criminals (The Washington Post)

  • Biggest change since Henry VIII and Pope | The decision by Gordon Brown to allow the Church of England to choose its own bishops for the first time since Henry VIII was broadly welcomed by Church leaders yesterday (The Telegraph, London)

  • Brown gives up control over church and judicial posts | The Prime Minister made it clear, however, that the Government remained committed to the establishment of the Church of England with the monarch as Supreme Governor (The Times, London)

  • Keeping the faith | The government's new green paper shows that in this country of atheists, religious privilege is still being buttressed (Terry Sanderson, The Guardian, London)

  • Catholics call on Brown to repeal Act of Settlement | Gordon Brown is facing calls to repeal laws which bar Catholics from taking the throne, after the prime minister failed to address the controversy in his sweeping constitutional reform programme (The Guardian, London)

  • Cardinal slams PM for keeping 'outdated' law | Cardinal Keith O'Brien has hit out at Prime Minister Gordon Brown for not ending the centuries old Act of Settlement (Evening News, Edinburgh)

  • Abortion: Cardinal throws down gauntlet to PM | Cardinal Keith O'Brien has called on Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, to take a moral lead and order an urgent review of Britain's abortion laws (The Scotsman)

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UK floods:

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Cathedral video game:

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  • Another Anglican official poisoned | A parish secretary at Nkhotakota All Saints Cathedral of the Anglican Church, who was one of those on the forefront opposing the coming of the alleged pro-gay activities bishop Nicholas Henderson, mysteriously died on Sunday with a preliminary postmortem indicating he was allegedly poisoned using the same chemical which killed the late Reverend Rodney Hunter (The Nation, Malawi, alt. site)

  • Diocese wins another round in legal battle | The L.A. Episcopal district, not a breakaway congregation, owns that parish's property, says a judge, citing an appellate court precedent (Los Angeles Times)

  • Church of England coalition to tackle liberals | Senior Church of England conservatives are plotting a new coalition to mount their biggest offensive yet against their liberal opponents over issues such as gay priests (The Telegraph, London)

  • Virginia Anglicans send missionaries despite lawsuit | Despite the major split in the Episcopal Church over the ordination of gay ministers, a spokesman for the breakaway Anglican segment insists they must focus, not on the ongoing legal battles, but through continuing Christian service (Stafford County Sun, Va.)

  • Churches at stalemate on property flap | A court case stemming from the separation of several Northern Virginia churches from the Episcopal denomination is in a holding pattern for now. The latest twist in the ongoing case is that the church wants to replace a number of names in the suit. (Fairfax County Times, Va.)

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  • Vatican reports budget surplus of $3.2 Million in 2006 | In its annual financial report, the Vatican said it recorded revenues of euro227.8 million (US$310 million) against expenses of euro225.4 million (US$306 million) last year (Associated Press)

  • Pope to issue decree on Latin Mass | Pope Benedict XVI is to issue a decree Saturday allowing greater use of the traditional Latin Mass, part of his efforts to reconcile with followers of an ultratraditional excommunicated bishop and bring them back into the Vatican's fold (Associated Press)

  • Confession for city non-Catholics | A Catholic Church has an entry in this summer's Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme, offering confession (BBC)

  • Father Zachman's revenge | A papal edict will encourage at least some Catholics to learn elements of a splendid language mistakenly given up for dead (Editorial, Chicago Tribune)

  • Donations to Vatican offset rising costs | "The trend is positive and encouraging," said Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, who heads the Vatican's office of economic affairs (Associated Press)

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Seven Wonders of the World:

  • Vatican stunned by seven wonders church snub | The Vatican has complained that a competition to elect the new seven wonders of the world has ignored all churches (The Telegraph, London)

  • Vatican left aghast by new Seven Wonders list | The Vatican has accused organisers of an internet poll to find the seven new "wonders of the world" of deliberately ignoring Christian monuments (The Times, London)

  • Vote for Christ | As the international voting to name the new seven wonders of the world draws to a close, Brazilians are doing their part to see Rio's famous Christ statue on the list (Newsweek)

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China and Catholicism:

  • Cardinal principles | China's historic chance of reconciliation with Catholics, if not democrats (The Economist)

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  • Obasanjo avoided me over 3rd term—Adeboye | All through the period when the plan to amend the Nigerian constitution was being planned, former President Olusegun Obasanjo avoided some men of God, whose views on the matter he feared might be contrary to his, Empowered Newswire has reported (Nigerian Tribune)

  • Adeboye's unkind cut for Obasanjo | For his own credibility, Enoch Adeboye should be fair to Obasanjo. If he cannot save the man, he should not join in roasting him (Duro Onabule, The Sun News, Nigeria)

  • Ungodly silence | Only renowned cleric Enoch Adeboye can explain what this belated entry on the side of anti-third term forces would fetch him (Editorial, Vanguard, Nigeria)

  • Sultan's comment inciting, says Christian Association of Nigeria | "Nobody in this country can stop the expansion of Christianity" says Saidu Dogo, secretary general of the Northern Christian Association of Nigeria (Daily Champion, Nigeria)

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Religious rights:

  • New code should 'steer clear of religion, press' | Items regarding religion within the new draft of the Criminal Code would encroach a person's private life and could be easily misinterpreted, analysts and experts said in a discussion Wednesday (The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)

  • In Madhya Pradesh, government behind anti-Christian attacks | In a public statement, senior Congress leader and former minister Ajay Singh accuses the Bharatiya Janata Party that since it came into power attacks by extremists against Christians and their institutions have risen as part of its saffronisation policy (AsiaNews.it)

  • Now, Christians too want quota | The four per cent quota ordinance for Muslims has stirred up a hornet's nest with the Christian community now demanding a two to three per cent reservation for its economically backward members (The Times of India)

  • Muslim-born woman seeks life as Hindu | A Muslim-born woman in Malaysia who was forced to spend six months in an Islamic rehabilitation center because she wants to live as a Hindu said Friday after her release that she will never return to her original faith (Associated Press)

  • Tajikistan draft law to ban religious minorities | The Tajik parliament is discussing a bill which would deny children younger than seven the right to a religious education and ban religious education in the home. Only religious groups with more than 400 members in each of the country's districts could register, effectively excluding Christians who are just a few thousands (AsiaNews.it)

  • Christians protest over Mideast | Several hundred people rallied in Rome Wednesday to demand an end to what they said was the persecution of Christians in the Middle East that has forced thousands to flee the region (Associated Press)

  • Judge wants to know if bizman repulsed by gays | A Queens business owner has been ordered to testify whether he believes gays and lesbians are repulsive and doomed to eternal damnation - although he says those views are constitutionally protected religious beliefs (New York Daily News)

  • Group fights ban on leaflets | Member of Jews for Jesus was blocked from distributing information in public park (Associated Press)

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  • Celebrating, not hiding | In the city of Cologne in Germany, an effort by Muslim leaders to get a building permit for a grand new mosque has provoked an ugly backlash of ethnic and religious bigotry (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • Tempers flare in German mosque dispute | Plans to replace the flat-roofed storefront mosque with a new house of worship, complete with dome and two 177-foot-tall minarets, have triggered an angry response from right-wing groups and, most recently, Cologne's Roman Catholic archbishop (Associated Press)

  • Faith based | For Muslim extremists, religion matters (Irshad Manji, The New Republic)

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Crime & lawsuits:

  • Man indicted in Va. minister slaying | A man accused of beating a minister to death in a robbery after eyeing her rural church's collection plate has been indicted on capital murder charges (Associated Press)

  • Vicar's unholy smoke stunt fails | A vicar who lit his pipe in a Kent police station as a protest against the smoking ban has failed in his attempt to get himself arrested (BBC)

  • Nile says dodgy letter sent to churches1 | NSW Christian Democrats MP Fred Nile claims a fraudulent letter is being sent to NSW churches, purportedly written by him, saying he has been "rewarded" for assisting Labor return to government (AAP, Australia)

  • Ministers encourage churches to help fight crime | Ministers, police officers and politicians encouraged churches to get involved in the fight against crime at a news conference Tuesday (The Shreveport Times, La.)

  • Presbytery files lawsuit in church property dispute | Olivet Presbyterian Church voted last year to leave the fellowship of the Presbyterian Churches in the United States of America and join with the more theologically conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church (Courier & Press, Evansville, Ind.)

  • Suit says company forced religion on workers | In a rare condemnation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that Woodcreek Health Care created "an illegal, hostile work environment consisting of religious harassment." (KING, Seattle)

  • Security video from Geoghan slay hits Web | State correction officials are investigating whether the killer convicted of strangling and stomping a pedophile priest posted a security surveillance video on YouTube showing prison guards desperately trying to pry open cell doors as the murder took place (Boston Herald)

  • Church asks court to lower damages awarded to female minister | The Presbyterian Church is asking a court to lower the $600,000 in damages a human rights panel awarded to a female minister discriminated against because of her gender (The Guardian, Prince Edward Island)

  • Creationists' un-Christian row | As part of an attempt to destroy a fellow creationist group, Boone County-based Answers in Genesis raised questions about a colleague's marriage. At least, that's Creation Ministries International's version of events (Kevin Eigelbach, The Cincinnati Post)

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Argentina chaplain war crimes trial:

  • Ex-police chaplain on trial in Argentina | A former police chaplain went on trial Thursday, the first Roman Catholic cleric to be prosecuted on charges of complicity in deaths and disappearances during Argentina's 1976-83 military dictatorship (Associated Press)

  • Argentina tries ex-chaplain on "dirty war" crimes | A former police chaplain accused of involvement in torture, kidnapping and murder during Argentina's "dirty war" declined to testify on Thursday as he went on trial in the first case linking a clergyman to rights abuses (Reuters)

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Arrest in church:

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Life ethics:

  • Pregnant and poor in Mississippi | Mississippi law limits abortion to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. But for poor women short on time and money, that can be an impossible deadline (Sharon Lerner, Salon.com)

  • Screening may affect embryos' viability | An older woman's slim chances of getting pregnant could be made worse if embryos are screened for defects before being implanted into the womb, doctors said Wednesday (Associated Press)

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Assisted suicide:

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  • The sky isn't falling | Experience may be trumping hysteria over gay marriage (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  • Gay pastor's bid for inclusion denied | Largest Lutheran group removes him from list, but church flock plans to petition on national level (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Gay minister taken off roster | The openly gay pastor of Atlanta's oldest Lutheran church has been removed from his denomination's clergy roster. But the Rev. Bradley Schmeling said Thursday he will not leave the pulpit of St. John's Lutheran Church (Associated Press)

  • Gay family values | Some of the states that are denying same-sex couples the right to marry are allowing them to adopt kids (Time)

  • Church weddings for gays soon a reality in Sweden | Sweden, already a pioneer in giving same-sex couples the right to adopt children, looks set to allow gays to marry in the Lutheran Church, with plans to introduce a new marriage law in January 2008 (The Local, Sweden)

  • 'Cool Church' wrong in casting gays as sinners | Group uses inaccurate information from biased sources, has odd interpretation of 'love thy neighbor' (Editorial, The Arizona Star)

  • St. John's and its pastor are reborn | Church advocates acceptance, love -- starting with its transgender leader (The Baltimore Sun)

  • Bar-exam flunker sues | Wannabe rejects gay-wed question, law (Boston Herald)

  • Victorian Ocean Grove's new groove | New Jersey may compel Methodists to host same-sex nuptials. (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

  • Clergy mixed on HIV test | A number of church ministers have reacted with mixed views to recent calls for HIV/AIDS testing for men of the cloth and the acceptance of homosexuals and prostitutes in local congregations (The Nation, Barbados)

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Missions & ministry:

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Church life:

  • Council says church bell can ring after all | The Christchurch City Council has reversed an earlier decision that prevented a church from ringing its bell on a Sunday morning. (Radio New Zealand)

  • Church free to ring bell again | A church has been told it can once again ring its bell early on Sundays after it was silenced by a neighbour's complaint (The New Zealand Herald)

  • Interfaith Alliance backs church's rock shows | The Interfaith Alliance of New York State has come out on the side of an Albany church that is attempting to resume its youth rock shows -- programs that the city shut down last summer (Albany Times Union, N.Y.)

  • The gospel according to church 'hoppers' | Hoppers are typically unsatisfied no matter where they hop -- because perfection doesn't exist in this world (Besty Hart, Scripps Howard News Service)

  • Where they stand | Denominations deal with divisive issues at their summer conventions (World)

  • Blacksburg churches prepare for students' return | Students returning to Virginia Tech this fall can expect extra effort from Blacksburg churches in settling back into college life (Collegiate Times)

  • Mob stones church | It did not rain, but it poured rocks at the Old Apostolic Church in NY7, Guguletu, on Sunday. Literally (City Vision, South Africa)

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Muslim-Anglican Priest:

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Lufkin crusade:

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  • Md. state board approves county's sex-ed curriculum | The Maryland State Board of Education has ruled in favor of a sex-education curriculum adopted last month for use in Montgomery middle and high schools, finding nothing illegal in the new lessons on sexual orientation and condom use, school officials said yesterday (The Washington Post)

  • School district says nothing wrong with Bible classes | Attorneys representing the Ector County Independent School District said in a motion filed in federal court Monday that school officials believe a Bible course being taught as an elective has been presented and taught appropriately (Associated Press)

  • New leader at Malone to begin | Streit praises college's growth, changes, Christian mission (Akron Beacon Journal, Oh.)

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Media & entertainment:

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  • Real celeb worship | Online gossip outage leads to discovery of 'religion of the 21st century' (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)

  • What came first -- the atheist or the childless home? | A chicken-and-egg conundrum is peculiarly appropriate to a question involving fertility. Which came first, the waning of religion in the West or the fall in birth rates? (Gerald Owen, National Post)

  • Close encounters of the engaged kind | Real marriage preparation, not the Hollywood version (Christine B. Whelan, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Religion today: Digital blessings from Nazareth | For $10, you can watch a Greek Orthodox priest pray blessings upon you from Jesus' home town (Associated Press)

  • Christian Exodus leader faces change in plans | Burnell's planned move to Anderson on hold after publicity prompts would-be employer to cancel hiring (The Independent Mail, Anderson, S.C.)

  • How banks defraud churches, charitable organizations | Though the business of banking is one that demands absolute trust and high sense of integrity on the part of the practitioners, the various malpractices perpetrated by banks or officials of banks in recent years have raised serious doubts about whether these virtues are still qualities of the profession. (Business Day, South Africa)

  • Environmental in their faith | Religious groups incorporate environment into their beliefs (The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • Faith in tolerance | Religious people should be more tolerant of others (Becca Kantor, The Dallas Morning News)

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