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Stem Cell Bill's Bad (Or Providential?) Timing

Plus: Surgeon general nominee's Methodist work under fire, Time interviews Rowan Williams, church building conflicts, and other stories from online sources around the world.

1. Embryonic stem cell bill passes House, but won't beat veto
When the U.S. House passed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act in January, it did so amid news that very week that amniotic stem cells "have many of the same traits as embryonic stem cells"—potentially making embryonic stem-cell research unnecessary.

This week, as the House again passed a similar version of the bill, scientists announced a similar breakthrough, this time using skin cells.

As Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), a physician, said on the House floor, "Science is going to move beyond this discussion."

2. Surgeon general nominee under fire for writings for United Methodist Church
Frank Lockwood, who occasionally freelances for CT, was the religion reporter who got that "worst in history" Jimmy Carter comment. Now he's the first to post excerpts from James Holsinger's 1991 report for the United Methodist Church's Committee to Study Homosexuality. Holsinger is now the nominee for U.S. surgeon general.

The key quote from Holsinger's paper, "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality":

"The logical complementarity of the human sexes has been so recognized in our culture that it has entered our vocabulary in the form of naming various pipe fittings either the male fitting or the female fitting depending upon which interlocks within the other," he wrote. "When the complementarity of the sexes is breached, injuries and diseases may occur."

Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Holly Babin is telling multiple news outlets that Holsinger doesn't believe everything in the report, and that it's outdated.

"That was not his belief. It was not his opinion," she told Lockwood. "It was a compilation of studies that were available at that time," she said.

That doesn't seem quite right, though. Holsinger has served on the UMC's Judicial Council, and voted to support a pastor who refused to allow a gay man to join the church. In 2004 he joined the council's majority opinion ruling that "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching" and that practicing homosexuals should not serve as clergy.

The question now is whether someone who believes in the complementarity of the sexes and that homosexual sex is unhealthy should be barred from serving as as surgeon general.

3. McCain campaign's religious woes
"McCain spent an hour answering questions on a conference call with church pastors and antiabortion activists in Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Florida and other key states," The Washington Post reports today. The Post suggests that the campaign is trying to shore up support after two of the campaign's religious outreach staffers quit in protest.

U.S. News's Dan Gilgoff reported last week, "The aides, who were fired in early April after roughly three months on the job, said the campaign staff declined to return scores of their phone calls and e-mail messages, denied them access to leaders of the McCain campaign, and pressed them to collect church directories—a controversial tactic—as the centerpiece of a strategy to woo 'values' voters."

4. Rowan Williams "hopeful, not optimistic" about the future of Anglicanism
Time's interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury and related article is the cover story for its Europe and South Pacific editions. It's worth a read, even if you're tired of reading about Anglican disputes.

5. Suburb may use eminent domain to keep church from building
If you remember Kelo vs. New London, then you'll definitely want to read a story in yesterday's Plain Dealer about a Cleveland suburb's efforts to keep St. Maron Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite from building a 600-seat church, youth building, and social center.

"Independence officials have resisted granting a permit to build. On Tuesday, the Planning Commission tabled a request for the permit so that the City Council can consider using eminent domain to take the property. Possible uses include a park or water-retention area," Molly Kavanaugh reports.

Vice Mayor Gregory Kurtz told the paper, "One of the concerns of people is that it starts out as a simple church and who knows what it evolves into," he said.

Forget the crazy state and federal laws that forbid this kind of discrimination for a second and consider this: it's an Eastern Rite Catholic church. How big do they think it's going to get? What's the biggest immigrant Catholic megachurch?

In related news, a suburban Chicago church lost its suit seeking to convert a warehouse into worship space. The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, ""When there is plenty of land on which religious organizations can build churches (or, as is common nowadays, convert to churches buildings previously intended for some other use) in a community, the fact that they are not permitted to build everywhere does not create a substantial burden." That's going to be a significant ruling in disputes invoking the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

Beyond the top five

6. Go to college, keep your faith
"Students who attend college are more likely to maintain religious beliefs than those who choose not to attend higher education," says a study published in the journal Social Forces (the article isn't available online yet). The Daily Texan summarizes the findings: "college graduates reported a 59.2-percent decline in religious service attendance [since high school] compared to a 76.2-percent decline among those who chose not to attend college."

7. Fellowship of Christian Athletes settles lawsuit with Kansas school district
The club now has the same rights as all other extracurricular clubs.

8. Iraqi Christians debate Assryrian Christian homeland idea
AsiaNews seems to be very much in against the idea of the Nineveh Plain homeland proposal. The Assyrian International News Agency seems to be very much in favor of it. There are some interesting theological arguments among the historical, practical, and other discussions.

9. The New Republic covers Martin Burnham and Christian martyrdom
The article is well worth a read (especially all the way to the end, where former missionary Gracia Burnham says, "I don't think that Abu Sayyaf is going to hell"). But it's also interesting that this article comes just a couple months after The Atlantic devoted a cover story to the Burnham abduction and "rescue." (Mark Bowden's article has been optioned by Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer.) Why all the mainstream press attention to the Burnhams five years later, when there wasn't all that much attention during their abduction?

10. David Plotz finishes blogging the Old Testament
The Slate deputy editor is now working on a book based on his one-year reading, and looking "for a wry Christian writer who can blog the New Testament."

Quote of the day
"For the Creation Museum, I did what I did as an actor. It doesn't necessarily mean I believe in evolution or I believe in creation. I'm hired to get a point across. On the flip side, if I was hired to play a murderer, that doesn't mean I'd go out and kill somebody. It's make-believe."

—Eric Linden, who plays Adam in a video aired at the Creation Museum. The museum pulled the video when the Associated Press revealed he "owns a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat" and models "for a clothing line that promotes free love."


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Stem cells | Sydney's Catholic archbishop | James Holsinger, surgeon general nominee | 2008 campaign | Global warming | Benedict-Bush meeting | More politics | Church and state | Education | Sexual and life ethics | Homosexuality | Canadian polygamy | Crime | Abuse | Mungiki | Iraq | China | Religious freedom | Social justice | Missions & ministry | Brazil's March for Jesus | Church life | People | Atheism | Entertainment and media | Other stories of interest

Stem cells:

  • House votes to ease limits on stem cell research | The House easily passed legislation yesterday that would loosen President Bush's six-year-old restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, but the vote once again fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a promised veto (The Washington Post)

  • Stem cell bill passes, faces new veto | The Democratic-controlled Congress passed legislation Thursday to loosen restraints on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, but the bill's supporters lacked the votes needed to override President Bush's threatened veto (Associated Press)

  • House defeats bill to ban human cloning | House Republicans united Wednesday to reject a Democratic-backed bill to ban human reproductive cloning, a prelude to the larger battle this week over the federal funding of stem cell research (Associated Press)

  • Biologists make skin cells work like stem cells | If a technique used in mice can be adapted to human cells, it would let scientists use a patient's skin cells to generate new heart, liver or kidney cells (The New York Times)

  • Teams mimic stem cells using skin cells | In a leap forward for stem cell research, three independent teams of scientists reported Wednesday that they have produced the equivalent of embryonic stem cells in mice using skin cells without the controversial destruction of embryos (Associated Press)

  • Scientists use skin to create stem cells | Discovery could recast debate (The Washington Post)

  • Cloning scam | Nancy Pelosi tried to pass human cloning on the sly. The timing was important. (Editorial, National Review)

  • Patients, not politics | Support ethical stem-cell research that works. (David Christensen, National Review Online)

  • Real stem-cell news | New developments point toward a consensus solution and away from the Democrats' bill (Yuval Levin, National Review Online)

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Sydney's Catholic archbishop:

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James Holsinger, surgeon general nominee:

  • Gay groups decry surgeon general nominee | President Bush's nominee for surgeon general, Kentucky cardiologist Dr. James Holsinger, has come under fire from gay rights groups for voting to expel a lesbian pastor from the United Methodist Church and writing in 1991 that gay sex is unnatural and unhealthy (Associated Press)

  • Also: 'Homosexuality isn't natural or healthy' | Bush's choice for top doc compared human genitalia to pipe fittings and said homosexual practices can cause injury or death (ABC News)

  • Surgeon general nominee's gay fascination | The flip side of Dr. Holsinger's lurid speculation is the dangerous presumption that because heterosexual sex is "natural," it is safe (Richard Kim, The Nation)

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2008 campaign:

  • McCain makes play for evangelicals' support | After firing two senior campaign aides in charge of courting evangelical Christians earlier this year, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took steps yesterday to try to shore up support from religious conservatives (The Washington Post)

  • Huckabee warns Christians not to abandon principles | Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said yesterday that Christian conservatives will become "irrelevant" to the political process if they give up their core convictions for expediency's sake (The Washington Times)

  • Hillary's 'zero' abortions goal hit | Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told religious leaders this week she agrees with setting a goal of "zero" abortions by bringing pro-life and pro-choice groups together, but those groups say there is little consensus upon which to build (The Washington Times)

  • Evolution issue separates candidates | Evolution has roiled state and local school boards for years. Now it's entered presidential politics (USA Today)

  • Also: Poll shows belief in evolution, creationism | Majorities of Americans in a new USA Today/Gallup Poll say evolution and creationism are both likely explanations for life on Earth — underscoring the complexities of an issue that has put Republican presidential candidates on the spot in recent weeks (USA Today)

  • There's one thing the US presidential contenders all have in common: God | With 17 months to go, the 2008 race is already well under way, and the first signs are of a resentful, defensive America (Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian, London)

  • Friends in high places | Who really controls the GOP? (Noam Scheiber, The New Republic)

  • Huckabee, Darwin, and democracy | Evidently, it's no longer kosher for Republican candidates to believe that God created the heavens and the earth (Hunter Baker, The American Spectator)

  • What's faith got to do with it? | Most of this God-talk by politicians is irrelevant (Cal Thomas)

  • Piety on parade | Am I the only one whom this presidential campaign has left feeling like Tom Sawyer stuck in church on a lovely summer Sunday? (Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe)

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Global warming:

  • Faith leaders debate effects of limits on emissions | Several U.S. religious leaders urged Congress to speedily enact carbon emissions limits to avoid a catastrophic rise in global temperatures that would particularly hurt the poor. But in sharply divided testimony before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, some evangelical Protestant leaders took the opposite tack, also citing concern for the poor (The Washington Post)

  • Also: Religious leaders testify in Senate on warming | Those called by Democrats urge action; GOP witnesses aren't so sure (Reuters)

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Benedict-Bush meeting:

  • Benedict, Bush both benefit from meeting | When Al Smith lost the 1928 presidential race, he was attacked for being Roman Catholic and therefore too close to the pope. Today, U.S. presidents and the leader of the Catholic Church enjoy a working relationship that has spanned decades (USA Today)

  • Bush and Pope prepare to meet | Behind the photo-op set for Saturday's first-ever Bush-Benedict meeting are two men with some key traits in common (Time)

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More politics:

  • Latino evangelicals seek just immigration law | Political activism creates rift that could jeopardize conservative goals (The Arizona Republic)

  • In U.S., faith is never far from politics | Church and state may be separate entities in the United States. But faith and politics have become inseparable (Reuters)

  • A fiery language debate in Calif. | After Republican senator repeatedly asks, "Who the hell are you," Democrats take issue (Associated Press)

  • In Va. Senate races, social issues take center stage | In many parts of the state, the Family Foundation holds tremendous sway with voters. But in Northern Virginia, which has been trending Democratic in statewide and federal elections, the group's ratings also could serve as a rallying point for more moderate organizations frustrated by the Republican-controlled General Assembly (The Washington Post)

  • Earlier: A house divided | What kind of a future can our movement hope for from leaders who publicly pout and stomp their feet because one ruling didn't wipe out all abortions? (Gina Dalfonzo, The Point)

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Church and state:

  • Suburb to Cleveland church: Not in our back yards | Site bad for building, Independence argues, and considers using eminent domain to take the property (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  • Suburban Chicago church loses RLUIPA challenge in 7th Circuit | Writing for the court, Judge Posner said: "When there is plenty of land on which religious organizations can build churches (or, as is common nowadays, convert to churches buildings previously intended for some other use) in a community, the fact that they are not permitted to build everywhere does not create a substantial burden." (Religion Clause)

  • Court upholds church use of former Concord movie theater | The appeals court said the city's general plan doesn't prohibit non-retail uses, and further, a church use would help to spruce up the area and guard against vacancy (Contra Costa Times, Ca.)

  • Kelsey questions appropriations to churches | Rep. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) requested an attorney's general opinion on Wednesday regarding whether it is constitutional to use state taxpayer dollars to further religion by providing so-called Community Enhancement Grants to certain churches (The Chattanoogan, Tenn.)

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  • Teaching assistant quit in protest at Harry Potter | A Pentecostal teaching assistant who quit her job at a foundation primary school after she was disciplined for refusing to hear a child read a Harry Potter book is seeking compensation for religious discrimination. She claimed that the book glorified witchcraft (The Guardian, London)

  • Preacher going to high court over college's limits | A campus evangelist restricted by Vincennes University to a walkway in front of the student union is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of being able to preach again on a lawn outside the school's library (Associated Press)

  • Archdiocese: Seminary's closing a sign of the times | Historic school once had 1,300 students (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Charged pastor's principal fired | Church says it's not linked to abuse case (Chicago Tribune)

  • College students lean toward religion | A University professor and graduate student have concluded that students who attend college are more likely to maintain religious beliefs than those who choose not to attend higher education (The Daily Texan, University of Texas at Austin)

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Sexual and life ethics:

  • Rift over curbing unintended pregnancies | America's conflicted attitude toward sex is at the heart of an intriguing political struggle unfolding this year in Congress and many states, as liberals and conservatives spar over bills aimed at reducing the huge number of unintended pregnancies (Associated Press)

  • New Hampshire to repeal parental notification law | New Hampshire will become the first state to repeal a law requiring teenage girls to notify their parents before having an abortion (The New York Times)

  • Also: N.H. votes to repeal parental notice law | The 2003 law, which never was enforced because of legal challenges, required abortion providers to notify at least one parent 48 hours or more before performing an abortion on a minor (Associated Press)

  • Life of the mother | A gymnastics star is testimony to a mom who never saw saving her son or herself as a "choice" when illness threatened (World)

  • Assisted death bill fails again in Capitol | Despite the efforts of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, legislation to allow terminally ill people to hasten their deaths was shelved Thursday for lack of support (Los Angeles Times)

  • Pornography threatens a marriage | A minister admits his addiction to his wife (Good Morning America, ABC)

  • The Valley exposed: Porn and the family | Balancing home life, career can be tough for adult stars (Los Angeles Daily News)

  • Poll finds majority back birth control | Americans overwhelmingly support birth control, comprehensive sex education and family planning services, according to a poll released yesterday at a briefing about the new "prevention first" reproductive health strategy (The Washington Times)

  • The abstinence gluttons | Meet the religious conservatives at the faith-based feeding trough who are getting rich controlling sex education in America (The Nation)

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  • Gay think tank wants part in debate | The Rockway Institute is the brainchild of executive director Robert-Jay Green, a California psychology professor who says the media, courts and politicians often make wrong assumptions about what the latest scientific research shows (Reuters)

  • The inadequacy of civil unions | The debate over same-sex marriage has catapulted to a new level in Connecticut (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • e-Disharmony | Suing eHarmony is like crashing the church bake sale and demanding they sell rainbow cupcakes (Ann Rostow, San Francisco Bay Times, gay newspaper)

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Canadian polygamy:

  • Special prosecutor appointed to review case of B.C. polygamous colony | British Columbia's attorney general wants to ensure that the province is on solid constitutional ground before any charges are laid against members of a polygamous sect (Canadian Press)

  • B.C. weighs charges against polygamist | This wasn't the development anti-polygamist activists were hoping for, nor expected from Mr. Oppal, who has long been critical of the conduct of leaders of the Canadian branch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Special prosecutor to rule on polygamy charges | Three years after it ordered an investigation into the polygamist community of fundamentalist Mormons in Bountiful, the B.C. government has hired a special prosecutor to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to lay charges (Vancouver Sun)

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  • Church opens part of secret abuse files | The records trace how Portland Archdiocese leaders tried to keep a lid on allegations and let accused priests remain (The Oregonian)

  • Mahony ordered to testify in abuse case | A judge rules the cardinal must appear in court in a case filed against a former teacher who was convicted of molesting students (Los Angeles Times)

  • Baptists post offender list | The Baptist General Convention of Texas has begun posting on its Web site the names of convicted sex offenders who've worked as Baptist ministers. The stated goal is to help churches prevent abuse, but critics say it's not enough (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Youth leader accused of sex with minor | A Calvary Chapel youth leader faces four counts of unlawful sex with a 14-year-old girl he met through the church (Los Angeles Times)

  • Former Newark minister sentenced for ordering child pornography | David Waser was pastor of Second Church of Christ in Newark until he was removed in August. His wife, Judy, 54, is awaiting trial on child pornography charges (The Columbus Dispatch, Oh.)

  • Man found guilty of false abuse claims against priest | A man has been convicted of falsely alleging he was buggered by a priest he claimed was giving him First Holy Communion tuition more than 25 years ago (Irish Independent)

  • Creditors get okay to challenge diocese transfers | The ruling could greatly expand the pool of money available to about 150 sexual-abuse victims, whose lawsuits were put on hold as the diocese seeks a financial reorganization under Chapter 11 (San Diego Union-Tribune)

  • A litany of shame | It's hard to know which was worse -- the ongoing abuse by Catholic priests or the Portland archdiocese's cover-up (Editorial, The Oregonian)

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  • Bloody gang violence raises alarm in Kenya | Severed heads displayed on poles, savagely mutilated bodies and dozens of deaths have sparked alarm in Kenya as a secret criminal society goes on the rampage and police launch bloody retaliation (Reuters)

  • Kenya police shoot sect suspects | The police and paramilitaries have sealed off Mathare slum for a third day in a search for guns and sect members (BBC)

  • Gunfire in Nairobi slum kills 10 | Gunfights erupted in a Nairobi slum Thursday, killing at least 10 people, as police conducted house-to-house searches for members of an outlawed sect accused of terrorizing Kenyans and leaving behind a string of beheaded corpses. (Associated Press)

  • Kenya slum turned into ghost town | The sprawling Mathare slum in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, home to nearly half a million people has been transformed into a near ghost town (BBC)

  • Also: In pictures: Mungiki clashes (BBC)

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  • Four Christians abducted yesterday are released in Baghdad | Chaldean clergyman, Father Hani, and one of the five boys accompanying him on a visit to a minor seminar in the capital are still being held but negotiations are underway to free them. Released prisoners are said to be in good conditions (AsiaNews.it)

  • The Plains of Niniveh, a trap for Iraqi Christians! | On the eve of the meeting between the Pope and Bush, the Archbishop of Kirkuk analyses the risks of the project to assign Christians an autonomous region in the Plains of Niniveh, a solution already rejected by authoritative figures in the Vatican (Louis Sako, AsiaNews.it)

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  • Report: China detains bishop again | An elderly bishop in China's underground Catholic church has been detained again by police, nine months after his release from their custody, a U.S.-based monitoring group said Thursday (Associated Press)

  • Court grants asylum over forced abortion | A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that women who are forced to abort their pregnancies by governments such as China's can be awarded asylum in the United States (Associated Press)

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Religious freedom:

  • The believers | The death of a missionary and the world of Christian martyrdom (The New Republic)

  • Egyptian national granted week to fight deportation | A U.S. judge Wednesday granted an Egyptian Coptic Christian who faced imminent deportation back to his homeland more than a week to respond to the U.S. government's latest attempt to send him back to Egypt (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Also: Stay is extended | A federal judge has extended a stay of deportation for Sameh Khouzam, an Egyptian Coptic Christian who faces repatriation for a murder charge in Egypt (The New York Times)

  • The right not to be a Muslim | In Malaysia, don't try to convert if you're a Muslim (Doug Bandow, National Review Online)

  • A different path in Turkey | However controversial religious liberty may be, it is not optional in a democracy (Michael Gerson, The Washington Post)

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Social justice:

  • Never too late, Arab pop stars raise funds for Darfur | But despite the charity's good intentions, some Islamic scholars in Sudan said the concerts were sinful (Reuters)

  • 'I was at Mugabe's "torture" camp' | As Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis deepens, victims of President Robert Mugabe's violent regime are fleeing for their lives. (BBC)

  • Interfaith gathering to focus on hunger | Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians from almost every denominational stripe will gather next week at the Washington National Cathedral for an interfaith convocation dedicated to ending hunger and poverty (Religion News Service)

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Missions & ministry:

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Brazil's March for Jesus:

  • Evangelicals pack Sao Paulo despite arrest of church founders | Evangelical Christians from across Brazil clogged the streets of Sao Paulo Thursday for the annual "March for Jesus," blasting religious music from sound trucks and shouting support for two leaders under house arrest in Florida (Associated Press)

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Church life:

  • Churches reach out to deaf | People can worship God in the way they know and are comfortable with, deaf minister says (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  • Ruling a death knell for church | The New York Archdiocese can do whatever it wants with a shuttered Lithuanian immigrant church in lower Manhattan, a judge ruled (New York Post)

  • Go in peace, just go the other way | Church sues to let its parishioners make a left-turn (Northwest Herald, Crystal Lake, Ill.)

  • Also: Church wrong to file lawsuit | The case of the First Presbyterian Church in Woodstock against Greenwood Township is a disappointing one (Editorial, Northwest Herald, Crystal Lake, Ill.)

  • Report: Pope-patriarch parley sought | The Orthodox archbishop of Cyprus is offering himself as a mediator to try to set up a groundbreaking meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the Russian Orthodox patriarch of Moscow, an Italian newsweekly reported on Thursday (Associated Press)

  • Debaptism 2.0: Fleeing the flock via the net | Disgruntled Italian Catholics are increasingly turning to the internet to leave the Church by getting "debaptized" -- but typically, the Pope isn't making the process web friendly (Wired News)

  • God's love can't be limited by words on a sign | Landmark Baptist Church, which meets in a storefront I pass each morning, has a sign that gives me pause: "God is exclusive, not inclusive." Beside that is another sign proclaiming, "We are Baptists, not Protestants." (Kay Campbell, Huntsville Times, Ala.)

  • Church split was a disaster | The urban poor still suffer from formation of LI diocese in 1957 (Paul Moses, Newsday)

  • Sunday Brunch? Now, I'll have church | A lot of people in my generation have spent their last years more comfortable at brunch than church. And while a congregation's awkward entreaties are nothing but sweet, too often it ends up feeling like rush at a nerdy sorority (Kate Carter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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  • Actor's risque past halts 'Adam' film | The man who plays Adam in a video aired at a Bible-based creationist museum has led a different life outside the Garden of Eden, flaunting his sexual exploits online and modeling for a clothing line that promotes free love (Associated Press)

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  • Holy war! | A new army of atheists is taking no prisoners in its battle with God and his self-appointed faith dealers (The Phoenix, Boston)

  • At what point does belief in religion constitute a threat to others? | Radical atheists are wrong not to find common cause with religious moderates (Andrew Potter, Maclean's, via Edmonton Journal)

  • The new atheists | An outspoken community of atheists and agnostics is tired of being marginalized, insulted and ignored (Ronald Aronson, The Nation)

  • We of little faith | Religious belief is inconsistent with reason and corrosive to the human mind - and I don't want to live in a world where it is respected (Sue Blackmore, The Guardian, London)

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Entertainment and media:

  • Demons of dark entry forest | What evil made a team of young scriptwriters beat a retreat from Dudleytown? (The Washington Post)

  • Diminished values tied to media diet | The combined influence of Hollywood and the mainstream news media erodes traditional American values and respect for religion -- and it may diminish our character and sense of responsibility as well, according to a report released yesterday by the Culture and Media Institute (The Washington Times)

  • Also: TV-borne character virus | Couch potatoes, beware -- someday you might be saying "the TV made me do it." (Brian Fitzpatrick, The Washington Times)

  • Also: Media frenzied | Conservatives can't figure out why they hate TV (Ben Adler, The New Republic)

  • Times apologises for bishop story | The Bishop of Southwark has withdrawn a complaint against the Times after the newspaper apologised for accusing him of being drunk (The Guardian, London)

  • Class studies spiritual Dylan | Theologian explores biblical references in music of pop culture icon (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)

  • House approves bill that will aid Bible park | The bill gives the Rutherford County Commission and other counties statewide the option to negotiate how a cut of new taxes from tourism development zones can help retire debt for construction of tourism attractions. (The Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro, Tenn.)

  • San Antonio nuns offer prayers for Spurs | In their simple convent, where rows of chairs are arranged in front of a television and a crucifix, the 23 nuns of the Salesian Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province briefly put aside their pleas for the sick and the poor to pray for the San Antonio Spurs (Associated Press)

  • Faith-related books finding big audience | Bookstores have expanded their shelf space in recent years to meet a growing appetite for all things spiritual (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • Why conservatives dominate religious news | When it comes to covering religion news, the mainstream American press is a vast right-wing conspiracy that consistently commits sins of omission against religious liberals. No, wait, honest. Stop laughing. (Terry Mattingly)

  • Catholic-bashing merits no encore | Broadway's 'Curtains' not only fails to be witty, it continues a sorry legacy of disguising blasphemy as art (Pat McDonough, Newsday)

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Other stories of interest:

  • Scientists with faith search for common ground between science and religion | Scientists who believe, and religious scholars whose faith is unthreatened by ideas like evolution, have been much less vocal in the debate in recent years. Now, two new books make public those quieter voices (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  • Keeping the faith, enjoying the fame | In the modern-day world of celebrity, religion often seems reduced to a commodity. A fashionable trend that can be bought into and discarded as easily as a red string Kabbalah bracelet or a designer yoga mat bag. A choice that has more to do with accessorizing than the afterlife (The Washington Times)

  • Religion today: That Pew poll on suicide bombing | The finding was described by some as a trouble spot, and even a hair-raising statistic, but many Muslim scholars had another reaction to the Pew report: What did you expect? (Associated Press)

  • Crises of faith | America is becoming more secular; Europe is becoming more religious. Both trends could mean trouble (Ross Douthat, The Atlantic)

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