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Will Iraq Trump Abortion for Evangelical Voters?

Plus: Taliban kidnapper killed in battle, Bynum files for divorce, rounding up the Mother Teresa commentaries, and other stories from online sources around the world.
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Today's Top Five

1. What else is in that Pew poll
A survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press made some headlines last week for its findings on which presidential candidates are perceived as religious.

Oddly, nearly a third of voters think that Hillary Clinton is not religious — about twice the percentage of the other candidates (except for Giuliani, whom 23% of voters consider not religious). Oh well, I guess it's not a big surprise that voters are uninformed about the candidates. Take another example from the poll: "Overall, just 22% of the public —and just 31% of Republicans — know that Giuliani is pro-choice," says Pew's report. "Even among Republican and Republican-leaning voters who rate social issues as very important, just 33% are aware of Giuliani's position on abortion." But it may not matter: "Giuliani's favorability rating among social-issue Republican and Republican-leaning voters who are aware that he is pro-choice is not significantly lower than among those who are unaware of his position on abortion (76% vs. 80%)."

Evangelical Protestants are even less informed about Giuliani's stance than the general populace; 21% know he is pro-choice, 6% think he is pro-life, and 71% say they're not sure of his position on the issue.

This may be why Giuliani is polling well among pro-life evangelicals. So does abortion still matter to social-issue voters ("values voters")? Less so, says Pew:

Social issues are lagging in importance among members of both parties. White evangelical Protestants are the only major political or religious group in which a majority (56%) says that social issues like abortion and gay marriage will be very important in their presidential voting decisions. Even among white evangelicals, however, social issues trail domestic matters and the war in Iraq: 72% of white evangelicals cite the economy and other domestic issues as very important, while 66% rate the war in Iraq as very important to their vote.

The poll does have some good news for pro-lifers:

After showing consistent increases between 2002 and 2005, the survey finds that support for stem cell research has declined slightly since then, from a peak of 57% in July 2005 to 51% today. Roughly one-third of the public (35%) opposes stem cell research, saying that protecting the potential life of embryos is more important than conducting the research.

2. Hostages home, but the story continues
There have been some important updates to the story of the South Korean Christian aid workers since their release by their Taliban kidnappers:

  • The Korea Times reports that Saemmul Community Church pastor Park Eun-jo tendered his resignation, but that the church rejected it. "He will leave the church for two months to have personal prayer time, according to church members," the paper reported. (Be sure to read our interview with Park if you haven't already.)

  • Saemmul Community Church held a funeral for pastor Bae Hyung-kyu Saturday, with the former hostages in attendance. Bae was deemed a martyr from the pulpit.

  • The Afghan military says it killed Mullah Mateen, a Taliban commander behind the kidnappings.

  • The male hostages were beaten "for refusing to take part in Islamic prayers or for rejecting a demand to convert," according to the chief of the Seoul hospital that treated them after their return. The hospital chief said the men were also beaten for protecting the female hostages, though he downplayed reports that the women had been at risk of sexual assault.

  • Kim Man-bok, director of Korea's National Intelligence Service, has been making rare public appearances after the hostages' release. He refuses to say whether a ransom was paid, saying such discussion is inappropriate. "It will be known later. I will speak at an appropriate time," he said.

3. After beating, Juanita Bynum files for divorce
Weapons of Power preacher Juanita Bynum says she will intentionally be the "new face of domestic violence" after her beating by her husband, Bishop Thomas W. Weeks, last month. She told TBN's "Praise the Lord" show that she won't speak negatively about Weeks. "Nobody could give me enough money," she said. "As long as he's my husband I won't break that covenant." Apparently he won't be her husband much longer: Bynum filed for divorce last week, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A spokesman for Weeks, who was charged with felony, aggravated assault, and other charges, says he still hopes the couple can reconcile.

Lakeland Ledger columnist Cary McMullen notes that the divorce is a bit different from the week's other high-profile Pentecostal divorce, that of Randy and Paula White. He wrote:

In the case of the Whites, as far as I could tell, there was not even any discussion about trying to justify the divorce on biblical or any other grounds. Randy White manfully took the blame for the marriage's failure, but no one mentioned that the biblical standard of adultery is the only justifiable grounds for divorce.
And if the comments posted on my blog in response to entries about the Whites and Bynum are any indication, their followers are staunchly supporting them. I have seen comments such as, "Nobody's perfect," "Before talking about her sins, you better look at your own," and "Don't judge, lest you be judged."
But the Whites and Bynum are celebrities, and that is a big difference. Celebrity pastors, especially if they have an independent ministry, tend to get a break. If you're a pastor of a small-town church, you're not going to find as much sympathy.

4. Spinning Mother Teresa's spiritual anguish
The pious response to Mother Teresa's letters about her spiritual emptiness, "is that these sentiments humanize the distant saint, showing that even the great have their struggles," Michael Gerson wrote in The Washington Post. "But this underestimates the rawness and intensity of the letters themselves, which are in fact disturbing. … This is clearly not an intellectual skepticism, a normal crisis of faith. It is a profound sense of abandonment."

If it's not a normal crisis of faith, said Los Angeles Times in an editorial, at least it's not a solitary one. "Mother Teresa's agonies of doubt place her in the mainstream of Judeo-Christian belief. Almost from the beginning, those who worshiped God worried that he had deserted them. In the Hebrew Bible, the psalmist cries: 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' — a sentiment echoed by the dying Jesus in the New Testament."

The Los Angeles Times editorial is very good, and theologically accurate. The New York Times doesn't do as well. Teresa's anguish "is a welcome reminder that saints, too, are only human, and that stories of dauntless piety tend to be false," it said in an editorial. "Dead for 10 years, she is poised to reach those who can at last recognize, in her, something of their own doubting, conflicted selves."

Still, the New York Times editorial pages does a lot better than Katha Pollitt in The Nation. Not that it's a surprise, but Pollitt seems desperate to dethrone Christopher Hitchens as Teresa contrarian. "Mother Teresa herself didn't let her lifelong dark night of the soul get in the way of her extreme religious orthodoxy," she laments. "I think her example … says, if you have doubts, keep quiet, don't use them to question dogma, challenge authority, open yourself up to new ways of thinking. Just keep kissing the rod. If Mother Teresa wasn't such a big humanitarian icon, we might think there was something a bit masochistic in her devotion to a God who made her so miserable."

Masochism has nothing to do with it, says Gerson. He continues:

Other noble religious traditions promise serenity, detachment from striving and release from the suffering of the world. Christianity, in contrast, teaches that grace is found in the worst of that suffering, and through a figure who despairs of God's presence in his parting words. This anguish is not convenient — "Why hast Thou forsaken me?" is hardly the best religious marketing slogan. But for millennia this abandonment has offered hope that God might somehow be present even in shame, loneliness and betrayal, even on the descending path of depression, even in the soul's hardness and doubt, even in the silence of God himself — and that all these things may be the preface to glory.

5. Pastor and wife murdered in Islamabad, Pakistan
Trinity Baptist Church pastor Arif Khan and his wife, Kathleen, were shot to death August 29. Police initially classified the murder as an "honor killing" and said the suspect, former church member Honey Haveed, had accused Khan of an affair. But police have now reportedly backed off this claim and are seeking a different motive. Khan, church officials said, "was a man of integrity and a very godly man." The couple, missionaries from New Jersey, had been serving in Pakistan for 11 years.

"Seeking to spread Christianity in a non-Christian country such as Pakistan can be a dangerous proposition," said an editorial in Parsippany, New Jersey's Daily Record. "The evidence that has surfaced so far, however, indicates that the murders had nothing to do with religious conflict or political strife. Well, it's small consolation to all involved, the Khans lost their lives doing the 'Lord's work,' as they saw it. For that, they have our endearing respect."

Quote of the day
"For a long time I have been thinking over the case of Jesus Christ, and I'm convinced—I have been convinced for a long time—that Jesus was not given a fair trial and that the trial was a nullity, as a result of which he suffered crucifixion. I then decided to instruct counsel so that the same can be challenged in court with a view of correct record because as we stand today Jesus Christ remains a convicted criminal. We want the records to be set right."

— Dola Indidis, plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in that country against Italy, Israel, King Herod, Pontius Pilate, Annas, and several other respondents seeking redress for the death of Jesus. Indidis is also spokesman for Kenya's judiciary.

More articles

Negotiating with Taliban | Korean hostages' experience | South Korean missions | Other South Korea | Politics | Politicians' faith | People | Mother Teresa | Atheism | Offending Islam | Judaism and Israel | Psychology & faith | Books & media | History | Education | Higher education | Canadian schools | British education | Grenville College | Abuse | Crime | Crucifixion lawsuit | Soliciting sex in bathrooms | 'Spitting' vicar | Juanita Bynum and Thomas Weeks | White divorce | Mojave cross | Pro-life website 'threat' | Abortion and life ethics | Darfur | Pakistani couple killed | Persecution/ religious rights | Church and state | China | New Orleans | Missions & ministry | Outreach | Africa | Anglicans and Africans | Catholicism | Benedict's trip to Austria | Benedict and environmentalism | Environmentalism | Eastern Orthodoxy | Church life | Homosexuality | Gay marriage | Money & business | Other

Negotiating with Taliban:

  • Report: Taliban kidnapper killed | Afghan police killed a Taliban militant alleged to be behind the July kidnappings of 23 South Korean church workers, authorities said Tuesday. Up to 27 other insurgents were also slain, while separate suicide attacks killed three police officers (Associated Press)

  • Taliban free remaining 7 Koreans held captive | Signs quickly emerged that South Korea's decision to hold direct talks with the Taliban might have emboldened the group (The New York Times)

  • Taliban tied to abduction is killed, Afghan says | The Taliban commander who masterminded the kidnapping of 23 Koreans in Afghanistan was killed in fighting on Monday evening, an Afghan official said (The New York Times)

  • South Korea top spy to reveal hostage deal "later" | South Korea's spy chief has refused to deny his government paid a ransom to the Taliban to release 19 hostages last week, a lawmaker said on Thursday (Reuters)

  • Spy chief against indemnity of hostages | The nation's spy chief said Thursday that it is legally groundless for the government to make the Korean hostages held by Taliban militants in Afghanistan bear the costs incurred in securing their release (The Korea Times)

  • Korean hostages freed — at a cost | Some observers are wondering what it really took to broker a deal with the Taliban. (Time)

  • South Koreans turn anger at hostages | Critics said the group's actions forced their government into negotiations with the Islamic militants that damaged the nation's international reputation (Associated Press)

  • Korean spymaster, home with hostages, parades his triumph | Kim Man-bok, South Korea's spy master, made a secret trip to Afghanistan. He went on Aug. 22 to "personally command the negotiations from the front line" when "the situation called for a breakthrough," the National Intelligence Service said in a highly unusual news release for an agency used to conducting clandestine operations (The New York Times)

  • 'Secret terms' for Korea hostages | South Korea's intelligence chief has refused to deny that his government paid a ransom to the Taleban to release 19 hostages last week (BBC)

  • Spymaster keeps mum about ransom for hostages | Kim lashed out at the Korean media, saying they simply relayed foreign news reports on the alleged ransom payments, which showed a lack of patriotism (Chosun Ilbo, South Korea)

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Korean hostages' experience:

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South Korean missions:

  • Taliban and Korean Christian missionaries | The Afghan incident not only prompts a hard look at Korea's overseas missions, but also much-needed reflection on the state of South Korea's religious establishment. (Shim Jae Hoon, The Korea Herald; also at The Daily Times, Pakistan)

  • Korean Christians start rethinking missions | The reality facing Christianity in Korea is that the pursuit of something big by many churches has led to a mentality that the most important thing is to convert huge numbers of people, while intense competition exists between churches in achieving this objective (Editorial, Chosun Ilbo)

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Other South Korea:

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Politics:

  • God as their running mate | We need to know what forms of conduct a candidate's religion forbids or requires and how the candidate interprets that injunction. (Michael Kinsley, Time)

  • Faith no entree to high office | Religious faith is not an automatic entree to elective office, according to a new Pew survey on belief and the 2008 election (The Washington Times)

  • Evangelicals disappointed, political faith shaken | Religious leader expresses concern about 2008: 'If we don't get our act together, we could lose our voice.' (ABC News)

  • Nile makes Senate bid | The Christian campaigner Elaine Nile is standing for the Senate on a platform of limiting Muslim immigration (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Politicians' faith:

  • Obama's religion | In light of recent polls, pundits have speculated that Senator Obama will need a miracle to win his party's presidential nomination. After offending many of the nation's ministers, priests, and rabbis in a speech this summer, he better have a direct line to the almighty (Kenneth Blackwell, The New York Sun)

  • Hillary's prayer: Hillary Clinton's religion and politics | News: For 15 years, Hillary Clinton has been part of a secretive religious group that seeks to bring Jesus back to Capitol Hill. Is she triangulating—or living her faith? (Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet, Mother Jones)

  • Poll: Clinton, Giuliani least religious | Seven in 10 in the nonpartisan Pew Research Center poll said they believe it is important for a president to have strong religious beliefs, including broad majorities of both parties. (Associated Press)

  • Romney's religion remains an issue | Does he need "the speech"? (The Washington Times)

  • Will Romney give that 'I'm-a-Mormon-but-it's-OK' speech? | If Romney decides to give such a speech - he says it's more than likely that he will - there are perils in how he delivers it and what he addresses (The Salt Lake Tribune, Ut.)

  • Calvin & Mud | If you don't have the issues on your side, hit low. This has been the approach of some Louisiana Democrats in their effort to do damage to Republican rising star Congressman Bobby Jindal's popular run for the governorship. (Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online)

  • Revisiting James Dobson's impact on the GOP race | The Focus on the Family founder has said he he could not vote for the pro-choice Rudy Guiliani or Sen. John McCain, who slammed the religious right in his 2000 campaign. Dobson also questioned Fred Thompson's Christianity earlier this year. (Politics West, by The Denver Post)

  • Surging Huckabee is anti-voucher | Arkansan minister, while fighting for GOP's Evangelical wing, sees 'inequality' in parochial tuition aid (The Jewish Week, New York)

  • Mixing religion with politics | I wasn't surprised to hear the Rev. Rick Scarborough say that George W. Bush has disappointed him. But his reasons did surprise me (Kevin Eigelbach, The Cincinnati Post)

  • Joseph Biden: a frank and abiding faith | How Catholic ideals of fighting the abuse of power have shaped the life and politics of the presidential hopeful (The Christian Science Monitor)

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People:

  • Outdoor funeral for a protester of a church closing | Carmen Gonzalez, of East Harlem, died at 72 on Monday. She had regularly attended Mass at Our Lady Queen of Angels, a Roman Catholic parish on 113th Street in East Harlem, for years (The New York Times)

  • Mississippi town hosts Johnny Cash fest | More than 40 years after the late singer Johnny Cash was arrested in Starkville, residents plan a festival in his honor that will include a ceremonial pardoning for the "Man in Black" (Associated Press)

  • The Man in Black's first lady | Chrissie Dickinson reviews I Walked the Line: My Life With Johnny by Vivian Cash with Ann Sharpsteen (The Washington Post)

  • Business big shot: Ken Costa | Ken Costa appeared to be heading for a baptism of fire yesterday as his surprise departure from UBS after a career spanning more than 30 years was announced. The 57-year-old vice-chairman of UBS's investment bank, and an evangelical Christian, is joining Lazard. (The Times, London)

  • Knowing what to say | Pastor D. James Kennedy dies at the age of 76 (World)

  • Benny Hinn sues a former colleague | The World Healing Center Church, the Irving-based church run by televangelist Benny Hinn, is suing its former vice president of television operations, contending that he and his wife defamed the famous faith healer as "wild and out of control." (Dallas Morning News religion Blog)

  • Church overseers chastise Ted Haggard | The new senior pastor of a Colorado megachurch said Wednesday he was optimistic for its future even as the church's overseers chastised their disgraced former leader, Ted Haggard (Associated Press)

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Mother Teresa:

  • Mother Teresa's letters surprised and inspired order | "The sisters were surprised, I was surprised to learn how she suffered in her thirst for God," said Sister Nirmala, the diminutive superior general of the Missionaries of Charity (Reuters)

  • 10 years later, Mother Teresa remembered | Devotees held Roman Catholic Masses, candle processions and interfaith prayers Wednesday to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life to serving the poorest of the poor in Calcutta (Associated Press)

  • A saint of darkness | A new book of Mother Teresa's letters is a welcome reminder that saints, too, are only human, and that stories of dauntless piety tend to be false (Editorial,. The New York Times)

  • Mother Theresa's doubts | Revelations that the spiritual icon questioned her beliefs don't belittle her faith or her work (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  • Indians pay homage to Mother Teresa as some protest | Thousands of devotees thronged to the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity in the Indian city of Kolkata on Wednesday to offer prayers for Mother Teresa on the tenth anniversary of her death (Reuters)

  • The torment of Teresa | The pious answer is that these sentiments humanize the distant saint, showing that even the great have their struggles. But this underestimates the rawness and intensity of the letters themselves, which are in fact disturbing (Michael Gerson, The Washington Post)

  • A saint's dark night | Although the journals of Mother Teresa reveal that she doubted God's existence, to call her a crypto-atheist is to misread both the woman and the experience that she was forced to undergo (James Martin, The New York Times)

  • The mystery of Mother Teresa | That a woman perceived of possessing great personal holiness turns out to be a person who suffered doubt in her experience with God deepens her mystery, rather than lessens it (Richard Rodriguez & Mary Ambrose, The Nation)

  • Log Cabin Christians | Mother Teresa herself didn't let her lifelong dark night of the soul get in the way of her extreme religious orthodoxy. I think her example goes the other way: it says, if you have doubts, keep quiet, don't use them to question dogma, challenge authority, open yourself up to new ways of thinking. Just keep kissing the rod. If Mother Teresa wasn't such a big humanitarian icon, we might think there was something a bit masochistic in her devotion to a God who made her so miserable (Katha Pollitt, The Nation)

  • Nothing like a prayer | Covering Mother Teresa, MSM freaks out over religion (Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online)

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Atheism:

  • Like any half-decent atheist, I'm fond of a bit of religion | I find the militant convictions of the anti-religionists chilling (Magnus Linklater, The Times, London)

  • Onward, secular soldiers | Memo to candidates: There are more atheists, agnostics and skeptics out there than you think. How bout sending us some love? (Katha Pollitt, The Nation)

  • Bible belter | Richard Dawkins reviews God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens (The Times, London)

  • A land where God is absent | The Western world may believe that it has liberated itself from clerical power, but divinity just keeps on breaking in. On Charles Taylor's A Secular Age (The Economist)

  • Atheists want 'God' out of Texas pledge | Couple says new wording harming their kids; injunction denied (The Dallas Morning News)

  • The smallest signs of retreat | Richard Dawkins' normal arrogance and contempt for religious belief faded briefly to conciliation today, when challenged by one of his critics (Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, London)

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Offending Islam:

  • Jail chaplain's suspension to end | The Rev. Teresa Darden Clapp had been accused of handing out anti-Islamic cartoons (Associated Press)

  • Police avert religious crisis in Kano | The police averted a religious crisis between Muslims and Christians in Kano yesterday after a carpenter allegedly insulted the Prophet Muhammad (Daily Trust, Nigeria)

  • Televangelist critical of Islam dumped | A Christian televangelist who harshly criticizes Islam and other religions said Friday that his late-night "Live Prayer with Bill Keller" show is being pulled off the air because of pressure from a Muslim group (Associated Press)

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Judaism and Israel:

  • Where do all the prayer notes go? | People from around the world place their prayers in Jerusalem's Western Wall or mail them to "God, Jerusalem." It's Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz who clears them up (Reuters)

  • Jerusalem holy site dig questioned | Islamic authorities responsible for Haram as-Sharif, known to Jews as Temple Mount, said digging a trench was necessary to replace 40-year-old electrical cables. Israeli archaeologists say the dig damaged a wall that might date back to the Bible (Associated Press)

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Psychology & faith:

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Books & media:

  • Five best: Faith and state | These literary works excel in their depiction of religion and politics (Mary Ann Glendon, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Family blessings | Mary Gordon's new memoir centers on her mother's engaged and lively religious life and her deep respect for priests. Darcey Steinke reviews Circling My Mother (The New York Times Book Review)

  • Controversial book about Baylor U., rejected by its press, finds another publisher | A revised version of the book, which includes several new chapters and a new introduction, is scheduled for publication by St. Augustine's Press, a South Bend, Ind., publisher that focuses on philosophy, theology, and cultural history (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  • Christ-like bin Laden image stirs debate in Australia | Artworks depicting Osama bin Laden in a Christ-like pose and a statue of the Virgin Mary covered in a burqa have caused a stir in Australia after they were showcased in a prestigious religious art competition (Reuters)

  • Political inspiration | A historian considers the relationships among Christianity, Nazism and communism. Mark Mazower reviews Sacred Causes by Michael Burleigh (The Washington Post)

  • Music Review: Israel and New Breed | Their fourth album, "A Deeper Level," may erect divisive walls by taking hard-line social stances that can be alienating (Associated Press)

  • Director, citing misunderstanding, apologizes to church | "We certainly would not have wanted to participate in a movie in which someone gets killed," said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese (The New York Times)

  • FamilyNet TV network to move from Fort Worth | FamilyNet, a 24-hour Fort Worth-based Christian TV network, will move its headquarters to Atlanta as part of an impending sale. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • ABC gets religion with "Miracle" drama | ABC has won a bidding war with Fox for a drama project set in the world of televangelists. (Reuters)

  • 'September Dawn': a bigoted hatchet job | "September Dawn" is not a poorly made movie, it is an expertly crafted attack on the Mormon Church (Bob Lonsberry, The Washington Times)

  • Sherri Shepherd comes into View | Capping weeks of intense speculation, actress-comedian Sherri Shepherd is set to fill the fifth and final seat on The View (E Online)

  • Earlier: As seen on TV | You've seen her on Everybody Loves Raymond and Less Than Perfect, but actress Sherri Shepherd had to learn hard lessons before finding fame. (Today's Christian, November/December 2003)

  • Christian magazine is man's ministry | A slick Christian magazine, Vision, has been popping up in Mexico, Argentina and Colombia (El Paso Times, Tex.)

  • Erotica for the evangelical set | Religious-themed sex guides are flying off the shelves - some even give believers permission to enjoy a good romp. (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Catholic media get boost from New City native | Tim Allen is at the forefront of a new kind of Catholic evangelism that preaches in high definition and aims to entertain as it explains. (The New York Journal News)

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History:

  • Carbon dating casts doubt on age of St. Francis robe | Carbon dating has cast doubt on the authenticity of one of four robes kept by Italian churches as relics of the medieval Saint Francis of Assisi, though another tunic, a belt and a cushion were found to be the right vintage (Reuters)

  • Billy Graham's L.A. then and now | The young preacher's crusade in a giant tent drew 350,000 people over eight weeks (Los Angeles Times)

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Education:

  • Valedictorian sues over 'Jesus speech' reprimand | Before she was granted her diploma, Corder was required to apologize in an e-mail to the entire school community. Now Corder is fighting back (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Valedictorian sues over 'Jesus' speech | Diploma withheld after she shared faith (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

  • Baptists turn from public schools | Convinced that God has been erased from public schools, Southern Baptists are now working to open their own schools, where Jesus is writ large and Bible study is part of the daily curriculum. (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • Do Arabic, Hebrew public schools cross church-state line? | Two new language-themed schools inevitably must teach words with religious significance, which could raise danger of imposing religion (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

  • Half-century later, school-prayer protester still causing stir | Schempp's act of civil disobedience in 1956 is back in the public eye with a new book Ellery's Protest by New York University law professor Stephen Solomon, which examines the effect of his case amid continuing controversy over the separation of church and state (Associated Press)

  • Universal faith | Religion can have a place in public schools. It just can't be for believers alone (Noah Feldman, The New York Times Magazine)

  • Court order against sex-ed lessons sought | Three groups seeking to halt the new sex education curriculum in Montgomery County schools filed papers yesterday seeking a court order to prevent the school system from teaching the lessons this fall (The Washington Post)

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Higher education:

  • Campus Crusaders | The complicated story of tiny Patrick Henry College, where Christian students prepare for the world's fight. (Newsweek)

  • Professor calls on universities to find religion | Universities have been urged to abandon their long-held commitment to secularism and incorporate a better understanding of religions in their teaching programs (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Jesus is my dorm advisor | Patrick Henry College grooms fundamentalist kids to be America's future leaders. A new book looks at how these elite students cope with the pressure to bridge secular and religious worlds (Salon.com)

  • New guidance for Christian unions on campus | University Christian Unions (CU) have won the right to restrict leadership to those practising the faith in a set of guidelines designed to ease tensions between religious groups and student leaders on campus (The Guardian, London)

  • Jesuit school to review speaker policies | Days after canceling a speaking engagement to a best-selling author who helped a friend commit suicide, a Jesuit university says it will review policies that govern how and why it invites certain speakers to campus (Associated Press)

  • Earlier: Rift grows among Omaha Catholics, school | Creighton University officials said they invited Anne Lamott to speak before her book Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, came out in March 2007. The book describes her personal experience in helping a friend commit suicide (Associated Press)

  • Professor's web page removed | Officials at Baylor University have removed from its Web site a personal Web page created by a professor of engineering that could be connected to intelligent design (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  • Not so fast | Baylor's treatment of an ID-advancing research lab has shifted from friendly to fire (World)

  • Dinosaurs in Garden of Eden? | Schools that teach both biblical and evolutionary origins of life see no tension between the two (The Toronto Star)

  • Abstinence group targets Patrick in ads | Backers of abstinence-only education launched a campaign yesterday urging Governor Deval Patrick to accept a $700,000 federal grant to keep the program alive in Massachusetts (The Boston Globe)

  • Religion gets equal treatment | Law justifiably protects students' rights to voluntary expression (Kelly Coghlan, The Dallas Morning News)

  • Evangelical group sues college over foot-washing | School considered the practice hazing (Religion News Service)

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Canadian schools:

  • Tory snared by schools flap | Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory scrambled today to downplay his policy of funding religious schools and the controversies surrounding it (The Toronto Star)

  • McGuinty's indefensible stance on schools | He is attempting to defend is that public funding should be available to schools professing the Catholic faith, and no other. (Andrew Coyne, National Post)

  • John Tory backpedals on creationism | Christian private schools should be allowed to teach creationism if they receive public funding, Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said yesterday. But six hours later, he went into damage-control mode, saying creationism should be explored only in religion class and not elsewhere in the curriculum, such as in science class. (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

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British education:

  • £365,000 to study effect of religious education | Scottish academics are to lead a £365,000 study into whether religious education in schools across the UK is divisive or brings pupils together (The Herald, Glasgow)

  • Experts to launch religious study | A team of experts at the University of Glasgow will lead one of the first detailed studies into the effects of religious education in schools (BBC)

  • New guidance for Christian unions on campus | University Christian Unions (CU) have won the right to restrict leadership to those practising the faith in a set of guidelines designed to ease tensions between religious groups and student leaders on campus (The Guardian, London)

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Grenville College:

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Abuse:

  • Diocese settles abuse claims for $198M | The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego agreed Friday to pay nearly $200 million to 144 people who were sexually abused by clergy members, the second-largest payment since the U.S. abuse scandal erupted five years ago. (Associated Press)

  • Long dead, a revered small-town priest is disgraced | In Jasper, Ind., the bishop wants churches to rescind honors that were given to a late priest because he is suspected of having molested scores of young boys (The New York Times)

  • No more pedophile tourists | Since 2003, says Joe Mettimano of World Vision, there has been "real progress" in ending this impunity (Michael Gerson, The Washington Post)

  • Letter roils LA fugitive priest case | An internal letter suggests that a high-ranking official of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles may have known that a priest accused of sexual abuse planned to flee to his native Mexico (Associated Press)

  • Former church leader convicted of molesting girls | The mother of a Dothan girl molested by a trusted family friend said justice was not served after Earl Houston Holland pleaded guilty Thursday to molesting three young girls (Dothan Eagle, Ala.)

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Crime:

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Crucifixion lawsuit:

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Soliciting sex in bathrooms:

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'Spitting' vicar:

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Juanita Bynum and Thomas Weeks:

  • Coalition: Weeks should be suspended | The National Black Church Initiative, a group of black and Hispanic churches, is calling for the minister husband of evangelist and gospel singer Juanita Bynum to be suspended from the ministry because of allegations he beat his wife (Associated Press)

  • Earlier: Charges change focus on televangelist | Weeks was released on $40,000 bail with the condition that he have no contact with his wife or her sister. On Friday, he was indicted on charges of aggravated assault and making terroristic threats (Associated Press, Sept. 1)

  • Marital strife roils ministry | Bishop Weeks charged with assaulting wife (The Washington Post)

  • Bishop asks for prayers that 'God's will be done' | Thomas Weeks breaks his silence since allegedly beating televangelist wife (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Weeks offers blanket apology | Evangelist's husband, charged with beating her, asks for prayers that 'God's will be done.' (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Coalition: Bishop should step down | A national coalition of African-American and Latino churches wants Bishop Thomas Weeks III suspended from the ministry for allegedly beating his wife, popular televangelist Juanita Bynum (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Pastor speaks out about beating case | The husband of evangelist and gospel singer Juanita Bynum has issued an apology over the case, in which he is accused of beating his wife (Associated Press)

  • Evangelist Bynum files for divorce | She plans to attend Obama fund-raiser, seeks to talk to candidate about domestic violence (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Evangelist says she'll take on role of anti-violence advocate | She aired her dirty laundry on a national stage, first as a victim of divorce and dead-end affairs and now as a victim of domestic violence (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Juanita Bynum speaks | Bynum said last month's alleged assault wasn't the first time the couple has had problems (WAGA, Atlanta)

  • Married co-pastors face stress | For unions similar to evangelists Juanita Bynum and Paula White's, ministerial couples say it takes a lot of work to avoid divorce (The Detroit News)

  • Charge of spousal abuse shocks Pentecostalists | A violent confrontation between two married black televangelists has shocked black and white Pentecostalists nationwide. (The Washington Times)

  • Domestic abuse is unholy | Church must fight against it, not as a judge but as a protector (T.D. Jakes, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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White divorce:

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Mojave cross:

  • Supporters of Mojave cross lose in court | The Christian symbol was built in 1934 by a group of World War I veterans. Congress in 1994 created the national preserve, which put the land under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service (Associated Press)

  • Appeals court again rules against Mojave cross | An appeals court has invalidated a land-exchange seeking to remove an eight-foot tall cross from the Mojave National Preserve (Associated Press)

  • Court upholds ruling against Redlands congressman's proposal to preserve cross | "Carving out a tiny parcel of property in the midst of this vast Preserve -- like a donut (sic) hole with the cross atop it -- will do nothing to minimize the impermissible government endorsement," the opinion from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)

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Pro-life website 'threat':

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Abortion and life ethics:

  • Chinese parents fight forced abortions | Some 30 years after China decreed a general limit of one child per family, resentment still brews over the state's regular and sometimes brutal intrusion into intimate family matters (Associated Press)

  • Judge blocks new Missouri abortion law | A federal judge temporarily blocked a new Missouri abortion law Monday after Planned Parenthood said the law would harm women by dramatically reducing the clinics available to provide the procedure (Associated Press)

  • Reproductive clinic takes residents by surprise | Built under another name, the Illinois Planned Parenthood facility faces an inquiry into whether it obtained permits legally (Los Angeles Times)

  • Abortion in the Philippines: a national secret | In this largely Roman Catholic country, abortion is illegal and strictly taboo, but about half a million women end their pregnancies every year (Reuters)

  • Senate passes foreign aid bill | The Senate voted Thursday to lift restrictions on family planning aid to overseas health organizations that perform abortions or promote the procedure as a method of family planning (Associated Press)

  • Bleeding Kansas | Pro-lifers say the state is not enforcing its law against partial-birth abortion (World)

  • Pro-life rockers clash with Amnesty | The group has been accused of "duping" the singers Christina Aguilera and Avril Lavigne, who have both made statements against abortion and are among contributors to an Amnesty CD released to raise money for survivors of the atrocities in Darfur. (The Times, London)

  • 'Human-animal' embryo green light | Regulators have agreed in principle to allow human-animal embryos to be created and used for research. (BBC)

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Darfur:

  • UN chief urges end to Darfur conflict | U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that time was critical and the Sudanese government's cooperation "essential" to successfully deploying a new peacekeeping force in war-torn Darfur (Associated Press)

  • U.N. chief tries to bolster peace accord in Sudan | The settlement of the war in southern Sudan is being held up as a model for resolving the Darfur crisis, Ban Ki-moon said (The New York Times)

  • Sudanese President to make first visit to Vatican | Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir will travel to the Vatican in mid-September for his first visit to the Holy See since coming to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, an adviser said on Tuesday (Reuters)

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Pakistani couple killed:

  • US-Pakistani couple found slain | The pastor of a Christian church and his American wife were shot to death in their home in the Pakistani capital, police said Thursday (Associated Press)

  • 'Joyful Christians' | The murder of a pastor and his wife is another stripe of persecution for Pakistani Christians (World)

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Persecution/ religious rights:

  • Not all conversions need blinding light | There's no denying that Ali Reza Panah's claimed conversion to Christianity would be an unpleasant fact of life for him if he were returned to Iran (Tapu Misa, The New Zealand Herald)

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Church and state:

  • Mormon student, Justice, ACLU join up | The Justice Department is joining the American Civil Liberties Union in backing a student who lost his state-funded merit-based scholarship because he left college to serve a two-year church mission (Associated Press)

  • EU wants info on Italy church tax breaks | The European Commission has asked the Italian government to explain a tax break for Catholic Church clinics or hostels that may break EU rules on state subsidies by giving an unfair advantage over rivals, officials said Tuesday (Associated Press)

  • Hindu group may challenge British church's yoga ban | A Hindu organisation in Britain is planning to challenge the ban on yoga classes by two churches on the grounds that it breaches the country's Equality Act 2006 (IANS, India)

  • Airman's Roll Call highlights religious rights | Religious guidelines were written to help protect the constitutional right of all Airmen to practice their beliefs, but some Airmen still find themselves wondering where the lines are when it comes to their faith. (Air Force Link)

  • Legal groups putting God on the docket | Christian advocacy is flourishing as new law field for faithful (Chicago Tribune)

  • Prayer OK; Tangipahoa waits | U.S. District Judge Helen Ginger Berrigan has dismissed an ACLU lawsuit that blocked sectarian prayers as part of the official Tangipahoa Parish School Board meetings, court records show (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)

  • Slidell City Court adds diversity to Jesus display | Confucius, Hammurabi and more than a dozen other historical figures have joined Jesus Christ on the wall at Slidell City Court in a move that officials believe will reassure visitors that it has always been the court's intent to showcase the people who helped to create the laws of civilized nations. (The Times-Picayune)

  • Obama, UCC draw IRS complaint | A candidate's decision and a liberal denomination's arrogance backfire (Jeffrey Lord, The American Spectator)

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China:

  • New China arrests follow religion push | Authorities have increased arrests on Christian groups operating outside China's sole official government church following a crackdown ordered last month, China Aid Association reported (Associated Press)

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New Orleans:

  • Clergy in New Orleans need counseling | Clergymen struggling to comfort the afflicted in New Orleans are finding they, too, need someone to listen to their troubles (Associated Press)

  • Church groups give key aid to Miss. Town | The sweat and donations from religious groups are bringing hope and new homes to many residents in this tiny community, still struggling two years after Hurricane Katrina left much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast in ruins (Associated Press)

  • Faith, not FEMA, rebuilds after Katrina | The scope and scale of the devastation brought by Katrina, which crashed ashore Aug. 29, 2005, underscored the crucial role religious groups play in emergency response and recovery. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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Missions & ministry:

  • A troubled neighborhood, and a minister who refuses to give up | The pastor of Jamaica's Bethlehem Church of God in Christ refuses to give up on a neighborhood afflicted by narcotics, prostitution and gang activity (The New York Times)

  • Ex-Muslim in demand as Christian evangelist | David Nasser went from Iran to Alabama, from speaking Persian as a child to preaching to thousands in English, from being a Muslim to becoming an evangelical Christian evangelist in demand all over America. (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  • The mall God built | The Potter's House Christian Fellowship will take profits from the center to pay for missionary projects. (The Florida Times-Union)

  • Nature brings man closer to God | A dog-sledding adventure turned into a spiritual one for an Evanston man, and now he leads wilderness excursions for all faiths (Chicago Tribune)

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Outreach:

  • Baptists use motorcycles, big ticket prizes to attract converts | Southern Baptists are taking the Gospel to them, giving away free motorcycles at biker rallies and motor speedways as they try to attract new converts with a revved-up new style of evangelism. (Associated Press)

  • Jensen's plan to drive home Bible message | Every family in Sydney would be given a free Bible under an ambitious plan by the Anglican Church to revive a 19th-century tradition of door-to-door distribution of the word of God (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Africa:

  • Christianity vs. the old gods of Nigeria | Generations ago, European colonists and Christian missionaries looted Africa's ancient treasures. Now, Pentecostal Christian evangelists — most of them Africans — are helping wipe out remaining traces of how Africans once worked, played and prayed (Associated Press)

  • NCCK asks for vetting of churches | The National Council of Churches of Kenya has asked the Government to vet the over 6,000 churches awaiting registration. (The Standard, Kenya)

  • Church backs Mugabe bishop critic | Zimbabwe's Roman Catholic bishops have publicly pledged their support for the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, a prominent government critic (BBC)

  • Mob chops off pastor's genitals | A pastor is fighting for his life after protesting villagers mutilated his genitals. The mob was bitter that a man, who the preacher had promised to cure through prayer, died during the 'healing' (East African Standard, Kenya)

  • Church to probe pastor sex claims | Senior leaders from the umbrella of Born-again Christian churches have described the alleged sex scandal in Kigali's Shining Light Church as 'blasphemy' (New Times, Rwanda)

  • Pastor in trouble over 'sowed' car | The Police have arrested Pastor Ronnie Badda and his wife Betty for allegedly conning a follower of her car and property worth millions of shillings (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Satanism - Gathii hits out at govt | The Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) has vowed to continue pushing for the removal of "satanic" symbols from Parliament Buildings and other Government institutions (East African Standard, Kenya)

  • Maranatha pastors in power struggles | Power struggles continue to rock Maranatha Church mission of Rwanda as its leaders are all craving for the position of senior pastor (New Times, Rwanda)

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Anglicans and Africans:

  • 2 U.S. bishops consecrated in Kenya | "The West used to send missionaries to Africa and the Third World," said Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi as he consecrated Bill Atwood and William Murdoch. "But now the Third World is sending its missionaries to the West." (Associated Press)

  • Uganda consecrates U.S. conservative as bishop | The consecration of the Virginia-based conservative, John Guernsey, came just three days after Kenya's Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi named two American priests as bishops (Reuters)

  • Diocese, St. Andrew's church split up legally | Biblical disputes lead Syracuse church, Episcopal diocese to part ways, divide property (The Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.)

  • 2 more U.S. priests align with African Anglicans | The archbishop of Kenya consecrated two American priests as bishops of the Anglican Church of Kenya to serve disaffected Episcopalians in the United States (The New York Times)

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Catholicism:

  • Bishops in Zimbabwe defend colleague | Catholic bishops on Friday accused the government of making "crude attempts" to divert attention from Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis by publicizing allegations of adultery against an archbishop who is an outspoken critic of the regime (Associated Press)

  • Pope decries collapse of marriages | Pope Benedict XVI decried the collapse of marriages, telling tens of thousands of young Catholics Saturday that he was praying that a crisis in traditional family values doesn't become an "irreversible failure" (Associated Press)

  • High cost for new Calif. Cathedral | When it's completed in fall of 2008, the $190 million Cathedral of Christ the Light will be the centerpiece of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, which lost its old cathedral to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (Associated Press)

  • Fighting modernists, a decree shaped Catholicism | One hundred years ago Pope Pius X set off a purge of Catholic thinkers who held modernist theories, which he saw as "the synthesis of all heresies" (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

  • For the pilgrim on a budget, the Vatican has air charters | The Vatican introduced a low-cost airline that will fly Catholic pilgrims from Italy to religious destinations around the world (The New York Times)

  • Catholic order files suit over documents | Former priest John Paul Lennon says the Legion of Christ is a dangerous and ultra-secretive cult that still idolizes its founder even though the spiritual leader was sanctioned by the Vatican after years of sexual abuse allegations (The Washington Post)

  • Pope set to declare income tax evasion 'socially unjust' | In his second encyclical—the most authoritative statement a pope can issue—the pontiff will denounce the use of "tax havens" and offshore bank accounts by wealthy individuals, since this reduces tax revenues for the benefit of society as a whole (The Washington Times)

  • Papal indulgence of OECD thugs | Pope Benedict could benefit from a bit of schooling. Tax avoidance is legal conduct whereby individuals arrange their affairs to reduce the amount of income that is taxable (Walter E. Williams, The Washington Times) Muted expectations as Benedict heads to Austria | The three-day visit to Austria highlights a central — and difficult — question of Benedict's papacy: Which believers, exactly, does this pope talk to? (The New York Times)

  • Confessions in adaptation | With wooden confessionals sitting empty, churches try to revive the practice by seeking penitents in new ways, such as online (Los Angeles Times)

  • Inner-city friars | Living amid crime and poverty, Franciscans of the renewal find that recruits are lining up for their traditional religious life (Religion News Service)

  • Church fends off faction pilgrims | Members of St. Isidore the Farmer Catholic Church traditionally stop for breaks at two churches as they make their annual 48-mile pilgrimage to Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden. Not this year (The Washington Times)

  • Facing their convent's closure | L.A. Archdiocese plans to sell the Santa Barbara site to help pay its priest abuse settlement. The nuns will likely have to leave the city where they've served the poor (Los Angeles Times)

  • 'Next step' for pro-lifers | Virginia Catholics are putting their pro-life philosophy into practice with a new home for unwed mothers in Orange County (The Washington Times)

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Benedict's trip to Austria:

  • Will the Pope behave in Austria? | Benedict XVI has been known to say incendiary things when out on tour. Vatican officials are hoping for a quiet pilgrimage to Vienna (Time)

  • Pope meets Israel's Peres | Pope Benedict XVI met Thursday with Israeli President Shimon Peres, as the elder statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate continued his visit to Italy amid an international push for peace in the Middle East (Associated Press)

  • Apathy, hostility await pope in Austria | A larger-than-life image of Pope Benedict XVI beams down at passers-by from billboards around Vienna. But few Austrians are smiling back (Associated Press)

  • Pope to honor Holocaust victims | Pope Benedict XVI begins a three-day pilgrimage to Austria on Friday with a solemn tribute to Jewish Holocaust victims, and an appeal to diplomats serving with the U.N. nuclear agency and other international organizations (Associated Press)

  • Holocaust memorial visit shows "repentance": Pope | German-born Pope Benedict on Friday said the Roman Catholic Church wanted to show "repentance" for what happened to the Jewish people during the Holocaust in which the Nazis killed some 6 million of them (Reuters)

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Benedict and environmentalism:

  • Pope urges young to care for planet | Pope Benedict XVI urged hundreds of thousands of young Catholics on Sunday to take better care of the planet, saying the world's water supply needs to be preserved and shared to avoid conflicts (Associated Press)

  • Pope attends eco-friendly youth festival | Pope Benedict XVI is taking a new step in the Vatican's environmental campaign, leading a youth festival this weekend where participants will use recycled prayer books, biodegradable plates and backpacks made from reused nylon (Associated Press)

  • Pope urges save the planet before it's too late | "A decisive 'yes' is needed in decisions to safeguard creation as well as a strong commitment to reverse tendencies that risk leading to irreversible situations of degradation," the 80-year-old Pope said (Reuters)

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Environmentalism:

  • New evangelicals: Green, not liberal | The embracing of this new ethic isn't drawing evangelicals to a more liberal political philosophy. It opens up new areas of inquiry for many longtime Christian believers, but the solutions to newly recognized problems won't make conservative Christians enthusiastic about government solutions (Jim Jewell, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Eastern Orthodoxy:

  • Russian church battles for future in NJ | A small group of worshippers gathered Sunday at the Sviato-Pokrovskiy Russian Orthodox Church for what may have been their last service. The tiny congregation is facing eviction because they disagree with their parent church's decision to reconcile with the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia. (Associated Press)

  • Orthodox Church in America ousts priest | The verdict by an OCA spiritual court against Robert Kondratick took effect July 31. Kondratick has said he's innocent. He held the second-highest job in the denomination (Associated Press)

  • Church offers atomic blessing | Christians have long believed that the world will end with the Apocalypse. On Tuesday morning, the Russian Orthodox Church gave its blessing to the men and women who could make it happen (The Moscow Times)

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Church life:

  • Hispanic churches add English services | It's an effort to meet the demands of second- and third-generation Hispanics, keep families together and reach non-Latinos. (Associated Press)

  • Congregations remove the language barrier | Two Lutheran churches share a building and, thanks to a new bilingual book, they also share services four times a year (Los Angeles Times)

  • City-church suit close to end | The Castle Hills First Baptist Church and the city of Castle Hills have reached a settlement in a nearly decade-old lawsuit. (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)

  • A look at Presbyterian alphabet soup and what it means | The Presbyterian Church in America is not the same thing as the American Presbyterian Church. Also, Orthodox Presbyterians are not to be confused with Bible Presbyterians, Cumberland Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians, Associate Reformed Presbyterians or Evangelical Presbyterians. (Terry Mattingly, Scripps Howard News Service)

  • Paisley to be re-elected as Church moderator | Despite speculation that the First Minister could stand down, or face a challenge at the annual general meeting of the Presbytery, it appears likely he will be reappointed for another year (Belfast Telegraph)

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Homosexuality:

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Gay marriage:

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Money & business:

  • U.S. churches find financial transparency | The growth of megachurches in the United States has spawned mega revenues, leading many to find the financial light and embrace transparency to assure their congregations that their offerings are well spent (Reuters)

  • U.S. churches go high tech to raise cash | While many U.S. churches still raise funds through time-honored methods like bake sales and bingo nights, increasingly, they are using public offerings, for-profit companies, and other high-tech fundraisers (Associated Press)

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http://religion.beloblog.com/archives/2007/09/where_was_jakes_outrage_1.html

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070907/ap_on_re/church_abuse_bankruptcy

Other:

  • Holy water seized at Lourdes airport | Even holy water from the Roman Catholic shrine at Lourdes can't get by airport security screening passengers for suspicious liquids (Associated Press)

  • Hippie shakeup | Christians were part of the '60s, too (John Wilson, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Pass it on | It might arrive as an expression of goodwill, but Amish friendship bread is heavy on obligations (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  • AP Poll: God vital to young Americans | An extensive survey by The Associated Press and MTV found that people aged 13 to 24 who describe themselves as very spiritual or religious tend to be happier than those who don't (Associated Press)

  • A sanctuary for immigrants | The movement that spawned Elvira Arellano hopes that showcasing a few individuals will illustrate the plight of millions (Grace Dyrness and Clara Irazábal, Los Angeles Times)

  • 'Burning Man' gets religion | A growing number of just plain religious folks have been turning up at the event, suggesting it's a place to find God as well (The Washington Times)

  • Virginia's 'Faithful Pledge' challenges payday lenders | Calling it "a moral stand, not a political campaign," Virginia's faith community last week called on legislators to support a 36 percent annual interest-rate cap on payday lenders (The Washington Times)

  • A heavenly home? | Its definition sometimes depends on a buyer's religion (Chicago Tribune)

  • Land: Bring tobacco under gov. oversight | It's a distasteful reality: The federal government carefully regulates products that aid individuals in breaking their addiction to tobacco, yet tobacco products themselves are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, Richard Land said August 28 (Baptist Press)

  • The Community of Jesus: Christian sect with shadowy past has 'evolved over the years' | The Community of Jesus, a small, communal Christian sect in Massachusetts that stresses discipline and rejects homosexuality has made an effort in recent years to leave behind its shadowy past and accusations of psychological abuse (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Women more spiritual than men | Poll finds gender gap in beliefs, in church attendance and in practice. (The Hartford Courant)

  • Most say UK is in 'moral decline' | More than four in five people believe that Britain is in moral decline, a survey has indicated (BBC)

  • We're believers, But … | For all their secular reputation, Connecticut's residents aren't that different from people in the rest of the country when it comes to basic religious beliefs. We're just a bit less certain about them. (Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  • Protestant work ethic that took root in faith is now ingrained in our culture | Welcome to our modern version of the Protestant work ethic, the celebrated concept behind one of the most fundamental values of American society: our love of work. (Houston Chronicle)

  • Men have abandoned our churches | Why is it that people unconnected with church and unfamiliar with Christianity believe that the Christian faith saps the competitiveness from athletes? (Tim Ellsworth, The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  • Iraqi nears American dream | An Iraqi Christian who escaped persecution three years ago and used smugglers to reach the United States was granted asylum Wednesday — making him one of just a few thousand Iraqi refugees allowed to resettle in this country (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)

  • Prayer for opponent's misfortune finds little support | Responding to pastor's controversial statement, authorities on various faiths see little justification for wishing harm to befall enemies (Los Angeles Times)

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(CT Assistant Online Editor Susan Wunderink organized stories into categories today.)



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