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Congregation Gets Protesters, Then Cops' Bill

Plus: Methodist locale loses tax exemption over gay ceremony stand, bad grades for Oxford's Christian schools, Dobson nixes Thompson again, and hundreds of other stories from online sources around the world.

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1. Town charges congregation for police presence during protest
With Elvira Arellano and her son back in Mexico after a year's stay in a Chicago church, the neo-sanctuary movement's eyes have turned to United Church of Christ in Simi Valley, California, where an undocumented/illegal immigrant identified only as a 25-year-old Mexican woman named Liliana has taken shelter with her 5-month-old son.

It's safe to say the UCC congregation is not evangelical. Its website, for example, has links to three different Rastafarian websites, CAIR, earthspirit.org, pagans.org, wicca.org; and countless gay sites. But not one to an evangelical organization, ministry, or church. In a recent sermon, the pastor preached: "There are those who would have us believe … that God wants each of us to find Jesus and be saved. Don't believe it for a minute!" In that same sermon, she condemned, from the pulpit, by name, the "no middle ground thinking" of "a young man [who] wanted to give testimony to his own journey and his decision to follow Jesus."

In other words, it seems like a rather intolerant and insular congregation to me. Still, I don't really see the point of the demonstration organized by Save Our State, which protested outside the church Sunday and sought to make a citizen's arrest of Liliana. News reports say there were about 120 protesters and counter-protesters when someone sprayed a chemical, injuring one of the church's supporters. No arrest was made in that incident, but between four to fifteen officers were standing by to make sure the protest and counter-protest didn't get out of hand.

Simi Valley mayor Paul Miller announced that the United Church of Christ congregation will be billed $39,306 for the police presence. Miller explained that while the church didn't ask for a police presence, it created a need for one by announcing it was harboring an illegal immigrant.

"They set up this confrontation," he told the Ventura County Star.

Legal experts say it may be an unprecedented move, and that the city will have an uphill legal fight in making the bill stick.

A Ventura County Star editorial agrees: "The city of Simi Valley is using the weight of government improperly, trying to intimidate the church by sending it a bill. It is unconstitutional — un-American — and we are certain a court of law will make that clear to the city council."

That's a better argument than the over-the-top response from Rabbi John Sherwood, chairman of the local interfaith ministerial association. "What the city is doing is giving legal license to racism, and they are attacking the victim," he said. Dude, you're not helping.

2. New Jersey punishes Methodists for barring lesbian civil union ceremony
The Methodist Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association barred lesbian couples from holding civil union ceremonies at its boardwalk pavilion. The state civil-rights office is investigating whether that violates state antidiscrimination law, but in the meantime the state's environmental commissioner has revoked the tax-exempt status for the pavilion. "Simply put, the pavilion needs to be available equally to all persons to retain its tax exempt eligibility under this particular statute," the commissioner explained.

New Jersey's main gay-rights group may appeal the tax exemption denial because it's not harsh enough. News reports say the association will probably end up paying only about $175 a year as a result of the decision. The rest of the boardwalk and the beach, which are also owned by the camp meeting association, are still tax exempt. By the way, one of the lesbian couples who filed a complaint with the civil rights office held a civil union ceremony on the association-owned pier rather than the pavilion.

Maggie Gallagher notes that the decision makes the stakes clearer in the gay marriage debate:

"How can Adam and Steve's marriage hurt you?" I've been asked over and over again, as if gay marriage were primarily about expanding personal liberty. Many libertarians and conservatives, in particular, have been seduced by this false framing of the issue. Liberty arguments lead to values pluralism: Live and let live; let each of us do what we want.
Equality arguments are, by contrast, high-octane fuel for expansions of government power. In this case the government of New Jersey has officially endorsed the idea that treating same-sex couples any different from unions of husband and wife is immoral discrimination — and those who do so must be disciplined for their bigotry.

3. Pro-life defeats in New Jersey
"Abortion fight's epicenter is Aurora" says the Chicago Tribune. If that sounds a little grandiose, consider Time's headline: "The abortion wars hit Illinois." (Believe it or not, we Illinoisans have been debating this issue for a few months now.) But while the planned opening of Aurora's abortion clinic is getting national attention, you may have missed some important developments in New Jersey. Within 24 hours last week, the state's Supreme Court ruled that doctors performing abortions are not obligated to tell patients that an embryo is an existing living human being, and the state's public advocate said he would not take action against the health department for not following state law on inspecting abortion clinics.

4. Casey striking out with some pro-lifers
Abortion opponents are wondering if Sen. Bob Casey, one of Congress's most prominent pro-life Democrats, is really such a pro-life Democrat. National Review Online reported:

[H]e voted for an amendment by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Ks.), to preserve the federal government's so-called Mexico City policy, which prohibits the granting of federal funds to overseas groups that refer and perform abortions.
Twenty minutes earlier, however, Casey had voted for an amendment by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Ca.) that not only overturned the Mexico City policy, but also increased funding for overseas groups that perform and refer abortions. Certainly, Casey had not had a change of heart in the space of 20 minutes.
The contradictory votes received little attention, but certainly neither made sense in the context of the other. [Four days later], however, Casey resolved the tension. He went to the floor of the Senate and announced that on the Brownback amendment, "It was my intention to vote 'nay.' Therefore, I ask unanimous consent that I be permitted to change my vote since it will not affect the outcome of that vote."
Casey's vote in favor of funding abortion providers has been duly updated on the Senate website.

Another prominent pro-life Democrat, Rep. Heath Shuler, told Christianity Today earlier this year that reducing the number of abortions is the responsibility of communities and churches, adding, "I don't think it's as much about legal measures."

But don't buy the spin that pro-life Democrats are fakers. Philadelphia City Paper notes that on the same day that Casey cast his Mexico City policy vote, "He joined a winning effort by Republicans to uphold a Bush administration policy that denies U.S. aid to the U.N. Population Fund because of its tolerance of China's use of coerced abortions and sterilizations. Casey went against Planned Parenthood on that one, but batting 1-for-2 apparently doesn't cut it with the pro-life crowd."

And Focus on the Family this week praised Shuler (along with three other freshmen members of Congress) for consistently voting pro-life.

5. Report criticizes British evangelicalism's most famous institution
Oxford University's Wycliffe Hall, where Alister McGrath was principal, and where evangelical luminaries like J.I. Packer, N.T. Wright, and Michael Horton studied, has been the focus of some significant criticism lately (even, reportedly, from McGrath). But a new university panel report may be one of the most significant blows yet. According to The Times of London, the report claims that "Wycliffe does not resemble 'an Oxford experience in its essentials' and is not 'a suitable educational environment for the full intellectual development of young undergraduates.'"

The report "concludes that Oxford's seven Christian private halls risk failing to provide a rounded learning experience in keeping with Oxford's liberal ethos," the Times reports. I'm not sure the Times has the story right. While it quotes the report as saying the halls' licenses will be reviewed if they are "shown to be departing from the values of a liberal education," the newspaper seems to believe that means "Halls could risk losing their Oxford University licenses altogether if they teach a fundamentalist biblical doctrine on sexual ethics and in other areas of theology."

You know the phrase "liberal arts" doesn't actually mean liberal in the political or theological sense, right? I didn't go to Oxford, but I'm pretty sure my English is right on that point.

Beyond the Top Five

6. Good news, bad news for Focus on the Family
An IRS audit says James Dobson's personal endorsements of candidates in 2004 didn't disqualify Focus on the Family's tax-exempt status. But the same day Focus made the announcement, it also said it was laying off 30 of its 1,205 employees.

In related news, Dobson still doesn't like Fred Thompson. "Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won't talk at all about what he believes, and can't speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?" Dobson wrote in an e-mail obtained by the Associated Press. "He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent 'want to.' And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!"

Gary Bauer had earlier reported that members of the Arlington Group, the conservative umbrella organization reportedly trying to find a candidate to rally around, were "excited by Thompson."

7. U.S. government indoctrinating Iraqi insurgents on Islam
There are some significant church-and-state issues raised, but not directly addressed, in this Washington Post report:

The U.S. military has introduced "religious enlightenment" and other education programs for Iraqi detainees, some of whom are as young as 11, Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, said yesterday.
Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to "bend them back to our will" and are part of waging war in what he called "the battlefield of the mind." Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the "House of Wisdom."
The religious courses are led by Muslim clerics who "teach out of a moderate doctrine," Stone said, according to the transcript of a conference call he held from Baghdad with a group of defense bloggers.

8. A pius candidate?
After resigning as Zimbabwe's Catholic archbishop amid allegations of adultery, Pius Ncube is sending signals that he may run for president against the longtime subject of his criticism, Robert Mugabe.

Meanwhile, African Anglicans are becoming more vocal in their criticisms of the dictator. Desmond Tutu said African nations need to get tougher with Zimbabwe. "By now it ought to be clear that the softly softly approach — quiet diplomacy — has not worked at all and we want something a little more forthright, a little more categorical," he said. "All of us Africans must hang their heads in shame for having allowed such a desperate situation to continue almost without anybody doing anything to try and stop it."

Ugandan-born John Sentamu, the Church of England's Archbishop of York, says it's not just African nations that need to act. "The time for 'African solutions' alone is now over," he wrote in The Observer, likening Mugabe to Idi Amin and calling South African president Thabo Mbeki at best ineffectual and at worst complicit. "Britain needs to escape from its colonial guilt when it comes to Zimbabwe. Mugabe is the worst kind of racist dictator. … We cannot look the other way on Zimbabwe. Enough is enough."

9. Universal Life Church marriages invalid, says Pa. judge
Ever hear of those instant online ordinations from the Universal Life Church? A Pennsylvania judge says you can't use them to officiate at weddings, at least in that state. "Under Pennsylvania law, those qualified to officiate a marriage are judges, mayors, or ministers, priests, or rabbis of a 'regularly established church or congregation,'" the York Daily Record notes.

10. A novel turn on evangelicals and alcohol
What does it mean that publishers of Christian fiction now allow their protagonists to imbibe alcoholic beverages? It demonstrates that "U.S. evangelical attitudes toward 'demon rum' have shifted," Lauren Winner writes in Publishers Weekly's Religion BookLine. But it also may signal a shift in evangelical attitudes toward fiction, she says. "The increasing willingness of Christian publishers to show casual imbibing may be another step in the direction of depicting, rather than sanitizing, ordinary American life."

Quote of the day
"How can we expect these no-show candidates to take on Osama bin Laden and other world leaders when they're afraid to show up and answer questions from Phyllis Schlafly?"

— Rabbi Aryeh Spero, president of the Jewish Action Alliance, at the "Values Voter Debate" with Schlafly, Paul Weyrich, Don Wildmon, Mat Staver, Rick Scarborough, and Janet Folger. Did Schlafly object to the comparison?

Bonus quote of the day:
"I just am loving it. It's in newspapers around the world and every article starts with 'Emmy winner Kathy Griffin' and then the letters all just blur after that."

— Kathy Griffin, on the hubbub over her Emmy award acceptance speech, on Larry King Live. Members of The Miracle Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, paid $90,440 for a full-page USA Today ad to note that they "take offense" to her comments.

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Church billed for protest | Immigration | Church and state | Religious flyers in backpacks | Canada & religious schools | Education | Prison books | Military | Crime | Embezzling priest | Abuse | O. C. abuse | San Diego abuse settlement | Monk accused of abuse dies | FLDS Polygamy case | Juanita Bynum case | Discrimination | Senator sues God | Displays | Gambling | Morality | Dobson's endorsements | 2008 elections | Giuliani | Romney | McCain | Thompson | Other candidates | Values vote debate | Politics | Mukasey | Mormonism | Presbyterianism | Paisley | Rowan Williams | California Supreme Court takes church property cases | Anglicanism | Episcopal meeting in New Orleans | Other denominations on gay issues | Same-sex issues | Ocean Grove | Ex-gays | Love & marriage | Chastity | Monasticism | Interfaith | Benedict in Austria | Catholicism and environmentalism | Benedict to visit U. S. | Catholicism | Vatican investigates theologian | Catholics & Amnesty International | Abortion clinic in Illinois | Abortion | Life ethics | New Zealand | Australia | China | Korean hostages | East Asia | South America | Africa | Ncube resigns | Mugabe & Zimbabwe | Lebanon | Iraq | Pakistan | India | Religious freedom | Israel | Jewish holidays | Fasting and Ramadan | Holidays | Missions & ministries | Amish | Church life | Property and zoning | Prayer | Atheism | Books | God's Harvard | The Stillborn God | Media & entertainment | Kathy Griffin | People | Science, evolution, & faith | Cremation | Other

Church billed for protest:

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  • Congress quietly returns to immigration | A broad overhaul failed this summer, but an array of smaller measures is under discussion, including ways to legalize certain workers (Los Angeles Times)

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Church and state:

  • Parishes facing big tax bills for churches closed by Diocese of Buffalo | Tax-exempt status will be in jeopardy (The Buffalo News, N.Y.)

  • Most think founders wanted Christian USA | Most Americans believe the nation's founders wrote Christianity into the Constitution, and people are less likely to say freedom to worship covers religious groups they consider extreme, a poll out today finds (USA Today)

  • God and the Constitution | A poll shows widespread ignorance of basic freedoms and a belief that many of the Constitution's rights apply only to some Americans, not to all (Editorial, USA Today)

  • What part of 'secular nation' do we not understand? | 2007 State of the First Amendment survey finds majority of Americans believe Founders intended and established a Christian nation — though in no way did they do so (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

  • Should churches remain tax-exempt in Georgia? | The narrow vote - a 2-2 deadlock that had to be broken by Mayor Jim Joiner - was clear evidence of the difficulty the Jefferson City Council faced in voting last week to keep churches off the town square. (Jim Thompson, Athens Banner-Herald, Ga.)

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Religious flyers in backpacks:

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Canada & religious schools:

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  • Trustees question Roberts' leadership after VP resigns from Midwestern | The chief financial officer at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary resigned Sept. 20 in a dispute with president Philip Roberts over a financial analysis that raised questions about Roberts' leadership, the school's trustee chairman said (Associated Baptist Press)

  • Controversy over funding denial for Christian concert at University of Arizona | The concert, "Overflow", had been funded for the last seven years, but a recent change in the bylaws of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona was applied to deny funding this year (Religion Clause)

  • Law school's shortcoming noted | The Ave Maria School of Law, which has been embroiled in a bitter dispute over a planned move from Michigan to Florida, may face a challenge to its continued accreditation, according to a letter released last week by the law school's dean (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  • Catholic students sue UW over fees | Group says school won't let funds pay for activities (Associated Press)

  • Temple U. to restore namesake temple | Temple University will begin a two-year, $29 million renovation to the abandoned Baptist Temple that is its namesake, transforming the landmark building into a performing arts center (Associated Press)

  • Board: Charter school can teach Hebrew | A charter school may resume teaching in Hebrew, three weeks after the lessons were halted over concerns the Jewish faith was seeping into public classrooms, the school board voted Tuesday (Associated Press)

  • A clash of rights | The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that a college's anti-bias rules served an important state function — and a function that was more important than the limits faced by a fraternity not being recognized (Inside Higher Ed)

  • Angry mother sues after children told to leave | A family whose three children were told to leave a Catholic primary school against their will earlier this year is suing the Catholic Education Office, alleging discrimination and bullying (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • "Equal access" for high school groups under federal law interpreted | The court found that a Christian group is entitled to all the privileges granted by Farmington High School to any other student group (Religion Clause)

  • Wheaton College to open Hastert Center | The J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government and Public Policy is scheduled to open in December, college officials announced Wednesday (The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • Profs seek change in ETS statement | Citing insufficiencies with the current doctrinal basis of the Evangelical Theological Society, two Baptist college professors are spearheading an effort to amend it (Baptist Press)

  • Accommodating the faithful | Public schools go dark on Saturdays and Sundays, the traditional days of worship for Christians and Jews. And on Christmas, class will not be in session. But when schools provide foot baths for Muslims, critics cry foul. So what is acceptable in a country that has a wall between church and state? (T. Jeremy Gunn, USA Today)

  • Religious education | There's not much for secularists to sing about (Philip Beadle, The Guardian, London)

  • Faith schools should not be tax-funded, and here's why | If the Catholic church is prepared to ban Amnesty because of its stance on abortion, what other rights might it censure? (Zoe Williams, The Guardian, London)

  • Why are we here? | Colleges ignore life's biggest questions, and we all pay the price (Anthony Kronman, The Boston Globe)

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Prison books:

  • Prisons purging books on faith from libraries | Chaplains in federal prisons have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials (The New York Times)

  • Critics right and left protest book removals | The federal Bureau of Prisons is under pressure to reverse its decision to purge prison chapel libraries of all religious books and materials that are not on a lists of approved resources (The New York Times)

  • Can't find religion in the federal pen | The Bureau of Prisons wants to keep dangerous reading materials from prisoners. To do so, they've stripped library shelves of all but 'approved' books. (Editorial, The Roanoke Times, Va.)

  • Overly zealous approach | Removing faith-based books could hinder inmates in adopting better values (Editorial, Las Vegas Sun)

  • Faith-based censorship | It is particularly alarming that what amounts to book banning is occurring in the United States, a democracy, which thrives on free speech and a mix of ideas (Editorial, The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  • Prison library purge | In response to a genuine problem, the Bureau of Prisons has managed to be late, clumsy and self-defeating, all at the same time (Michael Gerson, The Washington Post)

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  • Vegas priest pleads guilty to battery | The Rev. George Chaanine admitted Thursday in Clark County District Court that he smashed a wine bottle over the 54-year-old woman's head at Our Lady of Las Vegas Catholic Church in January (Associated Press)

  • Diocese bans priest accused of harassment | An Arlington priest accused of sexual harassment was banned Thursday from working in the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese, despite the inconclusive results of an investigation (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • No charges in N.O. nursing home deaths | Days after a jury acquitted two nursing-home owners in dozens of Hurricane Katrina-related patient deaths, a prosecutor said that no charges would be filed in a similar case involving a nursing home run by an order of Roman Catholic nuns (Associated Press)

  • Church leader's trial on tax evasion opens | The Rev. Jonathan Yates, accused of helping himself to church funds, faces 13 charges (Mobile Press-Register, Ala.)

  • 'He hurt a lot of people' | St. Charles man found investors at his church; they lost millions (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Lord knows how much this church leader owes | Kendrick Turner, head of Faith Deliverance Outreach Ministry, isn't paying his bills (Tamara Dietrich, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.)

  • Man charged in vandalism of churches | Nassau police arrested a Roosevelt man who they say went on a vandalizing spree, hurling objects through windows of three churches in his hometown and each time leaving a note in which he complained about not getting things on his wish list (Newsday)

  • Assault case against pastor put off for a year | The Rev. Carlton R. Upton Sr. is accused of assaulting a church secretary in his office after a meeting (Daily Press, Newport News, Va.)

  • Also: Slain minister's wife can visit kids | A judge ruled Wednesday that a woman who killed her minister-husband with a shotgun can begin supervised visits with her three young daughters, but did not decide whether she can have custody of them (Associated Press)

  • Channeling their discontent | Baptist pastor leads 500 at BET executive's D.C. home to protest stereotypes (The Washington Post)

  • Decision in torture case upsets churches | Representatives of several black churches appealed to prosecutors Thursday to pursue hate-crime or civil-rights charges against six white people accused of torturing a black woman over several days (Associated Press)

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Embezzling priest:

  • Former pastor will be sentenced in December | The Rev. Michael Jude Fay admitted in federal court he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his wealthy Darien church to buy a Philadelphia condominium and lead a life of luxury (The Advocate, Stamford, Ct.)

  • Also: Parishioners hope to put events into the past | Longtime parishioners of St. John Roman Catholic Church in Darien felt surprise, relief and sadness yesterday when they heard their former pastor, the Rev. Michael Jude Fay, pleaded guilty (The Advocate, Stamford, Ct.)

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O. C. abuse:

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San Diego abuse settlement:

  • Brown abuse claim a mystery | Bakersfield police do not know if they investigated molestation charge (The Orange County Register, Ca.)

  • Closure? Not so fast | Settlement can't erase so many sordid details (Editorial, San Diego Union-Tribune)

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Monk accused of abuse dies:

  • Sheriff: Monastery leader's death might have been suicide | Samuel Greene, founder of the Christ of the Hills monastery, was facing child sexual assault charges (Austin American-Statesman)

  • Blanco monks' leader is dead | Samuel A. Greene Jr., whose charisma carried him from being a land pitchman to leader of a monastery outside Blanco, was found dead Monday, just days before facing up to 180 years in prison for allegedly violating his probation (San Antonio Express-News)

  • Monk accused of molesting boys dies | Samuel Greene had health problems, faced probation revocation (Austin American-Statesman)

  • Monk's final pill-popping is detailed | Before mixing a cocktail of painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs late Sunday, admitted child molester Samuel Greene Jr. had been drinking heavily and was very depressed by the prospect of being ordered to prison at a hearing Friday (San Antonio Express-News)

  • Founder of scandal-mired monastery dies | Samuel A. Greene Jr., the founder of a monastery that closed amid scandal over the alleged sexual abuse of novice monks and a fraudulent weeping Virgin Mary painting, has died. He was 63 (Associated Press)

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FLDS Polygamy case:

  • Teen bride describes her wedding day | A former follower of a polygamous-sect leader sobbed on the witness stand Friday as she described the terror and despair she felt on the eve of her wedding at age 14, and said she became intensely depressed after having sex (Associated Press)

  • Defense grills Jeffs accuser on day 3 | A defense attorney picked over the testimony of a key witness in the trial of a polygamous sect leader Monday, looking for discrepancies in her story about being forced to marry an older cousin when she was 14 (Associated Press)

  • Defense rests in Jeffs case | Closing arguments slated for Friday (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  • Witnesses describe Jeffs' sect as kind, empowering for women (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  • Sect leader's rape-by-proxy trial begins | Warren Jeffs might not have laid a hand on the 14-year-old girl he's accused of coercing into marrying her cousin, but he's still responsible for her rape, prosecutors maintained Thursday as opening arguments neared (Associated Press)

  • A rape trial that misses the big picture | This case raises a different question about consent. How much power did the religious leader wield over the 14-year-old? (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)

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Juanita Bynum case:

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Senator sues God:

  • Nebraska state senator sues God | Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, State Sen. Ernie Chambers says he's trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody. (Associated Press)

  • 'God' apparently responds to lawsuit | A legislator who filed a lawsuit against God has gotten something he might not have expected: a response (Associated Press)

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  • Detroit casinos deal city urban renewal | While they aren't a panacea for all the city's ills, the casinos have hushed many critics, including some pastors who thought they'd bring only more crime and blight (Associated Press)

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  • At least on Wall Street, wages of sin beat those of virtue | Funds that invest in "sin stocks" — companies involved with drinking and gambling, for example — have earned better returns this year than funds striving to be socially responsible (The New York Times)

  • Rum not so demonic anymore | As U.S. evangelical attitudes toward "demon rum" have shifted, standards about alcohol in Christian publishing also have begun to change (Publishers Weekly)

  • Addictive behavior | Pastors and pornography (The Christian Century)

  • The devil in every fan | We cheer when our teams cheat. That's because all we care about is winning. And if that makes us immoral, so what? (Peter Beinart, Time)

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Dobson's endorsements:

  • Focus on the Family will lay off 30, move 15 more to new jobs | Most of the layoffs are in the organization's Constituent Response Services department that answers mail and telephone requests (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

  • The FundamentaList | The quest for Dobson's endorsement, the Values Voter Presidential Debate, secret Bible codes about 9-11, Santorum's prep for war with Iran, and televangelist domestic violence (The American Prospect)

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2008 elections:

  • AP Poll: GOP presidential race a toss-up | White men, conservatives, evangelicals and other pivotal blocs are divided among the Republican Party's leading contenders for president (Associated Press)

  • Those Christian candidates | Faith matters a lot in the coming presidential election, but it is unclear whether the candidates' faiths are more likely to hurt or help (Editorial, The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  • Christian Coalition back in the news | Randy Brinson, a physician known for his work registering young Christians through Redeem the Vote, guided what was left of the Christian Coalition of Alabama on a more pragmatic, more progressive path. The going was slow at first, but apparently some wealthy contributors have stepped up, and the CCA is on the move again (Editorial, The Anniston Star, Ala.)

  • Theology on the hustings | If Mr. Kinsley would require candidates who worship and claim to know God to come clean about any hidden agendas they might have, should not full disclosure also be required of those who practice a religion of political convenience and even the secularist and the practical atheist (which would include a nontheistic candidate as well as one who simply invokes God's name for political reasons, but doesn't seriously believe in Him)? (Cal Thomas, syndicated)

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  • Giuliani's GOP lead shrinks in new poll | Giuliani now stands at his lowest point yet among mainline Republicans, men, conservatives and white evangelical Protestants (The Washington Post)

  • I am pro-life and I support Rudy | Why? Precisely because he is unreligious and a supporter of abortion rights (Eric Johnston, The Dallas Morning News)

  • Some religions and politics just don't mix | Candidates bewitched and bewildered (Ben Krull, The Baltimore Sun)

  • Anti-Roe and pro-Rudy | By taking the side of pro-lifers for democratic, but not devout, motives, a President Giuliani could shake up the nearly 35-year-old debate over Roe v. Wade (Eric Johnston, The New York Times)

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  • McCain says he's been Baptist for years | Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who has long identified himself as an Episcopalian, said this weekend that he is a Baptist and has been for years (Associated Press)

  • McCain: Overall faith what's important | Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday that questions over whether he identifies himself as a Baptist or an Episcopalian are not as important as his overarching faith (Associated Press)

  • Candidates invite questions about their faith | As personal as religion is, it is also a staple of political campaigns — and this year more than ever (The Washington Times)

  • Can we get past Baptist bashing? | I don't care whether Republican presidential candidate John McCain is an Episcopalian or a Baptist. But the implication in Monday's paper that he'd been caught at something -- outed while trying to pass as an Episcopalian -- hit a nerve. (Dannye Romine Powell, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

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  • Evangelicals hesitant about Thompson | Prominent evangelical leaders who spent the summer hoping Fred Thompson would emerge as their favored Republican presidential contender are having doubts as he begins his long-teased campaign (Associated Press)

  • Thompson says he won't tout his religion on trail | Republican presidential contender Fred Thompson, who is basing his campaign on an appeal to conservative voters, says he isn't a regular churchgoer and doesn't plan to speak about his religion on the stump (Bloomberg)

  • Evangelicals hesitant about Thompson | Prominent evangelical leaders who spent the summer hoping Fred Thompson would emerge as their favored Republican presidential contender are having doubts as he begins his long-teased campaign (Associated Press)

  • Thompson cites 'good Church of Christ' upbringing but doesn't attend regularly | Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson says his religion is Church of Christ. He was baptized as a youth, worships at a congregation in Tennessee when he visits his mother and has made donations to at least one church-affiliated university (The Christian Chronicle, Church of Christ newspaper)

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Other candidates:

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Values vote debate:

  • 'Values voters' hold debate | Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson — sat out the Values Voter Presidential Debate, citing scheduling conflicts. That didn't stop questioners from addressing the front-runners who didn't attend (Associated Press)

  • Values voters | Despite a gaffe that showed he's not yet familiar with Washington-speak on abortion, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee won the values voters straw poll, held after the first-ever Values Voter debate Monday night (The Washington Times)

  • Values voters pick Huckabee | For all those wondering whether Mitt Romney can break through among Christian conservatives, add this data point: he was the only candidate who received zero votes in a straw poll after last night's Values Voters Debate, an event he and the other leading Republican contenders decided to skip (The New York Times)

  • 7 GOP hopefuls face off in values debate (The Miami Herald)

  • GOP debate in Lauderdale targets faithful | On a night that opened with 90 minutes of prayers, gospel music and Bible verses, seven Republican presidential candidates gathered in Fort Lauderdale to try and win over an evangelical voting bloc that has been a political powerhouse in past elections (The Miami Herald)

  • GOP presidential debate in Fort Lauderdale focuses on conservative values | Little more than asterisks in the public opinion polls, the lesser-known candidates for president tried Monday to appeal to the most conservative elements of the Republican Party in an attempt to break into top-tier status (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

  • Huckabee triumphs in 'Value Voters' straw poll | "How can we expect these no-show candidates to take on Osama bin Laden and other world leaders when they're afraid to show up and answer questions from Phyllis Schlafly?" Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the Jewish Action Alliance asked (The Hill)

  • Values-voter label is simplistic, ill-fitting | It's become a caricature of what Christian conservatives believe, and is summed up by some as only being about God, guns and gays (Brent Castillo, The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)

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  • Bible Society in link with Liberal Democrats | The new project aims to help Lib Dem Christians explain how their faith and politics fit together (Religious Intelligence)

  • Ky. opens own faith-based service office | Program is modeled on White House plan (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • State debuts faith-based office | Meeting to link officials, providers (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Faith-based politics | It's not happenstance that Gov. Ernie Fletcher's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is having its public debut this week, with polls showing Gov. Fletcher far behind and his re-election campaign making raw appeals to narrow religious sectarianism (Editorial, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Evangelicals' own fear dooms them | They are responsible for a great many of the most notable social and intellectual embarrassments in America since the new millennium took hold, and rest assured, we and the rest of the civilized world shall recall their bleak accomplishments for much of our natural born lives, and shudder. (Mark Morford, San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Keep virgin births and gold plates out of politics | "Mainstream" Christianity turns the two most preposterous ideas imaginable—conception without gametes and resurrection from the dead—into planks of its theology and has the nerve to taunt Mormons about adding gold plates into the mix (Giles Whittell, The Times, London)

  • A strange way to woo religious voters | Outreach efforts might be more credible if Democrats were not simultaneously trying to incite conflict between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Louisiana -- and managing to offend both groups in the process (Michael Gerson, The Washington Post)

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  • Bush picks Mukasey as attorney general | Despite his experience with the terrorism docket, opponents of Mukasey — especially those who are against abortion — are upset about a 1994 case he handled (Associated Press)

  • No conservative rebellion over Mukasey | Conservatives may not like President Bush's nominee for attorney general, but they are not rebelling against Michael Mukasey (Associated Press)

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  • Mormon church regrets 1857 massacre | A ranking Mormon church official expressed "profound regret" Tuesday for the massacre of 120 California-bound pioneers moving through Utah on a wagon train on the 150th anniversary of the ambush (Associated Press)

  • Wives and Republicans | Observations on polygamy (New Statesman)

  • The Mormons are coming | Long before Mitt Romney and "Big Love," Mormons were demonized as polygamists, prudes and vampires. But Mormonism just may be the first major world faith since Islam. (Salon.com)

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  • Belfast's Paisley loses his flock | Retirement shouldn't be far from Paisley's mind at the age of 81, but the circumstances indicated he may be jumping before being pushed by an unprecedented revolt among his most ardent followers (Time)

  • Ian Paisley to leave top church post | The Rev. Ian Paisley said Saturday he is stepping down as leader of the hard-line Protestant church he founded 56 years ago, a decision his opponents say was inevitable after he angered many by cooperating with Sinn Fein to form a Northern Ireland government (Associated Press)

  • You may not have noticed, but it's the end of Paisleyism | Free Presbyterian Church has to cope with the fact that the most caustic preacher of his day is no longer Pope and that they could become just another evangelical sect. (Barry White, The Belfast Telegraph)

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Rowan Williams:

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California Supreme Court takes church property cases:

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  • Congregation exits | Gay clergy cemented departure from Episcopal Church (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Also: 'A new birth, a new start' | The Church of the Resurrection separates from Episcopal Church, find new home (The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • Quincy diocese may leave Episcopal Church | Consecration of actively gay bishops, blessings of same-sex unions at odds with local leadership (The Peoria Journal-Star, Ill.)

  • Settlement reached by Episcopal Diocese and Syracuse breakaway congregation | Under the settlement, the diocese will be given title to the church property, but members of the breakaway church can use it rent-free for up to one year (Associated Press)

  • Church votes to disband from ministry | Congregants at Pro-Cathedral of St. Clement's Episcopal Church, one of the city's oldest places of worship with hundreds of members and more than a dozen ministries, is leaving the Episcopal Church to carry on with theological doctrines members said no longer fit those of its former denomination (El Paso Times, Tex.)

  • Sudanese worshipers persevere in N.H. | Every Sunday afternoon at Grace Episcopal Church in the heart of New Hampshire's largest city, these Sudanese refugees commune with God in their native tongues of Arabic and Dinka, each softly spoken word reviving memories of their homeland (The Boston Globe)

  • Colorado flock leaves Episcopalian fold | The exodus from the Episcopal Church continued last week as leaders of Church of the Holy Comforter prepared to split with the increasingly liberal denomination (The Washington Times)

  • Nigerian call for Lambeth delay | The Church of Nigeria has urged Archbishop Rowan Williams to postpone the 2008 Lambeth Conference, writing that a meeting of bishops that comes before a resolution of the Anglican Communion's wars over doctrine and disciple would hasten its destruction (Religious Intelligence)

  • Moved by Islam, priest embraces two faiths | The Episcopal Church has suspended one of its priests, Ann Holmes Redding, for one year after her announcement this summer that she is both a Christian and a Muslim. A local Muslim leader's speech to Redding's church two years ago inspired her to begin attending Muslim prayer services while she was still serving her local diocese (Day to Day, NPR)

  • Building a home | Spiritual journey leads pastor to found Anglican church (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

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Episcopal meeting in New Orleans:

  • Pro-gay agenda pushes Church closer to schism | Peter Akinola, the most powerful leader of evangelical Anglicans worldwidem has issued a last-minute plea to the US Episcopal bishops over their pro-gay liberal agenda, to save the Church from schism (The Times, London)

  • Meeting held on Anglican-Episcopal split | In closed-door talks with the archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal leaders are confronting demands that they roll back their support for gay priests or lose their place in the world Anglican fellowship (Associated Press)

  • Episcopals reveal little of gay rift talks | Episcopal bishops were tight-lipped on Thursday about meetings with the Archbishop of Canterbury aimed at healing a rift in their church over the ordaining of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions (Reuters)

  • Anglican leader urges church to find accord amid turmoil | Episcopal leaders weighing same-sex unions, gay clergy (The Washington Post)

  • Episcopal bishops, archbishop seek a middle ground | Queries, comment offered on issue of gay clerics (The Boston Globe)

  • Anglicans meet amid growing discord | In one more attempt to quell storms ripping through the world's third-largest Christian denomination, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, meets today in New Orleans with 160 bishops of its U.S. branch, the Episcopal Church (USA Today)

  • Anglican gay-bishop stance is put to the test in Chicago | As Episcopal bishops begin historic talks with their spiritual leader Thursday on whether the worldwide Anglican Church can overcome differences about homosexuality, many point to Chicago as proof that minds are already made up (Chicago Tribune)

  • Episcopal bishops in key meeting on gays | A preview (Associated Press)

  • Episcopal Church faces deadline on gay issues | As the bishops of the Episcopal Church approach their semiannual meeting this week in New Orleans, the predictions of rupture are being taken very seriously (The New York Times)

  • Anglican leader in U.S. over gay bishop | It wasn't just a friendly invitation. U.S. Episcopal bishops, fed up with Anglican criticism of their support for gay priests, implored the Anglican spiritual leader to hear their side of the story — in person (Associated Press)

  • What future for Anglicanism? | When the American branch of the Anglican church appointed an openly gay bishop in 2003, conservatives said it could lead to a split in the worldwide denomination. Now African churches are taking the matter into their own hands (BBC)

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Other denominations on gay issues:

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Same-sex issues:

  • California schemin' | In the fight to legalize same-sex unions, a swing vote emerges: Hispanic evangelicals (World)

  • Judge squashes part of UK gay rights laws | In a ruling hailed as "significant" by Christian groups, the High Court judge in Belfast decided that the rules should not have been included in sexual orientation regulations that came into force in January (The Telegraph, London)

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Ocean Grove:

  • Gay-rights group may appeal N.J. boardwalk-bias decision | The state's leading gay-rights group wants to appeal a decision by state environmental officials stripping a Methodist church group of a tax exemption for part of the Ocean Grove boardwalk. Garden State Equality says the decision by state Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson does not go far enough in its penalty (Associated Press)

  • Church group shouldn't face harsh penalties | Methodist association has the right to say no to civil unions on its property (Editorial, Courier-Post, Cherry Hills, N.J.)

  • Can New Jersey punish Methodists for marriage? | For the first time, a religious organization in New Jersey is being punished by the government because it refused to permit same-sex civil union ceremonies on its property. All it took was one bureaucrat (Maggie Gallagher)

  • Ocean Grove obliged to allow civil unions | As the old saying goes, the association can't have its cake and eat it, too. Taxpayer support is tied to certain strings; it's too late for Ocean Grove to cut them back (Editorial, The Home News Tribune, East Brunswick, N.J.)

  • Unfurling their rainbow | Lesbian couple holds ceremony on a pier after use of pavilion is barred (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.)

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Love & marriage:

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  • Event celebrates dads' pledge to daughters | 'Purity Ball' seeks to honor fathers as family leaders (The Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • With impure intentions | The "Hollywood Father/Daughter Purity Ball" is a feisty satire of the movement that has become a staple of evangelical communities in Bible Belt states (Los Angeles Times)

  • US chastity evangelist targets Australian kids | Silver Ring Thing has attracted criticism for making misleading statements about safe sex and contraception and for frightening youngsters into pledging (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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  • Ancient records help test climate change | A librarian at this 10th century monastery leads a visitor beneath the vaulted ceilings of the archive past the skulls of two former abbots. He pushes aside medieval ledgers of indulgences and absolutions, pulls out one of 13 bound diaries inscribed from 1671 to 1704 and starts to read about the weather (Associated Press)

  • Harvard bell returned to Russia | A massive Russian church bell that hung for decades at Harvard was returned to a Moscow monastery Wednesday, nearly 80 years after it and 17 others were rescued from Stalin's religious purges by a U.S. industrialist (Associated Press)

  • My life as a hermit | A new approach to the later years: becoming a hermit, for spiritual reasons (The New York Times)

  • Tourists, monks and history: Whose islands are they? | Many of the monks who live on the Solovetsky Islands, among the holiest sites in Russian Orthodox Christianity, are alarmed by recent efforts to open the islands to tourists (The New York Times)

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  • An unholy alliance denied | A budding courtship between Iran's theocracy and the American Religious Left hit a speed bump on September 7 when the U.S. State Department denied visas to a "religious delegation" from Iran that was to meet here with U.S. clerics (Mark D. Tooley, FrontPageMag.com)

  • An ecumenical revelation | Finding room for conservatives in interfaith dialogues (Matthew Weiner, The Wall Street Journal)

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Benedict in Austria:

  • Pope ends 3-day Austria pilgrimage | Pope Benedict XVI, beset by drab weather and relatively small crowds, ended a pilgrimage to Austria on Sunday by reminding Europeans of their Christian heritage as they grapple with immigration and Islam (Associated Press)

  • Pope makes pilgrimage to Austrian shrine | Pope Benedict XVI made a pilgrimage Saturday to a famous shrine to the Virgin Mary, where he celebrated an open-air Mass in the rain for more than 30,000 believers and called on Europeans to embrace faith (Associated Press)

  • Pope speaks of Europe's tragic past | Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged Europe's tragic past and warned of its uncertain future Friday as he honored Jews killed in the Holocaust and urged the continent to accept its Christian heritage (Associated Press)

  • Keep Sunday special says Pope | Pope Benedict on Sunday called on Catholics to keep the Sabbath a day set aside for reflection on their faith and the fate of the planet and not surrender it to "the mad rush of the modern world" (Reuters)

  • Europe future bleak without God, more children –Pope | Benedict, who appeared to be struggling with a hoarse voice, wove his sermon around the theme of revitalising Christian identity in a modern Europe marked by diminishing Church participation, low birthrates and rampant consumerism (Reuters)

  • Pope says abortion "not a human right" | Pope Benedict rejected the concept that abortion could be considered a human right on Friday and urged European leaders to do everything possible to raise birth rates and make their countries more child-friendly (Reuters)

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Catholicism and environmentalism:

  • Can purchasing carbon 'offsets' erase some environmental sins? | Others liken offsets to the old Catholic practice of buying indulgences for the forgiveness of sins. But offsets can lead a person to believe it's OK to pollute — as long as they pay for it later (USA Today)

  • Religiously green | In the best news for the environment in quite some time, Pope Benedict XVI appears to be enlisting the Vatican in a growing crusade by faith-based organizations to protect nature's handiwork from global warming (Editorial, The Baltimore Sun)

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Benedict to visit U. S.:

  • Pope visit to U.S. in spring may help heal wounds | Pope Benedict will make his first trip to the United States next spring in a visit that will likely try to heal some of the wounds caused by recent sexual abuse scandals (Reuters)

  • City says it can't confirm plans for a papal visit | Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday that he would view a visit to Boston by Pope Benedict XVI as a "great honor," but that the city has received no confirmation that the pontiff intends to visit (The Boston Globe)

  • Church: Hub visit by pope a rumor | The Archdiocese of Boston has dismissed as "speculation" a report that Pope Benedict XVI could visit the Hub as part of a U.S. tour next year (Boston Herald)

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  • Pope warns Catholic theologians against arrogance | In a sermon at a private mass on Sunday, Benedict said theologians could know everything about the history of the Scriptures and how to explain them, but know nothing about God (Reuters)

  • Pope asks Christians, Muslims to find common ground | "To avoid any form of intolerance from developing and to prevent violence, we must encourage sincere dialogue based on ever truer mutual knowledge," the Pope told visiting bishops from Benin, West Africa, on Thursday (Reuters)

  • Report: Pope refused to meet with Condi Rice | Corriere della Sera says the Vatican rebuffed Rice, who "made it known to the Vatican that she absolutely had to meet the pope," because the Catholic leader was on vacation at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo (USA Today)

  • Pope backs Vietnamese as possible saint | Pope Benedict XVI expressed his support Monday for the beatification of a Vietnamese cardinal who spent 13 years in a communist prison camp before being sent in exile to Rome (Associated Press)

  • Naples hails annual miracle of liquefying blood | Roman Catholics in Naples crowded the city's cathedral on Wednesday to witness the annual miracle of Saint Gennaro, who died in the 4th century but whose dried blood is said to turn liquid on his feast day (Reuters)

  • Lawyer told to pay $24,310 | Judge rules lawsuit against Catholic Church, government baseless (Albany Times-Union, N.Y.)

  • Turning for help to a saint in the making | The defenders of a closed church have made a candidate for sainthood a central element in their argument for reopening the building (The New York Times)

  • Woman gains a role in church, people's lives | Noel Fuentes was earning well at her job, but felt unfulfilled. Now she's a pastoral associate, assisting with parish duties and helping parishioners (Los Angeles Times)

  • Higher calling | A woman is ordained to the Catholic priesthood. Not surprisingly, the hierarchy does not approve (Newsweek)

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Vatican investigates theologian:

  • Vatican, bishops investigating Georgetown theologian Phan | Both the Vatican and the U.S. bishops are investigating a book by a prominent American Catholic theologian, Vietnam-born Fr. Peter Phan of Georgetown University. The book raises issues about the uniqueness of Christ and the church, issues that were also behind recent censures of other high-profile theologians, as well as a recent Vatican declaration that the fullness of the Christian church resides in Catholicism alone (National Catholic Reporter)

  • Vatican investigates American theologian | The Vatican and U.S. Roman Catholic bishops are investigating the writings of well-known American theologian Peter Phan, who has analyzed how the Catholic faith relates to other religions. (Associated Press)

  • At variance with the Vatican | The Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are reportedly investigating a book by a Georgetown University professor of theology, the Rev. Peter C. Phan, to determine whether the work is consistent with church doctrine regarding understandings of Roman Catholicism relative to other religions (Inside Higher Ed)

  • Vatican makes inquiries into professor's writings | The Vatican and U.S. Catholic bishops are reviewing the work of a Georgetown University theology professor who writes about religious pluralism and are talking with him about whether his writings conform with Catholic teachings (The Washington Post)

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Catholics & Amnesty International:

  • Catholic edict shuns Amnesty | The director of the Catholic Education Office, Stephen Elder, yesterday wrote to principals at all 328 Catholic schools in the Melbourne archdiocese, advising them to cut their longstanding ties with the organization (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Schools 'cut links with Amnesty' | Some Catholic schools are disbanding their Amnesty International support groups over its stance on abortion (BBC)

  • Amnesty hopes schools don't disband support groups | Amnesty International has said it hopes Catholic schools across Ireland will not disband their support groups due to the organisation's new stance on abortion (Belfast Telegraph)

  • Amnesty faces ban in Northern Ireland's Catholic schools | The Catholic church in Northern Ireland has started to instruct schools to disband Amnesty International support groups because of the human rights organisation's pro-abortion stance (The Guardian, London)

  • Italy bishop chides Amnesty on abortion | Monsignor Angelo Bagnasco criticized Amnesty International's "astounding inclusion, among recognized human rights, of the choice of abortion, even though only in the case of violence against women." (Associated Press)

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Abortion clinic in Illinois:

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  • Top N.J. court reverses abortion ruling | A doctor has no duty to tell a woman considering an abortion that her embryo is an "existing human being," a unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, averting a trial over when human life begins (Associated Press)

  • Public Advocate won't sue over lax abortion clinic inspections | The New Jersey Public Advocate's office rebuffed an anti-abortion group's request to take legal action against the state's Health Department for its failure to properly inspect the state's licensed abortion clinics (The Press of Atlantic City, N.J.)

  • Also: Abortion foes set back twice | The state's Supreme Court and public advocate dealt dual blows to abortion rights opponents Wednesday, rejecting their arguments on two separate issues (The Record, Hackensack, N.J.)

  • Missouri abortion law under review | Facilities that regularly provide first-trimester terminations — including the pill version — may be regulated as outpatient surgical centers. Two of the state's three clinics would have to close (Los Angeles Times)

  • New Jersey's top court rejects suit on abortion | Because there is no consensus on the issue of when life begins, a doctor does not have to tell a woman considering an abortion that the procedure would result in "killing an existing human being," the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled (The New York Times)

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Life ethics:

  • Vatican edict on feeding tube debated | From a practical standpoint, Catholic health-care institutions -- including 615 hospitals and 511 skilled nursing homes across the U.S. -- may now have to alter practices (Chicago Tribune)

  • Vatican opposes removal of feeding tubes | The Vatican reiterated Friday that it considers the removal of feeding tubes from people in vegetative states to be an immoral act (Associated Press)

  • Vatican rules on nourishment for vegetative patients | The Vatican, ruling on a debate that has divided Catholic hospitals, said on Friday it was wrong to stop administering food and water to patients in a vegetative state even if they would never regain consciousness (Reuters)

  • Clergy to help people die | They will not administer drugs but will monitor as fatal medication works (The Sacramento Bee, Ca.)

  • N.J. stem cell plan assailed | Abortion foes try to halt $450m stem cell referendum (Associated Press)

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New Zealand:

  • Christian shambles no surprise to PM | Gordon Copeland may pull the plug on his involvement with the newly formed Christian political party, mainly due to a clumsy announcement and lack of co-ordination with his supposed co-leader, Destiny's Richard Lewis (TVNZ, New Zealand)

  • Speed wobbles hit Christian party plan | Wrangling over the co-leadership of a yet to be formed Christian party has taken another turn as both leaders accuse the other of breaching good faith (NZPA, New Zealand)

  • Christian MP says party launch 'Mickey Mouse' | Independent MP Gordon Copeland says he was thrown a "curve ball" over the way the leadership of the new Christian party was announced and he has given no guarantees he will stick with it (The New Zealand Herald)

  • Copeland's date with Destiny on the rocks | Just 24 hours after his union to Destiny NZ was announced, Independent MP Gordon Copeland has suggested the new marriage may already be on the rocks (The Dominion Post, New Zealand)

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  • Move to empower laity raises church ire | The Sydney Anglican Church has revived its radical push to let church elders preside over Holy Communion despite strident opposition from Australian Anglicans and the worldwide church and at the risk of antagonising international churches it has courted to stop the consecration of gay bishops (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Update: Sydney postpones controversial lay presidency decision (Church of England Newspaper, via TitueOneNine)

  • Pell welcomes contempt clearing | The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, has welcomed a report clearing him of contempt of the New South Wales Parliament over remarks about MPs voting for stem-cell research legislation (ABC, Australia)

  • Fresh offensive as Anglicans fail on conversions | The great mission of the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, to convert 10 per cent of Sydneysiders to its "Bible-based" churches has fallen short of its target and only recruited 5000 adult converts in the past five years (The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

  • Rounding up the flock | Long ago, the Gideons learned to spread the gospel by putting millions of New Testaments in hotel rooms around the world. If Sydney's Anglican archbishop, the Most Reverend Peter Jensen, gets his way, Sydney Anglicans will be handing out more than 1.5 million gospels in their neighbourhoods (The Australian)

  • Archbishop sees vibrant future for Anglican church | More drum kits and fewer stained glassed windows. That's the future of the Anglican Church through the eyes of the leader of Australia's biggest Anglican community (PM, Radio National, Australia)

  • Archbishop urges people to vote on faith at election | The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney says Australians should look to their faith when deciding how to vote in the next election (ABC, Australia)

  • Old church, new church | As waves of migration and gentrification change the inner suburbs, local churches are finding new ways to serve their communities (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Churches join in Jesus blitz | Tasmania's Christian churches have launched their biggest advertising campaign yet in a bid to get more people to embrace Christianity (The Mercury, Tasmania, Australia)

  • Bishop facing threat of tribunal | The head of the Anglican Church in Australia is considering setting up a special tribunal to examine complaints against an Anglican bishop and determine if he should be stripped of his holy orders (The Australian)

  • Neighbours complain about worshippers' unholy racket | Rowdy Christians have upset their neighbours in Keilor East (Moonee Valley Community News, Australia)

  • Anglicans to capitalise on Catholic day | A new recruitment drive by the Anglican Church will see Sydney homes receive bibles and DVDs in a campaign that draws on next year's World Roman Catholic Youth Day (ABC News, Australia)

  • Loving your neighbour not a game of chance | The Anglican Church may ban raffles because they are a form of gambling allowing you to "enrich yourself at the expense of your neighbour" (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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  • Quiet signals cleared new Beijing bishop | The Rev. Joseph Li Shan, the new Catholic bishop of Beijing, has risen steadily through the Chinese Catholic clergy, which was decimated by the Cultural Revolution (The New York Times)

  • Also: Catholic bishop ordained in Beijing | China, Vatican seen as trying to ease tensions (The Washington Post)

  • Also: Beijing appoints new Catholic bishop | A cleric well-regarded by the Vatican was installed as bishop of Beijing by China's state-controlled Catholic Church, a move that officials said should help ease tense relations between the communist nation and the Holy See (Associated Press)

  • China to reduce death penalty use | China's Supreme Court has ordered judges to be more sparing in the imposition of the death penalty (BBC)

  • Has China's one-child policy worked? | It looks likely that, nearly 30 years after the policy was first introduced, it will not be relaxed to allow couples to have more children (BBC)

  • White House: No U.N. funding for China | For the sixth consecutive year, the Bush administration has decided to withhold funding from the U.N. Population Fund, saying the agency contributes to China's "coercive abortion" program (Associated Press)

  • China credited with progress on Darfur | Andrew Natsios, President Bush's envoy to help solve the 4 1/2-year-old conflict in Sudan, said neighboring Libya also has begun to cooperate (Associated Press)

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Korean hostages:

  • Former SKorean hostages recount ordeal | The 21 South Koreans held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan said Wednesday that the insurgents used bayonets and beatings to pressure some of them to convert to Islam, but that a few were relatively well treated by their captors (Associated Press)

  • South Korea hostages freed by Taliban leave hospital | South Korean Christian volunteers held hostage in Afghanistan for nearly six weeks left hospital on Wednesday, with their doctor saying they were physically fit but may still need counseling (Reuters)

  • 3 alleged Taliban kidnappers killed | Afghan police killed three Taliban commanders allegedly involved in the abduction of 23 South Koreans two months ago, the Interior Ministry said (Associated Press)

  • S Koreans told 'convert or die' | "I still cannot look at cameras" (BBC)

  • Gov't to send mission on Korean residents in Afghanistan | The government will send in early October a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan to determine whether it is safe to allow about 100 South Korean residents to continue to stay in the war-ravaged nation, officials said Sunday (The Korea Times)

  • Korea's Protestant church needs dialogue with outside world | Excessive attacks on the church may strengthen the position of these members. We need to take a step back and pool our wisdom to turn this disaster into an opportunity, an opportunity to promote understanding and peace between the many religious groups in our society. (Lee Seon-min, Chosun Ilbo, Seoul)

  • They must learn a lesson | Faith is fine; but if the cost of one's faith or personal missions has to be borne by an entire country, it is unacceptable. Penalising the freed hostages, even if it seems unusual and perhaps extreme, will send the right message (Editorial, The Times of India)

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East Asia:

  • Religion today: Taiwan's spiritual bust | Sixty years after Roman Catholic and Presbyterian missionaries first converted large numbers of Taiwanese aboriginals in their leafy mountain villages, Christianity here is entering a new phase. Adherents are leaving the faith. (Associated Press)

  • South Korea's top court to review law against adultery | Judge Do Jin-ki Sunday appealed to the nation's top court that punishment on adultery can be seen as the violation of the constitution, citing human nature and the right to choose sex partners (The Korea Times)

  • Prayer in Pyongyang | Activists cast a light on the underground church (Newsweek)

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South America:

  • Argentine church faces 'dirty war' past | The Roman Catholic Church in Argentina is beginning to come to terms with its complicity in the atrocities committed during the dictatorship from 1976 to 1983 (The New York Times)

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  • Njonjo, Nzimbi clash on new trends in the church | Former Attorney General, Mr Charles Njonjo, and the head of Anglican Church, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi have clashed over reforms in the Church. The rift stemmed from an assertion by Nzimbi that the Anglican Church was changing its worship style by allowing youth to sing and dance during sermons to encourage them (East African Standard, Kenya)

  • Promises of miracles attract millions to Nigeria's churches | Evangelical churches in Africa appeal to traditional beliefs in miracle cures as charismatic preachers use electronic media to spread their powerful message to millions and fill church coffers with donations (Deutsche Welle, Germany)

  • Ethiopia rings in Millennium with fireworks, prayers | Ethiopia follows a calendar long abandoned by the West, that squeezes 13 months into every year, and entered the 21st century seven years after the rest of the world (Reuters)

  • In southern Sudan, peace slowly alters a way of life | After suffering 50 years of war, the Dinka people of Southern Sudan are finally witnessing peace, development and change (The New York Times)

  • Sudan: Leader ready for cease-fire | Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir said Friday his government is ready to implement a cease-fire with rebel forces at the start of peace talks over the conflict in Darfur, scheduled for next month in Libya (Associated Press)

  • Church vigilantes raid hostels | Instead of attending church on Sunday morning, a congregation of about 900 people rampaged through Nyanga hostels, businesses and informal settlements in search of articles stripped from their church at the weekend (Cape Argus, South Africa)

  • Evangelist taken from a mosque in Mogadishu | Government forces took an evangelist right inside a mosque at W/ digley district in Mogadishu yesterday evening (Shabelle Media Network)

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Ncube resigns:

  • Church leader critical of Mugabe resigns | Pius Ncube, who once said he was ready to lead a popular uprising against Mugabe, said he had offered his resignation to the pope "within days" of being accused of having an affair with a parishioner in July (Associated Press)

  • Speculation that former Archbishop Ncube will run for presidency | The former Archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube who resigned his post over allegations of adultery, is reported to have thrown his hat into the political ring and it's been alleged that he will challenge Robert Mugabe in next year's elections (SW Radio Africa)

  • In Zimbabwe, scandal fells Mugabe critic | Pius Ncube resigns as archbishop after lurid photos and allegations of a 'love nest' are published. His supporters say the regime is behind the stories (Los Angeles Times)

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Mugabe & Zimbabwe:

  • Tutu calls for action on Zimbabwe | He told a British television station that South Africa's "softly-softly" diplomatic approach had failed and more forthright measures were needed (BBC)

  • Saving Zimbabwe is not colonialism, it's Britain's duty | The time for 'African solutions' alone is now over (John Sentamu, The Observer, London)

  • Tackle Zimbabwe, archbishop urges | The Archbishop of York has launched a fierce attack on Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe and called for Britain to lead sanctions against his government (BBC)

  • Zimbabwe's ruling party OKs reforms | The plan calls for modest changes before March elections. Critics say it doesn't do enough to curb Mugabe's powers or fix voter rolls (Los Angeles Times)

  • Wrangling marks Central African Synod | Wrangling over Robert Mugabe, homosexuality, the place of The Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion, and the aspirations of national churches, marked the General Synod of the Province of Central Africa (Religious Intelligence)

  • Controversy stalks Kunonga | Fissures have emerged in the local chapter of the Anglican Province of Central Africa following reports of the withdrawal of the Harare Diocese from the union at a recent synod held in Malawi (Financial Gazette, Zimbabwe)

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  • Report: Iraqis losing religious freedom | Religious freedom has sharply deteriorated in Iraq over the past year because of the insurgency and violence targeting people of specific faiths, despite the U.S. military buildup intended to improve security, a State Department report said Friday (Associated Press)

  • Binding up the wounds of war | Targeted Christians and other religious minorities find shelter—for now—in Iraq's northern provinces (World)

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  • Church groups spar over mass | Bitterness between two warring factions of the Roman Catholic Church in Delhi seems to have disrupted the Christian spirit of brotherhood and harmony (The Times of India)

  • Dalit Christians plan stir for Scheduled Caste status | The National Council of Dalit Christians on Tuesday stepped up their demand for granting Scheduled Caste status to all dalits irrespective of religion, and deletion of Para 3 of the Presidential Order of 1950 (The Hindu, India)

  • Indian government accused of blasphemy | India's government is being accused of blasphemy by its political opponents for saying some of Hinduism's most important texts are not proof of the existence of Hindu gods (Reuters)

  • Gods row minister offers to quit | India's culture minister has offered to resign in a row over whether Hindu gods are mythological figures (BBC)

  • Report on Hindu god Ram withdrawn | The Indian government has withdrawn a controversial report submitted in court earlier this week which questioned the existence of the Hindu god Ram (BBC)

  • Plan for sea canal puts Hindu belief in sharp relief | Some Indians see controversial route as threat to divinely created shoals (The Washington Post)

  • Dredging channel sparks Hindu furor | The project has set off a blistering debate about who created the shoals and sand to be dredged: Mother Nature or the Hindu god Rama (Associated Press)

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Religious freedom:

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  • Christian network asks to stay on air | A Christian TV network that runs missionary advertisements directed at Jews has petitioned the High Court of Justice after Israeli cable television decided to drop the station (The Jerusalem Post)

  • Israeli man arrested for donning phylacteries at Church of Nativity | The man, a native of Australia who converted to Judaism and immigrated to Israel, was transferred to Israel Police after being handed over to representatives of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (The Jerusalem Post)

  • Drilling for God | Guided by the Bible, a quest to find oil in Israel (Portfolio)

  • The most selective outrage | The United Methodists consider banning Caterpillar out of concern for "fellow Christians" in Israel (Mark D. Tooley, FrontPageMag.com)

  • Dutch church to reexamine policy of solidarity with Israel | After 37 years of boasting of "inalienable solidarity" with the people of Israel, the Netherlands' second largest church plans to reexamine its stance this fall (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)

  • The problem isn't 'Christianity' - it's disaffected youth | Israelis have a xenophobic fear that any Russian who is not halachically Jewish must be a Christian, and any Russian Christian must be a potential Nazi! (Ludmilla Oigenblick & Yona Triestman, The Jerusalem Post)

  • No way to treat our Christian friends | They come here not as conquerors, nor as soul-snatchers, but as devoted, God-fearing individuals who wish to stand in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people (Michael Freund, The Jerusalem Post)

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Jewish holidays:

  • Rabbinate bans Jews from Succot march | The Chief Rabbinate has banned Jewish participation in the Feast of the Tabernacles march in the capital, scheduled to take place next month, due to concern that some of the groups participating are involved in Christian missionary work (The Jerusalem Post)

  • Story of Abraham can vex the faithful | Rabbis marking the Jewish New Year note that the biblical account of sacrifice holds lessons for their flocks on fanaticism and sacrifice in the modern world (Chicago Tribune)

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Fasting and Ramadan:

  • Jews fast, Muslims fast, so should Christians | Nothing could be more foreign to a consumerist attitude in religion, where self-esteem is the cardinal virtue. (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)

  • The purpose of fasting | Scientists have not deeply studied the ways in which fasting alters the human brain, but Andrew Newburg, a radiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has some ideas (Newsweek)

  • We're not all marking Ramadan | Christian Arabs in the Middle East are much like Jews in the West. When the official holidays roll around, we are both pretty much pushed off to the side and forced to sing along with everyone else. (Ray Hanania, The Jerusalem Post)

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  • On Pagan Pride Day, visibility for the occult | "It's a day for us to network, get together, show our pride … because, you know, a lot of people are in what we call the broom closet" (The Boston Globe)

  • Council to mull crèche | The Christmas crèche, one of the most universal Christian symbols of the holiday season, has been absent from the Sonoma Plaza since the early 1990s. Now freshman Councilmember August Sebastiani is exploring the possibility of bringing it back (Sonoma Index-Tribune)

  • Debate over parade name should take a holiday | Is Christmas, at heart, a religious or a secular holiday? I ask you, is there anything—anything—less nourishing to the body politic than this demented food for thought? (Locan Jenkins, San Diego Union-Tribune)

  • Religion and the workplace | Know what accommodations you're legally required to make when employees need time off work for religious observances (Jeffrey Steinberger, Entrepreneur)

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Missions & ministries:

  • A tug-of-war at Habitat for Humanity | CEO Reckford says a new governing agreement will protect the charity's brand. Affiliates worry it will bring bureaucracy and a loss of autonomy (Business Week)

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  • State trooper praised at Amish shooting | The first state trooper to breach the Amish school where 10 girls were shot last year got inside by ripping out part of a window frame with his bare hands, helping save the lives of five of them, the state police chief said (Associated Press)

  • Amish share massacre survivors' stories | One shooting survivor depends entirely on her family for care and is fed through a tube. Another just endured surgery to repair a damaged shoulder and arm. A third suffers lasting vision problems (Associated Press)

  • Growth of evangelicals has some Amish leaders worried | About 18 months ago the Old Order Amish church excommunicated Steve Lapp, 37, and everyone associated with his healing ministry, including his wife and two of his brothers (Religion News Service)

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Church life:

  • From workplace to worship | Seeking a place for their growing congregation, ministers, working with Naperville, are preparing to move into a former office building (Chicago Tribune)

  • Harlem to Ethiopia, in search of their spiritual roots | More than 150 members of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem boarded a plane Saturday for the church's first pilgrimage to Ethiopia, its spiritual homeland (The New York Times)

  • A new sanctuary for a flock of thousands | Church in Upper Marlboro will allow First Baptist of Glenarden space to grow (The Washington Post)

  • Roselle church's flock of ages | Among innovative programs, intergenerational day care offers benefits for young and old (Chicago Tribune)

  • Texas family embraces organic farming | A small movement of conservative Christians believe the Bible demands an organic or natural approach to agriculture (Reuters)

  • Congregation moves into a home more its size | After years of long lines, cramped quarters and sermons via television monitor, the 7,500 members of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden had the opportunity yesterday to worship as one big family in their new Upper Marlboro sanctuary (The Washington Post)

  • Lightning hits church steeple- twice | Two lightning strikes on the same day didn't topple the steeple of the 117-year-old Newman United Methodist Church but they exposed something that might have. They blew out the siding and exposed dry rot that might have brought the steeple down (Associated Press)

  • A young evangelist draws thousands to worship at 'The Basement' | Matt Pitt, 23, operates a youth-oriented church in Birmingham, Ala., that features laser lights, hip-hop music, testimonials, and prayer (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • A sacred tie that binds | Traditional music and liturgy link worshippers with church history (Houston Chronicle)

  • Men's church groups fill growing need | Male-oriented events lead to raising funds for religious charities, helping those in need, bettering themselves (The Arizona Republic)

  • Change of faith for a QC church | After years of being home to Catholics, Legacy Christian Church is the new owner of a historic church building. But one Davenport alderman calls the new owner's changes to the church sacrilege. This after the new owner sold the pews to a furniture refinisher Tuesday, to help pay for the future of the parish (WQAD, Davenport, Ia.)

  • Somerset churches mull denominational split | With a growing frustration with the national organizations that oversee them, many congregants at two local churches are considering cutting ties with their national groups and forming a new church (The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.)

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Property and zoning:

  • NJ judge: Diocese has rights at parish | A state judge has affirmed the property rights of a Russian Orthodox diocese locked in a dispute with a breakaway parish in southern New Jersey, but declined to intervene in doctrinal matters (Associated Press)

  • Bedford County weighs church zoning changes | Bedford County officials are looking at whether zoning laws dealing with "religious assemblies" should be loosened throughout the county (News & Advance, Lynchburg, Va.)

  • It's about land use, not religion | A Hancock Park activist objects to a Times editorial about a zoning dispute with a synagogue (Leonard Hill, Los Angeles Times)

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  • Council keeps prayer policy intact | Sectarian invocations to stay in Tracy (The Stockton Record, Ca.)

  • Earlier: Tracy takes up prayer policy | A new set of meeting policies to be presented to the Tracy City Council tonight would require anyone offering religious invocations before city meetings to leave out references to specific religions (Stockton Record, Ca.)

  • Over 1,000 take part in prayer march | More than 1,000 marchers walked from City Hall to Leesburg Regional Medical Center Saturday morning to show support for Danny Harvey, recently fired from the hospital after he refused to stop praying for patients in the name of Jesus Christ (The Orlando Sentinel)

  • Students' right to pray outlined | The American Center for Law and Justice, in a letter this week to nearly 1 million supporters, outlined the rights of students to pray and express their faith at school in an effort to stave off any challenges or questions this school year (The Washington Times)

  • Praying for our pets | Cat's cancer raises questions of what's right (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)

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  • Defender of the Faith? | In old age, Sigmund Freud, committed atheist, began to see what's so great about God (The New York Times)

  • The nonbelievers | An increasing number of young people in America - and adults around the world - don't believe in God. Greg Epstein, who advises fellow atheists and agnostics at Harvard University, wants to create a kind of church for those who reject religion. But he's encountering resistance from some of the very people he wants to unite (The Boston Globe)

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  • Also: Irreconcilable differences in Bible's interpretations | How to Read the Bible propounds that Bible readers face two radically different ways of approaching Scripture and that the approaches are fundamentally incompatible. (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

  • First Chapter: How to Read the Bible (The New York Times)

  • Coastal disturbances | In Dennis McFarland's latest novel, heirs of a Gulf Coast estate have a new evangelical brother-in-law to play with. Richard B. Woodward reviews Letter From Point Clear (The New York Times)

  • Revisiting the canon wars | Two decades after Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, it's generally agreed that his multiculturalist opponents won the canon wars (The New York Times)

  • A meddlesome priest | Behind the 1998 murder of Bishop Gerardi, a Guatemalan human-rights activist. Roger Atwood reviews The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? by Francisco Goldman (The Boston Globe)

  • Move over, Christian Coalition: The new political kingmakers | An excerpt Robert Frank's new book, Richistan (The Denver Post)

  • Copy of Book of Mormon is auctioned for $105,000 | There were originally 5,000 first-edition copies of the Book of Mormon, and some collectors estimate that fewer than 500 may remain today (The New York Times)

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God's Harvard:

  • Political fundamentals | Patrick Henry College trains religious students for the secular fight. Nina Easton reviews God's Harvard by Hanna Rosin (The New York Times)

  • First chapter: God's Harvard | Patrick Henry prides itself on not being your run-of-the-mill Bible college (The New York Times)

  • College for Christ's sake | A new book chronicles how one school prepares young Christians to compete in a secular world. Kiera Butler reviews God's Harvard by Hanna Rosin (Mother Jones)

  • Books: 'God's Harvard' | Exploring the Bible school to executive branch pipeline at Virginia's Patrick Henry College. An online conversation with Hanna Rosin (The Washington Post)

  • Debating God's Harvard | The brave new evangelical world (David Kuo and Hanna Rosin, Slate)

  • On the campus of true believers | Dan Gilgoff reviews God's Harvard (The Washington Post)

  • God's Harvard: A tragicomedy | Plus: news from Baylor University, music from Peter Case, and more (John Wilson, Books & Culture)

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The Stillborn God:

  • The political and the divine | Mark Lilla argues that the separation of church and state was not, as some would have it, a foregone conclusion. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein reviews The Stillborn God (The New York Times)

  • What happened to the City of God? | Two books trace the history of secularization in the Western world. Jack Miles reviews A Secular Age by Charles Taylor and The Stillborn God by Mark Lilla (Los Angeles Times)

  • Contested authority | A Philosophical history of the shifting power of religion in politics. Peter Berkowitz reviews The Stillborn God by Mark Lilla (The Wall Street Journal)

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Media & entertainment:

  • Chariots rerun 'overplays religion' | Relatives fear sequel to classic film, written by a committed Christian disregards the facts (The Observer, London)

  • Holy toyland | The mega toy retailer, Wal-Mart is now selling Biblical toys like the talking Jesus (In These Times)

  • Religious messages in the toy box | Oh, for the days when children could just be children, and not pawns in someone's culture war (Kevin Eigelbach, The Cincinnati Post)

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Kathy Griffin:

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  • 'A Wrinkle in Time' author L'Engle dies | The Newbery Medal winner wrote more than 60 books, including fantasies, poetry and memoirs, often highlighting spiritual themes and her Christian faith (Associated Press)

  • Wrinkles in time | Rereading Madeleine L'Engle (Meghan O'Rourke, Slate)

  • Kitna says 'miracle' allowed him to go back in game | Quarterback Jon Kitna thinks divine intervention helped him recover from a concussion and lead the Detroit Lions to the game-winning field goal in overtime Sunday against Minnesota (The Detroit News)

  • Why Christopher Hitchens is wrong about Billy Graham | Over the course of his long public ministry, Graham has certainly acquired his share of critics — a group which includes Graham himself (Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, Time)

  • Ex-hostage Waite urges talks with al Qaeda | Waite, a former Anglican church envoy held captive for nearly five years in Lebanon in the 1980s after being seized during a mission to negotiate hostage releases, made the call in a television debate to be broadcast by BBC World (Reuters)

  • Carlton Pearson | Houston's Unity Church hosts the former megachurch preacher who wrote, "God Is Not a Christian." The preacher's Gospel of Inclusion cost him his church — and a lot of money. (Houston Press)

  • Secret life of Michael Cleary | It was the story which shocked Ireland - the revelation that one of the country's most popular clerics had a live-in lover and two children. Now, television footage has been discovered which sheds light on his unconventional private life (Belfast Telegraph)

  • Greek Orthodox leader nears transplant | The leader of Greece's Orthodox Church has been getting physically and mentally ready for a liver transplant by exercising and watching his diet, his surgeon said Wednesday (Associated Press)

  • Goodbye to American Christendom? | The death of D. James Kennedy gives hope to those who buried traditional Christianity long ago (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

  • Also: Who will answer the call? | I wonder who will be left to carry the banner when this generation of leaders is gone. God has always ordained men and women to fulfill His purposes, and I know He will do it again. But the question is, will the younger generation heed the call? Dobson's remarks at the funeral of Dr. D. James Kennedy (James Dobson, WorldNetDaily)

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Science, evolution, &faith:

  • Is 'do unto others' written into our genes? | Where do moral rules come from? From reason? From God? Some suggest morality can be found buried deep in evolution (The New York Times)

  • 'Tip of the iceberg' | A new study of a skeleton of a member of a race of three-foot-tall 'hobbits' who lived 12,000 years ago in Indonesia shows that they were a species of human—and that the evolutionary path to Homo sapiens has been tortuous indeed (Newsweek)

  • Faith upon the earth | In many parts of the world, religious groups and environmental scientists are teaming up—albeit sometimes reluctantly (The Economist)

  • Two paths: Religion and psychiatry | Of all medical specialties, psychiatrists are the least religious, a survey has found, and the most religious doctors are the least likely to refer their patients to psychiatrists (The New York Times)

  • Religion vs. evolution | We don't have to choose, says science teacher (Margaret McEwen, The Dallas Morning News)

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  • Christians taking to cremation in big way | The Bible says, "Dust you are, and to dust you shall return." But for a growing number of Christians, the dust - as burial ground - also translates into increasingly scarce and expensive real estate (The Times of India)

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  • Free-lunch foragers | 'Freegans' are a growing subculture that has opted out of capitalism by cutting spending habits and living off consumer waste (Los Angeles Times)

  • Tapping into the secrets of the stall | Experts say anonymous sex in public places is a compulsive behavior (The Washington Post)

  • German cleric criticized for Nazi phrase | A Roman Catholic cardinal used the term "degenerate" at the opening of an art museum on the ruins of a church, drawing criticism Saturday for employing a phrase strongly linked to the Nazi persecution of artists (Associated Press)

  • Update: German ambassador 'regrets' Irish speech 'misunderstandings' | Germany's ambassador to Ireland said he "regretted any misunderstandings" arising from remarks he made in a speech that the Irish government called "inaccurate, misinformed and inappropriate." (Bloomberg)

  • The geography of religious experience | Following the path that William James, the American philosopher and brother of the novelist Henry James, took in 1898 (The New York Times)

  • Highway to hell | A long and winding spiritual path — or lack thereof (Tom Ruprecht, The New York Times Magazine)

  • Indiana girl left behind at zoo on church trip | 11-year-old wandered city alone for 6 hours before finding help (WBBM)

  • Unitarians seek members through new ad campaign | Denomination targets crowd that watches 'The Daily Show' and 'A Prairie Home Companion' (Daily Review, Hayward, Ca.)

  • You can't beat a religious retreat | The food is good, the rooms are comfy and non-believers are welcome. Louise Roddon recommends breaks with religious communities (The Telegraph, London)

  • Finding room, but no place to worship | A Muslim congregation, made up mostly of professionals or business people working for Westchester institutions like I.B.M. or Phelps hospital, are having trouble finding a suburban home for prayer (The New York Times)

  • Little slice of heavan riles North End priest | The cheesed-off pastor of St. Leonard's Church in the North End threw the cast and crew of the Dane Cook-Kate Hudson flick out of his parish hall after the Hollywood bunch staged a rather impudent pizza scene in a nearby eatery (Boston Herald)

  • Aldrin note up for auction | A handwritten card containing a Bible verse that Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin used during a lunar Holy Communion service is up for sale Thursday at a space-related auction (Associated Press)

  • British church recreates Anne Frank room | A replica of the Amsterdam room where Jewish teenager Anne Frank wrote her diary will be housed in a British cathedral as part of a commemoration of the Holocaust (Associated Press)

  • Red Cross attacks company's trademark charges | The American Red Cross on Thursday asked a federal court to throw out a lawsuit charging that the charity infringed a trademark held by the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)

  • Church island offers sceptics a second chance to become virtually good | The Bible says that Christians should build their house on rock, not on sand, but has nothing to say about building it in virtual reality. Taking that as a sign they should not be afraid to venture out there, Church leaders in Britain have bought an island in the virtual world of Second Life (The Times, London)

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

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