Methodists reaffirm ban on homosexual ordination, marriages

"By margins of 2-1 or better, the denomination's 992 elected delegates voted over and over to reaffirm church laws banning gay-union ceremonies, prohibiting the ordination of homosexual clergy and declaring homosexual behavior incompatible with Christian teaching," reports the Chicago Tribune's religion reporter, Steve Kloehn. But despite the overwhelming vote, protesters rushed the stage and refused to let the United Methodist General Convention continue. They were arrested. (See more coverage from the Associated Press, Cleveland's The Plain Dealer, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. The Tribune's Kloehn also has an excellent supplementary column on the protests.

Wall between church and state is four feet high

An earlier Weblog noted that Marshfield, Wisconsin, had been ordered by the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to "construct some defining structure, such as a permanent gated fence or wall, to separate City property from [a 15-foot statue of Jesus], accompanied by a clearly visible disclaimer." Since that February ruling, secularists and the city have been warring over what kind of "defining structure" it should be. The man who sued the city over the statue wanted "a wall 12 feet high and razor wire on the top, a wall of cement block, not something you can see through." The Freedom From Religion Foundation wanted a 10-foot cement wall. Marshfield officials pushed for a 3-foot fence. On Tuesday U.S. District Judge John Shabaz ruled the structure should be a 4-foot wrought-iron fence. But don't sigh yet: the Freedom From Religion Foundation says it may appeal.

Keep religious counseling out of schools

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has apparently been busy lately. The group also criticized the Neillsville, Wisconsin, school district for inviting clergy to counsel students after four Neillsville high schoolers were killed in a post-prom car crash. "I personally think they should rename their organization to Freedom From Compassion or Freedom From Common Sense," says the local state representative. "I don't think they have a heart at all," agrees the mayor.

India hostel attacked during showing of Jesus film

Eighty youths attacked a girls' hostel run by Christian missionaries during the showing of an evangelistic film on Jesus. Two people were seriously injured in the attack. supports Christian Web site in strange battle for CBS advertising

"Don't expect CBS to change its mind [in rejecting ads for], even if the whole fracas is making them look a bit like Pontius Pilate," writes Salon Media columnist Sean Elder. "First of all, they have their own CD—not free—to push a soundtrack from the series, and I bet you'll see a few ads for that during the series. (They don't want to confuse people.) Secondly, the attendant publicity may not hurt them and should drive eyeballs to both the iBelieve site and the Jesus show itself. (A win-win situation, as they said in ancient Rome.) But how to accept CBS's claim that they didn't know what sort of site they were dealing with? What, did they think it was short for 'I believe in Satan'?"

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Australia's sex industry readies to "out" hypocritical priests and politicians

The Eros Foundation, identified by The Age newspaper as "a sex industry lobby group," says it's about to release the names of clergy and politicians involved in affairs, who've visited prostitutes, or who use "adult products." "Our members have had it up to the eyeballs, and they've said enough's enough, and they're saying that it's time that the sex industry fought back," says an Eros Foundation spokesman. "I mean, if a member of parliament had something to hide, if he's had an illicit affair or, you know, whatever, if he visits sex workers but then turns around and wants to ban brothels, I think the public have got a right to know about that."

Sharing mystical oil will mend rift between Chicago's Ukrainian Catholics and Orthodox

A vial of oil said to have healing powers from the tomb of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy, will be shared between Chicago's St. Volodymyr Orthodox Cathedral and St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral. The two religious traditions have shared more than their share of animosity, but the Chicago Sun-Times reports that it's far stronger in the Ukraine than among Ukrainians living in the U.S. "Hopefully, the communities will try to see what unites rather than what divides us," says Bishop Michael Wiwchar of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral.

Indiana state trooper says he was fired for religious stance against gambling

Ben Endres has filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying he was fired when he refused to work at the Blue Chip Casino on Lake Michigan. He sent a letter to his supervisors saying his work there would suggest he approved of gambling and drinking, and that he had a "willingness to do virtually any job to avoid violating" his religious beliefs in such a way. "Indiana State Police officers do not have the luxury of deciding which laws they want to enforce," says the director of the Indiana State Police public information office, noting that police must also provide security for reprehensible activities like Klu Klux Klan rallies. "When you become a police officer, you are immediately responsible for impartially enforcing all Indiana laws." (For more, see the press release from The Rutherford Institute, which represents Endres.)

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Speaking of Indiana casinos and religion …

In March, officials in Harrison County, Indiana, entered a "cooperation agreement" with the Roman Catholic Saint Joseph School to provide the institution with $52,000 received from casino revenues. The county says it's just trying to improve education in the area, but the Indiana Civil Liberties Union has filed suit.

Dr. Laura censured in Canada

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, the self-regulatory body of the country's private broadcasters, says the broadcaster's statements that homosexuals are "abnormal," "aberrant," and other such words violates the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Code of Ethics. "With the power emanating from that microphone goes the responsibility for the consequences of the utterances. It is for such reasons, among others, that the respect of Canadian broadcast standards assumes such great societal importance." What of free speech? "In Canada," sniffed the council, "we respect freedom of speech but do not worship it."

Another school changes its mascot

The mascot of Elon College, a liberal-arts school near Greensboro, North Carolina, is now the Phoenix. It is no longer the Fightin' Christians (And that's Fightin', not Fighting.) "Fightin' Christians is, how can I put it? Kinda lame," says a junior. "Who wants to be seen wearing something you have to explain?" Weblog was going to make a snide remark about how Wheaton College, which is deciding on a new mascot after dropping the Crusaders, may want to pick it up. But "Fighting Christians" actually appears on the College's list of current mascot recommendations. Weblog hates being beat to a punchline.

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