Tufts Christian Fellowship Placed on Probation
If you'll recall, the Tufts University chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship was banned from campus back in April after it blocked a bisexual student from holding a leadership post. And then the group was reinstated in May on procedural grounds, but with the caveat that the student's complaint be heard again in the fall. Last week, the Tufts Community Union Judiciary (the same board that banned the group last year, but with different members now) placed the group on probation, saying that it had discriminated against the bisexual student. The decision is almost universally being called confusing (even by The Chronicle of Higher Education—but you can only read its story if you already subscribe), but here's the short of it: the group would have been able to block the bisexual student because of her belief that gay sex isn't necessarily wrong, but it had already approved heterosexual student leaders who believe gay sex isn't necessarily wrong. So by discriminating against the bisexual student, the group was discriminating against her orientation and behavior—not her beliefs. So now the group is on probation until the end of the academic term and has two weeks (now one) to redraft its constitution to line up with the school's nondiscrimination policies. Both gay activists and Christians at the school are upset with the ruling. Meanwhile, the administration isn't talking. "I am still chewing on this," Provost Sol Gittleman tells the Tufts Daily newspaper. There's plenty more available in that publication's archives—letters and opinion pieces galore. As of this morning, there was still no comment on the Tufts Christian Fellowship Web site.

Could parental controls lead to more porn on AOL?
"When will [AOL] sell its customers the smut they so obviously crave?" asks The Village Voice. "The answer, say porn industry players and media analysts, is soon after AOL clears regulatory hurdles and completes its purchase of Time Warner." Here's how it will work, according to the article: the merger will mean that the online service will have access to such television programs as HBO's Sex and the City and The Sopranos, which are laced with graphic sexual talk and loads of bad language. Parents won't want their kids to be able to see it, so AOL will have to make more "mature" areas. The company has so far steered clear of that, because mature usually means pornographic in the online world. Well, it has officially steered clear of online pornography. As Gerard Van der Leun, director of Penthouse.com, points out, the trading of pornography in chat rooms has long been one of AOL's biggest not-so-secret secrets. "AOL is already the center of porn in America," he tells the Voice. "AOL is built on porn."

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Following up:
Here are some more recent follow-up stories: The New York Times and Los Angeles Times both have coverage of Jimmy Carter's leaving the Southern Baptist Convention. The New York Times focuses on Carter's significance as a religious figure. "He made talking about Jesus Christ a part of our public discourse in politics," historian Douglas Brinkley tells the paper. The Los Angeles Times has the best-spun line, from Paige Patterson, president of the Southeastern Theological Seminary: "I would imagine it [Carter's departure] will enhance our ministry overall and probably be the cause for not a few people who have questions about Baptists becoming Baptists." Meanwhile, The New York Times also has profiles of the personal faith of George Bush and Al Gore. Uh, is there anyone who hasn't done this story? Here are Christianity Today's Bush and Gore pieces, if you missed them. Or there's Beliefnet's. Or Crosswalk's. Or The Washington Post's remarkably similar profiles of Bush's and Gore's faith—which ran back over the summer. Finally, the Associated Press picked up a story on iBelieve.com's closing. iBelieve.com spokesman Brian Edwards blames the site's failure not on its astonishing burn rate—$30 million in 10 months—but because "people just don't understand the Christian market."

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