Woman loses custody of children because of church attendance
Las Vegas mother Lina Elbrader, 36, lost primary custody of her twin 6-year-old sons because she went to church too often, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Sunday. She really did go to church a lot—and her sons have missed school at least 20 times as a result (though Elbrader insists the absences were because of illness). But Elbrader and her pastor, Steve Stoltzfus, say the decision sets a dangerous precedent. The Review-Journal repeatedly notes that her estranged husband, Michael Elbrader, is no angel. He "has a history of sexually deviant behaviors that involved multiple incidents of pedosexual activities with young females," according to court documents (he was acquitted of past criminal charges).

The New York Times on The Prayer of Jabez
"At first glance, the book appears to be spreading the 'prosperity gospel' popular in the 1950's and 1960's, which taught that there is no shame in praying to God for a red Cadillac," New York Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein says of the bestselling Prayer of Jabez. "With its blatant materialism, the prosperity gospel eventually became an embarrassment for evangelicals. But The Prayer of Jabez offers a new view of the prosperity gospel. It preaches that it is perfectly fine to ask God for personal success, as long as that success has a godly purpose." Though the article is pretty standard stuff—with the requisite quotes from a reader enthusing that it's "the real deal" to a theologian calling it "narcissistic"—it does have some interesting background. The original version was 270 pages long. After Multnomah Publishers shrank it to 96 pocket-size pages, they expected it to sell 30,000 copies. More than four million sales later, it's on the top of bestseller lists at The New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher's Weekly.

The Golden rule tarnishes a bit
Love Your Neighbor, a Detroit-area company that sells "jewelry and trinkets," is suing a Florida-based ministry to the homeless that's also called Love Your Neighbor. Without a drop of irony, the Detroit-based company's founder, Catherine Sims, says her potential customers are getting confused and she's experienced "lost sales and profits." The Florida ministry's founder, Arnold Abbott, says Sims is really after his URL (though why Sims wants lovethyneighbor.org in addition to lovethyneighbor.com, which she already owns—as well as lovethyneighbor.tv—is never explained.) Sims—that's the Rev. Catherine Sims according to official documents—wants monetary damages, too. Weblog is no prophet, but worries that if the lawsuit continues, the original copyright holder might press charges himself.

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