Four dead, 30+ injured at Christian concert
A concert featuring the German-Zairian Christian band Makoma (English machine translation) resulted in a massive stampede that killed four and injured more than 30 in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Troops fired shots to allow the singers to leave first as thousands of people were already pushing to leave through the stadium's only exit, which led to shoving and trampling," said a witness. The shots sent panic through the crowd, and further panicked the crowd.

The concert was sponsored by the Congolese Rally for Democracy, a Rwanda-backed rebel movement than began fighting the government in 1998 and now controls much of the country.

Harvard challenges InterVarsity chapter
Chapters of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship have been challenged at several schools lately, so it's not terribly surprising that Harvard University's Undergraduate Council is facing a challenge over whether the group should receive support. But at the other schools, the challenge has come over whether the organization discriminates against homosexuals, and thus violates university anti-discrimination policies. At Harvard, it's still about the school's anti-discrimination policy — but this time, critics complain that only Christians can lead the Christian organization.

"The sense of the [Committee on College Life] on this matter was quite clear: student groups should not discriminate for membership or in the choice of officers," Associate Dean of the College David P. Illingworth told The Harvard Crimson. "I have let the [Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship] know of this opinion. I have offered to work with them to develop constitutional changes which would bring them into compliance."

"We were very surprised," said Deborah C. Morton, a member of the chapter's executive board. "HRCF makes every effort to be a diverse and welcoming group." She says membership is open to students of all faiths, and that the university's actions amount to "discriminating against religious organizations."

For now, Harvard's Undergraduate Council has postponed its grant to the organization, as well as a grant to the Harvard Asian Baptist Student Koinonia for the same reason.

Merry Christmas!
Weblog will return Thursday, December 26. Do check our site Friday and Monday for other great articles, including a Christmas interview with J.I. Packer, and Tom Oden, and essays by Kathleen Norris on Mary, Tim Stafford on reading the Apocrypha at Christmas, further discussion of The Lord of the Rings, and other topics.

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Public observance of religious holidays:

Other Christmas stories:

Ten Commandments:

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Politics and law:

War, Iraq,terrorism, etc.:

  • Rumsfeld consults with religious leaders on war, peace | Clergy participants described the two-hour gathering as a "good exchange" during which Pentagon officials updated them on their efforts in Afghanistan and beyond and took questions from faith leaders about the religious and moral implications of the military efforts (Religion News Service)

  • Iraq's Christians | Assyrians may tip the balance toward stability after the liberation of Iraq (Jonathan Eric Lewis, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Samoans ban Jesus? | American Samoa has decided to ban entrance to its territory to all persons of Middle Eastern descent (Claude Salhani, UPI)

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Crime and violence:

Interfaith relations:

Utah Temple Square controversy:

  • Deal sought on Salt Lake City Plaza | Mayor Rocky Anderson proposed that the city give up a sidewalk pedestrian easement it retained when it sold the block-long section of Main Street to the church, in exchange for 2.17 acres of church-owned land on the city's west side (Associated Press)

  • Rocky's plan wins public support | Citizens of Salt Lake City and elsewhere turned out in large numbers Tuesday night to tell the City Council their opinions on the latest plan to solve the LDS Main Street Plaza controversy (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Sexual ethics:

  • Cohabitors' pacts tie legal knot unwed | As America's cohabitation rates soar, live-in couples are increasingly drafting legal documents to clarify their financial arrangements if they split up (The Boston Globe)

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  • Blessing for gay wedding threatens Anglicans | A small parish in Vancouver is poised to make history and hasten schism in the worldwide Church by holding Anglicanism's first officially sanctioned blessing of a homosexual "marriage" (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Gay-rights act galls church | Lobbies state Senate on today's vote (New York Daily News)

  • Same-sex blessing planned for new year | It will likely be a quiet, low-key affair—with repercussions that some suggest could split the church and re-ignite a volatile debate around the world on the direction of the Anglican Church (Canadian Press)

  • Out lesbian retains status as minister | Investigating Committee appointed by the Presbytery of the Redwoods votes not to file charges (Press release)

Science and health:


  • More than fire and brimstone | Mark A. Noll's America's God presents a powerful case for the centrality of religion in American life, but it is first and foremost a history of American theology, from the colonial period to the Civil War. (The Wall Street Journal)

  • How two songs found their place in a nation's voice | "White Christmas," an ode in celebration of a Christian holiday, was the work of a Jew, Irving Berlin. "Amazing Grace," a hymn of Christian redemption written by an 18th century English slave trader, became a favorite of slaves and was transformed in the 20th century into a secular anthem in praise of triumph over adversity (Newsday)


  • PBS, recruiting for Islam | This documentary is especially odd when contrasted with the 1998 PBS documentary, "From Jesus to Christ," which focuses almost exclusively on the work of cutting-edge scholars and presents the latest in critical thinking on Jesus (Daniel Pipes, New York Post)

  • Atlanta's niche news | New TV news network aims for independents (Atlanta Business Chronicle)

Money and business:

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Church life:

  • A bare church cupboard | The color of Christmas may be red ink this year for many of the nation's churches (USA Today)

  • Children put on a play with spirit | A church plans a street-smart holiday show (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Clerics lean on each other | Church leaders sometimes feel lonely and isolated in their jobs (The Charlotte Observer)

  • Faith put to a test | Last February, a Bible study group on Block Island, 150 miles from Westchester County, gathered for its weekly discussion. The conversation that day focused on magnetic personalities within the church, people who drew others toward them and generated almost cult-like devotion. Had anyone there ever met such a charismatic figure? (The New York Times)

  • How to wash 11,000 panes? Ingeniously | For Garden Grove's Crystal Cathedral, a company's solution is design and sweat (Los Angeles Times)

  • Grace Ministries project approved | Fullerton council OKs development by the Korean-American denomination (Orange County Register)

  • Cleveland priest arrested on gambling charges | Charged with three gambling misdemeanors at a church fund raiser (WKYC, Cleveland)

  • Injured minister takes painful road to forgiveness | Despite a punctured lung, five broken ribs and a shattered right arm, the Rev. David Tinney made no secret about his feelings soon after two Issaquah teenagers shoved him off his bicycle in March (The Seattle Times)

  • Immigrants worship in own tongues | Sub-congregations in Fremont help maintain cultural identity (The Oakland [Calif.] Tribune)
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Rowan Williams:

  • Church and state | There have been complaints over recent decades that Anglicans have lacked intellectual leadership. On the basis of the Dimbleby Lecture Dr Williams is to broadcast tonight, there can be no doubt that the Church is now being led by a man who will stretch the most dedicated of intellectuals (Editorial, The Times, London)

  • Religion can challenge the market, says Williams | Religion deserves space in an increasingly market-led society, and could become increasingly important because it can transcend consumer values, says Archbishop of Canterbury (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Archbishop launches moral crusade | The new Archbishop of Canterbury has accused politicians of putting too much emphasis on the short-term needs of voters and ignoring moral issues (BBC)

  • Number at Church of England services recovers to 1 m | In 1998 churchgoing fell below one million for the first time, but it has recovered across the country (The Times, London)


Other stories of interest:

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  • A rough year for God? It is business as usual (Rosalind Kent-Braxton, Savannah Morning News)

  • Schools 'failing to teach pupils basic message of Christianity' | Almost half of Britain's 12-year-olds are so ignorant of basic Christian teaching that they are unaware that Easter celebrates the Resurrection, according to a new study (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Getting religion | Stop me if you've heard this one: A rabbi, a priest and a minister are on the 1st tee at Merion (Sports Illustrated)

  • Banishing Armageddon | It is time for a doctrinal regime change (Stewart Dakers, The Guardian, London)

  • Jesus at the wheel of an SUV | The buyer of an SUV is not necessarily a bad Christian, and nor is the driver of a small compact necessarily the sworn enemy of market freedom (Pentti Sadeniemi, Helsingin Sanomat, Helsinki, Finland)

  • Dear God: The world is a mess | If you could look after those who love you the most, those willing to kill for the passion they have for you, I will go on trying to understand why they do such (Daryl K. Tabor, Kentucky New Era)

  • 'Dying' apostle is on holiday | Freddie Isaacs, the Reformed Apostolic Church apostle who has been on his "deathbed" since the beginning of the year, is alive, well and on holiday with his wife (Die Burger, South Africa)

  • In tragedy, he finds strength | Sept. 11 survivor tells how belief in God bloomed after attacks (The Morning Call, Allentown, Penn.)

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