Raëlians oversee first cloned birth
A religious sect announced today that a woman has given birth to her own clone. The Raëlians, followers of a French journalist who believe space aliens formed the Earth, say the cloned baby girl was born yesterday and is named Eve.
Earlier this year, Clonaid, a cloning lab formed by the Raëlians, announced that it was overseeing five cloned pregnancies. Clonaid director Dr. Brigitte Boisselier said today at a news conference that the baby, born in an unspecified foreign country, will go home in three days. At that time, an independent investigator will use DNA tests to prove that Eve is a clone.
At today's press conference however, Boisselier gave no evidence that Eve is a clone or even exists. She did however say that the girl looks just like her mother.
Former CU quarterback left partly for religious reasons
In September, the former starting quarterback for the University of Colorado football team walked away from the game and the school. This week, he told the Rocky Mountain News that a series of disagreements over playing time and game decisions led to him leaving the program but "the last straw" was the head coach's interference in a team prayer.
"Things went from a football level to a personal level," Ochs told the Rocky Mountain News. "You can overlook some of the things in football, but I think it's obvious to anybody who knows me how serious I take my faith. [The coach] mocked me and my faith in God in front of the team."
The former junior co-captain said the prayer incident occurred at an August 18 practice. He said that as he was praying for the team, coach Gary Barnett interrupted and finished the prayer himself in an "inappropriate and obnoxious" manner.
In reaction to the claim, Barnett told the paper, "I felt we needed a little more pep in our prayer."
Benny Hinn on Dateline
Tonight's Dateline, at 7:00 p.m. central standard time on NBC, will air an investigation of faith healer and televangelist Benny Hinn. According to the network's site, "[Hinn] claims he can call on God to heal the sick. But Dateline's hidden cameras reveal another side of the Hinn ministry, and some former followers raise troubling questions."
Religious weblog RelaspedCatholic.com posted a letter this week from the Trinity Foundation, an organization that monitors religious programming. The group said that it had been working with Dateline for the last two years in its investigation of Hinn.
Hinn has already spoken out against the program. This week on Trinity Broadcasting Network's "Behind the Scenes" he said the Dateline investigation contained "demonic lies."
$17 million of Powerball jackpot donated to churches
The Christmas Powerball winner of $315 million says he is not lucky. He is blessed. "I just want to thank God for letting me pick the right numbers, or letting the machine pick the right numbers for me," Andrew J. Whittaker Jr., a member of the Church of God, told The New York Times. "I'm getting really excited because of the good works I can do with this."
Whittaker, who owns three construction businesses, chose to take his winnings in on lump sum of $170.5 million instead of 30 annual payments.
Whittaker said he still plans to tithe his winnings. "The very first thing I'm going to do is, I'm going to go home, I'm going to sit down and make out three checks to three pastors for 10 percent of this check."
The three clergymen—his home pastor, another near his hometown, and one in California—will be given a total of $17 million. Whittaker has no set plans on what should be done with that money as long as it helps "people who want to better themselves to have a better life."
War with Iraq:
- Churchmen soften opposition to attack | The two most senior leaders of the Church of England conceded yesterday that war with Iraq might become justified, though in highly restricted circumstances. (The Guardian, London)
- Christmas messages call for peace | Religious leaders have a Christmas message for world leaders: Work for peace rather than war in Iraq. (CNN)
- Pope denounces war in bid against strike on Iraq | War can and must be avoided even in a world made fearful by terrorism, Pope John Paul II insisted in a Christmas message that stepped up the Vatican's campaign against a war in Iraq. (Associated Press)
- Also: Pope says shun war, seek peace (New York Daily News)
- Archbishop's anti-war message | The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams used his Christmas message to urge the government to pull back from the brink of war. (BBC)
- Also: Controversial start to new archbishop's term (The Scotsman)
- Church leaders launch unified attack on plans for war on Iraq | Tony Blair and George Bush came under sustained attack from the leaders of the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches yesterday over their growing threats to take military action against Iraq. (The Independent, London)
- Churches urge West to step back from war | Leaders of the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches used their Christmas messages yesterday to intensify pressure on the British and American governments. (Daily Telegraph)
- A Stone Box, Christ and History | Science can't ignore Jesus. (Robert L. Bartley, The Wall Street Journal)
- Reconciling the helplessness and the humanity of the baby Jesus | Christmas Triptych, a 15th-century wood carving, contains within its three panels the entire Christmas story. (The New York Times)
- Christian or not—Jesus' life is example | It's a time to reflect on the kind of life we are leading and how well it reflects God's commandments and Jesus' example. (Doug Anstaett, The Newton Kansan)
- From science and computers, a new face of Jesus | The Jesus pictured on the cover of this month's Popular Mechanics has a broad peasant's face, dark olive skin, short curly hair and a prominent nose. (CNN)
Clergy sex abuse scandal:
- Lennon picks sites for sale, eyes court test in abuse cases | Bishop Richard G. Lennon, has selected church properties for sale and directed officials to put them on the market ''as soon as possible.'' (The Boston Globe)
- The men who disappeared | Today, the public demands openness and accountability from its leaders. Cardinal Law, like many powerbrokers of his generation, failed to realize the rules had changed. (Alan Wolfe, The Boston Globe)
- After one cardinal resigns, Catholics ask: Who's next? | Other bishops under scrutiny for handling sex abuse cases. (The Washington Post)
- Women face stigma of clergy abuse | Many are reluctant to come forward (The Boston Globe)
The New York Times Ten Commandments series:
- Chess rivalry becomes a blood sport | The owners of the Chess Shop and the Chess Forum, along with the patrons who will go to one shop and not the other, are bitter rivals.
- For child of an affair, bitterness lingers | While for some adultery no longer carries the collective moral weight it once did, H.R. Vargas wears the broken commandment like a heavy chain around his neck.
- Embezzlement conviction burdens a woman of contradictions | In various disparate wants she struggled, stumbled, and fell until she found herself in prison for embezzling city funds.
- Ex-Soldier, now a bishop, deals with blood on his hands | Before he went to seminary and became ordained, Bishop Packard was an Army lieutenant who led a platoon in Vietnam that set up ambushes.
- Path to riches (but no coveting) | The commandment against coveting warns against devoting energy to acquiring goods and possessions. Yet, the message to achieve wealth is the engine of a modern consumer society.
Missions and ministry:
- Christian deer hunters take Scripture to the stand | Sixty-two percent of Minnesotans claim to be members of an established faith. It's well known Minnesotans also love their deer hunting. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before someone put these two things together. (Minnesota Public Radio)
- 'Holiday Christians': God bless 'em every one | The nondenominational Christian Washington Cathedral, which considers itself a "church for the unchurched," appeals to those who come to church only at the holidays through Christmas pageants. (The Seattle Times)
- Promise Keepers aims to make teen boys into 'warriors for Christ' (The State, South Carolina)
- $10 for Ten: Learning, earning from commandments | In message of morals, couple rewards youths for memorizing rules (Associated Press)
- Pa. school district statement sparks evolution debate | Officials at a suburban school district say new wording in the system's mission statement is provoking discussion of evolution and other issues that are often in dispute. (The Boston Globe)
- Restraining order filed against Shorter College | Georgia Baptist Convention sought ruling (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Ruling blocks 'designer baby' bid | A couple's bid to use embryo testing so they can have a baby to treat their seriously ill child has been put on hold by a High Court decision. (BBC)
- Canadian cult says first human clone is near birth | The Raelians claim one of its members will deliver soon. (The Boston Globe)
- An uncertain year for cloning laws | Ban on embryo research seen as unlikely (The Washington Post)
Church and state:
- Judge orders monument moved Jan. 3 | A federal judge on Thursday gave Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore a Jan. 3 deadline to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Salt Lake street fight | Mormons and 'Gentiles' duel over speech rights (The Washington Post)
- Rooftop cross in San Clemente not a 'sign,' says judge who rules it's legal (Los Angeles Times)
Politics and law:
- PM praises archbishop's 'insights' | Tony Blair spoke yesterday for the first time of his enthusiasm over the choice of Dr Rowan Williams as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. (The Guardian, London)
- Who determines the 'official' definition of 'Pro-Life?' | Debate centers on Bill Frist's voting record (CNS)
- 'A wake-up call to all of us' | The National Post looks at the backlash against those taking the Christ out of Christmas. (The National Post)
- In churches on Christmas, sentiment and spirituality | Church-goers find comfort, new faith in Christmas services this year.(The New York Times)
- Christmas fails PC test in more public schools | An increasing number of public schools nationwide are becoming no-Christmas zones this year (The Washington Times)
- When Christmas weighs too heavily | Area church services acknowledge holiday sadness (The Washington Post)
- Premiers avoid Christmas on 'holiday' cards | Only leaders from Newfoundland and Quebec use traditional language on greetings (The National Post)
- Mid-East media observe gloomy Christmas | Newspapers in the Middle East are largely downcast on Christmas Day (BBC)
- Nigerians turn to evangelists for miracles | For millions of Nigerians, the Christmas period is not just a time for commemoration and celebration. (Reuters)
Internet and technology:
- Modernity runs rings around Tolkien myth | Human ingenuity can cause many problems. But it's human ingenuity that will solve those problems as well. (Tom Keane, Boston Herald)
- For cloistered nun, a computer vocation | Sister updates, reworks religious web sites from nook in La Plata monastery (The Washington Post)
- Star of Bethlehem: Going back in time to examine its origins (Space.com)
- Catholics cope with priest shortage | 'Constant juggling act': Ghanaian imports, retired clerics filling gaps at Christmas (The National Post)
- Pope set to certify Mother Teresa's miracle | Once the approval is announced by the Vatican, a date can be announced for Mother Teresa's beatification ceremony, expected to be held next spring. (The Dallas Morning News)
- The church's kinder face | These days, the face of the Catholic Church is a despicable one—but forget all that for a moment and consider the Rev. William McCarthy. (Brian McGrory, The Boston Globe)
- Web site seeking sainthood for Sept. 11 hero | Father Judge, who died in WTC attack, called 'modern day St. Francis' (The Dallas Morning News)
- More a family falling out than a clash of civilizations | Many intricate links bind Christianity, Judaism and Islam (The Guardian, London)
- Syrian Christians have faith in Muslim world | The Middle East might be the birthplace of Christianity, but the number of Christians in the region is dwindling rapidly. (BBC)
- Tension at Holy Land's tombs | Battles over historic shrines are microcosms of Israeli-Palestinian conflict (The Washington Post)
- Bahraini official attends mass | A senior official at Bahrain's Islamic Affairs Ministry took part in Tuesday night's Christmas mass at Manama's National Evangelical Church. (Gulf News, Bahrain)
- Republican party sends apologies to Hindus, Buddhists | Tennessee's Republican chairwoman has sent letters of apology for a party brochure intended as an attack on Democrat Phil Bredesen. (The Tennessean)
Sex and marriage:
- Teens, sex, and the 'Santa Claus effect' | Study: December prime time for teen-agers to lose virginity (Associated Press)
- Homosexual marriage ban gets new life from Mass. Court (CNS)
Persecution and violence:
- Russia's Muslims become targets | Fear, insecurity rise since theater siege; 'We are the new Jews,' Imam says (The Washington Post)
- Evangelicals on the rise in land of Mao | Despite crackdowns, protestant religious groups flourishing in China (The Washington Post)
- Terrorists target local Christians | Neither an ideological nor a military war against the Islamists can be won without recognizing the fact of anti-Christian hatred. (Samuel G. Freedman, USA Today)
- Malawi scrambles to counter vampire rumors | Three visiting Roman Catholic priests were beaten in Thyolo by a mob of angry villagers who suspected them of being vampires (Associated Press)
- BBC film inflames faithful | The program has stirred protest from several church leaders even before it has been broadcast. (BBC)
- Also: Controversial Virgin Mary film defended | Documentary portrays Mary as a poor and downtrodden girl, who might have conceived Jesus as a result of being raped. (BBC)
- New York experiences renaissance | Young, educated New Yorkers are pouring into mainline churches and synagogues in such numbers that some ministers believe they are witnessing an awakening. (The Washington Times)
- The Christian future | Contrary to perceived wisdom, Christianity is booming. (The Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
- Poor get helping holiday hand: Bishop Lennon reaches out | Bishop Richard Lennon yesterday followed tradition by visiting the poor and homeless at St. Francis House on Christmas Day, and offered a connection to those ``in the church or out of the church.'' (Boston Herald)
- For people of faith, only the infinite is adequate | The religious come in many kinds. They range from the deeply pious and devout to those who cling to faith despite serious doubts. (E.J. Dionne, The Washington Post)
- Clergy try to balance charity, security | Where does a congregation draw the line between its interests, whether it be security or order in the sanctuary, and its mission to help the poor? (The Boston Globe)
- Vicar spreading the word on a rural beat | Mr Baldwin has been vicar of a little fold of rural England for four and a half years. This is a day in his life. (The Guardian, London)
- Cathedral a star for pilgrims | Midnight Mass, other services draw crowds. Many praise the new downtown church. (Los Angeles Times)
- Gay priests not on Archbishop's agenda | Dr Rowan Williams, who has publicly backed homosexuals in the church, seems to be distancing himself from his previous liberal views. (BBC)
- Also: Archbishop tries to calm critics on gay priests (The Guardian, London)
- British homosexual group challenges Christian charity | A homosexual group has challenged the charitable status of a British Christian organization over the distribution of an adoption instruction card that allegedly "promotes bigotry." (CNS)
Other stories of interest:
- The boy who saw the Virgin | Joseph Vitolo's life peaked at a tender age—what could compete?—and there is a weariness, a guardedness, about him, stemming from the burden of being the boy who saw the Virgin. (The New York Times)
- 'Exhibit A for the power of prayer' | Pat Boone asked the world to intercede with God in his grandson's recovery. For those who believe, healing is the result. (Los Angeles Times)
- U.S. religiousness tops among world's industrial nations | The United States is the most religious of the world's wealthy nations, and that inclination for belief makes it more akin to poorer countries than to other industrial societies, according to a poll of 44 nations. (The Washington Times)
- Disney World reduces religious services, draws criticism | Citing space problems and concerns about fairness, the giant resort has stopped the regular Sunday services for Protestant and Catholic visitors that had been held at the Polynesian Luau area since 1975. (The Ledger, Lakeland, Florida)
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