U.S. government called Rwanda killings "genocide" in April 1994
In a visit to Rwanda in 1998, then-president Bill Clinton apologized for not acting quickly to stop the country's genocide four years earlier. The reason, he said, was that he didn't know it was going on.

"It may seem strange to you here, especially the many of you who lost members of your family, but all over the world there were people like me sitting in offices, day after day after day, who did not fully appreciate the depth and speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror," he said.

But according to newly declassified documents, it seems that wasn't true. Within days of the Hutu death squads' first killings, the CIA's daily briefing was referring to "genocide" in the country. And a state department intelligence briefing to Warren Christopher, then Secretary of State, not only talked about "genocide and partition," but also Hutu declarations of a "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis."

"Diplomats, intelligence officers and systems, and military and defense personnel yielded enough information for policy recommendations and decisions,," says a report from the National Security Archive, which pursued the documents. "That the Clinton administration decided against intervention at any level was not for lack of knowledge of what was happening in Rwanda."

Human Rights Watch has a backgrounder on lessons learned from the genocide. And, in case you missed it, we have several articles on our web site today noting the 10-year anniversary of the mass killings.

"Under God" as birth control?
A headline in The Washington Times this week: "Pledge seen reducing out-of-wedlock births." Turns out it's not about the Newdow case at all.

Breaking the law for Jesus
Hong Kong's famous DVD black market is good for something, says the Catholic web site AsiaNews. "Since early March, many Catholics in various parts of China have enjoyed private "premieres" of [The Passion of the Christ] thanks to the wide availability of DVD copies," the news service says. "These poor quality copies with Chinese subtitles are sold cheaply on streets in some parts of China. … Various Protestant websites enable to the film to be downloaded from another site in China."

The article suggests such actions are justified because the Chinese government is unlikely to allow the film to be shown in the country. But the government has made no such decree yet, and the article doesn't even give a nod to the legal and ethical issues of the church promoting piracy.

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Who's the Nazi?
Our Lady of Grace Church in Johnson, Rhode Island, has a statue of the Good Shepherd out front. By it is a plaque that says, "Please pray for an end to abortion."

Last week, someone spray painted the statue and scrawled, "Anti-choice Nazis" by the plaque.

Don't they teach irony in schools any more?

The police, at least, know who's following in the Nazis goosesteps and are investigating the case as a hate crime. They may call in the FBI. "There's no question it's a willful and malicious act," Police Chief Richard Tamburini told The Providence Journal (which labels the vandal as "pro-choice." I tell you, irony is dead.) "This is not a child's prank. We'll do everything we can to prevent this from happening again. We're not letting this just disappear."

More articles

Abortion and sexual ethics:

  • In Britain, one in five pregnancies ends in abortion | Office for National Statistics report said 36 percent of all pregnancies in women under 20 were terminated, a figure that has continued to rise despite the widespread availability of contraception and the "morning after" pill (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Is the morning-after pill abortion? | A debate (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Reclaiming prolifers | Quiet as it's kept, the diminishing Democratic majority in Congress for the past quarter of a century equals the rate at which pro-life Democrats have been abandoning the party (Nat Hentoff, The Washington Times)

Lent/Palm Sunday/Easter:

  • Low-carb dieters bear Lent | Some Christians worry about regaining weight during holy time (Terry Mattingly)

  • Finding a path of renewal | Many Christians observe the stations of the cross for spiritual enrichment, especially during Lent. Recently, a group of Catholics spent an afternoon meditating on these religious symbols (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)

  • An ocean bridged by palm branches | On Palm Sunday, some Christians will be holding a little symbol of devotion that has roots thousands of miles away in seven mud villages near Masasi in southeast Tanzania, where a cottage industry has slowly grown up around the crosses (Jabari Asim, The Washington Post)

  • Archbishop on the ball with his Easter message | While Williams is an internationally respected theologian, he is still able to communicate simple Christian teaching from the pulpit and delights in reconnecting Christianity to modern culture. He is a fan of The Simpsons, and enjoys regular visits to the theatre and cinema (Hannah Jones, The Western Mail, Wales)

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Church life:

Missions & ministry:

  • Latest attacks highlight risks and reasons for missionaries | The news was personal last week for David and Rhonda Ochoa when they heard missionaries had been killed in Uganda. The couple, who live in The Colony with their three children—and are expecting another—plan to head out in May as missionaries to the East African country (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Chaplains provide solace to local police, citizens | Chaplains perform several roles—they comfort grieving families during a tragedy, notify families that their loved one has died and comfort police officers when their job becomes too stressful (Lodi News-Sentinel, Ca.)

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  • Rock, roll & religion | PS150 center brings skateboarding, concerts and Christian beliefs to Iosco County's youth (The Bay City Times, Mi.)

  • The voices of human pain | Women of differing faiths speak as one for compassion (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  • 'A community that cares' | An ecumenical Christian group that has been reaching out to male inmates at Maine State Prison is working to extend its reach to women on the outside who have been affected by incarceration (Portland Press Herald, Me.)

  • Christians put their faith into action | Volunteers come to Jackson to rebuild tornado-damaged houses (Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  • Putting a neighborhood, and its people, on the map | With prayer and persistence, women get results (The Washington Post)

  • Couple brings the spirit of helping to Navajo people | Robert and Rene Briceland have lived in Dilkon for almost 11 years, ministering to the local Navajo at the Jesus Bi'Ghan Mission under the auspices of a nondenominational outreach ministry, Truth of Life Jesus Ministries (Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff)

  • Catacombs seek support for N.K. refugees | Like the Christians of old, a group of humanitarian activists meet regularly in the Catacombs where they exchange information on human rights abuses and try help North Korean refugees (The Korea Herald)

  • Spreading the gospel with rev-elation | He was the "Bikie Bishop" spreading the word of God in the wild west goldfields of Western Australia (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Teach all nations, but learn from them | How should Christians understand the "Great Commission" to take their faith to all the world? Two distinguished theologians visited Kansas City recently with their answers (The Kansas City Star)

Religious freedom:

  • Group defends religious freedoms | Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel of the Liberty Legal Institute, started the institute after being a regional coordinator for a similar organization, the Rutherford Institute, based in Virginia (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Don't muzzle Christians: Abbott | Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott has defended the right of Christians to publicly express their views (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • That old time religious persecution | Sidewalk gospel-mongers aren't happy about the plan to move them away from their victims, calling it a violation of their constitutional right to bait and insult people under the guise of caring about their spiritual welfare (Robert Kirby, Salt Lake Tribune)

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China and human rights:

  • China defends human rights record | China issued a vigorous defense of its human rights record Tuesday, countering American assertions that it was backsliding and saying its people have benefited from economic reform that has made life more prosperous and government more responsive (Associated Press)

  • China rebuts U.S. criticism on rights | As Beijing touts progress, arrests of 3 women related to Tiananmen victims reported (The Washington Post)

  • China set to derail rights resolution | China is confident it can muster the numbers to derail a U.S.-sponsored resolution critical of Beijing's human rights record, senior Asian and Western diplomatic sources said (The Washington Times)

Headscarves in America:

  • Complaint filed over head scarf expulsion | The Justice Department filed a complaint Tuesday against the Muskogee Public School District, saying officials were wrong to suspend an 11-year-old Muslim girl for refusing to remove her head scarf (Associated Press)

  • Justice Dept. supports Muslim girl's headscarf | "No student should be forced to choose between following her faith and enjoying the benefits of a public education," said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Alexander Acosta (Reuters)

Christians and Jews:

Christian activism:

  • Participants in prayer vigil fill sidewalks in Asbury | A crowd organizers estimated at 1,200 lined Main Street yesterday morning to participate in a prayer vigil prompted by the problems facing—and in at least one case, dividing—the city (Asbury Park Press, N.J.)

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Church and state:

Religion and politics:

  • Policy turns into a matter of faith | Religious groups should be consulted as a matter of course over a wide range of government policies and local authority initiatives, with civil servants receiving faith awareness training to inform their work, the Home Office said yesterday (The Guardian, London)

  • The Christian Taliban | Even as President George W. Bush denounced the brutal Islamic fundamentalist regime in Kabul, he was quietly laying the foundations for his own fundamentalist regime at home (Stephen Pizzo, AlterNet)

  • Faith-based elections | Candidates often find support, help in church (Times Daily, Gadsden, Ala.)

Ten Commandments removed:

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  • Ten Commandments appeal ahead | Replica removed from display of historical documents in the Elkhart County administration building (South Bend Tribune, Ind.)

Pop culture and Christianity:

  • Christian themes resonate in mass market | Religious fiction, films and music once relegated to the "ghetto" of Christian stores have crossed the tracks and moved into the secular neighborhood (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)

  • TV show maker hits back at archbishop's criticism | The maker of Footballers' Wives today defended the ITV1 drama against claims by the Archbishop of Canterbury that it reflected all that was wrong with the morality of Britain (PA, U.K.)

  • The (financial) power of faith | Religious consumers demonstrating their economic muscle: the Greatest Story Ever Sold (CNN/Money)


Left Behind:

  • Final 'Left Behind' book proves popular seller | "Glorious Appearing," the 12th and final book in Tim LaHaye's and Jerry B. Jenkins' "Left Behind" series, hit local bookstore shelves and was the fifth best-selling book on Amazon.com Tuesday morning (Omaha World-Herald, Neb.)

  • A finale (of sorts) for 'Left Behind' | With this last book, the best-selling, Bible-based Left Behind series of pulp fiction is expected to reach 70 million copies worldwide (The Orlando Sentinel)

  • `Left Behind' series ends with modest sales | The final installment in the "Left Behind" series of religious fiction thrillers arrived in Birmingham bookstores Tuesday, but not with the celebration of the earlier titles (The Birmingham News, Al.)

  • 'Left Behind' book event attracts 800 | Spartanburg first of 12 cities to hold signing in tour of South (Associated Press)

Other books:

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  • French Catholic bishops blast Gibson's 'Passion' | French Roman Catholic bishops have officially denounced Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of the Christ," which opened in France on Wednesday, as potentially anti-Semitic and a distortion of Christian teaching (Reuters)

  • Mel Gibson revives an old message of hate | Only a few Christians have been willing to take responsibility for the devastating impact of the hateful representations of Jews that suffuse the Gospels (Michael Lerner, International Herald Tribune)

  • Pirated copies of "The Passion" used to evangelize | Christians in Hong Kong fear that the film will not be shown due to government censorship (AsiaNews)

  • A monotonous and misleading movie | According to the first Christian writings the rejection of Jesus by both Jews and gentiles was not his crucifixion. It was the rejection of the gospel of his lordship manifested in his prophetic word, his priestly sacrifice and his royal victory on the cross (Thomas Hopko, International Herald Tribune)

Methodist lesbian minister:

  • For Methodists, verdict launches combat | The decision to allow a lesbian pastor to continue in her ministry is reverberating throughout the denomination, and battle lines are being drawn (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

  • Lesbian pastor's victory felt here | Four years ago, a controversy that began when 68 United Methodist Church ministers officiated at the union of two lesbians left Methodist churches in Marysville and Yuba City in an uproar - and caused a permanent split in the Yuba City church (Appeal-Democrat, Marysville-Yuba City, Ca.)

  • Methodists now juggle hot potato | I hope United Methodists return to the Bible's directives as they deal with this hot potato issue: "Should Practicing Homosexuals Serve as Ministers?" (Steve Crain, The Pilot, Pinehurst, N.C.)

  • Method of spinning faith | Having abandoned Scripture and the teachings of Methodism's founder, John Wesley, who believed the Bible was God's infallible Word to man, it is a short step to rejecting all statements, "doctrines" and "principles" based on eternal truths (Cal Thomas, The Washington Times)

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Gays and church:

  • New tempest brewing over gays in ministry | As Christians struggle to conform to - or resist - a changing society, the issue is dividing congregations, threatening church structure and sparking arguments over biblical interpretation (Tampa Tribune, Fla.)

  • Groups discuss Bible, gays | Speakers say passages open to interpretation (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Church celebrates 'open, affirming' status | Gay, lesbian members find home in Broomfield congregation (Broomfield Enterprise, Co.)

  • Danish lawmakers propose church weddings for gay couples | Denmark's opposition Socialist People's Party presented a bill to parliament on Tuesday that would open the way for allowing gays and lesbians to marry in church, parliamentarian sources told Agence France-Presse (The Advocate)

  • Are gay priests to blame? | David France, who wrote the definitive investigation of the Catholic Church's sex scandal, argues that the Vatican's homophobia drove many gay priests to abuse youths (The Advocate, gay magazine)

  • Eagle's shame or badge of honor? | Why the BSA dismissed Andrew Cote (Terry Bibo, Peoria Journal Star, Ill.)


  • History shows people wed in many ways for many reasons | A look at the history of marriage in Western civilization, especially since the rise of Christianity, shows that it has, indeed, largely been between a man and a woman and designed, in large part, for the production of children. At the same time, it's an institution that has constantly evolved in response to changing social and political forces (The Seattle Times)

  • It's a question of equality | Biblical definition of marriage? Surely not (Editorial, The Mercury News, San Jose, Ca.)

  • A knot tied in many ways | Anthropologists and historians point out that the history of matrimony is quite fluid. The constant? Economics (Los Angeles Times)


  • Separate ways | Divorce to become legal in Chile (The Washington Post)

  • To have and to uphold black marriages | The second annual Black Marriage Day on Saturday included workshops and the renewal of wedding vows in about 70 cities throughout the United States (Courtland Milloy, The Washington Post)

  • Heterosexuals need to work on marriages | Let's make some improvements, see our own marriage rates improve, and then we can hope homosexuals will start asking us for advice on how to make relationships work (David Munday, The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)

Gay marriage:

  • House mulls amendment | The House yesterday began the first in a series of hearings to assess the need for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex "marriage," with some analysts testifying that current law is sufficient to protect traditional marriage (The Washington Times)

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Gay marriage in Mass.

  • Mass. AG sees gay marriage limit | Says law bars most out-of-staters (The Boston Globe)

  • Reilly says Romney lacks legal argument for a stay | Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly accused Governor Mitt Romney yesterday of trying to force political arguments before the Supreme Judicial Court by trying to seek a delay of the court's gay-marriage ruling (The Boston Globe)

  • The bully pulpit | Having rejected Governor Mitt Romney's request that he launch a desperate, last-ditch bid to thwart the implementation of the Supreme Judicial Court's gay marriage ruling, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly ought to turn his legal attention to revoking the tax-exempt status of the Catholic Church (Eileen McNamara, The Boston Globe)

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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