Christian-Muslim violence explodes in — the Netherlands?!
The nation that has long prided itself on being the most tolerant in the world is now home to the world's most recent outbreak of religious violence. At least five Protestant churches and nine mosques throughout the country have been attacked since filmmaker Theo van Gogh was killed, apparently by a Muslim extremist. Muslim schools have also been targeted, apparently by anti-immigrant racist groups ("White power" was scrawled near one school).

Van Gogh's death was apparently in retaliation for his short film Submission, which portrays Islam as a misogynist religion that supports rape and abuse. The film recently aired on Dutch television, infuriating many Muslims in the country. Van Gogh wasn't simply anti-Muslim, but Islam became a dominant target after the murder of politician Pim Fortuyn. Still, he frequently attacked religion in general and Christianity in specific. Thus, while news reports indicate that the Dutch churches were probably attacked by retaliating Muslims, and at least one Islamic group promised reprisals for the mosque attacks, there's also the possibility that they were attacked by the same terrorists who targeted the mosques and schools. No arrests have been reported in the church arson attacks.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, an evangelical Protestant, blames Muslims and non-Muslims. "Extremism is reaching the roots of our democracy," the Associated Press reports him telling Parliament yesterday. "We cannot let ourselves be blinded by people who seek to drag us into a spiral of violence. It is the joint task of Muslims and non-Muslims to warn young people against radicalization. Together we need to work toward a peaceful society. … We have to utterly reject this violence altogether, because we're being un-Dutch."

"The violence, the aggression must stop. And that goes for people who get the idea that they should damage Muslim mosques or schools, too," said Jan-Gerd Heetderks, dean of the Netherlands' Protestant churches, according to another Associated Press report.

American killed in Ivory Coast apparently not a missionary
News agencies reporting on the recent violence in Ivory Coast have repeatedly said that the American killed by the West African country's warplanes last weekend was an American missionary. The source is U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Ergibe Boyd, who made the guess based on the absence of U.S. military and diplomatic presence in the country. An article in The Post-Standard of Syracuse, New York, however, suggests that Boyd was mistaken. Robert Carsky (photo) was a soil scientist and crop researcher affiliated with WARDA, a rice production agency. There's no reference to religion in the Post-Standard story.

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Specter may be off the hook
Just a guess, but the uproar from conservative groups over Sen. Arlen Specter's chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee may be over. He's backed way, way down, and appears in today's Wall Street Journal op-ed pages promising to support pro-life judges.

But now comes what may be a bigger battle: replacing Attorney General John Ashcroft with current White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, who has been widely criticized by religious conservatives in the past. Focus on the Family has actively opposed Gonzales in the past, when his name was bandied about as a possible Supreme Court justice. "We are absolutely opposed to Alberto Gonzales," Tom Minnery, Focus's vice president for public policy, told the Los Angeles Times last year. "He is soft on the constitutional issues we care most about."

Gary Bauer similarly said, "I think any conservative would be deeply concerned by a Gonzales nomination."

In a separate setting, pro-life activist Joseph Starrs told The Rutherford Institute, "I don't think he is a conservative. And if he is pro-life, I haven't seen anything to indicate it."

And the Family Research Council's Connie Mackey told The Washington Times, "There is a long list of qualified candidates who would uphold laws defending the sanctity of human life. It's not clear that Al Gonzales is one of them."

The Times explained: "As a Texas Supreme Court justice, Gonzales voted in several cases to allow a teenage girl to obtain an abortion without her parents' knowledge. He said he was following Texas law."

But Weblog may be getting ahead of itself here. Religious conservatives may not fuss about Gonzales's appointment as attorney general, thinking that it might at least keep him off the Supreme Court.

More (a lot more) articles

Arlen Specter | Court Battles | Evangelical Voters | Catholic Voters | Hispanic Voters | Divided America | Marriage Amendment Voters | 'Moral Values' | Contempt for Religion | Democrats & Religion | Should Faith Matter? | Payback | America & Europe | EU & Religion | Churches & Politics | Australia | Same-Sex Marriage | Marriage & Family | Human Rights | Religious Freedom | Sudan | Ireland | War & Terrorism | Church & State | Education | Abortion | Stem Cells | Suicide | Health | Alcohol | Poverty & Social Justice | Missions & Ministry | Church Life | Pastors | Denominational life | Episcopalians & Anglicans | Catholicism | Closing Parishes | Abuse | Crime | Halloween | Santa | TV and Movies | Music | Sports | Money & Business | Books | History | Prayer & Spirituality | Other Articles

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Arlen Specter & judicial nominees:

  • Specter vows fairness for Bush nominees | The Republican in line to head the Senate Judiciary Committee says President Bush's nominees for judgeships will get a fair hearing even if some candidates oppose abortion rights (Associated Press)

  • Specter denies pro-choice litmus test | Sen. Arlen Specter, who set off a firestorm of controversy last week among conservatives who interpreted certain remarks as a warning to President Bush not to nominate pro-life judicial candidates, pledged to treat the president's choices fairly and quickly (The Washington Times)

  • Too late about Arlen | The person most to blame for Specter being in a position to deep six President Bush's judicial nominees is President Bush (Shawn Macomber, The American Spectator)

  • "A man of his word" | Listen to what Specter said (Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online)

  • Specter defends record on judiciary | The GOP senator who backs abortion rights counters opposition to his chairmanship (Los Angeles Times)

  • Furor continues over Specter comments on nominees | Several influential conservative Republicans indicated yesterday that Sen. Arlen Specter, who is in line to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee next year, has not succeeded in tamping down the furor he created last week when he appeared to warn President Bush not to select Supreme Court nominees who oppose abortion rights (The Washington Post)

  • The Specter of GOP warfare | How did Arlen Specter become Republican Enemy No. 1? (Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post)

  • Why the Specter flap matters | The assault from the right on the Pennsylvania Republican senator just elected to a fifth term is in fact serious, revealing, and possibly an early indicator of the latest attempt by conservatives -- after a generation of false starts -- to actually govern the country (Thomas Oliphant, The Boston Globe)

  • Specter, opponents press Senate leaders | Sen. Arlen Specter is working the phones and embarking on a media blitz in an attempt to cement his standing as future chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the face of demands from conservatives that he be passed over (Associated Press)

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The battle over the courts:

  • Why the Supreme Court scales won't tip | The basic arithmetic of the court's three-on-the-right, two-in-the-middle, four-on-the-left configuration will hold steady (Edward Lazarus, The Washington Post)

  • Bush and the high court | The average age of the nine justices exceeds 70 years. That's about three years greater than the average age of the nine justices when Mr. Reagan, who eventually appointed a chief justice and filled three associate justice vacancies, was inaugurated in 1981 (Editorial, The Washington Times)

  • A new start on courts | President Bush's reelection with an enlarged Republican majority in the Senate presents him with a pivotal choice on judicial nominations. He can act as a national leader to begin defusing the war over the courts, or he can flex his new political muscle and try to maximize short-term conservative gains on the bench (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  • Joyful and triumphant | The religious right is in heaven at the prospect of remaking the Supreme Court (Michelle Goldberg,

  • Court crusade in Springs | Colo. groups lead national call for conservative justices (The Denver Post)

  • Supreme Court strategy | President Bush should give voters what they want: conservative Justices (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)

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Evangelical voters:

  • Did God intervene? | Evangelicals are crediting God with securing re-election victory for George W. Bush (Beliefnet)

  • Evangelicals say they led charge for the GOP | the untold story of the 2004 election, according to national religious leaders and grass-roots activists, is that evangelical Christian groups were often more aggressive and sometimes better organized on the ground than the Bush campaign (The Washington Post)

  • For the president, a vote of full faith and credit | Evangelical Christians shed their reluctance to mix religion and politics on Election Day (The Washington Post)

  • Exit poll data inconclusive on increase in evangelical voters | Exit polls do not permit a direct comparison of how many evangelical and born-again Americans voted in 2000 and 2004 because the way pollsters identified these voters changed (The Washington Post)

  • State of the Union: The Evangelical vote | Tim Egan says the conservative Christian community was crucial to George Bush's success (BBC)

  • On a word and a prayer | George W. Bush was elected without a clear, specific "morality" agenda (Steven Waldman, The New York Times)

  • We Christians ought to be embarrassed | I listened with shock as Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center said it was the organization and get-out-the vote campaigns by my evangelical church that put George W. Bush back into the White House. I'm ashamed to call myself a Christian today. (Richard Williams, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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  • It's the moderates, stupid | If the election cannot be explained by a massive upsurge in evangelical voters, what really happened? (Mark J. Penn, The Washington Post)

  • Corrections | it is inconclusive whether that meant his support among evangelical Christians increased; questions used in 2000 and 2004 to identify evangelical Christians were not directly comparable (The New York Times)

Who are evangelicals?

  • Evangelicals 'are not nearly as scary as some people think' | Social-values issues aside, they are a diverse group, an evangelical activist and political scientist insist (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Churches take leap of faith | Among the fastest-growing Christian congregations in New Hampshire are evangelical, largely independent, churches led by a new breed of inspired missionaries intent on transforming the state's spiritual landscape. (The Union Leader, Manchester, N.H.)

  • Evangelicals embrace Bible | Evangelical Christians can be Pentecostals inspired by the Holy Spirit and Bible-based believers seeking a personal connection with Christ (The Union Leader, Manchester, N.H.)

  • Church members find a home | Manchester Christian Church, one of the largest independent evangelical Christian churches in the state, has seen average attendance at Sunday services more than double in the last seven years (The Union Leader, Manchester, N.H.)

  • Evangelical church growth vigorous, but hard to track | Since many evangelical Protestant churches are independent, non-denominational congregations with no central governing body, it is difficult to track their numbers or members (The Union Leader, Manchester, N.H.)

  • What it means to be 'evangelical' | Fundamentalists and free-marketeers make unholy allies (Sean Gonsalves, Cape Cod Times, Mass.)

  • Rove's revenge | The new evangelicals challenge science because they've been stirred up to object to social engineering on behalf of society's most vulnerable: the poor, the sick, the sexually different. Yet the Bush conservatives do their own social engineering (Maureen Dowd, The New York Times)

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Catholic vote:

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  • Character is what counts | Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly are a key component of these "values voters." (Leonard A. Leo, The Washington Times)

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Hispanic vote:

  • How Hispanics voted Republican | In making their gains, the Republicans exploited a largely unheralded fact: among minority groups, Hispanics rank with the most religious (Carolyn Curiel, The New York Times)

  • Hispanic voters declare their independence | With 44 percent of their votes going to President Bush, Hispanics can no longer be considered reliably Democrat. Much of the reason has to do with abortion and religious issues (The New York Times)

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Divided America:

  • Bush, Kerry voters differ on view of U.S. | The nation is emerging from the 2004 presidential election with two very different portraits of itself sketched by two very different halves of its population (Associated Press)

  • Can history save the Democrats? | There are signs that the divide between the Republican majority and a Democratic party seemingly trapped in second place may be hardening into a pattern (The New York Times)

  • The great divide | Are some blue state residents out of touch with most of the country? Yes. But this can be a virtue (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  • Hicks nixed slicks' pick | The real electoral division isn't between the coasts and the heartland. It's between cities all over the United States and the rest of the country. (Sean Wilentz, Los Angeles Times)

  • A divided nation has him seeing red | The members of this new political-religious union seem to forget that evangelical Christianity is only one form of Christianity, and they ignore the devout worshipers who are not Christians (Donald M. Murray, The Boston Globe)

  • Power and the evangelical womb | That America is two nations has become a commonplace. But what is the destiny of these two nations? (Spengler, Asia Times)

  • Moderates, not moralists | John Kerry was not defeated by the religious right. He was beaten by moderates who went -- reluctantly in many cases -- for President Bush (E. J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post)

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Marriage amendment voters:

  • Gay-marriage ruling pushed voters | Mobilized Bush, left Kerry wary (The Boston Globe)

  • Gay advocates examine role in election | Gay and lesbian advocates have been doing some soul-searching since President Bush's election victory, wondering if same-sex wedding marches through San Francisco and Massachusetts tipped the scales to Republicans promising to restore traditional values (Associated Press)

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  • Maybe same-sex marriage didn't make the difference | Gay rights' advocates bristle at the charge, not least because they do not want their movement to lose traction, and they have marshaled statistics and logic to refute it (The New York Times)

  • The gay marriage deception | The news media have grossly misreported the contents of state referendum questions targeting Americans who are apparently seen as more dangerous to national security than John Kerry -- gay people (Thomas Oliphant, The Boston Globe)

  • The gay marriage myth | Terrorism, not values, drove Bush's re-election (Paul Freedman, Slate)

  • Gay group fears Bush victory could mean less tolerance | What a difference a day makes, say some members of the west Pasco gay community (The Suncoast News, New Port Richey, Fla.)

  • Contempt for gays unites black and white Christians | It was a triumph for bigotry based on the Bible. From conservative pulpits around the country, pastors had implored their flocks to go to the polls and vote against the "abomination" of homosexuality (Cynthia Tucker)

  • Gay marriage is not to blame | The more balanced, informed lesson for Democrats or anyone who cares about issues of equality might be more education, not less; more conversation, not less; and a dialogue that stresses the value and importance of equality in this country (Mary Bonauto and Marty Rouse, The Boston Globe)

  • Don't blame the gays | Why the "moral values" story plays right into the GOP's hands (Michelangelo Signorile, New York Press)

  • Taking a stand against immorality | Bush shows East Africa the way (Ciru Gikonyo, The East African, Kenya)

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'Moral values' made the difference:

  • Faith-based vote proved a big factor in Bush win | "Religion has always played a factor in U.S. elections. This time, it was much more intense," says John Green (The Sacramento Bee, Ca.)

  • 'Moral values' carried Bush, Rove says | President Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, said Tuesday that opposition to gay marriage was one of the most powerful forces in American politics today and that politicians ignored it at their peril (The New York Times)

  • 'Moral values' a surprise factor in Bush victory: experts | Conservative "moral values" played an unexpectedly decisive role in President George W. Bush's victory in the US presidential election, experts say, and the victors look set to reward opponents of gay marriage and abortion (AFP)

  • 'Values voters got stirred up' on issue | The roots of George Bush's presidential election victory can be found in two of the most unlikely places: Vermont, which voted 3-to-2 for Sen. John Kerry. And Kerry's own Massachusetts (The Kansas City Star)

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  • A 'moral voter' majority? The culture wars are back | Exit polls stir a debate over the role of morals — and religious values — in the nation's politics (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Confession time | The wall between church and state is falling fast (David Gibson, Newark Star-Ledger, N.J.)

  • Winning values | The Americans liberals forgot reelect the president (Rich Lowry, National Review Online)

  • Culture collides | Democrat John Kerry was defeated by a resolute army of voters who marched out in massive numbers to strike a peaceful blow at the ballot box for a traditionalist vision of American society (Terence P. Jeffrey, The Washington Times)

  • God's country | Christians' support for Bush illustrates moral counterattack (Gayle White, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Moral of this election: Don't dismiss values | If Democrats or Republicans wish to invoke morality, I don't see the problem. (John Kass, Chicago Tribune)

  • We're saved. You lost. Now what? | For most Americans, life has both a material and a spiritual dimension. The one they will sacrifice, if they must. The other, never (Michael Skube, Los Angeles Times)

  • It's family values, stupid | George Bush owes his triumph to the conservative values of small town America. The moral majority is made up, not of zealots, but ordinary folk who care (Sarah Baxter, The Times, London)

  • How Bush tapped into a well of faith | The Republican revolution left Democrats marginalized as the voters affirmed their belief in the President (Paul Harris, The Observer, London)

  • Why George Bush beat John Kerry | When I returned to Uganda from my first visit to America last December, I wrote in The Monitor arguing that just from spending six days in New York City, I had noticed that America, far from being a multi-cultural, secular country, is actually a conservative White-dominated, Christian nation (Timothy Kalyegira, The Monitor, Uganda)

No, 'moral values' didn't make the difference:

  • The 'moral values' issue | Andrew Kohut, the president of the Pew Research Center, called says it's misleading to say the election of George W. Bush turned on moral values (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

  • The values-vote myth | Every election year, we in the commentariat come up with a story line to explain the result, and the story line has to have two features. First, it has to be completely wrong. Second, it has to reassure liberals that they are morally superior to the people who just defeated them (David Brooks, The New York Times)

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  • 'Values' and facts | Did religious zealots decide election? Evidence says no (Editorial, Daily Camera, Boulder, Col.)

  • False alarms over 'theocrats' | Religious vote doesn't explain Bush's victory (Editorial, Rocky Mountain News, Co.)

  • A vote for moral revival? No way | Americans don't want the government policing individual morality any more than they want the NFL to switch to touch football. America is a live-and-let-live country, and it's only growing more so (Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune)

  • A question of values | A poorly devised exit poll question and a dose of spin are threatening to undermine our understanding of the 2004 presidential election (Gary Langer, The New York Times)

  • No, it wasn't God | The Republicans won because they had a very clear idea of what they stood for. The Democrats did not (David Aaronovitch, The Observer, London)

Well, 'moral values' kinda made some difference:

  • It's a deeper shade of red | In Indiana, a state as reliably Republican as can be, Bush backers take exception to the Bible-thumping clichés (Los Angeles Times)

  • Dupes and dopes of campaign '04 | Just how, precisely, were all these cultural conservatives duped? It seems to me that they saw through the promises for what they were -- empty -- and voted on what mattered most to them (Richard Cohen, The Washington Post)

  • Defining the values victory | The truth is that values, which exit polls found motivated many of Mr. Bush's supporters, have much less to do with religion than Democrats believe (Bruce Bartlett, The Washington Times)

  • Laying claim to the nation | Turnout of GOP faithful had more impact on election than faith itself (Michael Tackett, Chicago Tribune)

  • Moral values may differ yet still be right | Though my father and I might fault certain of each other's choices and beliefs, neither of us ever attacked the other one as fundamentally immoral (Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune)

  • Confessions of a 'moral issues' voter | I am no Republican, but I had to go with Bush this time (Eric Miller, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Whose 'moral values' are we talking about?

  • Multiple dimensions to 'moral values' | Observers say catch-all phrase ranges far beyond evangelicals (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

  • Morally speaking, Iraq was a bigger issue | Is talk of the religious right's resurgence overstated? A new poll released yesterday by Zogby International showed that 42 percent of voters saw the war in Iraq as the most pressing moral issue affecting their choice for president — almost twice as many as those citing abortion and same-sex marriage (Newsday)

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Liberal 'moral values':

  • Poll question stirs debate on meaning of 'values' | Some Democrats and independent pollsters acknowledge that cultural issues were important in Mr. Bush's re-election, but worry that that Republicans and Mr. Bush will act forcefully on a false mandate (The New York Times)

  • Liberals dismayed by 'moral values' claims | Family values, traditional values and now, "moral values." Most American adults would say they have them, and yet that two-word phrase is the focus of an ideological tug-of-war heightened by President Bush's re-election, with conservatives declaring principal ownership and liberals scrambling to challenge them (Associated Press)

  • Moderates, liberals hear call to morality debate | Some Christians say conservatives should focus on issues such as poverty -- not just gay marriage and abortion (Los Angeles Times)

  • Liberal Christians challenge 'values vote' | Battling the notion that "values voters" swept President Bush to victory because of opposition to gay marriage and abortion, three liberal groups released a post-election poll in which 33 percent of voters said the nation's most urgent moral problem was "greed and materialism" and 31 percent said it was "poverty and economic justice" (The Washington Post)

  • Whose morality? | Abortion, gay rights and embryonic stem cell research are among the "moral values" upon which the presidential election may have turned. But the Right is immoral on many points (Editorial, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

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  • Where's the morality in Bush's policy? | Where in the heck is the Christian left? (Leonard Pitts, The Miami Herald)

  • No GOP monopoly on God | Did God vote Republican? You'd think so if you listen to some of the evangelical supporters of George Bush (Jesse Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times)

  • The morality 'play' | What is surprising is the presumption that only voters on the conservative right have moral values (Editorial, The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  • Nobody has a monopoly on morality | Honesty, compassion, tolerance, modesty, charity, love, peace, justice, humility, forgiveness, generosity of spirit — they're moral values, sure, but the moral values of losers (Diane Carman, Denver Post)

  • Faith and fear in Bush's America | The Blue State mind-set views President Bush as the embodiment of anything but morality (Eli Valley, The Jerusalem Post)

  • NH proved Democrats can win an election on moral values | More basic and universal public values and morals played a key role in ridding ourselves of our ethically challenged governor (Burt Cohen, The Union Leader, Manchester, N.H.)

  • Taking back 'values' | I suspect that the people answering the exit polls also accepted the categorical divide between the pocketbook and the Bible, between economic and moral issues, between war and values. Anyone who isn't a member of the antiabortion, anti-gay-rights, fundamentalist right is categorized -- or caricatured -- as someone who checked her values 100 yards from the polling booth (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)

  • Seeing Red, or maybe not | "Moral values" strikes me as a loaded, divisive phrase in that it can imply that some have the key to what is moral and right (Michael Getler, The Washington Post)

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Contempt for religion (analysis):

  • Cultural conservatives actually represent the norm | liberals Are shrieking that unwashed hordes of Shi'ite Baptists and the Taliban Catholics have raised the curtain on a new Dark Age (Rod Dreher, The Dallas Morning News)

  • Highly motivated evangelicals | Democrats have spent decades alternately ignoring and then ridiculing conservative Christians. They paid for that contempt on Tuesday (Tim Swarens, The Indianapolis Star)

  • What now, Democrats? | Democrats might want to tone down the contempt for evangelicals in particular and religious people in general that increasingly flows through their secular-dominated party (John Leo, U.S. News & World Report)

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  • Left behind | Did Kerry lose because liberals mock conservative Christians? (Michael McGough, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • The sore-loser party | What Maher, Raines, and Smiley fail to grasp is that all morality is based upon transcendence — or it is merely based on utilitarianism of one kind or another, and therefore it is not morality so much as, at best, an enlightened expediency or will-to-power (Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online)

  • Bush's secularist triumph | The left apologizes for religious fanatics. The president fights them (Christopher Hitchens, Slate)

  • Understanding the values vote | Even if Democrats disagree with the "values voter," they should strive to understand him rather than resort to silly caricatures (Tom Neven, The Denver Post)

  • You really don't have to be religious to be a bigot | The division across the western world is between those of any faith or none who are prepared to tolerate everyone else, and those whose faith rejects tolerance (Minette Marrin, The Times, London)

Contempt (examples):

  • Shaken by the notion of a faith-based nation | The Puritans won. (Diane Winston, The Baltimore Sun)

  • Natural disorder | A God-fearing majority is set to tyrannize the US (Albert Scardino, The Guardian, London)

  • Here come the theo-cons | Could the lesson of America be that taking a strong traditional stand on issues like homosexuality and abortion is the route to power? (Peter Allen, CBS News)

  • The satanic Christians of the USA | Which Bible do they bash? Not mine (Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Pravda, Russia)

  • Emboldened 'Christian crowd' a terrifying force | Be afraid. Be very afraid. The "Moral Majority" once was neither, but half its moniker now is true (Billie Stanton, Tucson Citizen, Arizona)

  • Our vanished values | This is the election in which American Christianity destroyed itself (Michael Feingold, The Village Voice)

  • Puritanism of the rich | Bush's ideology has its roots in 17th century preaching that the world exists to be conquered (George Monbiot, The Guardian, London)

  • Don't cast your vote based on fear | My inbox has been full of e-mail since my column Sunday about the Bush team's post-election spin job (Wil LaVeist, Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)

  • Red-state PC | Why you can't call them "the Christian right" (Timothy Noah, Slate)

  • God's got coattails | Our Constitution says there can be no religious test for office, but our politics is shouting a contrary message (Tom Teepen, Palm Beach Post)

  • False prophets | The Founders would be appalled at the Bush administration's shameless religious exhibitionism (Edwin M. Yoder Jr.,

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  • U.S. government & God | Satire, an interview with Clinton's pastor, and more (The Current, CBC)

  • Fire and brimstone on the road to Armageddon | These intellectually challenged characters have been given four more years to run the world -- thanks to a rush to the ballot box by millions of Christian fundamentalists convinced that the earth and all its creatures were created in a process of divine mechanics that began at 9am on Monday, October 23, 4004BC -- and who support Israel because of evangelical prophecies involving a rapidly approaching apocalypse (Phillip Adams, The Australian)

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Democrats & religion (inside):

  • Clinton to Democrats: Discuss convictions | Former President Clinton, noting an "astonishing turnout among evangelical Christians" in this year's election, warned Tuesday that Democrats "cannot be nationally competitive when we don't feel comfortable talking about our convictions" (Associated Press)

  • Stiffing the base | It's not the Democrats who disrespect faith-based voters. It's the Republicans (Matthew Yglesias, The American Prospect)

  • Am I blue? | I apologize for everything I believe in. May I go now? (Michael Kinsley, Los Angeles Times)

  • The gettables | Democrats locked in the values debate need to remember an important distinction (Michael Tomasky, The American Prospect)

  • Democrats: Get religion! | Democrats need to develop their own cultural politics -- a politics that does not sneer at the deepest commitments of the vast majority of the American people. They need to get right with God (Stephen Prothero, The Boston Globe)

  • Bush's 'values' got more black voters in his camp than in 2000, but all is not lost for Democrats | Take heart, dear Democrats: Yours is a party that once indisputably held the moral high ground in the minds of most American voters and you can seize it again. (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune)

  • No, the pocketbook rules | Much has been written about the Republican success in using "values" issues, such as support for the traditional family, religious zeal, and opposition to gay rights and abortion. But if Democrats conclude that this is the strategy to emulate, God help them (Robert Kuttner, The Boston Globe)

  • Time to get religion | I wish that winning were just a matter of presentation. But it's not. It involves compromising on principles (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times)

  • Inoffensive, ineffective | Democrats lose because they are unwilling to embrace the principles of their own party (Eileen McNamara, The Boston Globe)

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  • Democrats and the God gap | The Democrats should recast their own issues in moral terms, not embrace moral issues as now defined by conservatives and exploited by Republican strategists (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

Democrats & religion (outside):

  • A coalition of conviction | Religious voters can spot a phony (Kate O'Beirne, The Washington Post)

  • The Democratic party needs to 'get religion' | My post-election advice to Democrats is: Go to church. Don't go to "get religion,' although it might be good for your soul. Just go, in the first instance, to "get' religion, i.e., understand what goes on in the heads and hearts of those who devoutly believe in God and how it affects their views of the world (Morton Kondracke, Roll Call, via Pasadena Star-News, Ca.)

  • Left lost because it's wrong | Christians, in politics as in evangelism, are not against people or the world. But we are against false ideas that hold good people captive (Frank Pastore, The Times Union, Albany, N.Y.)

  • Winning the "I don't know" crowd | The problem with Democrats is that they've become the party of moral absolutism (Libby Sternberg, The Weekly Standard)

  • Democrats can't win until their politics are born again | Soul-searching on the left … and a softening of the right? (Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, London)

  • John Kerry never learned to press the right religious buttons | I am really struck by the inability of people in Europe to comprehend just how wide the gulf with the US has become on the question of faith (Gavin Esler, The Scotsman)

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Should faith matter?

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Payback time?

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  • Bush pushed from the right | Social conservatives expect President Bush to utilize his "moral mandate" to push landmark legislation through Congress (CBS News)

  • Political rewards conservatives hope for | The items on their wish list (Associated Press)

  • U.S. moves toward a new conservative era | President Bush's election victory reflected a marked shift to the right which Republicans hope will usher in a generation of conservative rule by the party, analysts said (Reuters)

  • Christian bloc demands say on social policy | Voters want Bush to ban gay marriage, appoint anti-abortion justices and halt stem cell research (The Detroit News)

  • It's not payback time | Evangelicals and conservative Catholics who turned out in great numbers and voted their moral values were not doing so in order to "get something" from the administration. Most were doing it because they've agreed with Bush for years and identify with who he is. (Chuck Colson, Breakpoint)

  • What we Bush voters share: In God we trust | The mandate President Bush will now act on is based not on Christian morality per se, but rather on a nonsectarian answer to the question of where morals come from in the first place (David Klinghoffer, Los Angeles Times)

  • Rewarding the 'values' crowd | The president and his rival speak of compromise. But the people on the winning side may see opportunity. (William Raspberry, The Washington Post)

  • Evangelical voters won't back off on gay rights, abortion | Credit evangelicals for turning the solid South solidly Republican, and for passing anti-gay marriage amendments by wide margins in 11 states, including Michigan. They are a bona-fide political force (Nolan Finley, The Detroit News)

  • He won. Live with it, for now. | Victory on the social wedge issues will backfire on the Republicans (Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times)

  • Beyond simplicity | The challenge for the Republicans is not to mythologize the 2004 election as the triumph of those with moral values over those who have none. The fastest way for Mr. Bush to surrender his mandate would be to push the agenda of the religious right at the expense of reaching across the aisle (Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mo.)

  • The religious right once again sets the agenda for America | Bush must now deliver for 'values voters' who sent him to the White House (CanWest News Service, Canada)

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America & Europe:

  • New approach sought to German-U.S. rift | Karsten Voigt's view is that because the religious right is on the ascendancy in the United States, then Germany is one of the best-placed countries in Europe to engage it (International Herald-Tribune)

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  • Not continents apart: Moral righteousness common to US, Europe | America's newly electorally-blessed neo-conservative agenda actually twins in a strange and surprising way with Europe's preferred progressive left inclinations (Editorial, The Times of India)

  • USA and Europe: Intolerance cuts both ways | George W. Bush would probably not be acceptable as a European Commissioner, but Rocco Buttiglione might do quite well as a politician in the United States. Which is more intolerant in this respect — Europe, or the United States? (Kari Huhta, Helsingin Sanomat, Helsinki, Finland)

  • On God and sex there is a moral divide between Britain and US | British and American voters have sharply different attitudes to churchgoing and abortion. A new Populus poll for The Times shows that opinion in the US on moral issues is far more polarised than in Britain (The Times, London)

  • Britain, not the US, is the odd one out | All across Europe, politics and religion still go hand in hand (Peter Preston, The Guardian, London)

  • Will Dubya be the answer to Blair prayer? | Tony Blair has publicly denied that he and President George W. Bush pray together when they meet. The picture of the two muscular Christians on their knees seeking the support of The Almighty in their battle against the non-Christian forces of evil is one that opponents of the war in Iraq have often tried to present to the world (Peter MacMahon, Evening News, Edinburgh, Scotland)

  • Too often we see the world in black and white | The politics of American religion bears striking similarities to Manichaeanism (Stephen Plant, The Times, London)

  • Oh, Lord. Not you again | Enough with the God, already. If there is one trend this country does not need to import from America — Jerry Springer aside but, oh dear, too late — it is evangelism (Martin Samuel, The Times, London)

  • US sets out its holy order | Civil liberties are under threat as the religious right aims for a social blueprint that values faith over reason (Albert Scardino, The Guardian, London)

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EU & religion:

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  • Europe's interplay with Islam at crossroad | Europe's complex interplay with Islam appears to stand at a tipping point, and the slaying of a Dutchman who made a movie critical of Islam could indicate one direction in which it is headed (Associated Press)

Italy's Rocco Buttiglione & the EU:

  • Buttiglione to lead Christian network | Rocco Buttiglione, the European commissioner-designate rejected by Brussels because of his Roman Catholic views on abortion and homosexuality, plans to form a religious lobby group to "battle for the freedom of Christians" in Europe (The Telegraph, London)

  • Buttiglione backs 'theo-con' aims | Italy's Rocco Buttiglione, who was forced to withdraw as a candidate for EU commissioner, says he plans to push for Christian values in Europe (BBC)

  • Of God and men | Unlike America's, Europe's political establishment is hostile to Christianity (Rocco Buttiglione, The Wall Street Journal)

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Jerry Falwell:

  • Falwell plans for 'evangelical revolution' | Seeking to take advantage of the momentum from an election where moral values proved important to voters, the Rev. Jerry Falwell announced Tuesday he has formed Faith and Values Coalition, a "21st century resurrection of the Moral Majority," the organization he founded in 1979 (Associated Press)

  • Press release: Falwell launches The Faith and Values Coalition | Lynchburg pastor says group is a '21st century Moral Majority' (Press release)

  • Are Christian voters swallowing camels? | Falwell's militarism reflects a coming era of vampiric Christianity, a bloodthirsty version of the faith that dispenses with a "peace that passes understanding" in favor of an unseemly lust for political power and security (Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Churches & politics:

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  • Scary times, even for a preacher | John H. Townsend, pastor emeritus of the First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, wonders if the spreading stain of hypocrisy will drive some people away from faith, because under the guise of morality, bigotry was used to get the vote out for President Bush (Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times)

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Religion and politics in Australia:

  • Soul-searching Labor laments stumbling over family values | George Bush's victory over John Kerry has prompted intense soul searching among senior Labor figures. Many in the party believe there are lessons to be learnt from the emergence of traditional family values in the American presidential campaign and the Australian election. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

  • Bishop says election results show voters want moral leaders | The Anglican Bishop of Armidale, Peter Brain, says the results of the Australian and United States elections indicate people are looking for a moral compass in their political leadership.(ABC News, Australia)

  • Politics of the pulpit | After propelling George Bush back into the White House, the Christian right is about to redraw the moral and cultural boundaries of America. (The Age, Australia)

  • Family First 'does not own God' | The Labor Party has launched a stinging attack on Family First, branding it the "Assemblies of God party" over its Christian roots. (The Australian)

  • Will the sneering at the religious now stop? | Surely after the election results the media can no longer dismiss and demean people of faith (Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, The Age, Australia)

  • Evangelist takes safe Labor seat | Sydney evangelist and Liberal candidate Louise Markus has all but grabbed the Labor-dominated seat of Greenway in a surprise conservative drift (AAP, Australia)

  • Torn asunder | Faith can move mountains. In the US it can also turn out enough voters to win an election. Gerard Wright reports on a new American gospel and the nation's growing religious divide. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

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Rove says Bush to push for marriage amendment:

  • Bush to seek gay-marriage ban in new term — Rove | President Bush will renew a quest in his second term for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage as essential to a "hopeful and decent" society, his top political aide said on Sunday (Reuters)

  • Rove speaks out on Bush's win | President Bush "absolutely" will use his second term to push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, his top political strategist said Sunday (USA Today)

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  • 'The architect' | An exclusive interview with the man behind the president's re-election efforts, Karl Rove (Fox News Sunday, video)

Same-sex marriage:

  • States lining up to outlaw same-sex 'marriage' | The next round of proposals to amend state constitutions to define marriage will begin in a few weeks as lawmakers in as many as nine states promise to get such measures before voters (The Washington Times)

  • Baptists pass marriage statement | On Monday, state Rep. Warren Chisum, filed a resolution in Austin that would amend the Texas Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Gay marriage target of Arizona amendment push | Some in Arizona seeking a safeguard against court rulings (Dallas Morning News)

  • Oregon couples fret over gay marriage ban | Status of spring marriages, and the benefits that come with them, is unclear after Oregon voters decisively approved a ban on gay marriage this past week (Associated Press)

  • Union and division | The electorate's response to gay marriage sent a community reeling. But hope lives (Los Angeles Times)

  • Listen to America | Every time the question of same-sex marriage is put before the public, the public emphatically says no. America is not divided on this issue. (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)

  • New marriage laws facing court tests | Legal wrangling over new state constitutional amendments on marriage is already under way in Oregon, Louisiana and Oklahoma, and expected within a few weeks in Georgia (The Washington Times)

  • Falling leaves | Enshrining in the Utah Constitution a prohibition not only of same-sex marriage but also of any other approximation of marriage should make it clear that disapproval of same-sex marriage is not the same as a willingness to avert one's eyes when people get beat up or killed just because they are gay (Editorial, The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah)

  • Gay community fears new era of intolerance | Equality campaigners are in despair at the rise of the homophobic right (The Observer, London)

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Marriage & family:

  • Governor gives push to covenant marriage | Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife plan to convert their nuptial vows into a covenant marriage during a mass ceremony on Valentine's Day, giving a public push to the movement that seeks to strengthen marital ties and make it harder to get divorced (Associated Press)

  • There's no such thing as no-fault divorce | With the advent of no-fault divorces, couples are inclined to blame "irreconcilable differences," without pausing to sort out those differences (David Yount, Scripps Howard News Service)

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  • Moms on the front lines of America's culture wars | The war between stay-at-home mothers and those with careers is old news. But lately the battle has escalated beyond coffee-klatch sniping to the public-policy arena (Lynne Varner, The Seattle Times)

Same-sex marriage elsewhere:

  • MP fails to win rights for siblings | An attempt by traditionalist Conservatives to extend to cohabiting siblings the rights granted to gay couples under the civil partnerships bill was thrown out by MPs last night (The Guardian, London)

  • Earlier: Tories demand gay rights for siblings | Tory MPs will call today for the Commons to give brothers and sisters who live together the same rights to exemption from inheritance tax as is being proposed for homosexual couples (The Telegraph, London)

  • Also: Tory split on 'family values' | Senior Tory MPs challenged Michael Howard yesterday to follow President Bush's strong line on family values and "gay marriage" as they attacked the Civil Partnerships Bill (The Times, London)

  • MPs back equality for gay couples | MPs voted last night to give gay couples the same property, tax and pension rights as married people after fending off Tory "wrecking" amendments to the Civil Partnership Bill (The Times, London)

  • Related: Anger grows over Christian Institute anti-gay advert | Anger over the Christian Institute's advert in yesterday's Times newspaper is growing today, with MPs calling for an investigation into the charity (, U.K.)

  • Gay couple granted legal review | The High Court in Dublin has ruled that a gay couple can challenge the Irish tax authority's refusal to treat them as a married couple (BBC)

  • Irish judge to rule on gay marriage rights | A lesbian couple yesterday launched a high court challenge against the Irish government's refusal to recognise their marriage, in a case that could have implications for thousands of cohabiting couples in Ireland (The Guardian, London)

  • Italians oppose marriage, adoption for gays | Italians largely oppose gay marriage with 61 percent rejecting homosexual wedlock and even more opposed to adoption for same-sex couples, a poll on Sunday showed (Reuters)

  • Saskatchewan okays same-sex marriage | A Saskatchewan court ruling Friday made the Canadian prairie province the country's seventh jurisdiction to allow homosexuals to wed (Associated Press)

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Human rights:

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  • A Ugandan tragedy | As the world finally turns its gaze toward the horrors in Darfur, an equally terrible situation in northern Uganda continues to go unnoticed (Jan Egeland, The Washington Post)

  • 27 feared dead in Ozalla witch verification exercise | Twenty-seven persons were yesterday feared dead in Ozalla community in Owan West Local Government area of Edo State following the intake of a concoction allegedly administered on them during a witchcraft verification exercise by a herbalist hired by elders of the community (Vanguard, Nigeria)

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Religious freedom:

  • In Vegas, an unholy alliance | The ACLU is siding with evangelical street preachers in a dispute with casinos over who controls the sidewalks on the Strip (Los Angeles Times)

  • Call to abolish amendments to blasphemy act | Followers of Ahl-i-Sunnat school of thought were of the view that this step had been taken in order to please "America, Jews, Christians and Qadianis" (Dawn, Pakistan)

  • Priest's detention is another blow to rights in Haiti | The Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, the Roman Catholic priest who was dragged from his church last month while feeding the poor children of his Haitian parish, has been moved to a prison in Carrefour (Jim Defede, The Miami Herald)

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  • Darfur slides | The world faces a choice now, and its nature must not be obscured by more weeks of U.N.-speak about being preoccupied with the problem (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  • UN body probing Sudan 'genocide' | A UN-appointed commission has arrived in Sudan to decide whether genocide has taken place in the region of Darfur (BBC)

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  • Keep the pressure on Khartoum | The UN must get a peace deal signed in Sudan and then oversee its implementation (John Ryle, The Guardian, U.K.)

  • Sudanese rape victims find justice blind to plight | Despite widespread documentation of the rapes by international groups and promises by the government to investigate and prosecute rape cases, sexual violence remains a low official priority. Sudanese society ostracizes rape victims and associates them with deep shame (The Washington Post)

  • U.S. mulls stopping aid if no peace deal in S. Sudan | The United States next week intends to tell Sudan and its southern opposition that offers of aid may be withdrawn if an agreement is not signed soon to end Africa's longest-running civil war, its U.N. ambassador said (Reuters)

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  • Power sharing urged in N. Ireland | Northern Ireland's peace process will face "an enormous tragedy" if political rivals cannot agree this month to revive a Catholic-Protestant administration in the British territory, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said Monday (Associated Press)

  • Rival Voice to strike fear into Irish Catholic paper | The once serene domain of religious publication has just got ugly (The Times, London)

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War & terrorism:

  • Mubarak decries anti-Islam, Christian bias | Egyptian president marked the holiest night of the Islamic calendar Tuesday, calling for greater tolerance for all religions and saying the world was wrong to equate Arabs and Muslims with terrorism (Associated Press)

  • Cry of Onward Christian Soldiers may cause confusion for Marines | So what has God got to do with it, or Satan for that matter? Quite a lot, if the man leading the Marines into Fallujah thinks that it is Satan he is going in there to fight and to overcome (Malachi O'Doherty, The Belfast Telegraph, N.I.)

  • Marines turn to God ahead of anticipated Fallujah battle | With US forces massing outside Fallujah, 35 marines swayed to Christian rock music and asked Jesus Christ to protect them in what could be the biggest battle since American troops invaded Iraq last year (AFP)

  • Baghdad church, hospital blasts kill eight | Car bombs at two Baghdad churches and outside a hospital treating the victims of those attacks killed at least eight people and wounded dozens on Monday night as a wave of blasts struck the Iraqi capital (Reuters)

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Church & state:

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Jewish parents want Scientology's tax break:

  • Scientologist tax trial to open today | A California accountant who sends his children to Orthodox Jewish schools is to appear in federal court this morning to attempt to force the Internal Revenue Service to grant him the same tax deduction for religious instruction that it accords to members of the Church of Scientology (New York Sun)

  • Calif. couple seeks religious tax break | A lawyer for an Orthodox Jewish couple claimed Monday the Internal Revenue Service has unfairly refused to allow tax deductions for their children's religious schooling (Associated Press)


  • Southern Baptists to reconsider public schools | Proposal to encourage creating church schools (Associated Press)

  • Combating gay teen suicide risk | Organizers of a Santa Ana candlelight vigil point out danger signs for troubled students (Los Angeles Times)

  • Marriage wording to change in Texas books | The Texas Board of Education approved new health textbooks for the state's high school and middle school students Friday after the publishers agreed to change the wording to depict marriage as the union of a man and a woman (Associated Press)

  • Transcending the usual courses | As schools adopt form of meditation, critics abound (The Washington Post)

  • Left to decay | Academe's liberal consensus is so entrenched that it is weakening intellectual rigor, writes Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  • Sanctuary | Even on today's multifaith campuses, chaplains are vital in offering spiritual, moral, and psychological relief from pressures facing faculty members and students, writes Donna Schaper, a United Church of Christ pastor. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  • Lawsuit over anti-gay shirt can proceed, judge decides | Student who wore it was taken out of class (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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Ashland U. to hire Jews, Christians only:

Teaching evolution, or not:

  • Wisconsin school okays creationism teaching | Grantsburg's school board has revised its science curriculum to allow the teaching of creationism, prompting an outcry from more than 300 educators who urged that the decision be reversed (Associated Press)

  • Georgia evolution case heads to court | School officials in suburban Cobb County go to court Monday to defend themselves against a lawsuit accusing the district of promoting religion by requiring that science textbooks warn students evolution is "a theory, not a fact" (Associated Press)

  • Court to weigh in on evolution feud | Parents sue Cobb schools for putting disclaimers in books that teach the theory (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Cobb schools chief testifies against disclaimers | Cobb County Superintendent of Schools Joseph Redden testified Tuesday morning that he did not want evolution disclaimers in the system's science textbooks (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Evolution textbooks row goes to court | A suburban American school board found itself in court yesterday after it tried to placate Christian fundamentalist parents by placing a sticker on its science textbooks saying evolution was "a theory, not a fact" (The Guardian, London)

  • Georgia evolution lawsuit is a fact | A group of parents backed by the ACLU sues over 'theory' sticker in biology textbooks (Los Angeles Times)

  • Stickers put in evolution text are the subject of a federal trial | A judge began hearing testimony about whether a Georgia school district could leave stickers in biology textbooks saying that evolution was "a theory, not a fact" (The New York Times)

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  • Georgia school board in court over evolution flap | Lawyers for a Georgia school district and a group of parents clashed on Monday over the constitutionality of placing stickers that challenge the theory of evolution on textbooks (Associated Press)

Sexual education:

  • Board okays sex-ed program | The Montgomery County public school system approved a curriculum yesterday in which 10th-graders will be shown how to put condoms on cucumbers, and eighth-graders will learn that homosexual couples are the newest American family (The Washington Times)

  • Montgomery expands sex-ed | 10th-graders to see video on condoms (The Washington Post)

Teacher talks abortion:

  • Teach's abortion talk causes waves | A Fairhaven music teacher has outraged parents by discussing abortion with first- and second-graders in an elementary school classroom, WHDH 7 News reported last night (Boston Herald)

  • Principal defends teacher who made abortion remarks | The principal of Fairhaven's Rogers Elementary School yesterday defended music teacher Rita Campoli as a "wonderful teacher and a very kind-hearted soul" who inadvertently "crossed the line" in making Election Day comments about abortion to first- and second-graders (Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.)

  • Earlier: Teacher's politics disturbs students | First-graders were told Kerry 'kills babies' (Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.)

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Abortion in Nepal:

Abortion in Africa:

  • Call to repeal abortion law | The Government has been asked to repealed the law on abortion to reduce maternal deaths, a weekend meeting has proposed (The Nation, Kenya)

  • Catholics against abortion — bishop | The bishop of Kasana-Luweero Catholic diocese, the Rt. Rev. Cyprian Lwanga, has said the Catholic Church preaches against abortion because it is an evil thing that traumatises women throughout their life time (New Vision, Uganda)

Abortion debate in Australia:

  • Soaring teen abortion rate revealed | Abortion rates in Victoria have risen in the past decade, new figures reveal, with more than 18,000 pregnancies terminated in the past year(The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Also: Minister denies soaring abortion rate | Victoria's State Health Minister Bronwyn Pike has denied accusations, made in today's Age newspaper, that the teen abortion rate is soaring (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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  • Age emerges as abortion factor | The women who are making the hard decision to walk into an abortion clinic are increasingly over 40, Asian migrants or full-time workers such as nurses and teachers (The Australian)

  • Church welcomes abortion debate | The Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart has welcomed the renewed debate on abortion, describing Australia's 100,000 abortions a year as a "huge suffering" (The Australian)

  • Costello hoses down abortion talk | Treasurer Peter Costello has warned Coalition colleagues to keep the abortion debate out of Federal Parliament, echoing the comments of the premiers that the divisive issue is a matter for the states (The Australian)

  • 'Birth control choice' reduces terminations | A Statistics New Zealand report, comparing the number of terminations in 14 countries, shows that 264 out of every 1000 pregnancies in Australia ends in abortion. (The Australian)

  • New anti-abortion tune still rings false | I find myself tempted to reply to the ever-expanding circle of men who, with no embarrassment, continue to grasp the media microphones to offer their pronouncements on the myriad claimed reproductive failures of women, that if they don't like abortion they shouldn't have one. (Leslie Cannold, The Australian)

  • MPs clarify abortion views | Mr Garrett, a deeply committed Christian, said yesterday recent articles portraying him as a pro-lifer "incorrectly reflected" his views. (The Age, Australia)

  • This is ultrasound anguish | Some of the so-called Christian voices in the abortion debate could show a little more compassion (Rachel Buchanan, The Age, Australia)

  • Garrett's jazzed, but reticent on abortion | Peter Garrett, former lead singer with Midnight Oil, said he was "absolutely jazzed" about representing people. But when asked his views on abortion, he at first said the right place to discuss his views would be in the Labor caucus room. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

  • Costello digs heels in on abortion | The abortion debate is set to overshadow the first post-election meeting of Coalition MPs next week after the Treasurer yesterday rejected the calls by those "agitating" for change, who include senior ministers. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

  • PM dragged into abortion debate | Prime Minister John Howard is being challenged to come clean on where his Government stands on abortion reform as Premier Peter Beattie branded the debate an "ugly right-wing agenda". (The Australian)

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  • No abortion mandate: states | Premiers yesterday insisted the Howard Government had no election mandate to meddle with abortion law and should stay out of what was a state responsibility. (The Australian)

  • Revisiting the abortion debate | There is no obvious groundswell of concern about abortions in the community. (Editorial, The Age, Australia)

  • PM urged to quell row on abortion | Debate swirled last night on the abortion issue, with the Federal Government urged to reveal any plans it might have to change abortion laws, and at least one federal Labor frontbench MP questioning the Governor-General's weekend entrance into the discussion. (The Age, Australia)

  • Abortion a private decision | Governments should provide education and support, but not dictate (Cyndi Tebbel, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

  • Fighting over the right to choose | Advocates for and against abortion are split over whether the latest debate heralds a genuine political shift or merely the re-hashing of old arguments. (The Age, Australia)

  • Government cracks down on abortion clinics | Abortion clinics are under greater scrutiny by the Howard Government than ever before, the director of Sydney's largest abortion provider has revealed. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

  • G-G urges debate on abortion, divorce and kids | Governor-General Michael Jeffery has made what many will see as a controversial foray into Australia's morality debate, advocating ways to reduce abortions and end the "horrific" rate of relationship breakdowns. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

Federal workers opt for Catholic health plan:

More on abortion:

  • Women wrongly warned cancer, abortion tied | Women seeking abortions in Mississippi must first sign a form indicating they've been told abortion can increase their risk of breast cancer. They aren't told that scientific reviews have concluded there is no such risk (Associated Press)

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Stem cell research:

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  • White House wants suicide law blocked | The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to block the nation's only law allowing doctors to help terminally ill patients die more quickly (Associated Press)

  • Living for today, locked in a paralyzed body | Right-to-die issues receive a lot of attention, but less is known about those with A.L.S., or Lou Gehrig's disease, who want to live (The New York Times)

  • Australians to make suicide pill | The controversial Australian euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has announced plans for a suicide pill which could be manufactured at home from easily available ingredients (The Guardian, London)

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  • Bringing religion to medicine | Perhaps it is best left to a pair of doctors to declare that the world of medicine is arrogant, too reverent of technology and in need of some time-tested spiritual wisdom (The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y.)

  • A healthy faith | Kenneth Cooper launched the aerobics craze, made stress tests commonplace, popularized antioxidants, and earned the nickname "the father of preventive medicine." He credits God (The Dallas Morning News)

  • The secret to a healthier diet might be at church | Saint Louis University School of Public Health researchers find a link between involvement in church and eating the most nourishing fruits and vegetables. (Press release, Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center)

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  • Pitching booze in a 'Bible town' | Audie Adams has been asked to leave stores and had doors slammed in her face, just for asking people if they'd like to sign a piece of paper. (Tyler Morning Telegraph, Tex.)

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  • S. Africa lifts apartheid-era Sunday alcohol ban | Shops in the Gauteng region -- which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria -- are now allowed to sell alcohol until 3.30 p.m. on Sundays and public holidays, cheering revelers but angering some religious groups and a religious-based political party (Reuters)

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Poverty & social justice:

  • Spend $150 billion per year to cure world poverty | So the economist Jeffrey Sachs is telling the developed world. But can money really change everything? (The New York Times Magazine)

  • The enlightened M.B.A. | Harvard Business School just celebrated the 10th anniversary of a program that prepares M.B.A.'s to manage nonprofit enterprises or start companies that attack social ills (The New York Times)

  • Volunteer army attacks hunger | Saddleback Church organizes a charity drive to feed the homeless for 40 days. More than 9,000 are pitching in (Los Angeles Times)

  • Bishops against poverty | Recently, African Anglican bishops converge in Lagos to review the state of their continent (The News, Nigeria)

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Missions & ministry:

  • Evangelical to speak in LDS Tabernacle | Ravi Zacharias: Speaker is known as a philosopher and says he won't denigrate Mormons (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  • Charity may have to sack staff | Teen Challenge, a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity, has warned it may have to sack staff and reduce beds because its appeal against a National Assembly decision to revoke funds has taken so long (Western Mail, Wales)

  • Mark Earley returns to his first calling, the ministry | Earley, runner-up in Virginia's last gubernatorial election, is president of Prison Fellowship Ministries, the nation's largest religious outreach to inmates (The Virginian-Pilot, Newport Beach, Va.)

  • Daily bread, every day for 75 years | The St. Francis Breadline is a 7-day-a-week operation that is neither a soup kitchen nor a drop-in center, but an ever-moving shuffle (The New York Times)

  • Church has the remedies for society's ills | We don't need to tiptoe back to the churches, we need to stampede back, in great and unapologetic numbers, bringing our children with us. Because the alternative is to continue racing blindly in the opposite direction, away from moral certainties and basic decencies, with no guarantee of redemption when the absolutely bleeding obvious dawns on us once again (Brenda Power, The Times, London)

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  • Public funds evangelize in Oceanside | The San Diego County Board of Supervisors recently approved a $50,000 grant for a program to combat gang activity in Oceanside. But I wonder if our elected officials have studied this well-intentioned, "off the shelf" program carefully enough before throwing public money at it (Richard Riehl, North County Times, San Diego, Ca.)

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Church life:

  • Presbyterians for vagrancy | Judge Lawrence McKenna has made permanent his temporary injunction of two years ago that bars the city from removing vagrants from the steps of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Midtown (Editorial, New York Post)

  • Church parking poses expansive problem | How to handle the cars that come with St. Andrew's expansion plans has been key to finding compromise (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

  • Pray first, shop later — churches | Church leaders say they have nothing against Sunday trading — it's just that they would like it to start a bit later so their flocks can gain some spiritual nourishment first. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

  • Hillsong's true believers | In Sydney's bible belt, an evangelical church with political muscle and business acumen is attracting thousands of supporters. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

  • Biddeford Crossing revised as church gets put on hold | Plans for one of the largest churches in New England — with seating for 4,375 people — are being scaled back because of escalating construction prices (Portland Press Herald, Me.)

  • Black churches embrace spiritual awakenings with open arms, tent revivals | It's revival season (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Group eyes a possible church buy | Preservation panel may be asked for aid (The Boston Globe)

  • A house of solace | At a D.C. church, support group shares the grief gripping a community losing its young to violence (The Washington Post)

  • In schism, churches' common grounds | Among the 28 antebellum houses of worship in Loudoun County are two pairs of Baptist churches with shared graveyards, the Ebenezer and North Fork churches. The unusual situation of having two buildings on each church property -- unique to the Virginia Piedmont -- stems from a doctrinal split in 1831 (The Washington Post)

  • A church on a cultural divide | Africans and gays struggle together (The Washington Post)

  • Religion news in brief | Ban on communal cup, Anglican training, biblical art museum, and other stories (The Washington Post)

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  • Pastor hiding from villagers | A rural evangelical pastor is in hiding with relatives after his village accused him of witchcraft and torched his house (News24, South Africa)

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  • Harassment complaints aimed at pastor | The pastor who got the attention of his community and the police when he posted a graphic anti-abortion sign in his yard now faces harassment complaints from two church members who say he hounded them for supporting a presidential candidate different than his (The Quad-Cities Times, Davenport, Ia.)

  • Duty calls and priest answers | A pastor is leaving his South Side church to minister to troops in the Middle East (Chicago Tribune)

  • A faith tested | The Rev. Janusz Mekarski understood the challenge long before he landed in America. He had to build a church. But not just any church (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • Preacher takes a bow | The Rev. Michael Haynes, the legendary pastor of Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, never felt his age, which is 77, until just a few weeks ago (The Boston Globe)

Los Angeles's First AME:

  • L.A. pastor retires from influential church | The Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray, pastor for 27 years at one of the nation's most influential black churches, retired Sunday, delivering a final sermon before a stomping crowd of more than 1,000 worshippers at First African Methodist Episcopal Church (Associated Press)

  • Thousands bid farewell to First AME's Murray | In exuberant services that drew political titans and the poor, thousands of worshippers turned out Sunday to bid farewell to the Rev. Cecil L. "Chip" Murray, senior pastor of First AME Church, after 27 years in the pulpit of one of the most important black churches in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Times)

  • New pastor named at First AME | The Rev. John J. Hunter is praised as a strategic thinker and forceful civil rights advocate with a personable and conciliatory nature (Los Angeles Times)

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Denominational life:

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Episcopal priests and druid rites

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  • Priest who led Druids resigns | The news came before services in Downingtown, upsetting many. His wife, still a rector, could face discipline (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Reverend quits amid pagan flap | An Episcopal priest who, along with his wife, was criticized by the church for being a leader of a local Druid society, has resigned from his church (Daily Local, West Chester, Pa.)

  • Clergy probed for pagan connection | Two Chester County clergy members are under investigation by and may face discipline from the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania for their involvement in a druid society, a church official said this week (Daily Local News, West Chester, Pa.)

  • Rectors repent of druid 'error' | An Episcopal clergy couple from the Philadelphia area whose leadership in a druid circle caused a scandal in the Episcopal Church say they have "recanted" their actions (The Washington Times)

  • Bishop Bennison writes his clergy on the Melnyks and paganism controversy | "While I am continuing to ascertain and establish the facts of the two separate cases, at the present time I am issuing both priests a Pastoral Direction and Solemn Warning pertaining to their future conduct in regard to what has occurred" (Charles E. Bennison, via Titus One Nine)

Episcopal Church:

Anglican Communion and the Church of England:

  • Ugandan archbishop urges repentance | Uganda's Anglican archbishop, a vocal critic of what he sees as the Episcopal Church's fall from historic Christian teachings, spoke at Samford University on Tuesday to praise his mentor, who was assassinated in 1977 (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

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  • An abomination | We must congratulate leaders of Africa's churches who have expressed their unreserved opposition to the ordination of openly "gay" bishops and to the blessing given by a few Anglican churches to same-sex marriages in the United States (Editorial, Addis Tribune, Addis Abba, Ethiopia)

  • Bishop defends his castle against invaders | The Bishop of Durham may no longer command a private army, but the Rt Rev Tom Wright has launched an impassioned rearguard action to preserve the rights of bishops to live in castles (The Telegraph, London)

  • Also: Durham's blessed bishop | Bishop Wright is being neither selfish nor spendthrift (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)

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  • Speculation abounds on next pontiff | To the Vatican's dismay, a Web site is taking bets on the touchy issue of the pope's replacement. The Irish bookie says he means no disrespect (Chicago Tribune)

  • Should Roman Catholic priests be allowed to marry? | Readers speak out, and more readers speak (The Washington Post)

  • Prudish pontiff | Wives are to blame for violent husbands. Condoms don't work, and Aids is 'a pathology of the spirit'. Has the Pope's view of sex and gender brought the church to its knees? (John Cornwell, The Times, London)

  • The case for family friendly worship | Our correspondent opens his ears to the Catholic Church's listening initiative for families (Greg Watts, The Times, London)

  • Church struggles with change | The Catholic Church is changing in America at its most visible point: the parish church where believers pray, sing and clasp hands across pews to share the peace of God. (USA Today)

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Closing Catholic parishes:

  • Parishioner arrested after church's final Mass | Winchester police physically removed parishioner Gene Sweeney from the church at about 7:30 p.m. and arrested him on a trespassing charge (The Boston Globe)

  • Also: Parishioner arrested at closing church | A parishioner was arrested for refusing to leave a church targeted for closure by the Boston Archdiocese as part of a restructuring (Associated Press)

  • Parish closings inspire prayer vigils and sit-ins | Parishioners are trying to block the closing of their churches by simply not leaving them after the last scheduled Mass, staging around-the-clock prayer vigils as a way to keep the doors open (The New York Times)

  • Two cities, 10 years, same crisis | USA Today visits two cities, Boston and Milwaukee, where parishes have closed, and finds the same tensions played out, 10 years apart — the same issues, the same anger and perhaps the same prospect for resolution (USA Today)

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Priest & porn:


  • Talks fail over Wash. church abuse claims | Talks to settle 28 sexual abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane have failed, leaving the possibility the diocese will file for bankruptcy (Associated Press)

  • Support for suits claiming child abuse by charities | New Jersey continues to provide a legal shield to negligence lawsuits against charitable institutions like the Boychoir School, the state's Roman Catholic archdiocese, the Boy Scouts and other groups that work with children (The New York Times)

  • Bishop reflects on sex abuse crisis | A week before his term expires as leader of the nation's Roman Catholic hierarchy, Bishop Wilton Gregory said that the pressure of guiding the U.S. church through the height of the clergy sex abuse crisis "drove me to my knees" spiritually (Associated Press)

  • Priest is back after abuse inquiry | O.C. clergyman is reinstated after a 10-month internal investigation clears him of molestation. A civil lawsuit is pending (Los Angeles Times)

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Crime & fraud:

  • Former N.C. congressman pleads guilty | Former Rep. Frank Ballance pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge that he used a charitable foundation to bilk the government and funnel money to his law firm, church and family (Associated Press)

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  • Fraud hits All Saints Cathedral | A financial scandal has shocked All Saints Cathedral, Kampala after more than sh30m was stolen from the church's accounts by a member of the congregation (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Gunman who shot pope to be freed in 2005 | A Turkish court reduced the prison term Monday for the man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981, allowing his release at the end of next year, his lawyer said (Associated Press)

  • Priest charged with stealing $500,000 in parish funds | Parishioners at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, where Joseph Hughes had been pastor since 1988, assumed that his money came from a family inheritance (The New York Times)

  • Also: Priest charged with embezzling $500,000 | A longtime pastor charged with embezzling $500,000 in parish funds allegedly spent the money on vacations, cars and gifts to friends, including a church worker who was given a BMW and whose mortgage, taxes and utilities were paid (Associated Press)

  • Diocese defends priest's actions | Says parishioner arrested for safety (The Boston Globe)

  • Youths beat up church head in chaotic service | The head of the Full Gospel Churches of Kenya in Rift Valley was yesterday seriously injured as worshippers fought in a Nakuru church (The East African Standard, Kenya)

  • Kidnap-jury Bible 'ban' | Lawyers for the Utah pedophile "prophet" accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing Elizabeth Smart in 2002 want jurors sequestered during his trial — and Bibles banned from their hotel rooms (New York Post)

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  • 'Michael Myers' gives church a fright | An off-duty Amherst police officer did what Laurie Strode, the psychiatrist Dr. Loomis and the entire police force of Haddonfield, Ill., couldn't do. He stopped Michael Myers on Halloween night (The Telegraph, Hudson, N.H.)

  • Man says officer denied his assault complaint | A Nashua man who visited the Merrimack Valley Baptist Church on Halloween night dressed as a horror movie villain says he was assaulted by an off-duty Amherst police officer after he had left the church property (The Telegraph, Nashua, N.H.)

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Banning Santa:

  • Santa silliness | Banning Santa Claus in case he upsets non-Christians is ridiculous (Editorial, The Sun, U.K.)

  • No Santa ban, says shopping centre | One of Europe's largest shopping centres tonight denied reports that it had imposed a "scrooge-like" ban on Santa Claus (icBirmingham, England)

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TV and movies:

  • Late-night sex TV is hot new reality show | British reality TV is barging into the bedroom with a new sex-in-the-sack makeover show where couples make love on camera and get tips on how to "do it" (New York Post)

  • Also: Whatever turns you off | Liberal orthodoxy is a trusty thing, and it's not often I find myself not sure whose side I'm on. That's why I'm upset about Channel 4's forthcoming Sex Inspectors, a kind of reality makeover show, with the spicy difference that the overmaking concerns sex, rather than interiors (Zoe Williams, The Guardian, London)

  • A new calling | The Rev. Al Sharpton goes from presidential candidate to reality show TV host, helping Average Joes reinvent themselves (The Baltimore Sun)

  • 'Passion' gets Catholic group's award | Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" and the CBS television show "Joan of Arcadia" were celebrated Sunday at an awards ceremony by Catholics in Media, a group founded to honor entertainment projects that uplift and inspire (Associated Press)

  • Incredibly important | Pro-marriage superheroes. A review of The Incredibles (Frederica Mathewes-Green, National Review Online)

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  • Club thrown for a loss by flag football | Astros outfielder Lance Berkman blows out a knee at church event (Houston Chronicle)

  • Altar ego | Religious faith defines Avant at U-M, not just his football ability (Detroit Free Press)

  • Faith guides Lobos coach | McKay as missionary might seem sacrilegious were it not a role he fervently embraces. He preaches motion offense to his players and Jesus to everyone else. (Vero Beach Press-Journal, Fla.)

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Money & business:

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  • Vatican to help research on Inquisition | Church, academic and cultural experts will work together to gather documentation on religious and civil trials for witchcraft, heresy and other crimes against the faith during the Inquisition, the Vatican said Tuesday (Associated Press)

  • 'Noah's ark' tests negative | A New Zealander's quest to find Noah's Ark has suffered a double blow, with two samples he gathered in Turkey turning out to be rock, not petrified timber (NZPA, New Zealand)

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  • The dark, terrible secret of California's missions | They were little more than concentration camps where California's Indians were beaten, whipped, maimed, burned, tortured and virtually exterminated by the friars (Elias Castillo, San Francisco Chronicle)

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Prayer & spirituality:

  • The other national conversation | Americans pray a lot. What's the answer? (The New York Times Magazine)

  • More religion news in brief | Paganism is growing — older, taking inventory of spiritual gifts, female bishops, ministers' limited perspectives, and other stories (The Washington Post)

  • Children counting on prayer | Children used prayer to aid them in life even if they were not religious, research has found. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

  • So, really, what would Jesus do? | Jesus is big business these days. It's cool to be Christian. Heck, an election was won on that very thing (Monica Carter, The Shreveport Times, La.)

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Other articles of interest:

  • The water's fine, but is it kosher? | When rabbis in Brooklyn spotted a tiny crustacean swimming in New York City's tap water last spring, the ensuing debate about whether it rendered the city's water unkosher seemed like an amusing, but esoteric dispute in a particularly exacting Jewish enclave (The New York Times)

  • Black Mormons struggle for acceptance in church | Viewed with suspicion: A new book of essays examines the perception of racist attitudes in church settings and offers solutions to problems (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  • Gospels tell of true Jesus, says Canadian scholar | Mainstream academics are increasingly confident about the historical portrait of Jesus in the gospels, says Craig Evans -- despite the skeptical headlines generated by a few celebrity theologians (Calgary Herald)

  • Mukono bishop slams gays | Mukono diocese Bishop Paul Luzinda has slammed homosexuals and lesbians in the church, saying they play a big part in disintegrating church followers (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Fashion cover-up takes off on show's runway | The "modesty fashion show" may not be the ƒè next big thing in New York or Milan, but at the Orange County Convention Center, it played to an appreciative crowd of about 75 women gathered at the recent Southern Women's Show (The Orlando Sentinel)

  • Where the devil is Beelzebub these days? | He didn't rebrand, you see. But God rebranded. (Euan Ferguson, The Observer, London)

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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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