Mormons open top pulpit to evangelical apologist

Mormons open top pulpit to evangelical apologist
Indian-born apologist Ravi Zacharias has reportedly become the first evangelical invited to speak in the Mormon Tabernacle since Brigham Young extended an invitation to Dwight L. Moody in 1871. (Weblog has been unable to confirm that Moody actually did speak there.) His November 14 message will be "Who is the Truth? Defending Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life." There's no word if he will address differences between Mormon and Protestant Christologies.

Zacharias's invitation is particularly noteworthy since he was the general editor of the most recent edition of Walter Martin's The Kingdom of the Cults, which devotes one if its 20 chapters to Mormonism.

Pastor Greg Johnson, pastor of the evangelical group Standing Together Ministries, told the Deseret Morning News (owned by the Mormon church) he discussed the book with Mormon leaders. "Basically, he agreed to lend his name to it, but he didn't write any of it," Johnson said. The church leaders (called the First Presidency) are "all informed and still moving forward in great confidence," Johnson says.

They may be a bit mis-informed, however. In addition to serving as general editor of The Kingdom of the Cults, Zacharias wrote at least a two-and-a-half page introduction, in which he "applauds" the "extraordinary volume."

Johnson told the paper that his the First Presidency probably agreed to his request "because of the press conference and quiet outreach campaign that local evangelicals staged outside the Conference Center last spring during LDS general conference, designed to counter attempts by self-proclaimed Christian preachers who have sought to antagonize Latter-day Saints" (those are the News's words, not Johnson's). Those evangelicals, it should be noted, were organized by Johnson's group.

In any case, says Brigham Young University religion professor Robert Millet, Zacharias's invitation is a huge step for the Mormon church. "It represents tremendous graciousness on the part of the First Presidency in being willing to open the Tabernacle to a man of his stature who is of another faith," he told the News. "It's an effort to build goodwill and bridges of understanding between two vital faith communities."

Humorous CBS parody of the day

Humorous CBS parody of the day
Parodies of Dan Rather's "fake but accurate" memo are legion, but Roy Rivenburg has a funny and religious one in today's Los Angeles Times:

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In news that could rock Christianity, CBS has carbon-dated a 1st century scroll in which the Apostle Paul admits to having doubts about the Resurrection. Theologians consulted by the network vouched for the genuineness of the scroll, which is titled "Paul's Letter to the Corinthians or Current Resident."

More articles


  • Catholic U. bars actor-activist at forum | A spokesman for the university said it cannot "give . . . any platform" to film and stage actor Stanley Tucci or any other people who "act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles" (The Washington Post)
  • Groups decry Muslim scholar's visa denial | Scholars and critics worldwide are demanding that the U.S. government explain why it revoked the work visa of a Muslim scholar hired at the University of Notre Dame, saying the action threatens academic freedoms (Associated Press)
  • Westminster recall vote signatures insufficient | Trustees had rejected the wording of a state anti-discrimination rule protecting transsexuals and others who do not conform to traditional gender roles (Los Angeles Times)
  • 'Anti-Darwin' Serb minister quits | Serbia's education minister has resigned after causing outrage by telling schools to restrict teaching of Charles Darwin's evolution theory (BBC)
  • Dembski to head seminary's new science & theology center | William A. Dembski will head Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's new Center for Science and Theology (Baptist Press)
  • Irreligious studies | The church has not prepared young Christians for the liberal religion programs at most universities (John Dawson, World)


  • DOJ files civil rights lawsuit against MTA | The U.S. Justice Department has filed a civil rights suit against the MTA, claiming the agency discriminates against bus drivers and other employees by requiring them to be available to work on days of worship (Pasadena Star News, Ca.)
  • Also: Suit alleges religious discrimination at MTA | The suit claims that the agency discriminated against a Jewish employee by refusing to accommodate the worker's observation of the Sabbath (Los Angeles Times)
  • Adultery as a criminal offense may still have a life in Turkey | Conservative lawmakers rebelled and insisted on reviving a proposal to criminalize adultery, with the apparent support of Turkey's prime minister (The New York Times)
  • Religious law has no place in Canada | Quebec has secular laws that are applied, or should be, equally to all citizens, whatever their background, religion, language or gender. If they fail in that regard, which they do periodically, at least it's the same set of laws that applies to us all (Janet Bagnall, The Montreal Gazette)
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  • Republicans push controversial votes | Flag-burning and the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance are about to join gay marriage among the volatile issues that congressional Republicans have pushed to votes ahead of the election to remind the public how the GOP and Democrats differ (Associated Press)
  • Courts may be stripped on pledge | With six weeks left before the election, House Republican leaders are moving forward with plans to pass legislation that would strip courts of their jurisdiction to review cases involving the Pledge of Allegiance (The Hill, D.C.)

Election 2004:

  • Archdiocese leaves Kerry and President off guest list | The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, almost always a white-tie rest stop for presidential candidates, will be host to neither candidate this year (The New York Times)
  • Also: Bush, Kerry not invited to annual dinner | Campaign issues could detract from the "spirit" of the event, an official said Thursday (Associated Press)
  • The so-called God gap | It looks like a photo finish when it comes to Christian Republicans against Christian Democrats (Jack Moseley, Arkansas News Bureau)
  • Rally to give voice to people of faith | Campaign hopes to engage politicians, voters; will involve more than 125 congregations (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
  • Christianity has left the public square | American public religion is now a servant of the social order that sets the real priority: material comfort (Kenneth Briggs, Beliefnet)
  • Churches gathering against Prop. 200 | 3 bishops oppose Arizona measure (The Arizona Republic)

Abortion and the election:

  • Let abortion guide vote, Catholics told | Abortion must outweigh every other issue for Roman Catholic voters, Atlanta's archbishop said Thursday after issuing an unusual letter telling his flock that Catholics are obligated to follow church teachings at the polls (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Abortion called the top issue for Catholics | Abortion — not the war in Iraq — is the main issue for elected Catholic officials this year, several Catholic scholars said yesterday at the National Press Club (The Washington Times)
  • A voter's guide | Pro-choice candidates and church teaching (Archbishop John J. Myers, The Wall Street Journal)

Life ethics:

  • European abortion debate turns divisive | European Parliament legislators on Thursday turned a fight over abortion rights in Portugal into an emotional and divisive debate on women's rights and the division between church and state (Associated Press)
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  • Earlier: No division in abortion debate | Oh, wait. I guess debates are by nature divisive, aren't they. So how did it "turn divisive" on Thursday? (Doesn't Exist)
  • Fertility clinics vary on embryo disposal | The nation's fertility clinics vary widely when it comes to how they perform one of the most delicate aspects of their jobs: disposing of unused frozen human embryos that were created to help infertile women become pregnant (Associated Press)
  • Ethics panel disagrees on therapeutic cloning | Germany's National Ethics Council was unable to reach a common stance on therapeutic cloning and recommended a moratorium to the government on Monday (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
  • Lawsuits challenge lethal injection | Attorneys in at least a dozen of the 37 states that use lethal injection have filed lawsuits seeking to ban the procedure (Associated Press)


  • Jury: Bus operator negligent in crash | A jury found a bus operator negligent in a 2002 crash that killed four members of a church youth group and the driver, ordering him to pay nearly $71 million to the victims, including $36 million to a man who suffered severe brain damage (Associated Press)
  • Parents don't regret talking about death | A Swedish study found that parents whose children died of cancer had no regrets about talking to them about death, while some who didn't do so were sorry later (Associated Press)
  • Probe pushed in pair's slaying | Sonoma sheriff's lieutenant says no effort is being spared to find the killer (Sacramento Bee, Ca.)


  • Two arrested over stolen religious artifacts | Police in Gonder city said they have apprehended two suspects accused of looting two tablets (holy slabs for the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians) estimated to date back to the 4th and 12th century, the Amharic daily Addis Zemen reported on Friday (Exchange News Network, Ethiopia)
  • Parish 'betrayed' over sex priest | Members of a Roman Catholic parish church have accused their diocese of betraying their trust by moving there a priest known to have abused a teenager (BBC)


  • Sister says Canadian killed in Iraq was targeted as a Christian | The sister of a Canadian killed in Baghdad this week said he was murdered because he was a Christian (Canadian Press)
  • Killed for faith, family says | Business partners shot in Iraq | Motive unclear, foreign affairs says (The Toronto Star)


  • Annan urges prompt action on Sudan draft | The secretary general urged the Security Council to act quickly on a new resolution to curb the violence in Darfur, in western Sudan (The New York Times)
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  • Euro-MPs accuse Sudan of genocide | The European Parliament joined America yesterday in accusing Sudan of genocide in Darfur and demanded a global arms embargo on the Khartoum regime (The Telegraph, London)

Northern Ireland:

  • N. Ireland assembly focus of new talks | Britain and Ireland seek to help revive the Catholic-Protestant power-sharing process (Los Angeles Times)
  • Moment of decision declared for N. Ireland | Northern Ireland's rival politicians face "a moment of decision" in their six-year struggle to forge a stable Catholic-Protestant government, Prime Minister Tony Blair declared Thursday as he launched a high-stakes round of talks (Associated Press)
  • Blair, Ahern press Northern Ireland rivals in talks grind (AFP)


  • America is India's worst enemy: RSS | Terming USA as 'India's worst enemy' RSS sanghchalak K S Sudarshan on Thursday alleged it was running two undercover operations - Joshua I and Joshua II - aimed at converting country's entire population into Christians (PTI, India)
  • Reconversion in Staines's district | Nearly 50 Christian families in the tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj district will be reconverted to Hinduism on September 19. The ceremony is being organised by the VHP (Hindustan Times)

Religious freedom:

  • Powell plays down report on Saudi religious practices | U.S. charges met with stony silence (The Daily Star, Lebanon)
  • Saudis say politics, not religion, behind U.S. move | Prominent Saudis dismissed U.S. accusations of severe violations of religious freedom in the kingdom and said on Thursday that the criticisms were politically motivated (Reuters)
  • Religious persecution in Eritrea | Human rights groups have regularly complained that people practicing minority religions have faced harassment (BBC)


  • The First Crusade | A noble mission to free the holy land, or a gigantic expedition of plunder and murder? Some 900 years ago, 10,000 Christians answered the pope's call and set off for Jerusalem. (Talk of the Nation, NPR)
  • A Crusader then, now and always | Call me culturally insensitive if you wish, but I would be aghast if my alma mater buckled to political correctness (Nancy Eshelman, The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)

Church and state:

  • Painting goes up despite church-state issue | "Last Supper" removed earlier this summer after patron said it violated Constitution (Tahoe Daily Tribune, Ca.)
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  • District 5 trustees drop prayer at meetings | Rather than bow to a federal court's instructions on how to offer prayers, the Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to discontinue public prayers at each meeting (The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C.)
  • Feds bounce Bibles from citizenship ceremony | Immigrants are no longer receiving Bibles at citizenship ceremonies after many complained that Christianity was being forced upon them (The Halifax Herald, N.S.)

LA County Seal:

  • Officials delay seal substitution | Los Angeles County officials decided Thursday to wait two weeks before beginning to replace the county seal on thousands of government vehicles, buildings and parks (Los Angeles Daily News)
  • Bland mission gets not seal of satisfaction | Seems our erstwhile Los Angeles County Supervisors have gone to great lengths to rewrite history and prevent even an historical cross from representation on the county seal (Editorial, Pasadena Star News, Ca.)

Politics (non-U.S.):

  • A question of faith in the political process | Why are the religious left such pussycats when it comes to politics, in both America and Australia? (Julia Baird, The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • God is dead. Long live Kim Il Sung | In a country where Christianity once flourished, the Great Leader stands at the pinnacle of a religious mythology with its own Holy Trinity (The Belfast Telegraph/The Independent)


  • Canadian province legalizes gay marriage | Manitoba became the fourth Canadian province to legalize same-sex marriage when a judge on Thursday declared the province's current definition of marriage unconstitutional (Associated Press)
  • Also: Manitoba court rules in favour of gay marriage, unopposed by Ottawa (Canadian Press)
  • Gay-marriage backers to seek action by SJC | Want state to stop using 1913 law (The Boston Globe)
  • Opponents of gay marriage ban file suit | Opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Georgia filed a lawsuit Thursday in Fulton County Superior Court in an attempt to stop the Nov. 2 vote (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Vault to host first Wicca wedding | Scotland's first Wicca wedding is to go ahead in an underground vault in Edinburgh after being approved by the register general. (The Herald, Glasgow)
  • Related: How witchcraft went from crime to prime time | Scotland is believed to be Europe's biggest persecutor of witches (Evening News, Scotland)

Missions & ministry:

  • Religious organizations near, far lead relief effort | As expected, houses of worship throughout the South Shore area immediately initiated disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Charley hit (South Shore News, Fla.)
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  • Speaker shares journey of faith | The greatest anti-Semitism would be to withhold the story of Jesus Christ from Jews, said Stan Telchin (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Anglican Eames Commission report:

  • Report could have a 'profound impact for good' says Eames | The Lambeth Commission's report, concerning the future shape of the Anglican Communion in the light of current disputes about homosexuality, is finished. A number of Evangelicals are already saying that they will accept the report only if it passes the test of scripture (Church Times)
  • Civil war brewing over Eames recommendations | Liberals have warned that the Church of England would break into "civil war" if the American Church is disciplined for its consecration of the Anglican Communion's first active homosexual bishop (The Church of England Newspaper)
  • Archbishop's right to invite under the scrutiny of Eames | It is increasingly said by sources close to the Commission that the Archbishop of Canterbury's powers as President of the Communion to invite Bishops to the Lambeth Conference, and other bodies of are the focus of attempts to discipline the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada (The Church of England Newspaper)

Church life:

  • Fight porn, pastor tells churches | Valley religious leaders want churches to wake up and take a key role in helping their congregants fight the effects of pornography, but they say many churches either are unaware of the extent of the problem or don't know what to do about it. (The Arizona Republic)
  • £9m black hole puts Salvation Army in financial crisis | The Salvation Army is facing a serious financial crisis after discovering a £9.6 million hole in its annual budget (The Telegraph, London)
  • Religion Today: Has Voice of the Faithful mattered? | the group's influence on the church it aims to change remains uncertain. Catholic leaders in Boston have shown little inclination to pay it heed, and some observers question how long the group can survive (Associated Press)
  • Minister 'had affair with deacon's wife' | A sacked Free Presbyterian minister has been accused of having an affair with the wife of his deacon in a bitter divorce wrangle (The Scotsman)
  • Residents ask board to act on church site | Residents eager to preserve the open space and architecture of Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic church packed the Town House Monday night in an attempt to convince the Board of Selectmen to protect the site from development (The Concord Journal, Mass.)
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  • Methodists suffer in poverty | Members of the Methodist Church in Fiji are reportedly unable to fulfill church duties because of the country's economic downturn (PacNews, Fiji)
  • Wangaratta bishop still pondering Adelaide job | Bishop David Farrer says concern over the church's handling of sexual abuse allegations make the archbishop's job a difficult one (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)


  • Channel 4 to screen 'Priest Idol' | With the working title Priest Idol, the show will give a vicar 12 months to boost the church's turnout (BBC)
  • TV hunt for parish priest | A vicar is to be given a year to turn around the dwindling congregation of a rural church for a new television reality show, Channel 4 said yesterday (The Telegraph, London)


  • Lots of viewer "Passion," but no record purchases | Biggest DVD release ever? Not by half. (The Denver Post)
  • Yes, I am a Roman Catholic | I was baptized a Catholic almost 20 years ago, but for the past 10 years have been an enthusiastic evangelical Christian. (Michael Coren, The Toronto Sun)
  • The Passion of the Michael | I have seen, or allowed myself to see, what lies at the very core of The Passion. The Eucharist. (Michael Coren, The Toronto Sun)
  • Controversial movie "Saved!" to be rated M18 | The movie had been criticised for its approach towards Christianity and was withdrawn earlier this week after the Media Development Authority (MDA) received public feedback on the religious sensitivity of the film. However, majority of the members of the Films Consultative Panel (FCP) found that the film does not denigrate Christianity (Channel NewsAsia, Singapore)


  • Promoting worship through living | Audio Adrenaline focuses on connecting Christians to little-known missions (News-Leader, Springfield, Mo.)
  • Nothing phony about Madonna's spiritual journey | Will Madonna forever be damned by the sins of her past, incapable of genuine transformation and beyond redemption? (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)


  • Conservatives urge boycott of Proctor & Gamble | Focus on the Family and the American Family Association are protesting a statement on the company's internal Web site that opposes a local statute to exempt gays and lesbians from special civil rights protection. (The New York Times)
  • Also: Conservatives urge P&G boycott | Christian groups go after Crest, Tide due to company's opposition to Cincinnati anti-gay statute (CNN/Money)
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  • The business of a church | "The church is supposed to be the core of the community and responsible for at least a portion of social and economic development," says Celebration Tabernacle's Elbert Mondaine. "The church needs to be a place of empowerment" (The Oregonian)

Other stories of interest:

  • Russian girl who clutched cross recovering | Viktoria Ktsoyeva, 14, said she prayed every day while held captive, not letting go of the cross even as she plunged into unconsciousness after being wounded in the violent climax of the siege that killed more than 330 hostages (Associated Press)
  • Earlier: The photo of her holding the cross (Associated Press)
  • Rediscovering John the Baptist | Not everyone agrees with Shimon Gibson (The Express-Times, Bethlehem, Pa.)
  • Is the clock ticking on Dutch Christianity? | I think you can no longer say that the Netherlands is still a Christian nation in the way we knew it to be in the past. But even if no one goes to church any more this doesn't mean you have washed away the Christian roots just like that. In that sense we remain a Christian land (Unnamed columnist, Expatica, Netherlands)
  • Religion news in brief | William Shaw reelected president of National Baptist Convention USA, World Lutheran body launches sexuality study, Top religion news awards, First Amendment cited by both sides in school board prayer dispute, New Hampshire school board approves student's Bible meetings, and Adrian Rogers to retire (Associated Press)
  • African officials begin to take lead in battle against AIDS epidemic | Hundreds of senior public officials in Africa have recently started vigorous public campaigns to fight AIDS, representing a significant break from more than two decades of relative silence among those in the highest positions (The Boston Globe)

Related Elsewhere:

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