Today's Top Five

1. Korean Christians deported, banned from Afghanistan
Thousands of South Korean Christians reportedly traveled to Kabul for a "peace festival and educational and entertainment programs,"  sponsored by a group called Asian Culture and Development. (Other reports say that only 927 Koreans made it into the country.) Hundreds more were en route when Afghanistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced that the festival was cancelled and that all Korean Christians would be deported. Ministry officials apparently told the group that it was over "security concerns," but Interior Ministry spokesman Yousef Stanezai has a different story: "The program was against the Islamic culture and customs of Afghans."

"Rumors that Korean prostitutes had entered the country and that the Christian groups were carrying 'giant crosses' marching through downtown did little to defuse the situation," Chosun Ilbo reports dryly.

About 300 Koreans were in India and were forbidden from boarding planes to Kabul. Their group leader says they'll sue the Foreign Ministry in Korea "for damages caused by Seoul's campaign to exaggerate the danger of holding such an event in Afghanistan," the Korea Times reports. "They also plan to file a protest with the Afghan embassy in Seoul for issuing visas that were useless due to the prohibition of entry into Kabul airport."

Interested? Be sure to read our March cover story on the eagerness of South Korean missionaries. It explains a lot about the Afghanistan controversy.

2. Christian sympathy for Hezbollah? Depends what side of the border you're on
 "Christian villages across Lebanon's mainly Shiite Muslim south have been spared the death and destruction wrought by Israeli warplanes," the Associated Press notes today. "As a rule, Christians in southern Lebanon have little sympathy for Hezbollah."

That's a contrast with a Reuters report out of Syria, which reports, "Bishops and priests say Syria's Christians, a devout community of around three million out of a population of 18 million, identify strongly with [Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan] Nasrallah's battle with Israel." The paper quotes Father Elias Zahlawi telling his Catholic congregation, "Pray for the resistance, pray for Hassan Nasrallah. He is defending justice."

The Pew Global Attitudes Project has an interesting report about how Lebanon's Muslims and Christians view each other and how they view the U.S., Islamic extremism, and other issues. One thing Muslims and Christians agree on: the Jews. "No one in our Lebanese sample, Muslim, Christian, Druze, or otherwise, said they had a favorable view of Jews," Richard Wike and Juliana Menasce Horowitz report.

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Here's another statistic: Catholic persecution watchdog site reports that 70 percent of Christians want to emigrate from Lebanon. Pity that AsiaNews only sources that statistic to "some suggest that."

An even greater pity: We probably won't get better details from the mainstream press. It seems that the only Christian angle they care about in the conflict is whether evangelicals think this is the end of the world.

3. Mel-tdown
Lots of links on responses to the Gibson statements. But there are still some stories not touched, believe it or not. Here's one Weblog would like to read: Do those church and ministry leaders who so vociferously defended Gibson against charges of anti-Semitism during The Passion controversy now feel burned? The Passion launched a wave of efforts to get churches and pastors directly involved in film marketing. Churches bought out theaters for the film (and then for Narnia, Cinderella Man, End of the Spear, and even The Da Vinci Code). Movie posters were placed on the cover of church bulletins. Will pastors now be more skittish about such direct involvement?

Another question: Back in February, the controversy over the casting of gay actor Chad Allen as missionary Nate Saint in The End of the Spear largely focused on whether one can separate art from the artist. Are those Christian leaders who argued against the casting of Allen encouraging a "second look" at The Passion in the wake of Gibson's comments? Are those who defended the Allen casting still using "separate the art and the artist" arguments in this case?

One issue that is getting a fair bit of press attention is whether in vino veritas is truly veritas. Weblog's brief take? Sometimes. I've seen alcohol and drugs definitely "loosen the tongue" and let secrets pour forth. Then again, I've seen drunken strangers tell me how much they love me, and seen others say absolutely outrageous things they don't mean at all just to start a fight. Gibson's apology can be similarly ambiguous: I've seen addicts get incredibly honest after a binge with bad consequences. That honesty that comes with "hitting bottom" is often the first step of recovery. And I've seen addicts, after a bad binge, say really wonderful things that they don't really mean simply to get out of trouble. So which statement is true? Which should we believe? Those who've had a lot of experience with addiction will tell you that the question is fairly irrelevant. You don't believe either statement. Rather, you watch the person's future actions, make sure that your trust is where it belongs, and hand the person over to God.

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4. Navigators and Awana not in enough states?
Federal employees receive a list of about 22,000 nonprofit groups that they can contribute to for the Combined Federal Campaign, "the world's largest and most successful annual workplace giving campaign." This year, Awana Clubs International and the Navigators were booted from the list because the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) says they don't operate in at least 15 states. Not only is Awana in all 50 states—and let's not forget the District of Columbia—it "can also be found in over 3,300 churches in 109 other countries and six continents," according to its website. The Navigators is similarly ubiquitous. The groups appealed, but lost. Now they're suing for inclusion, The Washington Post reports, along with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, the American Association of Kidney Patients, the Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics, and the Sturge-Weber Foundation.

5. Word of the day: Procreationist
Ellen Goodman frequently uses a word today that's almost as certain to catch on as theocrat has been in political discourse. She's not the first to use procreationist, but it's the most prominent use yet. It brilliantly ties pronatalists (see the current CT cover story that we have posted today) to creationists as part of the same "backwards" movement. For sneer value, it's hard to beat, and is much better than "breeders." It's not like pronatalists are going to respond by talking about "design-er families" or the "unnatural selection" of choosing to have no children. Score one for the antinatalists.

Quote of the day
"Focus on the Family will not be attending future Faith Day events with the Atlanta Braves. Any further questions should be directed directly to the Braves."

—Focus on the Family spokesperson Christina Loznicka, on reports that the baseball team asked it to no longer support its religious promotions. The organization was prominent at the Braves' first Faith Day on July 27. Southern Voice, a gay newspaper, suggests that the Braves decision—"We do not feel it is an appropriate connection for Focus on the Family to be part of this event"—was over Focus's stance on homosexuality. That may be true, but the Voice doesn't mention a more likely cause: Focus's opposition to the team's sale to John Malone's Liberty Media. Focus has called Malone a "porn magnate" because Liberty Media owns On Command, which offers entertainment (including pornographic movies) in hotel rooms. Liberty, by the way, says it has been trying to unload On Command, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

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More articles

Korean Christians kicked out of Afghanistan | China | Religious freedom | Hezbollah-Israel conflict | Lebanese Christians | Apocalypticism | Mel Gibson (news) | Mel Gibson (opinion) | Media and entertainment | Film | Books | History | Evolution | Education | Church and state | Politics | Plan B | Abortion | Adoption | Homosexuality | Anglicanism | Catholicism | Church life | Pastor reportedly set parishioners on fire | Crime | Combating crime with prayer | Ole Anthony's Trinity Foundation | Abuse | Missions and ministry | People | Africa | Other articles of interest

Korean Christians kicked out of Afghanistan:

  1. All Korean evangelicals poised to leave Afghanistan | A group of Korean evangelicals who went to Afghanistan for what is billed as a peace march have been rounded up and will leave the devoutly Muslim country on Saturday, a government official said Friday (Chosun Ilbo, South Korea)

  2. Evangelicals withdraw from Afghanistan Saturday | The official said some of 300 Koreans who are staying in India after being denied boarding airplanes bound for Kabul plan to sue the ministry for damages caused by Seoul's campaign to exaggerate the danger of holding such an event in Afghanistan (The Korea Times)

  3. Christians protest over Afghan rally | Hundreds of Korean Christians, who were denied flying to Afghanistan from New Delhi International Airport in India, plan to take legal action against the Seoul government, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday (The Korea Herald)

  4. Afghanistan orders Korean Christians to leave | Afghanistan plans to deport hundreds of visiting South Korean Christians over security fears after Islamic clerics demanded their expulsion, accusing them of trying to spread Christianity, Afghan sources said on Thursday. (Reuters)

  5. Afghans rally against Korean 'proselytes' | Afghans have taken to the streets against a bizarre "peace march" planned in the devoutly Muslim nation by hundreds of Korean evangelicals as violence continued unabated in the country. It emerged Thursday that an explosive device was recently discovered in the vest of a Korean aid worker. (Chosun Ilbo, South Korea)

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  1. Afghanistan to deport all Korean evangelicals | Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has ordered the "complete expulsion" of all Koreans who went there to take part in a "peace march" organized by an evangelical organization, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. (Chosun Ilbo, South Korea)

  2. Afghanistan deports Christian Koreans | Afghanistan on Thursday ordered hundreds of South Korean Christians to leave the country, accusing them of seeking to undermine Islamic culture. (Reuters)

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  1. Church members detained in China | Police scuffled with members of an underground Catholic church in northern China who were protesting the detention of two clergymen, seriously injuring at least two people, a U.S. group said Thursday. (Associated Press)

  2. Also: Catholics clash with police in China—report | Nearly 100 members of China's underground Catholic church clashed with police in the north of the country this week demanding the release of an arrested bishop and priest, a U.S-based human rights group said. (Reuters)

  3. Archbishop in first China visit | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is to visit China for the first time later this year. (BBC)

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Religious freedom:

  1. Chhattisgarh bans "forcible" religious conversions | A sixth Indian state has passed a controversial anti-conversion law, banning religious conversions by force or allurement (Reuters)

  2. Also: Christian anger at conversion law | Christian groups have reacted strongly to a new law passed by the Indian state of Chhattisgarh which requires official approval of any religious conversion (BBC)

  3. Paris shuts airport Muslim prayer rooms | Police have shut down makeshift Muslim prayer rooms at Paris' two main airports after they came under scrutiny following a far-right politician's allegations that Islamists were compromising security. (Associated Press)

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Hezbollah-Israel conflict:

  1. Syria's Christians rally behind Hezbollah | Bishops and priests say Syria's Christians, a devout community of around three million out of a population of 18 million, identify strongly with Nasrallah's battle with Israel, which has occupied Syria's Golan Heights since 1967 (Reuters)

  2. Americans' support for Israel unchanged by recent hostilities | Domestic political distemper continues. (Pew Research Center)

  3. Israeli forces pound Hezbollah positions | Missiles target bridges in the Christian heartland north of Beirut for the first time, an attack that further isolates Lebanon from the outside world. (Associated Press)

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  1. Lebanese relief effort hits roadblock | Desperately needed food and supplies for trapped and displaced Lebanese are piling up undelivered because Israel won't guarantee security for aid convoys, relief workers said Wednesday. (USA Today)

  2. Pope calls for immediate end to conflict | Pope Benedict XVI issued an impassioned call Wednesday for an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East, saying "nothing can justify the spilling of innocent blood." (Associated Press)

  3. Christian right steps up pro-Israel lobbying | Christians United for Israel strut their stuff in nation's capital. (Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange)

  4. Church must return to its roots | The carnage in the Middle East has moved me toward the breaking point on the entire business of war. I am genuinely wondering whether as a Christian moral thinker, it is my place to offer support for war, even in those rare cases where I think it might be morally justified (David P. Gushee, The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

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Lebanese Christians:

  1. Christian villages in Lebanon spared | Christian villages across Lebanon's mainly Shiite Muslim south have been spared the death and destruction wrought by Israeli warplanes since fighting broke out July 12. (Associated Press)

  2. Bombs fall on Beirut again, 70 per cent of Christians ready to emigrate | The population feels abandoned. For Maronite bishop of Jbeil, Christians are going through a real crisis. Caritas-Lebanon complains of poor cooperation with government agencies. Israeli inquiry says Qana bombing "was a mistake." (, Catholic site)

  3. Anger, dismay, and fear | Lebanese-Americans wonder what is to become of their homeland. (The Boston Globe)

  4. Christian villagers have nowhere to run | Caught between warring sides, many stay to protect their historic home. (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  5. Lebanon's Muslims: Relatively secular and pro-Christian | But support for terrorism and anti-semitism are widespread. (Pew Research Center)

  6. In battle-torn Lebanon, Christians boldly proclaim Christ | Joseph Qazzi pastors a Baptist church in Beirut. On this day, when many were worried about their future, Qazzi told his congregation to put their trust in Jesus Christ. (CBN)

  7. 'I forgave them' | Hurt by violence in Lebanon, pastor says God is the answer. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

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  1. Save Israel, for Jesus? | Evangelical Christians rally support, lobby Washington with biblical motivation (Nightline, ABC)

  2. To Israel with love | Religion is a big reason why America gives Israel its unconditional support. (The Economist)

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  1. Lobbying for Armageddon | Some influential evangelical leaders are lobbying for an attack on Iran. But it's not about geopolitics -- it's about bringing about the End Times. (Sarah Posner, AlterNet)

  2. Armageddon again | Armageddon is hot again and why not? We crave explanations for wars in the Middle East and madness at home, such as the shooting of six Jews in Seattle last week by a man claiming to be a Muslim and wanting revenge against Israel. (Cal Thomas, The Washington Times)

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Mel Gibson (news):

  1. They didn't see this in Gibson's script | The star's friends and colleagues are aghast at his outburst against Jews. 'I believe it was the disease speaking, not the man,' one producer says (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Mel Gibson charged with misdemeanor DUI | Mel Gibson was charged with misdemeanor drunken driving, having an elevated blood-alcohol level and having an open container of liquor in his car without any mention of his alleged anti-Semitic tirade. (Associated Press)

  3. Many Hollywood Jewish leaders silent on Gibson | Superstar Mel Gibson goes on a drunken anti-Semitic tirade and Hollywood's powerful Jewish community finds itself under attack for not speaking up strongly enough in protest. (Reuters)

  4. Experts say Gibson's apology too late | Celebrity crisis management experts say Mel Gibson's apology for an anti-Semitic rant after his drunken driving arrest came several days too late. (Associated Press)

  5. Gibson apology accepted by proposed TV subject | Flory van Beek, a Holocaust survivor, is the proposed subject of an ABC miniseries which Gibson was supposed to produce. (Fox News)

  6. True views, or just the booze? | The fallout from Mel Gibson's big mouth—and how alcohol really does affect the brain. (Newsweek)

  7. Gibson arrest probe centers on why information was withheld | Civilian watchdog is investigating whether Mel Gibson got special treatment. After the star was booked, a deputy drove him to his car. (The Los Angeles Times)

  8. Disney faces hard sell for Gibson film | Disney had been counting on using Gibson's celebrity and his good relations with the evangelical Christian community to help market the film Apocalypto, which has no recognizable stars, is in a dead language and tells the bloody tale of the end of the Mayan empire. (Associated Press)

  9. Mel Gibson: The speed of scandal | Almost as stunning as Mel Gibson's anti-Jewish tirade when arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in the early hours of last Friday was the speed at which the scandal unfolded, doing serious damage to one of Hollywood's most valuable careers along the way. (The New York Times)

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  1. The shame is that so few say 'shame' | The Sony Pictures chairwoman was the only studio chief to go on the record with her outrage over Gibson's slurs, which included the Hamas-style charge that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." (Patrick Goldstein, The Los Angeles Times)

  2. Mel Gibson in firestorm of bad publicity | Getting drunk and mouthing off is nothing new in Hollywood, but Mel Gibson's weekend arrest has plunged him into a crisis that few could have imagined two years ago. (USA Today)

  3. Gibson's new line: Forgive me, Foxman, for I have sinned | The reaction in certain quarters picked up right where the debate over Gibson's 2004 film "The Passion of the Christ" had left off. (Forward, Jewish newspaper)

  4. Mel Gibson: Ted Baehr to the rescue | Claim: Career should be OK because Hollywood no longer controlled by Jews. (Bartholomew's notes on religion)

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Mel Gibson (opinion):

  1. Separating art from artist | Gibson's 'Passion' still speaks for itself. (Editorial, The Dallas Morning News)

  2. Gibson's ugly passion | Anti-Semitism comes easily to those who believe that their faith or political system is the final answer. The very existence of Jews serves as an affront to claims of absoluteness. (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  3. Mel's night out | Commentators seem to care more about the offense to Jews than Mr. Gibson's offense to his wife and children and to the idea of what it means to be married  (Cal Thomas, The Washington Times)

  4. Reconciliation should follow Mel's Malibu meltdown | Like it or not, Gibson will not disappear, and it hardly serves Jewish interests to isolate him as a permanent enemy — especially when his abject apology says, "I'm not just asking for forgiveness. … I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help." (Michael Medved, USA Today)

  5. Bigoted Gibson admirers sound off | My mail is all Mel Gibson all the time, with readers chastising, cheering and cursing me for my Monday column about his arrest on suspicion of drunk driving in Malibu. (Steve Lopez, The Los Angeles Times)

  6. Mel's tequila sunrise | Now that he has gotten into trouble for his bigoted views, Mel Gibson has thrown himself at the mercy of the object of his bigotry. (Maureen Dowd, The New York Times)

  7. It's the anti-Semitism, stupid | The bad, the good and the ancient -- Mel Gibson in American context. (Bill Blakemore, ABC News)

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  1. Slurring more than his words | Devil alcohol made Mel Gibson an anti-Semite? Try that explanation at home and see what happens. (Zev Chafets, The Los Angeles Times)

  2. Once again, it's penance time | Dubious as many of us may be about evangelical Christianity, there's an undeniable strain of tent-revival wishfulness in American culture, a desire to fling open the flaps and invite the sinners in to confess, to come clean and be made whole again in the company of other fallen and imperfect souls. (Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle)

  3. Community service | The upside to Mel Gibson's anti-Semitism (Michelle Cottle, The New Republic)

  4. When hate speech becomes accepted  | The relationship between homophobia and anti-Semitism is that Christian fundamentalists target gays and Jews for not adhering to the "true" tenets of Christianity. (Irene Monroe, The Advocate, gay magazine)

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Media and entertainment:

  1. Umberg hopes to validate KOCE sale through a new law | The Anaheim assemblyman sponsors a bill to allow local foundation to buy the public TV station in a deal the courts have voided. (The Los Angeles Times)

  2. A best friend on the airwaves | Delilah, who describes herself as a born-again Christian, has both conservative and liberal beliefs. (USA Today)

  3. Heaven can't wait | As his ethical struggle between profession and faith grows more urgent, a TV journalist is leaving the anchor desk for an evangelical ministry. (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  4. A fresh take on the life of a saint | TV producer Mario Valdes thinks youth need positive role models -- and a little mysticism. St. Moritz fits the bill. (The Ottawa Citizen)

  5. Rome Church condemns Madonna's crucifixion stunt | Rome's Catholic, Muslim and Jewish leaders have united to condemn pop star Madonna's decision to stage a mock-crucifixion when she performs in the Italian capital on Sunday a stone's throw away from Vatican City. (Reuters)

  6. Also: Madonna's concert crucifixion draws ire | Madonna's plans to stage a mock crucifixion during a Sunday concert in Rome have drawn fire from religious leaders, who have condemned the stunt as "an act of open hostility" toward the Roman Catholic Church. (Associated Press)

  7. Gospel singer wins spot on national stage | Baritone's dream has look of reality. (The Washington Post)

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  1. World Trade Center | Oliver Stone's 9/11 movie is filled with . . . religious symbolism (Jonathan V. Last, The Weekly Standard)

  2. Michael Moore fest ignores plea to pull film | Ignoring a request to remove the documentary "Jesus Camp" from its lineup, Michael Moore's Traverse City (Mich.) Film Festival plans two screenings of the film, one Friday and one Saturday. (Reuters)

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  1. Random buys Multnomah | Random House made it official this morning, announcing the acquisition of the Christian book publisher Multnomah Publishers. (PW Daily)

  2. Standex international sells Christian book unit to private equity firm | Standex International Corp., a diversified manufacturing and marketing company, said it sold its religious book store business, Berean Christian Stores, to private equity firm JMH Capital for an undisclosed sum. (Associated Press)

  3. 'Gospels' considers diverse early Christianity | Lylah M. Alphonse reviews The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth Behind Alternative Christianities by Darell L. Bock. (The Boston Globe)

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  1. Stolen Russian religious icon recovered | A religious icon stolen from Russia's State Hermitage Museum was found in a trash bin in St. Petersburg, police said Thursday (Associated Press)

  2. Satan's minions | Has the time come to pardon a 17th-century witch? (John Demos, The Wall Street Journal)

  3. Americans reveal their Puritan roots whether it's in business, sex or war | America's Puritan origins do much to explain why it is the maddening and exhilarating, ancient and modern, progressive and conservative, sophisticated and simplistic, creative and destructive country it is (George Walden, The Times, London)

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  1. Evolution opponents lose in Kan. primary | Conservative Republicans who pushed anti-evolution standards back into Kansas schools last year have lost control of the state Board of Education once again. (Associated Press)

  2. Evolution opponents lose Kansas board majority | Election results appeared to set the stage for a return of science teaching that accepts the theory of evolution. (The New York Times)

  3. What's the matter with Kansas? | Dishonest Darwinists — coming to a state near you. (David Klinghoffer, National Review Online)

  4. Lighten up on the scare letters | God bless the people at Answers in Genesis. They keep sending me things to write about. (Kevin Eigelbach, The Cincinnati Post)

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  1. Separation of church and science | Physicists and cosmologists whose research is too theoretical for federal funding may have a new granting body to turn to, so long as they don't mind using a little money from a foundation that has historically dedicated itself to promoting scientific work that has spiritual repercussions. (Inside Higher Ed)

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  1. Ex-Baylor leader only finalist for HBU post | Search panel taps Robert Sloan as its choice for Baptist school's next president. (Houston Chronicle)

  2. School's in for Cooper | Alice Cooper, the gender-bending shock-rock legend of American music, opening a center where kids can learn to play guitar, shoot hoops and find Jesus? (USA Today)

  3. 'I pray for the freshmen, Lord' | Group asks God's help during summer walks at high schools (The Huntsville Times, Ala.)

  4. Judge's ruling favors school board | Christian band not allowed to play. (The Toledo Blade)

  5. Storm in a small town | The minister at Samantha's graduation ceremony confused a commencement ceremony with a Sunday morning worship service. (Suzanne Fields, The Washington Times)

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Church and state:

  1. 6 charities sue Office of Personnel Management over their exclusion from federal donation drive | Awana Clubs International and Navigators join Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and other groups in complaint. (The Washington Post)

  2. U.S. Senate votes to acquire site of cross | The U.S. Senate voted to have the federal government acquire the land beneath a controversial cross in San Diego in an effort to circumvent a court order that the concrete structure be removed. (The Los Angeles Times)

  3. Prayer decision expected | Federal judge who heard arguments in the Fredericksburg case said a ruling will be soon (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)

  4. Also: Speech rights argued in prayer case | Federal judge weighs the lawsuit brought by member of Fredericksburg council (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  5. Lord's Prayer recited | But not by many at council meeting (The York Dispatch, Pa.)

  6. Handcuffing prisons | A court decision could put an end to a successful rehab program that is cutting the rate of repeat offenses—all because it lacks "adequate safeguards" against establishing religion (World)

  7. Sundays should not be treated like the Sabbath by government | We welcome news that the State Liquor Authority has approved the sale of beer after 8 a.m. on Sundays, the legislature has passed a law saying so, and the governor has signed it. (Editorial, The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, NY)

  8. Money matters | Danish and Austrian Christians say the "church tax" that almost the entire population pays to support the church is keeping people from Christianity. (Dennis Logie, San Mateo County Times, Ca.)

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  1. "Culture war" in America may be overblown: poll | The so-called culture wars rending America over such issues as abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research may be overblown, based on a U.S. poll released on Thursday. (Associated Press)

  2. Bush chooses director of faith office | Jay F. Hein is the president of the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, a conservative-leaning group based in Indianapolis. (The New York Times)

  3. The Reverend | Rudolph Giuliani learns to speak "evangelese"—and tests the waters for a presidential bid. (The Atlantic, sub. req'd.)

  4. Candidates talk religion at Focus forum | Politics and religion mixed at a Focus on the Family congressional forum Monday, as answers that may have raised eyebrows elsewhere played perfectly before this crowd. (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

  5. Pastors not playing the God card | Not all evangelical churches willing to push political agendas. (The Columbus Dispatch, Oh.)

  6. Colorado Christian Coalition under fire for political ad | Negative campaign ads published by the Christian Coalition of Colorado have drawn a harsh rebuke from that group's national headquarters (KOAA, Denver)

  7. Abramoff probe looks to Nashville-based PAC | America 21's records sought, paper reports. (The Tennessean)

  8. Trying on a gospel groove | Going to black churches is a must-do for today's politician, and particularly for any Democrat who wants to win a primary (Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  9. Pastor Ted's take on yellow journalism | The charismatic leader of New Life Church accused the Christian Coalition of Colorado of practicing yellow journalism — while at the same time defending the Colorado Springs Independent. (Colorado Springs Independent)

  10. Christian forum puts faith in politics | Is God angling for a more public role in Australian politics? In a bid to promote the nation's Christian heritage, more than a dozen federal politicians will co-host a forum at Parliament House this weekend. (Misha Schubert, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  11. Dueling wedge issues in Wisconsin | Gay marriage isn't what it used to be, and Democrats may have found something -- stem cell research -- that trumps it. (Alex Koppelman,

  12. Evangelicals are broadening their reach | Moving away from monolithic view will help them become a more powerful force. (William McKenzie, The Dallas Morning News)

  13. Janet motion could hand religious fundamentalists a lethal field day | At last there is someone who speaks "God" on the floor of parliament, which should be refreshing. (Omar Kalinge Nnyago, The Monitor, Uganda)

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  1. No tears for Fidel, please | The murderous dictator put revolution ahead of country, so shed them for the people and way of life he repressed (George Weigel, Los Angeles Times)

  2. The Christians are coming, the Christians are coming! | These are rich times for conspiracy theorists, and the mother lode these days may be found in the fevered minds of anti-Christianists (Kathleen Parker)

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Plan B:

  1. Plan B decision made before data review: FDA staff | The decision whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should approve wider access to a morning-after contraceptive drug was made well before agency scientists finished their final review, two FDA officials said in court documents released on Thursday (Reuters)

  2. Despite action on Plan B, FDA nominee is in limbo | Two Democratic senators plan to continue to block the nomination of Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach until the agency makes a decision on an emergency contraceptive. (The New York Times)

  3. FDA nominee's future hinges on pill | Lawmakers say approval of the agency's interim chief depends on his decision on the Plan B contraceptive's over-the-counter status. (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Plan B's second act | Plan B works primarily by blocking fertilization or preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. This is preventing pregnancy, not ending it. (Editorial, Boston Globe)

  5. Will FDA swallow Plan B? | In a long overdue concession to science, the Food and Drug Administration could finally, grudgingly, be ready to allow an emergency contraceptive to be sold without a doctor's prescription. (Editorial, USA Today)

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  1. China vow on sex-based abortion | China will punish health workers who help to abort female foetuses, despite a recent decision not to criminalise the practice, an official said. (BBC)

  2. Woman receives 6 years in prison for abortion clinic firebomb | Boyfriend to be sentenced today. (The Shreveport Times, La.)

  3. Aborted parental rights | The obstructionism of Senate Democrats has very little to do with any legal or moral arguments, and everything to do with carrying out the orders of the abortion lobby. (Editorial, The Washington Times)

  4. Abortion under siege in Mississippi | Preaching that abortion is as evil as Islam, Nazism and homosexuality, dozens of activists have descended on Jackson, determined to shut down the state's last abortion clinic. (Michelle Goldberg,

  5. Salvation nation | Michelle Goldberg on antiabortion activists. (Artvoice, Buffalo, N.Y.)

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  1. Catholic Charities scaling back its role in adoption services | After spending nearly 100 years finding homes for children awaiting adoption, Catholic Charities announced that it will no longer provide full adoption services. (San Francisco Chronicle)

  2. Calif. charity ends full adoptions | Catholic agency cites gay dispute. (The Boston Globe)

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  1. Gay UK Anglican priests "marry" | A priest who was at the center of a furor over homosexuality in the Church of England has entered a civil partnership with his long term partner, another male priest. (Reuters)

  2. Also: Gay cleric's 'wedding' to partner | The Very Revd Jeffrey John, 53, Dean of St Albans, and Rev Grant Holmes, 52, a hospital chaplain, entered into a civil partnership last week. (BBC)

  3. Vt. weighs in on lesbian custody fight | The Vermont Supreme Court ruled Friday that state courts, and not those in Virginia, have exclusive jurisdiction over a case involving two women battling for custody of a child they had while they were in a lesbian relationship (Associated Press)

  4. A true brother | Paul and Timothy Burke grew up in a very religious family in Jamaica. Paul went on to become an Evangelical pastor with the Cornerstone Urban Church in downtown Toronto, Canada. Last year, he took part in a Canadian radio programme, where he discussed gay marriage. What he did not discuss was his gay brother (Vox Humana, Radio Netherlands)

  5. A very civil partnership | Three years ago, Jeffrey John was at the centre of row over gay clergy. Last week he got hitched - and no one batted an eyelid. (Steven Bates, The Guardian, London)

  6. A change in the pulpit | GLBT community ally Rev. Alvin Jackson leaves D.C. for new pastures in New York. (Metro Weekly, D.C., gay newspaper)

  7. Give me your tired, your poor … or not | With advocacy groups and state courts pushing for new laws to bar same-gender marriage, gay adoption and civil unions, the United States' global image is suffering. (Steve Kluger, USA Today)

  8. Backward logic in the courts | Now I got it. After hours spent poring over Washington state's Supreme Court decision upholding the ban on same-sex marriage, I've finally figured it out. The court wasn't just ruling against same-sex marriage. It was ruling in favor of "procreationist marriage" (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)

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  1. Black Episcopalians: Minority concerns trump gay ordination | The church should look instead at fighting poverty and racism, and address the conservative versus liberal divide that underlies the gay debate. (The Boston Globe)

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  1. Praying Left | The Episcopal church elevates the liberal bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. (Jamie Deal, The Weekly Standard)

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  1. Dutch Cardinal Johannes Willebrands dies | Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, a key figure in the Roman Catholic Church's efforts to improve relations with other Christians and Jews, has died at age 96. (Associated Press)

  2. Mother distress at Mass ejection | A woman who was asked to leave Mass because her baby girl was making noise has said she is not happy with an apology from Bishop Patrick Walsh. (BBC)

  3. A mild sort of martyrdom | I call on the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, to renounce aviation and all its works. (Theo Hobson, The Guardian, London)

  4. "I will disobey this unjust law" | On Monday, a dozen women will be ordained Catholic priests in a forbidden ceremony in Pittsburgh. But can the women priests movement ever succeed? (Angela Bonavoglia,

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Church life:

  1. Megachurches court cool to attract teens | One evening at the New Life Church gives the author a sense of how evangelical right-wing Christians are attracting 'Generation Me.' (Alternet)

  2. If the nightclub's a church, the strip club may not open | The Minneapolis City Council is to vote on the nature of a downtown nightspot (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  3. Virus program incurs church wrath | Vicars in the UK are up in arms after parts of a program they use to organise church services were branded spyware (BBC)

  4. Secret angel still wants to save St. Brigid's | Fans and former parishioners are still fuming that the Archdiocese turned down offers by an anonymous "angel" to either repair or buy the Avenue B church in order to save it. (Village Voice)

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Pastor reportedly set parishioners on fire:

  1. King re-arraigned for murder | Embattled Lagos clergyman, Emeka Ezeuko alias Dr. Rev. King, was yesterday re-arraigned before another Magistrate Court in Yaba, Lagos, in a fresh two-count charge of conspiracy and murder, following the death of one of his alleged seven burn victims, Ann Uzoh, a member of his church, Christian Praying Assembly (This Day, Nigeria)

  2. Rev King back in court for murder | Embattled General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly (CPA), Ajao Estate, Lagos, Rev. Emeka Ezeugo King was rearraigned yesterday at the Yaba Magistrate's Court for alleged murder of Miss Ann Uzoh (Daily Champion, Nigeria)

  3. In God's name | What can the state do to protect the dignity and lives of its citizens who have ostensibly chosen, by their own volition, to be members of these sects? (Editorial, This Day, Nigeria)

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  1. Religion today: Hiding in Haiti | Religious workers, mostly Protestant and Roman Catholic, say they are trying to lower their profile in the often-lawless country, cloistering themselves in fortified compounds protected by razor-wire walls and armed guards and going out as little as possible. (Associated Press)

  2. Murder charge in shootings at Jewish Federation | Prosecutor could seek the death penalty for Haq. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  3. Catholic priest killed | Rev. Chidi Okorie, a priest of St. Mary's Catholic Church, Afikpo, according to reports was attacked in the night with multiple stabs and machete cuts inflicted on him. (Daily Champion, Nigeria)

  4. In court, Arlington pastor cast as playboy, predator | Two portraits emerge as Terry Hornbuckle rape trial begins, first accuser testifies. (The Dallas Morning News)

  5. So-called Christians and an internet scam | I fell for one. (Tracy Laster, The Kingsport Times, Tenn.)

  6. Race bias claim over witchcraft | The government's response to child abuse linked to witchcraft would have been different if it involved mainly white children, it has been claimed (BBC)

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Combating crime with prayer:

  1. Police enlist the power of prayer | Police in Lincolnshire are turning to prayer in their latest efforts to tackle crime. The force is asking churchgoers to concentrate their prayers on crimes such as burglaries and violent attacks (The Times, London)

  2. Dear Lord, please help cops catch crooks. Amen | The Lincolnshire branch of the Christian Police Association is setting up a "Prayer Watch" scheme to alert Christians to local crimes (Reuters)

  3. May the force be with us | Crime remains frighteningly high, and there can be no harm in the churches joining hands to invoke the Almighty (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)

  4. Policing on a prayer | As a society, we have thrown off the burdens of superstition. So what are our police doing asking Christians to help them? (Sue Blackmore, The Guardian, London)

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Ole Anthony's Trinity Foundation:

  1. The cult of Ole | Ole Anthony anointed himself the watchdog of America's televangelists. But who was watching Ole Anthony? (The Dallas Observer)

  2. The thorn in their side | I spoke with Ole Anthony, founder of Trinity Foundation, during eight interviews--more than 25 hours of conversation, covering everything from theology to televangelists to drugs. Though often in pain, Anthony proved to be an intelligent, always fascinating conversationalist. A very brief excerpt follows. (The Dallas Observer)

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  1. 140 men sue church for sex abuse | More than 100 former pupils of a Catholic children's home are suing for damages over alleged physical and sexual abuse suffered while in care (BBC)

  2. Methodists settle sex suit for $6.7 million | Three men alleged that a youth pastor at a Long Beach church molested them 30 years ago (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Fugitive Catholic priest flees US extradition | A fugitive Catholic priest ordered back to Phoenix from Rome to face child sex charges has vanished, authorities in Arizona said. (Reuters)

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Missions and ministry:

  1. New wealth, and worries, for the Salvation Army | Soul-searching about the charity's purpose has followed a $1.5 billion gift to build glittering community centers. (The New York Times)

  2. Church groups ready for missions in a Castro-free Cuba | Evangelical Christian groups say they are gearing up for a Castro-free Cuba. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

  3. Church tells Katrina mom it's time to go | Palatine congregation wants woman, her 3 kids to move on; she says they gave her to Dec. 31 (Chicago Tribune)

  4. Empty, and fulfilled | 'We're not just gutting their house, we're helping them hold a funeral for their former life.' (The Washington Post)

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  1. Sara White finds peace without Reggie | Death is not bad. (USA Today)

  2. Keeping faith in a sea of prejudice | How one young priest in an era of Catholic church scandals stays on a spiritual track. (The Christian Science Monitor)

  3. Heat makes Pat Robertson a global warming "convert" | Because it's hot outside, Robertson believes in it. What's he going to believe in December? (Reuters)

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  1. Africans take Christianity back to secular West | Western missionaries took Christianity to Africa in the 1800s. Now Kenyan minister Patrick Mukholi is bringing it back. (Reuters)

  2. Between custom and Christianity | Throughout Ghana, spiritual leaders are merging adopted Christian practices with their own ethnic group's traditional customs (BBC)

  3. Religion in the news: A Nigerian preacher in Ukraine  | Pastor Sunday Adelaja laughs at critics who suspect black magic, hypnotism, brainwashing and even hallucinogenic drugs explain the hundreds of bopping, clapping white worshippers who fill his converted sports hall every Sunday. (Associated Press)

  4. Pastor jailed over 'slave wages' | A church leader who illegally shipped South African workers to the Isle of Man and paid them "slave wages" has been jailed for three months. (BBC)

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  1. African Bible | A new 1,600-page book has been released that provides explanations of verses from all 66 books of the Bible, using local proverbs and idioms to make the teachings relevant to most Africans while remaining true to the scriptures. (The Voice, Botswana)

  2. Also: Catholic Church rejects African Bible Commentary | Opposition to book's entries on homosexuality. (Catholic Information Service for Africa)

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Other articles of interest:

  1. Braves bench Focus on the Family | Team removes anti-gay group from its 'Faith Days' events (Southern Voice, gay newspaper)

  2. Forgive me, Lord, he just wasn't the one | Adding a church, synagogue or other place of worship to your dating territory can be fraught with spiritual and moral dangers never contemplated by or Dr. Phil. (The Los Angeles Times)

  3. Lawsuit filed in drowning of 5 children | The mother of one of the five children who drowned on July 9 church outing to Castlewood State Park sued the church and Joyce Meyer Ministries on Tuesday, claiming they failed to adequately supervise the youths. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  4. Watching Jesus rise, twice an hour | At Tierra Santa, billed as ''Jerusalem in Buenos Aires,'' Jesus is quite literally everywhere. And the faithful come in droves, with 10,000 visitors on Easter weekend alone and more than 2.5 million since the park opened in 1999 (Associated Press)

  5. God takes an almighty battering from Gen-Y | Fewer than half of young Australians believe in God, but a growing number are turning towards tarot readers and psychics for answers (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)

  6. Is my air conditioner evil, or blessed grace? | Air conditioning hurts the environment, quaffs energy, and hastens global warming. But is my air conditioner evil? (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)

  7. Religion news in brief | Robert Duncan on the future of Anglicanism; Ohio's state employees told to take religious references out of e-mails; Outspoken gay priest says he was barred from overseas AIDS mission, and other stories. (Associated Press)

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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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