Top Five Stories of the Day

1. Evangelical statement on global warming is a media sensation
Christianity Today Online yesterday covered the Evangelical Climate Initiative's Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action, but CT certainly isn't the only news outlet with interest in this subject. Dozens of newspapers and other media around the world are picking up the story with original reporting, and many others are picking up wire service stories. But it's also interesting that the D.C. media doesn't find the story newsworthy. There's no story at all in The Washington Times, which is usually better than most on covering evangelical political actions. And The Washington Post, which a week ago ran a full story under the headline, "Evangelicals Will Not Take Stand on Global Warming," only took note of the Evangelical Climate Initiative as a related item to the White House's action yesterday on global warming and polar bears.

2. NAE seeks to join Air Force lawsuit
At the same time that the National Association of Evangelicals was making news for not taking part in the Evangelical Climate Initiative, the association was also in the news for taking a position in a Jewish Air Force Academy graduate's lawsuit against the military branch. The NAE, which sponsors many military chaplains from smaller denominations, would enter the case as a party, rather than simply filing a friend of the court brief. Mikey Weinstein says the NAE's involvement is itself evidence that the government is seeking to "collaborate with fundamentalist Christians to convert members of the armed forces to evangelical Christianity." The American Jewish Congress sees things differently, and is applauding the NAE's actions. The AJC especially likes the NAE's statement that chaplains, when praying or conducting services for interfaith audiences, should make its religious references broad.

LATE BREAKING UPDATE: The Air Force has just released new religion guidelines. We'll have more news and commentary on them in Friday afternoon's Weblog posting, but in the meantime we have also posted a Religion News Service story.

3. Non-proselytizing prayer?
Opening government meetings with prayer is a constant subject in the religion news world, but the debate does seem to be heating up of late. One focus area is Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, where the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the local school board over the practice. In federal appeals court yesterday, attorneys for the school board argued that "prayers at school board meetings are constitutional unless they are intended to convert a person to a particular religion," according to The Baton Rouge Advocate. Debra Lemoine reports:

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Judge [Rhesa] Barksdale read aloud a sentence from a prayer given during a school board meeting thanking God for "your greatest gift of all, your son, Jesus Christ."
"Tell me how this is not proselytizing?" Barksdale asked the board's attorneys.
[Board attorney Kirk] Gasperecz replied that although the cited prayer could be seen as proselytizing, the prayer does not follow the legal definition of proselytizing because it does not suggest converting to a particular faith.

Here's a question that apparently wasn't asked: Is a prayer with the primary intent of the religious conversion of someone else in the room still a prayer at all? Isn't the point of prayer to talk to God rather than to your neighbor? Of course, if the intent of prayer is to talk to other mortals in the room, then generic prayer with no actual deity invoked makes sense to a point. But if you're going to do that, why not just start meetings with "If You're Happy and You Know It" or the ever-so-annoying "Greet someone you haven't met before!"

4. Church of England's divestment: Will they or won't they?
A vote by the Church of England's General Synod to divest "from companies profiting from the illegal occupation" of Palestinian territory is enough to make Israelis (not to mention Caterpillar workers) upset, but The Jerusalem Post today reports that actual divestment might not happen despite the vote. "The Church of England's money managers will ignore the call," the paper said, and quotes the Ethical Investment Advisory Group's statement: "We will of course reflect on the message the synod has sent, but it does not mean that disinvestment is either imminent or likely." Weblog finds it odd how much heat Caterpillar has taken over this issue, since we haven't heard a peep, for example, about what kind of bulldozers were used when Robert Mugabe demolished poverty-stricken towns of political opponents. And who makes the paper the Israelis use to issue the orders to illegally occupy Palestine?

5. Banning Intelligent Design
The Scopes trial was about whether teaching evolution should be illegal. The Dover trial was about whether schools could be forced to mention Intelligent Design as an alternative to Darwinian evolution. Now we've gone full to the other side, with Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin wanting to make it illegal for science teachers to teach intelligent design. "Under the bill, only science capable of being tested according to scientific method could be taught as science," reports The Capital Times of Madison. "Faith-based theories, however, could be discussed in other contexts." One wonders if we'll see physics teachers hauled off to jail for teaching string theory, or astronomy teachers busted for discussing aspects of gravitational radiation. Want to talk about the theory of multiple universes? Keep it in church or keep it out of Wisconsin, buddy.

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Quote of the day
"It's totally, totally destroyed. There is nothing salvageable. It looks so much better on the outside. I don't know what to say."
—The Rev. Walter Hawkins Jr., pastor of Dancy First Baptist Church, seeing the inside of his Alabama church after it was one of nine set on fire this week. He was quoted by the Mobile Register. Police now say they have some leads, including footprints on a church door and witnesses who saw a dark SUV leaving the scene of one fire.

More stories

Global warming statement | Air Force lawsuit | Jewish-Christian relations | Church of England synod recommends divestment | Church of England synod apologizes for slavery | Church of England and women bishops | Another church quits ECUSA | Church life | Catholicism | Sex and marriage | Abuse | Crime | Ala. church burnings | More church attacks | Combating crime | Missions & ministry | Katrina aid aid | Church and state | Hate laws | Muhammad cartoon controversy | Human rights | Life ethics | Abortion | RU486 fight in Australia | New abortion bills and laws | Abortion politics | Evolution | Education | Higher education | Books | Da Vinci Code | Entertainment & media | Spirituality | Coretta Scott King funeral | Other articles of interest

Global warming statement (news):

  1. 86 evangelical leaders join to fight global warming | Despite opposition from some colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders are backing a major initiative to fight global warming (The New York Times)

  2. Evangelical group calls for climate-change policies | Research and development funding isn't good enough, they say (The Wall Street Journal)

  3. Evangelical leaders urge action on climate change | "Evangelical Call to Action" argues that there's no real scientific debate about the dangers of climate change—an assertion that many balk at. The group is calling on the government to act urgently, by, among other things, passing a federal law to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (Morning Edition, NPR)

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  1. 'Do we want to destroy the creation?' | Science and religion in a new alliance on global warming (Darwin irrelevant) (ABC News)

  2. Evangelicals go green | A group of notable Christian leaders are defying Bush on global warming (Time)

  3. Strange bedfellows | Evangelical Christians, Fortune 500 execs and environmentalists band together to curb global warming (Fortune)

  4. Evangelicals launch environment crusade | A group of evangelical Christian leaders kicked off a national campaign Wednesday to urge Congress to pass legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions, contending that decreasing the human role in global warming was central to putting faith into action (Chicago Tribune)

  5. Evangelicals call for action on global warming | The pastor of a Longwood megachurch joins 85 other leaders in the national fight (The Orlando Sentinel)

  6. Faithful split on global warming | Evangelical appeal draws opposition (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  7. Evangelicals urge action on global warming | A group of 85 evangelical Christian leaders on Wednesday backed legislation opposed by the White House to cut carbon dioxide emissions, kicking off a campaign to mobilize religious conservatives to combat global warming (Reuters)

  8. US evangelicals launch green plan | A group of influential US evangelicals has launched a campaign to persuade Americans that being a good Christian also means tackling climate change (BBC)

  9. Evangelicals launch green action plan | Challenge to Bush from his Christian constituency as leaders call on devout to 'solve global warming' (The Guardian, London)

  10. Evangelicals pressure Brownback on climate | Sen. Sam Brownback is being urged to take a tougher stance on global warming by members of a constituency he normally counts among his staunchest supporters: evangelical Christians (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)

  11. University president joins evangelical leaders in calling for fight against global warming (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

  12. Gordon president joins evangelical call to fight global warming | The president of Gordon College joined with evangelical Christian leaders around the nation yesterday to back a major initiative against global warming (The Salem News, Mass.)

Global warming statement (opinion):

  1. Evangelical Climate Initiative: A moral case for action | This new plea from the kind of fellow believers who populate Bush's political base will be hard for the President to ignore (Editorial, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  2. Breaking ranks on global warming | Evangelical leaders choose stewardship of the Earth over political fidelity to President Bush (Editorial, The Roanoke Times, Va.)

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  1. Christians' burning issue | Under pressure from right-wingers like James Dobson, America's largest evangelical group won't speak out on global warming. But some evangelicals are breaking ranks (

  2. Evangelical infighting | it's good news any time a powerful group of people agree to fight for an important cause. But I think the really good news here is that the strongest component of the GOP's base is cracking from within (Sam Graham-Felsen, The Nation)

  3. Beware false profits | On the dangers of ignoring the harmful effects of reducing carbon emissions (Iain Murray, National Review Online)

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Air Force lawsuit:

  1. Evangels want in on Air Force suit | The National Association of Evangelicals says it has talked with government attorneys and is entering the case to defend the rights of evangelical chaplains (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

  2. Evangelical group seeks to intervene in Air Force Academy suit | The National Association of Evangelicals filed a motion Wednesday to intervene in the lawsuit brought against the Air Force Academy and other military bases for alleged religious proselytizing (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  3. Evangelical group weighs in on religion dispute | The National Association of Evangelicals, a Colorado Springs-based organization that claims about 30 million members, is wading into a lawsuit seeking an injunction to bar Air Force members from evangelizing or proselytizing while on duty (Air Force Times)

  4. Christian group seeks to help Air Force | An evangelical group petitioned Wednesday to intervene in a lawsuit by an Air Force Academy graduate who alleges senior officers and cadets illegally impose Christianity on others at the school (Associated Press)

  5. AJC praises evangelical statement on religious freedom for soldiers | The NAE statement issued today notes that military chaplains, when called upon to offer a blessing or conduct religious services for an interfaith audience, or to give a prayer in memorial or ceremonial contexts, should offer a religious message or prayer that is respectful of all present (Press release)

  6. 'Jesus' barred from Air Force invocations | Revised religion rules at Colorado Springs academy beat back GOP pressure. (The Jewish Week, New York)

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Jewish-Christian relations:

  1. Hagee-led group to lobby for Israel | Cornerstone Church pastor John Hagee has launched a new evangelical Christian organization to lobby U.S. government officials on behalf of Israel, a first-of-its kind umbrella organization embraced by the local Jewish community (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)

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  1. New House leader is seen at odds with groups on religion and state | The House election comes as Jewish organizations are struggling to find ways to influence domestic legislation in the GOP-controlled Congress (Forward, Jewish newspaper)

  2. Inclusion on the breakfast menu | What a difference a year, and a few Hebrew prayers, make (The Jewish Week, New York)

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Church of England synod recommends divestment:

  1. Synod in disinvestment snub to Israel | The Church of England is expected to face condemnation from Jewish leaders after it voted to disinvest from companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the occupied territories (The Times, London)

  2. Church votes to sell off shares in Caterpillar | The Church of England's general synod - including the Archbishop of Canterbury—voted last night to disinvest church funds from companies profiting from Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian territory (The Guardian, London)

  3. Anglicans vote to divest from concerns in Israel-occupied areas | The vote Wednesday to divest from corporations that support Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank was sharply criticized by Jewish groups (The New York Times)

  4. Church of England's disinvestment vote 'advisory' | The Church of England's money managers will ignore the call by its legislative assembly, the General Synod, to disinvest from companies whose products are used by Israel in the territories (The Jerusalem Post)

  5. Anglicans divest from settlement-linked firms | The Anglican Church decided to divest from companies whose products Israel uses in the West Bank (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

  6. U.K. Jewry shocked by Anglican Church decision for divestment | British Jewry was stunned and outraged over a surprise decision on Monday by the Anglican Church's General Synod to divest from companies whose products are used by Israel in the territories (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)

  7. Church of England considering selling stake in CAT | Decision arises from ongoing use of Caterpillar products to raze Palestinian homes (Crain's Chicago Business)

  8. Williams backs bid to disinvest in firms that aid Israeli 'occupiers' | The Church of England was on a collision course with Jewish leaders last night after it voted to disinvest in companies profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian land (The Telegraph, London)

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  1. Lord Carey 'ashamed to be an Anglican' | The former archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, said Tuesday he was "ashamed to be an Anglican" following Monday's vote by the Church of England to disinvest from companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the territories (The Jerusalem Post)

  2. Wholly wrong: a holy mess | The Church's witness to our nation is not dead, but you might be better off seeking moral guidance from the next person you pass in the street (Oliver Kamm, The Times, London)

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Church of England synod apologizes for slavery:

  1. Church of England apologises for slave trade | An amendment "recognising the damage done" to those enslaved was backed overwhelmingly by the General Synod. (BBC)

  2. Anglicans say sorry for role in slave trade | The Church of England has apologised for profiting from the "dehumanising and shameful" slave trade, two centuries after its members helped bring about its abolition in Britain (Reuters)

  3. Church offers apology for its role in slavery | Two hundred years after Anglican reformers helped to abolish the slave trade, the Church of England has apologized for profiting from it (The Telegraph, London)

  4. Church apologizes for benefiting from slave trade | Guilt must be admitted, archbishop tells synod as pledge is made to fight against modern slavery (The Guardian, London)

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Church of England and women bishops:

  1. Synod inches towards women bishops | The Church of England today moved cautiously towards the consecration of women bishops by agreeing to "take note" of a report that sets out complex provisions to make it possible (The Times, London)

  2. General Synod tries to smooth path for first woman bishop | The Church of England edged closer to consecrating its first woman bishop yesterday despite unease at proposals to minimize divisions on the issue (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Synod opens debate on women bishops | Church a step nearer taking final decision; bishop's report angers both sides of argument (The Telegraph, London)

  4. Cardinal's warning on women bishops | The Church of England will stage a crucial debate on women bishops today after hearing warnings from Roman Catholic leaders that the move would cause irreparable damage to their relations (The Telegraph, London)

  5. Disunity 'is the cost of women being bishops' | The Church of England is expected to commit itself today to the ordination of women bishops — the cost being unity with the Roman Catholic Church, says Cardinal Cormac Murphy- O'Connor (The Times, London)

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  1. Williams urges support for women bishops | Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams urged bickering Anglicans on Thursday to back the ordination of women bishops under a compromise plan that seeks to placate deeply divided liberals and traditionalists (Reuters)

  2. A stained glass ceiling? | It seems that women will—eventually—become bishops in the Church of England. But the debate over their consecration still rages (BBC)

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Another church quits ECUSA:

  1. 2nd N.Va. church leaves Episcopal diocese | The unanimous vote by 88 members of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Ashburn on Sunday came after a similar move by a congregation in South Riding, which left the diocese in November (The Washington Post)

  2. Second Episcopal congregation bolts over gay clergy | The Church of the Holy Spirit in Ashburn, Va., has become the second congregation to leave the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia over disagreements on biblical authority, church discipline and homosexual clergy (The Washington Times)

  3. 2nd church quits Episcopal diocese | Sexuality is an issue in its decision to join Uganda's Anglicans (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

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Church life:

  1. Grape juice sickens Darien parishioners | Police are trying to determine how a mysterious substance got into the communion juice at Calvary Baptist Church Sunday, sickening about 40 parishioners (The Stamford Advocate, Ct.)

  2. Update: Police say grape juice that sickened parishioners was tainted | But investigators have ruled out arsenic and other common poisons (Associated Press)

  3. Clergyman wants woman jailed | Web site alleges pastor had affair with her; hearing Thursday (The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.)

  4. Mega-progress at a megachurch | Going from a rented room in a hotel to a 2,300-member congregation 15 years later, Kingdom Life Christian Church's story is a study in how a megachurch succeeds (The Christian Science Monitor)

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  1. Outing Cardinal Egan | A priest's lawsuit alleges the Catholic Church is hiding pedophile clergy—and offers a stunning reason why (The Village Voice)

  2. Also: Who would take a case like this? | Someone mad as hell, that's who (The Village Voice)

  3. New Vatican gate not quite pearly | It may not be pearly, but the Vatican is opening a new gate in its centuries-old walls (Reuters)

  4. Pope wishes First Lady 'peaceful time' at upcoming Olympics | During the 20-minute meeting, Mrs. Bush gave Benedict a small silver bowl; the pope in turn gave the first lady and Barbara rosaries and the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See a Vatican medal (Associated Press)

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Sex and marriage:

  1. Panel asks New York to join the era of no-fault divorce | New York, the only state where ending a marriage cannot be done by mutual consent, requires specific allegations of maltreatment (The New York Times)

  2. Marriage Savers buoyed by grant program | It has taken 20 years to woo 200 cities and counties into signing agreements to combat divorce and promote marriage in their communities, Marriage Savers founders Mike and Harriet McManus said yesterday (The Washington Times)

  3. 25 MILLION condoms? Who's watching Carnival? | "It's that time of year when we boost distribution because of the increase in demand," an official from the Health Ministry's anti-AIDS program said (Reuters)

  4. Senate panel balks at adding gays to anti-discrimination law | Senators discuss theology (The Washington Post)

  5. Ending bias in Virginia | Virginia has come late to the idea that employees and job-seekers should not be discriminated against because they may be homosexual. Now it has a chance to embrace the obvious justice of that policy (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  6. Gay bowel syndrome? Yeah, right | Anti-gay researcher Paul Cameron's falsehoods are well-known. The incredible thing is the people who still cite them (David Holthouse, Intelligence Report/Alternet)

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  1. Arrest of Chicago priest raises questions about reform | Recent accusations against a Catholic priest have raised concerns that the church has not done enough to address problems of sexual abuse by priests (The New York Times)

  2. Mich. prosecutor: Fugitive priest captured | A Catholic priest sought for more than seven years in Michigan child sex-abuse cases was captured in Colombia and returned to the U.S. for trial, authorities said (Associated Press)

  3. New turmoil in Catholic Church abuse scandal | An ex-Marine came forward on Tuesday to say that as a boy he had been molested by a Roman Catholic priest -- still in a prominent Church position -- who told him what happened was a secret between them and God (Reuters)

  4. Chronicling priest's pattern of abuse | In court, victims tell of a hip, outdoorsy Michael Wempe lavishing them with attention and trips (Los Angeles Times)

  5. D.A. investigator contradicts accuser at trial of Wempe | The witness, called by the priest's lawyer, is part of the defense's effort to poke holes in the alleged abuse victim's story (Los Angeles Times)

  6. Shield from lawsuits targeted | Proposal would end immunity for schools in sex-abuse cases (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

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  1. Family faces a painful past | Years after they befriended priest, now alleged pedophile, siblings come to grips with the truth (Newsday)

  2. Bishop Imesch, in his words | During a deposition given last August and unsealed by a judge last week, Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch put words to the code of silence that insulated his subordinates--if not the innocents they allegedly exploited (Editorial, Chicago Tribune)

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  1. Boy 'killed priest' | A Turkish teenager arrested yesterday for the murder of an Italian priest reportedly said he had been angered by the cartoons (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Also: Arrest over Turkey priest killing | Turkish police have arrested a teenager in the northern town of Trabzon as the suspected killer of a Catholic priest (BBC)

  3. Scandal-plagued pastor is linked to new church | Larry Davis admitted to stealing more than $500,000 from accounts at First Baptist Church of Cold Spring. Church members found it dismaying last month to receive a letter from two of their former brethren inviting them to services of a new church that seems to be forming around Davis (The Cincinnati Post)

  4. Man charged in church scam | Gary McKinley openly wept as he told of how his wife had just been killed in a car crash in Illinois and his son was critically injured (The Winchester Sun, Ky.)

  5. Attacks on Christians to be dealt firmly: CM | Even as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today reaffirmed his government's seriousness towards dealing with the attackers on Christians, a group of hoodlums created panic among school children and their parents in front of the Carmel Convent School by raising provocative slogans today (Hindustan Times, India)

  6. Family, man charged with defrauding Christians | As trial opens, attorneys say clients didn't know they were doing wrong (The Dallas Morning News)

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Ala. church burnings:

  1. What's behind church burnings? | White churches are the most frequent targets - and crime is often the motive (The Christian Science Monitor)

  2. Nine Alabama church fires linked: Two white male suspects wanted | Law enforcement officials confirmed that residents spotted the men in a dark-colored sport utility vehicle, possibly a Nissan Pathfinder or Chevrolet TrailBlazer (Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)

  3. Governor: Ala. church fires appear linked | Four more fires at Baptist churches on Tuesday in western Alabama had similar patterns — doors kicked in, fires set near the altar — to those last week (Associated Press)

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  1. Thrill may be motive in blazes | Arsonists who have burned nine Alabama churches in the past week could be setting the fires for thrills and may be planning more, federal and state officials said Wednesday (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  2. Ministers, faithful shaken by unexplained attacks | The ministers and members of the damaged congregations struggled Wednesday to figure out what that statement, if any, the arsonists are trying to make (Mobile Register, Ala.)

  3. Church fires not a sign of conspiracy | It's Alabama, isn't it? Must be the Klan. Actually, not really. (John Archibald, The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  4. Wednesday: 4 more churches burn | ATF says fires linked (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  5. 4 more churches set afire | "All Baptist, now that's strange." (Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)

  6. Investigator: Arsons can be solved | The majority of church arsons are solved, says John Robison (Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)

  7. Alabama church-goers 'just want to know why' | The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — which has assigned 100 agents to the investigation — is looking into the possibility that a local resident could be responsible (Los Angeles Times)

  8. 4 more Alabama churches burned | The blazes come less than a week after five others were torched. Federal investigators say 'this is going to be our top priority' (Los Angeles Times)

  9. Second rash of fires strikes churches in rural Alabama | Fires destroyed two Baptist churches and damaged two others just days after a string of church fires in another part of the state (The New York Times)

  10. Dark SUV sought in Ala. church fires probe | Federal agents said Wednesday they were looking for a dark sport utility vehicle in the investigation of nine rural Alabama church fires (Associated Press)

  11. Sheriffs increase patrols near rural churches | Throughout central Alabama, sheriffs are beefing up patrols near rural churches in response to nine recent church fires (Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)

  12. Church blazes 'No. 1 priority' for federal agency | Investigators looking at race, religion as factors (CNN)

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More church attacks:

  1. Blaze guts Phoenix church | Seventh-day Adventist congregation vows to rebuild after arson (The Arizona Republic)

  2. Churches hit with graffiti | Painted messages slam Christianity (San Francisco Chronicle)

  3. Also: Five Santa Cruz churches target of 'hate crime' | One depicted a cross with an equal sign followed by a swastika. Church leaders said another stated "Abort Christ" (Santa Cruz Sentinel, Ca.)

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Combating crime:

  1. The Gospel of John (Street) | His evangelistic fervor may not be enough to stem homicide rate (Sandra Shea, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  2. Ministers launch drive to combat youth crime | Plan for 1,000 volunteers (The Boston Globe)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Evangelical missionaries move into Amazon villages | They often lack the permission of Brazil's government, which is now trying to regain control of the activity (Reuters)

  2. Under Chavez's order, Florida missionaries leave Venezuela | Since late January, nearly 40 missionaries have pulled out and headed to the group's base in Puerto Ordaz ahead of a Sunday deadline set by the government for them to leave indigenous areas, said Marco Britto, a spokesman for the missionaries (Associated Press)

  3. Comfort, like pain, is shared | A church in Manhasset, N.Y., hit hard by the Sept. 11 attacks has reached out to a Mississippi parish reeling from Hurricane Katrina (The New York Times)

  4. Dial-a-prayer hotline at church | A church has set up an answering phone messaging service for people to leave their prayer requests (BBC)

  5. Two Winnipeg Mennonites hit the road for Colombia | Two members of the Winnipeg-based Mennonite Church Canada are travelling to Colombia to help with efforts to end 40 years of armed conflict in that country (

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Katrina aid aid:

  1. Some FEMA refund queries pulled | Two of three Baldwin County churches that sought federal money to offset Hurricane Katrina evacuee housing costs have withdrawn their applications, while two faith-based organizations in Mobile County have requested the money (Mobile Register, Ala.)

  2. Saturday: Proposal to help recoup money | Nine Baldwin churches provided shelter to hurricane victims; three applied for reimbursement (Mobile Register, Ala.)

  3. Metro Council approves loan to church | 'Forgivable' debt linked to FEMA park (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)

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Church and state:

  1. Keeping the faith in funding | Groups try to learn how to compete for federal money (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)

  2. Eminent domain halted at church door | A Pennsylvania court ruled that while the government can take away your home to build a parking lot, they can't do it to build a church (The Washington Times)

  3. Frozen account ruffles nuns | The nuns of the Holy Name Monastery say they have been swept into the net cast by the nation's antiterrorism laws (The Tampa Tribune, Fla.)

  4. Sales tax exemption on Bibles ends | Judge strikes down decades-old state law (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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  1. City, church still at odds over zoning | A west-side storefront church likely will appeal a judge's ruling dismissing its claim that the city's zoning rules are unconstitutional and violate federal law (The Courier News, Elgin, Ill)

  2. Also: Elgin is victor in church dispute | A Kane County judge handed Elgin a victory Monday in a three-year dispute over whether the city illegally required a small storefront church to comply with its zoning ordinance, a decision that appears headed for an appeal (Chicago Tribune)

  3. Cathedral caught between secular, spiritual | The Czech government and the Catholic Church are fighting a legal battle for control of Prague's iconic St. Vitus complex (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Convicted murderer alleges prison bias | Religious rights case goes to court (The Boston Globe)

  5. Deltona pulls 'religious' art | Black History Month paintings had Christian references (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)

  6. Anti-tax e-mails to church criticized | Mormon priest says he is just urging members to vote (The Arizona Republic)

  7. Lawmaker wants 'In God We Trust' on Indiana license plates | The new license plate is meant to be optional and looks just like the current plate with "In God We Trust" replacing the web address (WISH, Indianapolis)

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Hate laws:

  1. Call for vilification law change | Victoria's religious hatred law is causing more enmity than harmony and should be changed, say leaders of the state's churches (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  2. 'Robust' reception for church call on hate laws | A call by Victorian church leaders to change the state's religious hatred laws met a cool response from the Premier's Department yesterday (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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Muhammad cartoon controversy:

  1. EU commissioner urges European press code on religion | Plans for a European press charter committing the media to "prudence" when reporting on Islam and other religions, were unveiled yesterday (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Borrell: Caricatures of Christianity would have caused anger | Josep Borrell, Spanish Socialist president of the European Parliament, said yesterday that if the controversial caricatures of Mohammed published in the European press "had made a reference to Christianity, they would also have provoked considerable emotion," though he admitted that "embassies would not have been burned." (The Spain Herald)

  3. Bishop speaks out against religious censorship | The Bishop of South Sydney says the public's right to free expression should hold sway, and this includes the publication of offensive cartoons of the prophet Muhammad (PM, Australian Broadcasting Corp)

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Human rights:

  1. Wishful thinking | State Department dishonesty on Darfur (Eric Reeves, The New Republic)

  2. Remembering the persecuted | Representatives from the Jubilee Campaign, an interdenominational group that works on religious freedom issues will speak in the area this week (The Shreveport Times, La.)

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Life ethics:

  1. When death is on the docket, the moral compass wavers | Researchers have determined the psychological techniques most often used to disengage and tested them in people staffing a prison execution team (The New York Times)

  2. Adelman, other Democrats back stem cell research | Several Senate and House Democrats on Wednesday say they will support legislation that would encourage stem cell research in Georgia to help find a cure for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cancer (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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  1. Both sides believe they save lives | Spending time with advocates on both sides for a behind-the-scenes perspective to the abortion debate (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  2. Abortion is my human right, says Polish woman | A woman whose vision became severely impaired after she was refused an abortion in staunchly Roman Catholic Poland took her fight to the European Court of Human Rights yesterday (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Also: Polish woman refused abortion goes to Europe court | A Polish woman who was refused an abortion despite doctors' warnings that giving birth could damage her eyesight accused Poland on Tuesday of failing to protect her rights under its strict abortion law (Reuters)

  4. Pro-life student assaulted at W&M | A College of William and Mary student was punched in the face as she handed out anti-abortion cards on campus Tuesday night, a university spokesman said (Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)

  5. Kline's consultant known for anti-abortion research | A $150,000 consultant to state Attorney General Phill Kline in a teenage sexual privacy suit is a longtime abortion critic who runs a research institute on a shoestring budget out of his home (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)

  6. Court rebuke—Calm down | Attorney general Phill Kline feels strongly about abortion, but needs to restrain himself (Editorial, The Topeka Capital-Journal, Kan.)

  7. Abortion's not the answer | For every legitimate social problem they listed, students focused on abortion as the answer. Apparently, abortion could solve everything from disabilities to poverty, to marginalization, discrimination, domination, exploitation and even violence against women (Lisa-Ann Oliver, The Seattle Times)

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RU486 fight in Australia:

  1. Yes, but abortion pill fight isn't over | The House of Representatives will decide next week whether to strip the Minister for Health of his power of approval over the so-called abortion drug RU486 after the Senate voted decisively to end the effective ban last night (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  2. Australia in abortion pill vote | Australia's Senate has voted to take control of a controversial abortion pill away from the government (BBC)

  3. Senate votes against Abbott | A bill that would strip Health Minister Tony Abbott of his exclusive control over abortion-inducing drug RU486 has been passed by the Senate after a conscience vote (AAP, Australia)

  4. Australia Senate votes to scrap abortion drug ban | Australian senators voted on Thursday to remove an effective ban on abortion drug RU-486 after two days of emotive, personal and passionate debate that saw two high-profile politicians reveal their experiences with abortion (Reuters)

  5. Senate lifts RU486 ban | "The killing fields of the Senate": It was a parting shot from a desperate man about to lose an emotional debate over a little pill that ends unwanted pregnancies (AAP, Australia)

  6. Churches ramp up pressure to retain ban on pill | Churches, led by the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, stepped up their lobbying of senators on the eve of a vote to remove ministerial veto power over the abortion drug RU486 (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  7. PM Howard won't support RU486 bill | Prime Minister John Howard has signalled he won't support moves to lift an effective ban on abortion drug RU486, sparking angry claims he's trying to influence Thursday's conscience vote on the issue (AAP, Australia)

  8. I'm a victim of bias, says Abbott | Advocates of the abortion drug RU486 were pre-judging Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott him because he was a Catholic, Mr Abbot said (The Australian)

  9. Premiers back RU486 change | Three premiers have backed proposed changes to the administration of the abortion drug RU486 which faces a Senate vote later today (AAP, Australia)

  10. Revelation adds to emotional debate | Amid an emotional debate on the so-called abortion drug RU486, Senator Lyn Allison was among several politicians who revealed their highly personal reasons for their intentions for a vote today—whether an effective ban on the drug should remain or be lifted (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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  1. Drug already used to induce abortion: doctor | A Sydney doctor has performed 60 abortions using a drug via a legal loophole that allows doctors to prescribe medications outside their specified purpose if their patients agree (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  2. Abortion veto: report takes no stand | A parliamentary committee has failed to take a stand on whether Health Minister Tony Abbott should be stripped of his exclusive control of the abortion pill RU486 (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  3. It is not for MPs to decide RU486's fate | Senators should remember that today's vote is about who authorises drugs for medical use, not the legality of abortion (Editorial, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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New abortion bills and laws:

  1. Abortion foes gain on new front | Abortion foes are gaining ground with proposals to require doctors to tell women seeking abortions that their fetuses might feel pain during the procedure (USA Today)

  2. State legislators continue to promote 'fetal pain' bills | But whether or not fetuses feel pain depends on who you ask (ABC News)

  3. Abortion opponents going for 'fresh angle' | Most of the debates over abortion in state legislatures stem from abortion opponents' continuing push to emphasize the interests of fetuses and to create more hurdles for women seeking abortions (USA Today)

  4. Nassau executive offers plan with alternatives to abortion | The proposed county program would issue grants to groups that promote adoption, provide housing for single mothers, encourage abstinence and provide information about other birth-control measures (The New York Times)

  5. S.D. House panel approves abortion ban | HB1215, which next goes to the full House of Representatives, would make it a felony carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison for doctors and others to perform an abortion. However, abortions would be allowed to save the life of a pregnant woman (Associated Press)

  6. S.D. House committee approves abortion clinic inspections | If tattoo parlors and body-piercing salons are inspected and licensed, South Dakota abortion clinics should be regulated, too, Rep. Alice McCoy, R-Rapid City said Wednesday (Associated Press)

  7. House gives final okay to anti-abortion measure | The Kansas House today gave final approval to insurance legislation aimed at helping universities, but which also included an anti-abortion amendment (Lawrence Journal-World, Kan.)

  8. Wednesday: House bill includes abortion limits | Amendment added to regents insurance bill (Lawrence Journal-World, Kan.)

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  1. Virginia House advances abortion clinic regulations bill | A bill that would require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as outpatient surgery centers won preliminary approval in the House of Delegates Tuesday (Associated Press)

  2. Abortion clinics may have to close | Providers say state bill regulating facilities, with no 'grandfather' clause, leaves no time to comply (The Indianapolis Star)

  3. Failed parental notification measure could be back before voters | Backers of a failed special election measure that would have forced doctors to notify parents or guardians before performing abortions on underage girls are circulating petitions to have Californians vote on nearly the same measure next November (Associated Press)

  4. Abortion opponents lead way | N. Ky. lawmakers known for activism (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

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Abortion politics:

  1. Clinton defends contribution to pro-life candidate | Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is defending her contribution to Bob Casey, a Democratic Senate candidate who opposes abortion, saying he is needed for the party's struggle against Republicans (Associated Press)

  2. Salazar boosts Ritter | Move beyond abortion issue, Democrats told (The Denver Post)

  3. Shelve the litmus test in party politics | Abortion is one of many vital issues in gauging the gubernatorial field. Bill Ritter's pro-life position shouldn't send pro-choice Democrats into a tizzy (Editorial, The Denver Post)

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  1. Bill bans creationism as science | Creationism or intelligent design could not be taught as science in Wisconsin public schools under a first-of-its-kind proposal announced by Madison state Rep. Terese Berceau (The Capital Times, Madison, Wi.)

  2. Also: Science teaching gains attention | Proposal would ban instruction in intelligent design (Associated Press)

  3. Letter for evolution gets support from clergy | Evolution Sunday is Feb. 12 (Associated Press)

  4. Scientists celebrate Darwin's birthday | Thanks to the "intelligent design" movement, Charles Darwin's birthday is evolving into everything from a badminton party to church sermons this weekend (Associated Press)

  5. Local church gets down to science | Christians say religion can coexist with Darwin (San Mateo County Times, Ca.)

  6. Darwin was right—again | Two separate research projects announced this week clear up some of the issues (Robert C. Cowen, The Christian Science Monitor)

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  1. School Board prayers argued in 5th Circuit | Prayers at school board meetings are constitutional unless they are intended to convert a person to a particular religion, attorneys for the Tangipahoa Parish School Board argued before a federal appeals court Wednesday (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)

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  1. Vote prevents debate on Bible class bill | The Alabama House, with Republicans leading the way, killed a bill Tuesday that would have established a course on the Bible in the state's public schools (Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)

  2. Also: GOP blocks Bible class bill, derides election 'posturing' | Sponsor Guin blames 'fanatical' Republican leaders (The Huntsville Times, Ala.)

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Higher education:

  1. Transgender woman settles with Saint Anselm College over firing | Sarah Blanchette sued the Catholic college in May, saying the college fired her as a senior computer programmer after she told school officials she planned to change genders (The Boston Globe)

  2. At Catholic colleges, 'Vagina' dialogues | Allow the performance and they are criticized for going against church teachings. Ban the play and they're accused of stifling academic freedom (Associated Press)

  3. Church sues to fund 'Christ-centered' state scholarships | Colorado Christian University is suing the state of Colorado, charging that officials denied funds for scholarships because of the school's "Christ-centered" approach to educating its students. The Bush administration is siding with the school. Does the state have the right to refuse funds? (Day to Day, NPR)

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  1. An 'ordinary radical' and his call to action | A "Jesus freak" becomes an "extremist for love." Paul Beston reviews Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution (The Wall Street Journal)

  2. Author used fiction to flesh out Jesus | Critics have praised Walter Wangerin's descriptive powers and gift for detail, along with his full characterization of Mary, mother of Jesus (South Bend Tribune, Ind.)

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Da Vinci Code:

  1. Catholic group says of 'Da Vinci Code' Film: It's just fiction | With "The Da Vinci Code" film set for release on May 19, Opus Dei is trying to cast the group in a very different light than the religious home of a fictional assassin (The New York Times)

  2. A pulpit online for critics of 'The Da Vinci Code' film | Well ahead of the film's May 19 release, Sony Pictures is putting up a Web site that will give a platform to some of the fiercest critics of "The Da Vinci Code." (The New York Times)

  3. 'Da Vinci Code' fight brews | 'The Da Vinci Code' is a 'comedy of errors' (Good Morning America, ABC)

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Entertainment & media:

  1. "Dogtown" director on scene for "Nativity" | Director Catherine Hardwicke, whose films have focused on wayward teens and skateboard punks, is in negotiations to shoot a project about the life of the Virgin Mary before the birth of Christ (Reuters)

  2. Protests as Jerry Springer opens | Jerry Springer-The Opera opened in Birmngham and as expected there were protests by Christian groups (BBC)

  3. The sounds of faith | Krista Tippett talks about her "Speaking of Faith" radio program, which explores a wide range of subjects related to belief, doubt and meaning. It's struck a strong chord among listeners (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  4. Burchill goes on sabbatical for God | It's a career move that may come as a surprise to some victims of her occasionally poisonous wit: Times columnist Julie Burchill has announced she is temporarily leaving journalism to study God (The Guardian, London)

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  1. Dissecting God | Philosopher Daniel Dennett argues that religion needs to be scientifically analyzed, regardless of the fallout. "We cannot let any group, however devout, blackmail us into silence" (

  2. Exorcisms in high demand in Mexico | With more people going through the process than ever, priests in Mexico are doing their best to keep up with the demand to drive demons from people's souls (KENS, San Antonio)

  3. The war on Saint Valentine's Day | What is it with fair-weather Christians? They get their rosaries in a bunch about the War on Christmas but don't raise a peep about the other holy days—or "holidays"—that have been co-opted by the forces of militant secularism (The Stranger, Seattle)

  4. Speaker challenges men to tread spiritual path | Bill Perkins of West Linn will speak about what he calls religion's feminization (The Oregonian)

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Coretta Scott King funeral:

  1. Funeral site for King stirs unease | Some want it held at Ebenezer Baptist, where her husband preached, rather than a "prosperity gospel" pastor's mega-church (Los Angeles Times)

  2. New Birth Missionary Church hosts King's funeral | The funeral for Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights icon the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., is being held Tuesday at the New Birth Missionary Church in a suburb of Atlanta, Ga. Bernice King, the couple's youngest child, serves as an elder at the church, the largest predominantly African-American church in the region (Day to Day, NPR)

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Other articles of interest:

  1. End is not near enough for pastors | Evangelical ministers meet in Inglewood to discuss ways to convert millions and hasten the Second Coming (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Officials will attend interfaith breakfast | Two years after a longtime Beaverton mayors' prayer gathering folded, a new one will emerge (The Oregonian)

  2. The Rev. William A. Jones, civil rights activist, dies at 71 | Dr. Jones exerted influence far beyond his Brooklyn pulpit in support of local and national civil rights causes (The New York Times)

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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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