Today's Top Five

1. Dozens dead after church attacks in Nigeria; Pakistan churches also hit
As if the Muhammad cartoons controversy story wasn't complicated enough, related violence over the weekend has complicated the matter even more. The events are stark enough: Muslims attacked two churches in Sukkur, Pakistan, and have continued to riot in Nigeria, where at least 30 churches were burned and at least 45 people have been killed. Most of the Nigerian attacks have been in the city of Maiduguri, capital of Borneo state.

But the riots aren't only about the cartoons. Pakistan's riots were mostly about rumors that a Christian teenager had thrown pages of the Qur'an into a trashcan, but, as AFP notes, "Sukkur has recently been the scene of almost daily protest rallies against the cartoons." Nigeria's latest riot, in Bauchi, was over a teacher's confiscation of a student's Qur'an. Riots in the country over the weekend were tinged with political tension over rumors that President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian, will seek a third presidential term, and concerns over a looming national census.

Still, it appears that outrage over the cartoons set the stage for the riots. And outrage over the riots seems to be the next big story in Nigeria. The statement issued by Peter Akinola, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (and head of the Anglican Church there) is dramatic. "From all indications, it is very clear now that the sacrifices of the Christians in this country for peaceful co-existence with people of other faiths has been sadly misunderstood to be weakness," says his written statement. It continues:

It is no longer a hidden fact that a long standing agenda to make this Nigeria an Islamic nation is being surreptitiously pursued. The willingness of Muslim Youth to descend with violence on the innocent Christians from time to time is from all intents and purposes a design to actualize their dream. … . May we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation. Nigeria belongs to all of us—Christians, Muslims and members of other faiths. No amount of intimidation can change this time-honored arrangement in this nation. CAN may no longer be able to contain our restive youths should this ugly trend continue.

It will be interesting to see whether this statement gets much play in the international media (so far it's just in a Reuters story), and whether Akinola's declaration is taken as a warning or as a threat. A new blog called is rounding up the violent incidents connected to the Muhammad drawings. When the Catholics and other Christians start murderous rampages over South Park's "Bloody Mary" episode, we'll be sure to let you know.

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2. Nigerian bishop's family attacked
Akinola is a familiar name to many American Christians because of his leadership in calling the Anglican Communion back to biblical standards. One of his bishops, Benjamin Kwashi, is particularly well known to American Anglicans and is a frequent speaker at orthodox meetings. Christianity Todayinterviewed him in September. His family was savagely attacked by a group of about 20 armed men apparently bent on assassination. The attackers apparently knew that he had been in London on ministry business, but mistakenly thought that he had been due to return Friday afternoon. His wife, Gloria, is in the hospital. The attackers remain at large, their motives unknown. Jos, where Kwashi serves as bishop, has been the center of much of Nigeria's Muslim violence against Christians.

3. Church renovations aren't the same after Katrina
Baton Rouge churches, having been shelters for refugees from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, have now become bases for mission volunteers wanting to help the Gulf Coast. This summer, the churches are expected to be bursting with work groups. That's changing the ways that churches think about their buildings, reports The Advocate of Baton Rouge. University Presbyterian Church started with adding a shower off the kitchen and putting bunk beds in one of the Sunday school classrooms. Now, says associate pastor Clint Mitchell, the church wants to build "a place where volunteers could relax, talk about their experiences, and decompress." The church's key question right now: "How do we practice good hospitality?" Other churches are asking similar questions about additions and renovations. But if Katrina really has influenced Christians' thinking on missions and ministry, as many have argued, one imagines that this isn't just a Gulf Coast story. Countless churches nationwide are considering building projects right now. After Katrina, are they more likely to include showers and shelters?

4. How much is tax exempt?
So let's say a church does take Katrina into consideration and builds a facility with several shower stalls and a large area that could be easily converted into a dormitory or shelter of some kind. Between natural disasters, that place would look an awful lot like—and would probably be used as—a gym. Should that property be exempt from taxes as a core part of the church? Or would the gym be fpr a separate use that could be taxable? For that problem writ large, check out Christ Chapel Community Church in Macon, Georgia, and its sports complex, called SportsTowne. The church bought the 100,000-square-foot facility for $8.35 million—complete with a roller hockey rink, indoor basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts, and outdoor fields. Associate pastor Beth White says the whole thing should be exempt: "The thing most churches are trying to do is win lost people. … Our target audience will come to us for sports. So we have an opportunity to use our building six days out of the week to come in contact with people and use lifestyle evangelism to invite them back on Sundays." The local board of tax assessors isn't so sure, especially since a for-profit arena football team gets to use the facility and offices rent-free. But that's still part of the church's mission, says White. "The trade-off is we get to use their influence, and they get to use our building. … [They] have influence with people the church will never gain influence with. They have influence with the Saturday night sports crowd." (Does this kind of story really interest you? If so, be sure to check out our newest sister publication, Church Law & Tax Report.)

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5. Church directories flap
One brief religion story in the 2004 presidential election was the controversy over the Bush-Cheney campaign's effort to acquire church directories. That move was universally panned across the political spectrum, with the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land being one of the chief critics. Land is back as one of the chief critics now that the North Carolina Republican Party is trying the same tactic, calling it "completely beyond the pale of what is acceptable."

Quote of the day:
"He is in a very visible leadership position, and comments such as recent ones related to Mr. Sharon and so many others are misinformed and presumptuous and border on arrogance. … It puts the evangelical movement in a bad light when that happens, because people make broad generalizations, rightly or wrongly, all the time."
—David Dockery, president of Union University, on Pat Robertson.

More articles

Muslims attack Pakistan churches | Dozens of deaths in Nigeria riots | Nigerian bishop's family attacked | More on Muslim riots | Iraq | Divestment | Sudan | Social justice | Anti-conversion in India | Mar Thoma convention | Church life | Australian Anglicans | Australian Catholics | Catholicism | Catholic colleges | Education | Evolution | Church and state | Politics (U.S.) | Politics (non-U.S.) | Praying for politicians | Evangelical Climate Initiative | Life ethics | Abortion in Australia | Sexual ethics | Abuse | Crime | Alabama church arsons | Another Ala. church burns | Alabama Christian warehouse fire | Business | Books | Film | More entertainment | Missions & ministry | People | Other stories of interest
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Muslims attack Pakistan churches:

  1. Churches set on fire in presence of police in Sukkur | Heavy contingencies of police and Rangers with armored personnel carriers (APC) were standing outside Saint Saviors Church, but they did not move to save it (Pakistan Christian Post)

  2. Report: Pakistani police charge 23 over church attacks | Police have charged 23 people with setting fire to two Christian churches during protests in southern Pakistan over desecration of the Muslim holy book, the Koran (Reuters)

  3. Churches attacked in Sukkur to avenge 'desecration' | An angry mob attacked two churches in Sukkur on Sunday over allegations that a Christian boy had 'desecrated' a copy of the Holy Quran, a government official said, adding that no one was hurt in the violence (Daily Times, Pakisan)

  4. NGOs condemn attacks on churches in Sukkur (Daily Times, Pakisan)

  5. Church set ablaze in Pakistan, no casualties-police | Hundreds of angry Muslims set a church on fire in southern Pakistan on Sunday during a protest over the burning of pages from the Muslim holy book the Koran, but no casualties were reported, police said (Reuters)

  6. Hundreds arrested in Pakistan protests | Hundreds of Muslims burned a church in the southern city of Sukkur. Local police chief Akbar Arian said the riot was not sparked by the cartoons but by allegations that a local Christian had burned pages of Islam's holy book, the Quran — another sign of the heightened sectarian tensions in this overwhelmingly Muslim nation (Associated Press)

  7. Pak. minority alliance condemns Church burning, 23 held | An alliance of Pakistan's minority communities today condemned attacks on two Churches during a protest over publication of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad, as police arrested 23 people in this regard (PTI, India)

  8. Bishop blames police for burning of Churches | Catholic Bishop, Max Roderick, and Protestant Bishop, Rafiq Masih on Monday termed the police responsible for burning of two Churches in Sukkur on Sunday following an incident of the desecration of Holy Quran (Pakistan Tribune)

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  1. Photos of burning churches and the aftermath (Yahoo News)

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Dozens of deaths in Nigeria riots:

  1. Latest: Curfew after third Nigerian riot | A curfew has been imposed in Bauchi in northern Nigerian after at least 13 people were killed in a sectarian riot (BBC)

  2. Pope saddened by religious riots in Nigeria (Reuters)

  3. Death toll in northern Nigeria riots rises to 28 | At least 28 people died in weekend rioting in two Muslim states in northern Nigeria over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad and a planned constitutional amendment, the Red Cross said on Monday (Reuters)

  4. At least 15 die in Nigeria cartoon protest | Nigerian Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches on Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet in the whirlwind of Muslim anger over the drawings (Associated Press)

  5. Nigeria cartoon protests kill 16 | killed in northern Nigeria during protests by Muslims over the cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad (BBC)

  6. Muhammad cartoon protests spark attacks on Christians | At least 17 people, including a Catholic priest, were killed and 30 churches burned in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri when Muslims protesting cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad turned on local Christians, police said (IRIN/Reuters)

  7. Curfew after 16 die in protests | Rallies against the Muhammed cartoons descend into sectarian fury and rioting (The Times, London)

  8. New religious riot in Nigeria, death tolls rise | At least five people died in a religious riot in the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi on Monday while the death toll from a weekend of sectarian violence in two other northern cities climbed to at least 28 (Reuters)

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Nigerian bishop's family attacked:

  1. Obasanjo's aide escapes assassination | Special Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Youth Matters and Anglican Archbishop of Jos Diocese, Bishop Benjamin Kwashi, yesterday escaped assassination, when about 20 men stormed his house allegedly to kill him (This Day, Nigeria)

  2. Letter from SOMA director regarding attack on bishop's family (SOMA USA, via AACBlog)

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More on Muslim riots:

  1. Conflicts cited at Christian conference | Little has emerged beyond general calls for more interfaith talks and acknowledgments that beliefs and principles are constantly colliding in a borderless age (Associated Press)

  2. A pathetic way of making Europe regret its cartoons | Speaking on a PTV talk show, the moon-sighting chief of Pakistan Mufti Munibur Rehman warned "the NGOs and the Christians" as he took on the Musharraf government on the question of the Danish cartoons. The reference to the Christians was gratuitous and an indirect incentive to the anti-cartoon vandals to fall upon an already vulnerable community (Editorial, Daily Times, Pakistan)

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  1. In defense of the right to offend | Amid the Muhammad cartoon furor, we should remember that freedom of religion does not mean freedom from offense (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

  2. It's so cowardly to attack the church when we won't offend Islam | Gallery owners know that although Catholics will be offended, they won't harm them. That knowledge invalidates their claims to be transgressive (Nick Cohen, The Guardian, London)

  3. The United Church's slur | You could argue that the paper was insensitive or needlessly provocative, but racist? (Editorial, The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

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  1. U.S. church alliance denounces Iraq war | The 34 U.S. members of the World Council of Churches sharply denounced the war in Iraq on Saturday, accusing Washington of "raining down terror" and apologizing to other nations for "the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown" (Associated Press)

  2. Also: U.S. religious group condemns Iraq war | The U.S. Conference for the World Council of Churches condemned the U.S.-led war in Iraq on Saturday for "raining down terror" on helpless Iraqis, and criticized Washington's policies on the environment and poverty (Reuters)

  3. Wrapped in prayer and hugs, marines leave for Iraq duty | 'You need to be strong,' one sergeant's mother tells family members who gathered to say a loving farewell to Battalion 5 (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Churches debate pro-Palestinian divestment | A wide-ranging, global gathering of Christian leaders has become a forum for a question that one delegate calls a religious minefield: Should churches use their investment portfolios to protest Israeli policies toward Palestinians? (Associated Press)

  2. Mideast dispute: The rabbi vs. the archbishop | Britain's Chief Rabbi assailed the Church of England for supporting divestiture from companies whose products support Israeli policies (The New York Times)

  3. Israel's policies are feeding the cancer of anti-Semitism | It is a lie that to reject Zionism as it is practised today is to be the inheritor of Hitler's racism (Paul Oestreicher, The Guardian, London)

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  1. Also: Leading Anglican hits back in 'anti-Israel' row | Anglican churchmen hit back yesterday in the increasingly ugly spat between the Church of England and the chief rabbi over the general synod's call for disinvestment in a company making bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes (The Guardian, London)

  2. Bishop defends Church Israel move | Bishop of Hulme, Stephen Lowe, said there had been an over-reaction to the decision by the Church (BBC)

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  1. Bush sees need to expand role of NATO in Sudan | President Bush also said he favored doubling the number of peacekeepers operating in Darfur under U.N. control (The New York Times)

  2. Bush calls for more forces in Darfur area | President Bush said Friday that calming Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur region will require "probably double" the current number of international peacekeepers and a coordinating role for NATO (Associated Press)

  3. Darfur: Origins of a catastrophe | Sebastian Mallaby reviews Gérard Prunier's Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide (The Washington Post)

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Social justice:

  1. Christians on Turkey's fringes | An EU report on minorities in Turkey has raised concerns over the country's treatment of its Christians. Since the Halki seminary closed in the seventies, the Church in Turkey has had no center for clerical training (Deutsche Welle, Germany)

  2. Vietnam, U.S. resume human rights talks | "There has been an improvement in the religious freedom area," says Barry Lowenkron, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (Associated Press)

  3. Rights groups criticize speedy deportations | The groups warn that amid increased immigration enforcement, those fleeing persecution are more vulnerable (The New York Times)

  4. 'Millions more starving' by 2015 | The United Nations' goal of halving hunger by 2015 looks unattainable without new technologies and greater financial investment, say scientists (BBC)

  5. Torture in the name of … | Religions throughout history have used the sword to enforce their world view, but such actions inevitably are followed by regret. A lesson for today? (Gerald L. Zelizer, USA Today)

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Anti-conversion in India:

  1. "Check conversion by Christian missionaries" | Welfare missions are just a pretext to convert tribals and Adivasis, says Rajnath (The Hindu, India)

  2. BJP seeks law against conversion to Christianity | Party chief sees clear and present danger from Christian missionaries (IANS, India)

  3. BJP favours law to stop religious conversion: Rajnath | The BJP on Sunday said it favoured a law banning religious conversion "which had assumed a dangerous proportion" (PTI, India)

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Mar Thoma convention:

  1. Believers throng Pampa sands for Maramon convention | Thousands of believers today gathered on the sands of Pampa river for the 11th Maramon convention, billed as the largest Christian gathering in the world (UNI, India)

  2. Asia's largest Christian convention begins | The week-long Maramon Convention is organised by the Evangelistic Association, which is the missionary wing of the Mar Thoma Church (IANS, India)

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Church life:

  1. Churches renovate with 'next time' in mind | Housing volunteers, evacuees leads to changes (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)

  2. Temporary temples | Churches pop up faster than church buildings, and some odd and secular locations are being pressed into service. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.)

  3. Also: A church without walls serves | Some people might find it unusual to think of attending church in a movie theater, but one of our motivations in starting Immanuel was to establish a church that is part of the culture of our community rather than creating our own church subculture as is often the case (Brad Guenther, Albany Times Union, N.Y.)

  4. Church pulls convention as protest | The Colorado-based head of a United Methodist commission has helped the church pull out of a future convention site in Virginia because the city roots for a team with an Indian name (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  5. Orthodox Church called to account for large grants | A group called Orthodox Christians for Accountability has posted a sheaf of internal church documents and memos on the Internet, accusing the Long Island-based Orthodox Church in America of engaging in a series of questionable financial practices for more than a decade (

  6. A return to the classics | Contemporary churches rediscover the power of familiar hymns (The Dallas Morning News)

  7. Young church makes community partner | Leaders of nondenominational ChangePoint work to share God's vision, congregation's generosity, with Anchorage (Anchorage Daily News, Ak.)

  8. Area church leaves Episcopal diocese | St. Luke's of the Mountains Church in La Crescenta has split with the diocese to join the Anglican Church of the Province of Uganda (Pasadena Star News, Ca.)

  9. Church finds a new home | Bethlehem Steltz left the United Church of Christ for the Evangelical Presbyterians (Daily Record, York, Pa.)

  10. Mac Brunson leaving First Baptist | It's official (The Dallas Morning News)

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  1. Churches seek ways to build understanding | Members of the Korean American and African American communities met over fried chicken and rice cakes to swap information on two shared interests: business and God (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Winchester cashes in on Da Vinci Code film fever | Winchester cathedral, which made £20,000 after opening its doors to the film-makers of The Da Vinci Code, is to charge visitors a £4 entry fee (The Telegraph, London)

  3. 'No woman priest' move defended | A senior figure in the Church of England has defended a village's refusal to appoint a woman priest (BBC)

  4. Also: Archdeacon defends 'male priest only' village | A senior figure in the Church of England yesterday defended a village that has refused to appoint a woman priest (The Telegraph, London)

  5. Polls nomination row rocks PCEA | A seemingly innocuous advertisement in the Daily Nation announces the nomination of the Rt Rev Dr David Muhia Githii as the Moderator of the 18th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (The Nation, Kenya)

  6. Pastor savors a life spent in the comfort of sure hands | When social historians look back on the first years of this century, they ought to pay special attention to the old-fashioned Christian pastors. As front-line commanders in the cultural wars, their influence has extended well beyond the realm of religion (Bill McClellan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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Australian Anglicans:

  1. Sydney extremism threatens Anglican unity: author | Sydney Anglicans have become the new face of 16th century puritanism and are so radically conservative they pose a threat to the unity of the Anglican church, a leading religious commentator warns (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  2. Also: Sydney Anglicans under fire | Sydney Anglicans are trying to force the rest of the Australian church back to the 16th century, says Melbourne laywoman Muriel Porter (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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Australian Catholics:

  1. Catholics complain to Vatican over Pell | A group of leading liberal Catholics has complained to the Vatican that Cardinal George Pell is teaching inaccurate and misleading doctrine on the role of private conscience (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  2. Pell subject of complaint to Vatican | Group charges that Cardinal Pell's denial of the priority the church gives to conscience in individual moral decisions places his public views "outside the mainstream" of Catholic doctrine (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  3. Pell accused of Catholic 'dictatorship' | The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, has laughed off a complaint made about him to the Vatican, by a group of high-profile Australian Catholics (The World Today, Australian Broadcasting Corp)

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  1. Vatican decree is costing publishing world | The demand by the Vatican to respect copyright on the pontiff's writings and pay for their use has triggered hot debate: Should an institution which exists to spread the word of God be putting a price on papal writ? (Associated Press)

  2. Pope expected to name new cardinals soon | One person who will almost certainly be made a cardinal is Archbishop William Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco whom the Pope appointed to succeed him as head of the Vatican's powerful doctrinal department (Reuters)

  3. Watkins church hosts bishop | Traditionalist leader hasn't had follow-up meeting with pope (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  4. Pope urges respect for religion | Violent reactions to offence are also unjustifiable, he says (ANSA, Italy)

  5. Also: Pope says religions must be respected, but cannot promote violence | "Religions and their symbols must be respected," the pope said Feb. 20, but "intolerance and violence never can be justified as a response to the offense, since they are not responses compatible with the sacred principles of religion" (Catholic News Service)

  6. Halfway to heaven | A Catholic millionaire's dream town draws fire (Newsweek)

  7. Sex is great … it's God's gift | Sex is good and is a gift from God, says a prominent Perth Catholic, who says he is following the new Pope's lead (The Sunday Times, Perth, Australia)

  8. Last Fatima child buried in final resting place | Tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims braved cold and rainy weather on Sunday to pay their final respects to the last of three shepherd children who said they had seen the Virgin Mary in Portugal in 1917 (Reuters)

  9. Be bishop of your own church | I thought it odd when I read a press report about an Irish bishop boldly claiming that up to 40 percent of the Catholic clergy in Ireland were sexually active. On investigation it turned out that this bishop, the Rt Rev Pat Buckley, is not a member of the Irish Bishops' Conference at all. (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)

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Catholic colleges:

  1. At DePaul, queer studies finds a niche | University's offering of new minor draws full classes, also critics (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Also: Catholic and queer | DePaul University in Chicago recently announced that it's offering a new "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer Studies" minor. That wouldn't normally turn heads (several universities have similar offerings), but DePaul is the nation's largest Roman Catholic university—and the Vatican's official teaching is that homosexuality is "objectively disordered." (Newsweek)

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  1. At religious universities, disputes over faith and academic freedom | A gay film festival and a staging of The Vagina Monologues at the University of Notre Dame have highlighted disputes over how best to promote open inquiry at religiously affiliated schools (The New York Times)

  2. Exiled by college, play will go on in church | The fifth-annual student production of The Vagina Monologues moves from Providence College to Beneficent Church for its sole performance, on March 2 (The Providence Journal, R.I.)

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  1. Bill gives offended students options | On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Higher Education approved a bill allowing college students to opt out of assignments that offend their sexuality, morality, or religion (East Valley Tribune, Mesa, Az.)

  2. Also: SCC faculty: Opt out of this proposal | A law that would allow college students to opt out of class assignments they find offensive is making Scottsdale Community College faculty members fear they could lose control of their courses' content (East Valley Tribune, Mesa, Az.)

  3. A course in controversy: Studying the Bible in public schools | Recent inquiries from the American Civil Liberties Union have raised questions about whether the classes violate the constitutional separation of church and state (Wilmington Star-News, N.C.)

  4. Winnipeg trustees want bible classes removed | But Education Minister Peter Bjornson says he's unlikely to change the clause in the Public Schools Act that allows parents to ask the Child Evangelism Fellowship of Canada to teach their kids during lunch hour (Brandon Sun, Manitoba)

  5. The politically incorrect science fair | Stem cells, global warming, intelligent design. Looking for a leg up, kids turn to trendy topics (The Wall Street Journal)

  6. Hebrew and Christian schools in Massachusetts share space and an interfaith vision | Eight years ago in Newton, Mass., Hebrew College and the Andover Newton Theological Seminary were neighbors only on a napkin sketch (The New York Times)

  7. Tory pledges aid on private school fees | Faith-based institutions top his list (Toronto Star)

  8. Also: Tory pledges support for religious schools | A Conservative government in Ontario would give financial support to parents with children in faith-based private schools, party leader John Tory says (CBC, Canada)

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  1. Scientists rally here for evolution | Scientists aren't just defending evolution anymore. Over the weekend in St. Louis, the nation's leaders in science went on the offensive (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mo.)

  2. Also: US scientists enlist clergy in evolution battle | While they feel they have won the latest round against efforts to bring God into the classroom, the scientists say they have little doubt their opponents are merely regrouping (Reuters)

  3. Also: Churches urged to back evolution | US scientists have called on mainstream religious communities to help them fight policies that undermine the teaching of evolution (BBC)

  4. Cutting intelligent design a wise move | The Ohio Board of Education's decision Tuesday to remove curriculum-standard language that has led some to teach intelligent design as science was a wise, pragmatic move that could save Ohio money from lawsuits, save schools from the distraction this debate has brought, and preserve students' best interests in receiving a sound scientific education (Editorial, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Oh.)

  5. ID, evolution debates really change little | A disclaimer in the standards didn't mandate teaching intelligent design. But because it was in the standards, that meant teachers could discuss it (Rose Russell, The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

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Church and state:

  1. Assessors searching for appropriate tax status of church-owned SportsTowne | On Sundays, the massive gymnasium at Sportstowne in north Bibb County becomes a sanctuary for worship (Macon Telegraph, Ga.)

  2. Deltona City Hall paintings to return | The city decided after a lawsuit to allow them back in the Black History display (The Orlando Sentinel)

  3. Also: Deltona art was culture, not religion | What kind of place do we live in that you can't show art in a public building that depicts a funeral with a priest, a table with a bible and a home with a Christmas tree without getting sued? (Pamela Hasterok, Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)

  4. Air Force issues new rules in bias fight | Attorney Sam Bregman, who sued the Air Force on behalf of Mikey Weinstein of Albuquerque, said Friday that dismissing the lawsuit would be "ridiculous in light of what the new guidelines say. They completely, thoroughly violate the Constitution of the United States." (Associated Press)

  5. Appeals court mulls allowing worship services in public libraries | Prohibiting a Christian group from using a library meeting room for prayer services violates free speech rights and is discriminatory, an attorney for the group argued Friday in federal court (Associated Press)

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  1. Judge to decide legality of faith-based program | A group says that an inmate treatment program violates the First Amendment (Des Moines Register, Ia.)

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Politics (U.S.):

  1. GOP appeals for church lists | The N.C. Republican Party is asking members to send in church directories for use in get-out-the-vote efforts, a request that many Greensboro-area ministers say their parishioners should reject (The News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.)

  2. Also: In N.C., GOP requests church directories | The North Carolina Republican Party asked its members this week to send their church directories to the party, drawing furious protests from local and national religious leaders (The Washington Post)

  3. Religion, politics mix a dividing combination | For many voters faith is everything; others are skeptical (Dayton Daily News, Oh.)

  4. Is America ready for a Mormon president? | This resurgence of religion underscores a powerful force in recent presidential races—namely, the rise of values politics framed as moral issues (John H. Bunzel, The Boston Globe)

  5. If Rudy is talking Jesus, he's going to run | An under-reported event took place at the end of last month. A leading Republican candidate went to address the evangelical Global Pastors Network in Orlando, Florida (Andrew Sullivan, The Times, London)

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Politics (non-U.S.):

  1. Christians praying they'll be heard on Hill | 'There's a great sense of relief over the fact that the Conservatives are in power (The Ottawa Citizen)

  2. Church comes out against Papua partition | Influential Papuan church groups and community organizations are supporting the Papuan Legislative Council's opposition to the creation of West Irian Jaya province (The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)

  3. Let politics and religion follow their separate paths | Whatever happened to the idea of a separation between church and state? (Phillip Adams, The Australian)

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Praying for politicians:

  1. 430,000 say prayers for Bush | The Arizona-based movement began after 9/11 but has become a year-round effort, with a Web site,, inspirational gear for sale such as cups and T-shirts, and a nonpartisan commitment to pray for all national leaders "and all in authority" (Jean Torkelson, Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  2. Sending up prayers for lawmakers | Conservative Christians hold regular sessions seeking divine guidance for the legislature (The Baltimore Sun)

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Evangelical Climate Initiative:

  1. Evangelical Christians divided on global-warming issue | There is a major split occurring, with some evangelicals going greener than others (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)

  2. An evangelical call on global warming | When faith and science align, denial is more difficult (Editorial, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  3. Climate of uncertainty | Why global warming is back in the headlines (Steven F. Hayward, The Weekly Standard)

  4. Evangelicals issue warning on warming | The effort and its motivation certainly seem a fresh way to sell environmental concerns, and eco-activists should embrace the new support (Frank Bentayou, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  5. 'What Jesus drives' crowd reignites a dubious cause | Well-meaning religious people need to be careful about whose brand of environmentalism they adopt (Thomas Bray, The Detroit News)

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Life ethics:

  1. Praying for a baby | Women pool their power and seek divine intervention (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  2. Fertility specialist fights to stay free | A doctor accused of stealing human eggs and embryos at UC Irvine is battling extradition (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Children, the littlest politicians | Having a son tends to make parents more conservative, it appears, while a daughter makes them more liberal (The New York Times)

  4. Stem-cell research splits U.S. Republicans | The emotional debate over embryonic stem-cell research has sharply split the Republican Party and could become a prominent election-year issue, with key U.S. Senate races in Missouri and Maryland emerging as early battlegrounds (Reuters)

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Abortion in Australia:

  1. Pill sponsors object to church advice plan | Sponsors of last week's RU486 Bill have criticized a proposal by Health Minister Tony Abbott to hand pregnancy counseling to church-affiliated groups, saying the advice could be biased (The Australian)

  2. Abortion counseling: the choice is yours | Women with unplanned pregnancies will be able to choose whether to seek counseling but will be referred only to trained professionals by their general practitioners under measures to be discussed by Federal Government ministers tomorrow (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  3. No religious views on help line: Abbott | Any groups chosen to run a planned counselling hotline for women considering abortions would not impose religious views on callers, Health Minister Tony Abbott said toda (AAP, Australia)

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  1. Pregnancy hotline won't sell religion | "We certainly won't be ramming religion down anyone's throat," says Abbott (The Advertiser, Adelaide, Australia)

  2. Abortion advice a must, doctors say | A proposed national hotline for women considering an abortion must be willing to give callers information on seeking a termination, doctors have argued (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  3. Stop playing God, Labor tells Abbott | Health Minister Tony Abbott has been accused of playing God by planning to give money to church groups for pregnancy counseling (The Daily Telegraph, Australia)

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Sexual ethics:

  1. Ky. students can't skip anti-gay harassment training | Federal judge finds 'no basis for an opt-out' on free-speech or religious grounds because sessions don't endorse any viewpoint or require students to disavow religious beliefs (Associated Press)

  2. Policing porn is not part of job description | Montgomery Homeland Security officers reassigned after library incident (The Washington Post)

  3. Adoption and doctrine | It is not a newspaper's role to advise a church on doctrine. When religious organizations carry out public policies, however, there will often be some friction at the intersection of the sacred and the secular, and that intersection deserves full public debate (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

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  1. DCFS wants church records | Archdiocese not ready to share files in old abuse cases (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Also: Archdiocese won't turn over some files to DCFS | Despite a recent pledge to report allegations of past abuse by priests, the Archdiocese of Chicago is refusing to hand over files on some cases sought by Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services (Chicago Sun-Times)

  3. Priest's case highlights reforms' flaws, critics say | Houston cleric accused of FW abuse still serves; order says he's cleared (The Dallas Morning News)

  4. Also: Priest accuses local diocese | Fort Worth Diocese records show that officials shielded eight priests accused of sexual abuse, didn't tell police of victims' allegations, and assigned and reassigned "known abusers," according to a sworn statement filed Wednesday in state district court (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

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  1. Vandalism at church viewed as hate crime | Saint Bellview suffers 'extreme damage' (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  2. Church in lurch | A group of parishioners at storied Riverside Church has charged that $10 million has "simply disappeared," finances are in disarray, and the church's high-profile minister has received excessive, unauthorized raises (New York Post)

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  1. Pastor's thievery shakes faithful | Members still coping with Davis' 'betrayal' (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

  2. Also: Fallen pastor: I sinned … and I'm sorry | As a packed courtroom of supporters and critics watched in silence Friday, one of Northern Kentucky's most prominent pastors admitted he had sinned and apologized. Then a federal judge sentenced the Rev. Larry Davis to 30 months in prison for income tax evasion and lying on a loan application (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

  3. Bellevue church files suit over missing funds | A Bellevue church has gone to court to recover more than $335,000 it claims was taken by a former business manager (Omaha World-Herald, Neb.)

  4. Man 22, injured in shootout at church | The congregation was inside Advancing Christ's Kingdom church, 901 W. 47th Ave., around noon when Wilbur Jenkins II and his brother Antoine traded gunshots with Victor Bland, said Detective Lorenzo Davis late Sunday (Gary Post-Tribune, Ind.)

  5. Attack shuts church | A parish priest has closed his church during the day after he was robbed of just £6 by "hoodies" (Manchester Evening News, U.K.)

  6. Ministers' resignations not a sign of guilt, says Nzimbi | Anglican Archbishop of Kenya Benjamin Nzimbi said the resignation by individuals mentioned in the recent graft reports did not imply that they were corrupt but was meant to allow for independent investigations (The East African Standard, Kenya)

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Alabama church arsons:

  1. Groups seek broader response to church fires | Groups including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said national attention to church burnings had waned since 1996, when then-President Bill Clinton set up a task force devoted to church fires that led to more arrests and prosecutions (Reuters)

  2. Burned churches facing $1 million for repairs, rebuilding | Once all the costs are tallied, it will probably take about $1 million dollars to repair or rebuild the five Bibb County churches targeted by arsonists on Feb. 3 (The Tuscaloosa News, Ala.)

  3. Go on, condemn church burnings | A federal response indeed is in order, even if only for symbolic purposes (The Daily Dispatch, Henderson, N.C.)

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Another Ala. church burns:

  1. Church fire not linked to arson spree | A suspicious fire did minor damage to the exterior of a small church, but authorities said Monday it does not appear to be linked to a string of suspected arsons that have damaged or destroyed 10 rural churches in Alabama (Associated Press)

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  1. Another Alabama church damaged by fire | Another Alabama church was damaged by fire on Sunday, but authorities said the suspected arson attack appeared unrelated to 11 others across the state this month (Reuters)

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Alabama Christian warehouse fire:

  1. ATF team assigned to warehouse fire probe | The National Response Team of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been called in to assist in the investigation of the blaze that partially destroyed a warehouse of Christian goods Friday night (Tuscaloosa News, Ala.)

  2. Warehouse still too hot to investigate | Someone seen videotaping blaze (Tuscaloosa News, Ala.)

  3. Christian warehouse burned; Methodist center at UA damaged | The warehouse fire occurred less than 18 hours after a small fire damaged the Wesley Foundation Methodist student center on the University of Alabama campus (Tuscaloosa News, Ala.)

  4. Warehouse housing Christian business burns | A fire destroyed a warehouse where Christian-themed clothing was manufactured and religious phone-banking was conducted, authorities said (Associated Press)

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  1. Church loses shopping center | A North Richland Hills pastor who had big financial dreams and liked to quote Donald Trump has lost ownership of a shopping center that includes his church (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  2. Judge throws out discrimination suit | Woman claims that religious practices led to her leaving Lakeland company (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)

  3. Police chaplain | Some types of prayer are meditative, some ask God for things, but all forms help bind our communities (David Monkton, The Guardian, London)

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  1. Graham's 'Journey' brings it back home | After six decades of worldwide preaching, the Rev. Billy Graham, 87, infirm and supposedly retired to his North Carolina mountain home, launches a new work next week in his second, and likely final, career: pastor (USA Today)

  2. The God genome | Daniel C. Dennett investigates the natural history of religion, hoping to break the taboo against questioning faith. Leon Wieseltier reviews Breaking the Spell (The New York Times)

  3. If men are from Mars, what's God? | Adam Kirsch reviews Breaking the Spell (The New York Sun)

  4. The politics of faith | Ed Bacon reviews Michael Lerner's The Left Hand of God Taking Back Our Country From the Religious Right (Los Angeles Times)

  5. Maintaining religious freedom | Jon Ward reviews Kevin Seamus Hasson's The Right To Be Wrong: Ending the Culture War Over Religion in America (The Washington Times)

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  1. The Hollywood gospel according to Tyler Perry | He's rich, religious —and he's proved studio execs wrong about the black movie audience (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Indian Catholic church makes Bollywood film on AIDS | A Bollywood film about a single mother and her young son's struggle to live with HIV/AIDS opened in cinemas across India last week, marking the first foray by the Indian Catholic church into commercial cinema (Reuters)

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More entertainment:

  1. South Park's 'Mary' episode revolting, says PM | Helen Clark says that as a woman she is offended by the image of a Madonna figure spurting blood at the Pope, due to screen in an episode of the South Park cartoon series in May (The New Zealand Herald)

  2. TV chief rejects bishops' boycott call over 'tasteless' cartoon | The television cartoon show of a Virgin Mary statue bleeding will go to air despite Catholic bishops urging their congregations to boycott TV3's news and advertiser (The New Zealand Herald)

  3. A fight at the Opera | Jerry Springer: The Opera has it all—singing, conflict and visions of hell (and that's just from protesters outside). As the show comes to Scotland, Peter Ross witnesses the ongoing battle between the sacred and the profane (Sunday Herald, Glasgow)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Former stripper goes from porn to being born again | She changed her ways, but still plays up her sex appeal (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)

  2. A boy's desperate call for Canadian help in Kandahar | Six-year-old Namatullah can't get palliative care (CTV, Canada)

  3. Also: Edmonton church rallies behind dying Afghan boy | One day after CTV News aired a story about a young Afghan boy dying from cancer, an Edmonton church has raised thousands of dollars to pay for his palliative care (CTV, Canada)

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  1. Pat Robertson accused of damaging movement | Fellow conservative religious leaders have expressed concern and even open criticism over Pat Robertson's habit of shooting from the hip on his daily religious news-and-talk television program, "The 700 Club" (Associated Press)

  2. A pitcher who surrendered, and won | Baseball kicked around Aaron Small for 16 years. He thought about quitting. He said a prayer. Four hours later, the Yankees called. He answered and won 10 games (The New York Times)

  3. For D.C. woman, 100 years is just another milestone | Worshiper sparked integration of NW church with chance visit (The Washington Post)

  4. Nun on the run who made order out of religious chaos | A profile of Karen Armstrong (The Times, London)

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  1. Fort Worth church mourns the death of a pastor | Youth pastor David Phillips' death in a wreck on an icy patch of Interstate 20 on Sunday brought tears and sadness at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth, but some of those who knew him best said their heartache is only for those he left behind (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. A kiss for Judas | A long-lost 2nd century "Gospel" may portray Jesus' betrayer as closer to a hero than a heel (Time)

  2. Evangelical Christianity shifting outside West | Evangelicals in the global South and East are, in many ways, at least as conservative as their U.S. counterparts. But they often diverge on such issues as poverty and war (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  3. New brand of Pentecostalism emerging | A different type of Pentecostalism gaining ground in the African-American community that combines faith grounded in classical Pentecostalism and rigorous theological education, and it illuminates the responsibilities of being Christian in the modern world. (Harold Bennett, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  4. Atheists hoping to assert rights in religious era | As they described the strain of being openly atheistic in an increasingly religious culture, many wished their godless crusade would emulate one social movement in particular -- the fight for gay rights (San Francisco Chronicle)

  5. Nev. transportation officials okay roadside memorials | After almost two years of debate, agency says displays allowed as long as they don't interfere with public safety (Associated Press)

  6. Believers flock to shrine, Focus on Family site | Colorado is home to a handful of destinations for the religious flocks, with Focus on the Family and the Mother Cabrini Shrine among the most popular (The Denver Post)

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What is Weblog?

See our past Weblog updates:

February 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13
February 10 | 9 | 7
February 3 | 2 | 1
January 25 | 20 | 19 | 18 | 17
January 13b | 13a | 10
January 6 | 5 | 4
December 28 | 21 | 16 | 14 | 12

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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