Today's Top Five

1. Ireland not very Catholic now, says Chicago Tribune
At a Dublin Catholic church, the Chicago Tribune's Tom Hundley writes, "you might expect to see Father O'Sullivan at the altar. Or perhaps Father O'Reilly or Father O'Flaherty. Father Owuamanam comes as a bit of a surprise." Ireland isn't turning out enough priests to minister to its churches, the paper reports, so it's importing them from places like Nigeria. But soon it might not be a problem: there might be dramatically fewer churches. "As recently as the 1970s, 90 percent of the Irish identified themselves as Catholic and almost the same number went to mass at least once a week; now the figure for mass attendance is closer to 25 percent, according to church officials in Dublin," Hundley reports. His chronicle of the reasons behind the exodus are worth reading—and adding to prayer lists. (One unanswered question is whether Ireland is becoming secular, or whether at least some of those Catholics are turning to evangelical Protestantism, as seems to be happening in Boston.)

2. Billy Graham preaches in Baltimore
You know the song—one of our favorites—so everybody sing along: Billy preached what may be his last public sermon to tens of thousands, and about four percent responded to his invitation to commit their lives to Jesus. His sermon drew heavily upon Scripture and pop culture references, and contained numerous allusions to whether his listeners were prepared for death. It's a great song, isn't it?

3. Church of England votes to allow female bishops
It's "a huge change in centuries of policy for a church that ordained its first female priest just 12 years ago," The New York Times explains. The vote itself argued, in essence, just the opposite: that ordaining women as bishops is "consonant with the faith of the Church." The Telegraph and The Guardian emphasize that the vote could damage the church's relations with the Vatican, while The Times says "traditionalists" in the church "are preparing for a possible breakaway over women bishops by taking legal advice on whether they could claim property worth more than £1 billion." Nigerian Anglicans are apparently upset about the synod's decision.

4. Rob Bell, cool dude
The New York Times's kingmaking story on Rob Bell and his current preaching tour is certainly an important read, not least because it guarantees that you'll be seeing his name much more frequently in the near future. And it also captures the zeitgeist of post-evangelical evangelicalism. Here's a section from near the end of the piece:

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At the Chicago performance, a middle-aged Tom Fell and his friends were left cold.
"I thought it was very creative, but if it was targeted at Christians, he missed the point," said Mr. Fell, who considers Mr. Bell a celebrity preacher. "When I was 18, we'd get high and talk about stuff like that."
His friend John Duval, 42, agreed. "He didn't tell us how to go out and be disciples," Mr. Duval said.
But Alex Beh, 23, who lined up an hour early for the performance, said it had left him exhilarated.
"It's more like Jesus' teaching than the church's teaching," said Mr. Beh, adding: "I loved that there was beer available. The church needs to go more in that direction, more culture-friendly rather than sectarian, or dividing people."

5. Who hears God?
Kudos to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for examining the theological—not merely the political—issues involved in the intra-Christian debates on hearing God's voice outside of Scripture. "People of faith often talk about hearing God's voice in a dramatic situation or being led by an inner voice or a divine sign," John Blake writes. He continues:

But what happens when revelation becomes routine? What happens when some preachers talk about God as if they have his cellphone number? God lets them know who to vote for, what sermon to preach and when to start a new building program. That practice trivializes God, some scholars and preachers say. It also contradicts what history's greatest prophets and mystics say about hearing from God.

The article also gives space to Pentecostals who say some have merely deafened themselves to God. Those interested in further reading might be interested in Ruth Tucker's new book, God Talk, and her related blog at InterVarsity Press, Questioning

Quote of the day:
"For now, let's start with this: as fellow believers, we should not be afraid to engage the evangelical left's ideas in a spirit of love.  It would be a mistake, as we begin this dialogue, to view these men and women as "political enemies" rather than fellow members of the body of Christ. … Liberal evangelicals help us because they share our foundational commitment to Christ, yet they see political questions in a different light.  As we actively dialogue with them about our political positions, hopefully both sides will benefit.  Most importantly, let us pray that Christ will be glorified in the way we conduct our conversation."

—Ken Connor, who resigned as president of the Family Research Council in 2003 after a disagreement with board members over the Federal Marriage Amendment.

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Beyond the top five:
Don't skip the links below. The weekend had many important stories that just didn't make our top five. For example, check out the latest on the Mt. Soledad cross dispute, The Washington Post on the Alliance Defense Fund, Peter Steinfels on post-secular higher education, Harvey Cox on progressive religion, another denomination's fight over homosexual clergy, and a court decision against the companies that "clean up" Hollywood films.

More articles

Ireland | Catholicism | Pope Benedict XVI in Spain | Church life | Women bishops in the Church of England | More Anglican disputes | Australia's Uniting Church | New York's ruling against gay marriage | Mass. gay marriage ban | More on homosexuality | More on sexual ethics and family | Life ethics | War and terrorism | Politics | Religious Left | Barack Obama | Philippines | India | China | Church and state | Lawsuits | Mt. Soledad cross | Education | Evolution | History | Books | 'Cleaning' movies illegal | Music | Entertainment and media | Missions & ministry | Billy Graham in Baltimore | People | Spirituality | Jamaica abuse case | Pa. abuse cases | More abuse | Crime | Other stories of interest


  1. How Catholicism fell from grace in Ireland | Country doesn't even have enough priests (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Recruitment drive as number of young priests dwindles | Church scandals must not put off young men from joining the priesthood, the Archbishop of Dublin said today (Ireland Online)

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  1. A calling answered | New priests now tend to be older, coming from earlier vocations (The Kentucky Post)

  2. Suit to reopen E. Boston church is dismissed | Parishioners plan to appeal ruling (The Boston Globe)

  3. Women on a mission to storm the gates of Rome | Females are swelling the ranks of Anglican clergy, but in the Catholic church, many won't wait for the Vatican to find its feminine side - they're taking the crozier into their own hands (Peter Stanford, The Observer, London)

  4. A critical Mass | Determining the words of the Mass may seem like an obscure bit of liturgical business, but in voting for a new version - confirming a decision already approved by the bishops of England, Scotland, Wales and Australia - American bishops have ended one of the most furious battles fought in the church in recent years (Mian Ridge, The Guardian, London)

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Pope Benedict XVI in Spain:

  1. Pope's defense of traditional family draws crowds in Spain | Pope Benedict XVI defined the traditional family as "founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman." (The New York Times)

  2. Pope visits Spain, flash point for church-state tensions | Pope Benedict XVI's brief but charged visit was intended to register the church's opposition to gay marriage and Europe's long slide into secularism (The New York Times)

  3. Pope praises family values in Spain | In a visit billed as a mini-showdown with Spain's Socialist government, Pope Benedict XVI drove home the importance of the traditional family before hundreds of thousands of pilgrims Sunday, insisting that marriage must be between a man and woman (Associated Press)

  4. Pope stresses family values in Spain | Pope Benedict urged Spain on Saturday to defend traditional values in a country where the Catholic church and Socialist government have clashed head-on over the legalization of gay marriage (Reuters)

  5. The Pope squares off  with Spain's secular champion | A papal meeting with a prime minister who has legalized gay marriage is predictably tense (Time)

  6. Visiting pope's words a balm for traditionalists in Spain (Los Angeles Times)

  7. Benedict takes traditional family message to Spain (Los Angeles Times)

  8. Pope ends Spanish trip with mass | Pope Benedict XVI has returned to Rome after ending a visit to Spain with a mass attended by three generations of the Spanish royal family in Valencia (BBC)

  9. Zapatero snubs Pope at Mass for 'the family' | More than a million worshippers congregated at the city's futuristic arts and science park, where the Pope gave a homily praising the traditional family founded on the "indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman" (The Telegraph, London)

  10. The changing face of Papal trips | It's not like the Good Old Days when we roamed the world with John Paul II (David Willey, BBC)

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Church life:

  1. Shrinking town forces church to close on 100th birthday | The First United Methodist Church and its five regular worshippers, some of who remember when it was hard to get a seat on Sunday mornings, held the church's last service in the town that's dwindled to less than 400 residents and had to consolidate its tiny school district with nearby Haskell last year (Associated Press)

  2. Cyber-savvy pastors blog when the spirit moves them | Reaching out to younger generations has long been one of the major challenges for ministers, but hundreds think they have found an answer in blogging (The Washington Post)

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  1. Backstory: Church of the higher tech | The Rev. Mike Laird has the church meet in a movie theater for the same reason he leads a theology discussion group in a nearby bar: People feel at ease in the environment (The Christian Science Monitor)

  2. Several roofs over a single flock | Churches expand their reach and control costs with services at multiple locations (The Orlando Sentinel)

  3. Urban church reaches for suburban souls | Next on Pastor Gilbert Thompson's agenda: saving the suburbs (The Boston Globe)

  4. Heavens open for vicar's vigil on church roof | A vicar who spent 10 days on his church roof to raise funds for its repair ended his vigil yesterday saying he was wet, cold and looking forward to a bath (The Telegraph, London)

  5. Also: Back to earth for rooftop priest | A priest has returned to the ground after 10 days and nights on a church roof to raise money for its repair (BBC)

  6. Abbey fire repairs could cost £3m | Part of a 900-year-old abbey badly damaged by fire could cost up to £3m and take three years to repair (BBC)

  7. Tramel begins job as head priest at Albany church | 'He's a great preacher, has a great personality,' senior warden at St. Alban's says of former convict (The Argus, Fremont, Ca.)

  8. Heartfelt thanks to congregation | Officer Kayvan Hazrati took a bullet to the head (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  9. Dreaming in color | Making diverse worship a reality is hard work, a Houston pastor learns (The Dallas Morning News)

  10. Presbyterian church clings to Father, Son, Holy Spirit | You won't hear parishioners at Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church describing the Holy Trinity as "Mother, Child and Womb" or even "Rock, Redeemer, Friend" (The State, Columbia, S.C.)

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Women bishops in the Church of England:

  1. Challenges continue over women bishops | The Church of England has taken a bold step away from a 2,000 year tradition - interpreting the Bible as teaching that only men can serve as bishops (BBC)

  2. Women can be bishops, Synod rules | The Church of England decided that the ordination of women as bishops can be theologically justified (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Church rebels plan £1bn property grab | Traditionalists in the Church of England are preparing for a possible breakaway over women bishops by taking legal advice on whether they could claim property worth more than £1 billion (The Times, London)

  4. Synod backs plans for women bishops | The Church of England overturned 2,000 years of history and took the significant step of approving plans for women bishops, a decision that is likely to prompt an exodus of traditionalists and widen rifts between Canterbury and Rome (The Observer, London)

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  1. Top Anglicans vote to allow female bishops | Officials of the governing body emphasized that while the theological questions had been effectively resolved, details of the change had yet to be worked out (The New York Times)

  2. Church of England votes to make women bishops | The Church of England voted on Saturday to ordain women as bishops, a major liberalising step in a faith that has also faced schism over homosexuality, although it could be years before the first woman bishop is named (Reuters)

  3. Anglican Church opposes women ordination | The status quo will still remain in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) as 82 per cent of the church population voted against the ordination of women as ministers in church (Nigerian Tribune)

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More Anglican disputes:

  1. 10 questions for Katharine Jefferts Schori | On her mission of social justice, the relationship between science and religion and whether faith in Jesus is the only path to heaven (Time)

  2. Episcopalians meet with bishop, debate separation | Hundreds of Episcopalians from across North Texas gathered at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Dallas on Sunday afternoon with one question in mind: What is the future of their church? (The Dallas Morning News)

  3. Episcopal church faces crisis as 7 bishops rebel | When the nation's Episcopalians elected the first woman to lead their church last month, it was the last straw for some conservative bishops (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  4. Group assembles to form church | Members hope to attract others disenchanted with the direction of the Episcopal Church (The Roanoke Times, Va.)

  5. Episcopalians on the breach | U.S. church in battle with Anglican Communion (Charles W. Bell, New York Daily News)

  6. Church accused of £100m asset stripping | The Church of England was accused of "scandalous asset stripping" after it disclosed that it had raised more than £100 million over the past five years by disposing of scores of often historical vicarages (The Telegraph, London)

  7. Also: Save our parsonages | The subject of the sale of parsonages might seem small beer compared with the ordination of women bishops, currently being debated at the General Synod in York. Not so (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)

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Australia's Uniting Church:

  1. Failure to ban gay clergy may split church | The Uniting Church is facing rebellion after conservatives conceded they had lost their battle to exclude practicing gays from the ministry (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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  1. Opponents stand firm on gay clergy | Conservatives in the Uniting Church vowed to fight on with a "campaign of civil disobedience" after conceding they had failed to dismiss a 2003 resolution approving gay clergy (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  2. Gay plan divides church | Conservatives in the Uniting Church were on the verge of departure yesterday, saying they were "disappointed, disillusioned and devastated", as Australia's third-largest church moved closer to confirming gay clergy (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  3. Uniting Church votes against national ban | Gay ministers will not be banned from the Uniting Church after the triennial assembly voted to keep existing laws allowing congregations to appoint homosexual leaders (The Australian)

  4. Church picks next president | Former Victorian moderator Alister Macrae, a leading advocate for gay and lesbian Christians, will be the next president of the Uniting Church of Australia (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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New York's ruling against gay marriage:

  1. Gay ruling shows New York is less liberal than it (and the U.S.) thinks | New York is undoubtedly more liberal than many other places. But even in New York City, only 35 percent of those surveyed in a poll favored gay marriage (The New York Times)

  2. Gay marriage fight crosses the Hudson | Now that New York's highest court declined to legalize gay marriage, where's the next battleground? (The New York Times)

  3. Clinton's remark on ruling irks gay rights advocates | Advocates contended that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested she supports their agenda without taking a firm public stand on a divisive issue (The New York Times)

  4. Meaning of 'normal' is at heart of gay marriage ruling | Underlying the differing opinions, legal experts said, were conflicting views of what is normal and what is abnormal (The New York Times)

  5. Gay democracy | Now the politicians won't be able to hide behind judges (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)

  6. 'Gettysburg' for gay marriage? | The decision by a New York court changes little (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  7. Setback for marriage justice | New York and Georgia courts will be on the wrong side of history of gay marriage (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

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Mass. gay marriage ban:

  1. Mass. court backs gay marriage on ballot | The same court that made Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage ruled Monday that a proposed constitutional amendment to ban future same-sex marriages can be placed on the ballot, if approved by the Legislature (Associated Press)

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  1. Mass. group fighting same-sex marriage | MassResistance has drawn criticism from gay-rights activists who say Camenker and his supporters are obsessed with the more extreme elements of gay culture and are trying to deny rights for all gays across the state (Associated Press)

  2. Vote the ban down | The amendment deserves a resounding defeat (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  3. Constitution trumps all | If we had just "let the people vote," black children would have been confined to segregated classrooms, wives would have remained the property of their husbands, and slaves the chattel of their masters (Eileen McNamara, The Boston Globe)

  4. A mockery of the rules | What the rules say about the marriage amendment is that the Legislature must put it to a vote (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)

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More on homosexuality:

  1. Lutherans confirm same-sex blessings | Conference delegates reject appeal; congregations will get final say (The Record, Kitchener, Ont., Canada)

  2. California court to hear gay marriage case | The First District Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear six hours of arguments in as many related cases — four of them filed by the city and lawyers for 20 couples seeking the right to wed, and two brought by groups that want to maintain the status quo barring same-sex unions (Associated Press)

  3. Huckabee optimistic of gay parents ban | Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is optimistic the Legislature quickly will reinstate a ban on same sex couples serving as foster parents in his state (Associated Press)

  4. A Christianity that honors difference | Voices for gay rights are not the religion's loudest, but these activists also are adhering to tradition (Chris Hedges, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  5. In debates over homosexuality, schools should be both safe and free | A good place to start would be to address growing tension between free-speech, religious claims on one side vs. concerns about harassment of gay, lesbian students on the other (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

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More on sexual ethics and family:

  1. The black rebellion against fatherlessness | Black Boston, like black America, is in the midst of a moral and cultural crisis. (Eugene F. Rivers III, The Boston Globe)

  2. In a land of disease, some find hope and a future | An ingrained culture of promiscuity has been one foe; silence, and denial, have been others (The Boston Globe)

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Life ethics:

  1. Cardinals to hear about breakthrough in umbilical cord research | A Northern Ireland-born professor will tell a Vatican-sponsored conference in September that it is possible to use stem cells from the umbilical cords of living babies to produce insulin in diabetics and to grow blocks of human tissue for use in drug tests (The Times, London)

  2. Cardinal's stem cell comment sparks anger | British scientists reacted angrily last night to the views of a senior Vatican official, who said Catholic researchers working on embryonic stem cells should be excommunicated (The Guardian, London)

  3. Stem cells back in political spotlight | Issue is key in Wisconsin's gubernatorial election (The Washington Post)

  4. "Choose Life" plates are back | A pro-adoption foundation won reinstatement Friday of its right to sponsor special "Choose Life" license plates on Connecticut cars, ending a six-week suspension that had prompted the group to threaten a federal lawsuit against the state (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  5. Church holds mass dedicated to Terri Schiavo | More than 100 people gathered at the Mother of Joy House of Prayer Sunday for a Eucharistic Healing Mass (News10Now, Syracuse, N.Y.)

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War and terrorism:

  1. Terrorists are blasphemous, says archbishop | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has accused suicide bombers and terrorists who justify their actions in the name of God of committing blasphemy and indulging in the fantasy of being in control of events (The Guardian, London)

  2. Trident is evil and against God, bishops warn Blair | Nineteen bishops have joined the row over the replacement of Britain's nuclear weapons by warning the Prime Minister that the possession of Trident is "evil" and "profoundly anti-God" (The Independent, London)

  3. Also: Bishops say Trident is 'anti-God' | A group of bishops have warned Prime Minister Tony Blair that the possession of Trident nuclear weapons is "evil" and "profoundly anti-God" (BBC)

  4. Pray or die, Somali sheikh tells Muslims | A leading Mogadishu sheikh said on Friday Muslims who do not pray five times a day should be put to death -- the latest sign of a fast-emerging hardline face to Somalia's newly-powerful Islamists (Reuters)

  5. Violent Islamic radicals know they are heretical | Increasingly, people find it difficult to communicate with their co-religionists (Karen Armstrong, The Guardian, London)

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  1. House GOP tries to shrug off setbacks | Could a Republican-controlled Congress, pass a bill to protect the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance from court challenges? (Associated Press)

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  1. GOP agenda in House has moderates unhappy | Moderate Republicans call ill-timed a planned summer push by the House leadership on conservative causes like gun rights and new abortion restrictions (The New York Times)

  2. Texas GOP: No church-state split | Party's platform calls U.S. 'Christian nation' (Chicago Tribune)

  3. Religion and global warming | Young evangelicals turning up the heat (Paul Louis Metzger, The Oregonian)

  4. When friends aren't really friends | Be wary of evangelical support for Israel (Rabbi Barry Block, Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

  5. The church should not start a political office | It is now a known fact worldwide that politics is a totally dirty game (Deo Tumusiime Kabwende, The Monitor, Uganda)

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Religious Left:

  1. Religion taking a left turn? | Conservative Christians Watch out: there's a big churchgoing group seeking political power (CBS Evening News)

  2. Old-time religion | Long before the age of Falwell and Robertson, evangelical Protestants from William Jennings Bryan to Billy Graham were anything but right-wing zealots. Today, a new generation of evangelical leaders are rediscovering their progressive roots (Harvey Cox, The Boston Globe)

  3. Pentecost of big government | Democrats like Hillary, Barack Obama, and Howie Dean gather to pray at the altar of no tax cuts for the rich (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

  4. Don't be afraid of the 'Christian Left' | For now, let's start with this: as fellow believers, we should not be afraid to engage the evangelical left's ideas in a spirit of love (Ken Connor, Human Events)

  5. Liberal Christianity is paying for its sins | Out-of-the-mainstream beliefs about gay marriage and supposedly sexist doctrines are gutting old-line faiths (Charlotte Allen, Los Angeles Times)

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Barack Obama:

  1. Politicians need not abandon religion | My faith shapes my values, but applying those values to policymaking must be done with principles that are accessible to all people, religious or not. Even so, those who enter the public square are not required to leave their beliefs at the door (Barack Obama, USA Today)

  2. Blind spot on religious matters | Am I too touchy about church/state matters? Sen. Barack Obama certainly thinks so. (Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune)

  3. Earlier: Strawman to Barack Obama: Uncle! | Obama is wrong if he imagines there are a significant number of secularists who are actually asking believers to abandon their values or beliefs as a prerequisite to engaging in political debate. In fact, I defy him to name one (Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune)

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  1. More church people sign impeachment complaint | Eighteen more church people, including Catholics priests, protestant pastors, and lay workers, have signed the impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo even as they urged the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to endorse the complaint (The Philippine Inquirer)

  2. 'We concur with CBCP on impeachment'—Palace | Opposition solon asks bishops for alternative (The Philippine Inquirer)

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  1. Asia's first Protestant church being rededicated | Asia's first Protestant church, the New Jerusalem Church at Tranquebar, near here, will be rededicated at a ceremony there tomorrow, marking the tercentennial celebrations of the arrival of the first Protestant missionary in India, Bartholomaeus Zigenbalg (PTI, India)

  2. Church for voluntary HIV test | Reacting to the government's proposal for mandatory HIV testing before marriage, the Church in Goa has advocated the principle of informed consent and voluntary testing with counselling support and has rejected any form of unethical testing practices that offend the dignity of individuals concerned (Herald, Goa, India)

  3. Also: Pre-marital HIV testing unethical: Church body | In a statement the Council said any legislation in regard to making premarital testing for HIV must stress on the need for intensive preparation courses before marriage and adequate professional counselling that will lead to voluntary HIV testing by the couple preparing for marriage (The Navhind Times, India)

  4. Christian clergy should think about common man: Achuthanandan | Taking a dig at a section of Kerala's Christian religious leaders opposed to a new law related to the professional colleges, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Sunday asked them to think about the common man rather than only making money by running educational institutions (IANS, India)

  5. Update: Achuthanandan's remark most unfortunate: Cardinal | Taking a strong exception to Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan's remark that Christian religious leaders were making money running educational institutions in Kerala, Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithyathil Monday said the comment was most unfortunate (IANS, India)

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  1. Gentle cleric's stature grows as he risks ire of China | Hong Kong's Cardinal Joseph Zen Zi-kiun wields considerable political influence, but his high profile has antagonized senior officials in mainland China (The New York Times)

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  1. China jails underground church head | A court in China's Henan province has jailed Zhang Rongliang,  the head of one of the country's largest underground Christian churches, for seven and a half years, Hong Kong's RTHK radio reported on Saturday (Reuters)

  2. Chinese to prosecute peasant who resisted one-child policy | Decision reveals growing clout of Beijing hard-liners (The Washington Post)

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Church and state:

  1. DC Circuit says in chaplain case that Establishment Clause violation creates per se irreparable injury | The District of Columbia Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and remanded for further findings a suit alleging that the Navy has unconstitutionally maintained a religious quota system for the promotion, assignment, and retention of Navy chaplains that disadvantages chaplains of non-liturgical Protestant faiths (i.e. Baptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Charismatic chaplains) (Religion Clause)

  2. Church members anxious for today's city council decision | Before Monday's Lubbock City Council Meeting, city leaders will decide whether or not to enforce eminent domain in order to expand 50th Street from Slide Road to West Loop 289 (KCBD, Lubbock, Tex.)

  3. Council denies Quest church zone change | Early yesterday morning, a divided Urban County Council rejected a change to the city's zoning laws that would have allowed Quest Community Church to build a new church on 40 acres near Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

  4. Pot church takes a hit | S. Arizona couple face prison for what they say is religious use of marijuana (Arizona Daily Star)

  5. It's time to be more charitable in church-state debate | To contend that the Constitution forbids all religious expression in publicly financed institutions would be to ignore history (Jim Wright, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

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  1. Bringing the church to the courtroom | Christian group becomes force in major legal battles (The Washington Post)

  2. Seventh-day Adventist wins workplace case | A former UPS deliveryman was awarded more than $300,000 last week by a U.S. District Court in Fayetteville, Ark., that affirmed his right to religious accommodation to observe the Sabbath (The Washington Post)

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Mt. Soledad cross:

  1. Reprieve for cross extended | Justice's decision suggests high court would hear case (San Diego Union-Tribune)

  2. Supreme Court stay upheld in cross case | Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the temporary stay he authorized earlier this week should protect the cross until the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears arguments this fall in a long-running dispute over the cross (Associated Press)

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  1. Cross gets a limited reprieve | The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the 43-foot symbol can remain atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego until all legal appeals are resolved (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Kennedy delays cross removal | In postponing the judge's removal order, Kennedy said there would be "irreparable harm of altering the memorial and removing the cross" while there would be only "slight harm" in a brief delay while the Ninth Circuit considers the city's appeal (Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSBlog)

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  1. Lowered education | When higher education lost its bearings, it might also have forfeited its primacy in American life (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

  2. A huge victory for religious liberty | Today, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction against Southern Illinois University requiring the university to "recognize" the Christian Legal Society (David French, National Review Online)

  3. Distorted picture: The press and Patrick Henry College | The news media see Patrick Henry as typical of all Christian colleges. It's not. (Naomi Schaefer Riley, The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  4. Need a hall pass for the culture war? | A school fights over a rainbow flag (The Washington Post)

  5. City adds funds for Catholic, Jewish schools | The City Council is allocating $1 million of taxpayer money in this year's budget to purchase school buses for Jewish schools. Last year, the City Council paid $2.5 million to put computers in Jewish and Catholic schools (The New York Sun)

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  1. Beliefwatch: Camping | The battle over evolution is moving beyond the courtroom and into summer camp (Newsweek)

  2. 20 questions about the Scopes Trial | How true to life have these accounts of the Scopes trial been? (American Heritage)

  3. Intelligent design advocates to campaign in Kansas | A Seattle-based research group that advocates intelligent design said today it will campaign to educate Kansans that the science standards approved by the State Board of Education are sound (Lawrence Journal-World, Kan.)

  4. Emergence enters the creation debate | Unlike intelligent design, which argues that only a supernatural architect could construct this elegantly complex universe, emergence scientists, hailing from physics, chemistry, and life sciences, say that since the big bang, just about everything has demonstrated an innate bent for processing information to create complex systems (Rich Barlow, The Boston Globe)

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  1. Slavery reparations gaining momentum | The most recent victories for reparations advocates came in June, when the Moravian Church and the Episcopal Church both apologized for owning slaves and promised to battle current racism (Associated Press)

  2. Unearthing a mystery | Archeologists, priests remove remains at former Roxbury parish (The Boston Globe)

  3. Megiddo prisoners could be moved after Christian relics found on site | Prisoners are likely to be transferred from Megiddo Prison to make way for archaeologists and tourists, after the discovery of an ancient Christian prayer house - considered the oldest in the world - at the site last year (Haaretz, Tel Aviv)

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  1. Reconciling God and science | Genome mapper Francis Collins is also an evangelical Christian. His new book says that's not a contradiction (Time)

  2. Also: Reason to believe | A leading geneticist argues that science can lead to faith. Scott Russell Sanders reviews The Language of God by Francis S. Collins (Chicago Tribune)

  3. The gospel of love | By the 1850s, an inspiring Brooklyn preacher was breaking new ground in celebrity and faith. Jon Meacham reviews The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher by Debby Applegate (The Washington Post)

  4. Also: A larger-than-life preacher, and the blast on Black Tom Island | Who, during the Civil War era, was the most famous man in America? A good case could be made for Henry Ward Beecher, the dashing Brooklyn orator (The New York Times)

  5. Compromising positions | When a controversial doctor is killed, the problem isn't finding a suspect but choosing from so many. Anita Shreve reviews The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde (The Washington Post)

  6. New book makes Bible relevant in African eyes | "The one with diarrhoea opens the door" might seem an unlikely sentence in a book explaining biblical scriptures (The Guardian, London)

  7. Staggering under burden of compassion | An Episcopal priest burns out, finds a new approach to faith and writes a book about it (Los Angeles Times)

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Judge: 'Cleaning' movies violates copyright:

  1. Judge: Sterile movies illegal | Ruling says firms' editing of content violates copyrights (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  2. 'Sanitizers' of home video lose in court | A federal judge has issued final cut to studios, ruling that companies that snip out potentially offending material from movies for home viewing violate copyright laws (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Utah film sanitizers ordered to cut it | Court ruling: Deleting objectionable language, sex and violence injures artistic expression (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  2. CleanFlicks plans to appeal ruling | Edited-movie distributor CleanFlicks plans to appeal Monday the decision of a federal court judge who has ruled that production of "sanitized" movies violates federal copyright law and hurts the Hollywood directors and studios who own the movie rights (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)

  3. Video companies ordered to stop sanitizing films | Federal judge tells businesses to turn over inventory to Hollywood studios, saying editing films causes 'irreparable injury to the creative artistic expression in the copyrighted movies' (Associated Press)

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  1. Is Bono a vapid poseur? | The sanctimonious rock star is investing in imperialist video games (Liza Featherstone, The Nation)

  2. Spacewalking astronauts try ISS repairs | The space shuttle crew awoke Saturday to "God of Wonders," a popular Christian music recording chosen by Fossum's family (Associated Press)

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Entertainment and media:

  1. Okla. team gives away biblical bobbleheads | The Tulsa Drillers handed out 1,500 Moses bobbleheads on Friday night (Associated Press)

  2. Foster building to spread God to iPod generation | An evangelical Christian group has appointed Lord Foster, the architect, to convert a disused Victorian church into a television studio to broadcast its sermons worldwide (The Times, London)

  3. Religious TV network consecrates new building | Loma Linda Broadcasting Network Family Television International opened its doors to the community on Saturday following a consecration service (Redlands Daily Facts, Ca.)

  4. Jonestown docu sheds light on "Life and Death" saga | Most mainstream-media studies of the event get no further than the poisoned Kool-Aid. But in the extensively researched "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple," director Stanley Nelson and writer Marcia Smith dig a good deal deeper into the workings of Peoples Temple and the paradox at its core -- the visionary quest for social justice and the extreme personality disorder that together drove Jones and held his followers in sway (Reuters)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. This ain't your mama's Bible school | Theme-based lessons take place of rote recitation (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  2. Also: Cool school | Churches are using creative themes, night activities to draw children to Bible school (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

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  1. Churches draw in new faces with car shows | Curiosity drives people to stop and check out fancy vehicles (Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)

  2. Hard work in the Big Easy | Vacationers donate time to help Katrina victims (The Washington Post)

  3. Seafaring strangers | For as long as sailors take to the high seas there will always be a need for a Christian mission to serve them (Richard Frith, The Guardian, London)

  4. Minister finds jail fits his calling | Peter Bandstra, an ordained Southern Baptist minister through First Baptist Church of Leesburg, has been working at the jail since 1998 and is employed by Good News Jail & Prison Ministry (The Orlando Sentinel)

  5. Hundreds gather to 'petition God' | Praying for change (The State, Columbia, S.C.)

  6. Earlier: Pastor hopes to fill stadium with prayer (The State, Columbia, S.C.)

  7. Bonding through fun and prayer | Women of Faith stop expects to attract 11,000 (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

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Billy Graham in Baltimore:

  1. Baltimore hears Graham's call | Ailing evangelist thrills tens of thousands at Maryland Metro Festival (The Baltimore Sun)

  2. Young and old soak up the gospel of Graham | Passion still strong at Baltimore gathering (The Washington Post)

  3. Billy Graham, a man still on fire | The Rev. Billy Graham, feeling the weight of his 87 years but still on fire with the Gospel, returned to the pulpit yesterday to urge thousands to hold fast to their faith in God in a time of war and uncertainty in a world riven with strife and danger (The Washington Times)

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  1. Center stage for a pastor where it's rock that usually rules | Rob Bell, a minister, is on a 21-city tour this summer taking him to venues usually presenting rock bands (The New York Times)

  2. Kline opens up on faith, family to congregation | Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline made a personal non-campaign stop Sunday at Light of the World Christian Center to open up about his personal life (KTKA, Topeka, Kan.)

  3. Private memorial held for Enron founder | "Regardless of what happened, what he did or didn't do, he's still a human being and a Christian." (Associated Press)

  4. Dr. Rick Warren confirms visit to North Korea on July 17 in preparation for historic preaching visit next year (Press release)

  5. Mugabe praise singer dumped | President Robert Mugabe's bid to control churches was dealt a severe blow last week when one of his praise-singers, Bishop Peter Nemapare, was kicked out of office at a bi-annual assembly of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches held in Harare on Wednesday (Zimbabwe Standard)

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  1. Usher says he found his way—eventually | His pastor thinks he may be the oldest church usher in Chicago, but for most of his long life, Wayne Bender wasn't much for organized religion (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Oldest Army Chaplain dies in a fire at 100 | Kenneth White was believed to be the oldest World War II Army chaplain and who was an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church for 78 years (The Washington Post)

  3. Biker priest revs up parish | Priestly formula: youth, energy (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  4. Back in Atlanta, Dallas Austin heads to church | Atlanta entertainment mogul Dallas Austin attended Word of Faith Family Worship Center in Austell Sunday morning, with his attorney Joel Katz (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  5. Philip Anschutz: Bashful billionaire | Until this week, few people in Britain had heard of the billionaire American tycoon Philip Anschutz (The Times, London)

  6. Also: The secretive citizen Anschutz | Philip Anschutz's love of hot dogs and hanging — and apparent contempt for homosexuals — do not make him an obvious bedfellow for the fastidious brahmins of new Labour (The Times, London)

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  1. Hearing from God | Some spiritual leaders claim to be on speaking terms with the Almighty (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  2. Do miracles happen? Age-old debate reopens | The Catholic Church is investigating reports of a miracle at a Scottish hospital amid claims a nun's relic helped a premature baby to live after doctors gave up hope of the infant surviving (The Scotsman)

  3. Also: Baby saved by 'miracle' | Church investigate relic claims (Daily Record, Scotland)

  4. Boiling mad? Chill with some forgiveness | Cooling that hothead may improve your health, says a psychologist and minister. (The Orlando Sentinel)

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Jamaica abuse case:

  1. Church founder lashes whistle blowers | Amid shouts of amen and hallelujah, the founder of the Dayton Avenue Church of God, Ruby Kelly, yesterday chastised whistle blowers in her congregation for making known the sexual molestation case of a 14-year-old schoolgirl (Jamaica Gleaner)

  2. Church defends deacon in child sex case | Says God will punish member who leaked info (The Jamaica Observer)

  3. Cops raid deacon's house | Say they have copy of 'sex' video (The Jamaica Observer)

  4. Moral questions in teen rape | It seems to us that serious moral issues arise here about whether the actions of those who are supposed to have his ear, acted in accordance with the laws of God (Editorial, Jamaica Gleaner)

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Pa. abuse cases:

  1. The sins of our fathers | Sex abuse: What the diocese knew and didn't tell you (Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

  2. The shame of the diocese | Allegations? Move Father Caparelli. More allegations? Move Father Caparelli. Convictions? Keep quiet. (Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

  3. A church re-educates itself | The Catholic Church has mandated special training to recognize sexual abuse and abusers (Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

  4. Reasonable people disagree, and we did | Call this my dissenting opinion in our plan to scrutinize the struggles of Diocese of Scranton (Mark Guydish, Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

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More abuse:

  1. Spokane Diocese tries to clean up "a hell of a mess" | In this city of 200,000, where the Catholic Church has long been a political and social force, the bankruptcy of a diocese and the sex scandal that caused it have created deep divisions (The Seattle Times)

  2. Dolan braces archdiocese for priest sex abuse costs | Bankruptcy a possibility as California cases move toward trial (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

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  1. Church bookkeeper pleads guilty in theft, gets probation | Woman 'borrowed' thousands over years before discovery (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)

  2. Attorney hints Mary Winkler not alone in scam | Defense also seeking to suppress statement pastor's wife gave TBI (The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  3. Also: High bond keeps Winkler jailed | A $750,000 bond set Friday for the wife of a minister accused of shooting her husband to death amounts to ''no bond at all,'' according to one of her defense attorneys (The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

  4. Before the downfall of a priest, a fondness for the good life | The Rev. Michael Jude Fay, who was asked to resign from St. John Roman Catholic Church in Darien, Conn., had a taste for the gilded life that seemed to have spun out of control (The New York Times)

  5. 2 indicted in church fire | Suspects are cleared in 2004 Elgin blaze; charged in '03 arson (Chicago Tribune)

  6. Bullet hole found in church pulpit | "It doesn't appear to be anything related to the church, specifically," say police (Union Leader, Manchester, N.H.)

  7. Put boys to work, pastor of vandalized church says | The Rev. Richard Black Jr. sees no benefit in putting two juveniles in a detention center on charges that they broke into and vandalized his rural Jackson Twp. church (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)

  8. Saturday: 2 boys accused of vandalizing church (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. At church outing, five children drown in Meramec River | The victims were members of the St. Louis Dream Center, an organization created by the Joyce Meyers Ministries (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  2. Feed the soul, trim the fat | With bestsellers and networking, the Christian weight-loss movement is creating believers (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Churches advised to respect annual ban on drumming | Nii Ashie Kumuwuo II, Bubuashie Mantse has advised religious groups not to view the annual ban on drumming and noise making within the Ga traditional areas as fetish (Ghana News Agency)

  4. Afghanistan Christians live in fear | Afghan converts to Christianity cannot speak of their beliefs even to loved ones (Newsday)

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See our past Weblog updates:

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June 29b | 29a | 28
June 23 | 22 | 21
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June 2b | 2a | May 31
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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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