Today's Top Five

1. Nazareth riots after church attack
A Jewish man with a reported history of mental illness was arrested along with his Christian wife and daughter after he set off fireworks in Nazareth's Basilica of the Annunciation. The church was crowded with Lent pilgrims, and the attack and subsequent response from police forces set off a riot. Local Arabs claimed the attack proves that Israel does not take action against violent Jews. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem Michel Sabah "said that the person who tried to perform the terrible deed was born and bred on racist views and wild incitement against Christians in particular and Arabs in general," reports Haaretz. One imagines that there will be more coverage on this over the weekend.

2. Orthodox Church in America leaders say no to 1990s audit, but yes to more recent ones
The Washington Post headline says "Orthodox Leaders Reject Call for Audit," but the church's Holy Synod actually approved outside audits for 2004 and 2005. It's just that it won't audit its finances for the late 1990s, which is when the church's former treasurer says funds were diverted "to cover credit card debts and pay sexual blackmail." The synod also said it would "adopt a set of 'best practices' for financial management."

3. Missouri resolution would make Christianity official "majority" religion
Missouri's House Concurrent Resolution No. 13 declares that "our forefathers of this great nation of the United States recognized a Christian God and used the principles afforded to us by Him as the founding principles of our nation" and that "we the majority also wish to exercise our constitutional right to acknowledge our Creator and give thanks for the many gifts provided by Him. … As elected officials [we] recognize that a Greater Power exists above and beyond the institutions of mankind." The Anti-Defamation League and other groups are trying to stop the resolution from passing, but Alternet's Joshua Holland says it's a trap: "People who write bills like this aren't trying to make law. Their intent is to further the Right's narrative that Christians are a persecuted minority under siege. They want to guarantee that the good folks at the Anti-Defamation League, the ACLU, and Americans United fight to have their silly legislation overturned, proving that those civil rights groups have an anti-Christian agenda (and perhaps even a direct association with Satan)."

4. Death penalty foe has day in court
North Carolina's Jim French says the state's death penalty is offensive to Christians, since the last meal given to inmates Thursday nights before early Friday morning executions is similar to the Last Supper. In related news, when North Carolina Christians were informed that the state's procedure offensively mocked one of the holiest moments in their religion, they did not riot in the streets and issue death threats against government officials.

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5. Time says assassination report illuminates Benedict XVI's challenge
Yesterday's Italian report about the Soviet Union's involvement in the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II will add to his "legacy as being right up there with Reagan and Gorbachev as the decisive players in the end of the Cold War," says Time's Jeff Israel. But that's a reminder that Benedict XVI faces a bigger challenge than John Paul II's Communism. "Not only does Pope Benedict XVI not have first-hand experience 'behind the lines' in a Muslim society, like John Paul's background in Krakow, but the reach of his words may be inherently limited. Rather than facing a godless society's attack on the freedom to believe, Islamic terrorism presents a warped interpretation of a competing faith. … Like his predecessor, the preacher's message is clear. Only this time, one wonders if it will ever reach beyond the choir."

Quote of the day:
"There are a lot of second-, third-, and fourth-century gospels attributed to various apostles. We don't really assume they give us any first-century information."

James M. Robinson, editor of The Nag Hammadi Library and other Gnostic texts, on The Gospel of Judas. The Associated Press says Robinson, author of the forthcoming book The Secrets of Judas, expects the imminent release of a translation of the third- or fourth-century Gospel of Judas manuscript "will be a dud."

More articles

Basilica of the Annunciation attacked | War and violence | Life ethics | South Dakota abortion ban | Sexual ethics | Gay adoption battle in Mass | Politics | Immigration | Ten Commandments in Ky. | Church and state | Religious freedom | Missions & ministry | Church life | Lent | Catholicism | Theology | Science | Books | Entertainment and media | Money & business

Basilica of the Annunciation attacked:

  1. Jew throws firecrackers inside Nazareth church | A Jewish man accompanied by his Christian wife and their daughter detonated fireworks inside the Basilica of the Annunciation in the northern Israeli Arab city of Nazareth on Friday evening, triggering riots that led to the wounding of five police officers, witnesses said (Haaretz)

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  1. Israeli Arab MKs fume over Nazareth church attack | Church officials: Suspect 'born, bred on racist views' (Haaretz)

  2. Thousands riot in Nazareth | A Jewish man and two women entered the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth on Friday evening and began throwing firecrackers taken out of a baby carriage that they brought with them (The Jerusalem Post)

  3. Fireworks are thrown into Israel church | A distraught Israeli couple, joined by another woman, entered one of Christianity's holiest sites Friday and set off explosions, police said, sparking a large riot in Nazareth (Associated Press)

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War and violence:

  1. U.S. cites exception in torture ban | McCain law may not apply to Cuba prison (The Washington Post)

  2. Churches condemn far-right party | Staffordshire's church leaders have condemned the British National Party for distributing leaflets depicting a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (BBC)

  3. Dr Williams asked to censure Akinola over riot reaction | A coalition of volunteers in Nigeria has written an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury asking him to denounce last week's "irresponsible" statement by the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, on the current Christian-Muslim riots (Church Times)

  4. A chance to save Darfur | Why stopping the genocide will require American money, American troops, and American leadership (Editorial, The New Republic)

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Life ethics:

  1. Ohio court allows parents' lawsuits | Parents can sue a doctor if a genetic screening misses a severe or fatal condition that would have caused them to seek an abortion, a divided state Supreme Court ruled Friday (Associated Press)

  2. Death penalty foe wins ruling | Cary man can sue state, judge rules (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  3. Bills require in-person counseling for abortion | Women would have to be told about risks and alternatives (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  4. Universal stem cell principles proposed | Rules would guide research efforts (The Washington Post)

  5. Senators provide a glimpse of coming clash over stem cells | Maryland senators offered a preview yesterday of fireworks to come when the chamber starts floor debate next week on a bill authorizing state spending on stem cell research (The Washington Post)

  6. Trial over California stem cell research ends | Lawyers opposed to embryonic stem cell research have argued that the $3 billion program violates the state Constitution (The New York Times)

  7. Lower VAT on morning after pill to reduce teenage births | Contraceptives and abortifacients will be reclassified as "essential" rather than "luxury" items under VAT regulations (The Telegraph, London)

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  1. While facing death, embrace life, funeral director writes | There was something puzzling about Thomas Lynch, America's wise old man of death, hanging out with students at Albion College on Ash Wednesday (David Crumm, Detroit Free Press)

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South Dakota abortion ban:

  1. S.D. conservatives seek Roe v. Wade fight | South Dakota is suddenly in the vanguard of the movement to overturn Roe v. Wade. But in truth, it was a role that was decades in the making (Associated Press)

  2. A challenge to 'Roe'? | If South Dakota's bill proves legally inconsequential, it is still troubling that a state legislature would pass such a categorical ban—and that the idea appears to be gaining steam elsewhere (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  3. Extreme politics in S. Dakota | It is dismaying that Hunt and his colleagues would compel a woman to continue a pregnancy conceived under terrible circumstances. (Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe)

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Sexual ethics:

  1. A 'freedom ride' to anti-gay colleges | Four Minnesotans will be among a group of young people who will begin a bus journey to 19 Christian colleges that have anti-gay admission policies (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  2. Report: 'Ex-gay' therapy claims deceptive | The Conservative Christian organizations that are increasingly targeting teenagers and young people with "ex-gay" conferences and therapy are deceiving parents, teens and the public about the effectiveness of their efforts, according to a report released Thursday by a gay rights organization (San Francisco Chronicle)

  3. Minister 'honored' to perform gay weddings | The Rev. Jane Spahr of San Rafael is charged with official misconduct for officiating at the ceremonies in 2004 and 2005 (Associated Press)

  4. Va. Senate kills bill decried as anti-gay | Education and Health Committee killed a bill that sought to clarify that school boards can ban extracurricular groups from using school facilities if the groups encourage or promote "sexual activity by unmarried minor students" (The Washington Post)

  5. Sex obsessed | For the Christian right, all roads lead to sex (Michelle Cottle, The New Republic)

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Gay adoption battle in Mass:

  1. Church losing its clout in Boston | Resignations of Catholic Charities board members over adoption policies for same-sex couples show how its influence has eroded (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. In break from Romney, Healey raps gay adoption exclusion | Candidate says agencies cannot discriminate (The Boston Globe)

  2. Children and the church | The governor was wrong this week even to suggest the possibility that state law might be changed so that Catholic Charities could refuse to place children with qualified parents who are gay. (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

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  1. Born again help Doyle | Liberal leader Robert Doyle has embraced Catch The Fire Ministries, a radical religious movement whose pastors face jail for racial vilification (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)

  2. Bishops ask House members to ban concealed guns in churches | Three major Christian denominations Thursday asked to be spared the rod under legislation that would allow Kansans to carry concealed weapons (Lawrence Journal-World, Kan.)

  3. Also: Religious leaders argue against guns in church | Bill would allow conceal-and-carry option for those okayed, trained (The Topeka Capital-Journal, Kan.)

  4. Sen. Brownback sees need to narrow indecency bill | Proposed legislation to boost fines broadcasters face for indecency violations is "too broad and too big" and needs to be narrowed for quick passage, Sen. Sam Brownback (news, bio, voting record) of Kansas said on Thursday (Reuters)

  5. Born again? | Looking to regain its base, the Democratic Party is restating its liberal program in religion-friendly terms (World)

  6. Alabama judge declares war on U.S. Supreme Court | State justice says colleagues should 'actively resist' juvenile death penalty ruling (Legal Times)

  7. Church respects right to cremate | The Church of Greece yesterday welcomed a new law allowing for the cremation of the non-Orthodox Christian dead and suggested it might be softening its own hardline stance against the procedure (Kathimerini, Athens)

  8. Unprincipled statement | 55 House Democrats have religious issues (G. Tracy Mehan III, National Review Online)

  9. With God on our side? | The right-wing hijacking of the role of religion in our political discourse is as undeniable as it is inappropriate. Eric Alterman explains the media's willful ignorance on the subject and why the disconnect on religion is one of liberalism's most serious problems (Eric Alterman, The Nation)

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  1. Clergy dismiss proposed illegal-alien law | Local clergymen whose churches help illegal aliens say they would disobey a proposed law that they say would require them to verify the legal status of their clients (The Washington Times)

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  1. Immigrant dilemma divides senators | Judiciary panel begins tough debate on future of border (San Francisco Chronicle)

  2. Catholic leaders work to sway immigration | U.S. Catholic bishops are increasingly weighing into the debate over what to do about the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States — a development that's being met with criticism from groups pushing for tougher immigration law enforcement (Associated Press)

  3. A cardinal truth | Compliments to Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who not only has been saying the right things about illegal immigrants but also has been reinforcing the right of religious leaders to speak out on the moral ramifications of political issues (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  4. The Gospel vs. H.R. 4437 | Cardinal Roger Mahony's declaration of solidarity with illegal immigrants, in opposition to a bill that was recently passed by the House, is a startling call to civil disobedience, as courageous as it is timely (Editorial, The New York Times)

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Ten Commandments in Ky.:

  1. Senate: Display religious texts | Commandments would return to Capitol grounds (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  2. Bill would limit courts on 3 fronts | Commandments: 'Historic display' would be allowed (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

  3. Ky. Senate vote is one for history | Bill would OK posting of Ten Commandments (The Kentucky Enquirer)

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Church and state:

  1. State bill proposes Christianity be Missouri's official religion | Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state's official "majority" religion (KMOV, St. Louis)

  2. Also: Left-baiting | This is a trap (Joshua Holland, Alternet)

  3. Pizza magnate modifies plans for Fla. town | His ideas about barring pornography and birth control, he said, apply only to the Catholic university (Associated Press)

  4. Judge's order to remove Bible does not invalidate conviction | Court of appeals held that the trial court had "a compelling interest of conducting a trial in a secular, impartial, orderly manner" (Religion Clause)

  5. Even if laws perfect, they cannot change hearts | (Doug Mendenhall, The Huntsville Times, Ala.)

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Religious freedom:

  1. MPs concerned over attack on Christians in Rajashtan | The Government Friday reiterated its commitment to protect the minorities as Lok Sabha MPs expressed their concern over some recent incidents of attack on churches and Christian institutions in Rajasthan (IANS, India)

  2. Chaldean patriarch: "No Christian wants to leave Iraq for good" | The Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly admits the country's plight is "miserable", but says emigration affects Muslims much more: many Christians choose to stay to become peace-builders (, Catholic site)

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  1. Bush praises India's tolerance | President Bush, declaring "I believe in Almighty God," yesterday praised India's religious leaders for recognizing the importance of discussing respectfully the differences among their faiths to promote peace (The Washington Times)

  2. Put religious freedom on agenda in Pakistan | The Musharraf government has done little to combat Islamic extremists within Pakistan who promote violence and discrimination against religious minorities (Michael Cromartie and Elizabeth H. Prodromou, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. The man who says he makes 'miracles' | Pastor Mike Evans from California has travelled all over the world conducting divine healing services and claims to have seen people cured of all sorts of diseases, including cancer. Now, as he conducts a tour of Belfast churches, Mike, who is 63 and married with three children, he tells why he expects a spiritual revival in Ulster (The Belfast Telegraph)

  2. He saw a need, applied the science | Don Schoendorfer would have sworn pastor Kenton Beshore was talking directly to him that Sunday morning as he described "the fool's game" to his large Mariners Church congregation in Irvine (Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times)

  3. Did Focus collude with Abramoff? | Focus on the Family's Minnery contradicted himself regarding group's involvement with Abramoff associate Reed in casino scheme (Media Matters)

  4. In all the silence, God will find you | A workshop in Newton aims to help people move beyond routine prayer and heighten their spirituality (Des Moines Register, Ia.)

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Church life:

  1. Orthodox leaders reject call for audit | Bishops vow to improve accounting after accusations of fund mismanagement (The Washington Post)

  2. Also: Orthodox bishops okay audit of 5 years | Action falls short of decade probe sought by dissenters (Associated Press)

  3. Pastor out in Scarsdale parish | The controversial pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church is being reassigned, but hardly demoted, as master of ceremonies at St. Patrick's Cathedral, while the associate rector of the cathedral will take over as pastor of the prominent Scarsdale parish (The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y.)

  4. Earlier: Divided Scarsdale parish losing money | One of the Archdiocese of New York's most prominent parishes is deep in the red, and critics of the church's embattled pastor say the situation will only worsen unless the Rev. Robert Verrigni is removed (The Journal News, Feb. 10)

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  1. La. refugees reopen their church—in Ga. | Hurricane Katrina brought grief and loss to Zelda Richard and her family — it even drove them from their New Orleans home. But after they evacuated to Georgia, their local church followed (Associated Press)

  2. Religion in the News: Disunited Church of Christ | The United Church of Christ's endorsement of same-sex marriage — a lone stance among the largest Christian denominations — has stirred debate and divided dozens of its congregations. Some have stopped sending money to the church's national office; others have left the denomination. (Associated Press)

  3. American congregations join foreign Anglican branches | More than three dozen churches across the country have left the Episcopal Church USA since it approved in 2003 the election of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, who has a same-sex partner (USA Today)

  4. Chad shrine found | The discovery of the ancient shrine of St Chad, buried for over 1,300 years under Lichfield Cathedral, has been hailed as "of European significance" by leading archaeologists (The Church of England Newspaper)

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  1. Some additions to the menu | Why it's okay to eat certain rodents during Lent (John J. Miller, The Wall Street Journal)

  2. Make Lent a time for improvement | Everybody wants to have a comeback, a fresh start, a karmic mulligan. Lent reminds us that such grace happens. (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)

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  1. Can the pope help fight the war on terror? | A new report on the assassination attempt of Pope John Paul raises new questions about the limits of his successor's power (Time)

  2. Pope open to greater role for women | Benedict willing to consider issue but excludes priesthood (ANSA, Italy)

  3. Pope praises wartime Pope Pius XII | Pope Benedict XVI praised the World War II-era pope, Pius XII, as a great pontiff but stopped short of endorsing his case for beatification, according to a transcript released Friday by the Vatican (Associated Press)

  4. Archbishop silences priest's 'Voice' | Flynn forbids online, radio messages (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

  5. Survivors group blasts Chaput comments | Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput sounds more like Nixon than Christ and appears out of touch with reality in his recent statements about sex-abuse legislation in Colorado, the national director of an abuse-watch organization said Thursday (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

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  1. Expert doubts 'Gospel of Judas' revelation | An expert on ancient Egyptian texts is predicting that the "Gospel of Judas" — a manuscript from early Christian times that's nearing release amid widespread interest from scholars — will be a dud in terms of learning anything new about Judas (Associated Press)

  2. Icon or idol? It's a test of faith | Split is being played out in new ways because of immigration (San Antonio Express-News)

  3. Ex-minister walks atheist path | A retiree encourages USF students to look inward, not to the heavens, for answers and says we should all be concerned about the religious right (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

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  1. Geneticists trace original organism | Geneticists have drawn up the most accurate tree of life yet and pinpointed what they believe to be the organism from which all other life on Earth evolved (The Guardian, London)

  2. Chimpanzees reveal their human side as good Samaritans | The first evidence that being a good Samaritan is not a uniquely human trait, as most scientists thought, has been published (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Also: Do as you would be done by | Lending assistance to relatives fits easily into evolutionary theory. Behaving in similar fashion with regard to unrelated individuals is harder to explain but undoubtedly occurs (Science)

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  1. Purpose-driven spirituality | How deep does Rick Warren go? (Thomas Baker, Commonweal)

  2. Lessons on fatherhood | Betsy Hart reviews To Own a Dragon: Reflections on Growing Up Without a Father, by Donald Miller and John MacMurray (Scripps Howard News Service)

  3. Henry Morris dies at 87 | 1961 book is credited with reviving the creationism movement (Los Angeles Times)

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Entertainment and media:

  1. Mother swells with pride for Oscar-nominated child | S.D. Christian school distances self from 'Brokeback' actress (San Diego Union-Tribune)

  2. Can homosexuality and religion coexist? | Local ministers see misleading messages about Christians in 'Brokeback Mountain' (The Huntsville Times, Ala.)

  3. Gospel's Franklin comes clean | Singer admits porn addiction, says album's goal is honesty (Detroit Free Press)

  4. Does this show degrade Christ or is it a bit of fun? | The Christian who's got a ticket for Jerry Springer: The Opera (Kenny Hodgart, The Herald, Glasgow)

  5. Ministers' reactions to Christ cartoons differ | Some Christian ministers in the Radford area logged on to the Whim Internet Magazine site to peruse Keesee's strip and weighed in on the controversy (The Roanoke Times, Va.)

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  1. What would Jesus play? | Christian video game companies seek greater share of market with faith-based titles (San Bernardino Sun, Ca.)

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Money & business:

  1. Art firm alleges misconduct by lawyers | Thomas Kinkade Co., owned by the self-described "Painter of Light," on Thursday filed a lawsuit accusing opposing lawyers in a case brought by former gallery owners of illegally eavesdropping during arbitration hearings last year (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Faith on the job | More employees wanting to practice their beliefs in the workplace (Elkhart Truth, Ind.)

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Related Elsewhere:

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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