Today's Top Five

1. It's out. It's done. Can we stop talking about it now?
Thankfully, Da Vinci Code stories are down to a trickle. Some of the remaining stories are worth reading if only because they're ridiculous. For example, check out the Associated Press dispatch, " 'Da Vinci' Theater Projector Lenses Stolen":

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - A movie theater was forced to close on the opening night of The Da Vinci Code after 20 projector lenses were stolen, but the manager said he did not think the theft was related to protests of the film.
A sign on the door of the Carmike 10 Theaters Friday night told moviegoers that The Da Vinci Code would be shown at another Carmike-owned theater in the city. Showings of nine other movies were canceled.
Some Christian groups have decried The Da Vinci Code — based on Dan Brown's best selling novel — as sacrilegious, and Christian leaders in China, Singapore, India, South Korea, Thailand and elsewhere have tried to get the film censored or banned.
Protesters — some holding signs that said "Boycott Hollywood" and "Pray for Dan Brown" — said the theft was not connected to their demonstration.
Manager Richard Melby also said he did not think the protest and theft were related.
"It's their right to do what they're doing, and I don't have a problem with it," he said.
Investigators made no immediate connection between the theft and the movie.

One supposes the article could just as easily have been written thus:

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - A movie theater was forced to close on the opening night of Over the Hedge after 20 projector lenses were stolen, but the manager said he did not think the theft was perpetrated by Dan Brown fans or anti-Christian fanatics attempting to thwart a proposed "other-cott" in the American heartland. Police made no immediate connection between the theft and the animated film.

2. Iran isn't Nazi Germany after all
You might hear reports, based on a now-removedNational Post article last Thursday, that Iran passed a law requiring Christians, Jews, and other minorities to wear colored badges identifying them as non-Muslims. The article incited the prime ministers of Canada and Australia, along with numerous others, to condemn the law. But it turns out the law doesn't exist. False alarm.

3. Israel considers anti-conversion law
It has worked so well in a few Indian states, several Muslim nations, and other repressive societies that some Israelis think that anti-evangelism laws are just what the country needs. "MK Haim Oron (Meretz) was set to propose a bill against those who pressured minors to adopt an orthodox or secular lifestyle. According to the proposal, such actions would be punishable by imprisonment," the Jerusalem Post reported. Doesn't look like the bill is going anywhere, thankfully, so don't freak out yet.

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4. Judge says no prayer at graduation; students pray anyway
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph H. McKinley specifically ordered the Russell County [Ky.] High School not to include a prayer in the graduating ceremony. So during the principal's opening remarks, about 200 students stood and recited the Lord's Prayer. "Thunderous applause drowned out the last part of the prayer," the Courier-Journal reports. Huh, all those letter-writers touting the "rule of law" on immigration don't seem to be as agitated about this. It must be one of those better-to-obey-God-than-man things.

5. Dover case judge: When religion was science
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones, recently named one of Time magazine's most influential people in the world because he "ruled for Darwin" in the Dover, Pennsylvania, school board case, spoke about religion at Dickinson College, his alma mater, over the weekend.

"The founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry," he told the class of 500. In other words, he said the founders believed that science was the highest form of religion. "They possessed a great confidence in an individual's ability to understand the world and its most fundamental laws through the exercise of his or her reason. … This core set of beliefs led the founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state."

Ah yes, the founders and their barring of any alliance between church and state. Jones read a bit of Jefferson and claimed his views represented "the founders." His alma mater's namesake, John Dickinson, might have disagreed, especially on his view of "true religion."  "Not the least intimation in history or tradition that religion was discovered by reason. But the contrary—that is— by revelation," he wrote. "The great question as to reason is this—whether reason since the introduction of sin into the world is sufficient to discover our duty and incline us to enforce its performance. Denied." He had some nice things to say about the Bible, too, but we'll let you grab James Hutson's The Founders on Religion (where we grabbed the above quote) to see for yourself.

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Quote of the day
"The only alternative to tradition is bad tradition."
—Jaroslav Pelikan in a 2003 interview with Speaking of Faith's Krista Tippett, rebroadcast this month after Pelikan's death.

More articles

Da Vinci Code money | Da Vinci Code "controversy" | More on The Da Vinci Code | Da Vinci Code bans | Iraq | No dress code for Iran | Israel | India | Sudan | Christianity and Islam | Ireland cathedral hunger strike ended | Church of England on asylum seekers | Church of England on rich-poor gap | Pope vs. Europe | Catholicism | Eastern Orthodox | Baptism | Church life | Crime | Illicit church property sales | Abuse | More trouble in Boston | Church of Scotland | Homosexuality and churches | Homosexuality | Marriage | Sexual ethics | Life ethics | Politics | Church and state | Religious displays | Graduation prayer | Patrick Henry College | Higher education | Education | Evolution | Science and medicine | Books | History | Jaroslav Pelikan | People | Music | Money and business | Entertainment and media | Missions & ministry | Other stories of interest

Da Vinci Code money:

  1. At $77 million, it's code green for Da Vinci | Worldwide the Sony release is estimated to have grossed $224 million (The Washington Post)

  2. Code hops over Hedge | So much for the "other-cott" (The Washington Times)

  3. Da Vinci II: studio lines up the next blockbuster | Sony Pictures, the studio behind The Da Vinci Code, is hoping to bring another novel by Brown, Angels and Demons, to the big screen (The Times, London)

  4. Also: Even God loves sequels | Sony follows up Da Vinci with 'Angels' (Variety)

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Da Vinci Code "controversy":

  1. Da Vinci theater projector lenses stolen | But the manager said he did not think the theft was related to protests of the film (Associated Press)

  2. Christians protest against the Da Vinci Code | The statement by the three Church mother bodies urged Christians in Zambia to stand proud of their faith rather than be overly defensive about the book and the film (The Post, Zambia)

  3. An inconvenient woman | She witnessed the resurrection, then vanished, leaving popes and painters and now The Da Vinci Code to tell her story. In search of the real Mary Magdalene (Newsweek)

  4. The faces of Mary Magdalene | Through the centuries (Newsweek)

  5. Ungodly errors | Scholarly gripes about The Da Vinci Code's Jesus (Larry Hurtado, Slate)

  6. Media should stop and say, 'It's only a movie' | The problem with the Da Vinci Code story as controversy is that the outraged side just refuses to play ball (Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Most Christians know it's just a movie | Preceding the release of The Passion of the Christ some Jewish and Christian leaders predicted a sharp increase in anti-Semitism directly linked to watching the movie. They were wrong. And those who think that thoughtful Catholics and Protestants will abandon their respective churches or ask that the Gospels be revised after seeing The Da Vinci Code are also wrong (Saul Rosenthal, The Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  2. Code turkey | The Da Vinci Code is not liberal enough, the National Council of Churches complains (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

  3. This Code could open doors | At the heart of Dan Brown's book is a truth to unite Christians and Muslims—Jesus wasn't divine (Inayat Bunglawala, The Guardian, London)

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More on The Da Vinci Code:

  1. Scottish chapel is Da Vinci Code site | There's no mystical rose line running through it, no Star of David carved into the floor or hidden vault where the fabled Holy Grail may rest. And the brutal veil of metal scaffolding shrouding the chapel doesn't help either (Associated Press)

  2. It's not just a movie, it's a revelation (about the audience) | The Da Vinci Code encapsulates an era in which many Christian believers have assimilated a whole lot of new and unorthodox ideas (The New York Times)

  3. The Code before Da Vinci | For decades American Catholics exerted the moral equivalent of final cut over Hollywood cinema (Thomas Doherty, The Washington Post)

  4. Alternative diversions | Given Dan Brown's twisted history, the occasion might be right to suggest a few things one could profitably read or watch instead The Da Vinci Code (Jon Meacham, Newsweek)

  5. The Rove Da Vinci Code | The ad campaign for The Da Vinci Code mimics the bamboozling of Christian evangelists by politicians (Frank Rich, The New York Times)

  6. Subversity of Code actually benefits Christians | Code has one saving grace. It's About Something (James P. Pinkerton, Newsday)

  7. Doing Da Vinci with the pastor dude | This SoCal preacher man delivers free lattes, not anti-Da Vinci Code sermons (Joel Stein, Los Angeles Times)

  8. Bad movie, but don't dismiss it | The Da Vinci Code was boring and full of historical inaccuracies--but we can't dismiss its central notion of a married Jesus (John Shelby Spong, Beliefnet)

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Da Vinci Code bans:

  1. Samoa bans Da Vinci Code film | The Pacific island nation of Samoa has banned The Da Vinci Code after church leaders frowned on the film about a fictional Catholic conspiracy (AAP, Australia)

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  1. Church calls for ban of Da Vinci Code | Kenyan churches are calling for the ban of the Da Vinci Code, terming it an affront to tenets of the Christian faith (The East African Standard, Kenya)

  2. Belarus stops screening Da Vinci Code after protest | The Da Vinci Code has been pulled from cinemas in the Belarus capital after only four days because Christian groups in the ex-Soviet state complained the film was offensive, the state film distributor said on Tuesday (Reuters)

  3. Pakistani Islamists get ready to bash Da Vinci Code | Pakistan's Islamist parties will hold nationwide demonstrations against The Da Vinci Code later this week, to protest the film's "offensive" alternative take on the story of Jesus Christ, an opposition lawmaker said on Monday (Reuters)

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  1. 'Good news' from northern Iraq | Retired Iraqi Gen. Georges Sada, a former fighter pilot-turned-Christian evangelist, says Kurds are converting to Christianity "by the hundreds" in northern Iraq (The Washington Times)

  2. Kirkuk Christians fear rising violence | Sectarianism and growing Islamic power concerns Christians in this ethnically mixed city (Iraqi Crisis Report/Institute for War & Peace Reporting)

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No dress code for Iran:

  1. No distinctive attire for non-Muslims | Iran expert Menashe Amir on Sunday traced incorrect reports about a proposed Iranian uniform law to earlier debate on the measure (Jerusalem Post)

  2. Harper says Iran 'capable' of introducing Nazi-like clothing labels | Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quick to condemn Iran on Friday for an anti-Semitic law that appears not to exist (Canadian Press)

  3. Iran religion plan appalling, says PM | Prime Minister John Howard has reacted with horror to a new Iranian law forcing Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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  1. Bill proposed against religious coercion of minors | MK Haim Oron (Meretz) was set to propose a bill against those who pressured minors to adopt an orthodox or secular lifestyle. According to the proposal, such actions would be punishable by imprisonment (The Jerusalem Post)

  2. World Council of Churches slams Israel | Israel bears the burden of responsibility for the present crisis in the Middle East, the World Council of Churches has announced, following a meeting of its Executive Committee in Geneva from May 16-19 (The Jerusalem Post)

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  1. Jews & evangelicals together | Why some Christians are so pro-Israel (David Brog, National Review Online)

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  1. Rajasthan may resend anti-conversion bill to governor | The Rajasthan government is likely to resend the Rajasthan Dharma Swatantrya (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2006, endorsement to which was denied by Governor Pratibha Patil, government sources said (IANS, India)

  2. Friday: Rajasthan governor returns religious conversion bill | Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil has returned a bill passed by the state assembly seeking a ban on religious conversion, saying its provisions would affect the citizens' right to freedom of religion (PTI, India)

  3. India disapproves Pope's remarks on conversions | In a "firm, appropriate and timely" response, India today told the Vatican that it disapproved Pope's criticism against banning conversions and his remarks of religious intolerance in the country (PTI, India)

  4. Rajnath writes to Pope, defends anti-conversion laws | BJP chief Rajnath Singh has shot off a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, defending anti-conversion laws that the pontiff criticised as discriminatory restrictions on religious freedom in India (PTI, India)

  5. Five nuns, two priests enroll as advocates | After winning the legal battle to practice law, five nuns and two priests in Kerala on Sunday enrolled as advocates (The Times of India)

  6. Divine right | The anti-conversion laws ought to be subject to legal re-scrutiny to determine whether they infringe the right to choose (Editorial, The Times of India)

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  1. A flight from genocide | Israel debates its moral obligation to the victims of Darfur. (Newsweek)

  2. What next for Darfur? | The peace treaty raises hopes, but for now, it's still just talk (U.S. News & World Report)

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Christianity and Islam:

  1. Rescued—the Pakistan children seized by Islamist slave traders | Hoax saves boys held for months (The Times, London)

  2. Extremism isn't Islamic law | Does Islam truly require the death penalty for apostasy, and, if not, why is there so little freedom of religion in the so-called Muslim world? (Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, The Washington Post)

  3. This is a Saudi textbook (After the intolerance was removed) | First grade text: "Every religion other than Islam is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters hellfire." (Nina Shea, The Washington Post)

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Ireland cathedral hunger strike ended:

  1. Afghan hunger strike ends in Ireland | Police removed Afghan hunger-strikers Saturday night from a Dublin cathedral, where protesters spent a week demanding asylum and warning they would kill themselves if officers came near (Associated Press)

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  1. 'Beyond ridiculous' | The occupation of St Patrick's Cathedral by asylum seekers has posed a moral problem (The Times, London)

  2. St Patrick's to re-open after hunger strike | Authorities at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin are making preparations for the re-opening of the cathedral after a six-day hunger strike by 41 Afghan men came to an end (RTE, Ireland)

  3. Our cause was just, say teenage hunger strikers | Nine Afghan teenage boys who were part of the failed hunger strike in St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin insisted they did not intend to dishonour the church through their protest (Irish Examiner)

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Church of England on asylum seekers:

  1. Church anger over asylum poverty | Asylum seekers are suffering "unacceptable" destitution because of government policies, a report published by the Church of England has said (BBC)

  2. Government accused of draconian treatment of asylum seekers | Church inquiry says wealth gap widening (The Guardian, London)

  3. Anglicans angered over destitute asylum-seekers | Anglican church leaders said on Monday asylum seekers faced destitution in Britain, where the gap between rich and poor is as wide as ever (Reuters)

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Church of England on rich-poor gap:

  1. Churches can play key role, says Williams | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said yesterday that churches could play a unique role in the inner cities because they were not perceived as having vested interests to defend (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Footballers ought to pay more tax, says Archbishop | Church report claims the poverty gap is offensive and argues wealth should be more evenly spread (The Times, London)

  3. As bad as under Thatcher, says Church report on gap between rich and poor | The "unacceptable" gap between the rich and the poor is as great now as it was under Margaret Thatcher, a major report by the Church of England said yesterday (The Telegraph, London)

  4. A childish Church | Christians are commanded to love the widow, the orphan and the stranger, often translated these days to mean single mothers, children in care and immigrants. Sadly, the Church of England's report on how to cure urban deprivation is a curate's egg (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)

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Pope vs. Europe:

  1. Southern Europe seeing a breakup boom | Divorce rates are rising across the continent, but the three most Roman Catholic countries are exceeding the pace (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Poland digs in against tide toward secularism | Poland could be Europe's first red state (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Pope to tell Poles to defend hard-won heritage | Capping a year of tributes to his predecessor, Pope Benedict goes to Poland this week to urge John Paul's countrymen to defend their Christian heritage as they integrate into an increasingly secularized Europe (Reuters)

  3. Not in Europe, but related: Pope cites secularism in Canada birth rate | Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday that low birth rates in Canada are the result of the "pervasive effects of secularism" and asked the country's bishops to counter the trend by preaching the truth of Christ (Associated Press)

  4. Pope set for first Poland visit | Unlike his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI is not a great traveler (BBC)

  5. John Paul's town becoming Polish pilgrimage site | The tourist numbers are still modest, but it's not for lack of trying (Reuters)

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  1. Conservative order faces tough future | The church did not say if the allegations were true, but experts say the Vatican would not have imposed a severe penalty without finding at least some validity to the complaints (Associated Press)

  2. High-profile pulpit getting a quiet leader | Next archbishop shuns political publicity for results, associates in Pittsburgh say (The Washington Post)

  3. Penance and the Pope | Benedict punishes who John Paul protected (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  4. Abusing my religion | I am a female member of Opus Dei, which apparently makes me brainwashed and evil (Mary Elise Eckman, New York Daily News)

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Eastern Orthodox:

  1. Orthodox church is consecrated in Rome | The first Orthodox church to be built in Rome since 1054 was consecrated yesterday in another sign of improved relations between the Vatican and the Patriarchate of Moscow (The Telegraph, London)

  2. From diaspora, an overture to Russian church | A special council seeks eventual unity with the motherland's Orthodox body, but dissenters cite the Moscow patriarch's KGB cooperation (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Russian Orthodox sect rejoins Moscow base | The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia said Friday it would move toward reconciling with the Moscow-based parent church from which it split after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution (Associated Press)

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  1. Down by the poolside | Amid lap lanes, posted rules, faith finds a way for baptisms (The Boston Globe)

  2. Sewer plan to displace baptisms | Oak Grove Christian Church is just a stone's throw away from Rattlesnake Creek and only a few miles downstream from where the Twin Lakes Regional Sewer District plans to build its new waste treatment plant (Journal and Courier, Lafayette, Ind.)

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Church life:

  1. Harvest Church falls behind on paying debt | Harvest Church, one of the city's largest employers, is facing foreclosure on the church property after experiencing slower-than-expected membership growth, the aftermath of a late-1990s church scandal, church officials said (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  2. Immigrants hear God's word, in Chinese, via conference call | Isolated in small towns, Fujianese Chinese derive spiritual companionship from a conference-call Bible study (The New York Times)

  3. Ghana's 10-year-old preacher | With two weekly radio shows and two years' practice at the pulpit, Solomon Yirenkyi is a big draw for Christians at the Jesus One Touch Church in Oblogo, about half an hour from Accra, the capital of Ghana (BBC)

  4. How should church spend a windfall? | A survey of Protestant ministers and churchgoers shows significant differences in the ways the groups would spend an unexpected surge in church income (The Washington Post)

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  1. Apologetic pastor gets 10 years in church fire | Minister is also fined for arson and insurance fraud (Houston Chronicle)

  2. Defense closings continue in case of alleged religious scam | The defense takes center-stage Tuesday as closing arguments continue in a fraud and conspiracy case in which prosecutors say religious investors were lured with the prospects of huge profits while doing God's work (Associated Press)

  3. Bishop offers apology amid inquiry on funds | The leader of the Diocese of Bridgeport apologized to Connecticut parishioners whose pastor resigned over accusations that he had taken money from their church (The New York Times)

  4. 5 dead after gunman opens fire in a church in Louisiana | A man killed four people and wounded another before kidnapping his wife and killing her, officials said (The New York Times)

  5. La. shooting victim had restraining order | A woman fatally shot by her husband after authorities said he killed four of her relatives at a church service had gotten a temporary restraining order against him last year (Associated Press)

  6. Suit says preacher cheated immigrants | Speaking in Spanish, Salvation Army preacher Enoc Tito reportedly told the congregants, many of them Latinos, that if they each paid $4,000 and gave $500 donations to the church he could be their "bridge" to becoming Americans (The New York Times)

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  1. Also: Immigrants sue Salvation Army, claim fraud | A half-dozen illegal immigrants are suing the Salvation Army and two of its former local officials for consumer fraud, claiming the leaders took their money under false promises of helping them gain legal status (Associated Press)

  2. 9 hurt in van crash at church carnival | Police said the 34-year-old driver fled the scene of the accident in the parking lot of the Alex Manoogian School (Associated Press)

  3. Wife's church life enraged suspect, DA says | Framingham man arraigned in slaying of 2 (The Boston Globe)

  4. Contractor accused of ripping off church | A local church did everything right when it was looking for a contractor to do some work, but that didn't stop the company it hired from leaving the congregation high and dry (KIRO, Seattle)

  5. Founder of Trinity Christian Academy faces capital sexual battery charges | A former Jacksonville pastor has been charged with molesting his young parishioners several decades ago. Now, police believe more victims could be out there (WAWS, Jacksonville, Fla.)

  6. Also: Local church responds to sex charges against ex-pastor | The Trinity Christian Academy will hire independent attorneys to investigate allegations that a former school administrator molested 6 year old students several decades ago. (WAWS, Jacksonville, Fla.)

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Illicit church property sales:

  1. Who took land from churches? | 20 properties were sold. The owners didn't know. Trail leads to ex-lawyer (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Also: Lawyer's address is firms' focal point | Phillip Radmer's mailbox at an unassuming Berwyn fourplex serves as the corporate headquarters for nearly 90 businesses and churches that the disbarred attorney has formed in recent years (Chicago Tribune)

  3. Update: Probe targets church lots' sale | Devine's office announces inquiry (Chicago Tribune)

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  1. Witchcraft and the 'missing' report | Last year, stories emerged that African preachers were sacrificing children in secret church ceremonies in the UK. Today, we still don't know the full truth behind those claims—and African churches say the government isn't doing more to help them root out child abusers posing as Christian leaders (BBC)

  2. Daycare janitor arrested for rape of six-year-old | A janitor at a church-run daycare center was arrested Saturday on charges of raping a six-year-old girl (Northwest Arkansas Times)

  3. Also: Daycare, church staff meet with parents after alleged rape | Senior Pastor Craig Russell spent much of Monday meeting privately with concerned parents (Northwest Arkansas Times)

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  1. Former youth minister gets 20-year term | Former church youth minister Paul H. Valentine will serve 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to two counts of sexual battery and touching a teenager for lustful purposes by a person in a position of trust (The Mississippi Press, Pascagoula)

  2. Also: Ex-minister gets 10 years | He admits sex crimes against 15-year-old church member (The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.)

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More trouble in Boston:

  1. Caritas chief faces new accusations | Cardinal sets meeting of system's board (The Boston Globe)

  2. Church widens probe of Caritas chief | More kissing cases included in report (The Boston Globe)

  3. Caritas chief reprimanded for harassment | Cardinal Sean O'Malley has reprimanded the president of an archdiocese-run hospital system who is accused of kissing and touching four employees, the Boston Archdiocese confirmed Sunday (Associated Press)

  4. Disqualifying touch | Dr. Robert Haddad should resign from his position as president of the Caritas Christi Health Care system (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

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Church of Scotland:

  1. Kirk faces gay 'weddings' split | The Church of Scotland is facing a split over whether ministers should be allowed to conduct services to bless same sex civil partnerships (BBC)

  2. Kirk facing crisis over gay clerics | The Church of Scotland is facing its biggest crisis for more than a century after pro-gay ministers set up a campaign group to lobby for the rights of homosexual clergy (Scotland on Sunday)

  3. Move to calm gay wedding storm | A new organisation has been set up inside the Church of Scotland to head off a damaging split in the wake of what is expected to be a fierce general assembly debate tomorrow on civil partnerships (The Herald, Glasgow)

  4. Kirk votes for review amid claims its roots are being forgotten | The Church of Scotland is to investigate accusations that it is drifting from its Presbyterian roots by becoming increasingly centralized (The Scotsman)

  5. Sexuality time-bomb set to explode under Kirk | It was only a matter of time before the explosive issue of homosexuality burst through the attempts to sideline it (Ron Ferguson, The Herald, Glasgow)

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Homosexuality and churches:

  1. Same-sex ceasefire ends for Anglican Church | Ottawa at centre of possible international schism (The Ottawa Sun)

  2. Issue of gay treasurer causing a rift in ministerial association | The recent election of a lesbian pastor as treasurer of a local ministers group has some members threatening to quit and others calling for an overhaul of the organization (The News-Press, Ft. Meyers, Fla.)

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  1. Justices avoid gay couple's custody fight | For the second time, the Supreme Court on Monday shied away from getting involved in a child custody fight between a San Diego woman and her former lesbian partner (Associated Press)

  2. Judge strikes down Okla. gay adoption law | A federal judge struck down a 2-year-old law that prohibits Oklahoma from recognizing adoptions by same-sex couples from other states and countries (Associated Press)

  3. Senate lawmakers move to take gay youth commission from Romney | Mass. gov. angered many gay rights activists and lawmakers when he flirted with the idea earlier this month of abolishing the 14-year-old commission (Associated Press)

  4. Eyman, churches link up | Initiative king seeks out evangelicals' help to repeal gay-rights law (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  5. Also: Timmy is turning to God | I guess Mr. Eyman figures that since Jesus turned water into wine, the Lord would be willing and able to transform church-going Christians into bigots (Ken Schram, KOMO, Seattle)

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  1. Italy govt challenges Vatican over civil unions | Romano Prodi's new centre-left government on Sunday fired the opening salvo in its widely-expected battle with the Vatican over giving legal rights to unwed heterosexual couples (Reuters)

  2. Clergy group aims to block gay marriage amendment | An interfaith coalition of clergy members and lay leaders announced an effort to block a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (The New York Times)

  3. Tactics honed as debate nears on banning gay marriage | On both sides, activists prepare (The Boston Globe)

  4. Gay-marriage ban a no-win deal for Bush | President seems ill-positioned to spend dwindling political capital on a social crusade (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  5. Marriage amendment miscue | The Senate Judiciary Committee, prodded by President Bush, approved the wrong Federal Marriage Amendment last week. The right amendment would have entrusted exclusively to Congress and state legislatures the decision whether to recognize same-sex "marriage" (Bruce Fein, The Washington Times)

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Sexual ethics:

  1. Students are given lessons on how to keep their virginity | An evangelical group, worried that Christian students are under enormous pressure to lose their virginity, has devised a six-week course to give them the moral strength to resist (The Telegraph, London)

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  1. Also: New course to encourage pure thoughts on campus | Forget bible study sessions. An evangelical Christian group wants students to avoid the campus evils of alcohol and sex and instead study the values of celibacy (The Guardian, London)

  2. Panel reverses Bush cuts in family planning aid | A House appropriations subcommittee yesterday approved a foreign aid budget for next year that would reverse the deep cuts President Bush proposed for international family planning programs he himself once described as among the best ways to prevent abortion (The New York Times)

  3. Kenyan first lady in Aids storm | HIV/Aids activists in Kenya have been shocked by the first lady's comments that young people had "no business" using condoms (BBC)

  4. Condoms are not a cure-all | Get ready for another round of "I told you so" in the condom wars (Time)

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Life ethics:

  1. Harrison's parents chose his name when he was a 35-week fetus—then they were offered a termination | Many pregnant women whose babies are diagnosed with Down Syndrome are being actively encouraged to have late abortions (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Planned Parenthood opens quick-service clinic | Shoppers come to this upscale brick strip mall to pick up bouquets of cookies decorated like soccer players, or $39.99 bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape. Soon, they'll be able to get emergency contraception, too (Associated Press)

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  1. Religious liberals gain new visibility | A different list of moral issues (The Washington Post)

  2. A restive base throws the GOP off balance | Dismay, and hints at rebellion, in the party's conservative core don't bode well for November (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Bush is losing Hispanics' support, polls show | In 2004, Bush's most pronounced gains were among the increasing share of Hispanics who are evangelical Christians (The Washington Post)

  4. Pastor: Lord revealed next Fla. governor | O'Neal Dozier, the pastor who introduced Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist during a breakfast with other pastors Monday, said the Lord came to him in a dream two years ago and told him Crist would be the state's next governor (Associated Press)

  5. Praise the Lord and pass a budget | Religious groups helped resolve Puerto Rico's budget crisis, but at what cost? (Mayra Montero, The New York Times)

  6. Albright critical of Bush's religious absolutism | President Bush has alienated Muslims around the world by using absolutist Christian rhetoric to discuss foreign policy issues, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says (Reuters)

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  1. The rise and fall of Judge Roy Moore | Controversial Ten Commandments judge polling poorly in governor race (NBC News)

  2. Group battles toll road with prayer | The state attorney general and environmental groups have sued to stop a toll road that would run through a wilderness preserve in south Orange County, but activists on Saturday invoked a higher power: God (Los Angeles Times)

  3. A minister-in-the-making chose to serve the mayor | Last summer, Karen Sisson had an unusual decision to make: focus on her schooling to become a Lutheran minister or join the administration of workaholic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles Times)

  4. D.C. mayor hopefuls make pricey promises | Faith group demands millions to help poor (The Washington Post)

  5. The new temptation of Democrats | Democrats' discussion with evangelicals has to get beyond linguistic "reframing" to substantive areas where the Democrats and evangelicals can find common ground: poverty, the environment, Darfur (Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post)

  6. Our values, ourselves | Are "values voters" important? (Frank Cannon, The Weekly Standard)

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Church and state:

  1. AP finds Wyo. DFS gives money to churches | The Wyoming Department of Family Services has funneled tens of thousands of dollars to a grant program administered by a private religious corporation that has funded churches, ministries and religiously oriented anti-abortion centers, an Associated Press investigation has found (Associated Press)

  2. ACLU seeks end to jails' deals with ministries | The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia says the use of public funds to pay organizations for religious services threatens the constitutional separation of church and state (The Washington Post)

  3. Court backs Catholic center | A three-judge panel in Harrisburg filed its decision Friday, arguing that the Catholic student building qualifies as a religious facility and should be permitted (Centre Daily, State College, Pa.)

  4. Eagle case leads to religion argument | Friday and Northern Arapaho tribal leaders argue that the population of eagles living in Wyoming and other states can support the "taking" of some eagles for religious purposes (Jackson Hole Star-Tribune, Wy.)

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Religious displays:

  1. U.S. deal on cross is termed difficult | Sanders reports on White House talks (San Diego Union-Tribune)

  2. Cross, booties removed from memorial | "I removed them because I'm an atheist and I do not want any Catholic symbols on my property," says atheist Bill Brodmerkle (Sentinel & Enterprise, Fitchburg, Mass.)

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Graduation prayer:

  1. Prayer challenged again | Shelby County student wants it barred from graduation (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

  2. Graduates stage protest prayer | Judge had ruled against Russell plan (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  3. Judge: No prayer at graduation | But student delivers religious remarks anyway, drawing loud applause (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

  4. Religious coercion | The student suspected of objecting to prayer at the Russell High graduation was booed during rehearsal. So much for loving one another and turning the other cheek. So much for protecting him from religious orthodoxy (Editorial, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

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Patrick Henry College:

  1. Five quit at Patrick Henry College | They cite constraints on open discussions; school denies charge (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  2. College response to media reports about departing faculty | Departing professors have painted the conflict as a battle for academic freedom suggesting that the College is retreating from open discourse and its commitment to the classical liberal arts. Both charges are patently, categorically false (Patrick Henry College)

  3. The trouble with Patrick Henry College | Fights over what a giraffe looks like (Martin Marty, Sightings)

  4. Patrick Henry College makes the news | Besides not getting the theological issues and their gleeful attempts to tear down the college, the stories in the media are missing the way the story ends: Both sides in the dispute are now gone (Gene Edward Veith, Cranach)

  5. Why? Are you out of your mind? | Some of you are wondering why I am leaving working for World full-time to go to Patrick Henry College (Gene Edward Veith, Cranach)

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Higher education:

  1. Southern Baptist seminary overlooks San Francisco | Evangelicals must take a different approach in Bay Area (The Dallas Morning News)

  2. Due-date diligence: Creating havens for students who give birth | Some colleges, particularly Roman Catholic ones, have developed resources for students who are pregnant or mothers (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  3. Baptist group says no to Belmont U. bid | The Tennessee Baptist Convention has voted to reject an amendment that Belmont University had adopted in an attempt to gain more independence. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  4. College presidents debate religion | Many U.S. academics demean the role of religion in public life, the chancellor of the University of Texas system said (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

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  1. People of the Book (and the university) | Presidents, rabbis, activists and students gather to consider matters of faith and headline-grabbing controversies (Inside Higher Ed)

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  1. Saving souls at school | Thanks to court rulings, some teachers are leading Bible clubs in their own classrooms after the bell (The Wall Street Journal)

  2. How one school district found religion | Modesto, Calif. stumbles onto a successful experiment (Emile Lester and Patrick S. Roberts, USA Today)

  3. Schools told to give pupils gay sex advice | Official guidance on how to teach Scottish schoolchildren about gay sex is being issued for the first time since the abolition of laws which banned "promoting" homosexuality in schools (Scotland on Sunday)

  4. School holy war ends | Plans to widen religious education in state schools have been dumped after the Beattie Government bowed to pressure from conservative Christian group (The Courier-Mail, Brisbane, Australia)

  5. School officials express regret | Keller school district officials say they regret that hundreds of people are upset by a decision to omit the words "In God We Trust" from a nickel on the front of the 2005-06 Liberty Elementary School yearbook (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

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  1. Dover judge addresses graduates | Jones said founders saw religion coming through inquiry (York Daily Record, Pa.)

  2. The next battle: Researcher brings intelligent design to mind | UCLA neuroscientist Jeffrey M. Schwartz is forging connections between his research and the concept of intelligent design (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  3. Intelligent defense | Why, of all the assertions of modern science, does evolution by natural selection attract the most dissent? (Newsweek)

  4. Intelligent design ruling likely to cool challenges to evolution, lawyer says | The strongly worded decision from U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones in the Dover case hasn't driven evolution's opponents toward extinction, but it does make future legal challenges to evolution a "hot stove" no one wants to touch, said the lawyer who won the case against intelligent design in Dover, Pa. (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

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Science and medicine:

  1. Scanning for transcendence: Religion on the brain | The hard science of neurobiology is taking a closer look at the ethereal world of the spirit (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  2. What prayer looks like | Researchers hope that brain scans will help them identify neurological responses shared by practitioners of various religions (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

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  1. AIDS vaccine testing goes overseas | U.S. funds $120 million trial despite misgivings of some researchers (The Washington Post)

  2. Merck cancer vaccine faces Christian-right scrutiny | No Christian groups quoted in this story actually opposing vaccine, which isn't a cancer vaccine but a vaccine for an STD that can cause cancer (Reuters)

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  1. Surveying religions' building blocks | Stephen Prothero reviews The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong (The Boston Globe)

  2. A focus on tradition | Photographer captures the changing customs of black churches (The Boston Globe)

  3. The gospel according to Judas? | William Murchison reviews The Lost Gospel: The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot by Herbert Krosney (The Washington Times)

  4. Hoping for Armageddon | The latest book on the Christian right imagines a destructive conspiracy where none exists (Ralph R. Reiland, The American Spectator)

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  1. Some of Columbus' bones buried in Spain | Scientists said Friday they have confirmed that at least some of Christopher Columbus' remains were buried inside a Spanish cathedral, a discovery that could help end a century-old debate over the explorer's final resting place (Associated Press)

  2. First freedom | Thomas Helwys's plea for religious liberty in the 17th century provided a sound foundation for other kinds of freedom (Alec Gilmore, The Guardian, London)

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Jaroslav Pelikan:

  1. The need for creeds | Remembering Jaroslav Pelikan and his book Credo (Speaking of Faith)

  2. Obituary: Jaroslav Pelikan | Versatile historian noted for his magisterial studies of Luther and for the broad sweep of his interests (The Times, London)

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  1. Bono heads into Africa | U2 front man leverages his fame to help the continent (NBC Nightly News)

  2. 10 questions for Franklin Graham | On AIDS, Darfur, and motorcycles (Time)

  3. N.T. Wright and Anne Rice: Writing our way to God | Two writers explore the mystery of the identity of God and our interconnectedness with Creation (Grace Cathedral, audio)

  4. Hinn rally keeps media from 'healed' | Reporters and photographers covering the Benny Hinn Miracle Crusade on Friday bitterly complained of being kept away from the American televangelist and the ill persons he purported to heal (Trinidad & Tobago Newsday)

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  1. Crouch marks four decades of gospel career | Andrae Crouch is celebrating his 40th anniversary in gospel music by releasing his first new studio album in eight years (Reuters)

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  1. Hard rock band Flyleaf builds on Christian base | There is something frightening about Flyleaf frontwoman Lacey Mosley. Her vocals are sweet and then bitterly raw, as if she is near death (Reuters)

  2. Madonna crucifies herself in tour opener (Reuters)

  3. Madonna blasted for concert crucifixion | Less than 12 hours after Madonna crucified herself on a mirrored cross, the Catholic League expressed its discontent with the concert stunt (Associated Press)

  4. Madonna's giant cross 'offensive' | The Church of England has criticised Madonna's appearance on a cross to kick off her latest tour in Los Angeles (BBC)

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Money and business:

  1. Baptists, Disney have faith in ability to work together | The groups further reconcile with baptisms at Disney's North Lake (The Orlando Sentinel)

  2. Also: The Mouse and the Lord | Peace has broken out beween the Walt Disney Corporation and the Southern Baptists (Steven Bates, The Guardian, London)

  3. Vikings, nonprofit vie for 'Northern Lights' name on projects | The Minnesota Vikings and a Christian-based nonprofit have a little too much in common. Both dream of building a sprawling athletic complex, the Vikings in Blaine, the Christian group in Bloomington. But both have dubbed their projects "Northern Lights," sparking a trademark tug-of-war over which group gets to use the name (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)

  4. Religious phone cards target US Hispanics | The Catholic Church in Mexico is set to receive a cash bonanza from a U.S. company planning to sell prepaid phone cards with a printed image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's most idolized religious symbol (Reuters)

  5. California monastery: wine and retreats | In a Northern California monastery, 25 monks following the teachings of St. Benedict rise hours before dawn to pray, work the land and make a serious syrah — a full-bodied red wine (Associated Press)

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Entertainment and media:

  1. Viewers' prayers answered as religion enjoys a dramatic television comeback | From martyrs to monks, the appetite for spiritual topics is ravenous and the BBC aims to go on feeding it (The Observer, London)

  2. 'God slots' embrace the spirit of the age | Attracting audiences to religious programs has always been a challenge. But an injection of reality television seems to be providing the answer (The Independent, London)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Lawmakers battle over charity measures | The odds that Congress will pass any major legislation this year to change rules affecting donors and nonprofit groups are growing slimmer (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)

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  1. A church, a wheelie and a blessing | In the name of safe travel, pastor provides religious ceremony fit for motorcyclists (The Washington Post)

  2. Bankrupt Dallas travel agency keeps church funds | Group planned mission trip to Cambodia (The Morning News, Springdale, Ark.)

  3. Chaplains answer the call to form circle of protection | Police chaplains voluntarily respond to emergencies and tragedy alongside local law enforcement to render support to victims and families (La Crosse Tribune, Wis.)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. The evolution of American evangelicalism | An extended interview with Rich Cizik (Speaking of Faith)

  2. 1st North Korean defectors arrive in L.A. | Greeted by members of a church coalition that pressed for their safe passage, they tell of famine, enslavement, torture and repression (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Mexico seek divine intervention for World Cup | Mexico's religious leaders blessed the national soccer team on Saturday before the players left for Europe to prepare for the World Cup finals (Reuters)

  4. Roberts seeks greater consensus on court | Chief Justice John Roberts said Sunday he is seeking greater consensus on the Supreme Court, arguing that more consensus among justices is likely if hot-button issues are decided on the "narrowest possible grounds" (Associated Press)

  5. To wager is to gamble with your soul, religions preach | Still, many of the faithful have been quiet over slots in the Valley (The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.)

  6. Atheists jump at chance to debate, tout morals | Nonreligious folks defend their belief that you don't have to be religious to be moral (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  7. Men shying from commitment in religion | American women are half again as likely as men to say they are "religious" and "absolutely committed" to their faith. Some 70 percent to 80 percent of college students involved in campus ministry are women (David Yount, Scripps Howard News Service)

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See our past Weblog updates:

May 19 | 18 | 17
May 11 | 10 | 9 | 8
May 5 | 4 | 3
April 28 | 27b | 27a | 19
April 12 | 11 | 7
March 31 | 30 | 28
March 24 | 24 | 23 | 21

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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