Today's Top Five

1. "Ministerial exception" interpretation narrowed
Lynette Petruska, a chaplain at the Roman Catholic Gannon University in Erie, Pa., says she was forced out of her job because she was a woman and because she objected to sexual harassment at the school. In 2004, a federal judge threw out her case because Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the First Amendment give great leeway to religious institutions in hiring practices. Repeated court rulings have stayed out of similar employment cases because of what is known as the "ministerial exception."

Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit offered a "a carefully tailored version of the ministerial exception." When the employment issue is "religious belief, religious doctrine, or the internal regulations of a church," then courts have no business entering into the dispute, the judges ruled. But when the dispute is unconnected to those issues, employment discrimination "is simply the exercise of intolerance, not the free exercise of religion that the Constitution protects." The ruling explains further:

When a religious organization fires or demotes a woman on the basis of sex, it may be acting according to religious belief, religious doctrine, or church regulation (consider, for example, the Catholic Church's prohibition of female priests). In such a case, the religious organization would be immune from  a Title VII suit. But a religious institution might also fire a woman because the individuals making the decision are, simply put, sexist. Religious doctrine and internal church regulation play no role in such a decision.

The buzz so far is that since this decision is at odds with other circuit court decisions, it could go to the Supreme Court and thus could have significant effects in the broader world of religious employment.

2. Is Matthew 18 unconstitutional?
The Texas Supreme Court will soon examine whether a Ft. Worth pastor, in attempting to follow Matthew 18's church discipline guidelines, had the right to share the details of a former church member's divorce. But the facts in that case make it rather messy. Now comes another Texas case, where the matter seems a bit more straightforward. Church member "John Doe" said he'd rather quit his church and continue in his "struggles in his walk with Christ" (as the pastor puts it) than go through church discipline, which would mean having his sins made public. But the church's bylaws specifically tell members that they "may not resign from membership in an attempt to avoid such care and correction." Like the case before the Texas Supreme Court, this is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Article continues below

3. 'Rhythm method' said to prevent implantation
Here's the abstract from an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics:

Some proponents of the pro-life movement argue against morning after pills, IUDs, and contraceptive pills on grounds of a concern for causing embryonic death. What has gone unnoticed, however, is that the pro-life line of argumentation can be extended to the rhythm method of contraception as well. Given certain plausible empirical assumptions, the rhythm method may well be responsible for a much higher number of embryonic deaths than some other contraceptive techniques.

The article is only available to subscribers, but New Scientist summarizes the argument of Luc Bovens, of the London School of Economics, this way: "Because couples are having sex on the fringes of the fertile period, they are more likely to conceive embryos that are incapable of surviving."

The news articles about this study focus on Roman Catholic doctrine, but Catholic teaching  on this matter is based on natural law and the connection between sex and procreation: "Each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life." The church does not obligate couples to do everything in their power to create babies. It excludes acts "specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means." If the Catholic church doesn't object to curative medical procedures that have the secondary effect of preventing pregnancy, then it's hardly going to object to an increased risk of non-implantation created by a sexual act at what would still be considered an infertile period. 1968's Humane Vitae explains that it's what's natural that's important:

Neither the Church nor her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period but condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception, even when the reasons given for the latter practice may appear to be upright and serious. In reality, these two cases are completely different. In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature. In the latter they obstruct the natural development of the generative process.

In other words, Catholics aren't going to have a problem with this. And Protestants generally don't object to artificial birth control. Those who do object either agree with Humane Vitae or they're concerned about artificial contraceptives that unnaturally prevent implantation but not barrier methods. Bovens compares the "rhythm method" (which, as Weblog has said before, is not the same as natural family planning) to barrier methods like condoms. That's nonsensical. But so is comparing a natural sexual act that may incidentally result in nonimplantation to chemicals or wires specifically designed to make the uterus hostile to embryonic life.

Article continues below

Bovens isn't arguing with anyone. He's just presenting a straw man designed to make pro-lifers look inconsistent.

4. Another priest guilty of satanic murders?
Just days after an Ohio jury convicted a Toledo priest of a 1980 murder with strong satanic overtones comes this story from Australia: "The Catholic Church has accepted as substantially true allegations that a Melbourne priest took part in satanic rituals in which a number of people were murdered." The priest in that case, however, is now dead, so there will be no trial to prove the allegations.

5. The Christian Science Monitor: Are short-term missions just vacations?
"By the millions, Americans are jumping at the chance to become missionaries—with one key stipulation of the 21st century: They expect to get their comfortable lives back a few days later." So begins a Christian Science Monitor piece briefly examining whether short-term missions are worth it, either for the missionaries or those they serve. Last summer, Christianity Today Online asked similar questions in a conversation between Kurt Ver Beek and Robert Priest.

Quote of the day:
"God's got another plan right now."

—Former Enron chief Ken Lay, to his family after being convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges. He later told supporters, "We'll all come through this stronger and more reliant on God. … God will answer prayers."

More articles

Religious employment exemption | Education | Natural family planning study | Life ethics | Politics | Religious displays | Gambling | Church, state, and religious freedom | Military | Sudan | Zimbabwe | Anglican bishop "abandoned" | Church life | Church building disputes | Pope in Poland | Catholicism | Abuse | Crime | La. church shooting | Haddad case | Homosexuality | Healing | Missions & ministry | People | Da Vinci Code | Other articles of interest

Religious employment exemption:

  1. Less leeway for religious colleges | U.S. appeals court ruling narrows an exception giving them broad latitude in labor decisions governing "ministerial" employees (Inside Higher Ed)

Article continues below
  1. 3rd Circuit revives nun's sex-discrimination case vs. university | Appeals court finds 'ministerial exception' concept protecting church matters from government intrusion applies only when discrimination occurs on basis of religious belief (Associated Press)

  2. Exception to 'ministerial exception' | A former chaplain at Gannon University who says she was discriminated against based on her gender may proceed with her lawsuit against the Roman Catholic institution, a federal appeals court has ruled. The decision conflicts with rulings of other courts, which have cited a "ministerial exception" in barring such complaints (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

Back to index


  1. At St. Thomas, a sour ending | In a term filled with controversy, commencement speaker creates one more (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

  2. Also: A commencement turns ugly | University of St. Thomas student speaker shocks classmates by denouncing as "selfish" those women who use the birth control pill (Inside Higher Ed)

  3. Patrick Henry College's Michael Farris | Michael Farris is the co-founder of Home School Legal Defense Association and the president of Patrick Henry College, the first university in America for Christian home-schooled children. The school, located in Purcellville, Va., grooms its students for leadership (Fresh Air, NPR)

  4. Evolution stickers ruling tossed | Appeals panel orders trial judge to reopen Cobb case (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  5. Also: Feds send back Ga. evolution sticker case | A federal appeals court on Thursday sent back a lower court's order for a suburban Atlanta school district to remove textbook stickers calling evolution "a theory, not a fact," citing a lack of evidence in the case (Associated Press)

  6. Stop whining about intelligent design | Evolution debate doesn't help doctors confronting difficult medical decisions (Robert Bazell, NBC News)

  7. Student newspaper's anti-Christian cartoons rile community | Catholic organizations, some students say drawings aren't protected speech; Bill O'Reilly says University of Oregon president should be fired (Associated Press)

  8. A Christian group finds its place in the public schools | In New York City, belonging to an evangelical group at a high school can make members the objects of scorn from classmates and even teachers (The New York Times)

  9. Home schoolers learn A B C's of keeping fit | Parents who are gut-sure that their children are best schooled at home are experiencing pangs of uncertainty when it comes to the physical component of education (The New York Times)

Article continues below
  1. Don't be friends with Christians or Jews, Saudi texts say | Even after years of trying to reform the curriculum, intolerance continues to pervade religious education in Saudi public schools (The New York Times)

Back to index

Natural family planning study:

  1. Rhythm method criticized as a killer of embryos | "Even a policy of practising condom usage and having an abortion in case of failure would cause less embryonic deaths than the rhythm method," writes Luc Bovens, of the London School of Economics, in the Journal of Medical Ethics (New Scientist)

  2. How Vatican roulette kills embryos | The rhythm method - the only form of contraception approved by the Catholic Church - may actually be the source of mass-scale embryo carnage. Or so at least says Luc Bovens, a professor of philosophy at the London School of Economics (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  3. Study abstract: The rhythm method and embryonic death (Journal of Medical Ethics)

Back to index

Life ethics:

  1. HB1215 foes face petition wrinkle | Defenders of South Dakota's new abortion ban could try to derail a public vote on the controversial law by challenging the deadline for filing petitions seeking a referendum (Rapid City Journal, S.D.)

  2. Abortion ruling in Colombia | Colombia must overcome local pressure from the church and ensure that abortion is truly available to poor women in public hospitals (Editorial, The New York Times)

  3. Abortion level at all-time high | The number of abortions carried out in Scotland has reached an all-time high (BBC)

  4. Abortion doctor's killer to represent self | Anti-abortion extremist James Kopp, who admits he was the sniper who killed an abortion doctor in 1998, will defend himself against federal charges of violating abortion clinic access laws (Associated Press)

  5. FDA's role in blocking 'morning-after' pill cited | The agency's last two chiefs overruled staff on whether the drug should be over-the-counter, court transcripts say (Los Angeles Times)

  6. Also: Top FDA staff say left out of contraceptive ruling | The former chief of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shut out two senior agency officials from a decision to indefinitely postpone action on Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s "morning-after" contraceptive, the officials said in legal depositions released this week (Reuters)

  7. 1,200 Golden Gate Bridge suicides remembered | Church bells ring, families gather to push for barriers (San Francisco Chronicle)

Article continues below
  1. Sleeping pill wakes men in vegetative state | A drug commonly used as a sleeping pill appears to have had a miraculous effect on brain-damaged patients who have been in a permanent vegetative state for years, arousing them to the point where some are able to speak to their families, scientists report today (The Guardian, London)

  2. Democrats, stem cells | House Democrats contend that Republican inaction on legislation to expand embryonic stem-cell research is giving them an election-year issue (Associated Press)

  3. Doyle restates support of stem cell research | Governor responds to criticism from two Catholic bishops (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

  4. Stem-cell sense | Clear thinking on a stem-cell anniversary (Eric Cohen, National Review Online)

  5. Promising debate | We seldom rely on politics or science to solve ethical dilemmas. In the modern age, the political process and technological progress multiply, not ameliorate, moral quandaries. Yet in the case of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, the combination of the two may have created a pathway out of a thorny predicament (Gary J. Andres, The Washington Times)

Back to index


  1. American theocracy | Is God ambidextrous? (The Economist)

  2. Italy: Prodi reins in 2 who challenged Vatican | Prime Minister Romano Prodi moved quickly to head off a dispute with the Vatican and publicly reprimanded his new health minister, Livia Turco, left, for supporting trials of the abortion pill (The New York Times)

  3. Environmental evangelists | The evangelical voice on global warming is welcome, for many reasons (Editorial, The Providence Journal, R.I.)

  4. Strange bedfellows | Evangelicals learn to love big government (Heather Wilhelm, The Wall Street Journal)

  5. The Church Lady, with a hot flash | Mrs. Albright frets that the president's fervent but unexceptional Christian faith upsets Muslims, who are, truth to tell, upset by any faith but their own (Wes Pruden, The Washington Times)

  6. Running against gays | As an election approaches, can a vote to ban same-sex marriage be far behind? (Editorial, The Washington Post)

  7. With God on our side | What I learned at the Spiritual Activism Conference (Peter Rothberg, The Nation)

Back to index

Religious displays:

  1. San Diego plans to battle cross ruling | The San Diego City Council truly was at a crossroads yesterday. And it chose to continue down a path that has already brought 17 years of litigation and heated public debate (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Article continues below
  1. Black churches join Soledad cross effort The National Clergy Council and the Christian Defense Coalition, both based in Washington, D.C., also entered the fray,(San Diego Union-Tribune)

Back to index


  1. Sin cities on a hill | How legalized gambling moved from the Strip to Main Street (Reason)

  2. Bill to ban gambling online gets 4th chance | Online poker players will have to fold their hands if a Virginia congressman gets his way (The Washington Post)

Back to index

Church, state, and religious freedom:

  1. Pair fights church on sharing confessions | Watermark says telling others of sins is in bylaws (The Dallas Morning News)

  2. Wy. Gov. Freudenthal defends funding for religious group | Gov. Dave Freudenthal said Wednesday he is satisfied with the constitutionality of the state's payments to a private religious corporation that has granted money to churches, anti-abortion clinics and other religious organizations (Associated Press)

  3. Also: Experts disagree whether state religious funding is permissible | Faith Initiatives has an $80,000 contract with the state to help faith-based and community organizations provide services in such areas as strengthening families and helping at-risk youth (Associated Press)

  4. It's official: Bible study allowed in apartments | Life at Heritage Court Apartments should soon get back to normal, following a decision by its owner—letter from the federal government in hand—to once again allow Bible studies in the complex's common areas (Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C.)

  5. For Wiccan Nev. soldier, death brings fight | Nevada officials are pressing the Department of Veteran Affairs to allow the family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan to place a Wiccan symbol on his headstone (Associated Press)

  6. Judge mulls eagle arguments | Winslow Friday's attorney suggested several reasons on Thursday why his client should not face charges for shooting a bald eagle on the Wind River Indian Reservation (Jackson Hole Star-Tribune, Wy.)

  7. Merkel favours God reference in EU constitution | German chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out in favour of a reference to God in the EU constitution (EU Observer)

Back to index


  1. Chaplain facing court-martial for wearing uniform at D.C. protest | Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt could face loss of pay, fines and a formal reprimand (Stars and Stripes)

  2. Navy chaplain at center of prayer controversy to be court-martialed (Navy Times)

Back to index


  1. U.N. threatens to pull Sudan auditors | The U.N.'s internal watchdog agency has threatened to withdraw its auditors from Sudan to protest restrictions placed on it by the U.N. envoy to the troubled African nation, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press (Associated Press)

Article continues below
  1. Aid agency evacuates after clashes in south Sudan | Militia fighting and tribal clashes have killed more than a hundred people and forced aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres to evacuate staff from some areas of south Sudan, despite a peace deal that ended a civil war (Reuters)

  2. Sudan 'closer' to UN Darfur plan | Sudan appears to have taken the first step towards a UN mission being deployed in Darfur, under intense international pressure (BBC)

Back to index


  1. Church leaders to pressure Mugabe on economic crisis | Zimbabwean and international church leaders will meet with President Robert Mugabe in Harare today for talks about the state's deepening political and economic crisis (Business Day, South Africa)

  2. Zimbabwe rejects UN intervention | Zimbabwe's government has denied suggestions that the United Nations might play a key role in ending the economic and political crises (BBC)

Back to index

Anglican bishop "abandoned":

  1. Bishop is abandoned in deepest Africa | Archbishop of Kenya withdraws support after taking exception to churchman's views on gays (The Times, London)

  2. Pro-gay bishop snubbed in Kenya | An Essex bishop travelling with 20 clergy in Africa has been ostracised by the head of the church in Kenya because of his liberal views on homosexuality (BBC)

  3. Kenyan hosts abandon bishop due to his liberal views on gays (The Telegraph)

  4. Kenya's Anglicans snub bishop over liberal view of homosexuality | British delegation's schedule scrapped (The Guardian, London)

Back to index

Church life:

  1. Baptists toughen anti-gay stance | The state convention's board votes to bar churches that welcome gays. The issue goes to the full convention this fall (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  2. Religion today: The mainline tries megachurch | Mainline Protestant denominations with leveling or declining attendance are experimenting with ideas drawn from non-denominational megachurches that appeal to young people and families (Associated Press)

  3. Divestment dispute looms in Presbyterian church | A plan for the U.S. Presbyterian Church to divest its holdings in companies profiting from Middle East turmoil is up for review with critics demanding it be scrapped but church leaders backing a compromise to keep the threat alive for another two years. (Reuters)

  4. Indiana's United Methodists consider a merger | Whether the church's North Indiana and South Indiana conferences will merge and eliminate some church bureaucracy isn't certain (Associated Press)

Article continues below
  1. Ministry opens to night revelers | A West Midlands church situated in a "drinkers' paradise" is offering a ministry to night-time revelers (BBC)

  2. Kirk opens door to Bible college ministers | The Church of Scotland broke decades of tradition yesterday by agreeing to accept students from the Highland Theological College as ministers (The Scotsman)

  3. Church floor collapses in Indiana | A portion of a floor in a storefront church collapsed Thursday night, sending some of the 30 people attending a meeting plummeting into the basement (Associated Press)

Back to index

Church building disputes:

  1. Council makes nice with church leaders | The Montgomery County Council incurred the wrath of several church leaders in the fall when it voted to ban new public water and sewer service to churches and other federally tax-exempt institutions within the 93,000-acre agricultural reserve (The Washington Post)

  2. Groups take residents' side in fight over historic church | A battle over the expansion of Christ and St. Luke's Episcopal Church has caught the eye of national and state historic preservationists, and they don't like what they see (The Virginian-Pilot)

  3. Cowboy Church keeps riding | The county has not issued a cease and desist order (Bedford Bulletin, Va.)

  4. Judge to hear church request to keep services in school gym | The tiny church from the upper reaches of Dorchester County is accusing District 4 of improperly ending the contract it signed with the Southern Baptist-aligned congregation (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)

  5. Oak Park church's expansion plans distress neighbors | From the Sunday morning parking crunch to garbage bins in the alley, neighbors of the Vineyard of Oak Park made their case Monday against the church's proposed 12,000-square-foot addition (Chicago Tribune)

Back to index

Pope in Poland:

  1. In Poland, Pope seeks to strengthen bond with faithful and honor his predecessor | Pope Benedict XVI's visit is intended to maintain strong ties with one of the few European countries where Roman Catholicism remains vibrant (The New York Times)

  2. 270,000 hear pope's Mass in rainy Warsaw | Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass for an estimated 270,000 people Friday in a rain-soaked Warsaw square where his predecessor, John Paul II, inspired Poland's Solidarity movement against communist rule in a historic 1979 visit (Associated Press)

Article continues below
  1. Pope arrives in Poland for four-day visit | Crowds of Poles lined some seven miles of street from the airport to catch a glimpse of Benedict XVI (The New York Times)

  2. Pope arrives in Poland to honor John Paul | Poland welcomed Pope Benedict XVI with cheers and fluttering yellow and white Vatican flags as the German-born pontiff started a four-day visit aimed at honoring predecessor John Paul II and healing wounds from World War II (Associated Press)

  3. Pilgrimage will let Pope pray for a country that is turning to intolerance | When Benedict XVI arrives in Poland today he will find anger over the mix of Catholicism and politics (The Times, London)

  4. Pope, in Poland, honors John Paul | WWII memories weigh heavily on German-born Benedict's 4-day trip (The Washington Post)

  5. Papal visit honors John Paul | Thousands of Poles, curious to see a pope who wasn't Polish, lined many miles of roadway along the German-born Benedict's route into Warsaw (Los Angeles Times)

Back to index


  1. Pope makes plea for Aborigines | The Pope has rebuked Australia for the "painful" social plight of Aborigines, and urged people to seek their forgiveness (The Australian)

  2. Also: Archbishop discusses Pope's Indigenous comments | The Vatican is paying attention to the crisis over Indigenous Australians (Lateline, Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

  3. Related: Joyce wants church missions reintroduced | Outspoken Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce says modern-style church missions should be reintroduced in remote indigenous communities to tackle social problems. (AAP, Australia)

  4. A private eye and the case of a high-living priest | A pastor stands accused of helping himself to church funds, another has been demoted for hiring a private investigator, and a wealthy Connecticut parish is in turmoil (The New York Times)

  5. Also: At a troubled Connecticut church, another pastor is disciplined | About 200 protesters gathered at the town's oldest Roman Catholic church to protest the Bridgeport Diocese's demotion on Tuesday of a priest, Father Michael Madden, who was put in charge of their parish only last week (The New York Times)

  6. Chinese archbishop Li Du'an dies at 79 | Li played a major role in the church's rebirth following severe persecution during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. He was also a strong advocate of reconciliation between the Vatican and China's officially approved church which have no formal ties and have repeatedly feuded over the appointment of bishops and other issues (Associated Press)

  7. Two churches neither open nor closed | Archdiocese indecision leaves parishes dangling (The Boston Globe)

Article continues below

Back to index


  1. Religion in the news: Training pastors in abuse reporting | The Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church has made its pastors "mandated reporters" to help protect children. But some worry that clergy with little expertise in identifying child abuse will make baseless claims (Associated Press)

  2. O'Malley asks forgiveness for church sins | Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley and 22 priests of the Archdiocese of Boston prostrated themselves on the altar of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross last night and asked forgiveness for the sins of the Catholic Church after hearing a survivor of clergy sexual abuse speak of his suffering (The Boston Globe)

  3. Also: Cardinal to pray at three churches | O'Malley hopes to heal wounds of clergy abuse (The Boston Globe)

  4. Coalition asks O'Malley to help change sex crime laws | Groups want more public disclosure (The Boston Globe)

  5. Church ready to deal | Denver archdiocese hires mediator to broker payouts in sex-abuse cases (The Denver Post)

  6. Also: Archbishop offers mediation process | Chaput hires firm to seek settlements in alleged abuse cases (Rocky Mountain News)

  7. Spokane diocese selling bishop's building | The Catholic Diocese of Spokane is selling its bishop's office building — and hopes to sell all of its other property — to raise money to pay victims of clergy sex abuse (Associated Press)

  8. Also: Diocese to sell headquarters to help settle abuse claims | The Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Wash., is one of three in the country that have filed for bankruptcy (The New York Times)

  9. A priest and a secret | Decades after alleged rape, James Moran speaks out (The Boston Globe)

  10. 2 brothers sue Joliet Catholic diocese | Suit alleges sex abuse by priests in '70s, '80s (Chicago Tribune)

  11. Priest asked to step down after sex claim | A Catholic priest from central Illinois has been asked to step down after allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct with a minor, the Peoria Catholic diocese said (Associated Press)

  12. Ohio priest removed after abuse allegation | A Roman Catholic priest who helped with church fundraising was barred from the ministry by the Diocese of Toledo amid allegations he molested a boy nearly 30 years ago (Associated Press)

  13. Ex-pastor arrested in sexual abuse of 2 women | Robert Calhoun Gray led Jacksonville's Trinity Baptist Church from 1954 to '92 (Jacksonville Times-Union, Fla.)

  14. Update: Trinity pastor calls for integrity | Baptist church faces inquiry of ex-minister (Jacksonville Times-Union, Fla.)

Article continues below
  1. Update 2: Former pastor faces more sex charges | The former pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Dr. Robert Gray Jr., faces two additional counts of sexual battery for incidents that allegedly took place decades ago (JWXT)

  2. Appraisal: Catholic buildings in Vermont worth $405M | A copy of the appraisal was obtained from court records collected in anticipation of the trial in the first of 19 cases pending in Chittenden Superior Court involving claims by alleged victims of priest sexual abuse (The Burlington Free Press, Vt.)

  3. Building trust | The Church, a place of solace and protection and a source of moral and practical guidance for thousands of Vermonters, must work to re-build the kind of trust that is the underpinning of its authority, not create trusts to shield itself from the possible penalties of past misuse of that authority (Editorial, The Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus, Vt.)

Back to index


  1. Priest was a killer, says victim | The Catholic Church has accepted as substantially true allegations that a Melbourne priest took part in satanic rituals in which a number of people were murdered (AAP, Australia)

  2. Also: 'Extraordinary" claims true: Catholic Church | The most extraordinary thing about today's allegations of murders during satanic rituals involving a Melbourne priest is not that they've been made, but that the Catholic Church admitted in writing that it accepted they were substantially true (, Australia)

  3. Lay turns to God and family after guilty verdict | Lay bowed his head, eyes closed, and appeared to pray as the eight-woman, four-man jury entered the courtroom to deliver the verdicts that could send him to prison for the rest of his life (Reuters)

  4. Ringleader pleads guilty to arson | Trio accused of burning down church (Winnipeg Free Press)

  5. Feds break up alleged amnesty scam | A clergyman and five others are accused of taking more than $200,000 from illegal immigrants in exchange for helping them gain amnesty by lying about when they entered the United States (Associated Press)

  6. Grifters thrived with God as shield | 'Church' was a front, as pastors raised false hopes, ripped off immigrants (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  7. Church worker indicted on perjury charges | Woman accused of lying about hotel stays (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  8. Also: Pastor warned not to harass witnesses | Judge says people were intimidated during investigation (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

Article continues below
  1. Settlement reached in Center Harbor pastor suit | Former parishioner Ronnie Stone filed suit against pastor Robert Farah and his son Scott Farah, the church's treasurer, after Stone allegedly invested $234,000 of his and his father's money into Scott Farah's company Financial Resources, Inc. and never received his money back (Citizen, Laconia, N.H.)

  2. Bible student charged in phone sex case | A student at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College was charged in the theft of his roommate's debit card, which was used to pay for more than $2,300 worth of calls to phone sex lines, prosecutors allege in court papers (Associated Press)

  3. Milton to pay priest $50K | Town agrees to settle with black minister stopped by white cop and handcuffed (The Patriot Ledger, Mass.)

Back to index

La. church shooting:

  1. Bell family speaks out after shooting | The family of the man accused in Sunday's church shooting spoke publicly on Wednesday. Anthony Bell, 25, is accused of killing five people, including his wife, and injuring another (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)

  2. Church shooting mimics 1999 case | Gonzales man talks of loss to violence (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)

  3. Suspect's mother turns to God | The mother of Anthony Bell, the man accused of killing four people at a Baton Rouge church and later fatally shooting his wife, said Wednesday she is seeking understanding from God about the events (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.)

Back to index

Haddad case:

  1. Mass. Roman Catholic hospital chief quits | The head of eastern Massachusetts' Roman Catholic hospital system resigned early Thursday amid allegations he harassed more than a dozen female employees by subjecting them to unwanted hugs and kisses, his spokeswoman said (Associated Press)

  2. Hospital crisis has some doubting O'Malley's leadership | Reputation as healer hit by Haddad case (The Boston Globe)

  3. Caritas head ran out of options | Haddad's limited options: jump or be pushed (The Boston Globe)

  4. Ignominious outcome | If Robert Haddad gets a near-million-dollar payout from the Boston Archdiocese after being a serial harasser and unmitigated boor, how much more might he have earned for being an exhibitionist or something worse? (Brian McGrory, The Boston Globe)

  5. Chief of Caritas forced out | Haddad quits after board votes for firing (The Boston Globe)

  6. Victims see parallels in Church action | Some question if church leaders are still responding too slowly, too secretly, to abuse claims. (Associated Press)

Back to index


  1. Liberals defend gay marriage as religious right | With the Senate slated to vote in three weeks on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, an interfaith coalition of liberal clergy is arguing that the measure would violate their religious liberty (Forward, Jewish newspaper)

Article continues below
  1. Effort to repeal state gay-rights law gathers momentum from pulpit | A referendum campaign aimed at repealing Washington's gay-rights law has no paid signature gatherers, no advertising budget and not much money in the bank. Yet supporters say signatures are rolling in by the thousands (The Seattle Times)

  2. Referendum 65: Pass the petition | Churches played a key role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, delivering a message from the pulpits denouncing discrimination. This past weekend's attempt to enlist some of the state's churches to roll back civil rights legislation was woefully out of character with that tradition (Editorial, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Back to index


  1. Be wary of false prophets, Moi tells faithful | Former President Daniel Moi has said only God had healing powers and cautioned the faithful to be wary of "false prophets." Moi said he was shocked by reports of people claiming to heal diseases, including HIV/Aids, through "prayers." (The East African Standard)

  2. Christians are enriching witches, says bishop | The Diocesan Bishop, Eria Paul Luzinda, has lashed out at Christians who visit shrines for wealth, health, love and other earthly things, saying they are responsible for the increasing number of traditional healers in the Diocese (The Monitor, Uganda)

  3. Did Hinn heal? | Did American preacher Benny Hinn really heal anyone of their ailment during his recent three-day crusade at Queen's Park Savannah? (Editorial, Trinidad and Tobago Newsday)

Back to index

Missions & ministry:

  1. Rise of sunshine Samaritans: on a mission or holiday? | By the millions, Americans are jumping at the chance to become missionaries - with one key stipulation of the 21st century: They expect to get their comfortable lives back a few days later (The Christian Science Monitor)

  2. They race on faith | For top drivers in the Indy 500, religion helps them navigate the risks and uncertainties of the racing life (The Christian Science Monitor)

  3. We'll be religiously following England | Leaders at Meadow Way Chapel are keen to express their community spirit and individuality and are inviting anyone who wants to watch England play to join them (Norwich Evening News, England)

  4. Evangelicals face gov't resistance to Afghanistan jaunt | A so-called Peace Festival scheduled in Afghanistan in August, which 2,000 Korean Christians are expected to attend, has pitted the government against Evangelical groups after the administration warned the event is a potential target for terror attacks (Chosun Ilbo, South Korea)

Article continues below
  1. When converting a Jew to Christ | Judaism cannot survive as a form of Christianity (Bradley Burston, Haaretz, Tel Aviv)

Back to index


  1. Take my steeple -- please! | For the sake of Robert Claflin's marriage, someone needs to buy the old church steeple sitting on his front lawn. (The Boston Globe)

  2. Trapped in the quicksand of pain, she finds a way out | Nancy Guthrie, a mother who lost 2 infants, now shows others how faith can put them back on solid ground (The Orlando Sentinel)

  3. The gospel according to Kirk Franklin | The mega-popular, Grammy-winning singer talks about his commitment to gospel music, his victory over porn and what fans can expect at Sunday's concert in Wilmington (Wilmington Star-News, N.C.)

  4. Beware the hand of Pat in the word of God | It's never a question of if the guy is going to pop out of the clock and yell "Cuckoo!" it's just a question of when (Liz Langley, The Orlando Sentinel)

Back to index

Da Vinci Code:

  1. A blockbuster as a religious text | The Da Vinci Code, a pop-cultural phenomenon as a novel and now a movie, is drawing increased interest, in and out of the classroom, to the roots of Christianity. But, writes Timothy K. Beal, a religion professor, the work is nothing short of a modern-day apocryphal Gospel, particularly to those who have read it but not the New Testament (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  2. 'Da Vinci Code' to be released in India | "The Da Vinci Code" will be released in movie theaters across India on Friday — one week late — after the censor board and its distributor reached an agreement to display statements saying the film is fiction (Associated Press)

  3. Also: Punjab ban for Da Vinci Code film | Indian censors cleared the film last week after its makers agreed to insert a legal disclaimer to say it was of a "fictitious nature" (BBC)

  4. Also: Indian state bans "Da Vinci" film | India's northern state of Punjab banned the release of the controversial movie "The Da Vinci Code," fearing violence by Christians opposed to the film, officials said on Friday (Reuters)

  5. Vatican newspaper reviews 'Da Vinci' | "The Da Vinci Code" film was "much ado about nothing' and the fuss surrounding it was nothing more than a clever marketing strategy to increase sales at the box office, the Vatican newspaper wrote in a review published Tuesday (Associated Press)

Article continues below
  1. 'Code' and the sacred feminine | Scholars say, there was no conscious, long-term strategic effort to suppress the feminine in early and later Christianity (USA Today)

  2. Who was Mary Magdalene? | From the writing of the New Testament to the filming of The Da Vinci Code, her image has been repeatedly conscripted, contorted and contradicted. But through it all, one question has gone largely unanswered (James Carroll, Smithsonian)

  3. 'Da Vinci Code' sparks sales for Christian bookstores | Stores have sold out of books that address some of the questions raised by the book (Redlands Daily Facts, Ca.)

  4. Cashing in on defamation | Purely from a marketing perspective, Mr. Brown's attack on Jesus was an act of genius (Terence P. Jeffrey, The Washington Times)

  5. The Church is fair game | Hollywood's slurs are nothing next to self-inflicted wounds (Stanley Crouch, New York Daily News)

  6. They have no decency | Too many in media bash Catholicism - and get away with it (William A. Donohue, New York Daily News)

Back to index

Other articles of interest:

  1. Dozens hold protest outside Tut exhibit | Coptic Christians take aim at bias in Egypt (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Indian 'veggie' house hunters get preference | Never mind pets, smokers or loud music at 2am. House hunters in Mumbai increasingly are being asked: "Do you eat meat?" If yes, the deal is off (SAPA/AFP)

  3. The point God position | Heaven continues to get a lot of pointed love from grateful athletes (Chicago Sun-Times)

  4. Archeologists to search for lost mission | Amateur archeologists will get a chance to search this summer for the lost mission of Santa Isabel de Utinahica, built in the wilderness in the 1600s for a lone friar who was dispatched to evangelize among the Indians on the edge of Spain's colonial empire (Associated Press)

  5. Books aim to make a splash with public | The Bible and a sex manual make concurrent waterproof debuts (USA Today)

  6. Spare the quarter-inch plumbing supply line, spoil the child | Saying no to "timeouts," some fundamentalist Christians "train up" their children by carefully hitting them with switches, PVC pipes and other "chastening instruments" (

  7. Canada paper sorry about erroneous story | A Canadian newspaper apologized Wednesday for publishing an erroneous story last week claiming that an Iranian law would require Jews and Christians to wear badges identifying them as religious minorities (Associated Press)

Article continues below
  1. Making church a work of artists | Wheaton conference seeks to enliven services by infusing the arts into worship (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Religion news in brief | Gay marriage wars, Newark Archdiocese leads the nation in priest ordinations (Associated Press)

  3. That King of the Hill megachurch clip that's making the rounds (YouTube)

Back to index

Related Elsewhere:

Suggest links and stories by sending e-mail to

What is Weblog?

See our past Weblog updates:

May 24
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.
Previous Weblog Columns: