Today's Top Five

1. Mistaken identity at April Taylor crash
Breaking news out of Indiana today: one student declared dead in the April 26 van crash that killed four Taylor University students was misidentified with one of the students injured and in a coma. The family of  Laura VanRyn, who had been declared injured, announced on their weblog today that the girl in the hospital bed is actually Whitney Cerak. "Over the past couple of days, as Whitney had been becoming more aware of her surroundings, she'd been saying and doing some things that made us question whether or not she was Laura," the family explained. The Indianapolis Star has details on what is a situation that will certainly be a continuing focus of prayer for many.

2. Aid agencies send assistance to Indonesia after earthquake
Is it news that aid agencies are aiding, or just business as usual? The question is irrelevant to the agencies and to the folks in Java after Saturday's 6.3 earthquake that has left at least 6,234 dead and more than 30,000 injured. "News" or not, they need help. Among the agencies responding: World Vision, Samaritan's Purse, World Relief, the Salvation Army, and Compassion International. These agencies were also among the responders to the Christmas 2004 tsunami.

3. In East Timor, the only safe place is in church
"Machete-wielding youths battled in East Timor's capital Wednesday amid burning and looting as more foreign troops bolstered a force struggling to stop the unrest that has destabilized the country," says the latest Associated Press report. "More than 100,000 residents of Dili have fled their homes to escape the violence, an aid official said." Where many of them have fled, apparently, is to local churches, where priests have put on their best white robes to show that they are members of the clergy. "We must be identifiable — otherwise they will be hacking and burning them alive," the Rev. Lalo Lebron told The New York Times. "Yesterday we were in a part of the city where people from the east were inside—women and children—and outside people from the west were saying, 'Kill them, burn them.'"

4. NYT op-ed: It's not heroes vs. villains in Darfur
In today's The New York Times op-ed page, University of Texas professor Alan J. Kuperman reminds readers that humanitarianism might seem easy, but it rarely is—even amid Darfur's genocide:

Sudan's government last month agreed to a peace accord pledging to disarm Arab janjaweed militias and resettle displaced civilians. By contrast, Darfur's black rebels, who are touted by the wristband crowd as freedom fighters, rejected the deal because it did not give them full regional control. Put simply, the rebels were willing to let genocide continue against their own people rather than compromise their demand for power. …
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Seemingly bizarre, this rejection of peace by factions claiming to seek it is actually revelatory. It helps explain why violence originally broke out in Darfur, how the Save Darfur movement unintentionally poured fuel on the fire, and what can be done to stanch genocidal violence in Sudan and elsewhere.

5. Every seat shall stand, every tongue confess …
The Catholic blog world was obsessing over the "anti-kneeling edict" at St. Mary's by the Sea even before the Los Angeles Times picked the story up on Sunday. Now there have been a few more posts. Weblog is happy to sit this fight out without commentary.

Quote of the day
"There is no way on earth Robertson leg presses 2,000 pounds. That would mean a 76-year-old man broke the all-time Florida State University leg press record by 665 pounds over Dan Kendra."

CBS Sportsline columnist Clay Travis, questioning Pat Robertson's claim. CBN officials insist that his one-ton leg press had several witnesses.

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International violence | International religious freedom | Church, state, and religious liberty | Education | Politics | South Dakota abortion ban | Life ethics | AIDS | Homosexuality | More on sex, marriage, and family | Abuse | Boston's Caritas woes | Crime | Enron | Finnish cathedral set ablaze | TV sale illegal, says judge | Media and entertainment | Pat Robertson's leg press | People | Pope at Auschwitz | Pope in Poland | Church life | Churches and money | Immigration, race, and churches | Missions & ministry | Spirituality | Da Vinci Code | Books | Other stories of interest

International violence:

  1. Timorese flock to churches | Thousands of traumatised East Timorese have flocked to morning church services in and around Dili as Australian-led international peace enforcers continue to arrive in the country (AAP, Australia)

  2. In East Timor, refugees born of chaos, carnage and fear | Priests in white robes attempt to rescue and protect residents (The New York Times)

  3. East Timor spirals into gang warfare | East Timor's president said he was assuming emergency powers over national security Tuesday after machete-wielding mobs torched homes and ransacked buildings in the capital and desperate residents scuffled over scarce food (Associated Press)

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  1. Strategic victimhood in Sudan | Darfur was never the simplistic morality tale purveyed by the news media and humanitarian organizations (Alan J. Kuperman, The New York Times)

  2. Christians flee the east in wake of Bush's 'crusade' | George W. Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a laboratory for the new Middle East. Instead, Christians in neighboring countries fear the contagion of the uncontrollable forces that a superficial democratization has unleashed (Pierre Rousselin, Le Figaro, Paris, via Watching America)

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International religious freedom:

  1. Azerbaijan 'flattened' sacred Armenian site | Fears that Azerbaijan has systematically destroyed hundreds of 500-year-old Christian artefacts have exploded into a diplomatic row, after Euro MPs were barred from inspecting an ancient Armenian burial site (The Independent, London)

  2. Christian booked for 'blasphemous' SMS | Qamar David, a Christian, was arrested on Wednesday night after a travel agent, Khursheed Ahmed, complained that he had sent 'blasphemous' text messages to several people through his mobile phone (Daily Times, Pakistan)

  3. Rome-approved Chinese bishop defies state church | A Chinese bishop approved by the Vatican but not by China's official state-backed Catholic church has defied authorities and officiated at a religious ceremony, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Monday (Reuters)

  4. A Chinese dissident's faith | Politicians, journalists and other citizens are having difficulty in coming to terms with an era in which religion has again become the driving engine of world politics. (Jim Hoagland, The Washington Post)

  5. The clear and present danger of religious right in America | American diplomats everywhere work hard to push an agenda of democratic reforms and liberalism in other countries, while in their homeland people have difficulty promoting the humanist-liberal and secular values of democracy (Djoko Susilo, The Jakarta Post, Indonesia)

  6. Tamil Nadu bills to repeal Jaya's laws | Two bills for repealing the controversial anti-conversion law and Tamil Nadu Essential Services Maintenance Act (Tesma), enacted by the previous Jayalalithaa government, were introduced in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Monday without being opposed (PTI, India)

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Church, state, and religious liberty:

  1. Figures for church subsidies inaccurate | Swedish Radio News reports that several religious denominations here have turned in inaccurate membership statistics, as the basis for government subsidies (Radio Sweden)

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  1. Support of religious conference criticized | State grant went to Baptist convention (The Baltimore Sun)

  2. Is public shaming by the church legal? | Texas appeals court will decide if church can release private info (Good Morning America, ABC)

  3. Justices refuse atheist father's challenge to Boy Scout recruiting | Michigan man argued that organization discriminates against nonreligious boys, parents by denying membership unless they swear to religious oaths (Associated Press)

  4. 27-year police vet claims religious discrimination | A Seventh Day Adventist, Diedre Renee Forte said that a training instructor told the class that "Seventh Day Adventists were cults, due to their relationship with David Koresh." (Nashville City Paper)

  5. War widow holds service for Wiccan husband | A war widow who wants the government to put a Wiccan religious symbol on her husband's memorial plaque held an alternative service Monday as a protest, hours before an official Memorial Day ceremony nearby (Associated Press)

  6. Also: Top veteran official joins pentacle debate | Of all the symbols and faiths recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Wicca and its emblem — a circle around a five-pointed star — are not among them (Associated Press)

  7. A guided tour through a rite of passage | All California fourth-graders study the state's missions, and many get a firsthand look at the subject matter (Los Angeles Times)

  8. Evangelicals claim persecution | Despite increasing clout, persecution claims on rise (Anson Shupe, The Journal Gazette, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)

  9. Change Trinity Cross | Discriminates against Hindus, Muslims, says high court (Trinidad & Tobago Express)

  10. Time for us to put aside Trinity Cross | We have consistently argued that the Government should change the name of the country's highest national award, the Trinity Cross (Editorial, Trinidad & Tobago Express)

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  1. Bible club lawsuit roils school | Collision between those who want public schools to be havens from society's most contentious debates and those who want the right to express faith-inspired views, even if those views may offend others (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  2. Federal court upholds Pennsylvania home schooling regulation | In several consolidated cases, parents challenged provisions that require them to document that their children have met requirements on days of attendance and hours of instruction in certain required subjects (Religion Clause)

  3. Students stage unity rally as KKK protests | Incensed by Klan's message, they stand up for diversity (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

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  1. 'Ex-gays' seek a say in schools | In response to campus programs supporting homosexuality, critics call for offering an alternative view: that people can go straight (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Kansas school board defends evolution stance | The Kansas Board of Education is arguably the most controversial in the country -- at least outside of Kansas. Its highly publicized stand on evolution in the science curriculum brought the state international attention and criticism. But the board members say they're representing their own strong convictions, and those of their constituents (All Things Considered, NPR)

  3. Bible school sets a solid foundation | Bible Institute of Los Angeles was founded 93 years today (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Parents rebel at 'Dickensian' school run by millionaire evangelist friend of Blair | Backlash over emphasis on religion as suspensions soar in 'covert' selection (The Guardian, London)

  5. A personnel matter | A church that had carefully, even cruelly, crafted rules to punish people for telling the truth and accepting the responsibilities of fatherhood over abortion or abandonment dismissed Robb McCoy. (Bernard Sullivan, The Providence Journal, via Scripps Howard News Service)

  6. Be not afraid | Is there room for Catholic teaching at a Catholic commencement? (Colleen Carroll Campbell, National Review Online)

  7. Prayer protest at graduation: Fighting over God and country | Kentucky students imposed Christian prayer on public ceremony — even though there are legal, fair ways to acknowledge God at graduation (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

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  1. Another stumble for Ralph Reed's beleaguered campaign | Opposed making Northern Mariana Islands subject to federal wage and worker safety laws—though Department of Interior found that Chinese women were subject to forced abortions and that women and children were subject to forced prostitution in the local sex-tourism industry (The Washington Post)

  2. Wing and a prayer: religious right got Bush elected—now they are fighting each other | Campaigners who fail to keep the hardline faith face threats and intimidation (The Guardian, London)

  3. Fellow Methodist demands Bush impeachment | The chief political spokesman for President Bush's denomination has unfriendly words for Methodism's most prominent parishioner (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

  4. 'So help me God' | The "Ten Commandments Judge" battles to become Alabama's governor (Kyle Wingfield, The Wall Street Journal)

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  1. Tyranny of the Christian Right | The largest and most powerful mass movement in the nation -- evangelical Christianity -- has set out to destroy secular society (Michelle Goldberg, AlterNet)

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South Dakota abortion ban:

  1. Abortion petitions in; two issues rejected | 38,000 signatures turned in to put ban before voters Foes, advocates see opportunity (Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S.D.)

  2. Petition challenge will be considered | Supporters of an abortion ban in South Dakota might scrutinize petitions to bring the issue to a public vote (Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S.D.)

  3. Petitions challenge South Dakota abortion ban | Advocates for abortion rights filed petitions with more than 38,000 signatures with the secretary of state's office to challenge the state's ban on almost all abortions (The New York Times)

  4. Drive for vote on abortion accelerates | Advocates are finishing their push to gather signatures on a petition that could send South Dakota's ban on abortion to a statewide vote in November (The New York Times)

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Life ethics:

  1. Home abortions 'hit record high' | A record 10,000 women had an abortion at home last year, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service has said (BBC)

  2. Curate condemns club foot terminations | The row over designer babies reignited yesterday when a Church of England curate condemned the aborting of fetuses with club foot (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Disorder doesn't mean doomed | Alternative views of Down syndrome (The Boston Globe)

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  1. Black churches renew focus on AIDS fight | New cases on rise in D.C. (The Washington Post)

  2. Report shows AIDS epidemic slowdown in 2005 | The report finds reasons for optimism, but warns that the number of new infections is still rising in some countries (The New York Times)

  3. AIDS increases among women; sexual control absent | Everyone engaging in the near-universal activity of sex is at risk of getting AIDS, but women and girls often do not have a choice of when to have sex and are catching up to men in new HIV infections, experts say (Reuters)

  4. Aids 'cure' evangelist is charged with fraud | Nairobi preacher Lucy Nduta was yesterday charged with six counts of obtaining money by pretending to be in a position to cure HIV/Aids patients through prayers (Nation, Kenya)

  5. Also: Preacher charged with cheating | Lucy Nduta has been in the news following allegations that she was offering Aids patients a "miracle" cure through prayers (The East African Standard, Kenya)

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  1. Bush's talk and results on AIDS | The Bush administration's critics should give credit where it's due. And when it comes to the global AIDS crisis, it is due -- big-time (Sebastian Mallaby, The Washington Post)

  2. A plague of orphans and lonely grandmothers | AIDS has slipped back in our consciousness because once more the primary victims are marginalized people — this time, Africans (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times)

  3. At 12, a mother of two | Southern Africa is becoming the land of orphans, kids like Nomzamo Ngubeni, a fifth grader who is now the head of her household (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times)

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  1. Bible supports homosexual partnerships, says bishop | The Rt Rev Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford, said that traditionalists in the Church needed to be "converted" (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Don't ask. Don't tell. Just pray. | An update on Ann Kansfield and her father, Norman (The New York Times)

  3. Gay activist, Va. firm spar over protest films | Christian groups back refusal to make copies (The Washington Post)

  4. Church wants no gay rights | The Methodist Church has called on the Government to drop a section of the Constitution that upholds the rights of the gay community (Fiji Times)

  5. Scholars ponder same-sex marriage issues | If gay marriage becomes recognized under law across the country, religious groups could face challenges to customary ways of doing business, even to their finances (Associated Press)

  6. New York to hear same-sex 'marriage' argument | New York's highest court is scheduled tomorrow to hear arguments on same-sex couples' right to "marry," while the wait continues for rulings in Washington state and New Jersey (The Washington Times)

  7. Court to speed decision on gay marriage ban | Georgia's highest court agreed Tuesday to speed up its review of a motion to reinstate the state's constitutional ban of gay marriage—a small win for supporters of the prohibition (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  8. Row over same-sex marriage rages on | Is a society that accepts gay unions sexually deviant? Or is the Church of Scotland stuck in the dark ages? The debate continues (The Times, London)

  9. Accept it: we're married, lesbian couple tell judge | Academics who wed in Canada take discrimination fight to the High Court (The Observer, London)

  10. Gays "abused by militant Christians and attacked by neo-fascists" | It happened in Moscow; it will happen here (Melissa McEwan, Alternet)

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More on sex, marriage, and family:

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  1. Full house | Three is the new two. And in some towns -- especially affluent ones -- four or more is the new three. Educated moms who once managed budgets and schedules at work are now doing the same in their homes teeming with kids (The Boston Globe)

  2. State looks to churches for future foster families | In trying to recruit more foster families, the state is appealing to local churches and other houses of worship — with the goal of taking foster care from the realm of personal charity and making it a ministry, officials say (Waco Tribune-Herald, Tex.)

  3. Pedophiles to launch political party | Dutch pedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations to 12 from 16 and the legalization of child pornography and sex with animals, sparking widespread outrage (Reuters)

  4. Teacher fights sex statute | Says relationships with students over 16 a privacy right (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  5. Polygamy versus democracy | You can't have both (Stanley Kurtz, The Weekly Standard)

  6. With this bill … | The Senate debates marriage (Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard)

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  1. In Boston, church leaders offer atonement for abuse | A nine-day series of Masses and other services aims to acknowledge sexual abuse by clergy members and to pray for forgiveness and healing (The New York Times)

  2. Senate votes to lift time limit for filing sexual abuse charge | The Senate unanimously passed an amendment yesterday to eliminate the statute of limitations in criminal cases involving sexual abuse of children, a measure advocates for abuse victims have sought for years (The Boston Globe)

  3. Hard call for church accusers | Victims of alleged priest abuse weigh mediation offer (The Denver Post)

  4. Local African-American churches fight child abuse | There's been an on-off debate in Albany for a couple of years about amending the mandatory reporting law for child abuse to include the clergy. It's not a simple issue by any means — it touches on church-state separation and the sanctity of clergy-parishioner relationships (Editorial, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, N.Y.)

  5. Priest can't escape history of sexual misconduct | John Bennison has been the pastor at Saint John's Episcopal Church in Clayton for 25 years, but it's his sexual misconduct during two previous jobs that's now sparking demonstrations from the survivors network of those abused by priests (KGO, San Francisco)

  6. Commentary: Depravity | Roman Catholics who think their church inadequately handled its sexual abuse scandals should realize that a church cannot possibly handle a sexual abuse scandal any worse than the Episcopal Diocese of California has handled one for the last thirteen years (Christopher S. Johnson, Midwest Conservative Journal)

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Boston's Caritas woes:

  1. Ousted chief 'didn't listen' | Haddad allegedly ignored warnings (The Boston Globe)

  2. The woman who forced the Caritas shake-up | Drinan took on church in harassment case (The Boston Globe)

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  1. Priest asks mercy after pleading guilty to theft from parish | An Upper East Side monsignor said his congregants showered him with gifts and asked a judge for mercy, saying he had psychological problems (The New York Times)

  2. Also: N.Y. priest pleads guilty to looting $800G | A Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty to grand larceny Friday for financing a lavish lifestyle of vacations, country clubs and fancy clothes with more than $800,000 looted from his parish (Associated Press)

  3. Phony preacher ran fraud empire from jail | "Dr. W. Sherrod Milton" was Wayne Milton, convicted mortgage fraud artist, a man who wasn't going to let a prison stint stop him from his career of separating people from their money (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  4. Conspiracy all around, sniper insists | 3-hour closing speech mentions lies, Bible (The Washington Post)

  5. King meets arson victims | Alabama Attorney General Troy King began a series of meetings Sunday with members of nine churches that were torched in a string of arsons, listening to their ideas on possible penalties for three college students charged in the blazes (Associated Press)

  6. Antiviolence prayer service draws 500 | New Bedford shows faith in community peace (The Boston Globe)

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Crime (non-U.S.):

  1. Pilfering copper fittings from 4 churches 'audacious' | Skyrocketing metal prices have prompted a few thieves to turn to God for a little extra cash. Under the cloak of darkness, they recently pried away sections of roofs, gutters and wiring made of copper from four Quebec City churches (The Toronto Star)

  2. Murder rate of Brazil Indians rises sharply: Church | The number of Indians killed in Brazil has risen sharply in the past three years due mostly to intensifying land conflicts, the Roman Catholic Church said on Tuesday (Reuters)

  3. Thou must give that cash back | A Catholic priest has said it is a sin for people to hold onto money they received from faulty cash machines in Belfast (BBC)

  4. Terrorised vicar puts faith in 10 ft fence to keep thugs at bay | Roger Smith and his elderly sister have been terrorised by incidents including a youth trying to kick down the door of the vicarage and a gang of eight throwing stones at the church's 18th century stained glass windows (The Telegraph, London)

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  1. Deacon among four slain, pastor wounded | A family attending the funeral service of a relative slain a month ago, was traumatised even further yesterday when a younger brother of the deceased was murdered by gunmen as the service was being held (Jamaica Gleaner)

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  1. Enron jurors: We prayed, too | A daily invocation gave the diverse group confidence and unity (Houston Chronicle)

  2. Ken Lay still isn't listening | Enron's whistle-blower responds to the verdict (Sherron Watkins, Time)

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Finnish cathedral set ablaze:

  1. Cathedral fire: Police have "strong suspicions" against suspects | No details revealed on identity of suspects (Helsingin Sanomat, Finland)

  2. Tuesday: Several suspects apprehended over arson of Porvoo Cathedral | Restoration work to begin almost immediately (Helsingin Sanomat, Finland)

  3. Monday: Major fire severely damages Porvoo Cathedral (Helsingin Sanomat, Finland)

  4. Fire destroys part of historic Finnish cathedral | A suspected arson attack destroyed part of one of Finland's most cherished landmarks after a fire burned the roof of a historic church on Monday (Reuters)

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TV sale illegal, says judge:

  1. Law broken in KOCE sale, judge rules | Judge says college district violated its own rules by accepting non-cash bid, lowering price (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

  2. KOCE sale ruled invalid | A court again questions the deal with a local foundation, instead of a Christian broadcaster. The future is unclear (Los Angeles Times)

  3. State court strikes down sale of KOCE-TV | Decision throws into doubt future of O.C.'s PBS station (The Orange County Register)

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Media and entertainment:

  1. Despite satellite policy, ads fly | Critics say nonprofit channels lack diversity and a commitment to commerce-free content (Los Angeles Times)

  2. God and man on screen: Big questions as entertainment | This current crop of religious-themed films has discovered that faith may (or may not) be deep, but organized religion can be devilish (The New York Times)

  3. Churches take their shot at Hollywood spotlight | Opening their facilities to filming offers extra income. But some topics can get projects rejected (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Crouch's "A Mighty Wind" is full of energy | Andrae Crouch's songs became gospel classics so quickly that younger church-goers might be surprised to know that the man who wrote "My Tribute (To God be the Glory)" is still alive and writing today (Associated Press)

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  1. Baseball's Rockies seek revival on two levels | Behind the scenes, they quietly have become an organization guided by Christianity — open to other religious beliefs but embracing a Christian-based code of conduct they believe will bring them focus and success (USA Today)

  2. The reality check | Five men spent six weeks in a monastery for a reality TV show. Two years on, have the lessons they learnt endured? (The Times, London)

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Pat Robertson's leg press:

  1. Pat Robertson makes claim of "Herculean" fitness feat | He has claimed to have the power to prophesy and heal for years, and now at 76 , religious broadcaster Pat Robertson also claims he has the muscle to leg-press 2,000 pounds (The Virginian-Pilot)

  2. Robertson says he leg-pressed 2,000 pounds | Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says he has leg-pressed 2,000 pounds, but some say he'd be in a pretty tough spot if he tried (Associated Press)

  3. Let the games begin, Rev. Robertson | Dear Reverend Pat Robertson: It has recently come to my attention that you are the Strongest Man in the World. (Clay Travis, CBS Sportsline)

  4. Pat Robertson's magical protein shake | There is no way on earth Robertson leg presses 2,000 pounds (Clay Travis, CBS Sportsline)

  5. Spokesman: Robertson's strength is legit | "We have multiple witnesses to the 2,000 pound leg press, plus video of the 10 reps of 1,000 pounds." (CBS Sportsline)

  6. The lamest exercise in the world | Why Pat Robertson should stop bragging about the leg press (Mike DeBonis, Slate)

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  1. Bishop James O. Mote, 84, dies; led revolt against Episcopal Church | Bishop James O. Mote of the Anglican Catholic Church helped start a revolt in the Episcopal Church after it voted to ordain women in the late 1970's (The New York Times)

  2. TV preacher aims at the multitudes | Florida's late-night televangelist Bill Keller preaches fire and brimstone. Now he plans to deliver his message to a national TV audience (The Miami Herald)

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Pope at Auschwitz:

  1. Pope Benedict's Auschwitz prayer | On the final stop of his trip to his predecessor's homeland, the German Pope visited the notorious death camp and offered a heartfelt meditation on the Holocaust (Time)

  2. A German pope confronts the Nazi past at Auschwitz | Pope Benedict XVI called the visit "particularly difficult and troubling for a Christian, for a pope from Germany" (The New York Times)

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  1. John Paul to sainthood, but his words in Poland implied that sainthood is likely (The New York Times)

  2. German-born pope laments Holocaust crimes | Pope Benedict XVI visited the Auschwitz concentration camp as "a son of the German people" Sunday and asked God why he remained silent during the "unprecedented mass crimes" of the Holocaust (Associated Press)

  3. Auschwitz speech seen as moving but incomplete | Some faulted him for not clearly mentioning anti-Semitism, others for saying Germany was taken over by criminals in the 1930s, as if Adolf Hitler had not had any popular support (Reuters)

  4. Pope visits Nazi death camp | The German Benedict calls the trip 'difficult.' He meets survivors of the regime's atrocities (Los Angeles Times)

  5. At Auschwitz, Pope invokes a 'heartfelt cry' | In poignant visit, pontiff prays in German at Nazi death camp (The Washington Post)

  6. Pope, following criticism, condemns anti-Semitism | Pope Benedict, speaking after some Jewish groups complained that his recent speech at the Auschwitz former Nazi concentration camp was not strong enough, on Wednesday explicitly condemned anti-Semitism (Reuters)

  7. The Holocaust wasn't Christian | Pope Benedict obscured the truth in his Auschwitz address by ignoring anti-Semitism and the Catholic Church's failures (Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Los Angeles Times)

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Pope in Poland:

  1. In Poland, Pope speaks of quick sainthood for John Paul II | On Saturday, Benedict XVI suggested that Poland's favorite son would live on as a saint and said he hoped it would happen soon (The New York Times)

  2. In Poland, Pope Benedict endorses sainthood for John Paul II | Benedict has shown no sign of elevating Mixed reception for Polish Catholic radio | Former fringe network backs leaders, is criticized by Pope (The Washington Post)

  3. Also: Radio a thorn in his side as Pope tours Poland | Among the cheering thousands, one group stands out: supporters of Radio Maryja, a controversial and enormously popular Catholic radio station that has been known to air anti-Semitic and xenophobic views (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Second-guessing John Paul II | Pope Benedict's crackdown on clergy abusers threatens his predecessor's legacy (Jason Berry, Los Angeles Times)

  5. Late pope's birthplace shrine will honor Jews | Landlord's descendant makes deal for Holocaust memorial (The Washington Post)

  6. Blair to invite Pope to UK | Downing Street today did not deny reports of the planned meeting, but said details of Mr Blair's itinerary would be released "at the appropriate time" (The Guardian, London)

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Church life:

  1. A ban on kneeling? Some Catholics won't stand for it | At a small Catholic church in Huntington Beach, the pressing moral question comes to this: Does kneeling at the wrong time during worship make you a sinner? (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Also: Venial issue, mortal response | If you can't kneel in church … .(Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times)

  3. An unorthodox power struggle as Russian Patriarch clashes with liberal Londongrad | The influx of Russian emigres into Britain may have brought the wealth and glamour of billionaires such as Roman Abramovitch, the owner of Chelsea football club, but it has also stirred discord in the world of Russian Orthodoxy (The Telegraph, London)

  4. Defiant female priest says Mass | Renegade group holds services; Diocese says sacraments invalid (Mercury News, San Jose, Ca.)

  5. Big is the word for Africa's Christians | This is the face of 21st-century Christianity: big, restless--and African (Associated Press)

  6. Priest spent as diocese grew wary of expenses | Records show that the Rev. Michael Jude Fay remained in control of a Connecticut church's finances after the time that the Bridgeport Diocese said it first spotted problems (The New York Times)

  7. Time to ditch platitudes and pop, churches told | Celebrations linked to events such as St Valentine's Day might revive religion's appeal, a bishop believes (The Times, London)

  8. State to build courthouse around church | An apparent breakdown in communication with First Baptist Church has forced the state to make dramatic changes to its proposed $106 million court complex on Federal Street (The Salem News, Mass.)

  9. Church leaders: End divestment policy | Completing a five-day fact finding mission throughout Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, a group of eleven Presbyterian Church (USA) leaders announced on Monday that the Church's current policy to divest its $7 billion pension fund against the State of Israel is flawed (The Jerusalem Post)

  10. How church music is getting jiggy | To the majority of people, church is supposed to be a solemn affair; bowed heads, and clapping only when one is told to do so! However, others do not think so (The Monitor, Uganda)

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Churches and money:

  1. Business finds its sacred side | Church program teaches ethics of making money (The Boston Globe)

  2. Today, homeownership is next to godliness | Churches serving minority communities are helping people who, though financially capable of buying a home, are unsure of how to go about it (The New York Times)

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  1. Where does church money go? | With expensive mission trips, sprawling campuses and dozens of sports and eclectic ministries, megachurches have been accused by some of lapsing into a materialistic suburban faith -- wasting collections on frills and grand complexes rather than concentrating on preaching the unadorned message of Christ (The Bakersfield Californian)

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Immigration, race, and churches:

  1. European churches open their doors to new Muslim immigrants | As the welcome mat vanishes for low-skilled immigrants across broad swaths of Europe, parishes and Christian groups are spearheading opposition to stricter entrance rules (Religion News Service)

  2. Spanish-language churches are thriving in the Bluegrass | The oldest, Iglesia Puerta del Cielo, turns 11 (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

  3. Ministering to new face of migrants from China | Chinese churches in Alhambra, Calif., are helping newcomers who are educated but no longer as well heeled as their predecessors (The New York Times)

  4. Asian pastor's office plastered with hate | Vandals break into a Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church, steal a camera and spread racial epithets (The Orlando Sentinel)

  5. Also: Disturbing message | The desecration of a Korean church in Longwood takes diversity strides backward (Editorial, The Orlando Sentinel)

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Missions & ministry:

  1. Redeemable funds: Cautiously, World Vision creates an endowment | World Vision is one of America's largest charities, but for philosophical and religious reasons, it has only recently — and carefully — started an endowment (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  2. Churches prepare for coming hurricane season | With the start of hurricane season coming this week and experts predicting as many as 16 named storms, Central Louisiana's churches and other nonprofit entities are checking their resources and resolve in case disaster were to strike again (The Town Talk, Alexandria, La.)

  3. Spiritual soldier: A chaplain's life in war | In 1965, Bob Harllee's Army brigade was sent to Vietnam, and he had to leave his wife and three children behind. One of those children, Carol, now 47, recently asked her father about his life in those days (Storycorps, NPR)

  4. Onward Christian surfers | Dean Sabate and his wave-riding friends spread the Gospel on Waikiki, searching for the hopeless, lonely and lost in paradise (Los Angeles Times)

  5. Aiding whom? | This Christian Aid week showed that the taint of fundamentalism is infecting attitudes to the religion (Stewart Dakers, The Guardian, London)

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  1. Some life insurers play by different rules | State laws allow unilateral, retroactive changes in policies issued by fraternal societies (The Wall Street Journal)

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  1. Literal belief in Bible down 10 points in 30 years | A little more one quarter of Americans believe the Bible is the literal word of God, down 10 percentage points since 1976 (Religion News Service)

  2. Shrines are medieval 'throwback' | Roadside shrines with teddy bears and flowers are a throwback to the middle ages when images rather than words were an aid to contemplation, a Church of England official said yesterday (The Guardian, London)

  3. A date for enlightenment | Central Florida Buddhists are taking part in a worldwide event to help open busy minds to new, more peaceful, journeys (The Orlando Sentinel)

  4. See spirituality in ideals of feminism | Many in the first wave of American feminism in the 19th century would not have seen a clash between women's rights and Christian ideals (Rich Barlow, The Boston Globe)

  5. Local yoga instructor infuses her classes with Christian worship | Yoga was born in Hinduism, but the idea of Christ-centered yoga is no stretch for enthusiasts like Kristy DiGeronimo who say the ancient practice can be infused with Christianity (The Virginian-Pilot)

  6. Bishops are urged to repel advance of multifaith society | A senior Church of England bishop has delivered an extraordinary attack on his fellow church leaders, accusing them of pandering to a multifaith society (The Times, London)

  7. Also: Top cleric urges reassertion of Christian identity | Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali on Saturday attacked the trend towards what he called a multi-faith mish-mash in ethnically diverse Britain, and said it was time to reassert the country's Christian identity (Reuters)

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Da Vinci Code:

  1. Rosslyn priest quits over Da Vinci Code hype | The priest of Rosslyn Chapel has resigned amid widespread speculation that he is no longer prepared to tolerate the worldwide hype generated by The Da Vinci Code (The Scotsman)

  2. Kenya churches threaten theatres on 'Da Vinci Code' | Speaking at Dedan Kimathi Grounds, where they concluded the demo with prayers "to condemn and bind" the movie, religious leaders vowed to mobilise their followers to destroy theatres which will screen the controversial movie (The East African Standard, Kenya)

  3. Call to storm cinemas height of intolerance | The militant stand taken by some Christian clerics against the screening of the Da Vinci Code is baffling and disturbing. (Editorial, Kenya Times)

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  1. Cracked by the 'Code' | America has never been as torn apart as it has been in the past month. The reason is The Da Vinci Code (Art Buchwald, The Washington Post)

  2. Methodists plans protest at movie | The Methodist Church's application for a permit to march against the movie The Da Vinci Code will be processed and sent to the Commissioner of Police before any decision is made (Fiji Times)

  3. Church spoof for 'Da Vinci mass' | Anglican clerics have challenged the controversial content of The Da Vinci Code by swapping places with actors in a spoof version of the film's poster (BBC)

  4. Opus Dei did it | An earnest version of a playful bestseller (John Podhoretz, The Weekly Standard)

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  1. Above the fray | A historian argues that Jesus was not a social reformer. Stephen Prothero reviews What Jesus Meant by Garry Wills (The Washington Post)

  2. Save the children | A group of proper churchgoing ladies breaks the law to find homes for abandoned babies. Ron Charles reviews The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner by Andrea Smith (The Washington Post)

  3. Born-again innocent | Timothy K. Beal reviews A Private History of Awe by Scott Russell Sanders (The Washington Post)

  4. Choosing their religion, an Amish rite of passage | Roger K. Miller reviews Rumspringa by Tom Shachtman (The Washington Times)

  5. Going beyond God | Historian and former nun Karen Armstrong says the afterlife is a "red herring," hating religion is a pathology and that many Westerners cling to infantile ideas of God (

  6. Rejected | Dear Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, et al., I've enjoyed reading your material greatly. (David K. Israel, Los Angeles Times)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. Getty to display religious icons from Mt. Sinai | A Byzantine monastery will loan 53 objects for a fall showing called 'the experience of a lifetime' by one organizer (USA Today)

  2. Holocaust victim names in Mormon database | Jewish leaders in a dispute with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the practice of posthumous baptisms say there is new evidence that names of Jewish Holocaust victims continue to show up in the church's vast genealogical database (Associated Press)

  3. Owners of Christian oriented B&Bs practise hospitality | Diane Gourluck says that having a Christian background helps her create a welcoming environment for guests at her bed & breakfast establishment in Winnipeg (Canadian Press)

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  1. Top scientist gives up on creationists | Steve Jones, a leading British scientist, said yesterday that he had given up trying to persuade creationists that Darwin's theory is correct after repeatedly being misrepresented and, he said, branded a liar (The Guardian, London)

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What is Weblog?

See our past Weblog updates:

May 26 | 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.
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