Today's Top Five

1. Compulsion in religion
"There is no compulsion in religion," says the Qur'an. "We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint," says Steve Centanni, the Fox News correspondent who was kidnapped with cameraman Olaf Wiig. "Don't get me wrong here. I have the highest respect for Islam, and I learned a lot of good things about it, but it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns, and we didn't know what the hell was going on," he said.

Hard news coverage of the forced conversion—which echoes the Jill Carroll kidnapping—has been limited. Discussion has been mostly limited to conservative columnists, op-ed writers, and bloggers. That's unfortunate, since it places the debate in a "neo-conservatives" vs. "Islamofascists" narrative instead of a larger discussion of human rights.

Perhaps the reporters already feel defensive on the subject—The New York Times, among others, took much criticism for its initial headline, "2 Kidnapped Journalists in Gaza Freed Unharmed," before it changed it to "Fox News Journalists Free After Declaring Conversion on Tape." And perhaps the wind was taken out of reporters' sails by Centanni's apparent enthusiasm for Islam (leading some to accuse him of Stockholm Syndrome) and his shrugging the conversion off as a minor inconvenience on the way to freedom.

But the compelled conversion story has moved on and grown beyond kidnapped reporters. Almost every day, of course, religious liberty watchdogs like Compass Direct and report stories of Christians forced to convert to Islam or punished for converting out of it. For whatever reason, those rarely attract mainstream news attention. But politics stories do attract mainstream news attention, so it's a wonder that few reporters have tied the forced conversions to the new Al Qaeda video calling for Bush and non-Muslims in the United States to convert to Islam or "suffer the consequences."

"If the Zionist crusader missionaries of hate and counter-Islam consultants like … the crusader-in-chief George W. Bush were to abandon their unbelief and repent and enter into the light of Islam and turn their swords against the enemies of God, it would be accepted of them and they would be our brothers in Islam," Californian Adam Yahiye Gadahn said in the video (which identified him as "Azzam the American"). "To Americans and the rest of Christendom we say, either repent (your) misguided ways and enter into the light of truth or keep your poison to yourself and suffer the consequences in this world and the next."

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But, you know. No compulsion and all that.

How about some real reporting on forced conversions? Nationalist Hindus in much of India claim that Christians are "enticing" or forcing people to convert, and they have passed anti-conversion laws in four states. Indian Christians respond that the allegations are baseless, and that it's the Hindu nationalists who are forcing their religion on others, often violently so. The U.S. government's religious freedom reports tend to agree with the Christians, but some serious reporting is needed to clarify the reality.

And what can we learn about forced conversions to Islam? Some of them do "stick," but how many? How do moderate Muslims respond when conversion is professed at the point of a gun? What about Muslim political leaders? What does "moderate" Muslim evangelism look like?

And how about a historical perspective on forced Christian conversion? Does Scandinavia's current lack of enthusiasm for Christianity have anything to do with how the faith came to the country a millennium ago, with King Olaf Trygvesson's command, "Be Christian or die"?

There are hundreds of other stories that can and should be done on forced conversions. This isn't a "conservative" issue. It's a human rights issue that gets to the core of what it means to be human. This subject belongs on the front page, not just the op-ed page.

2. Is it over yet?
Last week, it looked like the debate over religious imagery had ended at Bridgeport High School in West Virginia. The Head of Christ painting had been stolen, leading the board of education to drop its objection to a lawsuit against it. The moral of the story: If you don't like something, steal it.

Maybe this is the epilogue, or maybe just the newest chapter. Students on Friday donated a mirror to replace the Head of Christ painting. At the bottom of the mirror was a brass plate: "To know the will of God is the highest of all wisdoms. The love of Jesus Christ lives in each of us." The school put up the mirror, but removed the plate within three and a half hours of its hanging. At least one school board member says the plate removal was unauthorized and violated students' rights.

"I don't understand why the board wasn't consulted and why they'd do what the ACLU says to do," Mike Queen said. "But if the lawyers say take it down, I guess we have to take it down. But at some point we have to stop apologizing for being Christians and step up to the plate and do the right thing."

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3. A KOCE deal
For those of you just joining the extremely long KOCE story, here's the short version. A community college district put its television station up for sale. The highest bidder was Daystar, a Christian network. The district instead sold the station to a foundation for $18 million less than Daystar's $40 million offer, saying the foundation was the "highest responsible bidder." Daystar sued and won, then won again. California's Fourth District Court of Appeal voided the sale, calling it "the rankest form of favoritism." And now the update: The college district got the California legislature to pass a bill allowing the sale to the foundation for the lower price. "The community college district didn't follow the law, and now they're asking us to change the law to authorize this sale and steal $20 million from these community college students," Assemblyman Ray Haynes complained. "It's wrong. It ought not happen, and it particularly shouldn't happen this way."

4. Managing conflict
Rick Warren's "purpose-driven movement is dividing the country's more than 50 million evangelicals," The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. "Some evangelicals … say it's inappropriate for churches to use growth tactics akin to modern management tools, including concepts such as researching the church 'market' and writing mission statements. Others say it encourages simplistic Bible teaching. Anger over the adoption of Mr. Warren's methods has driven off older Christians from their longtime churches. Congregations nationwide have split or expelled members who fought the changes, roiling working-class Baptist congregations and affluent nondenominational churches."

As that paragraph indicates, Suzanne Sataline's front-page story in some ways conflates Warren's "purpose-driven" specifics with the general church growth approach that has been around for decade. The story itself is full of interesting anecdotes and specifics, including some very sad details about the ways in which churches split. But it also gives too much credence to the accusation that Warren's approach is more therapeutic than evangelistic. "His sermons rarely linger on self-denial and fighting sin, instead focusing on healing modern American angst, such as troubled marriages and stress," Sataline writes. That Warren's approach is too anthropocentric is a bit of an odd charge against someone whose best-selling book begins, "It's not about you."

5. Religious media makes you fat
Almost two weeks ago, the Chicago Sun-Times's Cathleen Falsani looked at a study in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion that suggests religion makes people fat. This week, The Indianapolis Star followed up with an important nuance: It's not really religion that makes people fat. In fact, churchgoers are less likely to be obese. But consuming religious media does have a high correlation factor with obesity. Fortunately, the study only seems to have asked about religious television, radio, and books, so you'll probably be safe reading this Weblog.

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Quote of the day:
"To prevent me from publishing I view as a very serious breach of First Amendment rights."

—Blogger Frank Vance, who has reportedly been sued by R. C. Sproul's Ligonier Ministries because of his repeated criticisms of the organization's president, Timothy A. Dick. Ligonier Ministries is seeking a full publishing ban on Vance's blog, which is titled Contending for the Truth.

More articles

Forced conversion | Christianity and Islam | Church and state | Jesus portrait controversy turns into mirror controversy | Education | Evolution | Evolution of religion | Atheism | Democrats | Politicians | Politics | KOCE | Media, art, and entertainment | Books | Money and business | Church buildings | Church life | Catholicism | Life ethics | Deaths | Crime | Music | People | History | Homosexuality | Other stories of interest

Forced conversion:

  1. Religious intolerance growing in Pakistan—study | Sectarian and religious intolerance is growing in Pakistan, as is the number of complaints of minority people being forcibly converted to Islam and forced from their homes, a rights group said on Tuesday (Reuters)

  2. Qaeda urges Bush, non-Muslims to embrace Islam: video | Al Qaeda called on President Bush and non-Muslims especially in the United States to convert to Islam and abandon their 'misguided' ways or else suffer the consequences, according to a video posted on a Web site on Saturday (Reuters)

  3. The religion of peace -- at gunpoint | We don't often get to watch our media people convert to Islam, so the footage of Fox News' Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig has been riveting (Kathleen Parker, The Orlando Sentinel)

  4. A conversion you can't refuse | And the Western media can't comprehend (Paul Marshall, The Weekly Standard)

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Christianity and Islam:

  1. The final place of refuge for Christians in the Middle East is under threat | As Iraq and Lebanon are torn apart by sectarian mayhem and war, only Syria's religious tolerance offers refugees shelter (William Dalrymple, The Guardian, London)

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  1. A lone man's stunt raises broader issues | In Lewiston, Me., an incident where a pig's head was rolled into a mosque has heightened simmering tensions over religion and immigration (The New York Times)

  2. Muslim group: Bush distorts 'Islamic' | The newly elected head of the largest Muslim group in North America called President Bush's recasting of the war on terror as a "war against Islamic fascism" inaccurate and not helpful to people of her faith (Associated Press)

  3. A Christian shrine in a Muslim land | Over the years, stories have circulated that water from the Nightingale Hill in Turkey has healing powers (The New York Times)

  4. The Rev. John Hagee gives warning at Thomas Road | "Ladies and gentlemen, America is at war with radical Islam," Hagee said. "Jihad has come to America. If we lose the war to Islamic fascism, it will change the world as we know it." (News & Advance, Lynchburg, Va.)

  5. Khatami to speak at D.C. cathedral | Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, the highest-ranking Iranian official to visit the United States since the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, arrives in Washington tomorrow to deliver an address at the National Cathedral, a high point of his closely watched two-week U.S. tour (The Washington Times)

  6. Also: Romney bars state security for Iranian's Harvard visit | Cites unacceptable use of funds on 'a terrorist' (The Boston Globe)

  7. Shared values | Women hold the key to the debate over whether Christian and Muslim civilizations can coexist in harmony (Tulin Daloglu, The Washington Times)

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Church and state:

  1. Uzbekistan closes US aid group accused of proselytizing | An Uzbek court on Wednesday ordered the closure of a US charity for allegedly trying to convert Uzbeks to Christianity, Uzbekistan's Justice Ministry said ?(

  2. Bold religious groups make song-controversy thorny | Religious groups began to oppose a government direction to schools across India to sing what is considered to be a national song, making the controversy over it thorny (Indian Catholic)

  3. House taking donations to fight prayer ruling | Lawmaker says people asked if they could contribute (The Indianapolis Star)

  4. Atheists file lawsuit over Day of Faith | They say the city wrongfully spent taxpayer money (The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville)

  5. Separated? | It's a common view in religious conservative circles that the idea of separation of church and state was concocted by 20th-century courts, not the Founding Fathers (Newsweek)

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  1. PM, ministers to brief Christian leaders | The Prime Minister and a string of senior ministers will offer unusual access to Christian church leaders today, as the government considers its policies ahead of next year's election (ABC, Australia)

  2. A monumental kerfuffle | U.S. District Court judge gets last word on the Ten Commandments (Ken Neal, The Tulsa World, Okla.)

  3. What we mean by the role of religion | It is important, when we say yes to religion, that we affirm expressions of faith that do not resist or subvert the freedoms guaranteed by our Founders (Sandy Sasso, The Indianapolis Star)

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Jesus portrait controversy turns into mirror controversy:

  1. Jesus-portrait lawsuit re-ignites | School's gift inscribed with religious saying (The Charleston Gazette, W.V.)

  2. Update: Religious message is out in Bridgeport | The mirror that replaced the controversial portrait of Jesus Christ at Bridgeport High School has been stripped of its religious inscription (Associated Press)

  3. Christ art gone, but controversy remains | W.Va. town takes on constitutional debate (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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  1. Baylor professors criticize denial of tenure to conservative colleague | An already divisive controversy over a tenure denial at Baylor University appears to be getting even uglier (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  2. Christian college ready to start fresh after Bible battle | A Christian college in Northern Virginia hopes this semester will be a new start, after a dispute last year over the Bible's place in academics resulted in the departure of nearly one-third of its full-time faculty (The Washington Times)

  3. Christian colleges keep booming | Enrollment skyrocketed 70 percent since 2004 (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, scroll about 2/3 down the page)

  4. Evangelicals intensify calls for parents to pull kids from public schools | Public schools take a lot of criticism, but a growing, loosely organized movement is now moving from harsh words to action — with parents taking their own children out of public schools and exhorting other families to do the same (Associated Press)

  5. Schools must lift pamphlet ban | Court issues order in lawsuit over anti-abortion material (The News-Press, Fort Meyers, Fla.)

  6. District may have crossed church, state line | Some parents and a civil rights activist say three events at a Flagler County high school this week may violate the constitutional safeguards that separate church and state. The controversy surrounds the Fellowship of Christian Athletes that used in-school assemblies this week to hand out tickets to religious events (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)

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  1. Wilson may add Bible course | School board will look at proposal (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  2. Backpacks filled with a message | Area religious centers ring in the school year with activities to prepare, reach out to youths (The Washington Post)

  3. Vying for students, Catholic highs refurbish, expand | Plasma televisions mounted in hallways display the daily bulletin at St. John's Preparatory School, and computerized white boards have replaced chalk boards in every classroom (The Boston Globe)

  4. Education officials scrap plan for religion crackdown | The Education Ministry has backtracked on plans to issue guidelines that would have highlighted a ban on religion in state primary and intermediate schools (The New Zealand Herald)

  5. Back to Bible? | Jesus Christ, Judas, biblical stories and Australia's religious divisions may soon be classroom topics to help students understand our past (The Courier-Mail, Queensland, Australia)

  6. Reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion | Schools in a California town expose ninth graders to a world of thoughts, and it seems to work (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

  7. I'm a bad liar | Scamming Bob Jones University (Al Franken, National Review Online)

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  1. Professor-turned-pope leads a seminar on evolution | After a year particularly fraught over the issue, Pope Benedict XVI is meeting with his old doctoral students to discuss evolution (The New York Times)

  2. Also: Pope's debate group to publish evolution talks | Pope Benedict and his former doctoral students plan to publish the proceedings of their weekend seminar on evolution to promote a dialogue between faith and science on the origins of life, participants said (Reuters)

  3. Also: Pope and former students ponder evolution, not "ID" | Pope Benedict and his former doctoral students spent a weekend pondering evolution without discussing controversies over intelligent design and creationism raging in the United States, a participant said on Sunday (Reuters)

  4. What's wrong with creationist probability? | As support for creationism grows, major flaws in the creationists' argument (John Allen Paulos, ABC News)

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Evolution of religion:

  1. Humans 'hardwired for religion' | The battle by scientists against "irrational" beliefs such as creationism is ultimately futile, a leading experimental psychologist said today (The Guardian, London)

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  1. We're born with a belief in the supernatural, says scientist | "Religions may simply capitalise on a natural bias to assume the existence of supernatural forces," says Bruce Hood, of the University of Bristol (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Fred West trick 'proves power of irrational fear' | An experimental psychologist is using a cardigan purported to have been worn by murderer Fred West to argue that scientists' efforts to combat "irrational" beliefs are ultimately futile (The Guardian, London)

  3. Evolution keeps us superstitious. Now that's lucky | Humans have evolved over tens of thousands of years to be susceptible to supernatural beliefs, a psychologist has claimed (The Times, London)

  4. Woolly ruse incites irrationality | Hood's experiments have focused on the importance that young children put on "attachment objects"—teddy bears and comfort blankets (BBC)

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  1. Group gives AFA a secular alternative | Free Thinkers gets an invitation (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

  2. The new naysayers | In the midst of religious revival, three scholars argue that atheism is smarter (Newsweek)

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  1. Some Democrats go online to click with religious voters | The Democratic Party, saddled with a secular image that has hurt it in elections, is getting religion (USA Today)

  2. Also: Democrats launch Christian Web site | Group hopes to dent advantage for GOP (Chicago Tribune)

  3. Also: Democrats push for own religious voice | With a leading poll showing only one in four Americans viewing the Democratic Party as friendly to religion, David Wilhelm and a broad-based group of Christian Democratic activists are starting to organize religious voters whose views might be compatible with Democrats (Associated Press)

  4. Progressive Christians start O.C. chapter | The Southern California-based organization aims to counteract forces that are aligning evangelical churches with political interests (The Orange County Register, Ca.)

  5. A prayer for the Dems | Where should Democrats be trawling for votes? Try megachurches (Time)

  6. To believe that Jesus rode a donkey … | Jesse Lava announces, and the comments that follow are quite interesting (The Huffington Post)

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  1. Candidate takes steps to put a rumor to rest | Delegate hopeful confronts talk of Wicca (The Washington Post)

  2. The mayor on bended knee | Rick Baker's quiet, powerful faith weighs heavily in his leadership of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

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  1. Costello bearing his cross | "Christianity is who I am. It's my framework," Mr Costello says. "It informs my decisions on everything." (Herald Sun, Australia)

  2. Harris looks like primary winner | She's been linked to a shady defense contractor, caught in fibs and scolded for telling voters that non-Christian politicians "legislate sin." Yet, on the strength of her name recognition, Harris is expected to win Florida's GOP Senate nomination on Tuesday, to the chagrin of many Republicans (Associated Press)

  3. Also: Talking out loud about God's politics (maybe) | My two good words for Harris? Up front (David Hawpe, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  4. Religious zealots don't belong in Congress | We are the United States of America, not the Christian Coalition (Rhonda Chriss Lokeman, The Kansas City Star)

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  1. Values voters in bipartisan tug of war | GOP, Democrats woo religious conservatives (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  2. Republicans sticking with Arnold | Conservatives in state don't blame governor for tilting left on some issues (Associated Press)

  3. Christian Coalition is splintering | The national grass-roots political group has been expanding its mission -- and, say breakaway chapters, it's `drifting to the left' and losing focus (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Christian right has hijacked his faith, evangelical says | "Most Americans have never heard of Randall Balmer, but it's possible that someday he'll be seen as a key figure in the history of evangelical Christianity" (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  5. Poverty sometimes a religious issue | Politicians rely on beliefs for guidance (Los Angeles Daily News)

  6. Religion, legislation often hard to separate | Faith guides Southern California members of Congress but doesn't dictate their positions—usually (Los Angeles Daily News)

  7. Left and Christian Right take lumps in poll | Liberals go too far to exclude religion from public life while conservatives overreach in imposing their values, the survey finds (Los Angeles Times)

  8. 'Voting your values' isn't a theocratic plot | Christian political activism arises from secular threats to traditional values, not the desire to create an American theocracy, says Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family (Craig Westover, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

  9. Also: Mixing God and politics: Where do Americans really stand? | In new Pew survey, people say both conservative Christians and liberals have gone too far in trying to push religion into or out of public life (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

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  1. Legislature barely passes bill to allow disputed KOCE sale | All in GOP oppose measure to allow PBS station's foundation to buy with a lower bid than a rival's. Courts had voided the deal (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Also: Bill changes rules of KOCE-TV sale | In one of its final acts of the legislative session, the state Assembly passed a bill that would allow the Coast Community College District to sell KOCE-TV for less than fair market value — in essence, sidestepping a court decision that blocked the station's sale to the KOCE--TV Foundation (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

  3. Earlier: KOCE sale ruling upheld on appeal | State Supreme Court rejects transfer of county's public television station to fundraising arm (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca., Aug. 22)

  4. I hate to say I told you so | Let's say Daystar passes the plate and comes up with $25 million. Who cares? Take the money and run, put it toward education in the college district. They certainly could use it (Tom Johnson, Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)

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Media, art, and entertainment:

  1. Lawsuit seeks to block blogger critical of R.C. Sproul's Ligonier Ministries | First Amendment advocates decry 'prior restraint.' (The Orlando Sentinel)

  2. Research links obesity to religious-media use | A Purdue University researcher has found a link between obesity and women who use religious media, as well as Baptists or fundamentalist Protestants in general (The Indianapolis Star)

  3. Religion news moves into the mainstream | Greater demand, diminishing resources in post-9/11 newsrooms (TelevisionWeek)

  4. Russian Orthodox radicals demand Madonna show ban | Members of a radical Russian Orthodox group speared a poster of U.S. pop star Madonna on Monday and demanded a ban on her show in which she stages a mock-crucifixion (Reuters)

  5. Demon duo loves driftwood | It's been called a fraud, an infectious art performance and a meticulously researched spoof on televangelism. But Pastor Morgan Wilkes and his partner, Dr. Victor Marshall, PhD in demonology, refuse to break character. The pair hosts "Evangelical Satanic Faith Healings" every third Thursday (The National Post, Canada)

  6. Where was God on Sept. 11? | "Faith and Doubt," which is being rebroadcast by PBS in connection with the five-year anniversary of the attacks, is a deep and difficult program. (Eric Mink, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  7. Rabbi Jesus loses spot at hospital | "It was insulting at first, but now I'm just sad," Clara Maria Goldstein. "The Bible says Jesus was a Jew, but no one wants Jesus painted as a Jew (La Crosse Tribune, Wis.)

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  1. Pullman films set to trigger cries of blasphemy | Christians say cinematic versions of a series of what they were anti-religious novels will prove as controversial among churchgoers as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (Western Mail, Wales)

  2. Playwright's civil war tale retold on film | Grace Church renovation to benefit from proceeds (The Washington Post)

  3. The gentle life of a priest, made famous in death |Saint of 9/11is a touching elegy for the Rev. Mychal Judge, the much-loved New York City Fire Department chaplain who died at the World Trade Center (The New York Times)

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  1. Lie back and think of Jesus | After seven decades as an atheist, Fay Weldon has found God. But has she stopped believing in women? She tells Stuart Jeffries why they should stop complaining, be nicer to men and forget about orgasms (The Guardian, London)

  2. An uneven look at religious right's wrongs | Rich Barlow reviews The Hijacking of Jesus by Dan Wakefield (The Boston Globe)

  3. Get behind the story | A much misunderstood good guy with a devilish image problem. Peter Stanford reviews Satan: A Biography by Henry Ansgar Kelly (The Independent. London)

  4. No middle ground | Ramesh Ponnuru makes a case against centrism in the debate on abortion. Jonathan Rauch reviews The Party of Death (The New York Times)

  5. Also: Excluded middles | "Centrist" doesn't have to mean "pro-choice." (Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review Online)

  6. Also: Ramesh'n'Hillary, perfect together? | Well, maybe not perfect. But he's talking to you, Jenny and Greg (Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online)

  7. Grandpa Jesus and me | Kathleen McGowan claims to be descended from Jesus and Mary Magdalene. And guess what? She's written a book about them (Los Angeles Times)

  8. Of God, and men | I feel qualified to write a book about God because … well, I feel as qualified as the next person, let me just say that (Roland Merullo, The Boston Globe)

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  1. Otherworldly Gregorian chants calling once again | A longtime discussion crescendos after the pope's recent comment about traditional music (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Barry McGuire triumphed over a personal 'Eve of Destruction' | Barry McGuire had his 15 minutes of fame—and lived it to the max (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

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  1. New Michelangelo sketch found | Florence red-pencil church drawing under triumphal arch (ANSA, Italy)

  2. Amazing discovery | Altar at La Purisima Mission had been adorned not with a 200-year-old frontispiece acquired in Mexico, but with a panel hand-carved in France and dating to the 1500s (The Lompoc Herald, Ca.)

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  1. Fiery furnace? Temple of Apollo had secret death chamber | As the devout among the ancients knew well, nothing spices up a boring sermon like having your own sacrifice pit parked in front of your church (USA Today)

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  1. A call to faith | A Baptist childhood and changing times helped shape Rick Warren's emerging religious style (The Orange County Register, Ca.)

  2. Rev-ved up over Joel: Country's hottest preacher hits Hub | He's the most popular preacher in the country right now - a best-selling author and the "most watched minister" in America. But when asked yesterday about gay marriage during a trip to the bluest state in the land of the free—and the only one where same-sex nuptuals are legal - the Rev. Joel Osteen suddenly got sheepish (Boston Herald)

  3. Foot-washing sparks atonement debate | The thorny issue of white atonement for apartheid has been thrown under the South African spotlight after a white former hardline minister washed the feet of a black preacher his forces once tried to kill (The Namibian)

  4. Kitna's a man of faith | Lions quarterback gains respect from his new teammates for not trying to hide his religious beliefs (The Detroit News)

  5. Of church and change | After 38 years, Rev. Stanley sees hope for a multicultural city (The Washington Post)

  6. Beloved priest defends marines, angering Filipinos | The Rev. James B. Reuter has gambled his respect in the Philippines in taking the side of American marines in a rape case (International Herald Tribune, via The New York Times)

  7. The gospel of Father Mac | For nearly half a century, the Rev. Bernard McLaughlin has been a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston. Everyone knew him, albeit from different contexts (Bella English, The Boston Globe)

  8. Meeting of science and spirit | An interview with Francis Collins (The Washington Times)

  9. Prophet and loss | A litany of business failures suggests Pat Robertson is losing his Midas touch (Radar)

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Money and business:

  1. Still called by faith to the phone booth | As companies cut back, Amish and Mennonites are building their own (The Washington Post)

  2. Worship in the workplace | Employers and employees have latitude to discuss religion and an obligation not to discriminate (The Orange County Register, Ca.)

  3. Faith grows as market force | Funds that choose their investments with the view that companies' products or practices should be in accord with religious or moral beliefs are attracting clients, and rewarding them (Chicago Tribune)

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  1. Feds say union practice discriminated | State employees who have religious objections to the causes supported by their union should be able to divert their dues to any charity, not just to a specific church, state and federal officials agreed Friday in a settlement (Associated Press)

  2. This mommy track may go somewhere | Some companies offer a chance to advance on a schedule that allows more time at home (Los Angeles Times)

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Church buildings:

  1. Controversial Lancaster church to buy, renovate hotel | Deal could prompt questions from IRS (The Columbus Dispatch, Oh.)

  2. Presbyterians fight for custody of church property | When married parents break up, the most contentious legal scrums are often over who gets custody of the children. When congregations walk away from the Presbyterian Church (USA), the biggest battles are often about who keeps church property (Religion News Service)

  3. Aging N.E. church steeples face decay | Wooden steeples on many aging churches across New England are facing a similar fate: They are crumbling (Associated Press)

  4. Church, Carol Stream reach annexation deal | Following months of negotiation, the village of Carol Stream approved an annexation agreement Tuesday with Wheaton Bible Church (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  5. Articles of no value, beyond faith | A court challenge is pending, but the damage has been done to St. Brigid's Church in the East Village (The New York Times)

  6. Pipe cleaner | Getting dust out of the Trinity Church organ (The New Yorker)

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Church life:

  1. Veneration gap: A popular strategy for church growth splits congregants | Across U.S., members divide on making sermons, music more 'purpose-driven' (The Wall Street Journal)

  2. Father, son, and holy rift | For Pastor Chuck Smith, the big issues are undebatable. For Chuck Smith Jr., also a pastor, it's not so crystal clear. Something had to give (Los Angeles Times)

  3. A church in crisis | With the Episcopal Church on the brink of schism, here's a look at the denomination's past, present and future (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  4. Pastors chain themselves to pews across America | Chained to a pew and fasting food for 40 days is how Craig Gross and J.R. Mahon started spending 40 days on Aug. 5. Gross and Mahon are calling their 40-city tour "40-Days of Nothing." It's part of a new movement from XXXchurch called Starving Jesus (Church Business)

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  1. Fox's new church meets for first time | Hundreds attend the gathering in the Johnny Western Theatre at Wild West World (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)

  2. Rebuilding can be tough for churches | Last Sunday, Pastor Renee Hornbuckle urged Agape Christian Fellowship's congregation to keep its focus on God, not the scandal that had swirled for more than a year (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  3. 'Tempted' Church earns its congregation's ire | he St Luke's Church at Chirag Ali Lane in Abids can by no stretch of imagination be called a Hyderabad landmark. Yet the over 100-year-old church has its own claim to fame: It's the only Hindustani-Urdu church in Andhra Pradesh (The Times of India)

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  1. 'John Paul was spied on in Vatican' | Polish cardinal says priests rep (ANSA, Italy)

  2. Also: Report: Informers spied on John Paul II | Priests working in the Vatican for Poland's secret services during the communist era spied extensively on Pope John Paul II, a Polish cardinal was quoted as saying Tuesday (Associated Press)

  3. Pope shows fondness for red hats | Benedict follows up 'camauro' with broad-brimmed chapeau (ANSA, Italy)

  4. Paris names John Paul Square | Paris renamed the square in front of Notre Dame cathedral after Pope John Paul II on Sunday, angering AIDS groups and left-wing sympathisers, who protested against the move because of his strict line against condoms (Reuters)

  5. Pope's new deputy backs U.N. as world peacemaker | The man appointed by Pope Benedict to be his new secretary of state has given his strong support to the United Nations as a peacemaker and said the Church also had a role in mediating to stop conflicts (Reuters)

  6. Religion cannot justify terrorism, says the Pope | Pope Benedict said today that no-one had the right to use religion to justify terrorism and urged greater inter-religious dialogue to stop the cycle of hate and vendetta from infecting future generations (Reuters)

  7. Guidelines for selecting seminarians | The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved guidelines last month for the selection and education of seminarians that would carry out the Vatican's near-prohibition of gay men (The New York Times)

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Life ethics:

  1. The great divide | As the decades-old abortion debate shifts to state capitols and courtrooms, Floridians may face more restrictions to access (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)

  2. FDA ruling puts pharmacists in crossfire | The FDA action thrusts pharmacists—more than ever—into the middle of the fray and presents additional issues that may land in state policy-makers' laps (

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  1. Couples cull embryos to halt heritage of cancer | A growing number of couples are screening embryos to detect a predisposition to cancers that could develop later (The New York Times)

  2. Clarification issued on stem cell work | The scientific journal Nature has corrected a press release regarding an article claiming that embryonic stem cells could be made without destroying an embryo (The New York Times)

  3. Error sparks stem cell debate confusion | An e-mail sent to reporters by Nature before the paper's online publication stated that company researchers "have been able to generate new lines of cultured embryonic stem (ES) cells while leaving the embryo intact." (Associated Press)

  4. Revisiting the Schiavo case | I covered the Terri Schiavo case for more than four years, going against nearly all of the other media in emphasizing and documenting that this was not a "right to die" case, but a disability-rights case (Nat Hentoff, The Washington Times)

  5. The pro-life generation? | This Sept. 16, young Americans will be getting their hands dirty. No aborted-fetus placards, no empty rhetoric; just good old-fashioned neighborly support for a member of the community (Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online)

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  1. Beerwah mourns loss of Steve Irwin | The local Assembly of God Pastor Les Peel has been counselling grieving locals since the news broke (PM, ABC, Austrlia)

  2. Also: Australia: Christian college prays for family of Steve Irwin | "His American wife Terri is known around the area for making surprise visits to local churches bringing her children Bindy and Bob with her, and at times they were able to go to Sunday school with a minder to keep them protected from being overwhelmed with questions and being crowded out by inquisitive kids and the like." (Inspire, U.K.)

  3. All over town, focus is on loss of loved ones | Trying to cope with the nation's worst air disaster in five years, many people yesterday turned to God for refuge and strength (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)

  4. Also: Kentucky churches packed after jet crash | Shaken by tragedy, people packed Kentucky churches on Sunday, a week after the crash of Comair Flight 5191 killed 49 people in Lexington (Associated Press)

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  1. Last foundation-fraud defendant guilty | Lawrence Dwain Hoover, who sat on the BFA governing board, pleaded guilty to one count of fraudulent schemes and artifices for his role in what has been called the largest "affinity fraud" ever (The Arizona Republic)

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  1. Church fires Terry Hornbuckle | Agape Christian Fellowship's board has fired the church's founder and pastor, Terry Hornbuckle, because of his sexual assault convictions, according to a statement released Tuesday. His wife, Renee Hornbuckle of Colleyville, will take over as senior pastor for at least four months (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  2. Churches attacked, money earmarked for Tribals stolen in Jharkhand | In the last two months, seven parishes in the diocese of Daltenganj have suffered several theft and experienced violence. Priest slams those who want to stop the Church's mission in favour of the marginalized (, Catholic news service)

  3. Four charged in fatal beating of homeless man | Four friends who belong to an Evangelical church were charged with beating a homeless man to death over a catcall at a woman in Little Havana (The Miami Herald)

  4. Man gets prison in church burglaries | A Hudson, Wis., man who pleaded guilty in August to charges he helped his wife burglarize 22 churches in western Wisconsin was given the same sentence Tuesday that his wife received a year ago (La Crosse Tribune, Wis.)

  5. Priests asked to shame drunk drivers | Prosecutors in overwhelmingly Catholic Poland have asked priests to read out the names of drink-drivers from the pulpit as part of efforts to reduce the country's high road death rate (Reuters)

  6. Employee scams church | A spokesperson for Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church says the church recently hired a man to sell some of the church's equipment on Ebay. A few weeks later, 33-hundred dollars was reported missing from the church's Paypal account (WMC, Memphis)

  7. Evangelist's trial postponed | The Tuesday trial of evangelist Kent Hovind and his wife, Jo, has been rescheduled for Oct. 17 in the U.S. District Court in Pensacola (Pensacola News-Journal, Fla.)

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  1. Church leaders' camping trip cut short | Four church leaders facing felony child sexual abuse charges spanning three decades were asked to leave the Grove, Okla., campground Friday where they had been staying for much of the week (The Neosho Daily News, Mo.)

  2. Also: Child molestation case rocks the Ozarks | Turning their backs on the isolated religious commune in the rugged Ozarks where many had grown up, a group of members fled with only the clothes on their back, trudging several miles down a gravel road to the nearest phone to call friends or family for help (Associated Press)

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  1. Also: Religion plus sex equals scandal | Charges of abuse bring attention to church compounds in southwest Missouri (Kevin Murphy, The Kansas City Star)

  2. Sex charges shadow a local curiosity in Texas | Five monks at the Christ of the Hills Monastery are accused of abusing boys. Police also say the church's famous crying icon was 'a scam.' (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Milwaukee Archdiocese to pay victims of priest it sent to Orange County | The eight who had been molested by Siegfried Widera will get $13.3million. They also received millions from Diocese of Orange (Los Angeles Times)

  4. Catholic Church sets out child protection policy | The Catholic Church in South Australia has launched a child protection policy - the first of its kind in the country (ABC, Australia)

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  1. Christian faces court over 'offensive' gay festival leaflets | South Wales police admitted evangelical Christian Stephen Green was then charged purely because his pamphlets contained anti-gay quotations from the Bible (Evening Standard, London)

  2. Also: Christian denies anti-gay charge | A Christian campaigner who handed out anti-homosexual leaflets at Cardiff's Mardi Gras gay and lesbian festival has appeared before city magistrates (BBC)

  3. Marriage proponents seeking church support | The campaign to ban gay marriage is moving toward the November election on two fronts (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  4. Premier lauds church on homosexuality | The Prime Minister, Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, has lauded the firm stand the Anglican communion has taken against homosexuality and other perverted practices (The Monitor, Uganda)

  5. Irony of gay-marriage debate | For an issue that some political observers believe will not play a major role in determining Colorado's next governor, the debate over gay marriage and domestic partnerships has been giving the two leading gubernatorial candidates headaches lately (The Denver Post)

  6. Hands off constitutions | This isn't the way to ban same-sex marriage (J. Harvie Wilkinson III, The Washington Post)

  7. Marriages and laws | Homosexuals were on their strongest ground when they said that the law had no business interfering with relations between consenting adults. Now they want the law to put a seal of approval on their behavior (Thomas Sowell, The Washington Times)

  8. Christian conservatives for domestic violence? | Apparently, it's more important for Ohio's Citizens for Community Values to preserve the distinction between married and unmarried couples (and pre-empt gay marriage) than it is to prosecute domestic abusers (Richard Kim, The Nation)

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  1. Religious extremists demand censorship (again) | The Gay Police Association is under police investigation, after it exposed a big increase in homophobic hate crimes perpetrated by religious extremists (Peter Tatchell, The Guardian, London)

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  1. Despair over Darfur | Western policy is in near despair over Darfur, and governments are turning to Russia and China to see if they can put pressure on the Sudanese government to accept a UN peacekeeping force (BBC)

  2. The latest Darfur outrage | Khartoum rejects out of hand a U.N. contingent (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, sub. req'd.)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. Can religion and environmentalism find common ground in the 21st century? | A conversation between E.O. Wilson, Stuart Pimm, and Richard Cizik (Audubon)

  2. Archbishop builds bridge for Muslim and Jewish leaders | An accord with Judaism and Israel is expected to result in the Archbishop acting as peace broker (The Times, London)

  3. Russian homeland no haven for ex-detainees, activists say | Men freed from Guantanamo allegedly face campaign of abuse, including forced Christianity (The Washington Post)

  4. Jewish man removed from airplane for praying | Some fellow passengers are questioning why an Orthodox Jewish man was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight in Montreal last week for praying (CBC)

  5. Four religious institutions set sights on moving to Broward | Trinity International University, the Center for Public Policy and Religion, the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center, and the Bobby Jones Gospel Complex for Education, Heritage and Preservation are coming (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

  6. Zoroastrians keep the faith, and keep dwindling | The Zoroastrians fear that they are fighting the extinction of their faith, a religion that scholars say is at least 3,000 years old (The New York Times)

  7. Christians finish trans-U.S. march to build inclusion | A 2,500-mile journey across the country ended yesterday at a D.C. church with the message that Christianity must bear no grudges based on race, religion or sexual orientation (The Washington Times)

  8. Face in shadows may be Jesus | The image Peter Dimas found on the ceiling is faint, but the face of a man is apparent (Editorial, Norwich Bulletin, Ct.)

  9. The 30-year-old virgins | It was once a badge of honor. But to the surprising number of adult women today who have not had sex, virginity is nothing but a curse (Yael Kohen,

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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