1. Is this the Prosperity Gospel's hour? Or the hour of its critics?
Time's cover story, "Does God Want You to Be Rich?" makes no reference to the National Baptist Convention, but it's worth noting that the black denomination spent much of its annual convention last week attacking the prosperity gospel. "Black communities are suffering, while this prosperity-pimping gospel is emotionally charging people who are watching their communities just literally dissolve," Friendship West Baptist Church pastor Frederick Haynes told Dallas's WFAA.

That the prosperity gospel has a hold on a segment of American culture is not disputable. Time quotes its own poll numbers:

17 percent of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61 percent believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31 percent—a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America—agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money. … Of the four biggest megachurches in the country, three—Joel Osteen's Lakewood in Houston; T.D. Jakes' Potter's House in south Dallas; and Creflo Dollar's World Changers near Atlanta—are Prosperity or Prosperity Lite pulpits.

For Osteen, Prosperity Gospel isn't a pejorative term:

"Does God want us to be rich?" he asks. "When I hear that word rich, I think people say, 'Well, he's preaching that everybody's going to be a millionaire.' I don't think that's it." Rather, he explains, "I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don't think I'd say God wants us to be rich. It's all relative, isn't it?"

On the other side is the guy whose church rounds out the "largest four" list:

"This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?", [Rick] Warren snorts. "There is a word for that: baloney. It's creating a false idol. You don't measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn't everyone in the church a millionaire?"

It's smart for Time to make Warren the piece's chief critic of the Prosperity Gospel. (One of his favorite lines, "I don't think it is a sin to be rich. I think it is a sin to die rich," doesn't appear.) And it allows Time to make its most astute observation: one of the reasons that the prosperity gospel has been able to grow is because (particularly white, middle-class) evangelical churches have avoided talking about personal finances or social inequality.

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Now, however, white, middle-class evangelical churches are starting to talk about personal finances and social inequality. So the question becomes whether Prosperity Gospel is as ascendant as Time suggests, or whether it's just an aberrant theology that's about to have an unprosperous future.

2. Hindus attack Catholic school after séance rumors
Hindu activists attacked Loreto Convent School in Lucknow Sunday, prompting Catholic officials to close 16 schools and other institutions—both as a sign of protest and for safety concerns. The attacks came after Indian newspapers reported that a "séance" had occurred at the school. "A visiting spiritual healer claimed Jesus Christ had entered his body to bless those present," the BBC summarized. "Many of the students later said they were scared, and some of the girls even fainted during the session." School officials say students just passed out from heat during a prayer session and that there was nothing resembling a séance.

3. Jesus prayers are okay, federal court rules
For those who want to pray in Jesus' name at government meetings, there's good news: U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story ruled that invocations at Cobb County commission meetings do not violate the Constitution, even though several prayers specifically invoked the name of Jesus. In his decision, Story quoted his denial of a preliminary injunction:

To be sure, many of these speakers, in offering their invocations, identify the deity to whom they direct their prayer. In that respect, they surely convey their alignment with one religious creed to the exclusion of others. But viewed cumulatively, given the diversity in the denominations and faiths represented, it is difficult to extrapolate from any one speaker's affiliation a preference on the part of the Cobb County government.

Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Star reports that a federal appeals court in Indiana is likely to overturn a lower court's ban on sectarian prayer in the state legislature. That decision is expected in the next couple of months.

But there is news on coercive prayer. Our last Weblog talked about forced conversion to Islam and other religions. There are few Christian examples, or at least there were when we posted the item. But someone writing a story on the subject could, in theory, bring in the example of Randy Doss, who was held at gunpoint by his sister and two roommates as they prayed for his repentance. Police "were skeptical at first because his story was so bizarre," the Associated Press reports. Yes, it's bizarre that someone would have a gun pointed at them and be put under religious pressure. In America.

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4. More good news, bad news in Iraq
Good news: Hanna Saad Sirop, the Chaldean Catholic priest kidnapped in Baghdad August 15, has been released. "He is really tired and exhausted," a colleague told AsiaNews.it. "He was threatened and tortured. He'll be able to talk about his painful and fearful experiences later."

Bad news: One of Baghdad's most prominent Christians has left the country. Donny George, president of the of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, has fled to Syria. The violence is bad, he says, but so is the radical Muslim influence in the state board. "They are only interested in Islamic sites and not Iraq's earlier heritage," he told The Art Newspaper. "I can no longer work with these people who have come in with the new ministry. They have no knowledge of archaeology, no knowledge of antiquities, nothing."

5. Are evangelicals more susceptible to fraud?
Last month, the Associated Press ran a story about how religion-based fraud, particularly those targeting conservative Christians, was getting worse. Last week, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument that conservative Christians are more vulnerable to fraud than others. "

"While we recognize that a fraud grounded in religious themes may pose an especially effective threat … membership in religious groups cannot, standing alone, make victims 'vulnerable' for purposes of the enhancement, even where a fraud involves reliance on religious themes or imagery," the court ruled. " We have no reason to believe that evangelical Christians as a class are 'unusually susceptible' to fraud." A lower trial court had ruled that evangelicals were more susceptible, and so in accordance with federal sentencing guidelines enhanced the offence of a two men convicted of wire fraud.

Do you think that conservative Christians are more susceptible to fraud? How might that differ from the often-complained-about assertion that evangelicals are "easily led"?

Quote of the day
"There was a stark change between the culture of the '50s and the '60s—boom—and I think there's change happening here. … It seems to me that there's a Third Awakening."

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—George W. Bush, as quoted on National Review Online.

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Prosperity gospel | Theft and fraud | Abuse | Crime | Money and business | Left Behind video game | Media | Entertainment | Madonna | Film and theater | ABC 9/11 film | 9/11 | Christians and Muslims | Christians and Jews | India | Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army | Iraq | Sudan | Life ethics | AIDS | Embryonic stem cells | Abortion | Politics | Jim Wallis | Environment | Evangelicalism | Baylor religion survey | Other polls | Other studies | Church and state | Bankruptcy and giving | Government prayer | Education | Evolution | Higher education | Navy chaplain court martial | Missions and ministry | Church life | Anglicanism | Homosexuality | Family | Hindu Anglican priest | People | Pope | Travel | History | Bible | Books | Other stories of interest

Prosperity gospel:

  1. Does God want you to be rich? | A growing number of Protestant evangelists raise a joyful Yes! But the idea is poison to other, more mainstream pastors (Time)

  2. Black Baptists eschew 'prosperity preaching' | Thirty-five thousand Baptists are visiting Dallas this week. They represent the nation's largest African-American organization, the National Baptist Convention (WFAA, Dallas)

  3. Pay the Lord! | The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God has no visible doctrine or moral message and is almost silent on the Bible, but it believes passionately in generous "sacrifices" to the sect by its followers (Mail & Guardian, South Africa)

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Theft and fraud:

  1. 2nd circuit holds evangelicals not "vulnerable victims" in fraud case | In a fascinating decision, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a trial court's application of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to enhance the sentence of two defendants who had been convicted of carrying out a wire fraud scheme directed particularly at evangelical Christians (Religion Clause)

  2. Cornish crosses are fitted with microchips after wave of thefts | Since the 10th century, travellers to Cornwall have been helped by hundreds of distinctive Celtic crosses, carved from rough-hewn granite, which mark their route. But a recent wave of thefts, fuelled by Cornish nationalism, has prompted officials to adopt a 21st-century solution to help to protect the ancient signposts (The Telegraph, London)

  3. Church bookkeeper pleads guilty to theft | Godfrey woman took $32,000 from church (Belleville News-Democrat, Ill.)

  4. St. Luke Union pastor ousted over alleged embezzlement | The longtime pastor for St. Luke Union Church in Bloomington has been ousted by his congregation amid accusations of improperly taking money from his discretionary account over several years (Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.)

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  1. Embezzlement by church ex-pastor alleged | Trustee of Commerce Twp. man's account is named in suit over money that was to be donated (The Detroit News)

  2. Prison term in church theft | An Overland Park man is sentenced to two years for embezzlement (The Kansas City Star)

  3. Trusted minister who fleeced his flock | A church minister who befriended elderly parishioners before forging documents to inherit their property and possessions was given 240 hours community service yesterday (The Telegraph, London)

  4. Also: Clergyman forged wills of elderly parishioners (The Times, London)

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  1. Mass. House okays stricter abuse laws | Measure to ease prosecutions (The Boston Globe)

  2. Judge dismisses suit citing Christian leader | The sex-abuse case against an ex-head of the Christian Coalition in Oregon is filed too late (The Oregonian)

  3. New charges filed against Ozarks pastor | New charges were filed against a pastor on Monday amid the expansion of an investigation into allegations that leaders of two reclusive church communes sexually abused girls (Associated Press)

  4. Jesuits cite abuse by late Gonzaga chief | Former Gonzaga University President John Leary was involved in the sexual abuse of boys and young men in the 1960s, but the priest's actions were covered up by Jesuit officials, the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus said Friday (Associated Press)

  5. Priest accused of abuse asks court to keep his file secret | He cites the potential violation of his rights. Archdiocese's personnel records are sought by a lawyer for four who say they are victims (Los Angeles Times)

  6. Priest denies fondling teen | A Northeast Kingdom priest pleaded innocent Monday to allegations he fondled a naked 18-year-old man after taking him to Canada and buying him beer (Rutland Herald, Vt.)

  7. Church ministers under sex probe | Two Methodist church of Fiji ministers are under investigation for allegedly sexually harassing female students at island schools they were serving at (Fiji Times)

  8. Choir director is held in assaults | A Deptford man who served at 3 Gloucester County churches has been charged with sexual offenses against two girls (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  9. Sad or sinister? Trouble not new for monastery | Self-styled monks face new charges after child-sex cases in '99 (The Dallas Morning News)

  10. From sacristy to lockup | No one knows the varieties of limbo being wandered these days by rogue priests the Catholic Church had to drop from service once its pedophilia scandal fully surfaced (Editorial, The New York Times)

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  1. Trio accused of gunpoint prayer session | A woman and two roommates are accused of holding her brother at gunpoint as she prayed for his repentance, even firing a shot into the ceiling to keep his attention (Associated Press)

  2. FBI tries to crack "code" in Mafia boss's Bible | Code-breaking experts at the FBI are helping Italian investigators to determine whether a Bible found on the Mafia's "boss of bosses" when he was arrested in Sicily in April hides a secret code, sources said on Thursday  (Reuters)

  3. Clergyman punched as tempers fray at farewell tea party for vicar | A vicar's tea party spilt over into violence when a clergyman was punched several times in the face and had a soft drink poured over him by a "disgruntled" member of the congregation (The Telegraph, London)

  4. Bishop's ex-adviser faces jail after downloading child images | A former adviser to the Bishop of Oxford was told by a judge that he faces a jail sentence after pleading guilty to making and possessing indecent images of children (The Guardian, London)

  5. Sheep blood used to vandalise church | Vandals have used sheep's blood to scrawl anti-religious writings on an abandoned New South Wales church, police said today (The Australian)

  6. Update: Church desecration 'more likely vandalism than satanism' | So says the bishop (ABC, Australia)

  7. Second Presbyterian pastor Pierce resigns | The senior pastor of Bloomington's Second Presbyterian Church who was arrested in June after a domestic incident has resigned from his post, church officials said Monday (Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.)

  8. Brush with law | Feds probe complaints about king of cute art (New York Daily News)

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Money and business:

  1. Tennessee developer creates Christian-themed subdivisions | Joe Swanson's office looks like a minister's office -- dark wood furniture on red carpet -- and in a gentle voice he talks about God and Christianity, usually smiling as he does so. But he isn't a minister. He's a developer (The Tennessean)

  2. CEO-turned-priest sues for Hydro One pension | She may be an Anglican priest, but Rev. Eleanor Clitheroe isn't turning the other cheek when it comes to her former employer (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  3. EEOC files claim against Aldi's for woman | A civil complaint filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has alleged a chain Fayette County grocery store violated an employee's rights to observe the Sabbath by having it off (Herald-Standard, Uniontown, Pa.)

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  1. Inglewood's ailing Forum blames owner of Staples | The church-owned venue accuses Anschutz Entertainment of monopolistic conduct (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Idle thoughts | Christianity is divided over the benefits of hard work. Thank goodness for the Catholics who believe the Protestant work ethic is a dangerous thing (Tom Hodgkinson, The Guardian, London)

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Left Behind video game:

  1. Popular Christian books spawn video game | "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" is based on the best-selling "Left Behind" book series about the apocalypse. But it's the apocalypse without dismemberment or graphic bloodshed, though the game has an element of violence that some Christians argue is counter to teachings of the Bible (Associated Press)

  2. Religious game company may not have even a prayer | Left Behind Games is a Stupid Investment of the Week (Boston Herald)

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  1. God rock lures Universal | Never mind the rights to songs by Limp Bizkit and Justin Timberlake, what excites Vivendi about buying Bertelsmann's BMG music publishing group is Christian rock (The Guardian, London)

  2. For the heartbeat of Harlem, a new amen chorus | As a historic station switches to gospel, many WLIB fans are wondering what may have been lost (The New York Times)

  3. Christian radio station takes revival message to airwaves | Scotland's first full-time Christian radio station has been launched—ending a ten-year battle for a permanent place on the airwaves (The Scotsman)

  4. KOCE's small-potatoes legislation is causing a rhubarb | The politics of the matter are more interesting than the religion (Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times)

  5. UVa newspaper challenges Christians | Readers should expect campus newspapers to push boundaries (Editorial, The Roanoke Times, Va.)

  6. Young Catholic blogger makes waves | Rocco Palmo, a 23-year-old Philadelphian, has made a name for himself with his insider's blog on the Catholic Church. It has become a must-read for many Catholics -- even some inside the Vatican (All Things Considered, NPR)

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  1. Sliced and diced 'Veggie Tales' | NBC has taken the very essence of "Veggie Tales" -- and ripped it out. It's like "Gunsmoke" without the guns, or "Monday Night Football" without the football (L. Brent Bozell III, The Washington Times)

  2. In music--and God--they trust | Sin-free Gospel Night dance concerts are big draw in city known for its earthy Carnival (Chicago Tribune)

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  1. A testament for Trekkies | A preacher has decided to boldly go where no cleric has gone before by writing the gospel according to Star Trek (The Times, London)

  2. Jesus, Moses, Esther dolls offer Bible verses, hugs | Huggable Jesus is just one of the "the dolls that love you back," offered by a couple of biblical doll-makers in Boston, who hawk plush dolls "that pack fun and faith into one lovable, kid-sized package" (AFP)

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  1. Madonna hits Moscow for high-profile concert | Madonna slipped into Moscow under a shroud of secrecy and tight security for a concert that has sparked protests and rekindled debate about Russia's embrace of Western values in the post-Soviet era (The New York Times)

  2. Dutch priest charged in Madonna threat | Amsterdam prosecutors said Friday a 63-year-old priest has confessed to phoning in a fake bomb threat to a Madonna concert in the Dutch capital city last week (Associated Press)

  3. Madonna to defy Russia church plea to tone down act | Pop star Madonna will sing suspended from a cross in the finale of her Moscow concert on Tuesday despite a plea from the Russian Orthodox Church to drop that part of her act. (Reuters)

  4. Russians confess they want to see Madonna | The Orthodox Church's condemnation of the pop singer seems only to add to the hoopla. Fans buy 37,000 concert tickets in three days (Los Angeles Times)

  5. Madonna's Russian 'Confessions': Good for the sale | The concert of the year was -- as is the Material Girl's wont -- the controversy of the year (The Washington Post)

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Film and theater:

  1. "Jesus Camp" documentary stays off beaten path | By choosing "a number of markets that have a strong Christian presence," Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles says of the decision to forgo the opinion-makers in Manhattan, "I want the film to be seen on a blank slate, without the national media weighing in and giving their piece" (Reuters)

  2. How mad is Mad Mel? Waiting for 'Apocalypto' | First came the reports of Mel Gibson's Mayan action flick. Then came the meltdown (The New York Times)

  3. 'Don't strangle the anointed one,' wife pleaded in row over Mel Gibson film | A Husband almost throttled his wife during a heated theological argument triggered by a controversial Mel Gibson film, a court heard (The Times, London)

  4. Also: Passion and the fury as couple clashed over film (The Telegraph, London)

  5. An Average Michael turns average fanatic | "The Man Himself" is a sober, quietly unsettling solo show about an ordinary man's slide toward religious fanaticism (The New York Times)

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ABC 9/11 film:

  1. ABC 9/11 docudrama's right-wing roots | The director is the son of Youth With a Mission founder Loren Cunningham, who wanted to use "stealth political methods to put the United States under the control of Biblical law and jettison the Constitution" (Max Blumenthal, The Nation)

  2. BBC did not know of 9/11 film's link to religious right | The film's director, David Cunningham, is active in Youth With a Mission (Ywam), a fundamentalist evangelical organisation founded by his father, Loren Cunningham. According to its publications, the group believes in demonic possession, spiritual healing and conservative sexual morality (The Guardian, London)

  3. Did Clinton cause 9/11? Ask Sandy Berger | Are you now or have you ever been a conservative or a Christian? That's the new loyalty oath propagated by The Nation, which just published a long column "exposing" the fact that the director of ABC's docudrama "The Path to 9/11," David Cunningham, is the son of a fundamentalist Christian, and may in fact himself be a Christian (Maggie Gallagher)

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  1. Lost loves of 9/11 tested Americans' faith | Families of victims reflect on challenged spirituality (Good Morning America, ABC)

  2. In a place once shattered, serenity | The chaplains who serve the Pentagon have always wanted a chapel. It took Sept. 11, 2001 -- and the approval of the president -- to finally get one (The Washington Post)

  3. Clergy again shoulders burdens of consoling and explaining | On the fifth anniversary of 9/11, the city's religious leaders were being asked again to provide comfort to people (The New York Times)

  4. Group meets to stem rise of religious extremism | 9/11 hastened work on declaration of religious rights (Toronto Star)

  5. Fame and faith in 'the 9/11 chapel' | St. Paul's Chapel, just a block from ground zero, has become a de facto memorial for visitors to the former site of the World Trade Center (The Christian Science Monitor)

  6. Opposed in beliefs, united in memorial | Anniversary gives demonstrators a rare slice of common ground (The Washington Post)

  7. Officials voice religious views | Speakers at 9/11 service say prayer wins spiritual war (Record Searchlight, Redding, Ca.)

  8. Religious leaders urge Muslims to distance faith from terrorism | Several leading local religious leaders, meeting together to pray and reflect on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, called on their Muslim counterparts yesterday to do a better job of distancing their faith from terrorism (The Boston Globe)

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  1. An atheist antidote to religious fanaticism | Brought up as a Methodist, Pat Berger, 78, had never been particularly religious. But for the resident of Manhattan's Hell's kitchen, the attacks of Sept. 11 served as a wake-up call about the dangers of violence in the name of God (Weekend Edition Sunday, NPR)

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Christians and Muslims:

  1. Church sign stirs anger | "Muslims can convert to Christianity here!" read the sign Monday in front of the Congregational Church on Laurel Road (Sarasota Herald Tribune, Fla.)

  2. At cathedral, Iran's Khatami urges dialogue | Amid noisy protests and tight security, former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami issued a call at the Washington National Cathedral yesterday for leaders in both the West and the Islamic world to launch a historic dialogue to "rescue life from the claws of the warmongers and violence-seekers and ostentatious leaders." (The Washington Post)

  3. Also: Episcopal bishops hit 'inappropriate' speech | Some leading Episcopal bishops have sharply criticized the decision to invite former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to speak at the Washington National Cathedral, the seat of the presiding bishop of the church's American branch (The Washington Times)

  4. Indonesia's religion of peace | It's no picnic being Christian in the world's most populous Islamic country. (Doug Bandow, The American Spectator)

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Christians and Jews:

  1. Christian-Jewish group pledges $45m for Israel | The head of the Chicago-based International Fellowship of Christians and Jews pledged to contribute up to $45 million this year to the State of Israel from money donated by Christian Evangelical supporters, in what would be the largest-ever annual financial contribution the group has made in its 23-year history (The Jerusalem Post)

  2. Leap of faith | An important initiative by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Editorial, The Times, London)

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  1. Christians up in arms after Hindu attack | Religious tensions between the minority Christians and the overwhelming Hindu majority in the northern Indian city of Lucknow intensified yesterday when 16 Catholic schools in the district remained closed after an attack by extremists on the local Loretto Convent (The Australian)

  2. Catholic schools remain closed | Arrested Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists released on bail (The Hindu, India)

  3. Row over Lucknow Catholic schools | Roman Catholic schools in the northern Indian city of Lucknow have remained shut in protest against an attack on one of the city's premier schools (BBC)

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  1. BJYM activists ransack convent school | They were protesting against a reported occult session (The Hindu, India)

  2. Catholic schools remain shut | All Catholic schools in the city remained shut on Monday to protest the alleged attack by some Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) activists on Loreto Convent school where a seance was held on September 6, even as some protestors arrested during the ruckus were granted bail (The Times of India)

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Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army:

  1. Ugandan rebels arriving at neutral camps | The first group of Ugandan rebels have turned up at a neutral camp in southern Sudan as part of a truce to end 19 years of conflict with the government, the chief mediator said Monday (Associated Press)

  2. Ugandan rebel leader abides by truce | A top Ugandan rebel leader has arrived at a neutral camp in southern Sudan as part of a truce to end 19 years of conflict with the government, the chief mediator said Monday (Associated Press)

  3. Uganda says rebels should apologize | Leaders of a rebel movement that has terrorized Uganda for two decades must come out of hiding and apologize before the government will consider pressing the International Criminal Court to grant them amnesty, an official said Thursday (Associated Press)

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  1. Leading Iraq archaeologist flees | Donny George, a Christian, is well known internationally for his efforts to recover Iraq's looted antiquities (BBC)

  2. Saviour of Iraq's antiquities flees to Syria | Violence and Sadrists drive away archaeologist (The Guardian, London)

  3. Priest kidnapped in Baghdad released | Fr Saad Hanna Sirop, who was kidnapped on 15 August, returned to his family last night. The pope was one of those who had prayed for him (AsiaNews.it, Catholic news site)

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  1. Darfur risks catastrophe—Annan | The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has warned of possible death and suffering on a catastrophic scale in Sudan's Darfur region (BBC)

  2. U.S. judge rejects lawsuit alleging genocide by Talisman Energy | A judge has dismissed Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc. from a lawsuit that alleged it aided genocide in its pursuit of oil in Sudan, saying Tuesday the plaintiffs had failed to find evidence against it that could be used in a U.S. court (Canadian Press)

  3. Abducted Sudanese journalist found dead | Last year, Taha published an article that referred to a centuries-old text by a Muslim historian that raised questions about the prophet's lineage. Religious leaders in Khartoum denounced Taha's work, and scores of protesters called for his death (The Washington Post)

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Life ethics:

  1. Christian anti-abortion group has 501(c)(3) status revoked | Youth Ministries, Inc., d/b/a Operation Rescue West Wichita, KS, have been under investigation by the IRS for money laundering and tax evasion (Religion Clause)

  2. Birth control suit tests court | Religious groups argue they should not have to provide state-mandated contraceptive coverage (Albany Times Union, N.Y.)

  3. Judge rejects dismissal of birth control pill suit | A federal judge has refused to throw out a lawsuit over Gov. Rod Blagojevich's requirement that pharmacists dispense emergency birth control (Associated Press)

  4. Chile polarized by easing of contraceptive rules | A move to give teenagers public access to the morning-after contraceptive pill without parental consent has polarized Chilean society, with many saying it's a license for kids to have more sex (Reuters)

  5. 'Vegetative' woman's brain shows surprising activity | Tests indicate awareness, imagination (The Washington Post)

  6. The unspeakable | Buried alive in your own skull (William Saletan, Slate)

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  1. AIDS-inspired altarpiece tours America | As the twin scourges of AIDS and unemployment ravaged their rural district, the women of the South African fishing village of Hamburg decided to fight back with the weapons they were given: embroidery needles (Associated Press)

  2. Sex does not cause Aids | The African Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS (ANERELA+) General Secretary Reverend Fr. Japé Heath stunned journalists in Lilongwe last week when he said it was not possible to get AIDS from sex (The Chronicle, Malawi)

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Embryonic stem cells:

  1. Senators fault stem cell research claim | A company that claimed it developed a way to harvest stem cells from days-old human embryos without harming the embryos was accused at a Senate hearing Wednesday of misrepresenting its work (Associated Press)

  2. Also: Senators denounce scientist's stem cell claims | Confusion over harm to embryos in study at issue (The Washington Post)

  3. New stem cell ethics issue emerges | Researchers need fresh human eggs and want to buy them. Several laws prohibit payment (Los Angeles Times)

  4. New battle lines are drawn over egg donation | The issue of whether to pay women to be stem cell research donors has split feminists, causing some to align with Christian conservatives (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Stem-cell decision is a question of morality, not science | Science is good at telling us how to do things. It can tell us how to achieve certain ends and provide the means to do so. However, the decision as to whether those ends are good ends or whether the means to achieve them are ethical is not a scientific question (Neil Ormerod, The Sydney Morning Herald)

  2. Stunning lies | The recent much ballyhooed "embryo-safe" experiment turns out to be just another stem cell fraud (Michael Fumento, The American Spectator)

  3. The hard cell | Reports of a major breakthrough in the science of stem cells were premature, and wrong (Wesley J. Smith, The Weekly Standard)

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  1. Antiabortion centers offer sonograms to further cause | On June 6, Cheryl Smith took her last $600 and drove her teenage daughter from Baltimore to Severna Park to get an abortion. When they got there, a receptionist told them the clinic had changed hands. The abortion provider had moved a few miles away, she said, but the new clinic would offer a pregnancy test and sonogram for free (The Washington Post)

  2. Abortion bid mother case rejected | A mother seeking compensation after giving birth following an abortion has had her £250,000 claim thrown out (BBC)

  3. Ban on funding foreign abortion services in doubt | Australia is reviewing its ban on foreign aid for abortion services, imposed a decade ago in response to pressure from the now retired anti-abortion senator Brian Harradine (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  4. Churches to end poverty among Aborigines | A coalition of Australian churches has set an ambitious goal—to eradicate poverty among Aborigines by 2015 (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  5. Pro-life generation? | Washing abortion away? (Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online)

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  1. Bush tells group he sees a 'Third Awakening' | President Bush said yesterday that he senses a "Third Awakening" of religious devotion in the United States that has coincided with the nation's struggle with international terrorists, a war that he depicted as "a confrontation between good and evil." (The Washington Post)

  2. Evangelical leader says voting for a Mormon not a problem | Politics over religion: Haggard says Romney's faith not a barrier to his presidential bid (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  3. Also: Evangelicals key to Romney run | Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's possible run for president in 2008 is generating some excitement in the heavily Mormon state of Utah, but the big roadblock, some say, is the Republican Party's powerful evangelical wing (The Washington Times)

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  1. Memo details Kline's strategy to raise church support | Sherriene Jones, a spokeswoman for the Kline campaign, confirmed the memo was written by Kline (Lawrence Journal-World, Kan.)

  2. Governor hopefuls' faith is on display | God is everywhere in the race for Texas governor. And in this crowded field, there's plenty of room for interpretation on just what it means to bring faith to public service (San Antonio Express-News)

  3. Blessed debate over Rove rite | A spirited debate is raging over whether Hillary Rodham Clinton was the subject of a religious rite held in Karl Rove's West Wing office in 2001 (Newsday)

  4. Earlier: Rove exorcises ex-Hillary office, book says | Karl Rove says he's not The Exorcist (Newsday)

  5. Republicans and evangelicals | Yes, this marriage can be saved (Marc Ambinder, The Weekly Standard)

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Jim Wallis:

  1. Activist preacher Jim Wallis calls for 'good religion' | At a conference in Pasadena, liberal Christians are urged to create a kinder, gentler way to practice their faith and politics (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Turning politics of religion upside-down | The Rev. Jim Wallis challenges stereotypes about evangelical Christians and politics (The Oregonian)

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  1. Christian group encourages recycling | Tending to your soul at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Boise, Idaho, involves recycling old cell phones and printer cartridges in the church lobby, pulling noxious weeds in the backcountry and fixing worn-out hiking trails in the mountains (Associated Press)

  2. Global warming film unites preachers and politics | The movement by faith communities to become more active on environmental issues has been growing over the last several years with many undertaking energy-saving and energy-education projects that they describe as "creation care" (Reuters)

  3. Evangelical and environmental: Why is he news? | It's so odd for J. Matthew Sleeth to be traveling the country telling people what they already know. (John Young, Waco Tribune-Herald, Tex.)

  4. Raw sewage taints sacred Jordan River | Hardest hit is the 60-mile downstream stretch — a meandering stream from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea (Associated Press)

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  1. Beyond caricature and conventional wisdom | American evangelicals are far more diverse than we think. And their politics are equally unpredictable (Mark Pinsky, The Guardian, London)

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  1. Fundaresentalism | Daily evangelical practice turns millions of people into idiots (Spengler, Asia Times)

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Baylor religion survey:

  1. View of God can predict values, politics | The United States calls itself one nation under God, but Americans don't all have the same image of the Almighty in mind (USA Today)

  2. Who will get into heaven? | Americans clearly believe in heaven and salvation — they just don't agree on who's eligible (USA Today)

  3. Paranormal beliefs, from prophetic dreams to Atlantis  | Women more open to paranormal beliefs (USA Today)

  4. Secular or 'unaffiliated'? Findings escalate debate | Most called secular still believe in God or 'higher power' (USA Today)

  5. Americans may be more religious than they realize | Many without denomination have congregation, study finds (The Washington Post)

  6. Ambitious BU study dissects piety | We may be "one nation, under God," but Americans actually worship at least four versions of the Lord, according to the Baylor Religion Survey released today (Waco Tribune-Herald, Tex.)

  7. Survey: 11 pct. not tied to faith group | More Americans are active in religious groups than previously thought and many others without ties to congregations still believe in God or a higher power, according to a broad survey of faith in America released Monday (Associated Press)

  8. Baylor study finds religion thriving in the U.S. | Contrary to the impression given on the campaign trail, Americans do not believe God favors one political party over another, according to a national survey released today by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (Houston Chronicle)

  9. Belief in God remains strong in U.S., poll finds | Americans remain a people of great faith: 95 percent believe in God and just 11 percent have no religious affiliation, according to a survey released yesterday by Baylor University (The Washington Times)

  10. Study: Americans not losing religion | In what has been called the most comprehensive survey of the nation's faith since a seminal study in 1968, Baylor University sociologists reported Monday that Americans aren't losing religion, but defining their spiritual lives differently (Chicago Tribune)

  11. America is revealed as one nation under four faces of God | A survey shows that the way Americans see the Almighty is closely linked to their political beliefs (The Times, London)

  12. Pollsters: Your image of God will decide your path in life | Exactly how Americans think about God -- as an arbiter of divine justice or as a mostly benevolent father -- has long been hard to know (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.)

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Other polls:

  1. Post-9/11, more are putting faith in power of prayer | Surveys show that church attendance may be down, but praying is up (Los Angeles Times)

  2. People turned to religion after 9/11, but not for long | More than 35 million people attended a religious service in the days following 9/11, according to a Gallup poll. Almost 75 percent of Americans said they were praying or intended to pray (San Bernardino Sun, Ca.)

  3. Judge not? What the heck, it's just a poll | Even if we don't know a lot about what hell is like, we apparently think we know a whole lot about who will be adding to its population, according to a recent poll of 10,567 readers of the Beliefnet Web site (Mark Hohmeister, The Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)

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Other studies:

  1. Too much nourishment for the soul? | Churches can be a "feeding ground" for gluttony and obesity, but fatty covered casseroles and Sunday School doughnuts aren't the only minefields, new research shows (Chicago Tribune)

  2. People 'do believe they can wash away sins' | Chen-Bo Zhong, of the University of Toronto in Ontario, and Katie Liljenquist, of Northwestern University in Chicago, conducted experiments to investigate the "Macbeth effect"—that is, a threat to one's moral purity induces the need to cleanse oneself (The Telegraph, London)

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Church and state:

  1. Communities take aim at storefront churches | The small churches that often rent vacant storefronts, many f them with poor congregations, dismay town leaders hoping to attract new businesses. Many leaders believe that the fledgling churches symbolize decay, and some towns have banned or restricted places of worship (The News and Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  2. Lawsuit challenges use of federal aid for Bible-based counseling | The lawsuit is another challenge to the Bush administration's efforts to channel money for social services to religious organizations (The New York Times)

  3. Also: Lawsuit says gov't funds Christian goals | A group is suing the federal government over grant money that went to a the Northwest Marriage Institute, saying the Bush administration's initiative to support faith-based organizations has been used to unconstitutionally promote a fundamentalist Christian agenda (Associated Press)

  4. Church may be liable for negligent supervision of minister-marriage counselor | A New York trial court held that it would not unconstitutionally impinge on ecclesiastical issues if it moved forward with plaintiff's claims that a minister was having an affair with his wife at the same time he was providing secular marriage counseling to the couple (Religion Clause)

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  1. Officials work to okay religious display | After a local pastor accused township officials of restricting his religious right to create a "dramatic presentation" of hell, supervisors have agreed to rework an ordinance to give more leeway for religious events (Daily Local, West Chester, Pa.)

  2. 'God Bless America' poster yanked | The God Bless America poster that used to hang in the Lompoc post office lobby is now in the back room out of public view (Santa Maria Times, Ca.)

  3. Religious rights 'under fire' | Leading preacher says suits, rulings eroding freedom (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)

  4. Prop. 401 also can strip some rights of churches | This morning many members of the clergy will be urging their congregations to vote "yes" Tuesday on Proposition 401. It's expected that they would speak against what they see as immorality at Scottsdale's two cabarets. It is their right to do so (Mark Scarp, East Valley Tribune, Az.)

  5. Catholic high-level group could fuel EU 'God' debate | European bishops have commissioned a high-profile group of thinkers to draft a report on the EU's common values, in a move which could spur the debate on the need to include Christianity in a new EU treaty text (EUObserver.com)

  6. Religious dialogue okay | Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says there is no ban on inter-religious discourse. There's just a ban on "sensitive issues from being raised, particularly those linked to religious matters." (Sun2Surf, Malaysia)

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Bankruptcy and giving:

  1. Bankruptcy reform ruling limits some charitable giving | Many Americans seeking Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection will have to pay off all creditors before they can tithe or make other charitable donations under the new federal bankruptcy-reform law, a judge has ruled (The Washington Times)

  2. Will bankruptcy ruling limit tithe-payers? | A New York federal judge has ruled that some people going through bankruptcy may not make charitable or religious contributions (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)

  3. Also: 2005 bankruptcy law makes charitable giving difficult for debtors (Religion Clause)

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Government prayer:

  1. Cobb wins prayer legal battle | Federal judge okays invocations before county meetings (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  2. Also: Prayers to Jesus okayed for Cobb Commission | Judge rejects ACLU suit to halt practice (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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  1. Judges shy away from prayer ban | Panel hears Bosma's challenge to ruling that halted overtly Christian invocations (The Indianapolis Star)

  2. Prayer in the House | There is a fine line between public and private speech in Bosma vs. Falk battle (The News-Sentinel, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)

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  1. Study indicates public school classes on Bible are faulted | The majority of Bible courses offered as electives in Texas high schools are devotional and sectarian in nature, not academic, as required by a host of rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court on down, a study says (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)

  2. Also: School Bible courses sectarian, study finds | Most in Texas are not academic in nature as required by law (Houston Chronicle)

  3. Schools' religion policy revisited | York board members ponder the rule changes after concerns surfaced about religion in classrooms (Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)

  4. No immunity for principal in recess Bible reading case | The court found that "L.W.'s right to read and discuss the Bible at recess with his friends is a clearly established right under the First Amendment" (Religion Clause)

  5. Judge halts Bible giveaway at Mo. school | A federal judge ordered a small-town school to suspend a program that gives free Bibles to students, saying it improperly promotes Christianity (Associated Press)

  6. Court okays Boy Scout recruiting at schools | Oregon's justices say a group's visit didn't discriminate against an atheistic student (The Oregonian)

  7. Kids can skip school on Buddha's birthday and 74 other holidays | Almost double the number from 15 years ago (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.)

  8. Foe of condom video praises revision | Group sued Montgomery (The Washington Post)

  9. Religion should be kept out of school assemblies | The Flagler school district lacked that good judgment by uncritically opening its doors to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in August (Editorial, Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)

  10. No baptism, no bus pass, girl, 11, told | Although the county council provides free transport or bus passes for children attending faith schools, they will only do it for Christian schools if the child has been baptised or the parents are on the parish electoral roll (The Telegraph, London)

  11. Admissions code bans faith school selection by interview | Faith schools will be banned from giving preference to parents who name them as their first choice, under a new admissions code announced by the Government yesterday (The Telegraph, London)

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  1. Intelligent design may resurface in Ohio talks | Group criticizes teaching plan under board's review (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  2. Kenya bishop leads anti-evolution fight | Evangelists want fossil exhibits kept out of sight (The Observer, London)

  3. Dinosaurs, Bible meet in Pensacola | A creationist theme park promotes the idea that the Earth is 6,000 years old. The scientific community puts the age of Earth at 4.5 billion years (The Miami Herald)

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Higher education:

  1. Professor at Calvin Seminary charges sex bias | Six years after making history, the first full-time female professor at Calvin Theological Seminary has resigned. Ruth Tucker alleges sex discrimination at the Christian Reformed Church school for ministers (The Grand Rapids Press)

  2. Disconnect seen cause of Georgetown ban | The director of Georgetown University's Campus Ministries says outside Protestant groups lost their official status on the Catholic campus this semester because of "ongoing difficulties" in communication and cooperation with the university (The Washington Times)

  3. Casey college speech irks some Catholics | Some Catholic conservatives are accusing the Catholic University of America of publicly favoring Democrat Bob Casey Jr. over Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania two months before an election that could decide who controls the Senate next year (The Washington Times)

  4. Also: Misinvitation | Bob Casey's stumble into Church politics (Patrick J. Reilly, National Review Online)

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Navy chaplain court martial:

  1. Trial begins for Navy chaplain accused of disobedience | When a uniformed Navy chaplain utters prayers at a news conference, does that constitute a "bona fide religious service or observance"? (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.)

  2. Chaplain enters plea at court-martial | A Navy chaplain charged with disobeying orders by wearing his uniform at a White House protest pleaded not guilty at his court-martial Tuesday (Associated Press)

  3. Navy officials tried to fire chaplain prior to charges | Internal e-mails indicate that the Navy was moving to fire an outspoken chaplain even before he was charged with disobeying an order (The Washington Times)

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Missions and ministry:

  1. Three die when plane crashes on way to Baja California clinic | A pilot and two medical missionaries flying out of Brown Field died yesterday when their small plane crashed about 90 miles south of the U.S-Mexico border outside Ensenada, law enforcement authorities said (San Diego Union-Tribune, Ca.)

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  1. Running on empty? Visit church, fill up | Cypress Point Community Church hopes it can touch the lives of first-time visitors as it helps top off their gas tanks (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

  2. Living the Questions a liberal alternative to Alpha | Two United Methodist ministers in Arizona, Jeff Procter-Murphy and David Felten, launched Living the Questions last year. They wanted a way to invite people to their churches and to discuss Christian theology but without presenting an absolute set of answers (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)

  3. Skateboard ministry | Price of admission to church's skate park: listening to the sermon during water break (The Washington Post)

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Church life:

  1. Preacher to lead flock via satellite | A Texas mega-church with 20,000 members and a popular pastor is coming to South Miami -- if sometimes via video uplink (The Miami Herald)

  2. Come as you are | At Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Snoop Dogg figures in sermons, housewives cradle babies in tattooed arms -- and religious fundamentalism rules. Meet the Disciple Generation, the fierce new face of American evangelism (Salon.com)

  3. Baptist Temple has a housewarming | Federal marshals seized its church property in 2001 (The Indianapolis Star)

  4. Building capital | The Catholic Diocese of Arlington is a prime example of the power of spiritual fundraising: When Bishop Paul S. Loverde announced a $75 million capital funds drive four years ago, local Catholics contributed 150 percent, or $114 million (The Washington Times)

  5. At a parish under strain, new shepherds for the flock | Shocking many parishioners, Paulist leaders announced that in the face of staffing problems, they would be leaving the 70-year-old Church of the Good Shepherd behind (The New York Times)

  6. After a century of struggle, a new monastery rises | In a matter of weeks, once the bells are in place and the marble tiles laid, the final chapter in a century-long saga over a Greek Orthodox monastery in the middle of the West Bank may finally be written (Reuters)

  7. After 100 years, still a beacon | St. Victor's in West Hollywood marks its centennial as a haven of diversity. In recent years it has seen an influx of young families (Los Angeles Times)

  8. Deal-making returns the parish church to life | The Rev Andrew Mottram on ambitious plans for restoring churches (The Times, London)

  9. Russian monastery's delight as bells head home from Harvard | Metals tycoon pays for return of 'singing icons' (The Guardian, London)

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  1. Thanks be to Rod for £5k gift to city church | Rocker Rod Stewart has made a £5000 donation towards the refurbishment of the historic city church where his son was baptized (The Evening News, Scotland)

  2. Age-old technology for new bells | In a return to the past, Trinity Church is installing 12 brand-new bells that can be rung only by hand-pulled ropes dangling underneath (The New York Times)

  3. Expelled bishop now stuck in property row | The Charismatic Episcopal Church bishop who was recently expelled for alleged insubordination and indiscipline , is now locked in a bitter controversy with the church over property (The Monitor, Uganda)

  4. Some churches discriminate against women | We must prohibit leaders in such churches from holding public office (Becky Elliott, Buffalo News, N.Y.)

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  1. Clergy seek 'two-church solution' | Our correspondent reports on plans to prevent US conservatives or liberals precipitating a schism in the Anglican Communion (The Times, London)

  2. 'Adoption' plan for anti-gay dioceses | Conservative Anglican leaders are exploring ways to "adopt" seven American dioceses that have rejected the pro-gay agenda of their own Church (The Telegraph, London)

  3. 'Mudslinging leaves Anglican Church on brink of collapse' | Mudslinging, back-stabbing and factionalism have left the Anglican Church worldwide teetering on the brink of collapse, the Archbishop for Central Africa, the Most Reverend Bernard Malango, said yesterday (The Herald, Zimbabwe)

  4. Southwest Florida bishop calls for 40-day blogging 'fast' | The damage inflicted by half-truths and outright lies has taken a far greater toll on the mission of the Church than any erroneous teaching, according to the Rt. Rev. John B. Lipscomb, Bishop of Southwest Florida (Living Church)

  5. Bishop appoints priest with HIV | A clergyman with HIV has been appointed as a parish priest in what is thought to be the first case of a Church of England bishop knowingly giving such a job to a gay man with the illness (The Times, London)

  6. Illness ends dream of the downshifting archbishop | The Anglican primate who walked away from his archbishop's palace to become a humble parish priest is to cut short his ministry on doctor's advice after being struck down by a series of debilitating illnesses (The Times, London)

  7. Muhabura crisis ends | Muhabura Diocese Bishop Ernest Shalita has finally handed over his pastoral staff to Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, ending a crisis that has polarised Christians in southwestern Uganda for five years (New Vision, Uganda)

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  1. Christian defends right to hand out anti-gay leaflets | A prominent Christian campaigner denied that he had breached public order by handing out anti-homosexual leaflets at a gay festival (The Telegraph, London)

  2. Also: Time to fight the good fightback | It could have been construed as a rallying call: a warning to committed Christians that they should heighten their awareness, open their eyes and stiffen their spines. And it was perfectly appropriate that it should have been delivered from the pulpit (Olga Craig, The Telegraph, London)

  3. Gay-hating pastor warns Scotland to beware 'evil forces' | A Pentecostal Christian pastor convicted in Sweden for inciting hatred against homosexuals last night addressed a congregation in Scotland (The Herald, Glasgow)

  4. Why church is falling out with executive | Relations between the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and the Scottish Executive are claimed to be at a new low, with a bishop calling for back benchers to rebel over proposals to allow homosexuals to adopt (The Herald, Glasgow)

  5. Also: Church 'losing faith in McConnell' (The Herald, Glasgow)

  6. Church slams gay marriage | Cardinal also takes shot at Canada's green light on abortion (Edmonton Sun)

  7. Presbyterian Church of Ghana condemns homosexuality and same sex marriages | The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rt. Rev. Dr. Frimpong Manson, has pledged the church's full support for government's prompt and bold stance to prevent this abomination from being encouraged on Ghanaian soil (The Chronicle, Ghana)

  8. Fired professor stands firm in support of gay marriage | Jeffrey Nielsen believes gay people should be allowed to marry and have children more now than he did in June when the stance cost him his job at Brigham Young University (Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City)

  9. Ban on gay rabbis may be lifted | A key Conservative Jewish leader is organizing talks nationwide to tell synagogues that the movement will likely roll back its ban on ordaining openly gay rabbis by year's end (Associated Press)

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  1. Preacher calls for one wife marriages | A visiting international preacher has urged Uganda to change its laws to sanction only monogamous marriages. Dr. Leo Godzich, associate pastor of Phoenix First Assembly Church in Arizona, USA, and founder of the National Association of Marriage Enhancement, was addressing a press conference at Hotel Africana on Thursday (New Vision, Uganda)

  2. Move to outlaw smacks | A push is under way for Tasmania to become the first state to ban parents from smacking their children (The Mercury, Tasmania, Australia)

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  1. I'm lonely because I can't find a Christian to marry | At 24, I'm torn about not having sex until marriage, especially as only non-Christian men ask me out (The Guardian, London)

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Hindu Anglican priest:

  1. Hinduism no barrier to job as priest in Church of England | A priest with the Church of England who converted to Hinduism has been allowed to continue to officiate as a cleric (The Times, London)

  2. Also: British priest in Kerala in conversion debate | Rev. David Hart finds no contradiction in being identified as a "religious pluralist" (The Hindu, India)

  3. Response: Ely's Hindu priest | May I reassure your readers that Mr Hart does not hold any post and is not a licensed priest within the Diocese of Ely (Canon Owen Spencer-Thomas, The Times, London)

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  1. Foundation for faith | A young, enthusiastic Rick Warren decides to build his megachurch in O.C. The third installment of a series on Rick Warren. (The Orange County Register)

  2. McGreevey Tells Oprah Winfrey about new book, and new life | James E. McGreevey, who resigned as New Jersey governor after revealing that he had an affair with a man, told Oprah Winfrey that he has renewed faith in God, people who saw the taped interview said (The New York Times)

  3. Bishop bans services for the day | Anglican church services in Zimbabwe's capital were banned yesterday on the orders of the Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga. Priests and parishioners were ordered instead to attend a lavish, all-day celebration of his 33rd wedding anniversary (The Times, London)

  4. The man who claims to be Jesus | Followers claim Doral man is God on earth (WFOR, Miami)

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  1. Pope Benedict visits his hometown, charming its residents | The pope lived in Marktl am Inn, Germany, for his first two years, and just a few elderly residents remembered him (The New York Times)

  2. Pope warns against secularization in Germany | Pope Benedict XVI urged his largely secular home country not to let science and reason make it "deaf" to God (The New York Times)

  3. Pope Benedict makes visit to birthplace | Pope Benedict XVI spent a sentimental day in his Bavarian homecoming Monday, visiting the town where he was born, the church where he was baptized and his favorite pilgrimage site (Associated Press)

  4. Pope warns of tuning out Christianity | Pope Benedict XVI rebuked his fellow Germans and other Western societies Sunday, saying they often shut their ears to the Christian message and insisting that the modern world's science and technology alone cannot combat AIDS and other social ills (Associated Press)

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  1. Pope's birthplace in Bavaria vandalized | Vandals threw paint-filled balloons at the house where Pope Benedict XVI was born Sunday, a day before the pontiff planned to visit his hometown during his six-day trip to Bavaria (Associated Press)

  2. 230,000 attend pope's Mass in Germany | In discussing faith and reason, Benedict in his sermon scoffed at the idea of a "mathematically ordered cosmos" without any hand of God. He said this would mean "nothing more than a chance result of evolution" (Associated Press)

  3. God cannot be used to justify fanaticism: Pope | Christians had learned to recognize "the ways that God's image can be destroyed by hatred and fanaticism," he said (Reuters)

  4. Pope's parents met through personal ad | Pope Benedict's father met his mother by advertising for a wife in a local Roman Catholic newspaper, a German paper reported on Sunday (Reuters)

  5. Faith fading in rich world, alive in poor: Pope | Western societies are losing their souls to scientific rationality and frightening believers in the developing world who still fear God, Pope Benedict told an open-air mass in Germany on Sunday (Reuters)

  6. Pope calls gay marriage "folly," warns politicians | Pope Benedict said on Friday Catholic politicians could not be swayed by opinion polls and social trends into supporting practices such as abortion and the "folly" of gay marriage (Reuters)

  7. Pope visits his native Bavaria | Church attendance has declined in the region. Benedict hopes that `coming generation may remain true to the spiritual heritage.' (Los Angeles Times)

  8. Return to old rituals, Pope tells families | Pope Benedict XVI has called on parents to embrace the Christian rituals that have fallen into disuse, such as taking children to Sunday school, kneeling in prayer at bedtime and saying grace before meals (The Times, London)

  9. Pope returns to his roots in a lonely hearts advert | A lonely hearts advertisement searching for a young Catholic woman who could cook and sew brought together the parents of German-born Pope Benedict XVI (The Times, London)

  10. Pope looks to appoint new Vatican Bank head | Vatican finances are also being reshuffled (The Times, London)

  11. Behind Benedict's Vatican overhaul | Though eyes are on his trip home, the Pope is (gradually) launching big changes back in the Roman Curia (Time)

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  1. Pope assails secularism, adding footnote on jihad | In a speech on Western science and philosophy, the pope said jihadi violence is contrary to reason and God's plan (The New York Times)

  2. Pope, citing Islam, criticizes holy wars and fanaticism | Violence is 'contrary to God's nature,' he says in a lecture at the college where he once taught (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Pope invites dialogue with Muslims | Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday that Islamic holy war was against God's nature and invited Muslims to join in a peaceful cultural dialogue (Associated Press)

  4. Pope decries faith by force | Lecture to academics in Germany expected to draw Muslim ire (The Baltimore Sun)

  5. Papal homecoming: benedict faces a fading church | Benedict XVI's visit to his home turf in Germany will be in some ways a survey of the remnant that is the European church (The New York Times)

  6. Pontiff admonishes Catholics not to lose their souls to science | During his homecoming in Germany, he scolds Western Europe for having a secular focus (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. In search of common ground? Get thee to a nunnery | Monasteries, convents and religious camps have been opening their doors to business mediation and strategy retreats (The New York Times)

  2. Ranch turned abbey is fertile field for serenity | Monks and anyone else seeking contemplative solitude have been drawn to St. Andrew's Abbey for 50-plus years (Los Angeles Times)

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  1. Papyrus, parchment & posterity | At the Sackler, 'Bibles Before the Year 1000' to trace books' evolution (The Washington Post)

  2. Ernesto's power claims historic tree | Church to preserve red oak's legacy (The Washington Post)

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  1. Can we trust the gospels? | None of the Gnostic texts--or any other recently unearthed find--can trump the four canonical gospels. An excerpt from Simply Christian (N.T. Wright, Beliefnet)

  2. Blogging the Bible: I'm starting to hate Deuteronomy | Moses turns into Jackie Mason (David Plotz, Slate)

  3. The illustrated word | The interior confusions of The St. John's Bible's sponsor find subtle embodiment in a made-for-exhibition Bible that is less a companion to liturgical prayer than an ambitious tour de force (The New York Sun)

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  1. Cleaning the closet: Heche's mom publishes memoir | What are the chances that three out of four women in a single family would each write memoirs? (Chicago Sun-Times)

  2. Evangelical author puts progressive spin on traditional faith | Brian McLaren has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in an increasingly active group of progressive evangelicals who are challenging the theological orthodoxy and political dominance of the religious right (The Washington Post)

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  1. God is green | Edward O. Wilson makes a plea on behalf of the planet to an imaginary Baptist minister. Matthew Scully reviews The Creation (The New York Times Book Review)

  2. Albright at prayer | The former secretary of state takes on religion, and wrestles it to the ground. Elizabeth Edwards Spalding reviews The Mighty and the Almighty (The Weekly Standard)

  3. What sort of end will Harry Potter meet? | Some say Rowling should let Potter die, he said, because that is what tragic heroes do (Terry Mattingly, Scripps Howard News Service)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. Rev. Albert Wagner, Pentecostal minister and Bible-figures folk artist, dies at 82 | Wagner never studied art, but got interested in being an artist in 1974 when he was painting the interior of his house for his 50th birthday. He noticed paint-can rings on the board where he left open buckets (Los Angeles Times)

  2. 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)

  3. Religion news in brief | USCCB's tightens seminarian training policies, Seminary rejects pastor's sermon on speaking in tongues, and other stories (Associated Press)

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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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