1. Are Muslims "acting in accordance with reason" in response to Pope Benedict's remarks?
The Muslim world is outraged by Pope Benedict's criticism of "violent conversion" and references to the siege of Constantinople. A lawmaker from the Turkish ruling party said Benedict's speech on the universality of reason "looks like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades" and that Benedict "is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini." Pakistan's parliament unanimously condemned the Pope and his remarks. In Srinagar, India, a group of Muslims burned an effigy of Benedict and shouted, "Those who dare to target Islam and the Prophet will be finished!"

"This is not an effective way to argue against someone who has questioned your religion's relationship to violence," notes Catholic blogger Amy Welborn.

"Honestly, the thin-skinnedness of many Muslims is getting awfully tiresome," agrees Rod Dreher at Beliefnet's Crunchy Con. "How on earth are we ever supposed to be able to have a dialogue if the non-Muslim side has to walk on eggshells to avoid offending the wounded sensibilities of Muslim leaders, who seem very eager to take gross offense at anything critical?"

Not that Benedict's point was to criticize Islam, says National Catholic Reporter's John Allen Jr. "He brought up the dialogue between Paleologus and the Persian to make a different point. Under the influence of its Greek heritage, he said, Christianity represents a decisive choice in favor of the rationality of God. While Muslims may stress God's majesty and absolute transcendence, Christians believe it would contradict God's nature to act irrationally. He argued that the Gospel of John spoke the last word on the biblical concept of God: In the beginning was the logos, usually translated as word, but it is also the Greek term for reason."

And that's why we should be defending the pope, said Italian Mario Mauro, one of 14 vice-presidents of the European Parliament. "Let us defend the Pope without ifs or buts, let us defend reason," he said. "The monstrous attempt on the part of many Islamic leaders, even the so-called moderates, to distort the Pope's reaching out to all religions (through the lecture), in order to hit out at Christians and the West shows us the gravity of the danger we are facing."

2. Critics say TBN panders to Muslims
TBN's viewers have continued to support the broadcasting network despite charges of "plagiarism, fleecing poor viewers out of hundreds of millions of dollars while living extravagant lifestyles," and accusations of a gay tryst by president Paul Crouch. "But now Crouch must deal with the worst slur of 21st-century Christendom," OC Weekly reports. "His network, critics say, is soft on Islam."

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Officials at Zola Levitt Ministries say their show was dropped because "TBN, you see, is modifying its programming to be suitable for broadcast in Arab nations." Hal Lindsey says his program was similarly dropped earlier this year over a dispute with the network over comments about Islam. "Let's be careful how we treat the Arabs and Islam," Crouch wrote to TBN programmers in 2002. "Let's not slam Mohammed and Islam. Let's reach out to them in love."

OC Weekly is certainly not the first to cover the disputes. The conservative (and often conspiratorial) site WorldNetDaily, where Lindsey is a columnist, has been covering this all year. But the OC Weekly piece may put the controversy in the spotlight, especially since it comes during conversations about the Pope's Regensburg address.

3. Report says chaplain prayer provision is holding up U.S. defense bill
A fight over whether military chaplains can pray in the name of Jesus in nondenominational settings is one of the issues holding up negotiations on the 2007 defense authorization bill," Army Times reported yesterday. House Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is the chief supporter of a provision in the House bill's version that bars limits on what chaplains can say in public prayers. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y. promised to "remove this dangerous and unnecessary language" from the bill. The Defense Department also opposes the provision.

4. Expect to hear about the criminalization of Christianity
"Religious conservative leaders, sensing declining alarm over same-sex marriage, are warning that the debate over homosexuality has prompted attacks on religious freedom," the Associated Press reports. The story quotes Tony Perkins: "There are a number of pastors that said, 'Look, we don't get involved in politics, I'm not going to get involved in this issue, I just want to preach the gospel. When they realize their ability to preach the gospel may very well be at stake, they may reconsider their involvement."

Which means that the future fight over homosexuality is largely going to be between two influential, mostly white, mostly affluent groups trying to convince the American public that they're an oppressed, persecuted minority.

But evangelical persecution claims won't just be about the gay thing. In a WorldNetDaily piece titled, "Welcome to the criminalization of Christianity," Janet Folger claims that "At issue in the court-martial of Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt, chaplain for the United States Navy, is a name and the freedom to speak it. That name is Jesus."

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Actually, at issue in the court-martial of Klingenschmitt was whether he disobeyed an order not to wear his military uniform to press conferences or political protests. A jury found that Klingenschmitt did wear his uniform to a March 30 news conference in front of the White House, where he protested what he called restrictions on what he can pray and preach as a military chaplain. (The Navy has repeatedly denied Klingenschmitt's claim that he is banned from praying in Jesus' name.) Klingenschmitt had argued that because he prayed before and after talking to reporters, it was a religious service and thus exempt from the uniform ban.

"America is no longer the land of the free," says Folger. "Thankfully, there are still brave Americans like Chaplain Klingenschmitt." Folger's column is full of misrepresentations and untruths. But might it still mobilize her readers? Or will they object to her bearing false witness and taking the Lord's name in vain?

5. USCIRF "shocked" at U.S. State Department religious freedom report
The U.S. Department of State released its eighth annual report on international religious freedom today. The Associated Press highlights the report's criticism of Iran, but what the report says (or rather, doesn't say) about Saudi Arabia may be the real news. Saudi Arabia is still listed as a "country of particular concern"—along with Iran, Vietnam, Burma, China, Eritrea, North Korea, and Sudan—but U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom chair Felice Gaer says the commission "is simply shocked that the Department removed longstanding and widely quoted language from its report that freedom of religion does not exist in Saudi Arabia." The state department's own report, she notes, says "There generally was no change in the status of religious freedom during the reporting period." But John Hanford, the U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, said at this morning's press conference, "We see things moving in the right direction" in Saudi Arabia.

Quote of the day
"With the lack of ethics in this culture, keeping your word, honoring your agreements, is difficult. You never know who's cheating on you. You can't control it. You just have to lay back and enjoy the show."

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—Regan Books publisher Judith Regan, complaining about leaks of The Confession by James McGreevey. The former New Jersey governor's memoir describes how he began having sex with men while his wife was in the hospital recovering from the delivery of his daughter. McGreevey says he had sex with women other than his wife "scores of times" to "prove" that he was straight, and also had sex with "scores of men" while married. He also lied to reporters about the background of his homeland security chief, Golan Cipel, whom McGreevey now says was among his lovers. (Cipel denies sexual involvement with McGreevey and had threatened to file a sexual harassment suit against him.) Regan was quoted by The New York Times.

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Pope's Islam comments | War and violence | Navy chaplain reprimand | Church and state | Politics | Life ethics | AIDS | Education | Jesus Camp | Entertainment and media | Music | Books | Theology and belief | Church life | Homosexuality | Other stories of interest

Pope's Islam comments:

  1. Turkish lawmaker compares pope to Hitler | It's among the criticisms throughout the Muslim world (Associated Press)

  2. In quotes: Muslim reaction to Pope | Muslim political and religious leaders around the world have been reacting to a speech by Pope Benedict XVI in which he mentioned the Prophet Muhammad (BBC)

  3. Pope's talk on Islam sparks anger and tarnishes homecoming | Pope Benedict XVI returned to Rome after a six-day visit to Bavaria. While the trip was mostly personal, remarks he made about Islam have Muslim leaders around the world calling angrily for an apology (Deutsche Welle, Germany)

  4. Muslims condemn Pope's remarks on Islam | Some of the strongest words came from Turkey, possibly putting in jeopardy Pope Benedict XVI's plan to visit there in November (The New York Times)

  5. Muslims deplore Pope speech, want apology | Muslims deplored on Friday remarks on Islam by Pope Benedict and many of them said the Catholic leader should apologize in person to dispel the impression that he had joined a campaign against their religion (Reuters)

  6. Muslims lash out at Pope's remarks | Benedict's criticism of Islamic violence draws sharp rebukes and may threaten his Turkey trip (Los Angeles Times)

  7. Pope a 'medieval crusader' in India | Pope Benedict XVI's attack on Islam has stirred anger in India with the head of the National Commission for Minorities saying he sounded like a medieval crusader (AFP)

  8. Muslim anger grows at Pope speech | A statement from the Vatican has failed to quell criticism of Pope Benedict XVI from Muslim leaders, after he made a speech about the concept of holy war (BBC)

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  1. Building bridges not walls | Some have been accusing the Pope of having offended Muslims with one of his speeches, which a Vatican statement said last night was certainly not his intention (Vatican Radio)

  2. Whoops, a pontiff | The Pope is innocent of charges of stirring up hatred against Islam (Stephen Bates, The Guardian, London)

  3. Appealing to reason | The Pope is trying to start a dialogue—with Muslims and people who regard his words as meaningless. (Andrew Brown, he Guardian, London)

  4. Also: Germans reconsider religion | Pope Benedict XVI's challenge to secularism meets with receptivity during his German visit (The Christian Science Monitor)

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War and violence:

  1. Explosion damages Gaza church office | A youth centre run by the Greek Orthodox church in the Gaza Strip was slightly damaged by a small explosion on Friday, witnesses said (Reuters)

  2. Palestinian security officer shot dead | Also, Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City attacked (Associated Press)

  3. Uganda peace hinges on amnesty for brutality | Whether a cease-fire in Uganda's Acholi war lasts may depend on whether a rebel commander is given amnesty (The New York Times)

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Navy chaplain reprimand:

  1. Navy chaplain guilty of disobeying an order | The chaplain, Lt. Gordon J. Klingenschmitt, said he intends to "appeal by all means possible all the way to the Supreme Court" (The Washington Post)

  2. Jury recommends reprimand, fine for Navy chaplain | The jury that convicted a Navy chaplain of disobeying an order recommended Thursday that he forfeit $3,000 in pay and receive a written reprimand (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.)

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Church and state:

  1. U.S.: Iran restricting religious freedom | At a news conference, Hanford credited Vietnam with making "enormous progress" on religious freedom, and said in Saudi Arabia "we see things moving in the right direction" (Associated Press)

  2. Jordan lawmakers limit religious edicts | Lawmakers have approved a measure that would only allow a state-appointed council to issue religious edicts, a move aimed at denying Islamic hard-liners a forum for disseminating extremist ideology (Associated Press)

  3. Whose to give? | Reform law may bar Chapter 13 filers from tithing (World)

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  1. Prayer issue holds up '07 spending bill | A fight over whether military chaplains can pray in the name of Jesus in nondenominational settings is one of the issues holding up negotiations on the 2007 defense authorization bill, according to sources involved in working out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill (Navy Times)

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  1. Conservatives say religion under attack | By expanding the discussion from marriage to religious expression, social conservatives say they will reconnect with religious voters and religious leaders who don't necessarily view same-sex unions as a threat (Associated Press)

  2. God and American foreign policy | America's foreign policy seems strongly influenced by religion. But that influence is much more complex than its critics suppose (The Economist)

  3. Ala. Christian Coalition changes name | They disagreed with new directions being taken by the national group, including its support for a higher minimum wage (Associated Press)

  4. Senate candidate speaks of life, faith | Pa.'s Casey, hoping to oust Santorum, defends role of religion in politics (The Washington Post)

  5. Casey joins Democratic push to attract religious voters | U.S. Senate candidate Bob Casey Jr. used a speech at Catholic University yesterday to place himself among the growing number of Democrats seeking to loosen the Republican Party's grip on religious voters (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  6. As the 6th District turns | Roskam's campaign demanded Duckworth return a $2,100 contribution from comedian Rosie O'Donnell, after her religion comments on ABC's "The View." (The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  7. Kline defends leaked church memo during debate | A.G. candidates debate, point out their differences (Associated Press)

  8. Bell is bold, Kinky bolder | Tired of watching Republicans such as Gov. Rick Perry openly using some evangelical churches the way Democrats traditionally used labor unions, gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell is unabashedly wearing his Christianity on his sleeve (Rick Casey, Houston Chronicle)

  9. Just following holy orders | Tom Frame has some strong opinions; just don't expect him to force them on the public (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  10. A taste for granola | I am one of the religious right, and I don't like us (Kevin Feldotto, Colorado Springs Independent)

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Life ethics:

  1. Doubts voiced over emergency pill | Making emergency contraception more available has failed to reduce abortion rates, a family planning expert says (BBC)

  2. Also: Morning-after pill not cutting abortion rate | Rather than heralding emergency contraception as a solution to rising abortion rates, the focus should be on getting people to take precautions before or during sex rather than afterwards, says Professor Anna Glasier, director of the Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust in Edinburgh. (Reuters)

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  1. 2 Republicans in Senate vow to block FDA pick | The senators' objections centered on the importing of prescription drugs and on the abortion drug RU-486 (The New York Times)

  2. Anti-abortion group loses tax exemption | Operation Rescue West promised tax deductions for contributions to help defeat the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004 (The New York Times)

  3. Scanning for life forms | A new study raises serious questions about PVS, but does it matter? (Ryan T. Anderson, The Weekly Standard)

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  1. Called to help Africa | Evangelical leader Tony Campolo says Christians can save AIDS orphans (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  2. Low fidelity | International experts deride U.S. abstinence-based fight against AIDS while local experts say it's working (World)

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  1. Services for Protestants reviewed by campus group | Georgetown University's Campus Ministry is launching a committee to review how it serves Protestant students, a month after facing criticism for withdrawing the official status of six private evangelical ministries (The Washington Post, third item)

  2. Religion back on school syllabus | Religion will return to Australia's state school classrooms, with students expected to study beliefs from the Aboriginal Dreamtime to the Koran (The Courier-Mail, Brisbane, Australia)

  3. Finding common g round | DePaul's new Hillel Center offers Jewish students a place to practice their faith at a Catholic school that embraces diversity (Chicago Tribune)

  4. Christian college votes to join Anglican network | The Bega Valley Christian College board has voted to amalgamate with the Anglican Church education division which controls up to 30 schools throughout the south-east and the ACT (ABC, Australia)

  5. Most college dorms invite coed sex, ethicist says | What is it about college that derails students from their faith? It can be stated in two words, "Dorm Brothel," the headline of an article in Christianity Today by Loyola professor Vigen Guroian to describe the culture of today's dormitory life in America (Michael J. Mcmanus, Biloxi Sun-Herald, Miss.)

  6. Baylor boot | Academia is no friend to conservative Christian views—even at a Southern Baptist university (Mark Bergin, World)

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Jesus Camp:

  1. Fire, brimstone around "Jesus" film | Child-soldiers-for-God film plagues evangelicals (The Denver Post)

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  1. At cross purposes | Missouri kids in Christian 'ROTC' make for a powerful and divisive documentary, Jesus Camp (The Kansas City Star)

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Entertainment and media:

  1. 'Entertaining Lucifer' | Critics say TBN is too nice to Muslims (Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly, Ca.)

  2. 'Holy Land' park mixes faith, fun | There is no mouse in funny shoes; no fairy princess. Orlando's Holy Land Experience is a theme park with a biblical focus (The Miami Herald)

  3. Come, all ye sinners | First NYC-Area Hell House gets staging in Brooklyn (Playbill)

  4. Transparent nonsense | Jesus may be everywhere — but on a beer glass? (Editorial, The Times, London)

  5. Endangered evolutionists | A new film ponders the popularity of "intelligent design." (Kenneth Silber, Reason)

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  1. Singing with gritty praise for God | Kiss-FM presents "A Night of Healing," as Gospel's reaction to 9/11 — and to other sorrows and troubles, small and large (The New York Times)

  2. Black Metal ban on eBay? | Christian groups start meddling (again) (Hammer, U.K.)

  3. Third Day aims to break out of the 'Christian' pigeonhole | The band's last album, Wire, was more secular in bent and was interpreted as an attempt to cross over to mainstream radio (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

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  1. Overflow of blessings | Ministry seeking help to ship 1 million pounds of literature (Decatur Daily, Ala.)

  2. Blue Like Jazz mirrors debate about direction of Christianity | Although the book debuted three years ago, its steadily growing popularity has made it a bona fide phenomenon in evangelical circles and spurred debates about the direction of Christianity as a whole (Associated Baptist Press)

  3. Unto the Father | Fr. Richard Neuhaus may have midwifed the religious right—but that doesn't mean Karl Rove always returns his phone calls Paul Bauman reviews The Theocons by Damon Linker (Washington Monthly)

  4. Revelations on Bible's dark book | Stephen O'Shea reviews A History of the End of the World by Jonathan Kirsch (Los Angeles Times)

  5. Scribes who rewrote the history book! | The intricate art of calligraphy is at the centre of a new book about the ancient monastery of Wearmouth—now St Peter's Church (Sunderland Echo, U.K.)

  6. The Bible 2.0: How it works | With eBible, you can highlight verses, share your thoughts and make it your own (Time)

  7. Balmer's lament | How others see us: An evangelical liberal lashes out at the religious right. Marvin Olasky interviews Randy Balmer (World)

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Theology and belief:

  1. Giving the devil his due | Were history's baddest bad guys possessed by Satan? (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  2. Finding & seeking | Born in affluence, the baby boomers were driven to ask Big Questions about fulfillment and the meaning of life. How their legacy has changed us (Newsweek)

  3. Church leaders take issue with Baylor poll | Bakersfield church leaders this week questioned the Baylor University poll results, particularly its researchers' shoehorning believers into one of four categories on how they perceive God (Bakersfield Californian)

  4. Don't marry career women: Two local pastors weigh in | "I don't believe Christian women, God-fearing women, ought to be in the workforce. What the heathen women do, I don't think God wanted them to do, but they're not under the jurisdiction of the church. We, as Christians, are" (KLTV, Jacksonville, Tex.)

  5. The gospel of prosperity | This movement is not just about evangelicalism-meets-Disneyland. It may really be a reflection of baby-boomer-dominated, "I deserve to be happy in the moment" Americans who today so often eschew the value of any suffering or adversity (Betsy Hart, Scripps News)

  6. It's not in the seeing -- it's in the believing | On the concrete wall of a Kennedy Expy. underpass, a few feet away from a water stain that some people believe is a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary, someone has stenciled a rendering of Jesus' face along with the words: "Believe in yourself." (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)

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Church life:

  1. Highland council denies appeal to block church construction | "We are Christians. Christians are supposed to be good neighbors, but we also have rights as citizens," pastor said. "Why would I want to violate my Christian testimony by being obnoxious?" (Redlands Daily Facts, Ca.)

  2. New leader for Texas Baptists | First woman to lead Baptist policy group seeks to preserve legacy, encourage dialogue (Austin American-Statesman, Tex.)

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  1. McGreevey finds revising an image is not so easy | Former Gov. James E. McGreevey wanted his forthcoming book to be viewed as a story of redemption, but finds himself cast as an irresponsible expectant father (The New York Times)

  2. Protests against same-sex unions escalate | Protests planned for Saturday to show disapproval over laws that would recognise same-sex marriages and include them in the Marriage Act have escalated across the country and will carry on until mid-October. (Daily News, South Africa)

  3. Kaine says he will campaign against same-sex marriage ban | Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) urged Virginians to vote against a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions, saying the ballot question puts thousands of unmarried couples at risk of losing a slew of benefits (The Washington Post)

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  1. Clergy rally for gay rights | Support vowed for ballot item that allows civil unions (The Denver Post)

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Other stories of interest:

  1. No booze may hurt career | Those who tipple earn more, at least according to a provocative study called "No Booze? You May Lose," released yesterday by a pair of economists (The Washington Times)

  2. Holy Moses | The Getty's latest collection puts a Christian perspective on the leader, lawgiver, and Sinai climber (The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles)

  3. Ex-priest charged in another sex abuse case | A former Catholic priest who is awaiting trial in a sex abuse case was charged again this week after another man came forward and said he had been molested as a teenager, Montgomery County police said (The Washington Post)

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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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