Holy Week is always a busy religion week. And it's a particularly busy week over here with us both closing our May issue and taking Good Friday off. So while we've had a chance to grab the week's religion news, we couldn't put everything into our usual neat categories by the time the bell rang. But since you're enough of a news junkie to be reading this over your weekend, we hope you won't mind this inconvenience. (Take a page from Alan Jacobs and enjoy the serendipity that a less-categorized list like this can encourage.)

We'll clean this list up early next week. And then offer another heaping helping of hot linky goodness.

Index | Easter | Lent & Holy Week | Theology & the Resurrection | New gospels | Church life | AIDS | Zimbabwe | Abuse | Crime | Lawsuits | Grace Church | Anglicanism | Mormonism | Catholicism | John Paul II | People | Politics and politicians | Education | Homosexuality & same-sex marriage | Life ethics | Stem cells | Morality & psychology | Entertainment | Chocolate Jesus | Best of luck


  • Easter's meaning split is between the sacred and the secular | For some, it's all about the bunny (Houston Chronicle)

  • Church sues state | The Relevant Church filed lawsuit after being denied use to the State Office Building for Easter Services (News10, Syracuse, N.Y.)

  • Once the butcher for the world, now a quarter-acre lot | At one of the last of Chicago's classic slaughterhouses, Passover and Easter mean the lambs' days are numbered (The New York Times)

  • Passover and the Passion | Why is this week different from all other weeks? It begins with Passover and ends with Easter. (James Carroll, The Boston Globe)

  • Faithful build a Second Life for religion online | This week, Second Life will feature Easter events and Passover celebrations, as well as the usual meditation meet-ups, Muslim prayers and legions of gatherings for spiritual freelancers (USA Today)

  • Keeping Passover, Easter and a space to park | A confluence of religious holidays has created an unusually long stretch when some drivers can take a break from worrying about alternate parking rules (The New York Times)

  • It must be Easter | It never fails, as Church-bashers remember to take the holy out of Holy Week. (Lisa Fabrizio, The American Spectator)

  • Easter prime marketing time for skeptics | It's a predictable part of the Easter season: The period of reflection on the Crucifixion and Resurrection has become a popular time for marketers to roll out works — from the scholarly to the sensational — that challenge Christianity's core beliefs (Associated Press)

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Lent & Holy Week:

  • Lenten obligation helps restaurants rake in the clams | Lent, the 40 days before Easter observed by Christians, can mean big bucks for fishy businesses (The Washington Times)

  • Filipinos pray, bathe and crucify themselves at Easter | Although the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, with over 80 percent of its 87 million population estimated to be followers, tribal beliefs and local superstitions infuse Christianity in this Southeast Asian country (Reuters)

  • Christians retrace Jesus' steps | Thousands of pilgrims retraced Jesus' footsteps Wednesday as they celebrated Holy Week at the sites where Christians mark his crucifixion, death and resurrection (Associated Press)

  • Patriarch performs Holy Week rite | Hundreds of Greek Orthodox believers filled the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City to watch their patriarch wash the feet of followers as part of a Holy Thursday tradition. (Associated Press)

  • In pictures: Palm Sunday | From around the world (BBC)

  • 'Last Supper': The tradition returns | The reenactment at a 151-year-old rural Minnesota church includes attention to diction and a case of the jitters (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Church's statues bend to river rules | Stations of the Cross display will adhere to Chattahoochee laws (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • U.S. churches go 'green' for Palm Sunday | More than 1,000 churches have placed orders for palm fronds from Mexico and Guatemala that are collected in an ecological and sustainable way (The New York Times)

  • Eco-palms send Christian message | The Eco-Palms project pays higher prices for palms harvested by communities practicing sustainable forestry and fair trade (The South Bend Tribune, Ind.)

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Theology & the Resurrection:

  • Jesus lives or Christianity dies | Take Easter away, and we are at best like the first-century Jews, still hoping for redemption to happen but with no sign that it has just yet. And at worst we are back with some kind of paganism -- which is where, ultimately, the denial of resurrection will leave you (N.T. Wright, On Faith)

  • And on the third day … ? | A Somerfield PR officer wanted to tell everyone the true meaning of Easter, until it became clear that she didn't have a clue either (Theo Hobson, The Guardian, London)

  • Store gets egg on its face over Christ's Easter 'birth' | Press release claims that the tradition of giving Easter eggs was to celebrate the "birth" of Christ. An amended version changed this to the "rebirth" of Christ. Finally a third press release accepted Church teaching that Easter celebrated the resurrection of Christ (The Times, London)

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  • A debate for the millennia: Did Jesus rise from the dead? | The resurrection of Jesus still draws a crowd, even when it's not Easter Sunday (The Washington Post)

  • Easter message: Christ did not die for sin | Jeffrey John attacks penal substitution (The Telegraph, London)

  • Crucifixion makes God seem like a psychopath, says cleric | One of the country's most controversial clerics was at the centre of a new controversy yesterday after saying that traditional teaching about the Crucifixion was "repulsive" and made God seem like a "psychopath" (The Telegraph, London)

  • Cross purposes | Penal substitution, the idea that God murdered his son for the salvation of the world, is unbiblical, barbaric and morally indefensible (Giles Fraser, The Guardian, London)

  • Rediscovering Mary | Holy Week holy reading. An interview with Frederica Mathewes-Green (National Review Online)

  • Religion news in brief | Romero anniversary; Bishops condemn work of Marquette University theologian; Lutheran leader condemns prosperity gospel; and other stories (Associated Press)

  • Missouri's most powerful Baptist takes on the 'emerging church' | Moran decides to escalate his decade-long battle against "moderate" Baptists. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  • Untangling biblical tales | The Bible is full of smashing stories of derring-do, but how much of it is true? While some believers answer, "Everything, of course," scholars have long been poking around in the historical and archaeological record to determine fact from fiction. Three new paperbacks continue that exploration (The Washington Post)

  • Religion without truth | The truth claims of a religion are not incidental to its identity; they are its identity (Stanley Fish, The New York Times)

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New Gospels:

  • Embracing Judas | A recently translated gospel argues that betraying Jesus was the right thing to do. John Dominic Crossan reviews Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity by Elaine Pagels and Karen L. King (The Washington Post)

  • Pagels and Judas | Religious scholar Elaine Pagels on how the newly discovered Gospel of Judas sheds new light on the dawn of Christianity (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Was it a hoax? Debate on a 'Secret Mark' gospel resumes | Two books claim that the discovery of a previously unknown Gospel of Mark by Morton Smith was a hoax (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

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Church life:

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  • Zimbabwe bishops condemn "overtly corrupt" regime | Catholic bishops condemn their country's "overtly corrupt leadership" in a strongly worded statement (Catholic World News)

  • The religious left's monster | Finally, a Western church official is condemning the increasingly brutal regime of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. (Mark Tooley, FrontPageMag)

  • Bishops warn of people's anger | The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference has criticised practising Christians who do nothing while State agents, policemen and soldiers assault and beat up peaceful, unarmed demonstrators and torture detainees (Zimbabwe Standard)

  • Danger ahead: Missing will | Mugabe has become an extreme caricature of a despotic African dictator (Editorial, USA Today)

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  • Accused preacher dies of gunshot | Authorities say Stephen Whittaker, facing sexual abuse charges, apparently shot himself (Mobile Press-Register, Ala.)

  • Parents say boy told of priest abuse | Mom says son sent to defendant for counseling (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Calif. diocese offers $95M settlement | The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego is offering $95 million to settle more than 140 claims of sexual abuse by priests, according to financial documents (Associated Press)

  • $41 million award in priest abuse suit | A jury awarded $41 million Friday to a Navy officer who said a Roman Catholic priest sexually abused him hundreds of times as a teen (Associated Press)

  • Foley abuse case settled for $550,000 | Lawsuit stems from priest's tenure as fire chaplain (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  • Speaking out gives victim strength | My book tells the story of the complaint I filed alleging that Foley used his position as a police and fire chaplain in 1976, when I was 14, to lure me into a sexual assault (Tony Lembo, The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  • The Rev. Foley scandal | One point the story of Stephen Foley makes abundantly clear is that the nation's Roman Catholic bishops struck a deal with the devil when they adopted the policy of allowing priests suspected of sexual abuse to remain in the priesthood and to financially support them (Editorial, The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  • Diocese names 38 accused priests | In its most extensive accounting of priests accused of sexually molesting minors, the Catholic Diocese of San Diego released the names yesterday of 38 priests with "credible allegations" against them, along with their church service records dating to 1928 (San Diego Union-Tribune, Ca.)

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  • "We love our pastor, and we love our church" | The seriousness of the criminal sexual conduct charge against Reverend Dicks doesn't change how they feel about him (WLTX, Columbia, S.C.)

  • Scam uses popular church as front | FBI investigates identity theft and check forgery targeting a well-known Nashville church (WTVF, Nashville)

  • Pastor, church member charged with theft | A pastor and a church member were yesterday brought before an Abuja magistrates' court for allegedly selling a plot of land worth millions of naira (Daily Trust, Nigeria)

  • Child charged with vandalizing church | 12-year-old used a candle and matches to start a fire at the Concord Street church on March 18 and another fire at the church on Sunday during a Palm Sunday Mass, police said (The Boston Globe)

  • Town settles $6 million suit with church | The town of Atlantic Beach has settled a lawsuit with the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in the town. The church filed the lawsuit in 2004, alleging that the town violated its right to freedom of religion when it denied the church a building permit (The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.)

  • We're not to blame, pastor says | First Baptist Church of Mandarin is offering a reward to find out who gave a toddler cocaine (The Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla.)

  • Fury at Angelika priest sex claim | A priest's reported claims that he had sex with a student whose body was found at his church have been branded "outrageous" by the dead girl's sister (BBC)

  • Former area pastor charged with exploiting elderly | The former pastor of the Ridgewood Avenue Community Church was charged Wednesday with bilking an elderly woman out of more than $80,000 (Daytona Beach News Journal, Fla.)

  • Pastor led church into a financial hell | Trustees lost houses; congregation lost home (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  • Former Geneva pastor charged with theft | Adams said that while McQueen served as the church's pastor, the church borrowed about $150,000 to build a bigger church on Highway 52 near Geneva. The church awarded McQueen the contract for the church construction. (Dothan Eagle, Ala.)

  • Missionary murder case begins | The case of two Catholic missionaries who were murdered in northwest Mozambique last year will be heard in the courts this week (Sunday Times, South Africa)

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  • Trooper didn't hear God's call, sues state | Injured worker claims religious discrimination, says state tried to force him into chaplain job (The Detroit News)

  • County, groups settle lawsuit | Bradford County recently agreed to refrain from using public funds to support religious activities in the settlement of a federal lawsuit over a jailhouse program that allegedly mixed religion with vocational training (The Daily Review, Towanda, Pa.)

  • Pa. county, civil libertarians settle suit over faith-based jail program | Americans United, ACLU had filed federal lawsuit, claiming employees at work-release program proselytized inmates and pressured them to pray (Associated Press)

  • Church's bankruptcy plan nears approval | Federal judge sets the stage for approval next month of a bankruptcy reorganization plan for the Archdiocese of Portland (The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.)

  • Man claims he was fired for not attending church | Plumber says he volunteered to take a drug test, but owner refused to have him tested. Instead, he required him to attend either an Assembly of God, Baptist or Seventh-Day Adventist church, the complaint states (The Morning News, Springdale, Ark.)

  • Battling Baptists await judge | Two congregations that have been battling for control of the historic First Baptist Church of Whitman are expecting a Superior Court judge to decide today which side will temporarily prevail in the unusual fight (The Boston Globe)

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Grace Church:

  • Grace cash may be frozen; diocese heading to court | The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado is trying to freeze Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish funds and is pursuing legal action against church leaders who voted to break away from the denomination (The Colorado Springs Gazette)

  • Breakaway Episcopal pastor accused of financial misdeeds | The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado is accusing the pastor of a conservative Colorado Springs parish of financial misconduct just days after the parish voted to secede over the church's liberal direction (The Washington Times)

  • Episcopal breakaway lays claim to church | The Palm Sunday face-off at Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church ended yesterday in a draw, with the conservatives keeping the historic church building for now, but parishioners who wish to stay with the liberal Diocese of Colorado nabbing the choir robes (The Washington Times)

  • Theft accusations called 'fantasy' | In the latest volley in the battle for control of Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish, the Rev. Donald Armstrong wrote a blistering letter to his parishioners Friday calling theft accusations against him by the Colorado Episcopal Diocese and Bishop Robert O'Neill "a fantasy" and "spiritual attack" (The Gazette, Colorado Springs)

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  • The joyless fate of St. James Anglican church | Yesterday, before a crowd of 17, the Anglican church in downtown Hull was deconsecrated in a 20-minute ceremony that, despite the 23rd Psalm and a stirring organ, had a dry, judicial tone. The "whereases" did not help (Ottawa Citizen)

  • Church divide? | The looming divide between Anglicans and the United States Episcopal Church may force Bajan and other West Indian priests to choose between the two churches by the end of the year (Nation, Barbados)

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  • Anti-Mormon DVD triggers a strong LDS Church rebuke | Retired preacher says he's trying to save LDS members (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)

  • Mormon head says he's still healthy | The 96-year-old leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Sunday he is still in good health despite "rumors to the contrary." (Associated Press)

  • Mormon leaders at home in Holy Land | Though many Orthodox Jews remain wary of the 20 year Mormon presence here, others say the church has made good on its promise not to use Brigham Young University's Jerusalem Center — recently reopened after a six-year security shutdown — to proselytize (Associated Press)

  • 'I am not the Prophet,' says note by Jeffs | Warren Jeffs apparently abdicated his position as president of the Fundamentalist LDS Church in a note he wanted to give to the judge handling the criminal case against him (Deseret News)

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  • Italian named to oversee papal rites | Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday named Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to be the church's new camerlengo, the prelate who takes care of matters dealing with a papal death and runs the Vatican until a new pontiff is elected (Associated Press)

  • Keeping the faith | Pope Benedict XVI says he believes that the Catholic Church in Europe faces a dire threat in secularism and that re-Christianizing the Continent is critical not only to the fate of the church but to the fate of Europe itself (Russell Shorto, The New York Times Magazine, TimesSelect sub. req'd.)

  • Pope, on Holy Thursday, reminds priests to be pure | "When we approach the liturgy to act in the person of Christ, we realize how far we are from Him and how much filth exists in our own lives," the Pope said in his homily (Reuters)

  • Benedict puts conservative stamp on his papacy | After sliding smoothly into his job as pastor of his flock, reaching out to dissidents, other faiths and countries long hostile to the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI has started drawing the line (Associated Press)

  • Pope celebrates Palm Sunday Mass | Pope Benedict XVI, in his Palm Sunday Mass, opened the Roman Catholic Church's most solemn week by urging young people to live pure, innocent lives (Associated Press)

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  • Also: Pope marks Palm Sunday, asks people to seek God (Reuters)

  • Pope's aide blasts media coverage of church | A top aide to Pope Benedict has blasted the media for highlighting the Vatican's views on sex while maintaining a "deafening silence" about charity work done by thousands of Catholic organizations around the world (Reuters)

  • Pope says rich nations "plundered" Third World | Rich countries bent on power and profit have mercilessly "plundered and sacked" Africa and other poor regions and exported to them the "cynicism of a world without God," Pope Benedict writes in his first book (Reuters)

  • Disposable workers | Christianity provided more than a basis for criticism of capitalism—it helped forge an alternative that kept what John Paul II called "the circle of exchange" going (Chuck Colson, Breakpoint)

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John Paul II:

  • Nun says Pope John Paul cured her | Smiling broadly, the French nun whose claims could be accepted as the miracle that the Vatican needs to beatify Pope John Paul II said Friday that she was inexplicably and suddenly "cured" of Parkinson's disease — thanks to him (Associated Press)

  • French nun says church to rule on cure by John Paul II | The Vatican's decision on the veracity of a French nun's story of being cured of Parkinson's disease is crucial to making Pope John Paul II a saint (The New York Times)

  • John Paul II sainthood process advances | Roman Catholic Church officials passed a key milestone in the drive to make Pope John Paul II a saint Monday, closing an investigation into his life during a ceremony on the second anniversary of the beloved pontiff's death (Associated Press)

  • Sainthood process usually long | At Pope John Paul II's 2005 funeral, people held up signs calling for "Santo Subito" — meaning "Sainthood Now" — but things don't work that fast in the Roman Catholic Church (Associated Press)

  • Pope John Paul II on path to beatification | The Vatican is to begin considering the step toward sainthood two years after his death (Los Angeles Times)

  • A healing worthy of a saint | Nun Says Parkinson's Was Cured Following Prayers to Late Pope (The Washington Post)

  • All aboard the John Paul II pilgrim train | Two years after the death of Pope John Paul II, pilgrims are flocking to retrace his life from the comfort of a special train which takes them right to his Polish birthplace (AFP)

  • John Paul II: How fast to sainthood? | The Catholic Church's process for turning mere mortals into saints is a mix of popular enthusiasm and rigorous bureaucratic guidelines. You don't need a Vaticanologist to predict which of these two factors will ultimately carry more weight in Pope John Paul II's cause for sainthood (Time)

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  • To know Tony Snow … | Cancer returns to the authenticly Christian White House press secretary (Cal Thomas, The Washington Times)

  • María Julia Hernández, 68, rights advocate in El Salvador, dies | She was the founding director of the human rights office of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Salvador and had worked closely with Archbishop Óscar Romero (The New York Times)

  • New Orleans archbishop suffers stroke | Archbishop Philip Hannan suffered a stroke and was hospitalized Friday but was expected to make a full recovery, the Archdiocese of New Orleans said (Associated Press)

  • Founder of contraceptive method dies | Critics of the Billings method argue the church supported it because of its relatively high failure rate, which earned it the nickname "Vatican Roulette." (Associated Press)

  • Another Dr. King auction, and his heirs are unhappy | The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s heirs say the papers belong to his estate, and they want the auction stopped (The New York Times)

  • John Billings, 89, creator of contraception method, dies | An Australian physician, Mr. Billings developed a natural contraception method endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church (The New York Times)

  • Methodists for Jimmy Carter | They're the ones who would never host George W. Bush (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

  • Sister Aimee, Christian radio pioneer | In the early decades of the 20th century, a charismatic preacher named Aimee Semple McPherson used the new medium of radio to spread the gospel to millions of loyal followers (Morning Edition, NPR)

  • Celebrity preacher in need of spin control | The story of the evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson feels like the career trajectory of practically everyone who has become even moderately famous in the last hundred years. A review of PBS's 'Sister Aimee' (The New York Times)

  • Britney still welcome in church after gun incident | Located on Mulholland Drive, the Bel Air Presbyterian Church is apparently a popular spot for celebrities looking to score a little face time with the Almighty: It has a full-time "designated pastor to the entertainment community" on staff (Radar)

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  • Remains are not those of Joan of Arc | A rib bone supposedly found at the site where French heroine Joan of Arc was burned at the stake is actually that of an Egyptian mummy, according to researchers who used high-tech science to expose the fake (Associated Press)

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Politics and politicians:

  • Giuliani stands by support of publicly-funded abortions | "Ultimately, it's a constitutional right, and therefore if it's a constitutional right, ultimately, even if you do it on a state by state basis, you have to make sure people are protected," Giuliani said in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash in Florida's capital city (CNN)

  • Giuliani defends abortion stance in S.C. | Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Thursday defended his record favoring the use of public money for abortions, saying he wouldn't try to undo a Supreme Court ruling allowing the procedures (Associated Press)

  • An uneasy marriage of necessity | After years on the periphery of democratic politics, religion, to the astonishment of many, is well and truly back in the centre (Tony Coady, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Ingraham: Religion being exploited for political gain | The Free National Movement (FNM) squeezed in one final national event Saturday before taking a brief break from the campaign trail during Holy Week (The Bahama Journal)

  • Mormon base a mixed blessing for Romney | Mormons are fueling his strong fundraising operation and are laying the foundation for a potent grass-roots network -- including a cadre of young church members experienced in door-to-door missions who say they are looking forward to hitting the streets for him (The Washington Post)

  • Romney in Iowa: A call to faith | Mitt Romney, conducting a telephone conference call with potential Iowa caucus-goers tonight, told them he considered Jesus Christ to be his "personal savior." (The New York Times)

  • Pelosi visits market, mosque in Syria | She stopped at an elaborate tomb, said to contain the head of John the Baptist, and made the sign of the cross. About 10 percent of Syria's 18 million people are Christian (Associated Press)

  • Rep. Pelosi tours Jerusalem holy sites | House Speaker Nancy Pelosi toured Jerusalem holy sites Saturday alongside a congressional delegation that included the first Muslim elected to Congress (Associated Press)

  • GOP presidential hopefuls fight for attention | Candidates such as Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback hope a conservative message will trump money and fame (Los Angeles Times)

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  • Hostage drill prepares school for crisis | Police, faculty and staff lived out a make-believe hostage crisis at Burlington Township High School (Burlington County Times, Willingboro, N.J.)

  • Conservatives angry over terror drill scenario | A police and emergency drill last month at Burlington Township High School has garnered national attention from conservatives angry about a scenario that involved fictional members of an armed "right-wing fundamentalist group.'' (Burlington County Times, Willingboro, N.J.)

  • Whitewashing jihad in the schools | When "real as possible" means Christian terrorists instead of Islamic ones (Michelle Malkin, Statesman Journal, Salem, Ore.)

  • Falwell goes NASCAR | Falwell's Liberty University decides to sponsor "one of its own students on the late model stock car circuit of NASCAR." (Bill Berkowitz, Talk to Action)

  • Christian college to move to Everett | Trinity Lutheran College will move its campus to the former Henry Cogswell site. (The Herald, Everett, Wa.)

  • Let's talk about sex | A pushback against federally-funded abstinence-only sex ed finally gathers steam. (Ann Friedman, The American Prospect)

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Homosexuality & same-sex marriage:

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  • Marriage amendment defeated | The House yesterday defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions, then narrowly missed passing a bill that would recognize same-sex marriages issued in Massachusetts and elsewhere (Concord Monitor, N.H.)

  • No separate but equal in marriage | Should the gay marriage law pass in Connecticut, it would be a statement that the stability, commitment and love between same-sex partners is worthy of respect. (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • 26 gay marriages set to be recorded | Patrick reverses Romney order (The Boston Globe)

  • Marriage law battle goes to high court | S.F. and 22 same-sex couples say it invites discrimination (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Lesbian couple in Wyo. denied Communion | "If all this stuff hadn't hit the newspaper, it wouldn't have been any different than before — nobody would have known about it," said the couple's parish priest at St. Matthew's, the Rev. Cliff Jacobson. "The sin is one thing. It's a very different thing to go public with that sin." (Associated Press)

  • Tories drafted law on religious rights | Documents confirm that Department of Justice officials were drafting new legislation dealing with religious rights and gay marriage (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • N.H. House passes civil unions | Lawmakers vote to extend rights, 243-129 (Concord Monitor, N.H.)

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Life ethics:

  • S.C. ultrasound bill causes questions | Requiring doctors to show women seeking an abortion an ultrasound image of their fetus could be declared unconstitutional if it is interpreted as forcing an unwilling patient, the state attorney general told legislators Wednesday in a letter (Associated Press)

  • Mexican bishop threatens excommunication | The auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Mexico said Wednesday that legislators who vote in favor of a proposed bill to legalize abortion in Mexico City would automatically be excommunicated when the first procedure was performed under the law (Associated Press)

  • Mexicans march to support abortion law | Several thousand women marched through the Mexican capital in support of a bill to legalize abortion in the first three months of pregnancy, a proposal that has drawn harsh criticism from the Roman Catholic Church (Associated Press)

  • Bill to legalize abortion set to pass in Mexico City | The bill has stirred a vicious debate in recent days and shaken the heavily Roman Catholic country to its roots (The New York Times)

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Stem cells:

  • Heart valve grown from stem cells | Team extracted stem cells from bone marrow and cultivated them into heart valve cells (BBC)

  • Mass. gov. seeks stem cell rule reversal | Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick said Friday he will push to reverse stem cell research restrictions imposed by his predecessor, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney (Associated Press)

  • Senate plans stem cell vote in April | Senators will vote on two bills — one similar to the version that passed last Congress, inspiring the lone veto of President Bush's tenure in office. It would lift Bush's 2001 ban on taxpayer-funded research using stem cells developed after that point in time. To win the consent of all senators for a floor vote on that bill, negotiators agreed to a vote on a second bill more palatable to abortion opponents and other critics of embryonic stem cell research. (Associated Press)

  • Governor wants end to curb on stem cells | Patrick seeks to reverse Romney rules, aide says. (The Boston Globe)

  • More govs boost stem cell research | As Congress and the Bush administration remain deadlocked over funding for stem cell research, three new Democratic governors have joined other state leaders in supporting the controversial science. (Stateline.org, via Pew Forum)

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Morality & psychology:

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  • Revelations of the last battle as US Bible thriller series comes to end | The final installment of an evangelical Christian publishing phenomenon which has spawned 16 novels and sold 64 million copies arrived in shops across the United States yesterday (The Times, London)

  • The most hated family in America | What did Louis Theroux make of the Phelpses after three weeks? (BBC)

  • Holy Moses! | Moses' storied tablets get the sketch-comedy treatment in The Ten, a hit-and-miss omnibus inspired by the Ten Commandments and brought to blasphemous, surreal life by a game troupe (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Sligh fox returns to his Christian-pop roots | The 28-year-old South Carolinian's sudden celebrity fueled interest in a CD he recorded last year with a Christian-focused pop band called Half Past Forever (Boston Herald)

  • One hell of a religious read | Christopher Hitchens's God Is Not Great is a merciless attack on every faith (New York Post)

  • Religious zeal, a cautionary tale | In James Robertson's latest novel, a Church of Scotland minister goes missing for three days in a gorge, only to miraculously emerge alive. The trouble begins when Gideon Mack claims the devil saved him (The Washington Times)

  • Christian producer prays for funds | Albion seeks coin from religious community (Variety)

  • Christian film-makers pray investors see the light | Albion Productions, founded by the Christians David Fairman and Jon-Paul Gates, has received messages of support from the Catholic leader Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, and the Anglican bishops of Bristol, Bath and Wells, and Ripon and Leeds (The Independent, London)

  • Connecting theater to sexuality and faith | A "comic" musical links Christ's passion with that of the hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard, the gay college student who was beaten and left for dead in Laramie, Wyo., in 1998 (The New York Times)

  • Film examines Amish, others in forgiveness | Filmmaker Martin Doblmeier, who set out to explore the nature of forgiveness, was almost finished when the news broke about the West Nickel Mines Amish School shooting (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)

  • Christian band Newsboys returns to alternative roots | Newsboys aren't focused solely on music. They're also working to shed light on social issues across the world (The Bryan-College Station Eagle, Tex.)

  • Sligh OK with 'Idol' exit | Greenville resident says it's 'not the competition for me.' (The Greenville News, S.C.)

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Chocolate Jesus:

  • Chocolate Jesus show canceled | Matt Semler, the gallery's creative director, resigned in protest (Associated Press)

  • My sweet Lord! Christians need to lighten up | A chocolate sculpture of the Son of God has got humourless US Catholics riled (Catherine Deveny, The Age, Australia)

  • Religious expression | Lessons from the chocolate Jesus controversy (James Lileks, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Religious protests draw attention, bucks | What religious protesters should remember is that when they raise their voices about any artistic endeavor, they bring more attention to -- and inevitably make more money for -- the very endeavor they find offensive (Editorial, Delco Times, Pa.)

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  • Unhappy matrimony: NY divorce law | New York is the only state that won't allow the speedy dissolution of a marriage without proof that one spouse is somehow at fault, experts say (Associated Press)

  • Belief and meaning | His faith in Jesus doesn't deter Marcus Borg, who is now retiring, from asking difficult questions about divinity (The Oregonian)

  • Prison in past, Lyons hears God's call to lead | He is seeking to head a Florida Baptist group again. Now his candidacy is in churches' hands (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

  • Gaddafi says only Islam a universal religion | "Christianity is not a faith for people in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Other people who are not sons of Israel have nothing to do with that religion," he said at the prayer meeting, held to mark the birth of the prophet Mohammed. (Reuters)

  • Dissident Catholic priest sentenced | A Vietnamese court sentenced a dissident Catholic priest to eight years in prison for anti-government activities after a dramatic trial Friday in which the defendant shouted denunciations of the ruling Communist Party (Associated Press)

  • Religion in the news: Malay Malaise | Religious minorities have long complained about obstacles in getting the government's permission to build places of worship in Malaysia. But their frustrations have grown amid recent accusations by religious rights activists that authorities are destroying non-Muslim shrines, heating up racial bitterness that has simmered for decades beneath a veneer of multicultural harmony. (Associated Press)

  • HHS official quits after Medicaid action | The Health and Human Services Department provided no details about the nature of the Massachusetts action that led to Dr. Eric Keroack's resignation (Associated Press)

  • 'Voluntourism' vacations taking off | More Americans are starting to feel the same way about vacations with a charitable or humanitarian purpose, where they can build housing or schools, collect field data or work at a refugee camp, orphanage or archaeological dig (Associated Press)

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  • Atheists split over message | Atheists are under attack these days for being too militant, for not just disbelieving in religious faith but for trying to eradicate it. And who's leveling these accusations? Other atheists, it turns out (Associated Press)

  • Indonesian Christians charged over mob killing | Indonesian prosecutors charged 12 Christians on Monday for the murder of two Muslims by a mob angry at the execution of Christian militants in Central Sulawesi province last year (Reuters)

  • Slavery campaign closes gaps among evangelicals | U.S. evangelical Christians are divided on global warming, the minimum wage and other issues, but they are united behind a new campaign to end modern slavery around the world (Reuters)

  • New Polish archbishop marks move away from politics | Kazimierz Nycz, 57, is on the progressive and international wing of the Polish church and has distanced himself from radical priests who want the church to become involved in political parties in the predominantly Catholic country (Reuters)

  • U.N. rights body condemns "defamation" of religion | The United Nations top human rights body condemned "defamation" of religion on Friday and, in an apparent reference to the storm over the Prophet cartoons, said press freedom had its limits (Reuters)

  • Nevada's keystone cops, barely serving or protecting | Where other parodies send up nothing but sanctimony, "Reno 911!" takes on Nevada's cartoonish lurch between sainthood and sin. Its characters live in that lurch, and they look sick doing it. On "Reno 911!" cops and robbers alike shuttle from Bible study classes to meth labs, from egregious civil rights violations to lakeside baptisms (The New York Times)

  • School vaccine exemptions put kids at risk | Rules that allow parents to exempt their children from immunization requirements for "philosophical" reasons are putting all kids at risk of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease, Arkansas researchers warn (Reuters)

  • Abtract: Impact of Addition of Philosophical Exemptions on Childhood Immunization Rates (American Journal of Preventive Medicine)

  • Pleading to stay a family | Raids on Illegal Immigrants Have Their U.S.-Born Children Fearing Separation -- and Some Are Lobbying Capitol Hill (The Washington Post)

  • Ground shifting beneath Sudan's longtime leaders | President Bashir has become weaker, analysts agree, and rumors of a coup are buzzing in the capital (Los Angeles Times)

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  • Jamestown overshadowed by the rock | After 400 years, trying to reclaim its place in history (The Boston Globe)

  • End death 'taboo', doctors urge | Doctors leaders are urging people to talk about death to family and friends, so they can get the treatment they want at the end of their lives. The British Medical Association has published fresh guidance for doctors, taking into account changes in the law which come into force this weekend (BBC)

  • A passion for moderation | The polar ends of the religious spectrum — atheists on one hand, fundamentalists on the other — often eclipse the believers in the middle. Yet the faithful middle provides a compassionate and constructive form of faith that has much to offer our fractured world. (Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today)

  • Veil row assistant loses appeal | A Muslim classroom assistant sacked for refusing to remove her veil in lessons has lost an appeal against a ruling that she was not discriminated against (BBC)

  • Excommunicated archbishop celebrates marriage of former priest in Brazil | A former Roman Catholic archbishop from Africa, excommunicated for installing married clergy as bishops, celebrated the wedding ceremony of a former priest and a catechist in Brazil, part of his campaign against the Vatican's celibacy policy (Associated Press)

  • All church politics is local | U.S. Catholic bishops nudge toward decentralization (Thomas D. Williams, National Review Online)

  • Congress considers changes to religion in the workplace | Congress is considering legislation that would make it easier for employees to express their religious beliefs at work (Minnesota Public Radio)

  • Religion in the workplace: Let's be reasonable | Anti-discrimination laws should not require employers to go to extreme expense to provide a friendly workplace for employees' religious practices (Christopher J. Harristhal, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Minnesota Muslims and culture clash | As some Minnesota Muslims try to reconcile the tenets of their faith with the demands of their jobs, others worry those conflicts send the wrong message (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • God's numbers | The latest Newsweek poll shows that 91 percent of American adults surveyed believe in God—and nearly half reject the theory of evolution (Newsweek)

  • Full poll: Evolution, atheism, religion and politics, and other subjects (Newsweek)

  • Bagel, anyone? Director wears religion on sleeve | Are you a Jew? Don't ask Jamie Kastner. The question annoys the Canadian documentary maker. He gets asked it a lot (Reuters)

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  • Overselling capitalism | "When we see politics permeate every sector of life, we call it totalitarianism. When religion rules all, we call it theocracy. But when commerce dominates everything, we call it liberty." (Benjamin R. Barber, Los Angeles Times)

  • Catholic church defaced with anti-Arab graffiti | Among the messages left in blue and black paint were "1 God Jesus" and "Arabs Die." Most were left at the rear of the building (The Detroit News)

  • Graffiti mars church | Worship places to get more patrols (Detroit Free Press)

  • Ignore them, and be spared many headaches | It would be nice if religious Westerners would stop handing ammunition to the enemy -- not just to those who offend them, but also to the radical Islamists whose insanity is minimized by the inevitable comparison (Kathleen Parker, The Orlando Sentinel)

  • Stolen church bell found in scrap yard | The historic bell stolen from the grounds of Plymouth-Trinity United Church in Sherbrooke in February has been recovered in an east-end Montreal scrap metal yard (The Montreal Gazette)

  • Evangelicals hope to 'reach' Buddhists | Workshops coincide with Dalai Lama visit (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Accused of blasphemy, an 11 year old boy risks the death penalty in Pakistan | Toba Tek Singh police open an investigation into blasphemy claims against five local Christians, including 11 year old Daniel. Local activists and priests say the case has been fabricated to target innocent people who have nothing. Christian families barricade themselves in their homes, fear could affect Holy Week celebrations (AsiaNews.it)

  • Religious conservative supports gambling bill | The new chairman of the Christian Coalition of Alabama finds himself in the odd position of backing gambling legislation (Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)

  • When sleeping in church is the key to a better life | Austin churches, synagogue provide free shelter and meals for homeless families (Austin American-Statesman)

  • Bread: Manna from heaven | From the Stone Age to modern times, bread has been a universal religious symbol, as well as an important dietary staple (The Denver Post)

  • Coke doesn't convert on road to Jerusalem | Coca-Cola is threatening legal action to stop an Italian film showing Jesus Christ drinking from a can of Coke (The Times, London)

  • Coke complaint delays Jesus film | An Italian film which features Jesus drinking from a can of Coca-Cola will miss its Easter release date after the drinks giant complained (BBC)

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  • Revisiting 'Bridging the Gap: Religion and the News Media' | Latest survey updating this study suggests both good, bad news. (Jimmy R. Allen, First Amendment Center)

  • Witch trials and tribulations in the land of the free | No matter what military officers, school principals or other officials think about Wicca, it's their constitutional duty to protect the religious freedom of all Americans, including witches (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

  • Beslan memorial plan angers Russian Muslim leader | The local Russian Orthodox diocese says it will build a church in the grounds of Beslan's school No. 1 to commemorate the victims (Reuters)

  • Defining evangelicals down and to the Left | Some who purport to speak for all evangelicals are being sucked into marginal issues that are usually harped on by America-hating liberals. And because conservative Christians are allegedly being divided, the mainstream media is eating it up (Paul Chesser, The Examiner)

  • Babes in the Holy Land | Israel flirts with a racy new public-relations strategy (Newsweek)

  • U.S. denies converting Muslim students | The US Embassy has dismissed reports of funding Ugandan Muslim students who denounce Islam to join Christianity (The Monitor, Uganda)

  • Bishop and flock among the dead | A bishop and three of his worshippers were among the 24 confirmed victims of Monday's tsunami, which struck during the middle of a church service in Solomon Islands (The Australian)

  • Research points the finger at PowerPoint | If you have ever wondered why your eyes start glazing over as you read those dot points on the screen, as the same words are being spoken, take heart in knowing there is a scientific explanation (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Catholics in survey say news helps shape views | Most respondents tell pollsters they pay little heed to news of church leaders (The Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.)

  • A problem at its genesis | Pitting intelligent design against Darwin won't work (Lee Cullum, The Dallas Morning News)

  • Court: Pentagon can fund Scout jamboree | Two Chicago-area religious leaders had sued the Pentagon in 1999, claiming the Boy Scouts of America event should not receive public support because Scouts are required to swear an oath of "duty to God." (Associated Press)

  • Mahony's comments on Nuñez cross the line | Archbishop: "We should be troubled that Fabian Nuñez, who has worshipped here in this cathedral as a Catholic, somehow has not understood and grasped the culture of life, but has allowed himself to get into this other direction, the culture of death." (George Skelton, Los Angeles Times)

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  • Vetoes of bills to expand death penalty blocked | By wide margins, the House of Delegates and Senate overrode Kaine's veto of legislation to make the killers of judges and witnesses eligible for the death penalty (The Washington Post)

  • Allow assisted suicide | California's lawmakers should pass a bill to give the terminally ill control over their lives (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

  • Ugandan adultery law 'too sexist' | The law made it an offence for a married woman to have an affair, but it allowed a cheating husband to have an affair with an unmarried woman (BBC)

  • Bill to limit noise spurred by group's blaring preaching | D.C. Council members have introduced legislation that would limit noise in the District, a proposal aimed in part at turning down a religious group's amplified preaching on a corner of the historic H Street corridor (The Washington Times)

  • Understanding attack blogs | Attack blogs are most commonly established by members within the church who take issue with some aspect of the church leadership or direction. In some cases, the attacks come from outside the church, like in Mark Driscoll's case last fall, but the majority of cases seem to be from within (Church Marketing Sucks)

  • PrayerFlight seeking help from above | Ten small single-engine airplanes circling over Ohio on Friday afternoon will be on a special mission. They'll be taking part in PrayerFlight, airplanes filled with people praying for the health and welfare of the state's 11 million residents (USA Today)

  • Lawmaker wants 'state under God' | A proposed law would require Texas schoolchildren to recite a revised state pledge that adds the words "under God" (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Pennsylvania county settles lawsuit challenging faith-based prison program | Bradford County has agreed not to support religious activities with public funds, in order to end a lawsuit charging that its contract with Firm Foundation was unconstitutional (The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy)

  • Christian Heritage Week bill stalls in Ala. Senate committee | Legislation to create Christian Heritage Week in Alabama's public schools and dedicate 21/2 hours to instruction on the topic stalled in a Senate committee Wednesday after members questioned if it would open up weeks focusing on other faiths (Associated Press)

  • Father Red is ordered to give up his church for the poor | Three priests from a working class suburb of Madrid risk being defrocked for refusing to abandon their work with drug addicts, immigrants and criminals (The Times, London)

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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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