Today's Top Ten

It's been a while since we've updated, so we'll give you more than the usual five.

1. NFL lawyers searching church web sites for copyright infringements
Like many churches, Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis was planning a group viewing of the Super Bowl. Its "Super Bowl Bash" was to include an evangelistic element: a video of Colts coach Tony Dungy and several of his players talking about Jesus.

NFL lawyers found the announcement on the church's website and FedEx'ed a cease-and-desist order. The church's large screen (only screens 55 inches and smaller are allowed), use of the words "Super Bowl," and other plans violated copyright laws, the lawyers said. So does the evangelistic video. NFL assistant counsel Rachel L. Margolies wrote to the congregation, according to The Indianapolis Star: "While this may be a noble message, we are consistent in refusing the use of our game broadcasts in connection with events that promote a message, no matter the content."

There's no word on how many other churches have been contacted by the NFL, or whether Lovie Smith's own church, which was planning to show the game on a projection screen to up to 1,000 people, has special dispensation. But given the quotes from multiple NFL representatives in the Star article, this isn't just the case of one overzealous attorney. This may be the end of a very common annual church practice across the country. Already, some churches are scrambling to cancel or change Sunday's events. Others say they'll keep holding events until they get their own letter from NFL attorneys.

2. Episcopal Diocese of Virginia sues 11 departing churches
Bishop Peter Lee also recently declared the churches abandoned property and prohibited the priests from officiating at worship services. At least two churches say they'll press trespassing charges if officials from the diocese "set foot on either congregation's property without express permission from that congregation's vestry." And for some real vitriol, check out this editorial in the Falls Church News-Press, the hometown paper of the most prominent of the departing congregations.

3. U.K's Catholic adoption agencies must place children with gay couples
But Prime Minister Tony Blair gave the agencies 21 months to comply. "There is no place in our society for discrimination. That's why I support the right of gay couples to apply to adopt like any other couple," Blair said. "And that way there can be no exemptions for faith-based adoption agencies offering public-funded services from regulations that prevent discrimination."

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Catholics aren't the only ones outraged. "The idea that New Labour can come up with a new morality which it forces on the Catholic Church after 2,000 years—I am sorry, this is amazing arrogance on the part of the Government," N.T. Wright, the Church of England's Bishop of Durham, told The Times of London.

4. Measuring spiritual growth
Inside Higher Ed has a lengthy article today on one of the most important contemporary issues in Christian higher education: assessing spiritual development. Elizabeth Redden writes:

As the accountability pressures on higher education grow, and words like "measurable outcomes" become common parlance in academe, religious colleges are increasingly embracing a need to measure the spiritual and moral outcomes they promise in their mission statements to deliver. They're seeking ways not only to measure their own students' spiritual commitments — and how those commitments might change from freshman to senior year — but also how they as institutions stack up, spiritually speaking, relative to peer colleges.

Whether you're already familiar with the issue or have never heard of it before, the article is an important read. Inside Higher Ed is a little late on the story, but it's encouraging to see them doing it at all.

5. Va. House bill to charities: Feed an illegal immigrant, lose government funds
Republican delegate Jackson H. Miller told The Washington Post his bill "is to make sure the monies that are going to charities and organizations go to the people they are intended to go to, which is legal immigrants. The ultimate goal is to make the commonwealth of Virginia an unwelcome place if you are in this country illegally."

It can also make Virginia an unwelcome place for large Christian charities (the Post names the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities). The groups would still be able to help illegal immigrants with private funds, but would have to make each aid recipient 19 or older prove that he or she is in the country legally.

6. Church under fire for bar ministry
It's unclear whether The Journey is one of those "ministering to postmoderns" or "ministering as postmoderns" emerging churches, but given that the church website has a lengthy doctrinal statement, it seems more the former than the latter. There's not a lot of theology in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's article about the "controversial" church, but there's not a lot of theology in the debate over alcohol abstention, either, and apparently alcohol is what makes The Journey controversial. A number of churches and ministries meet in bars these days. But not many are Baptist, apparently. The Missouri Baptist Convention, which helped to fund The Journey, is now uncomfortable with alcohol being so prominent at the church's "Theology at the Bottleworks" ministry.

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"Beer being served as part of a church presentation sends mixed messages to the community and causes confusion," MBC executive board member Kerry Messer told the paper. "Had we known about this before the loan was approved, I would have openly spoken out against a financial relationship being established."

7. Mike Jones goes to New Life Church
The former male prostitute went to the church formerly pastored by Ted Haggard, who allegedly hired him for sex. "A couple of ladies cried when they were touching me," he told The Denver Post. "I was thanked for exposing the church, for helping Ted Haggard. A couple of them said they hoped I get God into my life. And they all said 'God bless you,' every one of them."

Associate pastor Rob Brendle was apparently one of those who thanked him. "I told Mike, 'I don't want to impose my religious beliefs on you, but I believe God used you to correct us, and I appreciate that,'" he said. "The church's response to him was overwhelmingly warm. One of the wonderful and enduring truths of Christianity is to love people the world sets up to be your enemies."

He didn't say "love your enemies," which was a nice touch.

The Post's Eric Gorski says Jones "wasn't impressed on the whole. If the Gospel message is enough, he said, why the loud music and MTV-quality production?"

8. One of the worst abuse case stories you'll read
Or not read. Really, apart from being another example of human depravity and another warning that you shouldn't automatically trust church leaders—and who needs another reminder of either of those?—there's little reason to get into the details here. But there are few cases more outrageous than Assembly of God youth pastor Adrian Estrada, who allegedly impregnated a 16-year-old in his youth group, took her to get an abortion, got her pregnant again (she miscarried), and then strangled and stabbed her to death when he found out he had impregnated her a third time. And Stephanie Sanchez was apparently not his only target. Estrada reportedly confessed, but his defense lawyer told jurors, "We do not believe the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt he intended to kill both" Sanchez and her baby.

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9. Priest suspends parishioners for "non support"
The closing of Catholic parishes and schools has been a contentious issue around the country, but one sign that it's really getting hot is the Rev. Thomas Cappelloni's letters to two of his parishioners at Our Lady of Grace Church in Hazelton, Pa. The parishioners—one of whom has been a member of the church for 50 years—protested the diocese's closure of a local school by withholding their parish contributions. Cappelloni wrote back: "[Y]ou raise your hand to strike at the parish that has nourished your faith through the years. That says volumes. … [W]ith great regret I must inform you that as long as you willfully seek to harm Our Lady of Grace by your non support, I must respond by temporarily suspending your registration at this parish. … By the next mailing if you have not reconsidered your decision the termination will be made permanent."

Weblog isn't too familiar with Catholic polity on giving and church discipline. It seems that giving is an important sign of Christian discipleship and that Protestant pastors would do well to do encourage their congregations to give more—for the sake of the church and its members. But Weblog also knows that if almost any Protestant church started purging members who didn't give, those church rolls would look a lot smaller than they do.

10. Canada may revoke citizenship of hundreds of Mennonites
The CBC explains:

The Mennonites went to Mexico and Paraguay looking for a place to live without government interference in their lives. But they have been trickling slowly back to Canada ever since. Many of them married while living in Mexico, and that's what is causing the problem now. They were married by the church, and Mexico doesn't recognize church marriages as being legal. That means their children were born out of wedlock, and they — along with their grandchildren and even great-grandchildren — are not eligible to be Canadian citizens.

Quote of the day
"If it didn't say Proverbs, I might think it came from a Star Trek episode."

Jeremy Lemming, spokesman for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, on why the group, which has opposed other posts of Scripture on government property, doesn't oppose a posting in the University of Kentucky's men's basketball locker room. The display quotes Proverbs 27:17: "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Lemming was quoted by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

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More articles

Churches' Super Bowl® parties | More sports | Entertainment, art, and media | Film | Online videos | Friends of God | People | Robert Drinan | Presidential candidates | Politics and social justice | Environment | Church and state | Life ethics | Multiple births | Sexual ethics | U.K. gay adoption exemption fight | Va. Anglican property fight | More Anglicanism | Catholicism | Undercover journalism at the confessional | Yoga in schools | Education | School holidays | Graduation at a church | Higher education | William and Mary cross | Missions and ministries | "Jesus Loves Osama" | Islam | War and terrorism | Israel | Church life | IMB report | Abuse at Bellevue Baptist | More abuse | Crime | Church thefts and embezzlement | Las Vegas priest manhunt | Nigeria's "Rev. King" | Alcohol | Bible | Books | Evolution | History | Science and studies | Money and business | Insurance | Amish | Other stories of interest

Super Bowl® party nixed:

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More sports:

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  • Under interrogation, Bears' Johnson rests his defense | Johnson, who was arrested in December after police stormed his home and found a stash of weapons and then saw his good friend and bodyguard shot to death at a nightclub the next day, was blasted after he said earlier this week that the coverage of his troubles was "overblown" and that his Christian faith had gotten him through the troubles (The Washington Post)

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Entertainment, art, and media:

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  • Jim Jones's temple of doom | Documentary gives a matter-of-fact treatment to the matter of mass killing (The Washington Post)

  • Film censorship's bleeping mad | A censored version of the film The Queen in which all references to God were taken out has been removed from Qantas flights (The Daily Telegraph, Australia)

  • Also: Friendly skies, but godless | In-flight movie bleeps out all mentions of God (Los Angeles Times)

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Online videos:

  • Church arson becomes online music video | Video of an area church covered in flames has become a music video on the YouTube Web site, prompting an outcry from congregation members and a federal investigation (WRAL, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • The blasphemy challenge | Host of internet challenge says God 'most likely doesn't exist' (Nightline, ABC)

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Friends of God:

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  • Faith affirmed, Mohler returns | Seminary president continues to recover from life-threatening blood clot (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Also: A Calvinist faces death | An interview with Al Mohler (Time)

  • Senate chaplain cancels appearance | Senate Chaplain Barry Black has canceled his scheduled appearance at a Christian evangelical conference after he was pictured with columnist Ann Coulter and other prominent conservatives in a brochure promoting the event (Associated Press)

  • Chaplain's discharge blocked, for now | A three-judge panel has temporarily blocked the Navy from discharging an evangelical chaplain who was convicted last year of disobeying a lawful order by wearing his uniform to a press conference outside the White House (Navy Times)

  • Earlier: Navy chaplain fights discharge to last hour | After a yearlong fight to overturn restrictions on prayer in the military, Navy chaplain Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt's career hangs in the balance while a federal appeals court decides his fate (The Washington Times)

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Robert Drinan:

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Presidential candidates:

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Politics and social justice:

  • Many believers focus on Darfur crisis | Among the armed conflicts killing innocents around the world, the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan has become a moral tsunami for many religious believers in Massachusetts (The Boston Globe)

  • Religious leaders in debt plea | Religious leaders have joined forces to put pressure on Tony Blair to tackle the "injustice" of international debt (PA, U.K.)

  • Also: Debt relief raises hopes, fears in Sierra Leone | Many Sierra Leoneans worry that ministers will again squander funds, safe in the knowledge that they can borrow as much as they want without the need to repay. (Reuters)

  • New Dem leader challenges GOP over religion | The new head of the leading group of centrist Democrats lashes out at what he calls the "hypocrisy" of Republicans who overdo their talk about religion (Politico)

  • Also: Democrats' new leader embraces faith | Former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford was named chair of the Democratic Leadership Council Thursday (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Constituents grumble over missing topics | Bush's State of the Union address left out many of the usual nods to his conservative supporters (Associated Press)

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  • Also: President's Union speech pleases conservative base | Republicans are pleased that the President's speech appealed as much to them as to the new Democratic majority in Congress. (The Washington Times)

  • U.S. family-oriented job policies weak | The United States lags far behind virtually all wealthy countries with regard to family-oriented workplace policies such as maternity leave, paid sick days and support for breast-feeding, a new study by Harvard and McGill University researchers says (Associated Press)

  • Nun calls Katrina housing plan a sin Celebrated nun says plan to raze housing development will keep poor black people out of New Orleans (Associated Press)

  • Religion dividing Labor, Abbott says | The Australian Labor Party is beset by religious tensions with non-Christian members uncomfortable at the way Labor leader Kevin Rudd has been pushing his faith, Health Minister Tony Abbott said (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • A fresh breath of Christian air | Tony Campolo wants to take back the evangelical movement from the religious right (Edmonton Journal)

  • Also: Tony Campolo: Poverty is Jesus' job one | Evangelical activist Campolo, who will speak in Minnesota next week, sees fighting poverty as the key issue for Christians. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • A sad misuse of 'Merry Christmas' | State lawmakers are wasting their time — and taxpayers' money — on nonexistent problems (Editorial, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Freely, keep religion in holiday greetings | I understand the critics of this bill dismiss it as a waste of time. But what is more important than our freedom of speech? (Clay Cox, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • The Democrats' rude rebuff | Democrats appear intent on rejecting Bush's overtures for bi-partisan cooperation (Robert D. Novak, The Washington Post)

  • Who would Jesus deport? | A grassroots movement is forming in which anti-immigrant rhetoric dovetails with the odes to God and country that have long constituted conservative evangelical boilerplate (Alexander Zaitchik, Intelligence Report, via Alternet)

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  • Pastor's work extends to environment | Ken Wilson of Ann Arbor Vineyard Church was one of 27 people to sign an "urgent call to action'' statement to protect the environment with other evangelical and scientific leaders, a role he was asked to play as his church is part of the National Association of Evangelicals (The Ann Arbor News, Mi.)

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  • Getting green religion | A new attempt to suggest that evangelicals and global warming activists are drawing closer (Mark Tooley, The American Spectator)

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Church and state:

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  • The IRS at church: Laughable 'interest' | When the church, exercising its First Amendment freedoms, speaks from religious conviction for or against a candidate, why should it be within the province of the government to penalize that expression? (Editorial, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

  • I'm going to heaven, you're not | This is at the heart of religious belief, which is why the new Racial and Religious Hatred Act is so flawed (Padraig Reidy, The Guardian, London)

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Life ethics:

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  • Democratic bills target 'pregnancy reduction' | But life advocates question just how "pro-life" those bills really are and the motivations behind them (CitizenLink, Focus on the Family)

  • Where's the support? | Abortion: Students risk academic, social ostracism in challenge to college culture (Serrin M. Foster, National Review Online)

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Multiple births:

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Sexual ethics:

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  • Rule to prohibit gay topics prompts move | After 26 years, the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department says it won't hold its annual conference at Glorieta's Baptist-owned conference center because of attempts to restrict discussion of gay issues (The New Mexican)

  • Hawaii lawmakers mull civil unions bill | Trying to avoid a heated battle over gay marriage, Hawaii lawmakers are considering a renewed push to grant same-sex couples similar benefits through civil unions (Associated Press)

  • Lesbians register Mexico's 1st gay union | A lesbian couple registered what officials called Mexico's first gay civil union on Wednesday in the northern city of Saltillo (Associated Press)

  • Of gay sheep, modern science and bad publicity | The story of the gay sheep is an example of the distortion that can result when science meets the global news cycle (The New York Times)

  • Optimism on same-sex amendment | Since the Legislature advanced an anti-gay-marriage amendment last month, pro-gay marriage legislators have grown increasingly convinced that with hard work, they can beat the measure on the merits (Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe)

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U.K. gay adoption exemption fight:

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Va. Anglican property fight:

  • Diocese sues 11 seceding congregations over property ownership | The Circuit Court lawsuits, almost all in Northern Virginia, ask the court to declare the diocese the rightful owner of all property, which is worth well into the tens of millions of dollars. The suits also ask the court to force the breakaway congregations off the 11 properties, which they have occupied since the votes in December and January (The Washington Post)

  • Also: Episcopal diocese sues breakaways for property | The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has filed lawsuits seeking to retain the property of 11 churches whose congregations voted to leave the denomination and prohibit those congregations from using the property, the diocese announced yesterday (The Washington Times)

  • Episcopal leaders eye title to property | Diocese aims to force breakaway churches to vacate buildings (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

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  • Virginia Episcopal Church split: Congregants in legal limbo over who gets the house | Independent legal experts say part of the problem is that the law in this area has become increasingly unsettled as courts in various states have taken differing approaches and arrived at differing conclusions about who gets the assets in a church divorce (The Washington Post)

  • The real Falls Church | There are many reasons to applaud the tough stand by the Episcopal bishop of Virginia against the move by the Falls Church Episcopal Church to defect and align with a schismatic arch-conservative body created by an Anglican archbishop from Nigeria (Editorial, Falls Church News-Press, Va.)

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More Anglicanism:

  • Episcopal diocese may abandon U.S. church | The San Joaquin Diocese would be the first to align itself with more conservative, foreign members of the global Anglican Communion (Los Angeles Times)

  • Episcopal Church faces threat | The Episcopal Church, which recently lost 15 Virginia congregations over liberal policies, faces a possible expulsion from the worldwide Anglican Communion when the leaders of the communion's 38 national churches meet in Tanzania later this month, conservative Anglicans say (The Washington Times)

  • Williams 'fostering schism', aide fears | The Archbishop of Canterbury has "fostered schism" in the Anglican communion's row over homosexual clergy, one of his most senior aides believes (The Telegraph, London)

  • Episcopal priest's 'inhibition' riles congregation | The Colorado Diocese' placement of Reverend Don Armstrong on administrative leave appears suspect. (The Washington Times)

  • Anglican parish evicted | They'll abide by bishop's order (The Sun Chronicle, Attleboro, Mass.)

  • Also: Worshipers vacate Episcopal church | In a service overflowing with tears, hugs, and evocations of historic persecution of Christians, members of All Saints Anglican Church of Attleboro held their last service yesterday in their North Main Street building and bowed to orders from the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts that they vacate the premises (The Boston Globe)

  • Update: Anglicans find new home | Anglicans from All Saints who were ordered to leave the North Main Street church are preparing to move into new quarters, while former parishioners of All Saints are working with the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts to revive the Attleboro church as an Episcopal congregation (The Sun Chronicle, Attleboro, Mass.)

  • Episcopalians debate property issues | Bishop John Howe and diocesan churches may struggle over property (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)

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  • Gay clergy issue tests parish | The Rev. Gilbert V. Wilkes, rector of Christ and the Epiphany Episcopal Church, said Thursday he anticipates that when the parish holds its annual meeting Sunday, members will vote to take their time, and work out in a prayerful way whether to stay in the Episcopal Church (New Haven Register, Ct.)

  • At the center of the divide | Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop sees a higher purpose to the debate (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)

  • New bishop steps into turmoil | Gay issues strain Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Mississippi rector chosen as next bishop | The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has picked its next leader, a 48-year-old Alabamian who says one of the most endearing qualities of his denomination, roiled by disagreements centering on homosexuality, is "our ability to 'agree to disagree' on issues, biblical and otherwise" (The Washington Post)

  • A fractured church | Western Kansas bishop's letter voices his disapproval of Episcopal Church's leader (The Hutchinson News, Kan.)

  • Episcopal meeting takes upbeat tone | Years of divisiveness have given way to a fresh sense of unity, some say (The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville)

  • Episcopal Diocese installs new bishop | Mark Beckwith takes over one of the most liberal Protestant communities in the nation (

  • Judge lets ousted priest sue in test of First Amendment | The Episcopal bishop had denied the Montco cleric a church trial (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Priest suspended in evangelism row | A London bishop has suspended the most senior Anglican priest in Turkey who opposed the fast-track ordination of a Turkish evangelist (The Times, London)

  • Hymns replaced by Bono lyrics at church | A Church of England bishop is to preside at this country's first "U2-charist", an adapted Holy Communion service that uses the Irish supergroup's best-selling songs in place of hymns (The Telegraph, London)

  • Also: The Lord moves in mysterious ways | Marriage of U2's music and the Eucharist filling pews with youth (The National Post, Canada)

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  • New Asian mission for papal favorite | The Roman Catholic Church also appears to be shifting its gaze eastward (Time)

  • Pope meets with Vietnam's prime minister | After decades of tension, meeting between the Holy See and Communist government marks the first steps toward establishing diplomatic relations (Associated Press)

  • Closure protester rebuked by priest | Parishioner put protest note in collection basket. She was suspended from the church (Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

  • Also: City priest threatens members' suspension | A Hazleton pastor threatened to suspend the registration of two longtime parishioners who withheld a weekly contribution in protest of the closing of Bishop Hafey Junior/Senior High School (Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.)

  • Outspoken Catholic pastor replaced; he says it's retaliation | Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton told parishioners at his Detroit parish that he was forced to step down because of his lobbying efforts on behalf of the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy (The New York Times)

  • Update: Detroit auxiliary bishop won't fight his removal | Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton said he does not plan to contest his removal as pastor of an inner-city parish, which he said Tuesday came as a direct result of his advocacy for victims of priest sexual abuse. (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)

  • Also: Gumbleton not ousted for condemning abuse, archdiocese says | He's 77 years old, and church law requires bishops to retire at 75 years old (The Detroit News)

  • At march, worshipers brace to fight closing of a church | Parishioners of a Catholic church in East Harlem took to the streets to protest its imminent closing (The New York Times)

  • Neighbors want sale of church investigated | In the shops and homes that surround the boarded-up Saint Mary Star of the Sea church, it's still the hot talk -- how a wealthy South Boston photographer made $1.8 million buying and selling the closed Catholic church in less than three weeks (The Boston Globe)

  • Connecticut parishioners still admire ousted priest | The Rev. Michael R. Moynihan's taste for the good life was an open secret (The New York Times)

  • Congregant protests 'secrecy' in priest investigation | Catholic Church officials need to break their silence about a former Deltona priest accused of sexually abusing a man, said the national director of an organization supporting victims of abuse by the clergy. (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)

  • Members concerned about priest | Some church members at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church are concerned about the welfare and whereabouts of Rev. Gilbert Pansza - "Father Gil" - after several of them learned that he was "essentially kidnapped" from his home in mid-December and committed to a psychiatric facility by Fort Worth church leaders (Times Record News, Wichita Falls)

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  • Update: Abuse story takes turn | Vicar general: Father Pansza's recent account 'ridiculous' (Times Record News, Wichita Falls, Tex.)

  • My wife smokes -- I want an annulment | That is just one of the hazy cases that wound up before the Vatican's Sacra Romana Rota, a top court which hears the most complicated of marriage annulment requests. (Reuters)

  • Uproar as lace-makers slip into G-strings | Polish lace-makers facing declining demand for their table and altar cloths have provoked uproar in their industry and criticism by the Catholic Church after producing sexy underwear (The Telegraph, London)

  • The cardinal's sins | Edward Egan did the dirty job he was hired to do with less pain than anyone thought possible. So why can't his priests wait to get rid of him? (New York)

  • Keeping an eye on the collection plate | The Catholic Church tries better financial oversight (David Gibson, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Move over, NY and Milan; in the Church of the future, it's all about Kinshasa | Cardinal Frédéric Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi died January 6. His replacement will potentially have a lot more to contribute to the future of Catholicism (John L. Allen Jr., National Catholic Reporter)

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Undercover journalism at the confessional:

  • Priests leave Pope's doctrines outside confessional | A yawning gulf between the stern doctrines preached by Pope Benedict and the advice offered by ordinary Roman Catholic priests has been exposed by an Italian magazine which dispatched reporters to 24 churches around Italy where, in the confessional, they sought rulings on various moral dilemmas (The Guardian, London)

  • Vatican enraged by magazine's confessional expose | An Italian magazine report which sought to prove that what some priests tell Catholics in the confessional is not always what the Church preaches in public has enraged the Vatican (Reuters)

  • Papal bull, priestly wisdom | When it comes to seeking moral guidance, priests can be far more realistic and tolerant than you might expect (The Guardian, London)

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Yoga in schools:

  • Yoga stretches into public schools | More than 100 schools in 26 states have adopted Tara Guber's "Yoga Ed." program and more than 300 physical education instructors have been trained in it (Associated Press)

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School holidays:

  • Religious absence defined | School district clarifies wording officials say led to misunderstanding (The Bakersfield Californian, Ca.)

  • Update: District changing story on holidays, parent says (The Bakersfield Californian, Ca.)

  • Ed Board reviewing policy on religious observances | In response to some board members' concerns that the its policy on religious observances is outdated and does not meet the needs of today's students, the Board of Education is forming a subcommittee to review both the policy and the school system's current practices (Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Ct.)

  • Religious holidays may become optional | Employer organisation Almega has proposed scrapping 10 public holidays based on the Christian faith. Workers should instead be free to choose their own public holidays, it says. (The Local, Sweden)

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Graduation at a church:

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  • Also: Let the walls come tumblin' down | This controversy is not about studying religion or stuffing religion down the throats of those who have no interest in it. This is simply a real estate question, a matter of where to hold a large-scale event (Marc Fisher, The Washington Post)

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Higher education:

  • Spiritual accountability | Religious colleges use assessment to measure spiritual growth — for accountability, accreditation and their own advancement (Inside Higher Ed)

  • The first dance | One small Christian college finds that there may be some redemption in being footloose after all (The New York Times Magazine)

  • University in 'gay weddings' row | Canterbury Christ Church University does not allow civil partnership ceremonies at two properties it owns in Canterbury and Tunbridge Wells (BBC)

  • Values and questions | Quakers allegedly attack Palestinian students. Quakers. (Inside Higher Ed)

  • Prof says seminary made her leave because women can't teach men | Professor Sheri Klouda's departure creates division among Southern Baptist Convention members. (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Not practicing what they are preaching | I find it amazing to hear so many Christians deplore the subjugation of women in Islam, and I often remind them that they should examine their own religion regarding gender issues before criticizing others (Bob Ray Sanders, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Some at SMU soften Bush library stance | Two leading opponents have softened their stance against building George W. Bush's presidential library and museum at Southern Methodist University, but they still object to the accompanying public policy institute (Associated Press)

  • Methodism madness | A group of Methodist bishops tries to keep the Bush presidential library out of SMU (Mark D. Tooley, The Weekly Standard)

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William and Mary cross:

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  • Bow to diversity leaves altar empty | College of William & Mary's president defends decision to remove cross from Wren Chapel (The Washington Times)

  • The Wren cross | It's an interesting debate, but is it one W&M really wants? (Editorial, Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Va.)

  • The FCC and William & Mary case | Head of the college board should heed public outcry and return the historic Wren cross to the school chapel. (Elizabeth Gibbons, The Washington Times)

  • Laus Deo | Crossing the line at William and Mary (Newt Gingrich & Christopher Levenick, National Review Online)

  • The inside man | William & Mary's new president tries to get rid of a cross on campus (Cesar Conda & Vince Haley, The Weekly Standard)

  • Loyalty oaths are back at William and Mary | President Gene Nichol and his stooges are cracking down on anyone opposed to his scheme to remove the cross from Wren Chapel. (Thomas Lipscomb, The American Spectator)

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Missions and ministries:

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"Jesus Loves Osama":

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  • Jesus wants Osama brought to justice: Nile | Pastor and leader of the Christian Democratic Party says the signs were insensitive to families whose loved ones had died in terrorist attacks (ninemsn, Australia)

  • Not quite related: Religious signs annoy people | Outdoor advertising signboards with religious messages should be banned as they could infringe upon people's religious freedom, the Korea Institute of Religious Freedom said Thursday (The Korea Times)

  • Fury at church signs | Melbourne churches have begun posting controversial "Jesus loves Osama" signs amid outrage from terror victims (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)

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War and terrorism:

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  • An "immature" war on terror? | The Church of England's Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, is a respected writer and a distinguished defender of Christian orthodoxy, but in addressing the "The War on Terror" in a lecture at his cathedral late last year, the bishop colorfully illustrated how theologians are often failures at political polemics (Mark D. Tooley, FrontPage)

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Church life:

  • Why are Muslims flocking churches? | Many Muslims are finding their way into churches to seek prayer from pastors (New Vision, Uganda)

  • New Life members welcome Jones | Former male prostitute: "I was thanked for exposing the church" (The Denver Post)

  • Chattanooga church votes to leave Presbyterian Church USA | Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church, which voted to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church., was the largest PCUSA congregation in the area (Associated Press)

  • Grace rector to quit in $236K settlement | The rector of Grace Episcopal Church, accused of breaking pastoral confidences and ridiculing parishioners, is resigning as part of a settlement that church leaders hope will preserve the financial and communal health of the congregation (The Capital Times, Madison, Wis.)

  • Church aims to pimp the faith | Pastor uses MTV slang to entice attendants (Florida Today, Melbourne)

  • Jeans-and-rock worship concept takes hold in city | A nondenominational Christian start-up that promises to provide "teaching that is practical and relevant to your life in New York City," the Journey functions as an evangelical, gospel-spreading church but eschews the evangelical label (The New York Sun)

  • Is there room in the pew for him? | Most churchgoers are women, but some Christian men soldier on, striving to attract male worshippers with a virile approach to religion (The Orlando Sentinel)

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  • No glass ceiling | More female pastors leading congregations (Ocala Star Banner, Fla.)

  • Worshipers withering in icy winter | Six consecutive weeks of snowfall, ice-rutted roads and cold temperatures are carving into attendance and contributions at many Colorado places of worship As a result, churches, synagogues and mosques are honing their messages about giving in hard times, halting some spending, lending an extra hand to the elderly - even reminding the faithful that God's hand can be seen in that blocked driveway. (The Denver Post)

  • Fight against diabetes reaches into pews | Duke project has faith in power of black churches to encourage healthful diet (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • Lawyer rips church settlement, says project should be denied | A court settlement that would allow the Church of the Hills off Route 206 to nearly triple in size has been blasted by an opposition attorney as "a horrible deal" (The Bernardsville News, N.J.)

  • Christian ecumenical group to mark alliance | Christian Churches Together in the USA, or CCT, will gather 36 leaders of denominations and faith groups Wednesday to celebrate their historic alliance (Religion News Service)

  • Baptists are divided on 2008 get-together | Even when Baptists try to get together, they end up divided (Jim Jones, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • Jimmy Carter's siren song | Will "Nice Baptists" bring America together? Don't bet on it (John Wilson, The Wall Street Journal)

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International Missions Board report:

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Abuse at Bellevue Baptist:

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More abuse:

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  • Earlier; Diocese's bid to disqualify judge denied | -Administrative judge rejects a second attempt by the Roman Catholic Diocese to disqualify a judge whom the diocese says is biased (The Boston Globe)

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Church thefts and embezzlement:

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Las Vegas priest manhunt:

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Nigeria's "Rev. King":

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  • Beer and the Bible | In December Baptist leaders began questioning the church's methods of attracting worshippers, specifically its use of alcohol (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  • Churches oppose mix with alcohol | An exemption in Tavares allows serving booze near places of worship downtown (The Orlando Sentinel)

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  • What the Talmud really says about Jesus | Peter Schaefer, who heads up Princeton's Judaic studies program, has collected and analyzed all the passages in the Talmud that apparently refer to the founder of Christianity, texts that were previously censored from Talmud editions for centuries (Religion BookLine)

  • Too nice for vice? | Hard-boiled mystery writer Andrew Klavan on becoming a Christian and "seeing the world more clearly as it is" (World)

  • The Ratzinger Code? Pope uses Dan Brown's publisher | Benedict's book, "Jesus of Nazareth," is meant to be a personal, historical-theological analysis of Jesus as the central figure of the Christian faith (Associated Press)

  • Update: Vatican defends choice of Doubleday | The Vatican on Wednesday defended the choice of Doubleday to publish Pope Benedict XVI's new book in North America, responding to an Italian newspaper's barb that the company is part of the publishing giant holding the rights to "The Da Vinci Code," which was assailed by the church (Associated Press)

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  • Pulitzer winner explores Dover case in 'Monkey Girl' | Several York countians will be reading about themselves in Pulitzer Prize-winner journalist and best-selling author Edward Humes' book about the Dover intelligent design trial, which was released to most major booksellers today (The York Dispatch, Pa.)

  • Sermons in stone | How seashells disprove Creationism (Oren Harman, The New Republic)

  • An intelligent approach to intelligent design | The most effective way to convince students that evolutionary theory is correct is to confront, not avoid, the continuing challenges to it (Michael Balter, International Herald Tribune)

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  • God and gorillas | Anthropologist Barbara J. King explains what our distant cousins can tell us about religion and why it's OK for scientists to believe in God (

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  • Some pieces of church silver don't go gently to the auction block | A Christie's sale of early American silver from the First Church in Salem resulted in mixed reactions from auction attendees (The New York Times)

  • A real history lesson | In claiming that Christianity has made no contribution to scientific discovery, AC Grayling has overplayed his hand (Mark Vernon, The Guardian, London)

  • Don't ignore the Protestants | A C Grayling and Madeleine Bunting are having a spat about the achievements of Christianity, but they are both wrong (Theo Hobson, The Guardian, London)

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Science and studies:

  • Religion in the news: Neurotheology | The new Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania is using brain imaging technology to examine thorny questions, and to investigate how spiritual and secular beliefs affect our health and behavior (Associated Press)

  • Spiritual state of union found strong | Almost two-thirds of Americans -- churchgoing or not -- say the overall health of the nation is heavily dependent on its spiritual health. About 77 percent say the nation's economy is dependent on its spiritual well-being, while 64 percent say religious expressions are either tolerated or encouraged in their workplaces, according to a Gallup Poll released yesterday (The Washington Times)

  • Religion defined | Science, politics and believers can co-exist without intimidation (Jeffry Gardner, The Albuquerque Tribune, N.M.)

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Money and business:

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Other stories of interest:

  • Mennonites may lose Canadian citizenship over 1920s glitch | Grandparents born 'out of wedlock' means their grandchildren's citizenship is illegitimate.(CBC)

  • Defending the "e-word" | And odd interview with Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family (Your World With Neil Cavuto, Fox News)

  • By Zeus! | After a break of 16 centuries, Greek pagans are worshipping the ancient gods again - despite furious opposition from the Orthodox church (The Guardian, London)

  • Woman's crusade against bar spawns free speech case | Anne Lemen just wants to say what she pleases about a Balboa Island restaurant and bar. A court has forbidden her to, and that sets up a dispute over prior restraint (Los Angeles Times)

  • U.S. highways lead to heaven and hell for drivers | While highways around the world boast billboards and roadside attractions, a drive through the U.S. heartland often adds religious signs and symbols to the mix (Reuters)

  • Religion news in brief | Religious leaders meet with Rice; parents of convicted arsonist visit burned church in Panola; Methodists turn their Web site into social networking center; and other stories (Associated Press)

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  • Religion's role in America | How can people with different religious views, or no religious view, live together in the world, a nation or, for that matter, a neighborhood? (Dave Brown and Glen Hiemstra, The Seattle Times)

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January 5 | 4 | 2
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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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