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Carding For Communion Wine

Plus: British Airways relents on cross necklaces, McCain changes positions on reform bill amid Dobson "amends," orthodoxy trumping AICs, and other stories from online sources around the world.
Today's Top Five

1. Nebraska considers bill barring underage Communion wine
Nebraska's current law allows for "the possession and dispensation of alcoholic liquor by an authorized representative of any religion on the premises of a place of worship, for the purpose of conducting any bona fide religious rite, ritual, or ceremony." A new bill, LB 261, would specifically strip that provision. It's not an oversight. That's the point of the bill—to strip that wording and thus ban houses of worship from dispensing alcohol, like Communion wine—to minors. Oddly enough, the sponsor of the bill, Lowen Kruse, is a retired minister in the United Methodist Church, and his website's home page lists churches in his district. Five other members of the Nebraska legislature signed on as cosponsors. One earlier cosponsor, Annette Dubas, has pulled her support. Now Kruse has, too. Or rather, he'll offer an amendment to his bill, allowing minors to consume up to two ounces of alcohol as part of a religious ceremony. Still, don't expect even such an amended bill to pass. It's shocking that it's under consideration at all.

2. British Airways allows employees' religious wear
Check-in worker Nadia Eweida can now wear her cross.

3. McCain drops support for lobbying reform bill
Recent news items:

"Speaking as a private individual, I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances."
—Focus on the Family president James Dobson, speaking January 11 on Dallas radio station KCBI.

"McCain to make amends with Dobson"
Associated Press headline, Jan. 16.

"McCain Does About-Face on Grassroots Reform Bill: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has told conservative activists that he will vote to strip a key provision on grassroots lobbying from the reform package he previously supported. … While grassroots groups on both sides of the political spectrum oppose the proposal, social conservative leaders such as Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, who broadcasts a radio program to hundreds of thousands of evangelical Christians, have been its most vehement critics."
—From The Hill, Thursday.

4. Brazilian Pentecostal leaders arrested in Miami
Ever hear of Sonia Moraes Hernandes and Estevam Hernades-Filho, or their Reborn in Christ Church? It's Brazil's second-largest neo-Pentecostal body (after the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God), according to The Miami Herald. The Herald's Casey Woods reports that they're under arrest, and that their followers are claiming religious persecution. But the charges aren't religious:

The couple was arrested at Miami International Airport last week on charges of currency smuggling and lying to customs officers after U.S. Immigration and Customs agents found they were carrying thousands of dollars more than the $10,000 they declared, investigators allege.
Agents found the first extra bundle of cash, $9,000, tucked into the cover of Sonia's Bible. They found other bundles of money squirreled away in various places, including inside a CD case, in a folded jacket packed in a suitcase and in the backpack of their young son, Gabriel, according to the arrest affidavit.
The grand total: $56,000.
The couple—already under investigation by Brazil's federal organized crime unit for charges including tax evasion and money laundering —preside over an empire of about 1,200 churches in Brazil, as well as television and radio stations.

5. Meet the new Christianity, same as the old Christianity
The discussion about how different Christianity is in the Global South may be overblown. Or perhaps not—perhaps Global South Christianity really is different and on the move, but its evangelistic thrust is overtaking local syncretistic sects. Or perhaps something different altogether. In any case, a report from the Associated Press yesterday is fascinating:

African initiated churches … share much with Pentecostal Christianity, emphasizing the Holy Spirit, healing through prayer and speaking in tongues. But they also freely adopt what they consider important in African culture — veneration of ancestors, belief in witchcraft, faith in the power of magic, called muti, and the ability of prophets or sangomas to harness that power. … Once a predominant form of Christianity throughout the continent, the churches are losing their popularity in most of Africa. A younger generation is seeking out the more modern congregations that emerged starting in the 1970s that are still uniquely African in worship style but closer theologically to Pentecostal or mainline Protestant groups in the West.

Bottom line: Don't confuse AICs with "Global South"/"Majority World" Christianity, or with Pentecostalism.

Almost a top story: Here come the lawsuits?
Well, at least that's what everyone's saying about the next steps in the fight between the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the 11 parishes that recently chose to align themselves with Anglican Communion bodies other than the Episcopal Church. But Weblog has found that one should take threats in the Anglican Communion somewhat lightly. There are always threats: to sue, to discipline, to apologize, to dissociate, etc. We're not putting this in the "top five" because, frankly, while there's little reason to doubt that the diocese will really sue, we'll believe it when we see it.

Quote of the day
"I believe in the culture war. And you know what? If I have to take a side in the culture war I'll take [the conservative Christian] side. Because if you give me the choice of Paris Hilton or Jesus, I'll take Jesus."

—Alexandra Pelosi, creator of the new HBO documentary "Friends of God" and daughter of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. She was quoted by The New York Times.

More articles

Church and state | Politics | Barack Obama | Oaths | Bush library protest | Education | Environment | Kenya politics | Margaret Wanjiru | Aberrant religions | Crime | Va. priest embezzlement case | Catholicism | Church life | Abuse | Anglican fight | Sexual ethics | Life ethics | Vaccinations | Iraq | Missions and ministry | Money and business | Media and entertainment | Other stories of interest

Church and state:

  • Kids could drink communion wine, after all | Sen. Lowen Kruse has decided to sidestep a controversy created by his proposal to eliminate all instances where teens can legally drink. Kruse will offer an amendment to assure teens can drink wine at communion (Lincoln Journal Star, Neb.)

  • Earlier: Bill offers tighter restrictions on underage drinking | In an effort to eliminate all excuses kids give police when they get caught drinking, Sen. Lowen Kruse of Omaha is proposing to ban all drinking by minors, anywhere (Lincoln Journal Star, Neb.)

  • Pastor wants pre-inaugural prayer service open to all | Governor's staff says tickets for event help security (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Chaput surprised by Ritter's Mass | Archbishop Charles Chaput didn't learn about Gov. Bill Ritter's inaugural day Mass at a prominent downtown church until last week when an uproar developed on the Internet (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Vatican to hold special meeting on China strategy | The Vatican this weekend is to hold a special strategy meeting on how to deal with communist China, where the Beijing government does not allow Roman Catholics to recognise the Pope's authority (Reuters)

  • Church of Ireland head wants end to ban on Catholic monarchs | The new head of the Church of Ireland has described the ban on any monarch becoming or marrying a Catholic as antiquated (The Guardian, London)

  • Prayer still OK at council meetings | After three hours of impassioned—and unopposed—pleas from Durham Region residents to continue the tradition of reciting the Lord's Prayer at regional council meetings, the finance committee decided last week to do just that (Simcoe.com)

  • Fake fir flies | All groups -- from Christians to Muslims -- were united in blasting judge's decision to yank plastic Christmas tree from Ontario court's lobby (Calgary Sun)

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  • Also: Grass-roots lobbying groups fighting proposed oversight | Focus Action, an arm of Focus on the Family, is joining the American Civil Liberties Union (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Collars in the ring | Two priests make their choices known for '08 (Open Book)

  • Retort to slavery remark sparks furor | House speaker calls news media coverage 'out of proportion' (The Washington Post)

  • White House demonstrators case dropped | The demonstrators were from groups including the Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, D.C. Anti-War Network, Witness Against Torture, and PeaceAction Montgomery (Associated Press)

  • Guatemala ex-dictator unlikely to run for president | Efrain Rios Montt,, who rights groups blame for a ruthless scorched earth campaign against Maya Indians during his 1980s rule, unsuccessfully ran for president in 2003 but said he would likely sit out this year's race (Reuters)

  • An apology may pave way for better tomorrow | Why do so many choke, even bristle, on the very idea of a simple apology for America's painful past -- the scourge and vestiges of slavery? (Adrienne Washington, The Washington Times)

  • Howard defends DVD message | "The Prime Minister provides messages for a wide array of groups," a spokesman said. "The contents of the message are entirely unexceptionable." (AAP, Australia)

  • Earlier: Group won't reveal PM's message | The Prime Minister has been caught in a religious row after taping a goodwill message for a fundamentalist Christian group previously accused of inciting anti-Islamic hatred (The Herald-Sun, Australia)

  • The radical Christian Right is built on suburban despair | Millions of Americans live trapped in soulless exurbs which lack any kind of community, leaving them feeling isolated and vulnerable. Without alternatives for their social despair, they flock to demagogues promising revenge and a mythical utopia (Chris Hedges, AlterNet)

  • A letter to Tony Campolo | I have no problem with politically liberal Christians, but why do you claim to be beyond party politics when you so clearly aren't? (Jordan Hylden, First Things, sub. req'd.)

  • Have faith | Mormon president? No problem (Richard Lyman Bushman, The New Republic)

  • Prodigal party | What party of secularists? Five political strategists have '08 Democrats talking old-time religion (Mark Bergin, World)

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Barack Obama:

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  • Court reinstates Quran lawsuit | State law describes laying one's hand on "Holy Scriptures" to take an oath — and it's that phrase that is at issue (News-Record, Greenboro, N.C.)

  • Qurans for courtroom oaths? For Muslims, it only makes sense | The object of a court hearing is to find the truth. The object of an oath is to encourage the truth. If a Quran will accomplish that goal, it's downright silly to resist it (Editorial, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.)

  • Take oaths on the holy book of your choice | A person of faith - whatever that faith might be - should be permitted to swear an oath on a holy book that is relevant to him (Editorial, The Daily Dispatch, Henderson, N.C.)

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Bush library protest:

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  • A matter of faith | A legal row at Exeter University between the Christian union and the student guild has wider implications for the future of faith on campus (The Guardian, London)

  • District 5 officials to request rehearing of court case | Anderson School District 5 trustees want a rehearing of a federal court decision in a lawsuit involving fees charged to a Christian after-school club operating on one of its campuses (Independent Mail, Anderson, S.C.)

  • Tipton kids learn from pro-life group | County outsources abstinence teaching to Christian center (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)

  • Church records sought in Belmont-Baptist battle | A Belmont University supboena seeking decades-old financial records from 100 Baptist churches is an "unreasonable demand" that will "fully consume the administrative staff of most, if not all, churches," Tennessee Baptist Convention officials say (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Classroom Christianity | A unique minor in Christianity and culture highlights the challenges and opportunities for Christian students at secular universities (World)

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Kenya politics:

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Margaret Wanjiru:

  • Chaos in church as bishop's guards attack journalists | Margaret Wanjiru's attempt to "straighten her act" in front of the glare of television cameras after a salacious three-day run-in with Mr James Kamangu Ndimu - a man who claims to be the father of her sons - ended on a near-tragic and controversial note (The East African Standard, Kenya)

  • Wanjiru's bodyguard faces assault charge | Bishop Margaret Wanjiru's bodyguard, Mr Michael Thuku Kaunga, has been hauled before a city court on charges of assaulting a photojournalist (The East African Standard, Kenya)

  • Papers prove i'm the father of Wanjiru sons, claims Kamangu | The man claiming to be Bishop Margaret Wanjiru's former husband may not be a religious person. In fact, he does not go to church and does not subscribe to any denomination. But yesterday, he sent the self-confessed witch-turned preacher the message: "I have forgiven you." (The Nation, Kenya)

  • Bishop Wanjiru questioned over attack on journalist | Bishop Margaret Wanjiru was yesterday questioned by police after her security detail roughed up a journalist covering a press conference at her office (The Nation, Kenya)

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Aberrant religions:

  • Former Ugandan rebel leader dies in camp | Alice Lakwena, a Ugandan warrior priestess who led an insurgency in the 1980s and claimed to have spiritual powers to protect her fighters from bullets by anointing them with oil, has died at a Kenyan refugee camp, a government official said Thursday. Her cousin, Joseph Kony, is the messianic leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. (Associated Press)

  • Praying to be thin | Does controversial guru Gwen Shamblin put the fear of God into dieters? (Self, reposted)

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  • Christian Tamil Priest shot dead by Army in Jaffna | The Tamil speaking Christian community in Sri Lanka's northern city of Jaffna is shocked by the brutal murder of a Protestant Christian Tamil pastor in broad daylight on January 13th. (Tamil Week)

  • U.S. detains founders of evangelical mega-church | Brazilian mega-church leaders Sonia Moraes Hernandes and Estevam Hernades-Filho spent the last two decades building one of Brazil's largest evangelical empires. They're now spending their time at a federal detention center in Miami (The Miami Herald)

  • Former mayor Hayes, wife, indicted | The federal government charges the couple spent the money to help build, furnish and operate the Lily of the Valley Church of God in Christ, where Jim Hayes is the pastor (Fairbanks News-Miner, Ak.)

  • Also: Ex-mayor of Fairbanks, Alaska, indicted | 92-count indictment charges Jim and Chris Hayes of funneling more than $450,000 in federal grants to fund construction of a church where he is the pastor (Associated Press)

  • Con case only gets weirder | At man's sentencing, tapes mention armed escape backed by U.N. (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Update: Setser's sentencing postponed | Because of icy weather (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Priest admits to stealing from church to pay for prostitutes | St. Jude's Catholic Church shut down last year because of financial problems (WEWS, Cleveland)

  • Investigators rule church fires were arson | Task force waiting on test results (The Daily Reflector, Greenville, N.C.)

  • Also: N.C. church fires ruled arson | Fires at two Baptist churches that erupted within an hour of each other last weekend have been declared arson (Associated Press)

  • Hovinds to be sentenced today | In November, a jury found Creation Science Evangelism founder Kent Hovind guilty on 58 federal counts, including failing to pay $845,00 in employee-related taxes (Pensacola News-Journal, Fla.)

  • New Amish school rises near murder scene | The new building will have just one room, like the torn-down school where the massacre took place, but will be more secure, with more sophisticated locks and a location reachable only by a private drive (Associated Press)

  • Church teacher faces porn counts | A Sunday school teacher from Easthampton who reported his backpack stolen from church pleaded innocent yesterday to 11 child pornography possession charges after collages of young girls that had been in the backpack were found strewn around a public rest room (The Republican, Springfield, Mass.)

  • Reverend King and the exploitation of religion | Our society is in major crisis today, with the proliferation of these types of religious organizations, because they do not enhance the spiritual health of our society; they deepen obscurantism and superstition and do not enhance the capacity of the individuals trapped within the exploitative ambience of these groups to participate in societal development. (Is'haq Modibbo Kawu, Daily Trust, Nigeria)

  • Pastor again in court over stock theft | The pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia at Koës yesterday found himself in the dock again - on the second charge of stealing animals in less than a month (The Namibian)

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Va. priest embezzlement case:

  • Louisa priest case may have longer trail | Investigators looking into a Louisa County priest accused of embezzling money from two rural churches believe the scheme goes back longer than the six years written on the indictment (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)

  • Louisa folks puzzled, but forgiving | Louisa County residents are shocked and disappointed by embezzlement charges against a popular priest, but they're preparing to forgive (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)

  • Priest appears in Louisa court | Former parishioners gather to observe man suspected of embezzling up to $1 million (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  • Lawyer: Priests can open accounts | Experts: Diocesan way of banking is unlike that of most entities (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

  • Priest's appearance in court is short | Priest accused of embezzling money from two small Catholic churches in Louisa County has an initial court hearing (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)

  • Secret identity | The strange case of Father Rodis (Editorial, The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)

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  • Pro-Israel group asks Pope to remove anti-Semitism from religious art | The Roman Association of Friends of Israel sent a letter to the Pope asking him for a "clear and strong signal" that he would not tolerate any residual or resurgent forms anti-Semitism in religious art or popular culture, such as processions (Reuters)

  • Pope calls on Christians, Jews for peace | Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday called on Christians and Jews to work together for world peace as Israel's chief rabbi, addressing a conference on Christian-Jewish relations, urged the international community to "do everything" to defend the Jewish state (Associated Press)

  • Major Archbishop passes away | The first Major Archbishop and Catholicos of the Malankara Catholic Church Cyril Mar Baselius passed away on Thursday. (The Hindu, India)

  • Archdiocese set to announce church closings | The announcement will end a decision-making process that has dragged on for more than five years and trapped many parishioners in uncertainty (The New York Times)

  • Detroit convent finds success in online recruiting | Many Catholic convents around the country are dealing with an aging population, and finding difficulty recruiting new sisters. But one religious order in Detroit is boosting recruitment — particularly of young women — by finding them online (Day to Day, NPR)

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Church life:

  • Couple learns minister had wed them illegally | An Ontario couple is devastated after learning that the United Church minister who performed their wedding had no authority to preside over marriages and had been marrying couples illegally (CTV, Canada)

  • Also: 'Dearly bewildered … ' | Ex-United Church minister holed up in Calgary writes couples dozens of marriages she performed are legally invalid (Calgary Sun)

  • For YouTube, read PewTube | The Archbishop of Canterbury is planning to use the site to broadcast his sermons in an attempt to make the Church more relevant to the internet generation (The Telegraph, London)

  • Anglicans concerned skyline is under threat | Melbourne's Anglican Church is concerned that its landmark St Paul's Cathedral is being "crowded out" by skyscrapers. It is preparing to again defend the cathedral's position on the city skyline (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Police ban masses in parish amid language dispute | Authorities of a diocese in southern India seem to be despairing after a dispute over liturgical language led to the suspension of religious services in a parish. Police banned religious activities in the parish after members of the two groups clashed on Dec. 25 (Indian Catholic)

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  • Catholic Church settles sex suit | It will pay $375,000 to a man who says a priest abused him (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

  • Santa Rosa Catholic diocese repays millions in squandered funds | In 1999, after former Bishop Patrick Zeimann resigned amid a sexual misconduct scandal, the diocese discovered Zeimann had been using the fund's money inappropriately (KCBS, San Francisco)

  • Deltona priest accused in sexual battery | A shock wave is rippling through the close-knit Deltona family at St. Clare Catholic Church in the wake of a complaint that its pastor participated in sexual battery against a man (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Fla.)

  • Hand of God | A moving, and frankly told story of a family's confrontation with the church that betrayed them, and how they survived it all with their humanity and humor intact (Frontline, PBS)

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Anglican fight:

  • Episcopalians readying legal challenge | Episcopalian leaders on Thursday said they are done negotiating and plan to take legal action for the return of property held by 11 parishes that broke away because of the church's tolerance of gay clergy and relationships (Associated Press)

  • Praying for answers | A majority of St. Stephen's members voted to leave the Episcopal Church. For people on both sides of the divide, the path to salvation is no longer clear (The Washington Post)

  • Church dispute headed to court | A property dispute between the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and 11 churches whose congregations voted to leave the denomination took one step closer to court yesterday after the diocese's governing body declared the churches' property "abandoned" (The Washington Times)

  • Virginia Episcopal diocese to fight for 'abandoned' churches | The Episcopal Bishop of Virginia on Thursday declared "abandoned" 11 churches that have voted to pull out of the national denomination, and said the diocese will likely turn to civil court to "recover or secure" the multi-million dollar properties (USA Today)

  • Gulu wants vicar fired | The parish council of the Anglican Christ Church Archdeaconry in Gulu Municipality wants the vicar, the Rev. Walter Kidega, removed from their church. (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Anglicans meeting in Duval, but not to fight 'old battles' | Starting ministries and spreading the gospel will be their focus (The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville)

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Sexual ethics:

  • Senator: Repeal cohabitation law | North Dakota's Legislature is encouraging disrespect for the law by making it illegal for a man and woman to live together without being married, a legislator says (The Forum, Fargo, N.D.)

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Life ethics:

  • Bill would shield birth control from Va. abortion laws | Legislators and activists who support abortion rights said Thursday that legislation is needed to shield birth control from state laws and regulations governing abortions (Associated Press)

  • Marshall introduces bill to ban abortion | Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, introduced a bill Monday that would ban abortions in Virginia if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its 1973 decision legalizing the procedure (Potomac News, Va.)

  • 'Embryo bank': new hope or too far? | A Texas fertility center's methods raise concerns about 'designing'babies. Some say they're not much different from the usual practice (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Is there a post-abortion syndrome? | A growing number of anti-abortion activists, despite social-science research, claim that women are traumatized by their abortions — and are trying to use this to reframe the abortion debate (Emily Bazelon, The New York Times Magazine, sub. req'd.)

  • Operation Rescue makes stand in Kansas | Since drawing thousands to its 1991 Summer of Mercy protest, support for Operation Rescue has tapered off, with only a few hundred in attendance at a 2001 rally and that many expected at one planned for this weekend (Associated Press)

  • Abortion's elusive middle ground | Dr. Eric J. Keroack, the new head of the Office of Population Affairs, is the reason Americans can't agree on abortion (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)

  • Beyond Roe | Since the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized all abortions, child abuse has risen, and precipitously so (Gary Bauer, The Washington Times)

  • Happy birthday, Roe v. Wade | On the ruling's anniversary, its fans should celebrate another case, too (Kenji Yoshino, Slate)

  • A middle ground for stem cells | Biomedical science can offer us tremendous benefits, but only if we make sure they do not come at the cost of our highest ideals (Yuval Levin, The New York Times)

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  • Iraqi Christians may never return | Thousands of Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in Damascus and may never return to Iraq, a Christian campaigning charity, the Barnabas Fund, warned this week (Church Times, London)

  • Religious Left: Vietnam! Vietnam! | Regretably, the history "lessons" that the religious left supposedly learned from Vietnam end with 1975. They ignore the subsequent mass murder, prison campus and totalitarian horrors that were visited upon a communized Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos (Mark D. Tooley, FrontPageMag.com)

  • Wrong from Wright | Critiquing the bishop's message, "Where is God in 'The War on Terror'" (Gilbert Meilaender, First Things, sub. req'd.)

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Missions and ministry:

  • Darfur aid 'on brink of collapse' | Fourteen UN aid agencies working in Sudan's troubled Darfur region have warned that their relief operations will collapse unless security improves (BBC)

  • Christians seek guidelines for missionary work | Christians are told to make disciples of all nations, but some missionaries have done this so aggressively in recent years that churches now want a code of conduct to spread their faith without antagonising any others (Reuters)

  • Opening doors, hearts to the needy | Suburban homeless discover a sanctuary; church volunteers find a purpose (The Washington Post)

  • Religion in the news: The Edmundite Missions | The Edmundites operate food kitchens and health clinics and offer home repair, elder care and education to people in Alabama's Black Belt, a mostly poor region named for its rich soil (Associated Press)

  • Methodist minister donates kidney to save Rabbi | When a New Jersey Methodist minister heard a local rabbi needed a kidney transplant, religious differences did not stop her from stepping forward to offer him one of her own (Reuters)

  • Religious rave: That's the spirit | No booze, no smoke, just nice, clean fun (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)

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Money and business:

  • British Airways caves in on cross ban | British Airways today bowed to public pressure by announcing that it is to change its uniform policy to allow staff of all religions to display symbols of their faith (The Telegraph, London)

  • Also: BA drops ban on wearing crosses | British Airways is changing its uniform policy to allow all religious symbols, including crosses, to be worn openly (BBC)

  • Credit union finds religion a good fit | Pastors and representatives from the participating churches - which include Christ Temple Church, Morning Star Baptist Church and Jubilee Christian Church - will serve on the branch's board of advisers. A key mission for those board members will be hosting financial literacy classes for their congregations (Boston Herald)

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Media and entertainment:

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Other stories of interest:

  • Religion today: AICs vibrant, but weakening | Once a predominant form of Christianity throughout the continent, African initiated churches, sometimes called Spirit Churches, are losing their popularity in most of Africa. A younger generation is seeking out the more modern congregations that emerged starting in the 1970s that are still uniquely African in worship style but closer theologically to Pentecostal or mainline Protestant groups in the West (Associated Press)

  • Church group regrets 'any offence' to lecture | The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada says the anti-Islamic speech delivered last week by self-proclaimed former terrorist Zachariah Anani "does not represent any official position" of the organization (Windsor Star)

  • Russia's faithful ice dippers fret at warm winter | Russia's faithful indulged on Friday in the annual Orthodox tradition of plunging through ice holes into freezing water, but a key ingredient was missing: it is not cold (Reuters)

  • The lost voice of protest | The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held the unfashionable view that we had an obligation to help those who are in trouble (Bob Herbert, The New York Times)

  • Singing sensations | When cantors were celebrities (Nathaniel Popper, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Tribute: Ties that bind | While chairing the monthly meeting of the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus - which he had founded in 2004—the recently diagnosed Yuri Shtern suddenly passed a note across the table to the prominent American Evangelical leader who was being hosted at the event. "Pray for me … It is my secret," the scrap of paper revealing his illness read (Etgar Lefkovits, The Jerusalem Post)

  • Evangelicals and the Mother of God | It is time for evangelicals to recover a fully biblical appreciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her role in the history of salvation-and to do so precisely as evangelicals. The question, of course, is how to do that (Timothy George, First Things)

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