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Should School Workers Be Banned from Off-Hours Counseling?

Plus: National Right to Life kicks out Colorado chapter after Dobson criticism, and many other stories from online sources around the world.

Today's Top Five

1. Minn. campus supervisor dismissed for off-campus ministry
A dedicated Christian, [Prior Lake High School campus supervisor Chris] Lind has become a de facto advice-giver, friend, and religious mentor to some students," the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Tuesday. "He said the district told him not to talk to students — even off campus — about 'traditional values,' namely, the district didn't want him to talk to students about abstinence or their sexual orientation. He didn't listen." So he was placed on administrative leave, and a school board vote Monday may terminate him completely.

2. National Right to Life dumps Colorado chapter
Last month, Colorado Right to Life, Operation Rescue, and the American Life League took out ads in The Colorado Springs Gazette and The Washington Times criticizing Focus on the Family's James Dobson for his views on the partial-birth abortion ban. The groups say the ban doesn't actually save lives and distracts from efforts to ban abortion altogether. "It's our contention it's a wicked ruling," Colorado Right to Life vice president Leslie Hanks told the Rocky Mountain News. The national committee says it disagreed with the ad and with the state chapter's approach. Focus on the Family praised the national body's decision.

3. Does Amnesty International support abortion?
Cardinal Renato Martino, who heads the Vatican's justice and peace department, says the human rights organization does, and says "individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support" of the organization. Amnesty says its new policy does not promote abortion as a universal right. "Amnesty International's position is not for abortion as a right but for women's human rights to be free of fear, threat, and coercion as they manage all consequences of rape and other grave human-rights violations," said the organization's Kate Gilmore. But Amnesty says it does support the "decriminalization of abortion."

4. Trouble at one of the world's top evangelical seminaries
The Guardian reports that the former principals of Wycliffe Hall, the evangelical theology college at Oxford University, are criticizing the current head, Richard Turnbull. They have written a letter to the bishop of Liverpool, who is chairman of the school's governing council.

"One of the authors acknowledged yesterday that the letter had been prompted by The Guardian's disclosure four weeks ago that staff felt bullied and intimidated and a culture of homophobia and misogyny was developing," The Guardian's Stephen Bates reported. "More than a third of the academic staff have recently left, including the vice-principal, and its best-known academic, the Thought for the Day speaker Elaine Storkey, has been threatened with disciplinary proceedings for raising concerns at a private staff meeting." Alister McGrath, who preceded Turnbull, was one of those who "authorized" the letter, says Bates. It's unclear if "culture of homophobia and misogyny" only means support of limiting ordination to men who do not engage in extramarital sex, and if the three former principals would agree with the Guardian's characterization.

5. Episcopalians thumb their nose at Anglican Communion, orthodox members
So what else is new?

Quote of the day
"This year, newspapers across the country are struggling hard to find something bad to say about this convention. May they only be able to report [that] the name of the Lord Jesus was lifted high."

—Southern Baptist Convention president Frank Page, at the close of the denomination's annual meeting.

More articles

Education | Higher education | Raleigh teacher's evangelist invitation | Missions and ministry | Ruth Graham | People | Priest kidnapped in Philippines | Iraq | Social justice | Crime | Abuse | International religious liberty | Amnesty International and abortion | More on abortion | Colorado Right to Life | Life ethics | Stem cell research | 2008 election | Politics | Land and zoning disputes | Church and state | Fiji | Australia | Immigration | Protests | Cathedral video game dispute | Entertainment and media | Sexual ethics | Homosexuality | Anglicanism | Southern Baptists | CRC | Catholicism | Church life | Creflo Dollar in Uganda | Money and business | Books | Health and sickness | Science | Spirituality | Other stories of interest


  • Role as religious mentor may lead to staffer's firing | The possible dismissal of a campus supervisor at Prior Lake High School has some community members accusing the school district of religious discrimination (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Also: High school campus supervisor firing possible | The recommendation to fire a Prior Lake High School campus supervisor was pulled from the School Board agenda Monday evening (Prior Lake American, Minn.)

  • Senior wins fight to stay on team, attend a religious convention | A North Oldham High School senior, who was told by her volleyball coach that she'd have to choose between being on the squad or going to a Christian convention, will be allowed to do both after her parents claimed the ultimatum was religious discrimination (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

  • Congregation will continue to worship at school | With a lawsuit looming, Richland officials agreed to allow an Upper Bucks Christian congregation to continue worship services at a local school (The Intelligencer, Horsham, Pa.)

  • Judge upholds constitutionality of vouchers for disabled, foster kids | Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Bethany G. Hicks rejected the lawsuit's claim that the voucher programs appropriate public money for private religious schools in violation of the Arizona Constitution (The Arizona Republic)

  • Catholic educational tradition thrives in suburbs | In stark contrast to the struggles of some of their urban counterparts, these suburban Catholic schools are thriving. Some see a familiar pattern (The Boston Globe)

  • School shut over prayers row | Private school's proprietor sends students home, arguing that since the school was sponsored by missionaries from South Korea, no other religion should be practised except Christianity (The Nation, Kenya)

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Higher education:

  • Theological college's head is undermining it, say predecessors | The principal of Wycliffe Hall, the Oxford University Anglican evangelical theological college, was under renewed pressure last night after his three immediate predecessors claimed he was undermining its reputation and threatening its survival as an academic institution (The Guardian, London)

  • Dalit Christians plan protest march | The Dalit Christians would organise a march to the Pushpagiri Medical College at Thiruvalla on Friday in support of their demand for reservation in professional educational institutions owned by Christian managements (PTI, India)

  • Christian college appealing aid denial | Colorado Christian University said Wednesday it is appealing a federal court decision denying state aid to its students (Associated Press)

  • Faith is secret to his success | San Leandro native given a top position at Colorado Christian University (The Daily Review, Hayward, Ca.)

  • Students and faith | Colleges can't be blamed for declines in religious activity, study says, because graduates are more religious than others (Inside Higher Ed)

  • Religion today: Quigley goes under | For more than a century, Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary has prepared teenage boys for the priesthood, largely unchanged as the city transformed around it from gritty industrial center to modern metropolis. But another kind of change finally caught up with Quigley (Associated Press)

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Raleigh teacher's evangelist invitation:

  • Reason and religion | Students are not in school to be recruited by religious groups (Editorial, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

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Missions and ministry:

  • Hispanic Christian fair set to draw members | In a reversal of U.S. missions to Latin America, Mexican preachers will come to Roanoke to preach to the growing Hispanic community here (The Roanoke Times, Va.)

  • W.Va. students get NBA players' castoffs | Players hated synthetic basketballs, so league donated them to World Vision (Charleston Daily Mail, W.V.)

  • Youngsters field-test Bible school programs | Long before the halls of local churches are readied for active youngsters who will take part in vacation Bible school, children at a Colorado church are getting a preview of next year's curriculum (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Also: Reevaluating VBS | The problem as I see it now, though, is that VBS is spread out over the summer, and for the most part, many of the churches are doing the same VBS. What happens is that "church kids" end up attending several different VBSs, often getting the same programs (Editorial, The Piggott Times, Ark.)

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Ruth Graham:

  • A beacon of spiritual strength | Spiritual. Sensitive. Devoted. Loving. Funny. When talking about Ruth Bell Graham, who died Thursday at 87, the list of adjectives could go on and on. But it wouldn't be complete without the word "tough" (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

  • Ruth Graham was husband's anchor, but shined on her own | From her youth in China through her years at Little Piney Cove in Montreat, she constructed a remarkable life as a writer and poet, as a devoted and fun-loving mother to her five children, as a thoughtful neighbor and friend and as the beloved wife of the most famous evangelist of his time (Editorial, Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

  • She was so much more than an evangelist's wife | Her place in history may well be as the woman behind the evangelist. But it doesn't begin to describe her place in the heart of those who knew her. (Ken Garfield, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

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Priest kidnapped in Philippines:

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  • Local Lutherans take stand against war in Iraq | Calling the war in Iraq "neither just nor moral," Lutherans from a synod representing more than 52,000 members in Western Washington have voted to take a stance against it (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • Iraq: Priest still missing one week after kidnapping | Islamic militias threaten more than 1,000 Christian families in Baghdad (Compass Direct)

  • Iraqi Christians' most urgent needs according to a Chaldean priest | As a result of ongoing violence, persecution and the forced exodus of Christians, Churches are re-structuring their pastoral activities to cope with new challenges that range from spiritual assistance, help to the poor and fighting corruption. Christian leaders must make a common front in dealing with the state, international coalition forces and terrorism (Bashar Warda, AsiaNews.it)

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Social justice:

  • Jerusalem church leaders plea for end to violence in Gaza | "We urge our brothers in Fatah and Hamas movements to listen to the voice of reason, truth and wisdom. So we implore that you immediately announce the cessation of all bloody fighting and to return back to the path of dialogue and attempt, through understanding, to solve all differences." (Religious Intelligence, U.K.)

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  • Five years' jail for 'religion' rape | A man who raped a Muslim woman because she showed an interest in Christianity has been jailed for at least five years by a Sydney court (AAP, Australia)

  • Dozier slaying lawyer: We're still inquiring | Defense attorney says it's too early to predict case (Berkshire Eagle, Mass.)

  • Winkler might stay jailed | Mary Winkler is eligible for transfer from the McNairy County Jail to a mental facility today but may have to remain in jail through the weekend as her attorneys make arrangements, authorities said Thursday (The Jackson Sun, Tenn.)

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International religious liberty:

  • Pakistan's blasphemy laws castigated | The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has deplored the abuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan, calling them a severe violation of the universally guaranteed right to the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief, while expressing concern over a draft bill in the National Assembly on apostasy (Daily Times, Pakistan)

  • Andhra Pradesh churches decry Tirumala ban on non-Hindu activities | The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches has decided to take 'all possible actions' to oppose the recent Andhra Pradesh government ban on non-Hindu religious activities in Tirumala and surroundings, calling it a violation of fundamental rights (Indian Catholic News Service)

  • China blasts Bush tribute to victims of communism | Communist-ruled China has blasted U.S. President George Bush for attending the founding of a memorial to victims of communism, accusing Washington of "cold war" thinking and provoking ideological confrontation (Reuters)

  • Tolerance, truth and religion, and where they fit in history | Michael Gerson goes to Turkey (Terry Mattingly, Scripps Howard News Service)

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Amnesty International and abortion:

  • Cardinal faults Amnesty on abortion | Renato Martino, who heads the Vatican's justice and peace department, said Wednesday that Roman Catholics shouldn't contribute to Amnesty International because the group adopted a new policy calling for access to abortion services for women under certain circumstances (Associated Press)

  • After Vatican criticism, Amnesty defends new policy on abortion | Amnesty claims that it did not promote abortion as a universal right and that it remains silent on the rights and wrongs of abortion (Catholic News Service)

  • Amnesty rejects Vatican criticism on abortion | "The Catholic Church, through a misrepresented account of our position on selective aspects of abortion, is placing in peril work on human rights," Kate Gilmore, Amnesty's deputy secretary-general, said (Reuters)

  • Vatican urges end to Amnesty aid | The Vatican has urged all Catholics to stop donating money to Amnesty International, accusing the human rights group of promoting abortion (BBC)

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More on abortion:

  • Police want limits on anti-abortion events | The city of Jefferson's police chief wants a group of anti-abortion protesters to tone down their act and has asked the Jefferson City Council to adopt an ordinance to help him do that (Morris News Service)

  • Abortion stance bill stalls | A bill that would force pro-life pregnancy counselling services to disclose that they don't refer for abortion appears to be in doubt, with some of its supporters claiming they had been prevented from voting on the issue (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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Colorado Right to Life:

  • National group boots Colorado Right to Life | Colorado Right to Life, which ran a full-page ad in The Gazette last month criticizing Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, was ousted Wednesday from the National Right to Life Committee (The Colorado Springs Gazette)

  • National group boots Right to Life | Colo. chapter had ripped Dobson in newspaper ads (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

  • Right to Life drops Colo. affiliate | Colorado Right to Life was kicked out of the National Right to Life coalition on Wednesday, in part for publicly criticizing Focus on the Family founder James Dobson (Associated Press)

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Life ethics:

  • Kaine stays execution pending high court appeal | "Basic fairness demands that condemned inmates be allowed the opportunity to complete legal appeals prior to execution," the governor's statement said. (The Washington Post)

  • The national pastime | A Harris poll suggested that more than 40 percent of Americans would use genetic engineering to upgrade their children mentally and physically (David Brooks, The New York Times, sub. req'd.)

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Stem cell research:

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2008 election:

  • Abortion wars, uninterrupted | The campaign of Arizona Senator John McCain launched a new broadside against Mitt Romney today over Romney's reversal on abortion, but Romney's campaign quickly hit back by saying McCain's move was borne out of "desperation." (The Boston Globe)

  • Abortion feud has 2008 Republicans on edge | Barbs flew between the McCain and Romney camps on the pivotal issue of abortion, in a grab for hearts and minds of grass-roots conservatives, who hold the fate of the race in their hands (AFP)

  • Romney woos anti-abortion activists | Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday told hundreds of anti-abortion activists that his conversion to their cause is genuine as he sought to fend off rivals' criticism that he's inconsistent on the issue (Associated Press)

  • Democrats disappoint abortion-rights advocates | Abortion rights advocates cheered when Democrats took control of Congress. But hopes that their agenda would become a legislative priority have since faded. proposed increase to fund abstinence-only sex education programs (Morning Edition, NPR)

  • Romney faces another 'flip-flop' question: Has he changed on stem cells? | Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is now facing questions on whether he has shifted his stand on expanded federal support for stem cell research (The New York Times)

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  • Christers at the gate | Church of Christ members aim for electoral top (Nashville Scene)

  • A covenant to take care of the Creator's handiwork | The "Genesis Covenant" is not intended to be adopted by a parish here and a synagogue there, but promoted and acted upon by the associations, councils and assemblies that speak for denominations and faiths (Lance Dickie, The Seattle Times)

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Land and zoning disputes:

  • Pastor, whose church ran afoul of county ordinance, speaks | The Cowboy Church in Moneta briefly stopped meeting last year, then started meeting as a private party, the Cowboy Round-up, which did meet the letter of the law. After another short time it returned to meeting as the Cowboy Church (Bedford Bulletin, Va.)

  • Dania closer to easing rules on churches locating in neighborhoods | City commissioners on Tuesday tentatively approved a proposal lifting a restriction under which churches and houses of worship are allowed in residential districts only by special exceptions granted on a case-by-base basis (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

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Church and state:

  • Post removes Bible study guides | A Web site is cleared of the material after a religious freedom group calls some passages anti-Semitic (The Kansas City Star, Mo.)

  • Judge: Police can ban religious Muslim garb | A Philadelphia police officer has no right to wear a head covering as required by her Muslim faith when she is in uniform, a federal judge ruled yesterday (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Also: Judge: Philly police can ban scarves | The city's police department can forbid a Muslim officer from wearing a head scarf on the job, a federal judge ruled (Associated Press)

  • Kelsey says ruling knocks out state funds to churches | Rep. Brian Kelsey said he received a state attorney's general opinion today stating "it is unconstitutional to use state taxpayer dollars to further religion by providing unrestricted Community Enhancement Grants to churches." (The Chattanoogan, Tenn.)

  • Also: Kelsey to churches: No dough for you! | Turns out, state lawmakers can't give tax dollars to churches, as some tried to do earlier this year — and an Attorney General's opinion says so, according to Rep. Brian Kelsey, a Germantown Republican (The Tennessean)

  • Do public accommodation laws limit ability to carry out shunning? | Suits filed yesterday by the Arizona Attorney General against two restaurant owners raise the interesting question of how far members of religious groups can go in implementing a religious decision to excommunicate or "shun" a fellow member without violating civil rights laws (Religion Clause)

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  • Churches oppose national council initiative | Two Christian church groups have opposed the setting up of a National Council for Building a Better Fiji. (Fiji Times)

  • Regime's plan illegal, says Methodists | Fiji's Methodist Church has strongly objected to the interim administrations proposal of the setting up of the proposed National Council deeming it an illegal act. (FijiLive)

  • Bainimarama lashes out at church | Interim Prime Minister Commander Voreqe Bainimarama has hit out at the leaders of the Methodist Church for deliberately misleading their followers to accomplish their own political agenda (Fiji Times)

  • Church leaders face flak | Leaders of the Methodist Church are deliberately misleading their followers to accomplish their own political agenda, says interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama (The Fiji Times)

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  • Pell could be in contempt | Cardinal George Pell could be found in contempt of Parliament pending an inquiry into his comments on therapeutic cloning last week (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Watershed week for church/state relations in Australia | Cardinals threatening Catholic politicians; Archbishops being reported to Parliamentary privileges committees; priests writing letters to editors of newspapers offering alternative communion arrangements. Has Cardinal Pell taken us back to the belligerent days of B.A.Santamaria? (The Religion Report, ABC, Australia)

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Cathedral video game dispute:

  • Sony: Sorry for cathedral shootout game | "It was not our intention to cause offense by using a representation of Manchester Cathedral in chapter eight of the work," the letter said. "If we have done so, we sincerely apologize" (Associated Press)

  • Cathedral shoot-out game condemned as PM blames business | Tony Blair told Parliament there was a need for large organisations such as Sony to have both "some sense of responsibility and some sensitivity to the feelings of communities." (The Times, London)

  • Church of England asks Japanese to join Sony campaign | "Today I want to appeal directly to the people of Japan to help us put pressure on Sony to respond. So I speak directly to those citizens who share our concerns," the dean of Manchester Cathedral, the Very Rev. Rogers Govender said (Associated Press)

  • Don't get angry over murder in the cathedral | As videogames begin to explore themes more akin to movies and literature, social commentators are going to have to re-evaluate their responses to the medium. (Keith Stuart, The Guardian, London)

  • The business of the church | If I was such a church, the last thing I would want, simply out of principal, would be money made off a videogame that shat all over my institution (Josh Kron, New Times, Rwanda)

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Entertainment and media:

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Sexual ethics:

  • Michigan-based ministry helps porn addicts | Porn and Pancakes is organized by XXXChurch.com, an online ministry created to get Christians talking about their X-rated addictions (Associated Press)

  • Mexico City considers legal prostitution | The leftist party that has already legalized gay unions and abortion in Mexico City said Wednesday it wants to make prostitution legal in the capital of this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country. (Associated Press)

  • Also: Mexico City lawmakers seek to legalize prostitution | Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Mexico City archdiocese, said the Catholic Church was concerned the city government was spending time passing laws that affected minorities rather than resolving issues like crime and water shortages (Reuters)

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  • Ministers say hate crimes act could muzzle them | Harry Jackson, pastor of the Hope Christian Church in Maryland, says his coalition is concerned ministers could be charged under a hate crimes act for preaching against homosexuality. Advocates of the bill say that is untrue (USA Today)

  • At ease with faith and their sexuality | Being gay and practising a religion are often thought of as incompatible because many churches take a negative view of homosexuality. Here three gay Edinburgh people tell how they have reconciled their sexuality and their religion (Evening News, Scotland)

  • Right of gays to marry set for years to come | Vote keeps proposed ban off 2008 state ballot (The Boston Globe)

  • Massachusetts marriage amendment fails | The amendment needed the support of 50 lawmakers to be put on the November 2008 ballot, but the joint legislative session opposed it by a 151-45 vote (The Washington Times)

  • Massachusetts gay marriage to remain legal | Same-sex marriage will remain legal in Massachusetts, as its proponents won a pitched months-long battle (The New York Times)

  • Personal stories changed minds | The nine lawmakers who switched sides seemed to share something in common: a desire to listen to all sides and a concern about hurting gay couples and families who they believed in many cases had experienced discrimination (The Boston Globe)

  • A good day for marriage | Time is on the side of equality (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  • A political grenade | Today's vote may have settled the issue in Massachusetts. It has unsettled it everywhere else (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)

  • Late gain for sex ed committee | Staff will add a brief passage to the new sex education lessons that also instruct teachers on how to answer a specific question if asked by a student: "Is homosexuality an illness?" (The Washington Post)

  • The quiet gay revolution | As gays have moved into the mainstream, Republicans have landed on the wrong side of history (Michael Kinsley, Time)

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  • Anglican demand for change is rebuffed by Episcopalians | The executive council of the Episcopal Church announced that it would not comply with demands from Anglican leaders to retract the church's liberal position on homosexuality (The New York Times)

  • Anglicans' demand on gays is rebuffed | Top Episcopal officials instead say they'll take up the issue at their General Convention -- in 2009 (Los Angeles Times)

  • Episcopal panel rejects Anglican demand | "We question the authority of the primates to impose deadlines and demands upon any of the churches of the Anglican Communion," the Episcopal Executive Council said in a statement, after a meeting in Parsippany, N.J. (Associated Press)

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Southern Baptists:

  • Baptists approve global warming measure | Southern Baptists approved a resolution on global warming Wednesday that questions the prevailing scientific belief that humans are largely to blame for the phenomenon and also warns that increased regulation of greenhouse gases will hurt the poor (Associated Press)

  • Global warming resolution passes | Urges "Southern Baptists to proceed cautiously in the human-induced global warming debate in light of conflicting scientific research." (Baptist Press)

  • Unpopular Bush still a hit with Baptists | Conservative white evangelical Protestants remain his most loyal base -- a point driven home on Wednesday when he made a televised address to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio and received multiple standing ovations (Reuters)

  • SBC: doctrinal statement 'sufficient,' but impact on hiring remains unclear | The Southern Baptist Convention affirmed the Baptist Faith & Message June 12 as the "sufficient" doctrinal guide for its agencies and institutions. But SBC leaders immediately disagreed over whether the action will keep those agencies from adopting more restrictive policies. (Associated Baptist Press)

  • Baptists want hate-crimes bill to be defeated | The Southern Baptist Convention, which wrapped up its two-day visit to San Antonio on Wednesday, passed a resolution asking the U.S. Senate and President Bush to prevent hate crimes from being prosecutable, saying it would add an extra layer of protection for homosexuality, which they say the Bible denounces (San Antonio Express-News)

  • SBC steps up ministry to homosexuals | Bob Stith is the convention's National Strategist for Gender Issues (Baptist Press)

  • Also: SBC appoints strategy coordinator for churches' 'ex-gay' ministries | Bob Stith, who said God convicted him more than a decade ago about how he addressed the issue of homosexuality, filled the slot June 1 (Associated Baptist Press)

  • Baptists adopt sex-abuse statement | After repeated calls for a stand on sexual abuse, the Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday adopted a resolution urging churches to perform criminal background checks on clergy and employees. The statement also renounced child abusers and those who cover up their actions (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  • Southern Baptist leader urges winning of souls, not arguments | The nation's largest non-Catholic religious body must spend as much passion on lost souls as it does on its internal squabbles, its leader told 8,300 messengers Tuesday in San Antonio (San Antonio Express-News)

  • SBC president fields reporters' questions | "I do believe we've gone far enough and that the Baptist Faith and Message is enough and I encourage entities not to go beyond that in their doctrinal parameters." (Baptist Press)

  • Baptisms at a crossroad | National decline is reflected in some local churches (Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro, Tenn.)

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  • Synod repents of racism in 1920 Africa decision | Chagrined by the past and mindful of its multiethnic future, the Christian Reformed Church Synod on Thursday repented of racism in a 1920 decision not to send missionaries to Africa (The Grand Rapids Press)

  • Synod: When can kids take communion? | The Faith Formation Committee has five years to come up with a statement on when youths should take communion -- a question on which many CRC congregations disagree (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)

  • Women look to expanded roles in CRC's future | Even those who oppose women clergy hope the CRC will benefit from moving beyond a decades-old conflict (The Grand Rapids Press, Mi.)

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  • Theological society head warns against publicly criticizing church | In his presidential address to the Catholic Theological Society of America, theologian Daniel K. Finn warned the society against issuing public statements critical of church policies or church authorities (Catholic News Service)

  • Pope and Russian Patriarch could meet within a year | Pope Benedict and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexiy could hold a historic meeting within a year, a senior Vatican cardinal was quoted as saying on Thursday (Reuters)

  • Old Latin Mass makes a comeback | The 1,600-year-old Mass isn't used much today, but it's making a comeback. That effort will get a boost Friday when Burke — one of the most devoted supporters of the old Latin rite among U.S. bishops — will ordain two deacons of the Institute at the Cathedral Basilica (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  • Cardinal rebukes Pfleger for 'threat' | Priest says words against gun shop owner misconstrued (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • 'Testing the miraculous, judging the holy' | While a teenage girl's claimed encounters with apparitions of the Virgin Mary have made news headlines and had thousands flocking to her family's Benoni home, her startling revelations are by no means unusual (The Star, South Africa)

  • Matt Dillon, Patron Saint of St. Brigid's? | "This church is part of our history," said Dillon, who said he first fell in love with St. Brigid's when he filmed it for a scene in his movie, City of Ghosts (The Village Voice, N.Y.)

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Church life:

  • Pastors cancel visit to Pilgrim Baptist | Local black leaders decided to cancel plans to visit Pilgrim Baptist Church this Sunday, after hearing threats that white hate groups might rally there at the same time (Gaston Gazette, N.C.)

  • Also: Church leaders: Apology accepted | Blackface show wasn't intended as an insult, pastor says in e-mail (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

  • Fitness tips for body and soul | Church's health exposition offers classes, preventive care (The Washington Post)

  • Church choir walks out in revolt over vicar's 'bullying' | A church choir has walked out in protest at its vicar's "autocratic" style. The revolt in the stalls at the church of St Gregory the Great in Dawlish, south Devon, followed the departures of the organist and choirmaster, who resigned after 20 years' service (The Times, London)

  • Holy war brews over plans to remove church pews | Changes are afoot for the 800-year-old Grade I listed Prestbury church, and the 300-year-old Macclesfield Forest Chapel, that could mean ripping out ancient pews which would be replaced by modern removable chairs to enable places of worship to be used as community meeting halls (Macclesfield Express, England)

  • Guide dog leads chapel's singing | A guide dog is helping to lead the hymns every Sunday at a Welsh chapel (BBC)

  • Church values its neighbors, neighborhood | First Baptist Church of Shreveport and First Baptist Church School have gained attention for reasons other than our core mission. A computer-operated sign project, begun months ago and quite innocently, created unexpected public attention because of newspaper and television coverage (Greg Hunt, The Shreveport Times)

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Creflo Dollar in Uganda:

  • Thousands throng Dollar crusade | Hundreds of Christians, some from as far as Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Sudan, thronged the Namboole Stadium last evening for a crusade against poverty by American evangelist Dr. Creflo Dollar (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Dollar warns on misused money | Many came eager to see what the prosperity evangelist, Dr. Creflo Dollar, would bring them but he gave them "no quick fixes." (New Vision, Uganda)

  • Dollar gives tips for prosperity | "This isn't a get-rich-quick scheme that I am going to share. The principles that I am going to share with you will change your life," he said (The Monitor, Uganda)

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Money and business:

  • Draft version of new IRS Form 990 | The U.S. Internal Revenue Service released on Thursday a draft revision of its Form 990 informational tax return, the primary tax document that charities and other tax-exempt organizations, including nonprofit colleges, file each year with the government (The Chronicle of Higher Education, sub. req'd.)

  • The bingo haul | Church and synagogue games in Milton buck a statewide decline (The Boston Globe)

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  • Historic first printing for Lucado book | Thomas Nelson has ordered a 1 million-copy first printing for 3:16: The Numbers of Hope by Max Lucado—the largest first printing in the company's history (Religion BookLine, Publishers Weekly)

  • God is mankind's original sin | Edward Skidelsky reviews In Defence of Atheism: the Case Against Christianity, Judaism and Islam by Michel Onfray and God Is Not Great: the Case Against Religion by Christopher Hitchens (The Telegraph, London)

  • This book won't change your life | Christopher Hitchens has been good value and highly entertaining in the past, but his latest book fails to tell us anything we didn't already know (John Crace, The Guardian, London)

  • The Gospel of Judas: Jesus did not die for your sins | We don't think the Gospel of Judas belongs in the canon -- but we also don't think it belongs in the trash. Instead, it belongs in the history of Christianity -- a history that now, in light of all these recent discoveries, we now have to rewrite completely (Elaine Pagels, Chicago Sun-Times)

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Health and sickness:

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  • One scientist's junk is a creationist's treasure | Without your "junk DNA" you might be reading this article while hanging upside down by your tail. That's one of the key findings of the opossum genome-sequencing project, and a surprising group is embracing the results: intelligent-design advocates (Wired News)

  • Intricate toiling found in nooks of DNA once believed to stand idle | The first concerted effort to understand all the inner workings of the DNA molecule is overturning a host of long-held assumptions about the nature of genes and their role in human health and evolution, scientists reported yesterday (The Washington Post)

  • Can't buy me altruism | You don't need to donate to charity to feel all warm inside. Researchers have found that even when money is taken from some people involuntarily, they feel good about the transaction, as long as the funds go to a good cause (ScienceNow)

  • Spanish nuns show hops are good for you: study | A study in which teetotal Spanish nuns drank a regular half-liter of beer showed that beer may help reduce cholesterol levels, a group financed by the Spanish Beer Makers' Association said on Thursday (Reuters)

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  • Many Mississippi Coast men more religious than you might imagine | Approximately 30 male friends and acquaintances were asked five questions about their churchgoing habits. They agreed to answer on condition of anonymity. Their responses could inspire or infuriate (Biloxi Sun Herald, Miss.)

  • Boys to men | Raising three sons has helped me appreciate the masculine virtues (Tony Woodlief, The Wall Street Journal)

  • The decline of the Sabbath | Less praying, more working and playing (Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, The Wall Street Journal)

  • The magic numbers | Purveyors of the psychic arts worry as Salem's city leaders look to expand the witchery marketplace (The Boston Globe)

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Other stories of interest:

  • Religious extremists in 3 faiths share views: report | Violent Muslim, Christian and Jewish extremists invoke the same rhetoric of "good" and "evil" and the best way to fight them is to tackle the problems that drive people to extremism, says a report commissioned by security think tank EastWest Institute ahead of a conference on Thursday (Reuters)

  • Where Jesus spent his old age | Forget the Da Vinci Code: This Japanese farming village knows that Christ died here, at age 106. And they have the "tomb" to prove it (Time)

  • The church of skepticism | Seattle's one true faith gets mobilized (The Stranger, Seattle)

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Christian Reformed Church Removes Bars to Women in Leadership | Plus: The big news from the Southern Baptist Convention, Romney's faith team, and other stories (June 13)
Italian Priest Kidnapped in Philippines | Plus: 'Virtual desecration' of a famous cathedral, an important IVF finding, another pastor mariticide, Paris Hilton (of course), etc. (June 12)
Stem Cell Bill's Bad (Or Providential?) Timing | Plus: Surgeon general nominee's Methodist work under fire, Time interviews Rowan Williams, church building conflicts, and more. (June 8)
The God Debates of '08 | Plus: More tragedy for Iraq Christians, another blow to Iowa's faith-based prison program, America's new pilgrimage points, and other stories. (June 7)

See also the Christianity Today Liveblog, especially for many items about Ruth Graham's passing.

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