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December 2003

December 21

Iraqi Christians Celebrate Saddam's Capture
Chaldean Christian communities in the U.S. call arrest a Christmas present. Complied by Rob Moll.

Doing Tolkien Justice
The Christian virtues of humility and sacrifice filter through a tarnished triumph. By Jeffrey Overstreet.

Where to Go for All Things Tolkien
The best sites on the Internet about the man, his faith, his books, the Inklings and the movies. Compiled by Rob Moll.

The Lure of the Obvious in Peter Jackson's The Return of the King
The film adaptations of a 1,200-page novel required making significant changes to the story. But at what cost? By Ralph C. Wood.

Hanukkah celebration will begin Friday
According to the tradition, after ousting the Greek-Syrian occupiers, the Maccabees cleaned the temple and re-dedicated it. They found only a small amount of oil with which to light the holy lamps. But it miraculously lasted eight days. (Indianapolis Star)

December 14

Saddam captured in raid.

Carl F.H. Henry, Theologian and First Editor of Christianity Today, Dies at 90
Thinker helped to shape many evangelical institutions and efforts, from higher education to ecumenism. By Beth Spring and CT Staff. See h

CT Classic: Standing on the Promises
In this 1996 article, former CT Editors Carl Henry and Kenneth Kantzer evaluate evangelicalism in light of its 20th-century developments.

The Postmodern Crackup
From soccer moms to college campuses, signs of the end. By Charles Colson with Anne Morse.

Censoring Christmas
Public Christmas displays, like the Ten Commandments, are allowed—as long as they don't mean anything religious. By Rob Moll.

Does Fuller Seminary program really oppose evangelism of Muslims?
Stories in the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press over the weekend have potential to create a problem for Fuller Theological Seminary and its president, Richard Mouw. "One of the nation's leading evangelical Christian seminaries has launched a federally funded project for making peace with Muslims, featuring a proposed code of ethics that rejects offensive statements about each other's faiths, affirms a mutual belief in one God, and pledges not to proselytize," Times religion writer Teresa Watanabe begins her story.

Shut Up and Embrace Diversity
Some find "tolerance" intolerable. Compiled by Rob Moll.

Rebuilding Afghanistan U
How Christian scholars are using their heads to change people's hearts at universities worldwide—including the one Osama bin Laden used to roam. By Agnieszka Tennant.

The Dick Staub Interview: Mary Poplin Calls Claremont Her "Calcutta"
After seeking God through telepathic spoon bending exercises, this professor found God, and with the help of Mother Teresa, her calling.

Books & Culture Corner: Books, Books, Books!
We begin our annual roundup. By John Wilson.

Film Forum: Christian Critics Hail Third Rings,  by Jeffrey Overstreet.
I joined several Christian press film critics in Los Angeles last week to see an early screening of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The screening was an overwhelming experience—the film surpasses its predecessors in many ways, especially in the Department of Jaw-Dropping, Eye-Dazzling Spectacle. But regarding the way that Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh adapt this chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien's story, they have made many changes that must be discussed. Check next week's Film Forum for some in-depth debate.

Hard-wired for God
Only something extraordinary could entice the Carmelite nuns of Montreal to break their vow of silence and venture out of the cloister: They have joined forces with science to look for a concrete sign from God -- inside the human brain (Anne McIlroy, The Globe and Mail, Toronto).

December 7

Newsweek Goes to Sunday School
And learns about all the women in the Bible, who have been there for millennia. Compiled by Rob Moll. See also Newsweek story at

Oh Who Are the Evangelicals in Your Neighborhood?
U.S. News examines the movement and its founder Jonathan Edwards. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Supreme Court Justices Ask 'How High a Wall of Separation?'
Should the Supreme Court strike down Washington State's "Blaine Amendments," the implications nationwide would be "breathtaking." Compiled by Rob Moll.

Supremely Rejected
Lower-court decisions the Supreme Court let stand Compiled by Ted Olsen

Muslim God and Christian God
President George W Bush has come in for some stick this week for saying that the God he worships is the same God that Muslims worship (Christopher Howse, The Daily Telegraph, London) See Do all religious paths lead to the same God?  Bush remark renews old debate (Newhouse News Service)

Culture vs. faith
A sociologist sees the end times for traditional religion in the United States (John T. McGreevy, Chicago Tribune).

From Fenton to fortune in the name of God
The way Joyce Meyer spends her ministry's money on herself and her family may violate federal law, legal and tax experts say. That law bars leaders of non-profits—religious groups and other charities—from privately benefiting from the tax-free money they raise. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). See also

Salon tells of friendship between Lewis and Tolkien
How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis' all-night argument about God paved the way for both "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Chronicles of Narnia."

C. S. Lewis journeyed from atheism to Christianity
C.S. Lewis scholar explores author's beliefs (Toledo Blade, Oh.).

Holy Land Photo's
Free, instantly downloadable, Power Point Ready Images of Israel, Turkey, Greece and Jordan.

November 2003

November 30

Forty Years Later, C.S. Lewis's Influence Tops JFK
Compiled by Rob Moll.

Fuller Theological Seminary wins LA Times approval
The Los Angles Times Sunday magazine reported on Fuller Seminary's "post-evangelical" attempt to reach beyond conservative/liberal labels and develop Bible-believing Christian leaders with social justice concerns, evolutionary science, pop psychology counseling, and Hollywood influence. The piece marks a new chapter of the Seminary's history as an institution founded by radio preacher Charles Fuller and minister Harold Ockenga in three stages. First, Edward Carnell, the school's second president, called for tolerance among theological viewpoints, then the acceptance of Karl Barth-style theology in the late 1960s, and finally "Post-Conservatism."

Blockbuster Evangelism
Millions have been converted after seeing films about Jesus, and Hindu radicals are responding with violence. Joshua Newton in Karnataka, India.

Colleges rarely delve into spiritual issues, students say in poll (The New York Times).

Operation Christmas Child: Every gift is meant to be given to a certain child
Area churches are the drop-off points for the world's largest Christmas project, which gives a gift found in a shoebox, to suffering children worldwide. (Daily Courier, PA).

He'll walk out of prison into the pulpit
The charismatic Baptist minister who served time for grand theft and racketeering is set to preach.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A Baptist minister whose fall from grace began with a fire his wife set at a home he had secretly bought with his mistress will walk out of prison today and head directly to the pulpit. (By Vickie Chachere, Associated Press, 11/30/2003 03:01 AM EST)

Christian group fights the law with the law. By Steven G. Vegh / Knight Ridder News Service
Having lost past battles over school prayer and abortion, evangelicals are seething over recent rulings that plucked God from the Pledge of Allegiance, spurned the Ten Commandments, and decriminalized sodomy. And that was before Massachusetts' high court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage earlier this month. Thursday, November 27, 2003 (Philadelphia Inquirer).

A higher authority on energy By Alan J. Heavens / Inquirer Real Estate Writer
An interfaith group ferrets out waste where lone houses of worship cannot.The buildings that make up St. Timothy's Parish at Levick and Hawthorne Street s in Northeast Philadelphia are vastly larger and more complex than the red-brick rowhouses that surround them. ... the parish or synagogue figure out how to lower costs. Sunday, November 23, 2003 (Philadelphia Inquirer)  

Christian History Corner: Thanksgiving in the Midst of Fear
Seriously ill in the days of the Black Plague, poet John Donne still celebrated God's goodness. Updated by Philip Yancey and introduced by Christian History editor Chris Armstrong.

November 23

Life after 'Mac'
Promise Keepers names new leader, looks ahead. Interview by Stan Guthrie.

The End of Traditional Marriage?
Religious activists say Massachusetts decision is monumental—and may be cause for revolt. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Hugh Hefner's Hollow Victory
How the magnate won the culture war, lost his soul, and left us with a mess to clean up. By Read Mercer Schuchardt.

Reinhard Bonnke, Benny Hinn, and Others Reportedly Bilked of $160M+ in Ponzi Scheme.
Christ for All Nations board member, four others arrested. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Dispatch from Atlanta: What Fireworks?
Anxieties and attack turn to grace and truth as the Evangelical Theological Society votes on Open Theism proponents' membership. By David Neff.

Evangelical Scholars Remove Robert Gundry for His Views on Matthew
Did Matthew embellish his work with nonhistorical additions? By Leslie R. Keylock in Dallas.

November 16

Federal appeals court says RLUIPA is unconstitutional
The battle over the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 continues, this time with a major setback to the law. Last Friday, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law is "unconstitutional because it has the primary effect of advancing religion."

Healing Salve
United by Faith looks for answers to the problem of race. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Compassionate Capitalism
How Christians are using fair trade to help the world's poor, missionaries, and shoppers. By Rob Moll.

Islam and the West
Islam in Context shows a religion at a crossroads. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Faith and Fantasy
The Gospel According to Tolkien reveals a deeply Christian work. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Todd Komarnicki: Producer, Director, Writer and Believer
The producer of Elf explains how his Christian faith affects his career as a Hollywood producer, director, and writer. Interview by Jeffrey Overstreet.

Books & Culture's Books of the Week: Remember Afghanistan?
Two inside reports. By Albert Louis Zambone.

Mysteries of Faith 2003 is an in-depth chronicle of humanity's encounter with God by US News.

November 9

Gay Bishop Consecrated Despite Objections
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, head of the Episcopal Church USA, led the service. By Douglas LeBlanc.

Bush Signs Partial-Birth Abortion Ban
The court battle has already begun.

The Dick Staub Interview: Pursuing God and Community
A self-described nerd says pursuing God and community is possible through commitment.

Exegeting The Matrix
A lot of spiritual stuff went into the Matrix films, but not as much as some authors think. Reviewed by Todd Hertz.

Breaking The Da Vinci Code
So the divine Jesus and infallible Word emerged out of a fourth-century power-play? Get real. By Collin Hansen.

Books & Culture's Books of the Week: From Dust to Dust
Soil and the future of creation. Reviewed by Ragan Sutterfield.

November 2

ETS Leadership Issues Recommendations on Kicking Out Open Theists
Evangelical Theological Society's Executive Committee unanimously recommends Clark Pinnock stay; majority says John Sanders should go. By Ted Olsen.

Mike Yaconelli Dies in Truck Accident
The cofounder of Youth Specialties and The Door embodied Messy Spirituality. Interview by Rob Moll.

Books & Culture's Book of the Week: The Troubled Conscience of a Founding Father
An Imperfect God examines George Washington and slavery. Reviewed by Preston Jones.

Ancient Christian Commentary on Current Events: What Is War Good For?
What early church leaders thought of Christians and the military. By Joel Elowsky.

Discovering Magdalene the apostle, not the fallen woman
Karen L. King and several other scholars, maintain that the church made Mary Magdalene into a sinner in an attempt to denigrate women and to solidify male leadership (The New York Times).

Combing through lost articles of faith
Lost Scriptures and Lost Christianities discuss what didn't make it into the canon (The Boston Globe).

October 2003

October 26

New Afghan constitution juggles Koran and Democracy
The question now facing Afghans is: how to devise a constitution that combines the country's deep-rooted Islamic traditions and its aspirations for democracy? (New York Times).

The Truth About Samaritan's Purse in Iraq
This past summer, pundits predicted that Iraqis would resent Franklin Graham's ministry. What really happened when the workers showed up? By Kevin Begos.

"Under God"
The history of a phrase (James Piereson, The Weekly Standard).

We Live What We Believe
Luke Timothy Johnson talks about the importance of the creed—even for non-creedal Christians.
Interviewed by David Neff.

Evangelical society will decide whether to oust two members
Several hundred evangelical scholars will decide whether to expel two members of the Evangelical Theological Society as heretics for their embrace of open theism. (

This is our heaven - or hell
For the great religions, this world matters more than the next (Karen Armstrong, The Guardian, London).

John Paul II's Canonization Cannon
Why and how this pope has made over 470 saints. By Steven Gertz.

Investing as Love
Gary Moore's biblical approach to financial management. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Thinking to Change Lives
Robert Louis Wilken explores early Christian thought. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

October 19

Pope John Paul II marks 25 tumultuous years
The pontiff's role in shaping events is unrivaled by any cleric in modern history. Aides say he now wants to use his illness as inspiration (Los Angeles Times).

After plagiarism charges, National City Christian Church pastor takes leave
Alvin Jackson, the most prominent pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which he also serves as moderator, is taking a leave of absence to "regain strength—emotionally, physically and spiritually," The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Sacred Mysteries: Iraq's Chaldean Christians
Bishops want recognition of Chaldeans at least as an ethnic group (Christopher Howse, The Daily Telegraph, London).

Bible wars in public schools: No truce in sight
Suggestions to alleviate the plague of lawsuits over Bible courses and clubs (Charles Haynes, First Amendment Center).

On this they do agree
Evangelicals take the lead in human-rights activism (Allen D. Hertzke, The Wall Street Journal).

School may close Chicago homeless mission
The Pacific Garden Mission has been home to legendary evangelists like Billy Sunday, a famous weekly radio drama and thousands of homeless men who are offered a meal, a bed and a prayer (Associated Press).

America obsessed with future apocalypse
There is no work in all literature that has been more misunderstood, prostituted, exploited and abused than the Bible's final book, titled simply in the Greek, "Apocalypse of John." (Tom Harpur, The Toronto Star).

Never-Ending Gardens
Bruce Wilkinson and his son teach the hungry to feed themselves. By Timothy C. Morgan.


Sterling Disagreement
Christopher Hall and John Sanders continue their debate over open theism. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Scholar's book sees schism in Gospels
In recent years, books such as Elaine Pagels' have brought more information about the diversity of early Christianity to the public (The Miami Herald).

Hell, yes
There's more to Jonathan Edwards than "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal).

Is Jonathan Edwards history?
The contested legacy of the great Puritan—and what it tells us about religion in America today. (John Wilson, Beliefnet).

Groundbreaking Book Uncovers Bush's Beliefs
For those who might question whether the 43rd president of the United States has genuine faith, a groundbreaking new book will be full of surprises.

Apocalypse Without the Beasts
A high school teacher finds the sacred in all the "wrong places."
By Greg Taylor.


Hollywood's Luther
From 95 Theses to 112 silver-screen minutes (Thomas Hibbs, National Review Online).

Will movie spark talk of Christian values?
Would Jack Chick's views dissuade you from seeing his film or screening it for your congregation? Religious leaders respond (Los Angeles Times).

October 12

Pope to Anglican head: "New and serious difficulties have arisen on the path to unity"
In comments universally seen as critical of the Episcopal Church USA's confirmation of a gay bishop, Pope John Paul II Saturday warned Archbishop Rowan Williams that ecumenical efforts between the two leaders' churches were in danger.

Medicine cured 'miracle' woman - not Mother Teresa, say doctors
The elevation of the Albanian-born Agnes Gonxha Bojahiu into Blessed Teresa of Calcutta has its detractors (The Daily Telegraph, London).

Supreme Court watch
It's going to be a busy year for religion at the Supreme Court, as the justices will consider both the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision against the use of the phrase "under God" in classroom recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance, and a challenge to Washington state's constitutional prohibition against scholarships for religious studies. But it could have been an even bigger year. This week, amid various protests, the Supreme Court rejected several other cases, which could have widespread consequences. In turning aside Jacoby v. Prince, the Supreme Court allows the World Changers Bible club to meet at Spanaway Lake High School, a public school in Washington state, during class time.

'Jesus Tax' Plan Dies
Alabama's fiscal debate exposes a divide between Christians.
By Collin Hansen.

Influential Things Come in Small Packages
Three friends, four spiritual laws, and other legacies of Bill Bright.
By Josh McDowell, Dave Hannah, and Rick Warren.

Promise Keepers to shift direction under new chief
Undeterred by recent setbacks, the new president of Promise Keepers says the Christian men's ministry is planning a gradual expansion into other countries and the creation of smaller life-skills seminars to complement its trademark arena rallies in the United States (The Denver Post).

Baylor Reaps the Enlightenment Whirlwind
Ultimately, the challenge to creating a top-level Christian research university lies in combating individualism gone awry. By Ralph C. Wood.

Man jailed for 'honor killing'
A businessman was jailed for life yesterday for murdering his daughter's boyfriend because he was a Christian (PA, U.K.).

Paul's letters of tolerance
Thanks to Paul, Christianity has never really been a religion that used the Bible as a code of law (Christopher Rowland, The Guardian, London).

When Denominations Divide
The two-century-old "Unitarian controversy" suggests a grim prognosis for the current crisis in the Episcopal Church. By Collin Hansen.

October 5

John Paul II announces 31 new cardinals
The 'princes of the church' are named earlier than expected, raising more questions about the 83-year-old pope's health (Los Angeles Times).

Holy Marriage
How it ravishes our souls. An exclusive excerpt from Philip Yancey's Rumors of Another World.

The Dick Staub Interview: Philip Yancey, the Rumor-Monger
The author's latest is written not for Christians, but for those on the "borderlands of belief."

The Good Effects of the Good News
A convert from Islam answers critics hostile to the Christian mission. Jonathan Bonk reviews Lamin Sanneh's Whose Religion Is Christianity?

The Defender of the Good News: Questioning Lamin Sanneh
The Yale historian and missiologist talks about his conversion, Muslim-Christian relations, Anglican troubles, and the future of Christianity. Interviewed by Jonathan J. Bonk.

Disciples of Christ leader busted for "borrowing liberally" from Lew Smedes, Baltimore Sun
Speaking of 9/11 rememberances, The Washington Post reports that Chalice Press has withdrawn its book on the tragedy: Shaken Foundations: Sermons From America's Pulpits After the Terrorist Attacks. Disciples World, a magazine of the Disciples of Christ denomination, found that more than half of one of its chapters was lifted without attribution from How Can It Be All Right When Everything Is All Wrong?, a 1982 book from the late Lew Smedes. The rest of it, it turns out, was largely culled from a Baltimore Sun article.

Church-and-state standoffs spread over USA
From Winder, Ga., to Everett, Wash., Americans are squaring off in courthouses, classrooms and city halls over religious monuments in government buildings and parks (USA Today).

Campus Collisions
Why InterVarsity Christian Fellowship was "derecognized" at some of America's leading universities. By Andy Crouch.

Promise Keepers' VP ascends to presidency
Thomas Fortson, a former General Motors executive who has served as a Promise Keepers executive vice president through seven tumultuous years, was named Wednesday as president of the Denver-based Christian men's movement.

A film of biblical proportions
Controversial evangelical cartoonist Jack Chick makes film debut with "The Light of the World." (Rancho Cucamonga Voice, Calif.). I use to love to read Chick tracts, but sadly, much of the information in the tracts is not true.

September 2003

September 28

Kenneth Hagin, 'Word of Faith' Preacher, Dies at 86
His life and beliefs.

'Rumors' about people who say they're 'spiritual but not religious' 
Yancey's latest isn't directed at Christians, but toward those who are in what he calls "the borderlands of belief" (The Tennessean, Nashville).

New Mormon aim: Reach out to blacks
It's a tricky feat. In the not-too-distant past, the Mormon faithful were routinely taught that blacks were an inferior race (Los Angeles Times).

Billions of government dollars no longer off-limits to faith-based organizations
The White House yesterday announced regulatory changes that will make it easier for religious organizations to compete for federal funds. In addition, it proposed six other rules to "level the playing field" in funding social services. See h

A Reformer's Agony
A high-caliber film shows how messy it was when Luther helped change the course of history.
Luther, reviewed by Chris Armstrong.

September 21

13 Hindu Extremists Convicted of Murdering Missionary Graham Staines and His Sons
Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Focus on the Family can sue over rejected ads, court says
In 2001, a Florida bus company refused to post advertisements for a Focus on the Family conference on homosexuality called "Love Won Out." Focus sued, but the case was thrown out. Now it's back in, thanks to a decision from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (the same court that Focus on the Family founder James Dobson castigated for its decision against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his Ten Commandments monument).

Is Buddhism good for your health?
Researchers are making the case that Eastern-style meditation is good not just for your emotional well-being but also for your physical state (The New York Times Magazine).

Ailing Pope ends trip amid concern it may be his last
John Paul II is unable to complete a speech or sermon on his four-day visit to Slovakia (Los Angeles Times).

Garner Ted Armstrong dies at 73
TV evangelist formed own church after break with father (Los Angeles Times).

The prophet of profit sows the seeds of wealth
Encouraged to "sow seeds" of prosperity, followers attending E. Bernard Jordan's services in Manhattan and, since July, at the church's new retreat in the Sullivan County hamlet of Woodbourne, donate or pledge sums of as much as $10,000—contributions that they expect to bring them greater wealth (The Record, Middletown, N.Y.).

The Church's Hidden Jewishness
Hebrew thinking in a Greek world. In the Shadow of the Temple, reviewed by David Neff.

Breaking Down the Faith/Learning Wall
How the history of Christians in higher education has stacked the deck against Robert Sloan's "new Baylor." By Collin Hansen

The Ph.D. Octopus, 100 Years On
How Christians can make a difference in the upside-down world of graduate school. By Wilfred M. McClay.

September 14

Signs of hope in a secular age
The International Church Council Project is the organizational result of evangelicalism's 25-year process to affirm historical biblical inerrancy and the Bible's historical interpretation on today's heresies. (Tom Terry, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

National Baptist Convention will have impacts
One feature of this year's convention will be to focus on economics and to improve networking among African-Americans. Another session has been set aside to look at health problems peculiar to the black community (The Kansas City Star).

Surveys show opinions of religious and nonreligious folk
Pollsters are finding that Americans' attitudes toward religion, politics, and morals are shifting (David Yount, Scripps Howard News Service)

Promise Keepers head to step down
Bill McCartney, who revealed his decision during a quarterly board of directors meeting, said he wants to care for his ill wife and spend more time with his family (The Denver Post).

Roy Moore criticizes Commandments display
You would think that suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore would be happy about his governor's new display of the Ten Commandments, which was installed Tuesday in the old Supreme Court library room in the Capitol. But he's not. Actually, it's the posting of the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, and the Declaration of Independence along with the Ten Commandments that Moore is upset about.

Graduating in faith
There's an enrollment boom among evangelical Protestant and conservative Roman Catholic colleges as more baby boomers opt for a Christian education for their children (The Washington Times).

West, Meet East
Who Are the Christians in the Middle East? examines millions of forgotten believers.

Uneasy Unity
Christians take different paths as "road map" hits impasse. By Sheryl Henderson Blunt.

Nice guys finish first
Inspired by the Good Book, Max Lucado's books reach heavenly sales levels (Publishers Weekly).  

Church on the Ropes
Why so many are "spiritual, but not Christian" God Outside the Box, reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Christian author explores 'borderlands of belief'
While most best-selling Christian authors have offered answers, Philip Yancey presents questions (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Sermon illustration alert update
Two weeks ago, Weblog noted a New York Times story about thieves who broke into Manhattan's Church of the Holy Cross and worked hard to remove a statue of Jesus from a crucifix before they stole it, leaving the cross behind. (The moral: We sinners want Jesus without the cross.) Today comes a report that the Jesus statue turned up by the garbage in the alley by the church. Police told The New York Times that the garbage had been picked up since the theft, so someone must have brought the statue back. The moral of the story now: When we try to take Jesus into our lives without taking up the cross, we always end up rejecting Jesus in the end.

September 7

Egyptian law dean plans suit against "all the Jews of the world" for Exodus theft
When, after the Ten Plagues, Pharaoh finally let Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt, says the book of Exodus, the former slaves "plundered the Egyptians." Now, more than three millennia later, Egypt wants its stuff back.

Family Christian Stores to open on Sunday
Noting a company poll that found 80 percent of its customers shop on Sundays, with 89 percent of these eager to shop at its stores if they were open, Family Christian Stores, the country's largest Christian retail chain, announced that it would open on the traditional day of rest.

Lebanon acquits Canadian missionary
Citing a "lack of evidence," a Lebanese military tribunal on Monday cleared Canadian missionary Bruce Balfour, who went to the country to replant its biblical cedars, of charges that he was a spy for Israel.

Black music from Scotland? It could be the gospel truth 
Willie Ruff, an Afro-American professor of music at Yale, is adamant—he has traced the origins of gospel music to Scotland (Scotland on Sunday).

VeggieTales Creators File for Bankruptcy
Bob the Tomato and friends sold to company that already has Lassie, Lone Ranger, and Rudolph.

House wrapping up billon faith-based charities 
One of the first items on the House agenda this month is a scaled-down version of President Bush's faith-based plan, consisting largely of tax incentives to encourage donations to religious charities (The Washington Times).

Why Don't They Listen?
John Stott on the most pernicious obstacles to effective world evangelism.
Interview by Gary Barnes.

Florida executes unrepentant abortion-clinic murderer Hill
His last words were a call to arms for abortion opponents (The Orlando Sentinel).

Lowering the Baby Boom
A new book helps Christians make wise birth control decisions.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Homeschooling: A web site for basics at Resource Helper at

The Lord of the Rings: What Harvest?
A reader's guide to the best of epic fantasy.

In defense of God
A number of liberal atheists condemn belief in God as destructive nonsense, but their simplistic arguments are no better than the religious zealots they deplore (Bradford R. Pilcher, Jewsweek).

Q & A with David Wilkinson: 'Science is exploring what God has done'
The ordained Methodist minister holds a doctorate in theoretical astrophysics and has received a number of scientific honors including the Chalmers Prize for Theoretical Physics and the Reidel Research Prize (The Dallas Morning News).

August 2003

August 24

Thousands Rally in Montgomery for Ten Commandments Display
Ruling called "effort to set the stage for religious persecution."

Doubt and Meaning
Joni Eareckson Tada's poignant memoir probes God's use of suffering.

The Unintentional Ethicist
How three assumptions about God can shape the moral choices we are called to make. An excerpt from My God and I by Lewis B. Smedes

Audit's lesson was 'painful' for evangelist 
Hank Hanegraaff and auditors won't say how much was repaid to the Christian Research Institute or by whom. Critics allege whitewash (Los Angeles Times).

Astrologers fail to predict proof they are wrong
Good news for rational, level-headed Virgoans everywhere: just as you might have predicted, scientists have found astrology to be rubbish (The Daily Telegraph, London).

The Christian-Muslim divide 
Christians have tended to respond in one of two ways: Some want to learn about Islam and find common values, while others stress fundamental dangers in Islam that need to be confronted (The Wichita Eagle).

Atheists find their comfort in numbers 
This weekend, leaders of seven like-minded but distinct national groups will participate in the Minnesota Atheists Conference, which organizers say will be an unprecedented gathering of freethinkers of various persuasions (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.).

Faith and works 
Lisa Jardine reviews For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and The End of Slavery by Rodney Stark (The Washington Post).

A push to map the mystical
As researchers study how spiritual experiences happen inside the brain, theologians question the point (The Baltimore Sun).

August 17

Louisiana Rep. to head Family Research Council
The Family Research Council has named Louisiana State Rep. Tony Perkins as its new president, effective September 1, calling him "the leading opponent of Louisiana's gambling industry and one of the state's most vocal prolife advocates." "The very bedrock of our society and nation, the institution of marriage, is under attack," Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, an FRC board member, said in a press release. "I can't think of anyone more prepared to lead FRC and to promote and defend the sanctity of marriage and the family at this time than Tony Perkins." See

Kevin Leman Talks
The author of The Birth Order Book looks at the private lives of Christian couples in Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Intimacy in Marriage. See

Could Rastas and Christians Really Unite?
There's more in common than you might think, but some factors keep adherents wary of one another. See

Right wing fears being terminated  The Schwarzenegger phenomenon is so disturbing for those who have staked their careers on their unwavering conservative credentials (Diane Carman, The Denver Post). See,1413,36~115~1566977,00.html

Church must stop preaching to the converted, say ad agencies  Traditional images of Christ on the cross and biblical quotations in bill-board adverts are a turn-off for church goers, advertisers have proclaimed today (The Guardian, London). See,7492,1018088,00.html

Debate exists about whether the Bible is entirely error-free Nowadays, inerrancy is championed almost exclusively by conservative Protestants (Associated Press). See

Believers in the lost Ark Treating myth as fact misunderstands the meaning of religion (Karen Armstrong, The Guardian, London). See,2763,1015350,00.html

Dr. Laura loses her religion  Radio host drops Judaism, 'envies' Christian friends (Forward)

I Lost It
Noted missiologist Ruth Tucker shines a light on the netherworld of apostasy in Walking Away from Faith. See

Book of the Week: 'A Golden Age' of Religious Tolerance?
The Ornament of the World analyzes how the intellectual elites of medieval Spain eschewed fundamentalism and showed surprising sensitivity in reconciling competing truths. See

August 10

Darkness in the Afternoon
Openly homosexual Episcopal priest cleared of misconduct, confirmed as bishop. Newly confirmed bishop-elect Gene Robinson's dark night of the soul lasted 24 hours as church officials considered last-minute allegations against him and then declared him innocent. See 

Moore's Ten Commandments ordered to be removed by August 20
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has two weeks to remove the 5,280-pound display of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building rotunda. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, who last November ruled that the display was unconstitutional, made good yesterday on his promise to issue a 15-day removal order once the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Moore's appeal. See

Banished for being 'born again,' monarch dethroned  Why was the king's 13-year rulership terminated? At the centre of the crisis was the monarch's alleged disregard for tradition on the ground that he was a born-again Christian (Vanguard, Lagos, Nigeria). See

Looking at education, religiously Christian Educators Assn. celebrates 50th year at 34th annual convention at Hilton Glendale (News-Press, La Crescenta, Calif.). See

To be Catholic in America  A review of Peter Steinfels's A People Adrift (Kevin Starr, Los Angeles Times). See

Robertson's indefensible doctrine  It's high time for believers to repudiate "Christian nation" politics and the moral corruption it invites (Joseph Loconte). See

Lighter side of religion: Whatever their faith, readers poke some fun  A collection of religion jokes (The Tennessean, Nashville). See

The Dick Staub Interview: Why God Is like Jazz
Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, talks about why Christians need writers who honestly deal with their faults. See

Finding God in Small Groups
Tom Albin's doctoral research reveals why the Wesley's system worked so well. See

Magazine version of the Bible draws young female readers  I have never seen a Bible like Revolve, the name that Thomas Nelson Inc. has given to this magazine edition of the New Testament (David Crumm, Detroit Free Press). See

Church burns Bibles  And other tales of brotherly love (Bob Bankard,

Does The Da Vinci Code crack Leonardo?  The short answer is no. (The New York Times)

Symposiums to look at whether DNA refutes Book of Mormon. Murphy published an essay last year, based on DNA evidence, claiming that the Book of Mormon cannot be what the LDS Church claims it is -- a record of the American Indian descendants of Lehi, a Hebrew who migrated with his family to the New World in about 600 B.C. DNA samples taken from native tribes in south, central and north America have shown that their principal ancestors were from northeast Asia, not Israel -- a fact conceded by both sides in the debate. Murphy says, "It's possible for a small group to have not left a trace. But that's not what the Book of Mormon describes." The book describes a vast Nephite civilization, and its existence until the end of time is prophesied. Moreover, church leaders, including founder Joseph Smith, taught that Lamanites are the ancestors of native Americans. "There is sufficient evidence to draw a conclusion and that conclusion is that the Book of Mormon is not accurate historically," says Murphy. See

Books & Culture's Books of the Week: Looking for the 'I'
What happens to the self when the brain is injured or malformed?
Reviewed by Heather Looy. See

August 3

Put Yourself in Jesus Shoes
Within 48 hours, a supermarket chain pulls shoes with Jesus' image from the shelves.
By Ted Olsen. See

Ken Connor Resigns from Family Research Council
Former trial lawyer now considering Senate bid favors judicial strategy over Federal Marriage Amendment. By Tony Carnes. See

The price of healing | For critics of extravagant faith healer Benny Hinn, the Good Book isn't enough. They want his ministry to be an open book (Los Angeles Times Magazine). See

Showdown at Baylor, Continued See

Vatican seeks to stop okays for gay unions | Instructions to be released this week outline a course of action for politicians and other lay people to oppose extending the rights accorded to traditional couples (Associated Press). See

'U.S. Credibility Hangs on Whether It Can Do Justice for the Palestinians'
A Palestinian Christian and former PCUSA moderator talks about his faith and critiques Bush's road map to peace in the Middle East. See

Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey. Award winning book. Reviews at

July 2003

July 27

Bill Bright Dies at 81
Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and one of the most successful evangelists of the 20th century, fought pulmonary fibrosis since his diagnosis in late 2000—but he never feared it. Bright took his last breath Saturday at his Orlando home, surrounded by his family. See

Carmen Renee Berry's Unabashedly Consumerist Handbook to Ecclesiology
The author of The Unauthorized Guide to Choosing a Church helps seekers find their best congregational fit. See

Traditional Values Coalition, accused of lying and bribery, is banned from Capitol Hill for a year
Is Lou Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) involved in bribery and extortion? Those are just some of the accusations being leveled against it this week. What's more, those accusations are coming from prolife conservatives, furious over the organization's campaign to stop a bill allowing the importation of prescription drugs from Canada and Europe. See

Robertson's role in GOP questioned
The televangelist's stands often seem extreme. Some wonder if they hurt party outreach efforts.

Abuse scandal far deeper than disclosed, report says | Victims of clergy may exceed 1,000, Mass. Attorney General estimates. See

Ft. Worth's Tyndale Theological Seminary ordered to pay $173,000 fine for awarding diplomas, calling itself a seminary
Concerned about diploma mills, the Texas Legislature in 1975 passed a law barring unaccredited schools from using the word "seminary" in their titles and from using "bachelor, master, and doctor" in their degree titles. See

Turning the Mainline Around
New sociological studies show that evangelicals may well succeed at renewing wayward Protestantism. See

Breakthrough Dancing
A look at the one of the most creative youth ministries in Hong Kong—if not the world. See

Is the Babywise method right for you? | What you should know about Babywise and Growing Kids God's Way  by Gary Ezzo(TulsaKids). See

Challenging the Qur'an | A German scholar contends that the Islamic text has been mistranscribed and promises raisins, not virgins (Newsweek International). See

A view from the experts: Modern society still needs spirituality (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

July 20

Christian networks battle over Dish Network
Three major Christian television networks are battling each other in a satellite broadcasting fight that has gone largely unreported. In April, Dominion Video Satellite, which owns the Sky Angel satellite service, sued Echostar, the parent company of Dish Network, saying it violated a 1996 contract. Sky Angel, the company said, had exclusive rights to air Christian content on the Dish Network. So what were the Daystar Television Network and FamilyNet TV doing on new Dish channels? See

Christian Research Institute Accused of 'NaÔve' Bookkeeping
Report by whistleblowers to Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability prompts ministry to pay back funds, shore up accountability. See

Believers tout the healing powers of evangelist Hinn, critics dispel them | No televangelist is bigger than Hinn, whose ministry takes in an estimated $100 million a year (The Colorado Springs Gazette). See

Big Idea Productions says it's looking for a buyer
Earlier this month, federal judge Barbara M.G. Lynn of Texas upheld the decision of a jury that Big Idea Productions, creators of the VeggieTales, owed a former distributor more than $11 million for breach of an unsigned contract. See

Anglicans move to repair 200-year rift with Methodists | The Church of England took the first steps towards healing a 200-year-old rift with the Methodist Church yesterday when the General Synod voted in favour of a "covenant" scheme (The Daily Telegraph, London). See

Pat Robertson loses it in attack on high court | If his followers pray hard enough, God might make these sick and elderly justices see the wisdom of retiring, he said, although the underlying suggestion seemed to be that if they don't, they could be struck dead (Sheryl McCarthy, Newsday\). See,0,5207384.column?coll=ny-ny-columnists

Baylor's president faces off against critics this week amid multiple controversies
Last November, Christianity Today published a story about Baylor University, the world's largest Baptist institution of higher education, and President Robert Sloan's efforts to make it "the finest Christian institution of higher learning on this planet." See

Court: Religious clubs can meet during school day | Public schools may not bar student religious clubs from meeting during student-activity periods held during the school day, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday (The Philadelphia Inquirer). See

St. Louis Archbishop to take over Philadelphia archdiocese | Archbishop Justin F. Rigali was appointed by Pope John Paul II to succeed Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, who is retiring (The New York Times). See

The meaning behind the words | Are the Bible, Torah and Koran meant to be taken literally? (Daily Pilot/Los Angeles Times). See

Progress Through Theology
An interview with Rodney Stark, author of For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery. By David Neff. See

European Christianity's 'Failure to Thrive'
Why Christendom, born with an imperial bang, is now fading away in an irrelevant whimper.
By Collin Hansen. See

July 13

Larry Burkett dies
Christian financial adviser Larry Burkett died Friday in Gainesville, Georgia, after a long battle with kidney cancer and heart problems. Earlier last week, doctors at the Mississippi Medical Center found him free of cancer, The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi, reported. See

When Larry Burkett Spoke, Evangelicals Listened
After a long struggle with cancer, "evangelicalism's financial answer man" died last week at age 64. See

Bush Africa visit lifts hopes of U.S. missionaries | Many hope a trip by President Bush to Africa this week will help advance their version of God's cause (Reuters). See

Watch that Invocation
Prayer in Jesus' name forbidden in California legislative meetings. See

How 'under God' got in there | With Eisenhower present, D.C. pastor's sermon sparked quest to change pledge (The Washington Post). See

Are Evangelicals Fueling Teen Fascination with the Powers of Darkness?
The horror of Buffy Summers and the fantasy of Harry Potter draw from conservative religious imagery while fans feed on conservative opposition, says the author of From Angels to Aliens. See

Life has a spiritual side, even without faith in God | Many secularists I've met over the years care just as deeply about life's enduring values as the believers who surround them (David Crumm, Detroit Free Press). See

Book of the Week: One-Hit Wonder
The long swansong of Madalyn Murray O'Hair. See

July 6

Alabama Supreme Court Ten Commandments display ruled unconstitutional
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ruled Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's 5,300-pound Ten Commandments monument an unconstitutional state establishment of religion. See

Malawi's minority Muslims riot against Christians
Angry about the deportation of five foreign nationals suspected of belonging to the al Qaeda terror network, Muslims in the African nation of Malawi rioted for two days, targeting Christians. Seven churches in two cities were damaged, as were the national offices of the aid agency Save the Children. See

Time's Cover Story on Missions to Muslims Arrives. See

Mel Gibson visits Focus on the Family, National Association of Evangelicals
Seeking positive reaction and response to his film The Passion, Mel Gibson screened the film to hundreds of pastors at Focus on the Family's Colorado Springs headquarters last Thursday. See

Jerry Falwell gets control of
Just three months after a Virginia judge threw out Jerry Falwell's case against an Illinois man's parody site,, the Southern Baptist pastor gained control of the domain. See!n

Vatican says celibacy rule nonnegotiable | One of the major thrusts of the document is a reiteration of Christianity's heritage in Europe (Associated Press). See

Did Bush say God told him to strike Iraq?
Buried at the end of an article in the Tel Aviv daily newspaper Ha'aretz Sunday was a very, very interesting quote from Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who has been talking with President George Bush about peace in the region. See

Bush says Federal Marriage Amendment may not be necessary
Yesterday, he was asked if he supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. "I don't know if it's necessary yet," Bush said (video | audio). "Let's let the lawyers look at the full ramifications of the recent Supreme Court hearing. What I do support is the notion that marriage is between a man and a woman." See

White House to Congress: Let religious organizations use religion in hiring decisions
In a position paper released to members of Congress, the White House says "religious hiring rights" are part of faith-based organizations' civil rights, and should not be restricted even if the organizations receive public money. See

'Guidance, not a sermon' | Cornerstone Festival offers a view of God as a creative muse (Peoria Journal Star, Ill.). See

Sojourners editor wants to inspire people to improve the world | The biggest conflict facing people of faith today is not between belief and secularism, says Jim Wallis. It's between hope and cynicism. (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.). See

Going It Alone
We should take heed when much of the world says it distrusts us.
By Philip Yancey. See

Christian History Corner: From Beer to Bibles to VBS
How America got its favorite summer tradition.
By Steven Gertz. See

June 2003

June 22

Doctrinal Aftershocks
Worldwide Church of God seeks a new start in face of fresh opposition.
By Marshall Allen. See

Avoiding Rights Talk
An interview with David Koyzis, author of Political Visions & Illusions.
By David Neff. See

Many evangelicals side with Israel in Mideast dispute | Critics of the alliance between American Jews and Christian conservatives say they are worried that the partnership is generating too much influence on Capitol Hill and could drown out the Palestinian perspective (Fox News). See,2933,89387,00.html

Uganda's rebels begin attacking churches
Last week, Joseph Kony, head of the Lord's Resistance Army of Uganda, ordered his troops to attack Christians in the northern part of the country. See

Ex-Islam Leader Now a 'Bible-Quoting Baptist'
A one-time fiery younger leader in the Nation of Islam is now a Christian preacher. Conrad Tillard is emerging from "a 5-year metamorphosis that has transformed him from a fist-shaking black nationalist to a Bible-quoting Baptist," "The New York Times" reported. See

A Creative Youth Group Activity That Will Get Your Church Sued
Family alleges "serious, painful and permanent injuries" after persecuted church simulation. Compiled by Ted Olsen

Most Evangelicals Like Harry Potter. Really.

Big Idea Loses Suit
Jury says creator of VeggieTales owes $11 million to ex-distributor.
By Todd Hertz. See

Some claiming group offers empty promises | A Christian-focused male fellowship known for packing arenas across the country will descend on the Pepsi Arena in downtown Albany Saturday, but not everyone is looking forward to the visit (Troy Record, N.Y.). See

Valley stunned by arrest of O'Brien in fatal hit-and-run | Prelate's new calamity throws Arizona's Catholic leadership deeper into limbo and rocks a diocese that has endured months of scrutiny about priests accused of misconduct with children (The Arizona Republic). See

Norma McCorvey files motion to vacate her Roe v. Wade decision
Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion across the U.S., filed a motion this morning in Dallas to reopen and overturn her case. McCorvey, who became a prolife Christian in the mid-1990s, is backed by the Texas Justice Foundation. See

Deepening crisis as Methodists celebrate Wesley | Overshadowing the 300th anniversary celebrations is the parlous state of the institution, which is struggling with declining numbers, financial difficulties and plunging morale (The Daily Telegraph, London). See

How John Wesley Changed America
His 300th birthday should be a red-letter day on this side of the ocean. After all, we're all Wesleyans now. By Chris Armstrong. See

The heresy that saved a skeptic | What was it, Elaine Pagels wondered, that made Christianity so compelling, despite the obstacles of doctrine? (The New York Times). See

June 15

O Father where art thou? | Christianity is becoming a minority faith in Europe, as church attendance falls, the clergy ages, and scandals and harsh doctrine drive people away. But the faith is reappearing—and thriving—in all sorts of unexpected places. A search for God in Europe, 2003 (Time Europe). See

New Hampshire Episcopalians elect gay bishop
Episcopalians in the Diocese of New Hampshire overwhelmingly elected V. Gene Robinson to be their next bishop Saturday, marking the first time that an Anglican diocese has picked an openly noncelibate gay man for the post. In 1990, Robinson announced that he was gay, and left his wife and two daughters. See

What would Jesus do? Sock it to Alabama's corporate landowners | Alabama's Republican governor thinks he can convince the voters that Christian theology calls for a tax system that is fairer to the poor (Adam Cohen, The New York Times) See

The evolving James Robison | To some, Robison's transformation has given him mainstream influence and standing. Perhaps as a result, he now has critics on both the right and the left (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) See

Idled hospital slated for religious revival | Bill Gothard will take over Nashville Memorial Hospital in Madison (Nashville Business Journal). See

Apocalypse soon | Evangelicals in the US believe there is a biblical basis for opposing the Middle East road map (Giles Fraser, The Guardian, London). See,10551,973445,00.html

Christian bands, crossing over | A new crop of bands has broadened the appeal of Christian rock by emphasizing musical originality rather than a sermonizing message (The New York Times). See

Film Forum: Good, Bad, and Ugly Christians in the Movies
Readers and film critics remember the best and worst portrayals of Christians on the big screen. See

Book inspires worship sensation | "The Purpose-Driven Life" has struck a nerve and sold more than 2.7 million copies, lifting it to the No. 2 spot on the New York Times' hardcover advice list. (Knight Ridder). See

Give us back our atheist pastor, says church
Remember Thorkild Grosboel, the Lutheran pastor from Taarbaek, Denmark, who was suspended for saying in a magazine interview, "There is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection"? The story gets even stranger—now hundreds of his church members have gathered to protest his suspension. See

Forced by Logic
It took philosophy and a friend to convince this atheist. By Agnieszka Tennant. See

June 8

Focus on Family prepares for future without its founder | Hodel's new role will largely be behind the scenes, but his decision-making will be critical as the organization seeks to groom others to succeed Dobson, broaden its reach to younger families and keep donations coming (The Denver Post). See,1413,36~53~1429536,00.html

Habitat for Humanity to open slum 'theme park' | Millard Fuller, founder of the organization, said he expects the Global Village & Discovery Center to attract as many as 70,000 tourists in its first year of operation (Reuters). See

Faith, fun attract flocks | Orlando is moving toward becoming "the Las Vegas of the evangelical world" (The Orlando Sentinel). See,0,1?coll=orl-news-headlines

Cracks in Jefferson's wall | It's good to see that common sense prevailed in the compromise that will allow a religious song to be sung during graduation ceremonies at Winneconne High School on June 8 (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). See

'New' Jim Bakker Returns to Christian Television. Though he once said he would never start another Christian TV ministry, televangelist Jim Bakker is back on the air. "The New Jim Bakker Show" debuted 16 years to the day of his last broadcast of the "PTL Club," the flagship of a ministry empire that crashed amid headlines about financial and sexual scandal, and saw its head jailed for five years. To read more, go to:

Ted Haggard: 'This Is Evangelicalism's Finest Hour'
The new president of the National Association of Evangelicals talks about the current state and future goals of the association and evangelicalism. See

Was alleged Olympics bomber motivated by religion?
Is Eric Rudolph a Christian terrorist? The Washington Post asks the question in yesterday's edition. "The question is not just whether Rudolph is a terrorist, or whether he considers himself a Christian," writes Alan Cooperman. "It is whether he planted bombs at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, two abortion clinics, and a gay nightclub to advance a religious ideology—and how numerous, organized and violent others who share that ideology may be." Syracuse University political science professor Michael Barkun, who has consulted the FBI on "Christian extremist groups," is willing to use the phrase. "Based on what we know of Rudolph so far, and admittedly it's fragmentary, there seems to be a fairly high likelihood that he can legitimately be called a Christian terrorist," he said. See and

'Boston Movement' Apologizes
Open letter prompts leaders of controversial church to promise reform.
By John W. Kennedy. See

Congress enacts first abortion restriction since Roe v. Wade
After a U.S. House of Representatives vote last night (roll call), the federal government will finally ban partial-birth abortions, or what some abortion rights supporters call "dilation and extraction." See

American Life League questions prolife victories
The American Life League, a $7.5 million/year organization that runs such antiabortion programs as Rock for Life, STOPP (Stop Planned Parenthood), Rachel's Vineyard (for postabortion healing), and Campus for Life (which was recently profiled by The Washington Post) is earning a reputation as the wet blanket at the prolife party. See

Data: Not keeping the faith| Is Christian fundamentalism in America on the rise? A Gallup poll analyzed in the March Scientific American by Rodger Doyle suggests a trend toward moderation among evangelical Christians (Reason). See

Jazz, Jesus, and Liberation
In This Far By Faith, Juan Williams argues that the spiritual journey of African Americans is essential to understanding America. By John W. Kennedy. See

Christian unity in atheist bastion | Germany, where only one-third of its 3.5 million citizens belong to a church, is now the venue for a massive display of a deep yearning for Christian unity (UPI). See

Harleys in Heaven
What Christians have thought of the afterlife, and what difference it makes now.
By John G. Stackhouse. See

June 1

Survival Through Community. An interview with Charles Colson, author of Being the Body. By David Neff. See

Conservative religious groups rejoice as Senate passes AIDS bill
Early Friday morning, the U.S. Senate passed the House's Global AIDS Bill, which triples the country's anti-AIDS expenditures to $15 billion. See

No Strings Attached. Christians seek to balance relief work and evangelism in Iraq. By Dawn Herzog and Deann Alford. See

The New York Times focuses on evangelical attempts to "woo" Muslims
In May 2002, Mother Jones ran a cover article titled, "False Prophets: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Aims to Eliminate Islam." The shocking revelation of the article was that evangelical missionaries, in a "stealth crusade," are serving in Muslim countries and sharing their faith. It reported that the mission was to "wipe out Islam." See

Supreme Court Will Take on 'Blaine Amendments' See

Will Canada ban the Bible?
A year after a member of the Canadian Parliament proposed a bill that Christians say could censor Scripture, the mainstream media are finally catching up. See

Gracia Burnham: 'I Speak My Mind'. The former hostage talks openly about what she learned about God, her Muslim captors, and herself during her captivity. An exclusive interview with Gracia Burnham. See

Haitians say ancient religion is often misunderstood | Though Catholicism is the dominant organized religion in Haiti, voodoo is widely practiced in the country (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.). See

Religious freedom for teachers on trial in Pennsylvania | In Pennsylvania, the church-state question is made more complicated by a 19th century law that originally had nothing to do with religious tolerance (Voice of America). See

Why We Are Drawn to The Matrix. Chris Seay, coauthor of The Gospel Reloaded, says the first movie was about finding belief and the second looks at walking that path. See

The Prayer of Bruce
Instead of using one of those 555 phone numbers like you see in most movies, the creators of Bruce Almighty decided to use a more realistic-sounding phone number for God. It turns out the number was too realistic—it actually exists in many states—usually on mobile phones. Now the owners of those phones are getting inundated with calls for God. See Review of the movie at

Christianity Today Book Awards 2003. Evangelical leaders in numerous disciplines choose the year's top titles. See

Countdown to the end times | The world's demise gets lots of ink—and debate (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). See

'God's Secretaries': Blessed Are the Phrasemakers | Adam Nicolson recounts the story of a committee that actually accomplished something: the King James Version (Christopher Hitchens, The New York Times Book Review) See

An atheist loses faith | The fall in churchgoing opens up a troubling void in society (Ruaridh Nicoll, The Observer). See,6903,958558,00.html

May 2003

May 18

SARS Comes to Church. The deadly illness has changed Asia's church life, but the uncertainty is bringing people to Christ. By Anil Stephen in Hong Kong. See

Gracia Burnham's Book Throws Philippine Government into Turmoil. President orders investigation into claims that military and rebels colluded. But former missionary hostage says, "I am not pointing an accusing finger at anyone." By Ted Olsen. See

Southern Baptist International Mission Board terminates 13 missionaries who wouldn't sign statement
Trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board fired 13 missionaries who refused to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message by the May 5 deadline issued by IMB president Jerry Rankin. Twenty other missionaries tendered their resignation instead of signing, and 10 others chose early retirement. See

Missionaries' killer gets death penalty
Abed Abdul Razak Kamel who confessed to killing three IMB missionaries at the Jibla Baptist Hospital in Yemen, was sentenced to death yesterday. He'll probably face a firing squad. See

The Dick Staub Interview: John Ortberg's Freak Show. Churchgoers' attempts to be average are killing them, says the Willow Creek pastor. See

Focus on the Family Focuses on Christianity Today.

Education Department shows grace to schools on prayer issue
Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, all schools in the country had until Tax Day to certify that they follow guidelines protecting prayer and other religious activities. But the Associated Press reports that initial responses showed "dozens of schools out of compliance." More specifically, 150 to 200 school districts in five states (Arizona, California, Ohio, Illinois, and New York) don't comply with the federal guidelines. Three states and the District of Columbia haven't filed compliance reports. See

President of Toccoa Falls College resigns after student journalist uncovers errors on rťsumť. See

Forget sci-fi and guns - The Matrix is really about religion (BBC). See also Looking for God in The Matrix. Neo's return reminds us that a fallen world full of people is a world worth saving. By Greg Garrett. See

New life breathed into Church | The world's first inflatable church opened its Gothic doors to worshippers yesterday to reveal a blow-up organ, a polyvinyl pulpit, altar, pews and fake stained glass windows (The Daily Telegraph, London). See

Spirituality protects against end-of-life despair | Among people with less than three months to live, U.S. investigators found that those with a strong sense of spiritual well-being were less likely than others to feel hopeless, want to die, or consider suicide (Reuters). See

Bible Codes II. The latest and most egregious example of the (mis)use of science in the (dis)service of religion is Michael Drosnin's Bible Code II, enjoying a lucrative ride on the New York Times best-seller list, as did the 1997 original. See

May 11

Babylon upon a Hill? Religious thinkers debate how America should use its unrivaled influence. Reviewed by Douglas LeBlanc. See

Do Prolife and Profamily Groups Care About AIDS in Africa? Several groups that made a lot of noise before Thursday's vote are now silent. Another is still disparaging the bill even though it got all it asked for. Compiled by Ted Olsen. See

Religious Pundits Weigh in on Bill Bennett's Gambling. See

Campbell interrupted Blair as he spoke of his faith: 'We don't do God' | Tony Blair's most senior advisers have intervened to prevent him discussing his faith in public, according to two new profiles of the Prime Minister (The Daily Telegraph, London). See

Was Evangelical Summit About Islam--or About Franklin Graham? Evangelical leaders call for tempered speech on Islam. Yesterday, about 40 or 50 evangelical leaders got together to criticize evangelist Franklin Graham. Or so it would seem from media reports. See

New Leader at Focus on the Family. Dobson turns to an old friend to stabilize his organization. By Tony Carnes. See

The God of War. God seems to sanction raw violence in the Old Testament. Does his character change in the New Testament? Answered by Tremper Longman III. See

The Dick Staub Interview: Winning People, Not Arguments. John Stackhouse discusses the evangelistic need for humble apologetics. See

Church arsenic poisoning a bizarre event for Maine. Someone has poisoned members at a tiny Maine church. That's disturbing to many who normally would think such a place was among the safest on Earth (Editorial, Portland Press Herald) See

Buffy and the Meaning of Life. Buffy the Vampire Slayer finally gets some respect. Too bad the life is slowly ebbing out of the show. By Jeremy Lott. See

'Matrix' world is all-consuming in mythology, mysticism | The film was really an amalgam of religious faiths disguised as an action flick (USA Today). See also  The Gospel according to Neo | Theologians and pop-culture experts see 'The Matrix' as a phenomenon shaping public opinion about religion (The Christian Science Monitor). See

Religious colleges walk a fine line | Colleges with a religious affiliation often must struggle to balance academic freedom with the potentially conflicting values of religion (The Philadelphia Inquirer). See

Finding common ground | Students research the world's belief systems to find their similarities (Honolulu Star-Bulletin). See

Missing the Rupture. How two groups address the real issues behind church splits. By Christine Scheller. See

Church buildings are born again as offices, restaurants
As membership falls, houses of worship find salvation in the business world.
In the final ceremony at the New Hope United Methodist Church, the Rev. Joseph DiPaolo walked out of the 125-year-old church carrying a cross. They had just completed a deconsecration ceremony, removing the sacredness, making it just another building to be sold. See

Telemarketers lose at Supreme Court | The outcome of the case has implications for every nonprofit group that engages in fundraising (Family News in Focus). See

Poll: 'Secularists' are mostly young | Most live on West Coast and are liberal, according to Gallup research (Religion News Service). See

Christian Satirical Website a Blessing to Some, 'Sick Joke' to Others. Founder of Lark News says satire is important in any community or subculture. By Todd Hertz. See

The Word of God, written by committee | Adam Nicolson's book takes on the daunting task of explaining the process behind the creation of the King James Bible (The New York Times). See

May 4

President delivers remarks on the National Day of Prayer (White House, audio | video).

Supreme Court turns away Kentucky's Ten Commandments case
The Supreme Court yesterday rejected without comment Kentucky's appeal of a ruling forbidding a large granite display of the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds. See

Prolife organizations rally members against AIDS—and House's AIDS bill
"Fighting AIDS on a global scale is a massive and complicated undertaking, yet this cause is rooted in the simplest of moral duties," President George W. Bush said Tuesday (text | audio | video). "When we see this kind of preventable suffering, when we see a plague leaving graves and orphans across a continent, we must act. When we see the wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not, America will not pass to the other side of the road." See

What's the Difference Between Shi'ah and Sunni? With a history of persecution and belief in martyrdom, the Shi'ite Muslim majority in Iraq may be more receptive to Christianity. See By Todd Hertz. See

Relief aid: Onward, Christian soldiers—to Iraq | The International Bible Society has already sent 10,000 booklets created for Iraqis to the Mideast (Newsweek). See

If Iraqi Shiite majority wants clerics, let them | If the United States intervenes to quash the desire of the Iraqi people for an Islamic government, won't we simply be trading one form of tyranny for another? (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times). See

Some Gen Xers skeptical of organized religion | Only 28 percent of Americans age 18-34 attend church, compared to 51 percent of those 55 or older, according to a poll done by the Barna Research Group (The Greenville [S.C.] News). See

The shock and awe of church as a fun mall | These generals aren't going after their target with MOABs ("Mother of All Bombs") but with MOACs ("Mall of America Churches"). (Darryl E. Owens, Orlando Sentinel). See,0,3614944.column?coll=orl%2Dhome%2Dheadlines 

Former atheist tells why he believes now. Lee Strobel, a former investigative and legal reporter for the Chicago Tribune who wrote "The Case for Christ" and "The Case for Faith," spoke to about 1,200 people Saturday afternoon at University United Methodist Church (San Antonio Express-News). See

How to Spot Atheists and Report Them to the FBI. See

April 2003

April 27

Letter from Kabul. Religious freedom still in jeopardy under new Afghan government. By a veteran Christian leader in Afghanistan. See

Alistair Begg on The Beatles. The author and pastor talks about the Fab Four's cry for "Help" and why no one answered it. See

Pink Slips at Nonprofits. Ministries close offices, curtail staff costs to cope with donation decline. By Timothy R. Callahan. See

Trial for Jibla Baptist Hospital murders opens with confession
In court Sunday, Yemeni Muslim Abed Abdulrazzak Kamel not only admitted killing three American missionaries December 30. He bragged about it. "I acted out of a religious duty . . . and in revenge from those who converted Muslims from their religion and made them unbelievers," he said. See

Do Arab Christians have a future? | In the last 30 years, Arab Christians have attempted to weather several storms: the Lebanese war, the intifada and Israeli violence, the Iranian revolution and the resurgence of Islamic revivalism and now the war on Iraq (George Emile Irani, The Daily Star, Lebanon). See

Christians are making technological inroads in evangelizing | In Iraq, and throughout the Islamic world—using satellite TV, radio, cassette tapes and videos—Christian groups claim they are having more success than ever evangelizing Muslims, despite the obvious tensions created by war and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (Associated Press). See

Waiting for marriage: Silver Ring Thing promotes abstinence | Program is not focused on religious beliefs as much as it is on mature decision making (Valley News Dispatch, Penn.). See

Baptist missionaries won't resign
The six missionaries told by the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board to either resign or be fired for "clearly and publicly stat[ing] positions contrary" to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message say they won't quit, reports Associated Baptist Press. See

The Quran: See and

April 20

Pope gives warning to divorced Catholics
Those who remarry are not to take Communion, the pontiff wrote. He also said it should not be taken in non-Roman Catholic churches.
Pope John Paul II, cracking down on what he considers serious abuses in his flock, issued a stern reminder yesterday that divorced Roman Catholics who remarry cannot receive Communion. See

For Jews of Baghdad, Passover is bittersweet
"Next year," they say, "in Jerusalem." The rallying cry of centuries of Jews is a fading echo this Passover in Baghdad, among a disappearing, dispirited remnant of an ancient and important Jewish community. See

Apocalypse Again and Again: The Bible doesn't tell us when to go to war but how to live in a war-ridden world. By Phillip Jensen. See

Franklin Graham preaches at the Defense Department
As criticism continues of plans by Samaritan's Purse and the Southern Baptist Convention to meet both physical and spiritual needs in post-war Iraq, a new controversy has developed over Franklin Graham's invitation to deliver the Good Friday homily at the Defense Department. See

Reagan staffer named president of Focus
Focus on the Family announced on Friday the hiring of new president and CEO Don Hodel. A former Christian Coalition president and CEO, Hodel has been a Focus board member since 1995 and served as interim executive vice president in 1996. In the '80s, he was a member of President Reagan's administration as U.S. Undersecretary of the Interior, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and U.S. Secretary of Energy. See

SBC sets May 5 deadline on faith statement holdouts
The Southern Baptist Convention has set a May 5 deadline for overseas missionaries to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. In letters to 31 missionaries, Southern Baptist International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin said the statement must be affirmed by that date or "I will be recommending that the board take action to terminate your service in their May meeting." See,1,6198643.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dnation

Why Muslims love Moses | And yet, I lament the tension that exists between the American Muslim and Jewish communities. ( See

Gnosticism and the struggle for the world's soul | What do Harry Potter, the Star Wars series, The Matrix, Masonry, New Age, and the Raelian cult have in common? (National Catholic Reporter). See

"I'm right, you're wrong, go to Hell" | Religions and the meeting of civilization (The Atlantic Monthly). See

Half of Britain believes in Resurrection | The findings challenge the widespread view that an increasingly secular society sees Easter as little more than an opportunity to indulge a taste for chocolate. (The Daily Telegraph, London). See

Reflections: Cross and Resurrection: Quotations to stir heart and mind at Easter. Compiled by Richard A. Kauffman. See

Moses and the Exodus: See
Find out what scholars believe the real Moses was actually like.
Where's Moses? The Interactive Exodus
Moses Portrayed Through History
Test Your Faith
Moses As Seen by Jews, Muslims and Christians
Don't Miss the Show on TLC This Sunday

April 13

TV Specials: This past week on PBS: "Peter and Paul and the Christian Revolution" See
Tues, April 15 thru Fri, April 18 on the History Channel: "In the
Footsteps of Jesus"
Sun, April 20 on the Discovery Channel: "James: Brother of Jesus"
"Check your local listings"

Voodoo gets official recognition...
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Haiti's government has officially sanctioned voodoo as a religion, allowing practitioners to begin performing ceremonies ranging from baptisms to marriages with legal authority. See

The Dick Staub Interview: Marcia Ford on Christian Misfits: The author of Memoir of a Misfit describes her eccentric family and her faith journey. See

The Pain of Gain: How Much Is Enough? describes how we turn to fleeting satisfactions and away from God. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. See

Where is religion's spirituality? | The crux of the difference between religion and spirituality is this: While each religion subscribes to a unique body of beliefs, spiritual experience is the same for all people in all religions at all times (Mary Ford-Grabowsky, Newsday). See,0,2415556.story?coll=ny%2Dviewpoints%2Dheadlines

You don't need to believe in God to learn from religion | The common messages of Christianity, Judaism and Islam are too valuable to be ignored (Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, London). See,3604,930241,00.html

'Left Behind': The revelation revolution keeps spinning | Book 11, "Armageddon," comes out Tuesday (Minneapolis Star-Tribune). See

11th Circuit Picks at ACLU Arguments Against Ten Commandments | "All our laws are derived from the Ten Commandments," says Senior Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch (Fulton County Daily Report). See

Teens sue school over Bible club | Kent students say they were barred from forming group (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). See

Secretary of Education Rod Paige under fire for support of Christian schools
"All things equal," U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige told Baptist Press earlier this week, "I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith. Where a child is taught that, there is a source of strength greater than themselves." See

Don't mail Christian materials to soldiers, says U.S.
The post office in Lenoir, North Carolina, told Jack Moody that he couldn't mail Christian comic books and a book of Bible verses to his son, who is stationed as an Army National Guardsman in the Middle East. U.S. rules prohibit mailing  "any matter containing religious materials contrary to Islamic faith," a postal clerk explained. This morning, the Rutherford Institute, a civil and religious liberties organization, is suing the U.S. Postmaster General over the rule. See

Postal Service: Go ahead and send Bibles to the Mideast
With the threat of a lawsuit looming, United States Postal Service Vice President Azeezaly Jaffer explained to reporters that postal regulations don't bar Americans from sending religious materials to overseas military personnel. "The regulation is intended for mass mailings, but there is nothing precluding a family member from sending a Bible or Torah or Quran or whatever the case may be to a soldier that is stationed there," he told the Associated Press. See

Relief workers carrying gospel ignite debate The image of Bible-toting missionaries marching into Iraq as Christian soldiers is inaccurate, they say (Sarasota [Fla.] Herald-Tribune). See

April 6

'Prayer and our boys brought Jessica to safety' (The Daily Telegraph, London). See

Bible sales up, soldiers' demand high
Sales of Bibles, hymnals, and prayerbooks were up 36.8 percent in January, Financial Times reported Friday. "Is this a result of the war? . . . A fear of the unknown? Could be," Zondervan spokesman Mark Rice told the paper. "After 9/11, Bible sales spiked from right after the attacks, all the way through February of the next year." The Associated Press has several excellent photos of soldiers reading and studying their Bibles during their breaks.

War Isn't Being Waged From the Pulpit: Most clergy avoid blanket statements on war. By Marshall Shelley. See

War in Iraq Full Coverage: Christianity Today has posted a War in Iraq archive for access to recent news from Iraq: reflections on the Christian response, debates over the war, and relevant articles from previous conflicts. See

Prayers of Kenyan truckers captured by Iraqis answered See

Franklin Graham under fire for plans to aid Iraq
As we noted earlier, Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse plans to bring drinking water systems, shelter, household items, and medical kits to Iraq as soon as the fighting abates. The group also plans to bring spiritual relief. See

Are Most Arab Americans Christian? The Detroit News reports that 75 percent of Arabs in the U.S. are Christian. Why is that? By Todd Hertz. See

Newspapers Miss the Real End-Times Story:

'The End Is Not Yet': The president of Dallas Theological Seminary says there will be an increase in wars and rumors of wars before the end times, but date setting should not be a priority for evangelicals. An interview with Mark Bailey. See

Left Behind lawsuit dismissed
A federal judge has dismissed Left Behind coauthor Tim LaHaye's lawsuit against Cloud Ten Pictures, which created film versions of the first two books in the popular series, the film company says in a press release.

Worldwide Church of God settles, will allow Armstrong books to be published
In another book-related lawsuit, the Worldwide Church of God has settled its legal battle with the Philadelphia Church of God over works written by the group's founder, Herbert W. Armstrong. The Worldwide Church of God (WCG) has repudiated Armstrong's teachings and has joined the National Association of Evangelicals, but splinter groups like the Philadelphia Church of God, which broke away when the WCG began becoming more orthodox, fought to keep the WCG from suppressing the works. See,1413,206~22097~1273563,00.html

InterVarsity, Rutgers reach agreement on student leaders
The Rutgers InterVarsity Multiethnic Christian Fellowship has dropped its lawsuit against the university after the two institutions reached an agreement on student leadership requirements. See

X-treme faith: Skateboards, rock bands, street festivals—religious groups woo the MTV generation (The Miami Herald). See

The Church's Walking Wounded: How should we respond in a psychological age? By Tim Stafford. See

Scholars are reassessing Saint Francis of Assisi A new book says he was more concerned with his personal relationship with God than with helping the unfortunate (Los Angeles Times).

March 2003

March 23

Speaking Out: Where Do We Go From Here? Now that the bombs are falling, we'll need to repair Iraq--and our nation's moral standing. By David P. Gushee. See

Babylon revisisted | Much biblical history, not all of it good, came from the lands of present-day Iraq (The Wall Street Journal). See

Associated Press reports drop in American missions since 9/11
While saying they're not forsaking [Jesus Christ's command to "go and make disciples of all nations,"] some Christian universities and churches are canceling international mission trips out of concern that Americans could become targets," a widely circulating Associated Press report says. See

Torn between church and country? | While consistently warning against the war, Pope John Paul II has consistently sounded more nuanced than many mainline Protestant church leaders critical of Bush's policies (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI). See

FBI arrests 8 men in scheme that used religion to bilk investors of $50 million | John Franklin Harrell claimed to be in charge of a $1.6-trillion trust created by a descendant of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church (Los Angeles Times). See,1,4972827.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dreligion

The Dick Staub Interview: Jim Van Yperen on Church Conflicts: The author of Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict says the early church was also "full of problems." See

Groping at shadows in a darkened room | To say that my religion is the one true religion can only ever be a claim based on faith (Chris McGillion, The Sydney Morning Herald). See

Colorado professor wins religion prize (Los Angeles Times). Holmes Rolston III, a philosopher, clergyman and scientist whose explorations of biology and faith have helped foster religious interest in the environment, has been awarded the 2003 Templeton Prize. See,1,2214746.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dnation

Oh, Brother: Most everyone agrees that the James ossuary is a significant find. Ask what it means, however...By Jeremy Lott. See

Do our genes reveal the hand of God? (22 Mar) - The scientists who launched a revolution with the discovery of the structure of DNA in Cambridge 50 years ago have both used the anniversary to mount an attack on religion. See

March 16

Alleged abductor's religious beliefs got "stranger and stranger every day."
Nine months after being abducted, 15-year-old Elizabeth Smart has returned home. Smart, taken by knifepoint from her Salt Lake City home June 5, is reportedly healthy and alert. However, there are signs that the abduction took a psychological toll. Yesterday morning Smart's father said he had no doubts that Elizabeth was brainwashed by Brian David Mitchell, who was excommunicated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. See

Christian leaders push plan "to defeat Saddam Hussein without war"
Leaders of Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches, as well as Sojourners head Jim Wallis, say the U.S. shouldn't go to war against Iraq. No news there. But what is news is that they're pushing a six-point plan to remove Hussein from power without war. See

Some see Iraq war in Scripture | Fundamentalists say the end is near (Los Angeles Daily News). See,1413,200~20954~1230768,00.html

The Struggle to Love: If the Holy Spirit is in us, why can't we love one another? By David P. Gushee. See

Methodist bishop promotes universalism on Larry King roundtable on Christianity and war
Bishop Melvin Talbert, ecumenical officer of the United Methodist Church, said on Larry King Live (transcript) that Muslims will be saved and should not be evangelized. "They are on their way just as certain as I'm on my way. And what we need to do is to be tolerant with each other and not assume that our way is the only way," he said last night. The view was strongly opposed by King's other guests, including Bob Jones, Max Lucado, and John MacArthur. See

Good to Great's Leadership Model Looks Familiar to Christians: The author of the bestselling business book says his findings on successful leaders led him to the New Testament. An Interview with Jim Collins. See

DMX retiring from hip-hop, plans to read his Bible | Will continue acting career ( See

Crafting an impact in hymnland | Unsatisfied with church's traditional sound, five teenagers sat down with drums and electric guitars to ''grungify'' meaningful hymns (St. Petersburg Times). See

Is the Pope Catholic . . . Enough? | Mel Gibson is making a movie about Jesus and he's financing an ultraconservative church near Los Angeles. His father couldn't be prouder—but his views may be even more unorthodox (The New York Times Magazine). See

Saint J. R. R. the Evangelist: Tolkien wanted his Lord of the Rings to echo the "Lord of Lords"--but do we have ears to hear? By Chris Armstrong. See

March 9

New! Genesis One explained by Dr. Stephen Meyers: Video Clip at

New Book in!Holy Relics or Revelation is a book exposing the false claims of Ron Wyatt. Wyatt claims to have found the Ark of the Covenant, Noah's ark, the blood of Christ, and much more. Cost is $14.95 plus shipping and handling ($4). Order by phone with a credit card, Visa, MasterCard, or Discover Card. Call 1-215-423-7374. More product info Click Here.

Bush and God:

God, Satan and the Media: By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF (New York Times) Claims that the news media form a vast liberal conspiracy strike me as utterly unconvincing, but there's one area where accusations of institutional bias have merit: nearly all of us in the news business are completely out of touch with a group that includes 46 percent of Americans. That's the proportion who described themselves in a Gallup poll in December as evangelical or born-again Christians. Evangelicals have moved from the fringe to the mainstream, and that is particularly evident in this administration. It's impossible to understand President Bush without acknowledging the centrality of his faith. Indeed, there may be an element of messianic vision in the plan to invade Iraq and "remake" the Middle East. See

Exegeting Bill Gothard: Three Christian apologists evaluate the conference speaker's life and teachings. Reviewed by Rich Poll. See We have this book available at IBSS for $15.99 plus $4 shipping and handling. Call 1-215-423-7374.

Gothard Staffers Ask Hard Questions: After public controversy in the early 1980s, employees pushed for reforms at the Institute. By Tom Minnery. See

Baptist missionary among at least 21 dead in Philippine airport attack
Southern Baptist missionary William P. Hyde, who has been a missionary with the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board for 24 years, was at the airport in Davao, on the troubled Philippine island of Mindanao, to pick up another missionary family when a bomb exploded. See

Don't give up pretzels and hot cross buns | A look at food and abstinence during Lent across the centuries (The Beacon Journal, Akron, Oh.). See

Profit in the pulpit | A Denton televangelist Mike Murdock who says his mission is to rescue people from poverty is living lavishly, while the ministry he founded spends most of its money on overhead, an examination finds (The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram). See

Atheist group challenges Alabama governor's Bible study | Alabama Republican Gov. Bob Riley has incurred the wrath of ardent church-state separationists for offering early-morning bible study classes to his staff (Fox News). See,2933,80030,00.html

Mental health warning over Kirk's devil possession group (The Times, London). See,,2-600027,00.html

Bad theology is worsening spread of AIDS | Antiquated teaching and misplaced moral judgments could well prevent both Catholic and Protestant traditions from making the wholehearted effort needed (Steve Gushee, Palm Beach Post). See

Gallup notes links between faith, life | Large percentages of Americans link faith to their everyday lives, a new poll reveals. But overall, faithful Americans acknowledge a gap between what they believe and how they act (Religion News Service). See

Bring back the Sabbath | Why even the most secular need a ritualized day of rest (The New York Times). See

People of faith do good works | It was Christians who built hospitals, helped the mentally ill, staffed orphanages, brought hope to prisoners, established 100 of our first 110 American universities, and spread literacy (Randy Beaverson, Juneau Empire). See

Professor hits roadside to find religion in all the odd places | Life-size replica of Noah's ark prompts him to write new book (Religion News Service). See

March 2

Moody Closes Magazine, Restructures Aviation Program: Moody Bible Institute announces strategic changes to ensure financial stability for core education program. By Todd Hertz and Stan Guthrie. See

E.V. Hill, 69, dies of pneumonia
The Rev. E.V. Hill, the pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, passed away Monday night at the age of 69. Hill, an influential player in politics and the National Baptist Convention, died of an aggressive form of pneumonia. Pastor of Mt. Zion for 42 years, Hill had continued to preach at the church despite diabetes and a condition that weakened his legs so much that he had to deliver sermons sitting down for the last eight months. His wife, Jane, passed away from cancer several years ago. See,1,7774908.story

High court says RICO was misapplied to abortion protest case
Seventeen years after Roman Catholic abortion activist Joseph Scheidler and other pro-life advocates were sued by abortion clinics under 1970's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that racketeering laws are not applicable to the case. See

Forefathers' belief in God is the foundation of democracy in America | The greatest strength of American democracy lies not in the nation's economics, but in the morals and ethics of its people. (Jerry Fortunato, Philadelphia Daily News). See

Gujarat to pass anti-conversion law
Following up on his campaign promises, the state governor of Gujarat, India, announced yesterday that a ban on religious conversions will be brought before the state assembly during the current legislative session. The bill will be drafted at a cabinet meeting next week. See

After Jabez | The author of a phenomenal best-seller takes on a whole new territory (Bruce Wilkinson, Guideposts). See

Finances get blurry for Focus on Family | Cutbacks follow stagnant giving (Denver Post). See,1413,36~53~1198166~,00.html

'Church of Oprah' lectureship class bridges new-age spirituality gap | The "Church of Oprah" filled faster Monday than most mainstream churches could ever hope on a Sunday (The Abilene [Tex.] Reporter-News). See,1874,ABIL_7959_1769097,00.html

Won't You Be My Neighbor? At the center of Mister Rogers' cheery songs and smiles lies a God-ordained mission to children. By Wendy Murray Zoba. See

Churches warned of e-mail scams | The Secret Service is warning local churches that con artists are targeting them via e-mail addresses (Pasadena [Calif.] Star-News). See,1413,206~22097~1202146,00.html

Christian Parents Flee Public Schools. See

'Boston Movement' Founder Quits: Facing growth problems, controversial group changes leadership structure. By Timothy R. Callahan. See

EdCC instructor won't be excommunicated | An Edmonds Community College instructor who had faced excommunication for challenging Mormon teaching will not face disciplinary action, the instructor said Sunday night (The Daily Herald, Everett, Wash.). See

Doctor calls on Jesus to deliver USA from the hamburger | Drawing on the inspiration of loaves, fishes, water and wine, a doctor from Florida has published a self-help manual, What Would Jesus Eat?, and a companion volume, the What Would Jesus Eat Cook Book (The Daily Telegraph, London). See

40 Best Christian Places to Work: The Complete List & A Closer Look at the Top Finalists: Christianity Today salutes four finalists in ten categories. See

February 2003

February 23

In old Vatican papers, new light on Nazi era
The church's prewar archives show an appeal for help on behalf of the Jews, and an apparent effort to intervene.
The first documents from newly opened Vatican archives dealing with the Roman Catholic Church's relations with Germany on the eve of World War II are beginning to emerge, including a letter seeking papal intervention against the Nazis written by a famed Jewish convert to Catholicism, Edith Stein. See

Weeping Mary withdrawn from church display | A statue of the Virgin Mary - the subject of scientific tests after apparently "weeping" an oil-like substance—has been taken off display in a Catholic church south of Perth. (Sydney Morning Herald). See

Islamic Jihad says it won't strike at U.S.
The Islamic Jihad group said yesterday that it would not attack American targets to retaliate for the U.S. arrest of four alleged members and the indictment of four others on terrorism-related charges. See

Why we should agree to disagree | Amid the continuing disagreements, though, it is easy to lose sight of things that both Muslims and Christians want to affirm. (The Guardian, London) See,2763,897130,00.html

Mormon Scholar Under Fire: Anthropologist says Latter-day Saints' teaching wrong about Native Americans. By John W. Kennedy. See

Wheaton College Allows Dancing for All, Drinking and Tobacco for Non-Undergraduates Illinois law drives complete overhaul of school's conduct code. Compiled by Ted Olsen. See

Some May Be Offended by Biola Exhibit on Reaching Culture: Compiled by Ted Olsen. See

Focus on the Family calls for boycott of Big Brothers-Big Sisters
Focus on the Family devoted its radio program yesterday to discussing mentoring (audio), and one of its main points was calling for a boycott of mentor program Big Brothers-Big Sisters for its mandating local chapters to allow homosexuals to work with children in the program. See

Some voice concern over president's religious rhetoric | Both President Bush and Osama bin Laden fervently assert that God is on their side (The Boston Globe). See

Biblical animals return to the Holy Land | In 1969, the Israeli Nature Reserves Authority initiated a program to reestablish animal species into the areas where they once lived (CBN News). See

Calvin goes to college | J. David Hoeveler's dense, fascinating Creating the American Mind is subtitled "Intellect and Politics in the Colonial Colleges," but it is religion that plays the largest role (The Wall Street Journal). See,,SB1045536415679233343,00.html

Religion Matters, Says David Brooks: "It's now clear that the secularization theory is untrue," David Brooks writes in a must-read piece for The Atlantic Monthly. See

Bono's American Prayer: The world's biggest rock star tours the heartland talking more openly about his faith as he recruits Christians in the fight against AIDS in Africa. By Cathleen Falsani. See

Openness Season: Theologians Pinnock and Boyd like to take the Bible at "face value"--but is that enough? Reviewed by Christopher A. Hall. See

Getting Cynical About Ourselves: An interview with Mark Ellingsen, the author of Blessed Are the Cynical By David Neff. See

Books & Culture's Book of the Week: Another Third Way? The mixed record of Catholic social thought. By Christopher Shannon. See

February 16

U.S. Muslim leaders reject bin Laden call
For U.S. Muslims, the Osama bin Laden bugaboo was back. In a tape aired worldwide Tuesday by the Al-Jazeera television station, a man believed to be the terrorist mastermind urged Muslims to fight with Iraq against the United States and its allies. See

Why Don Richardson Says There's No 'Peace Child' for Islam: The author and missionary says he has tried to find bridge-building opportunities with Islam, but failed. See

U.S. theologian tries to counter Pope's Iraq view
In an unusual effort to counter increasingly fierce criticism by the Vatican against a possible war in Iraq, the U.S. government was host to a conservative theologian here yesterday who argued that a military strike against Saddam Hussein would meet the definition of a "just war" in Catholic doctrine. See 

Vatican opens pre-WWII papers to examine pope
For years, the Vatican has struggled to defend its wartime pope, Pius XII, against claims he was anti-Semitic and didn't do enough to save Jews from the Holocaust. See

Schools risk U.S. funds if prayer isn't tolerated
In one fell swoop, the federal government this month told public schools that they must accommodate religious speech - and warned school districts that they would risk losing federal funds if they did not allow "constitutionally protected prayer." See

Guidelines on Religion in School
To ensure that public schools are "neutral in their treatment of religion," the U.S. Department of Education has issued enforcement guidelines as part of the new No Child Left Behind Act. See

Yoga in Aspen public schools draws opposition | Some parents and religious leaders are objecting, saying that teaching yoga in school violates the separation of church and state (The New York Times). See

Bush's Agenda at Religious Broadcasters' Meeting Isn't Just Political. See

Joe Lieberman saves face Lieberman abandons End Time Christians (Hartford Advocate). See

Will the Bible change Alabama's tax code?
The front page of today's Wall Street Journal reports, "An unlikely force is setting off a tax revolt in Alabama: religious fervor." See,,SB1045001360300692183,00.html

Is Africa's Christianity the key to its development?
While we're on the subject of Christian-Judeo concepts of finances, it's worth noting this piece of investment advice from Archie Richards in the Amarillo, Texas, Globe-News: Richards needs to brush up on his Weber. It's Protestant virtues, not the fear of hell, that made the "work ethic" so famous (???). And evangelicals don't believe that you can do anything improve the status of your afterlife. But, hey, invest in Africa anyway. See

Pat Robertson has prostate cancer
Broadcaster Pat Robertson announced yesterday on his 700 Club broadcast that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will undergo surgery Monday to remove his prostate gland. Several media outlets note that Robertson has long been on a health kick, and one of his most recent campaigns is for "Pat's Age-Defying Protein Pancake," which he designed to "help protect against breast, uterine, and prostate cancer." See

Soul-searching survey: Gallup poll reveals trends in religion Religious faith is broad but not deep, with many Americans holding strong beliefs but see little impact that religious faith has on individual lives and society (Knight Ridder Newspapers). See

Italians Find St. Valentine Relic The silver relic, in the shape of the saint's face, contains fragments of his skull and has been missing for over 30 years (Zoomata, Italy). See

The origins of Valentine's Day: Anthony Aveni, an investigator of our holiday beliefs, has traced Valentine's Day from Lupercalia to the proclamation of St. Valentine's sainthood (UPI). See

February 9

Columbia Astronauts Mourned, But Their Faith Is Celebrated     

Seven heroes, seven faiths Columbia crew represented wide variety of spiritual paths ( / Beliefnet). See 

Where science and religion join hands Astronauts' faith may come as a surprise to those who think science and religion are on irreconcilable paths (Mark O'Keefe, Newhouse News Service). See 

Focus on the Family pulls back
James Dobson's Focus on the Family has announced that it is eliminating 100 positions from its staff of 1,300 (that's about 8 percent). Of those positions, however, 66 are unfilled, so the ministry is only laying off 34 employees. They are the first layoffs in the organization's 26-year history. Focus on the Family is also cutting $5 million from its $130 million budget this year. "Some programs will be eliminated or drastically reduced in scope," Dobson said in a January 30 memo to his staff, but he didn't say which ones. See 

Gaps between pulpits and pews What fewer people seem to realize is that there is an even bigger gap between pastors and the people who are leading their national churches (Terry Mattingly). See 

Faithful ponder stewardship of the planet An environmental movement is sweeping churches, synagogues and mosques (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.). See 

Campolo calls evangelicals to 'face facts' about Middle East  "Unless we stand up and speak for justice on behalf of the Palestinians, we are going to lose the missionary struggle in the next hundred years" (Canadian Christianity). See 

The final frontier Depending on whom you ask, stem-cell research is either a medical godsend or further proof that God is dead (LA Weekly). See 

How much does God know? A theology group may move to expel two members for asking the question (The Philadelphia Inquirer). See 

O'Hair death mastermind dies in prison David R. Waters, who masterminded the kidnapping and murder of atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair and her family in 1995, succumbed to lung cancer last week (San Antonio Express-News). See 

Iraq's Christians: Caught in the Middle, Again: If the looming war breaks out, 350,000 Iraqi Christians will be caught in a West-East conflict eerily similar to 4th-century events. By Collin Hansen. See 

God's Own Dictionary: You won't believe the words that didn't exist until the first English translations of the Bible. An interview with Stanley Malless, author of Coined by God. See 

Jews and Christians: Seeing the Prophets Differently
Rolf Rendtorff
Christians picture the prophets as fierce rebels who take on the worst wayward kings. In Jewish tradition, the prophets are the ultimate insiders—the keepers of the law. In these divergent views may lie some roots of anti-Semitism. See 

The Religions of Ancient Israel
by Ziony Zevit review by Beth Alpert Nakhai 

Man 'raised from dead' plans to tell town what it was like More than 200 people turned up to watch a man apparently being resurrected from the dead two days after his family had been given his death certificate (Leatherhead Advertiser). (I am very skeptical of this report.) See 

Vatican's view: Go easy on mystic-crystal stuff
The Vatican weighed in yesterday on feng shui, crystals, and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius in a new document designed to address whether someone can still be a good Christian while taking yoga class. See 

February 2

Religious leaders offer mixed assessment of Bush speech: The president's words on Iraq prompted a more divided reaction than his words on AIDS did (Religion News Service). See 

Evangelicals are silent on Iraq, says The Washington Post
"In the fall, when a preemptive military strike against Iraq turned into a serious possibility, it appeared that a major religious debate over the morality of war was heating up, pitting evangelicals against mainline Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox Christians," Bill Broadway reported in Saturday's Washington Post. "Then the discussion went flat—or, more accurately, one-sided—as the religious voices for peace multiplied and strengthened while the pro-Bush religious forces went mum. . . . Such reticence suggests that most evangelical leaders, who strongly supported the Persian Gulf War a decade ago, are ambivalent about the prospect of war with Iraq, according to several evangelical theologians and scholars." See 

Kentucky reverses course, allows religion major to receive financial aid
In October, Cumberland College junior Michael Nash was told he couldn't receive financial aid from the Kentucky Education Excellence Scholarship program because he declared a major in philosophy and religion. Six weeks ago, the American Center for Law and Justice sued on Nash's behalf, and last week the state reversed course, saying Nash and other religion majors could receive state funds. See 

Bad Company Corrupts: What do recent business scandals mean for church and state? An interview with Michael Novak See 

The Profit of God: Finding the Christian path in business. By Jeff Van Duzer and Tim Dearborn. See 

'Once You Forgive, There Will Be Healing' :How a martyr's widow turned her life around and won India's prestigious Gandhi harmony award. By S. David, with additional reporting by Manpreet Singh. See 

Baptist missions board "counsels" missionaries who haven't signed statement
Christianity Today has earlier reported the debate among Southern Baptist foreign missionaries about requirements that they sign the denomination's latest statement of faith. Most missionaries supported by the denomination's International Missions Board were appointed before the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message was adopted, and several disagree with the changes. For the last year or so, whether missionaries should be forced to sign has been a matter of frequent debate in the denomination. See 

Evangelicals produce American religion's classiest magazine Books & Culture, sister publication of evangelicalism's quality middlebrow voice, Christianity Today, has established a solid niche as a spiritual equivalent to The New York Review of Books (Associated Press). See 
Books & Culture's website at 

Superman's Scientology 'truth' Christopher Reeve didn't like the "e-meter" machine much. Reeve says he “grew skeptical” of the whole process and told an outrageous lie — which wasn’t caught by the auditor or the e-meter. “The fact that I got away with a blatant fabrication completely devalued my belief in the process,” Reeve wrote. He felt similar disillusionment with various alternative religions and cults he encountered in Hollywood. (Jeannette Walls, MSNBC). See also 

January 2003

January 25

Catching Up with a Dream
Evangelicals and race since the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. By Edward Gilbreath. See

Values survey finds odd bedfellows Atheists, Muslims, and Mormons led the list of groups viewed by Americans as the least like themselves in terms of basic beliefs and values (The Washington Post). See 

Government meeting invocations questioned, changed, and dropped
Judging by recent news stories, the next big battle regarding the relationship between church and state may be over invocations at local government meetings. See 

30 years after Roe v. Wade, new trends but the old debate The rate of abortions has come almost full circle, declining to its lowest level since 1974 (The New York Times). See 

The Abortion Wars: What most Christians don't know about the history of pro-life struggles. By Tim Stafford. See 

What Both Sides in the Abortion War Can Agree On: See 

As battered pastor leaves India, Hindus prepare to force out other missionaries
Joseph Cooper, who was beaten and stabbed by a Hindu mob near Thiruvanthapuram, India, has returned to the United States. But Hindu activists are still pursuing a criminal case against him for violating the terms of his tourist visa by preaching at a Protestant church meeting. See 

DuPage forest board settles, buys Christian group's land | Ending a five-year battle, Bill Gothard's Institute in Basic Life Principles has agreed to sell 50 acres of its property to the DuPage County Forest Preserve District (The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs). See 

Basic help for digging out of debt | Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace: Revisited says that our inability to say "no" to stuff we don't need is a spiritual failing (USA Today). See 

The passion of Mel Gibson: His Jesus film is bloody, bold—and in Aramaic. Here's an exclusive look (Time). See,9171,1101030127-409570,00.html 

The Dick Staub Interview: Eddie Gibbs Reconsiders Gen X Churches: The author of Church Next and Fuller's professor of church growth says his views on church leadership have grown. See 

Armageddon fiction grips the U.S. | Fifty million Americans at the last count, are reading a series of novels which dramatise the 'end times' as fundamentalist Christians call them (Justin Webb, BBC). See 

The ultimate cost of discipleship | New documentary traces Dietrich Bonhoeffer's decision to join plot against Hitler (The Washington Post). See 

Books and Culture's Book of the Week: Encounters of the Gods
Christianity and Native American religion in early America. By Richard W. Pointer. See 

In God we trust to live healthier and longer Heathenism is apparently a health hazard, with research pointing to a link between religious conviction and longevity (The Sydney Morning Herald). See 

January 19

Return to Kabul
Shelter Now's Georg Taubmann talks about ministry and security in the former Taliban state.
An interview by Stan Guthrie. See 

Little Zag from Zig
With this salesman and Christian, what you see is what you get. Reviewed by Mark A. Kellner. See

Divided by Distrust
Kosovo's evangelicals take slow steps toward ethnic reconciliation. By Kristian Kahrs in Pristina and Belgrade. See 

Saving souls—and society | In That Old-Time Religion, D.G. Hart explores the change in the fortunes of evangelicals, taking up in particular their engagement with an increasingly secular society (Terry Eastland, The Wall Street Journal). See,,SB1042516959243047144,00.html?mod=opinion 

U.S. taking its case for war to Vatican | The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican will hold a forum in Rome to argue to Catholic Church officials that a pre-emptive strike in Iraq would be a "just war," a moral argument that the pope and U.S. bishops have rejected so far (The Washington Times). See 

Family values: ABC cable station changes channel on `traditional' morals | "The word 'family' has taken on a wonderful and extended meaning that goes beyond just people you're related to," says ABC Family President Angela Shapiro. "What we perceive as `family' today is more about relationships and can include people like co-workers or roommates." (Boston Herald). See 

Is God Exciting Enough?:  The author of Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment says that increased stimulation has caused a "deadness of soul." What can turn it around? By Todd Hertz. See 

Local Church Fights for Evangelical ID Card: Witness Lee group sues for $136 million over Harvest House cults article. By Mark A. Kellner in Anaheim, California. See 

Mormon Church put to DNA test: Instructor risks expulsion with his claim that Book of Mormon is racist (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). Murphy, 35-year-old chairman of the Edmonds Community College Anthropology Department, contends DNA analysis contradicts Book of Mormon claims that American Indians are descended from ancient heathen Israelites. See 

Would-be cloning journalist: "I am a good old-fashioned Christian"
Michael Guillen, the former ABC News science reporter who was going to test the RaŽlians' claim that they'd cloned a human, has been the brunt of a lot of media anger. When there was little to report after Clonaid's initial press conference, reporters cannibalized one of their own. He was portrayed as "flipped out," greedy, untrustworthy, a quackery-pusher, and too credulous of "pseudo-science." Last week, after Clonaid refused to allow DNA testing of the supposed clone, Guillen, who was already distancing himself from the story, suggested that it all might be "an elaborate hoax." But it may be too late. "The story could tarnish Guillen, a former Harvard professor who left ABC last fall after 14 years," USA Today earlier reported. "After ducking reporters for two weeks, Guillen is trying to salvage his reputation." As part of that, he talked to Beliefnet about his own beliefs and those of the RaŽlians. See 

January 12

Poll finds confidence in religion is down
The clergy abuse scandals of the Roman Catholic Church appear to have dragged the public's confidence in organized religion to its lowest level in six decades, according to a George H. Gallup International Institute poll released this week. See 

Seven centuries later, Knights Templar still looking for Holy Grail
A group of Knights Templar—yes, they still exist centuries after the Crusades—are using ultrasound and thermal imaging to seek the Holy Grail in the vaults beneath the 15th-century Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh, Scotland. "We know many of the Knights are buried in the grounds and there are many references to buried vaults, which we hope this project will finally uncover," John Ritchie, Grand Herald and spokesman for the Knights Templar, told the London Independent. "The machine we are using is the most sophisticated anywhere and is capable of taking readings from the ground up to a mile deep without disturbing any of the land.…Rosslyn is an amazing building. It is a book in stone but, because the symbolism which is written into the chapel is in a medieval language, we haven't even cracked the introduction page yet." Legends place several other lost relics in the chapel's vaults, including early copies of the gospels and even  the Ark of the Covenant. See 

Who Are the Raelians? A UFO sect that runs a space amusement park and hosts  conferences now claims it has cloned humans. But why? By Todd Hertz. See 

U.S. Appeals Court: Procter & Gamble wasn't defamed by Satanism rumors
Amway Corp. is pleased that the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit claiming the company spread rumors linking rival Procter & Gamble to Satanism. See 

Death Watch: One of the world's earliest Christian cultures totters on the edge of extinction. By Thomas C. Oden. See 

Vatican warning on danger of 'online confession' | Warns that "ill-intentioned people such as hackers" may intercept confessions for purposes such as blackmail (The Times, London). See,,3-538079,00.html 

From Oratorios to Elvis: Pop culture has been coming to a church near you for hundreds of years. By Chris Armstrong. See 

Elvis-impersonating preacher rocks Canada | In the Christ the King Graceland Independent Anglican Church of Canada, "Rockin' Reverend" Dorian Baxter presides with the sideburns and singing of Elvis Presley to attract the wayward to Jesus Christ (Associated Press). See 

Jesus 'healed using cannabis' | So says an article in High Times magazine (The Guardian, London). See,3604,869273,00.html 

Iraq's cultural capital. Iraq is home to some of the most important landmarks of the Judeo-Christian tradition (The New York Times Magazine). See 

Have the Anabaptists won?
Has the pacifist wing of the Reformation finally won out—after nearly 500 years of dissent over the issue of justifiable war, asks UPI religion editor Uwe Siemon-Netto. It sure seems that way. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Calvinists are all using such pacifistic language over the looming war in Iraq that they sound more like Quakers, Mennonites, and Amish than they have in their historical affirmations of just-war theory. See 

Tony Campolo: Point of life is not to get more stuff | Americans are sacrificing family, intimacy to get more material goods (The Holland [Mich.] Sentinel). See 

Evangelist Billy Graham schedules mission at San Diego stadium despite frail health | "To be honest, I never expected to continue receiving invitations into my 80s," he says (Associated Press). See 

Religions oppose cloning | The Raelian movement may or may not prove it produced the first cloned human, but the sect can already claim another distinction: It is virtually the only religious group that says this type of reproduction is a good idea (Associated Press). See 

January 4

Muslim extremist kills three, injures one in attack on Southern Baptist hospital
Yemeni authorities have arrested Abed Abdel Razzak Kamel (also referred to as Ali Abdulrazzak al-Kamel), a self-described Islamic jihadist from the province of Damar, for killing three American missionaries at the Jibla Baptist Hospital (map). See 

More universities say InterVarsity must allow non-Christian leaders
Less than two weeks ago, Weblog noted that Harvard University was withholding a grant to the Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship because the group required that its leaders be Christians. Such a policy, the school's Undergraduate Council said, violated anti-discrimination policies. At the time, Weblog said the case was odd. It's already time to rescind that. Papers today report that Rutgers University and the University of North Carolina have also taken steps to remove official recognition and funding from their InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapters for the same reason—only Christians may lead the Christian organization. See 

Teen appeals group's decision to oust him | Darrell Lambert was expelled from the Boy Scouts of America after he refused to declare a belief in God (Associated Press) See 

Vatican to Open secret pre-WWII files | The archives will, however, be available only to scholars who must make a formal request (Reuters). See 

Salvation Army: We don't want lottery bucks
Last week, the winner of the $314 million Powerball lottery promised to tithe his winnings, rekindling the debate over whether churches should accept gambling money. This week, the Salvation Army of Naples, Florida, made its costly stand on the issue by rejecting $100,000 from a local man who won $14.3 million in the state Lotto. See 

Top Ten Religious News Stories, 2002
The events, people, and ideas of the past year that have or will significantly shape evangelical life, thought, or mission. By Christianity Today editors. See

Books of the Year
The top ten. (OK--make that twelve.) By John Wilson
The book I was happiest to see this year is Books Children Love: A Guide to the Best Children's Literature (Crossway), by Elizabeth Wilson, a substantially revised edition of a book which was first published in 1987.

The Most-Read Articles of 2002
Christianity Today's online readers wanted to know about
Islam, pop culture, and forgiveness. See