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December 2004

December 7

Power center driven by religion to reshape nation
Home School Legal Defense Association has taken on the appearance of a political party in its own right, with an evangelical Christian mission to shape the American culture and change the face of government, the news media and international affairs (Akron Beacon Journal, Oh.)

Using the Bible to support the wrong cause
Today's Christians who oppose homosexuality are akin to generations of similar Christians who found in the Bible strong arguments to support slavery, scorn Jews, demean women and, for good measure, condemn liquor (Steve Gushee, Palm Beach Post, Fla.)

Giving the law a religious perspective
The Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University is part of a movement around the nation that brings a religious perspective to the law (The New York Times)

10 questions for Billy Graham
How he's feeling, how many crusades he has left in him, what he thinks of politics, and other issues (Time)

A Modest Step Toward Unity
Richard John Neuhaus on the Catholic bishops' decision to join Christian Churches Together.
Interview by Rob Moll.

Lesbian Methodist Minister Defrocked.

The Virgin Birth? Come on!
Both Newsweek and Time have Jesus on their covers, and neither article quotes an evangelical scholar in its attempt to narrate how Christians concocted the story of the birth of Jesus.

Conservative Christians protest movie on Kinsey
Conservative Christian groups across the country are protesting a film about the life of researcher Alfred C. Kinsey, calling it a Hollywood whitewash of the man they hold largely responsible for a revolution and a panoply of related ills, from high divorce rates to AIDS and child abuse (The Washington Post)

Killing with Kindness
Why is the church against euthanasia in instances where people are in terrible pain? Answered by David P. Gushee.

Pop Love for a War-Torn World
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is classic U2, with a prescription for healing the world. By Scott Calhoun

Jim Carrey: 'Life is too beautiful'
"I'm a Buddhist, I'm a Muslim, I'm a Christian. I'm whatever you want me to be … it all comes down to the same thing" (60 Minutes).

November 2004

November 21

Reaching the Light
A review of On Broken Legs: A Shattered Life, a Search for God, a Miracle That Met Me in a Cave in Assisi. Reviewed by Elissa Elliott.

Supreme Court considers case of conversion and death penalty
All eyes are on the Supreme Court this week, at least indirectly, and it's not even June. There's Rehnquist's cancer, internet rumors that Bush is considering Thomas as chief justice, debate on the influence Sen. Arlen Specter might have over nominations, speculation on whether Alberto Gonzalez is now out of the running … and even an actual court case—the federal government's request that the Supreme Court take up the case of Oregon's assisted suicide law. But yesterday, the justices considered another interesting case that has something to do with religion: Brown v. Payton. Weblog summarized this case back in May: It has to do with a California prosecutor's telling a jury not to consider murderer William Payton's conversion to Christianity when it sentenced him.

A home school smear
The Akron (Oh.) Beacon Journal has been running a series on home schooling that started out interesting. The theme is that there's little hard data on home schooling, whether you're talking about its growth, academic success, or other issues. But it quickly took some bad turns. "Some parents use laws as easy way to give up on education," said the headline for an article on truancy. Uh-oh. "Racists can use home schools to train youths," said another. Yikes! Today, it gets even worse: "Home schoolers may be no safer in their homes."

Dobson shifts power to focus on the politics
The child psychologist and influential voice of conservative moral values had a lot riding on the election of 2004. (The Denver Post)

Falwell to form 'Faith' coalition
Mathew Staver, president of the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, will be the vice chairman. The Rev. Jonathan Falwell, Mr. Falwell's second-oldest son, will be executive director. Tim LaHaye — co-author of the best-selling apocalyptic "Left Behind" fiction series — will be the board chairman. (The Washington Times)

The Chinese Church's Delicate Dance
A conversation with the head of the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement. By Mark Galli.

Lost Tribe Found?
Jewish group in India seeks return to Israel. By S. David.

New Bible translation returns to Hebrew roots
Biblical scholar Robert Alter's major new English translation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible -- alternately called the Five Books of Moses, the Torah or Pentateuch -- has some critics manning the barricades while others are applauding his efforts to return the work to its original Hebrew meanings and majestic repetitions. (Reuters)

The Da Vinci codswallop
World's best-selling novel got its key facts wrong. (The Mirror, U.K.)

Couple arrested after church workers fear child sacrifice
A Farmington woman who allegedly said she wanted to "sacrifice" at least one of her children in a local church on Wednesday is scheduled to face child endangerment charges in court today, along with her boyfriend (The Union Leader, Manchester, N.H.)

Virgin Mary Sandwich Auction Draws Cheesy Spoofs.

November 8

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, 10 Years Later
Historian Mark Noll's The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind has arguably shaped the evangelical world (or at least its institutions) more than any other book published in the last decade. In the October issue of First Things, Noll looks at what has changed and what remains in his critique: "The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind." (First Things has devoted much space to discussing the book over the years.)

Values vote a powerful new force
A powerful political creature was born - or born again - on Tuesday: the values voter (The Denver Post). Also Evangelical Christians credited in Bush win and "Feeding a monster who has the party by its tail.

Kerry loses his faith
Catholic Kerry lost this week because he lost the Catholic vote (Paul Kengor, The American Spectator).

Separation of Church and Store
God bless Russell Shorto: In this week's New York Times Magazine cover story, "Faith at Work," you can tell that he's really, really trying to present a fair, understanding, even sympathetic portrait of marketplace ministry. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Back to the Basics
Christian-Muslim violence requires a 'new' missions strategy: Forgiveness and love. By Obed Minchakpu in Jos.

Modern China rethinks Confucianism
The once-reviled teachings of the ancient Chinese sage and statesman Confucius have made a comeback and are being taught to some five million students across the country (The Straits Times, Singapore).

Can This Institution Be Saved?
A curious alliance of helping professionals is working to rebuild marriage in a culture of divorce. By Tim Stafford.

Overhaul for religious teaching
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority says pupils should study other faiths alongside Christianity to help foster understanding and respect (BBC).

Living with Fundamentalists
Spirit and Flesh documents life in a Baptist church. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

October 2004

October 24

Pat Robertson takes back "word from the Lord" on election
By now, no doubt you've seen the news about Pat Robertson's Tuesday interview on CNN's Paula Zahn Now, wherein he claimed that President Bush told him there would be no casualties in the Iraq war.

Failed apocalyptic prophecy by U.S. Millerites had historic impact, book claims
In his Borderland Religion, Simon Fraser University professor Jack Little argues a failed apocalyptic prophecy by the radical and powerful U.S.-based Millerite movement was a watershed moment in Canada's rejection of the fire-and-brimstone religious culture of the U.S. identity (National Post, Canada).

Former TBN Employee Alleges Gay Tryst With Paul Crouch
TBN boss paid $425,000 to silence claims, but accuser now wants $10 million.

Report Rebukes Episcopalians for Disunity but Declines Sanctions
U.S. church in limbo as conservative dissidents mull their options. By Kevin Eckstrom and Robert Nowell in London, Religion News Service.

Is Tony Blair Converting to Catholicism?
This story sounds vaguely familiar: A leading national politician disagrees with Roman Catholic teachings, but still attends Catholic Mass. The press goes nuts wondering if he'll take Communion, or if he'll be barred the elements. Church leaders and the politician's staff seem to differ significantly on the facts.

The Emergent Mystique
The 'emerging church' movement has generated a lot of excitement but only a handful of congregations. Is it the wave of the future or a passing fancy? By Andy Crouch.

T.D. Jakes lets loose
With his film about child abuse, the preacher takes his message nationwide (The Boston Globe).

Da Vinci Dissenters
Four books try to break, crack, or decode the deception.

Hurt by Success
Christian bookstores hit hard by competition from Wal-Mart. By Rob Moll.

Hallowing Halloween
Why Christians should embrace the "devilish" holiday with gusto—and laughter.

October 10

Wind of Terror, Wind of Glory
We cannot know God's majesty without his terrible holiness. By Daniel Tomberlin

It's Not About Stem Cells
Why we must clarify the debate over harvesting embryos. A Christianity Today editorial

The Ecstatic Heresy
Seeking a superficial unity, some denominational leaders opt for feelings over facts. By Robert Sanders

Spain Wants to Be Free of Catholic Church
Summarizing the country's mood, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the new Socialist prime minister, said the other day that Spaniards wanted more freedom, less dogma and a greater separation of church and state. "They want more sports, less religion,'' he said.

Preacher Jakes' film tackles abuse
Bishop T.D. Jakes isn't easily intimidated. He is, after all, a best-selling author of 29 books, a Grammy-winning gospel singer, a nationally renowned preacher and the subject of a 2001 Time magazine cover story that asked: ``Is This Man The Next Billy Graham?''(Associated Press)

New Pax show is religion, O'Reilly style
In a program that its creator describes as "O'Reilly meets religion," Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists and even animal rights activists verbally duke it out over who is right about God and God's intentions. The new Pax TV show is "Faith Under Fire," created by Lee Strobel. It debuts Saturday night. (The Hartford Courant, Conn.) Also see

Da Vinci Code author is accused of plagiarism
The author of a thriller that has sold more than 12 million copies is being accused of plagiarising two books published more than 20 years ago. (Times, London)

Preacher who produces 'miracle babies' wanted by Kenyan police
An evangelical preacher who claims to help infertile couples in his congregation have "miracle babies" but is alleged to be at the centre of a child-trafficking racket could try to claim political asylum in Britain. (The Guardian, UK)

'Miraculous' Christ washes up in Texas Rio Grande
A fiberglass statue of Christ that washed up on a sandbar in the Rio Grande three weeks ago is attracting scores of devout pilgrims to a police department lost-and-found and being hailed as a miracle. (Reuters)

Living goddess makes rare outing
A seven-year-old girl revered by Hindus and Buddhists as a living goddess has had a rare festive excursion from the house where she is usually confined in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. (BBC)

Bible understood differently in two new Quran translations
English-speaking Muslims, and non-Muslims who want to explore Islam's holy book, can cheer the arrival of two worthy translations. They differ, however, on passages about the Bible (Associated Press)

Scientists Debunk Mediums' Claims to Spirit World. Sept. 24, 2004
For centuries, their seemingly uncanny ability to discern private facts about strangers have bolstered the claims of spiritualist mediums to be able to contact the dead. Nonsense, according to a new and rigorous scientific test in Britain which has concluded that most mediums simply use a series of relatively simple psychological tricks to fool people.

Life After Death?
Western religions that believe in the one God traditionally teach that after the present life, individuals will exist eternally in resurrected bodies. Eastern religions believe the soul is embodied in either human or animal forms in numerous past and future lives. Now comes Alan F. Segal of Barnard College in New York with the latest if not the last word on the Jewish, Christian and Muslim concepts: Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion (Associated Press)

Who really wrote the Bible?
The solid faith of Ashkenaz Hasidim in the 12th and 13th centuries did not keep them from reaching some bold conclusions on the writing style and authorship of Judaism's holiest texts (Ha'aretz, Israel)

September 2004

September 13

'Termites to National Security'
Nationwide campaign launched against Chinese house churches. By Tony Carnes.

Despite Catholic Church Support, Prop. 71 Opponents Still $12 Million Behind in Funding.
Compiled by Rob Moll.

Group pushes evangelical vote
Focus on Family begins a national registration drive (Rocky Mountain News).

The green cardinal
In his new book, The Minding of Planet Earth, Cahal Daly argues that caring for the Earth is integral to our Christian vocation. He talks to Sean McDonagh about sustaining the planet, global warming—and population control (The Tablet, UK).

The search for the Holy Grail continues
This summer The Holy Grail has been discovered by millions on different beaches across the globe. This mysterious object has been buried, not under the flagstones of Rosslyn Chapel, nor at Glastonbury nor even in the vault of the Valencia Cathedral, but in the pages of The Da Vinci Code, now recognised as the best-selling novel in American history. (The Scotsman, UK).

The New York Times gets on the religious schools beat
The New York Times has published two excellent articles on Christian higher education this week. The first, a Times Magazine profile of Biola University, is a slice-of-life-ish examination of how the neoevangelical rejection of fundamentalist isolationism—something that saw its largest battles in Billy Graham era following World War II—is playing itself out today. The cover kicker gets it wrong: "Fast Times at Fundamentalist U."

Shrinking population threatens an ancient faith
Zoroastrians debate inviting outsiders in (The Boston Globe).

Can We Believe in Both Science and Religion?
PBS special featuring Michael Shermer, Nancy Murphy, and Muzaffar Iqbal.

Christian History Corner: Think TV
A PBS special personalizes the questions of God, morality, miracles, and the afterlife in the lives of C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. By David Neff.

Exhibit shows Bibles as signs of the changing times 
The Huntington Library collection spans 1,000 years, chronicling the book's evolution from a tome for the elite to a worldwide bestseller (Los Angeles Times).

'The End of Faith': Against toleration
It's not often that I see my florid strain of atheism expressed in any document this side of the Seine, but ''The End of Faith'' articulates the dangers and absurdities of organized religion so fiercely and so fearlessly that I felt relieved as I read it, vindicated, almost personally understood (Natalie Angier, The New York Times Book Review).

'Hellhouse!' pokes fun at fundamentalists' horror shows
Gruesome scenes in real hell houses are intended to shock adolescents into believing that Jesus is their only escape from the fiery wages of sin. The folks in Hollywood say they're using the drama to scoff at a literal hell and at ministers who try to scare the hell out of children.

August 2004

August 31

Forgetting God
By Philip Yancey. Why decadence drives out discipline.

They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Ad Hominem Attacks.

Joe Stowell announces resignation as president of Moody Bible Institute
After 18 years at the post, Joseph Stowell says he's stepping down as president of Moody Bible Institute, which also operates a book publishing company, a radio network, and other ministries.

A Crumbling Institution
By David P. Gushee. How social revolutions cracked the pillars of marriage.

Mel Gibson's Film Now on Video
The Passion of The Christ comes to your living room—but without the hubbub and media frenzy that surrounded its theater release six months ago. By Mark Moring.

Olympic Symbols Have Sinister Origins.

Burial Ordered for Man Who Fails to Resurrect.

DNA Will Test Claims of 13 "Immaculate Conceptions"

August 23

Christian History Corner: Revisiting the Pagan Olympic Games
New scholarship on the ancient Olympics reminds Christians why Emperor Theodosius outlawed the event so many centuries ago. By Steven Gertz.   

Anti-conversion Reprieve
Sri Lanka Christians cheer high court ruling on controversial bill. By Manpreet Singh.

In crackdown, China shuts Buddhist site and seizes Catholic priests
The two unrelated incidents are the latest examples of what appears to be a government crackdown against some religious. (The New York Times). Also China Detains Eight Priests and a Living Buddha -Groups.

Nigeria: Thousands still displaced three months after religious clashes
Nearly 30,000 people fled from their homes during the May riots in Kano (UN IRIN).

What God Hath Not Joined
Why marriage was designed for male and female. By Edith M. Humphrey.

Police use bible to beat crime
Police in a rural area of Romania are sending criminals to church in an attempt to drive down crime figures. Officers in the Satu Mare region also use the bible to "put the fear of God" into suspects (Daily Times, Pakistan).

'Passion' will be rekindled on DVD
DVD sales are expected to boost Gibson's personal profits above $400 million (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

Faith in video games
Religious game makers seek success without violence (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.).

Cell phone users are finding God
Once merely a useful tool for keeping in touch on the go, the mobile phone is fast finding a new niche as an instrument of spiritual enlightenment (Wired News).

This World Really Is Our Home
We're not just passing through, says theologian Michael Wittmer, author of Heaven Is a Place on Earth.
By Ann Byle.

The Middle East and the West: The Crusades
NPR's Mike Shuster begins a special six-part series on the long and turbulent history of Western involvement in the Middle East with a look at the Christian Crusades (All Things Considered, NPR).

August 17

DNA research and Mormon scholars changing basic beliefs
Plant geneticist Simon Southerton was a Mormon bishop in Brisbane, Australia when he woke up the morning of Aug. 3, 1998 to the shattering conclusion that his knowledge of science made it impossible for him to believe any longer in the Book of Mormon. Two years later he started writing Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church, published by Signature Books and due in stores next month. By Patty Henetz, Associated Press SALT LAKE CITY.

'Evangelical Christianity Has Been Hijacked':
An Interview with Tony Campolo.

Police to probe pastor's Islam outburst
Police today launched an investigation into comments by a Norwich religious leader branding Islam "an evil religion" (Evening News, Norwich, England).

When My Son Was Arrested for Murder
Finding faith under unthinkable circumstances. An excerpt from When I Lay My Isaac Down, by Carol Kent.

Christian Athletes to Watch in the Olympics
Sports Spectrum magazine has their eye on the believers competing in Athens this year. Interview by Rob Moll.

7 Habits of Racially Mixed Churches
How to achieve ethnic diversity—and die (to self) trying. Reviewed by Douglas R. Sharp.

Battle of the true faiths
It's Islam vs. Christianity at ye olde Speakers Corner (Newsweek International).

The silent (Christian) majority
James Dobson on Bush, Kerry, Thune, gay marriage and the impact of Christians on the 2004 election (Hugh Hewitt, The Weekly Standard).

Pregnant by Jesus?
They're called "miracle babies" and for some childless couples in Britain, they're a dream come true. But doctors and Church of England officials are worried the babies aren't miracles at all, but either a shortcut adoption process or a baby-trafficking scheme (BBC).

'No fraud' in weeping Virgin Mary hoax
A suburban Brisbane community centre did not commit fraud or gain financially from a weeping Virgin Mary statue hoax, the Catholic Church has found (AAP, Australia).

Jesus credit card raises a few eyebrows
A new credit card featuring the Calvary's three empty crosses begs the question: What's in God's wallet? (KCRG, Iowa City).

It's rock with redemption
Christian fest offers kids secular sounds, spiritual meaning (The Denver Post).

The social history of the afterlife
From heavenly choirs to the circles of Hell, from sitting shiva to waiting for resurrection, the peoples of the book have evolved their ideas of the afterlife as they traveled through history. A conversation with Alan Segal, author of Life After Death : A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion (Talk of the Nation, NPR).

August 8

U.S. Appeals Court: Town council can't pray in Jesus' name
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has unanimously upheld a ruling against "sectarian" invocations at the Great Falls (S.C.) town council meetings.

Translating values into votes, Republicans seek parish directories
Martin J. Gillespie, Director of Catholic Outreach at the RNC, made the request earlier this year (National Catholic Reporter).

A Steady Christian Influence
Has the nation finally abandoned its Judeo-Christian heritage, or is there still hope? By Leith Anderson.

Democrats' senior advisor for religious outreach quits amid "under God" controversy.

US House calls Darfur 'genocide'
Genocide is being committed in Sudan's Darfur region, the US House of Representatives says in a resolution.

Former missionary returns to the Philippines
Former New Tribes missionary Gracia Burnham, who was held hostage with her husband for more than a year by Islamic militants in the southern Philippines, is returning to the country to testify against some of her former kidnappers.

Peru's Second-Class Citizens
Christian legal activists fight to protect women and girls. By Deann Alford.

Bill Cosby Was (Mostly) Right—Part 2
Why is church influence among blacks wide but not deep?

When Bible study is controversial
Student Bible clubs are said to be growing in popularity (CBS Evening News).

PBS chooses Homeschooling
PBS has teamed up with leading home schooling publication Homeschooling Parent Magazine to promote PBS' on-air and online educational content (Broadcasting and Cable).

Spanish sect leader says he is the real pope
Papal pretender "Gregorio XVII" is leader of a self-styled church in Spain who says God crowned him after Pope Paul VI's 1978 death, that Satan controls the Vatican and that the devil will crucify him at the start of an apocalyptic end of an era (Reuters)

Scripture Candy delivers message
A Birmingham candy company is hoping to spread the word of God one piece of candy at a time (Associated Press)

Reality show moves us as it exploits Amish
Within the contrivance, the series manages to be disarming, touching, even moving. For young viewers unfamiliar with the Amish, it will be an eye-opener (The Denver Post)

Stephen Baldwin plans ministry
Actor Stephen Baldwin, a veteran star of more than 60 films including "Bio-Dome" and "The Usual Suspects," announced Friday he planned to start a religious ministry (Zap2It).

Churches buying 'Passion' DVD in bulk
Churches are being offered bulk discounts on The Passion of the Christ DVD in hopes that the second-biggest movie of 2004 will top DVD sales charts (USA Today).

Faith Under Fire is a brand new hour-long talk/debate show that takes an unflinching look at the provocative issues of religion, spirituality and morality in the fast-paced, face-off format of "Hardball" or "The O'Reilly Factor."

The Dick Staub Interview: Faith and the Newest Rock & Roll Rebellion
Some bands are rejecting the Christian label for their music and instead singing about Christ to the masses, says Mark Joseph.

Interview with inspirational Joni Eareckson Tada
At 17, a diving accident left her quadriplegic, too paralyzed to even act on suicidal urges. And then, a miracle. She's finds faith in God that's done so much more than help her survive. And now, she sees her tragedy as a blessing (Larry King Live, CNN).

Books & Culture's Book of the Week: China's Spiritual Hunger
The lessons of Falun Gong. Reviewed by Joy Lo Cheung.

Once-atheist parents find relief in religion
Nine-year-olds have endless questions, big and small. One that Cecilia Zhang asked her mother was: "Do you believe in God?'' (The Globe and Mail, Toronto).

When spirituality goes awry: students in cults
Adolescents are objects of recruitment for religious cults. Identifying new religious movements, cults, and dissenting religious groups, understanding their practices, and discovering reasons for their attractiveness to some students are helpful to the school counselor. Suggestions are offered as to how to identify which cults are destructive, and how professional school counselors can assist students involved with such group (Professional School Counseling, via Religion News Blog).

July 2004

July 25

Promise Keepers Coach Has a New Team, Aiming to Unite Christians and Messianic Jews.

Reclaiming Occupied Territory
The Great Commission and the cultural commission are not in competition. By Charles Colson with Anne Morse.

Baylor's Sloan Keeps His Job—for Now
Regents take no vote to remove president, but reaffirm Vision 2012. By Deann Alford and Timothy C. Morgan in Waco, Texas.

These religious Times
The Times has been busy on the religion beat lately. Be sure to check out yesterday's front-page story on evangelical singles, which prominently features Camerin Courtney, an editor with our sister publications Christian Singles Today and Today's Christian Woman. This weekend also saw Times columnist Nicholas Kristof return to the religion beat with "Jesus and jihad." His bottom line: Americans should be more critical of religious intolerance.

Reality show turns Amish into TV stars
Television is not part of the traditional Amish world. But the Amish are now part of television, like it or not (Associated Press).

The ties that bind can form the noose
Leaving an abusive marriage is difficult for any victim, but counselors and victims say the stakes for Amish and Mennonite women are often even higher (Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster, Pa.).

Scientology's town
As Scientologists launch unprecedented expansion, downtown Clearwater's identity is at stake (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.).

How Disney bypassed God to preach the gospel of dreams coming true
Entrepreneur who became icon of family values shied away from religious imagery, and none of his company's theme parks contains a church (The Guardian, London).

Christian History Corner: All of Christian History in 6 Hours
This audio tour de force is strong meat for a mature Christian audience. By Chris Armstrong.

July 18

Former Labor Secretary Predicts Religious War in America.

Federal Marriage Amendment Doesn't Even Make It to a Senate Vote
Religious activist groups respond. Plus: Clive Calver resigns as World Relief president, and other stories from online sources around the world. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Separation of Ministry and Politics
In order to influence public policy successfully, Focus on the Family must quickly learn how to remove politicking from its ministry core. By Rob Moll.

'New' faith comes a'knocking
Terryl Givens says Mormonism is poised to become the first new-world religion since Islam (The Age, Melbourne, Australia).

Student, university settle f-word case
The University of Utah agreed Wednesday to let students opt out of activities that conflict with their religious beliefs, settling a lawsuit brought by a Mormon drama student who refused to recite lines that contained the f-word and took the Lord's name in vain (Associated Press).

Sick Cambodians Healed by 'Miracle' Cow? July 8, 2004
Thousands of ill Cambodians are flocking to the northern village of Phum Trapeang Chum to be licked by a mystical cow named Preah, who — according to its owner — is curing their complaints.

Pledging to Fight
Atheist says battle over 'under God' has just begun. By John W. Kennedy.

Turning the tables on Nigeria's e-mail conmen
Scambaiter fights back against those who send out the notorious 419 e-mails (BBC).

Caped crusader
He's written Spider-Man and Superman, but Mark Millar's own heroes are Tony Benn and Jesus Christ (Sunday Herald, Glasgow, Scotland).

Now New Zealand becomes Narnia
First it was Middle Earth, now New Zealand is turning into Narnia (PA, U.K.)

Liberals join conservatives' scholarly attacks on the best-selling `Da Vinci Code'
Even the Jesus Seminar says Dan Brown's claims are all fiction (Associated Press).

Library of Date Setters of The End of the World!!!

July 10

'Womb Walking' Ultrasound, Stats Prompt U.K. Abortion Rethink.

Staying on Course
Southern Baptists reaffirm their conservative positions. By Adelle M. Banks, RNS, in Indianapolis.

Vatican budget in red, but church offerings up
The Holy See reported on Wednesday its third budget deficit in as many years with restoration works at the Vatican taking their toll on 2003 accounts despite a small increase in global church offerings (Reuters).

What John Edwards Believes
John Kerry's Methodist running mate oversees his church's urban ministries, but can he win evangelicals' votes? Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Bush Wants Church Support, Opponents Cry Foul
Plus: Taliban kills Christian in Afghanistan, court rejects judge's ruling in lesbian custody case, and more articles from online sources around the world. Compiled by Rob Moll.

Q&A: James Dobson
The chairman of Focus on the Family speaks about the need for the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. Interview by Stan Guthrie.

Discreet and Dynamic
Why, with no apparent resources, Chinese churches thrive. By Philip Yancey.

C.S. Lewis, the Sneaky Pagan
The author of A Field Guide to Narnia says Lewis wove pre-Christian ideas into a story for a post-Christian culture. Interview by Rob Moll.

Saving Strangers
The journey of one Somali Bantu family in the largest group resettlement of African refugees in U.S. history. Photo essay by Denise McGill.

Fools' Gold
Christians lured into buying 'rare' coins. By Rob Moll.

Books & Culture Corner: Tending the Garden
Evangelicals and the environment. By John Wilson.

Book club bullies
Fundamentalists want to intimidate into silence all those who don't share their interpretation of a text (Giles Fraser, The Guardian, London).

God's Number Is Up
Among a heap of books claiming that science proves God's existence emerges one that computes a probability of 67 percent.

June 2004

June 20

Supreme Shocker—'Under God' Stays Because of a Technicality
Supreme Court says Michael Newdow doesn't have authority to speak for his daughter. Plus: Reactions from conservative Christian advocacy organizations. Compiled by Ted Olsen. For more reactions see

Southern Baptists reject resolution on schools
A resolution calling on members to abandon public schools was declined by a committee of the Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday -- the same day church "messengers" voted to support a federal marriage amendment. (The Indianapolis Star).

SBC Annual Meeting Ends: Summary of Approved and Rejected Resolutions.

Talk of witches at Vatican Inquisition conference
Talk of trials, burned witches and forbidden books echoed in the Vatican on Tuesday as Pope John Paul asked forgiveness for the Inquisition, in which the Church tortured and killed people branded as heretics (Reuters).

USA Today for Christians
Christian Times Today attempts long shot amid soured business deals. By Rob Moll

How Christian Times Traded Its Good Name—Twice
Kingdom Ventures deal is the second attempt to take Christian Times national. By Rob Moll

Do Americans Want a Religious Government, or Just a Spiritual One?
The link between the Pledge decision and Time's cover package on religion and the presidential campaign. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Speaking in Code
A roundup of the many anti-Da Vinci Code books from Christian publishers. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

 A Christian Harry Potter?
Shadowmancer, Britain's hit fantasy novel, conjures darkness so the light will shine brighter. Reviewed by Greg Taylor.

The Dick Staub Interview: G.P. Taylor, Dracula's Former Vicar
The author of Shadowmancer talks about his early interest in the occult, and his later transformation into a clergyman.

IVF-prayer study raises doubts
Journal withdraws study involving psychic researcher under house arrest from Web site.

June 13

Remembering Ronald Reagan
What Billy Graham, Jim Dobson, Pope John Paul II, and others are saying about the death of the former president—and what he said about evangelicals. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Ronald Reagan's Faith, Not Just Policies, Ended Communism
The author of God and Ronald Reagan discusses the spiritual life of America's 40th president. Interview by Rob Moll.

The Cruel Edges of the World
There are some places that bring the distant biblical text closer to our lives. By Andy Crouch.

The Evil in Us
Prisoner torture in Iraq exposes the ordinary face of human depravity. A Christianity Today editorial.

Christians preach Bible-inspired diets
A batch of Bible-based eating plansare flooding bookstores and health food stores (Associated Press).

World Journalism Institute Changes Its Focus
"Biblical objectivity" replaced with mainstream objectivity in training of future Christian journalists. By Rob Moll.

Reversing Sloppy Thinking
Thinking Against the Grain asks what it means to think like a Christian. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

The Dick Staub Interview: Tom Wright's Theology for Everyone
The author of the Christian Origins and the Question of God series is also writing a theology series for the masses.

ABC doctor chronicles his faith journey
Timothy Johnson began reflecting on his faith as he approached his 65th birthday a few years ago. He thought back to his years in the seminary and what he has learned in the four decades since. The result is written in Johnson's new book, "Finding God in the Questions" (The Sacramento Bee, Ca.) This is a very interesting book.

May 2004

May 30

Bush Calls for 'Culture Change'
In interview, President says new era of responsibility should replace 'feel-good.' By Sheryl Henderson Blunt.

Sudan's Biblical History
Sudan's ongoing civil war isn't the only reason Christians should be familiar with the region. Interview by Rob Moll.

Calif. lawmakers stage 'domestic revolt'
State lawmakers staged a "domestic revolt" Monday, some donning kitchen aprons and scarlet "M's" to protest a pastor who characterized female legislators with young children at home as sinners (Associated Press).

Fascinated with The Passion
Gibson film draws big Muslim crowds. By Deann Alford.

'Saved!' skewers teen movie conventions
Mandy Moore stars in this tale of a Christian high school (MSNBC).

Log on for salvation
 If people won't come to church, the church will have to come to them—or, at least, to their computers (Newsweek).

Online journal offers forum for Catholic views
Australia's Catholics awoke yesterday to a new online journal dedicated to restoring liberal debate to the church. The journal plans to open up to debate issues suppressed by the church's official leadership (The Age, Melbourne, Australia).

Give 'em that new-time religion
 Before celebrities flocked to Kabbalah, there was Scientology (USA Today).

New theory suggests people are attracted to religion for 16 reasons
People are not drawn to religion just because of a fear of death or any other single reason, according to a new comprehensive, psychological theory of religion (Press release, Ohio State University). patents matchmaking formula | Can the elusive art of matchmaking be reduced to equations and databases? (Associated Press).

The Dick Staub Interview: Finding God in the Questions
ABC News Medical Editor, Dr. Timothy Johnson, decided to rethink his faith, and found God by asking questions.

May 23

Why the 'Lost Gospels' Lost Out
Recent gadfly theories about church council conspiracies that manipulated the New Testament into existence are bad—really bad—history. By Ben Witherington III.

Bush speaks out on Iraq abuse
At Christian college, President says U.S. should show the world its 'good heart' (The Washington Post)

On war and Christianity
The war in Iraq is putting our Christianity to its toughest test (George Plagenz, Williamson County Review Appeal, Franklin, Tenn.)

Showdown at the Communion rail
When bishops threaten to deny the sacrament, they're hurting the church (Andrew Sullivan, Time).

Surprise! Most say change the pledge
Somewhat to my surprise, most of those responding to this week's Burning Question want "under God" taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance (David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

School-withdrawal call raises concerns among local Baptists
Some local Baptist pastors have expressed opposition to a proposed Southern Baptist Convention resolution that calls for removing all children of Baptists from what it labeled "godless" public schools (The Allen American, Tex.)

Newsweek catches up to Left Behind
Plus: New religious violence in Nigeria, congressional Catholics on communion, Gwen Shamblin's offices raided, and other stories from online sources around the world.  Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Culture clash
An Islam expert details her struggles with Christianity (Newsweek).

Ship of Fools site rocked by rowdy parishioners
Organizers of the world's first virtual church have been forced to make emergency adjustments after rowdy cyber parishioners shouted profanities from the pews (The Daily Post, Liverpool, England).

Redeeming Conflict
Boundaries Face to Face focuses on conversations for building the right walls. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

The Dick Staub Interview: TV's Spiritual Directors, Buffy and Angel
As Angel enters the TV afterlife, the author of What Would Buffy Do? explores one of television's more spiritual shows.

Books & Culture's Book of the Week: Your God Is Too Small
An ironic skeptic scolds believers for domesticating the deity. Reviewed by Jeremy Lott.

Learning from Our Kids
Fresh insights and conversational style makes Sacred Parenting ideal reading. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Biblical or mythical?
Lots of Bible myths are mistaken for gospel truth: We think there's stuff in the Good Book that simply isn't there (The Dallas Morning News).

May 16

Rounding Up the Few Christian Voices on the Iraq Prison Scandal
Sojourners says Rumsfeld should go, World says he should stay, and Christian Peacemaker Teams says there's a bigger story untold. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Jim Dobson's New Political Organization
Plus: Christian organizations blame porn for abuse at Abu Ghraib. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Bishop Bans Pro-choice Voters from Communion
Votes may be considered sin if cast for politicians who support abortions. By Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service.

Indian Churches Hail the Defeat of Hindu-Nationalist Government
"Vote consciously" campaign urged Christian voters to elect secular political parties. By Anto Akkara ENI, with CT staff.

Double-entry Accountability
Two financial watchdogs are better than one. A Christianity Today editorial.

Christianity Today, Sister Magazines Win 32 EPA Awards
Profile of Tony Campolo earns first in Personality Article from the Evangelical Press Association. By Rob Moll.

The Dick Staub Interview: The Ascetic American Dream
The author of The Good Life: Genuine Christianity for the Middle Class talks about the wealth and the poverty of the American middle class.

The Gospel, Literally
A break-through film makes the Word visible. Reviewed by Ben Witherington III.

Christianity Today Book Awards 2004
We honor 22 titles that bring understanding to people, events, and ideas that shape evangelical life, thought, and mission.

Man of Contradictions
Martin Luther was a "God-obsessed seeker of certainty and assurance." Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

May 9

When Mother's Day Is Hard
Taking solace in Scripture's difficult and unsentimental image of motherhood. By Jenell Williams Paris.

'Frontline' explores Bush's faith, its role in U.S. politics
Now, with a "born-again" Christian in the White House, many people are focusing on the role of faith in governing a democracy. (Herald-Leader, Lexington, Kentucky).

America's Evangelicals
What does it mean to be an evangelical? Is George W. Bush an evangelical? Here are the views of Wheaton College historian Mark Noll; Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals; Steve Waldman, editor-in-chief of Beliefnet; and Amy Black and Alan Jacobs, professors at Wheaton College. (Frontline, PBS).

Catholic candidates' faith on trial
The question of how Catholic politicians should balance their faith's demands and their public responsibilities has taken on new life this year with the presidential candidacy of Democrat John Kerry, a Catholic who backs abortion rights, and a pivotal Senate race in Colorado that includes three Catholic candidates. (Denver Post).

Catholic Life Group to Spend $500,000 Denouncing Kerry-friendly Bishops
Plus more articles from online sources around the world. Compiled by Rob Moll.

Is the National Day of Prayer Too Political?
Plus: Babies born for stem cell use, faith-based prisons, Frank Schaeffer on the military, censoring films, and more articles from online sources around the world. Compiled by Rob Moll.

Blessed Are the Lukewarm
Religion is okay with the courts, so long as it doesn't mean anything. A Christianity Today editorial.

Orthodox Church split with Greece
The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians has suspended relations with the head of Greece's Orthodox Church -- a move that could lead to severed ties between the two churches. (Turks.US).

Proposed SBC resolution calls for abandoning public schools
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) will consider a resolution next month urging parents to pull their children out of public schools and educate them either by home schooling or sending them to Christian private schools. (Raleigh Biblical Recorder, NC).

Buffy's got the muscle to inspire our spiritual side
Time and again Buffy had to sacrifice her own desires to save humanity and the planet. And that is what Jesus Christ wants us to do, too, Kuykendall told the teens. (Salt Lake Tribune).

Hollywood riled up over ClearPlay $70 DVD player can filter movie content
A new DVD player —slim, black, looking much like all the rest —is just starting to show up on Wal-Mart's shelves. But this one has Hollywood spinning in anger. The $70 player from a company called ClearPlay has built-in ''filters'' (USA Today).

Amazing Sin, How Deep We're Bound
Finding the courage to trust in grace. By Mark R. McMinn.

America's Christians launch assault on The Da Vinci Code
The staggering success of The Da Vinci Code, the quasi-historical thriller which claims that Jesus was a mere mortal and Christianity a sexist conspiracy to exclude women from positions of power, has spread panic among the clergy who fear that people will literally take what they read as Gospel. (Telegraph, UK).

Scholarship or heresy?
They call it the Jesus Seminar on the Road. Others might call it a heresy-fest or even blasphemy-palooza. Robert Funk, a highly controversial Bible scholar, and Bishop John Shelby Spong, the even more controversial former Episcopal leader of New Jersey, came by Grace Episcopal Church yesterday to gently, and not so gently, tear down the fundamental stories of the Christian faith. (White Plains Journal News, New York).

Optional Gospels Pagels: Gnostic Gospel of Thomas is 'compelling'
Elaine Pagels, a religion professor and author of "Beyond Belief," rides a crest of interest in "lost," noncanonical gospels (The Oregonian).

The 21 gospels
Twenty-one and counting. That's how many gospels, or written accounts of Jesus' life and sayings, that Bible scholars can count so far (The Oregonian).

Prescription for health: Forgive freely
In late life, people fare best when they shed grudges and hurts of the past, says U-M researcher (Ann Arbor News, Michigan). 

May 2

A timely look at how faith informs Bush presidency
George W. Bush may be the most openly religious president in memory, yet Americans have been neither privy to his personal journey on the road to Damascus nor fully aware of the political implications of the scales falling from his eyes. (Boston Globe).

A Call to Respect Evangelicals Rises from U.S. News and The New York Times
Jeff Sheler returns to his old magazine, and Nicholas Kristof returns to old subject matter. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Doubting the Doomsayers
Thank God not everything they say is true. By Philip Yancey.

Couple Charged with $5 Million Fraud Appealing to Christian Investors
Plus: Combating anti-Semitism in Europe, sharia law in Canada Compiled by Rob Moll.

Gospel pirates
Illegal downloading as a faith-based enterprise (Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

Ministers' guide on teaching religion
Atheism and other secular philosophies can be taught to children aged seven and up - if schools decide it is "appropriate", according to the first national religious education guidelines (The Journal, Newcastle, England).

Dick Staub Interview: Jerry Bridges Is Still Pursuing Holiness
After 25 years, The Pursuit of Holiness is a classic.

Christian History Corner—Mel Gibson's Next Act: "The Man of the Passion"?
Thousands want Mel to make his next movie about a famous medieval friar, St. Francis of Assisi. By Chris Armstrong. See l

Books & Culture Corner: Celebrating Faith in Writing
A dispatch from Calvin College's biennial event. By John Wilson.

The Passing of a Christian Warrior
Dr. Gleason Archer, 1916 - 2004. On April 27, longtime Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor, Dr. Gleason Archer, went to be with the Lord. He was one of the great men raised up by God in the past century to defend the truthfulness of the Bible.

April 2004

April 25

America's evangelicals: Survey analysis
It's impossible to measure religious experience, but it is possible to ask people about their beliefs and practices, and we did that in our national survey (Religion & Ethics Newsweekly).

Dobson emphatically endorses pro-family Republican in Penn. Senate primary
Three-term congressman Toomey challenging 'moderate' incumbent Specter (Agape Press).

The Dick Staub Interview: Exegeting U2
Get Up Off Your Knees preaches U2 from Boy to All that You Can't Leave Behind.

'Rapture' rebuts end-time 'Left Behind' theology
Barbara R. Rossing's "The Rapture Exposed" convincingly debunks the methodology of "end times" philosophy and shows why all this is more than just a theological spat in our war-torn world (The Journal Gazettte, Ft. Wayne, Ind.).

Signs and wonders
In The Miracle Detective, a journalist goes on the trail of mystic apparitions (The Washington Post).

Movie Review: Bonhoeffer
This well-done documentary, with only a few minor blips, adequately captures the life—and death—of German theologian and Nazi resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Review by Collin Hansen.

April 11

What Makes This Week Holy?
Jewish and Christian celebrations this week aren't just springtime rituals. By Timothy George.

Holy Weeklies After The Passion
Time does the atonement,  and The New Yorker breaks the bone box. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Christian History Corner: Why does Easter's date wander?
And why the Eastern Orthodox Church is nearly two weeks behind schedule. By Farrell Brown.

Jesus and Paul: Looking at a Journalistic Approach to Christianity's Beginnings
A full review of ABC's Jesus and Paul: The Word and the Witness By Darrell L. Bock.

Kerry's communion controversy
It is unclear where Sen. John Kerry will take communion this Easter Sunday, amid questions of how enthusiastically Catholic leadership will respond to the pro-choice Democratic nominee (CBS News).

Jehovah's Witnesses join religions facing child-abuse cases
Richard N. Ostling is a national religion reporter for the Associated Press NASHVILLE - It's an all-volunteer organization with little money. It mustered only two dozen attendees at an inaugural national meeting two weeks ago. But the group, called silentlambs, has gained visibility in its campaign to change the abuse policies of Jehovah's Witnesses.

The road to understanding for Christians, Jews
As we Christians and Jews celebrate Passover and Easter this year we might take a moment to pray that understanding among Christians and Jews continues to grow, so that generations to come shall not be enslaved by hostility and ignorance and instead find new life in friendship and understanding (Robert Leikind and Philip A. Cunningham, The Boston Globe).

'God bless atheism'
It is only in dialogue with others that our faith is tested, our ideas made explicit, our errors corrected (E. J. Dionne Jr, The Washington Post).

April 4

Kerry's Catholicism, Bible quoting are now center of campaign
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has cranked up the religion talk this week, criticizing President Bush on biblical grounds and giving a lengthy interview with Time magazine on his Catholic beliefs. See also A Test of Kerry's Faith.

Bush signs Unborn Victims of Violence Act
The president's first bill signing ceremony of the year was for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. "Any time an expectant mother is a victim of violence, two lives are in the balance, each deserving protection, and each deserving justice," President Bush said (text | audio | video).

Backing Israel for different reasons
Most evangelical Christians support the state of Israel, but not always for the same reasons (The Washington Post).

Wheaton College denies it knew of abusive cult.
Wheaton College officials deny knowing about any abuse committed by a former graduate student against several other former students who say they were members of a physically abusive cult controlled by the older student, according to a statement released by the school (Chicago Sun-Times).

'The Mystery of Jesus'
Liam Neeson narrates new CNN documentary on life of Christ (CNN).

Peter Jennings Goes Back to the Bible
The ABC news anchor talks about Monday's three-hour special, Jesus and Paul: The Word and the Witness. Interview by Darrell Bock.

Christian History Corner: How Will It All End?
Left Behind is neither the first nor the last word on "last things." By Steven Gertz.

Rock, roll & religion.
PS150 center brings skateboarding, concerts and Christian beliefs to Iosco County's youth (The Bay City Times, Mi.).

She hath made a disturbance.
By daring to preach and teach, Anne Hutchinson posed the first great threat to Puritan government in the New World (The Christian Science Monitor).

March 2004

March 28

One nation, enriched by biblical wisdom
Understanding what the phrase "one nation under God" might mean is not proselytizing; it's citizenship (David Brooks, The New York Times).

Atheist Dad in 'Under God' Case Literally Applauded, But Likely to Lose
Supreme Court justices will probably overturn ruling, but maybe without addressing Pledge issues. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Pope declares feeding tube removal immoral
Pope John Paul II said Saturday the removal of feeding tubes from people in vegetative states was immoral, and that no judgment on their quality of life could justify such "euthanasia by omission" (Associated Press).

Court case poses challenge to Scientology tax break
A trial is to begin in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning to determine whether a Jewish couple can deduct the cost of religious education for their five children, a tax benefit they say the federal government has granted to members of just one religion, the Church of Scientology (The New York Times).

Suit pits church, former member
Scientology seeks $10 million for breach of contract (San Francisco Chronicle).

Lost in America
Arab Christians in the U.S. have a rich heritage and a shaky future. By Elesha Coffman.

A Copt at College
An Egyptian Christian talks about college and church in America.

Muslims reject Carey's 'anti-Islam' speech
In a speech at the Gregorian University in Rome last night, Lord Carey of Clifton said that Islam was inflexible and authoritarian, and Islamic countries were backward and underachieving (The Times, London).

An inspired strategy
Is religion a tonic for kids? You better believe it, say teens and scholars (The Washington Post).

Students' tale of cult 'evil'
The fuming families of three Bay State students are considering legal action against Wheaton College, claiming the school failed to protect their children from an ``evil'' cult leader who they say lured them into an isolated vortex of ritualistic torture (Boston Herald).

New Testament translated to sign language
After 23 years of work by some 60 people, a ministry group for the deaf has finished translating the entire New Testament into American Sign Language (Associated Press).

The smart money is on God, says odds-maker
In The Probability of God: A Simple Calculation That Proves the Ultimate Truth, Stephen Unwin uses an actual mathematical theorem to determine the probability that there is a God (The Salt Lake Tribune).

Dr. Seuss — theologian?
James Kemp's favorite theological work? Horton Hatches the Egg. (Religion News Service).

The Dick Staub Interview: Steve Wilkens Loves Bad Christians and Pagans
The author of Good Ideas from Questionable Christians and Outright Pagans believes Christians can learn a lot from skeptics and non-Christians.

Books & Culture's Books of the Week: Mistakes Were Made
Four of the Seven Deadly Sins, as seen from a contemporary vantage point. Reviewed by Abram Van Engen. 

March 21

Four Southern Baptist Aid Workers Killed in Iraq
and other stories from online sources around the world. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Coming Attractions
What the success of The Passion of The Christ may mean for future films. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Black Theology Revisited
Two authors argue that this strain of liberation theology is as relevant as ever. Reviewed by F. Burton Nelson.

Scholarship Wars
Supreme Court says states can deny public funds to some religious students. By Sheryl Henderson Blunt in Washington, with CT staff reports.

Vatican condemns fertility treatments
The Vatican issued a broad condemnation Tuesday of fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization, calling the destruction of embryos in the process a "massacre of the innocents" (Associated Press).

'Da Vinci' called heavy lifter
Dan Brown, the author of last year's best-selling "The Da Vinci Code," is nothing but a plagiarist, charges the author of two novels that are strikingly similar to Brown's (New York Post).

Cultural icons and alternative religions
Recent books on religion and spirituality (The Washington Post).

The Dick Staub Interview: Transforming Culture into God's Image
Gregory Wolfe, author of Intruding Upon the Timeless, has opted out of the culture wars in order to build a Christian culture for others to imitate.

March 14

Bush highlights record in talk to evangelical Christians.
President Bush told evangelical Christians what they wanted to hear Thursday, ticking off highlights of his "compassionate conservative" agenda, from halting late-term abortions to banning gay marriage. (USA Today).

The New York Times Examines a Tech School for Conservative Politics
Patrick Henry College is still small and unaccredited, but is becoming increasingly prominent in Washington. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Status report: Faith-based initiative breaks ten-figure mark
Despite Congress's refusal to guarantee faith-based organizations can compete for federal funds, President Bush's faith-based initiative has shows results through executive branch efforts, according to a Washington Post article today.

Study challenges benefits of US virginity crusade
A policy of abstinence-only  education for American teenagers, endorsed by Church groups and the White House, has almost no effect on the prevalence of transmitted diseases (STD), according to a new study. (AFP).

Vatican appoints its first female theologians
The Roman Catholic Church has quietly taken a step forward for women's equality, naming the first female theologians as Vatican consultants, and promptly denied the appointments had anything to do with their gender (Reuters).

His dark classroom materials
The leader of the Church of England has called for one of the most powerful atheist tracts in modern literature to be used as part of pupils' religious education (The Western Mail, Wales).

House votes, 391-22, to raise broadcasters' fines for indecency
Saying much of the public is fed up with indecent television and radio programming, members of the House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to increase penalties on broadcasters and performers who violate federal standards. (New York Times).

An edgy show about God 
'Joan of Arcadia' becomes unlikely hit (CNN).

Forget Your Bliss
The success of The Purpose-Driven Life reveals a cultural opportunity. A Christianity Today editorial.

The Dick Staub Interview: Heidi Neumark Transfigures the Bronx for some Breathing Space
After spending 20 years as pastor of a church in the Bronx, Heidi Neumark realized that sometimes people just need some room to breathe.

Christian History Corner: Rediscovering the Language Jesus Spoke
Millions of Americans have spent two hours listening to the characters in Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ speaking in an exotic, unfamiliar tongue. Yet not all find Aramaic so alien. By Steven Gertz.

March 7

What's Up With the Ugly Baby?
Everyone's asking about the Passion scene where Satan is carrying a hideous infant. By Mark Moring.

Relationships, Not Programs
Taking a church from dry bones to spiritual vitality. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

A clash over values in Australia
When Prime Minister John Howard recently said that parents were moving children out of the public school system because it was "too politically correct and too values-neutral," he stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy - not unlike a similar debate that has long brewed in the United States (The Christian Science Monitor).

Cry, the Beloved Continent
Don't let AIDS steal African children's future. By Philip Yancey.

Burma's Almost Forgotten
Christians find themselves battered by the world's longest civil war and a brutally repressive regime. By Benedict Rogers.

Books & Culture's Book of the Week: Life, Work, and the Mommy Wars
A book about real choices. Reviewed by Randi Sider-Rose.

February 2004

February 29

Behind the Scenes of The Passion
Day 1: How I ended up being a surprise "consultant" on this remarkable film. By Holly McClure.

Misfires in the Tolerance Wars
Separating church and state now means separating belief and action. By Ted Olsen.

Supreme Court Clouds Church-State Rules
Plus: Didja hear Mel Gibson made a movie about Jesus? And many, many other stories from online sources around the world. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Hindu Extremes
Congressmen appalled at religious persecution of Christians, Muslims. By Joshua Newton in Ahmedabad and Mubai.

Macedonian President, a Former Methodist Lay Minister, Dies in Plane Crash
Boris Trajkovski promoted peace in a country divided by Orthodox Christian and Muslim distrust. By Rob Moll.

What's your professor's religion? Should it matter?
The complaint sounds familiar: Why does a university whose student body is overwhelmingly Mormon have so few LDS professors? (The Salt Lake Tribune).

The Da Vinci con 
What seems increasingly clear is that ''The Da Vinci Code,'' like ''Holy Blood, Holy Grail,'' is based on a notorious hoax (Laura Miller, The New York Times Book Review).

Remembering Carl Henry, Inventor of Evangelicalism
No one was more pivotal to the emerging movement than Carl F. H.Henry. By Timothy George.

Christian History Corner: Just a Closer Walk … with the Historical Jesus
Mel Gibson's movie raises again the question: How much can we know historically about Jesus' life and times? By Chris Armstrong.

February 22

Good Question: Operation Evil Power
If Christ has truly defeated the powers of Satan on the Cross (Col. 2:15), why do the powers of evil effectively operate in this world? Answered by Richard B. Hays.

Is a Religious Civil War Beginning in Iraq?
American religious group ambushed as Al Qaeda reportedly tries to ignite intra-Muslim fighting. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

China Arrests Dozens of Prominent Christians
At least 50 detained in fresh crackdown on house churches, reportedly promoted by new video and book releases.
By Timothy C. Morgan with David Neff in Washington, D.C.

The Dick Staub Interview: China's Christian Syndrome
David Aikman, author of Jesus in Beijing, says in 20 years Christians could have a major impact on China, and that could change the world.

Children to study atheism at school
Falling church numbers prompt radical syllabus reform (The Observer, London).

Little consensus on marriage amendment
Even authors disagree on the meaning of its text (The Washington Post).

Scientists recommends bedtime prayers
A German scientist says people who suffer from bad nightmares should say their prayers before going to bed (Ananova).

Gibson reworks 'Passion' to mute anti-semitism
The blood pours more freely than in any Jesus film in history, but the final cut of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" takes some care to distance Jewish people from centuries-old anti-Semitic charges of deicide (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland).

Deconstructing 'Da Vinci'
"The Da Vinci Code," the best-selling novel that asserts as fact that Jesus Christ had a daughter as well as a wife, has provoked fierce opposition from Protestants and Catholics alike (The Washington Times).

Lincoln a believer, but also a doubter
Abraham Lincoln was a deeply spiritual man who never embraced organized religion (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Rewriting the Bible: A heretic's handbook
A review of Killing the Buddha by Peter Manseau and Jeff Sharlet (The Denver Post).

The next testament
If the Bible were being compiled for the first time right now, what would we put in it? Making the case for a NEW New Revised Standard Version (Cullen Murphy, The Atlantic Monthly).

February 15

Newsweek asks, "Who killed Jesus?"
Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham is an award-winning reporter. But he's neither a theologian nor a historian, so one may wish that he "showed his work" a bit more in this week's cover story, "Who Really Killed Jesus?" (It's a subject U.S. News & World Report put on its cover four years ago.) It's clear that he did quite a bit of research, but some of his statements certainly raise the question, "Says who?" This especially comes into play when Meacham sets himself up as a better recorder of events than four well-known reporters: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The Dick Staub Interview: The Gospel According to Tupac Shakur
Why do kids relate so well to hip-hop artists Eminem or Tupac? And what can a preacher learn from these modern-day prophets?

A Law That Shouldn't Be Cloned
New Jersey legalizes human cloning for research. By Mark Stricherz in Washington.

Pilot's Evangelistic Efforts Freak Out Passengers, Country
Plus: Far too many stories on Passion, along with some on crime (but none on crimes of passion). Compiled by Ted Olsen.

French Assembly votes to ban religious symbols in schools
The move underscores the broad public support for the French secular ideal but is certain to deepen resentment among France's Muslim population (The New York Times).

Three wise men may have been neither wise nor men
The traditional infant Nativity play scene could be in for a drastic rewrite after the Church of England indulged in some academic gender-swapping over the three Magi at its General Synod in London this week (Reuters).

Gospel Gem
How a dying jewelry tycoon shares the pearl of great price with Panama's elite. By James A. Beverley

New Kids on the Blog
Compiled by Ted Olsen.

In search of St. Valentine
Who is the man named Valentine who gave us the biggest heart day of the year? Good luck finding the correct answer (The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.).

February 8

Is the National Prayer Breakfast unbiblical?
Addressing about three thousand attendees at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, President Bush directed his praise to an unlikely object. "All of us believe in the power of prayer. And for a lot of people here in Washington, a prayer has been answered with three words: Coach Joe Gibbs," he said. He went on to praise U.S. troops in Iraq for promoting religious tolerance.

Context muddled remarks, Warner says
Rams quarterback Kurt Warner has attempted to clarify and apologize for remarks he made Sunday in which he suggested that his faith played a part in his benching last season (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

A crossroad for the Catholic Church
What "issues" will frame the election to choose a successor to Pope John Paul II? Chances are they're not what you might think (George Weigel, The Washington Post).

Books & Culture's Book of the Week: The Doom of Choice
Fate, free will, and moral responsibility in Tolkien. Reviewed by David O'Hara.

Magnificence in Wreckage
This series of essays finds hope among New York City lives. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

In God's country
Thanks be to the American atheist: A review of Bryan F. Le Beau's The Atheist: Madalyn Murray O'Hair (Tim Cavanaugh, Reason).

'The Da Vinci Code' unscrambled
The blockbuster thriller has millions taking theology, art and history. Yet many are unsure what's fact and what's fiction. We asked the experts for their reactions and their explanations (Chicago Tribune)

Purpose driven
Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Church is the best book on entrepreneurship, business and investment that I've read in some time (Rich Karlgaard,

The Dick Staub Interview: Craig Detweiler Finds Faith in Film
The co-author of A Matrix of Meanings talks about spirituality on screen.

Christian History Corner: The Blood-and-Fire Mission of the Salvation Army
Where did this tuba-playing, kettle-wielding social force come from, and what's it all about? By Chris Armstrong

Film Forum: Does Saved! Condemn Christian High Schools?

February 1

Time Probes Azusa Pacific University as Christian College Archetype
Article is no news but good news for California school. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

At the Crossroads
Evangelicals have become major players in American culture, and that may be their biggest problem. By Martin E. Marty.

My Enemy, Myself
What brings evangelicals together is also what pulls us apart. By Telford Work.

Intolerance spans the religious divide
Lack of religious devotion should not be a basis for a smear. But neither should religious belief—and the truth is that the intolerance of the religious right can be fully matched by that of the secular left. (Cathy Young, The Boston Globe).

School board reinstates student suspended for saying "God bless"
The top story in St. Louis today is that James Lord has been reinstated as the closed-circuit television reader of the daily bulletin at Dupo High School in nearby Dupo, Illinois. Lord's crime? Signing off his December 17 broadcast with "Have a safe and happy holiday, and God bless."

Aramaic, language of Jesus, lives on in Cyprus
A Maronite village, isolated by the island's division, struggles to carry on the tongue (The Christian Science Monitor).

Making Disciples by Sacred Story
Biblical storytelling conveys the realities of our faith better than almost any other form of communication. By Walter Wangerin Jr.

Books & Culture's Book of the Week: A Rose Among Thorns
A new novel by the author of Father Elijah illumines the spiritual consequences of our simplest decisions.
Reviewed by Albert Louis Zambone.

The radiant dish
A dish? A chalice? A casket? Or just a flying saucer? Everyone has a theory about the Holy Grail, and Richard Barber's book explores them all. Nicholas Shakespeare salutes the "thorough, sane and sceptical" approach of what Noel Malcolm calls a "valuable and fascinating book" (The Daily Telegraph, London).

Show me heaven
As more and more people come forward with accounts of near-death experiences, new research is about to examine the out of body experience to see whether mind and body really do separate at the point of death (BBC).

January 2004

January 25

Baptized in Fire
A new book on Martin Luther King, Jr., emphasizes his spiritual transformation. Reviewed by John Wilson.

Joyce Meyer Responds to Critics, Shifts Income Source
Amid cancellation and watchdog's call for IRS investigation, evangelist defends finances. By Corrie Cutrer, in St. Louis.

Missing Jewish Ways
Lauren Winner's latest book explores how 11 aspects of Judaism can enrich Christian practice. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Discovering Unity
J.I. Packer and Thomas Oden are bullish on evangelical futures. By David Neff.

Heartless marriage plans
The whole idea of encouraging poor people to get married and stay married through classes and counseling sessions ignores the main reason that stable wedlock is rare in inner cities: the epidemics of joblessness and incarceration that have stripped those communities of what social scientists call "marriageable" men (Editorial, The New York Times).

Salvation Army receives a gift of $1.5 billion 
Joan B. Kroc, the wife of the builder of the McDonald's restaurant chain, left the charity the money in her will when she died last fall (The New York Times).

Seminary functions as a spiritual United Nations 
A small evangelical campus in Pasadena draws a large contingent of scholars from around the world (Los Angeles Times).

Christian History Corner: When God—or Allah—Is in the Details
What do Islamic "sharia" law and the colonial Massachusetts' Puritan experiment have in common? By Steven Gertz.

January 18

Religion and Politics in this year's election.

Kelley story gets new scrutiny
USA Today is examining whether former reporter Jack Kelley, who resigned last week, plagiarized parts of a Washington Post article five years ago (The Washington Post).

Go Figure
Stats on God's existence, home schooling, and belief in God. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Only Half of Protestant Pastors Hold Biblical Worldview
A respected Christian pollster says only half of Protestant pastors nationwide hold a biblical worldview. According to the newest study by the Barna Research Group (BRG), only 51 percent of ministers, representing a random cross-section of Protestant churches, have a biblical view on six core beliefs (the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone and the personal responsibility to evangelize).

Winning Them Softly
Evangelicals try to reach Mormons with respect—and hard science. By John W. Kennedy. See View the video about the Mormons online at

Simply Good Writing
The Best Christian Writing 2004 is an eclectic sampling from the spectrum of Christianity. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Is this the headquarters of a growing media empire?
How a loophole in federal regulations turned this Wadsworth residence into the headquarters of 12 TV stations, and counting (Akron Beacon Journal, Oh.).

A Theoblogical Revolution
Billy Graham's vision goes from print to online, then back again. By Ted Olsen.

"The Bible Alone"? Not for John Calvin!
When we seek answers to churchly and societal issues in the Bible alone, citing the Reformation principle of sola scriptura, we are actually contradicting the Reformers. By Chris Armstrong.

January 11

'Allegory' Job 'Favorite Book in the New Testament,' Says Howard Dean
Presidential candidate having some trouble talking about religion. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Dean Changes Tack on Religion Comments
Doesn't ask WWJD, he says, but he did think about religion when signing civil unions bill as governor. Compiled by Ted Olsen

No, Really! People Actually Believe This Religion Stuff, Says NYT's Kristof. Really!
Plus: A very good NYT piece on the Episcopal Church rift, Orthodox Christmas, religion in prison, and other stories from online sources around the world. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Star Christian Reporter Quits USA Today After Investigation
and many other stories from online sources around the world. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Definition of 'Jew' confronts Israel Thousands of Ethiopian Jews who were pressured to convert to Christianity are waiting to move to Israel (The Christian Science Monitor). See

Kidnappers Release Two Christian Relief Volunteers in Colombia
Ransom demand paid for evangelical lawyer and businessman. By David Miller, Compass Direct.

Christian History Corner: Top Ten Stories of 2003 … with a Church History Twist
Here is our review of "the Christian history that made the stories that made the news." By Chris Armstrong.

The Most-Read Articles of 2003
Christianity Today's online readers were interested in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the best Christian places to work, and Bono's anti-AIDS crusade.

Why not one Bible for all?
The ESV may have the potential to become the universal choice (Associated Press).

January 4

Top Ten News Stories, 2003
The events, people, and ideas of the past year that CT's news editors believe have shaped, or will significantly shape, evangelical life, thought, or mission.

The year in religion: Combat & conflict
Opposition to war, and fight over Ten Commandments are among top stories (Religion News Service).

Books & Culture Corner: A Few Coming Attractions from 2004
Plus: What to buy with those gift cards, and some of the books in my to-read stacks. By John Wilson.

Putting God back in politics
As the Democratic candidates for president attend religious services for the holidays, their celebrations may be tempered by an uncomfortable fact: churchgoing Americans tend to vote Republican (Jim Wallis, The New York Times).

Vietnam's 'Appalling' Persecution
Activists want Washington to confront Communist leaders for torturing and killing Christians.
By Timothy R. Callahan in Washington.

Finding their purpose
They've come by planes, buses and caravans from every direction in the United States and abroad to find their particular place in God's mission for the world (The News-Gazette, Champaign, Ill.).

Mission work on display
In a scene resembling a college job fair, about 300 mission agencies and seminars have taken over facilities at the Intramural Physical Education Building, the Armory and Huff Hall on the University of Illinois campus (The News-Gazette, Champaign, Ill.)

The rise of the American megachurch
In an era when small and medium-sized churches of almost every faith are losing members, megachurches continue to grow - last year by 4 percent. Their success is due in part to the ushering in of a new business-savvy approach to religion. But more important, experts say, these churches are thriving because of what's being ushered out (The Christian Science Monitor).

Flocks growing at religious colleges
While many religion-oriented universities are respected, some of the more conservative schools or their founders have unorthodox, controversial reputations (Palm Beach Post).

Quest for spirituality has many looking within
In a world where pagers and cell phones keep people on call and the laptop extends the workplace even into the bedroom, the quest for inner peace has rarely been so difficult or so critical, observers say (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland).

Christian History Corner: Resolutions Worth Keeping
The origins of new years' resolutions, and one famous list.

Film Forum: Christian Critics Recommend Year's Most Overlooked Films
Christian critics highlight this year's unseen treasures.