Friday, May 26, 2006

"Pray without ceasing."
1 Thessalonians 5:17

We think rightly or wrongly about prayer according to the conception we have in our minds of prayer. If we think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts, we think rightly. The blood flows ceaselessly, and breathing continues ceaselessly; we are not conscious of it, but it is always going on. We are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect joint with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life. Beware of anything that stops ejaculatory prayer. "Pray without ceasing," keep the childlike habit of ejaculatory prayer in your heart to God all the time.

Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer, He had the boundless certainty that prayer is always answered. Have we by the Spirit the unspeakable certainty that Jesus had about prayer, or do we think of the times when God does not seem to have answered prayer? "Every one that asketh receiveth." We say - "But . . . , but . . ." God answers prayer in the best way, not sometimes, but every time, although the immediate manifestation of the answer in the domain in which we want it may not always follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer?

The danger with us is that we want to water down the things that Jesus says and make them mean something in accordance with common sense; if it were only common sense, it was not worth while for Him to say it. The things Jesus says about prayer are supernatural revelations.
Oswald Chambers Art

Anglicans Look for Unity in Covenant Proposals Amid Growing Gay Crisis
The Windsor Report’s proposals for a Covenant to keep the Anglican Communion together have now become the focus in efforts to resolve the Church’s crisis over homosexuality.
Posted: Friday, May 26 , 2006

The Windsor Report’s proposals for a Covenant to keep the Anglican Communion together have now become the focus in efforts to resolve the Church’s crisis over homosexuality.

According to an Anglican working party investigating the plans, it could take up to nine years before such a covenant could come into effect, and the final result may be a two-tier Communion, reports the Church of England newspaper.

The working party, however, clearly indicates that the Covenant itself cannot solve the current predicament of the Communion, but that it could go on to help the Communion overcome future problems.
the rest

Silenced Christian wins free-speech battle
State university barred him from speaking to students about faith
Posted: May 25,

A man barred from speaking about his Christian faith on a New York state college campus won a civil-rights lawsuit yesterday in federal court claiming violation of his free-speech rights.

Officials at
Ulster County Community College in Stone Ridge, N.Y., told Greg Davis of Indian Lake, N.Y., he needed to file a facilities-use permit application to speak about his faith with students in a public, grassy area on campus in October 2003.

But when he did so, his application was denied because the school claimed his desired religious expression does not constitute a "cultural, educational, social or recreational" activity.
the rest

Making church a work of artists
Wheaton conference seeks to enliven services by infusing the arts into worship
By Denise Linke
Special to the Tribune
Published May 26, 2006

Gone are the days when churchgoers had nothing more to look forward to Sunday mornings than drowsing through a sermon and opening their hymnals to page 147.

Now, many Chicago-area churches are enlivening services with arts and technology, from liturgical dances to heavy metal hymns to multimedia sermons presented in PowerPoint.

And Christian artists are increasingly going to Karitos, named after an adaptation of a Greek phrase meaning gift of God, to learn how to make it all happen. The program's 12th annual Christian arts conference will run Thursday through June 3 at Wheaton College.

"In the past, pastors preached against Hollywood and the arts as being too worldly. Since then, there's been a sea change: The churches that are growing are the ones that incorporate artistic performance into their worship," said conference founder and organizer, Rev. Bob Hays of Arlington Heights.
the rest

'A holier kind of funny'
May 25, 2006

The old gospel song "Amen" is usually about Jesus and his life from a baby in the manger to the resurrection, with punches of "A-a-a-men" at the end of each line. But when Christian comedian Keitha V. sings the song in her shows, it's about being single."

In the first verse, I'll say, 'I am looking for -' and the church will sing, 'A-a-a-men,'" she said. It takes a second for the joke to register, then everyone's laughing like, "Oh, no she didn't."

Women, and maybe a few brave men, will be able to laugh with her at the first Kingdom Daughters Women's Conference today and Friday at the Point Plaza Suites and Conference Hotel in Newport News. The conference also features guest speaker Wilma M. Shaw, founder of House of the Lord Church in Florida.
the rest

Guv would veto bill mandating inclusion of gays in textbooks
Greg Lucas, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sacramento -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto legislation that would require public school instructional materials to contain discussions about the contributions of gay lesbian, bisexual and transgender people if the bill reaches his desk, a spokesman said Thursday.

The statement from the governor, who rarely takes positions on bills until they pass the Legislature, dooms the measure which also prohibits teaching or textbooks that reflect adversely on people because of their sexual orientation.

"The issue for the governor is he is not supportive of the Legislature micro-managing curriculum," said Adam Mendelsohn, the GOP governor's communications director.

"California has an 18-member standards board that is a national model for looking at curriculum," Mendelsohn said. "The governor just believes it's not the Legislature's job to determine curriculum."
the rest

"Birth Control Is Selfish" ... The Message Society Doesn't Want To Hear
By Ruben Obregon

This past weekend graduates of Saint Thomas University were treated to a surprising speech by 21-year-old graduating student Ben Kessler. Some graduates walked out, many jeered, and others spewed profanities in response to his speech.

Just what did he speak of which caused such an outcry? The War in Iraq? Border control? NSA spying? None of the above.

So, what exactly did Mr. Kessler do wrong? He touched society's third rail: contraception. Mr. Kessler had the audacity to call the use of birth control "an act of selfishness."

One would have expected some encouraging applause from the audience, after all St. Thomas is a Catholic institution. The reality is that many of these Catholic students and family members are themselves using contraception, and Mr. Kessler confronted their lifestyle and the use of contraception.

Mr. Kessler dared to speak about this issue and people didn't want to hear his message. What happened to the exchange of ideas universities are famous for? Where were all of the supposed "open minds" at during this speech? Instead of listening to his speech with an open mind, it seems that they were too busy keeping themselves ignorant by jeering and ridiculing him.
the rest

Eight U.S. Bishops Meet with Archbishop Williams

In a bid to continue the dialogue within the Anglican Communion over the divisions within the Episcopal Church, eight Episcopal Church bishops met with the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth Palace on May 24.

Meeting with the archbishop and his senior advisors were the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge, Bishop of West Texas; the Rt. Rev. John B. Lipscomb, Bishop of Southwest Florida; the Rt. Rev. Edward Little II, Bishop of Northern Indiana; the Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana; the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., Bishop of South Carolina; the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas; the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, Bishop of the Rio Grande; and the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island.

Four other bishops and senior church leaders, including the Rt. Rev. Robert O’Neil, Bishop of Colorado, were also invited to attend the gathering, but were unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts.
the rest at The Living Church

Church Officials Ask for God's Forgiveness

BOSTON (AP) - Cardinal Sean O'Malley and about two dozen bishops and priests prostrated themselves on the altar of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Thursday to ask forgiveness from God for the damage done by the Roman Catholic Church's clergy sex abuse scandal.

It was the first of 10 Masses or prayer services scheduled for the next week and a half across the Boston Archdiocese to offer prayers and to apologize to victims for the priests and church workers who hurt children.

"We come together in this pilgrimage overwhelmed by the sadness and pain sexual abuse has caused our church," O'Malley said during the Mass.

"We are sorry that this pain was hidden and the sins were not exposed," he said. "So much suffering was caused by the actions and inactions of bishops and priests."

For about a dozen victims of abuse and their supporters who protested outside the cathedral, prayers, Novenas and the Litany of Repentance were not enough.
the rest

Pope hails mentor at Warsaw Mass

Pope Benedict XVI has celebrated open Mass in the centre of Warsaw, with more than 200,000 people in attendance.

The pontiff arrived in Pilsudski Square in driving rain, to the cheers of sodden but resolute crowds waving the flags of Poland and the Vatican.

In his sermon the German-born Pope paid tribute to his Polish mentor, John Paul II and the fruits of his papacy.

On Sunday he will visit the Auschwitz death camp to pray for reconciliation between nations and faiths.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Ascension

Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.

Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food.

Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.

He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.

These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body.

Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head.
St. Augustine

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Peace of heart lies in perfect resignation to the will of God. What you need is true simplicity, a certain calmness of spirit which comes from entire surrender to all that God wills, patience and toleration for your neighbour's faults, and a certain candor and childlike docility in acknowledging your own faults. The trouble you feel about so many things comes from your not accepting everything which may happen to you, with sufficient resignation to God. Put all things, then, in His hands, and offer them beforehand to Him in your heart, as a sacrifice. From the moment when you cease to want things to be according to your own judgment, and accept unconditionally whatever He sends, you will be free from all your uneasy retrospects and anxieties about your own concerns. Francois Fenelon

Gay-friendly bishop marooned in Africa
(Filed: 24/05/2006)

The Bishop of Chelmsford has been abandoned by his hosts during a visit to Kenya, after local Anglican clergy took offence at his liberal views on homosexuality, it has emerged.

The Rt Rev John Gladwin has been told that hospitality has been "withdrawn" by the Archdiocese of Kenya to himself and 20 other clergy because of his views about homosexuality.

The bishop and his group are currently on a fortnight's visit to Kenya aimed at strengthening the 20-year links between their church and the dioceses of Embu, Mbeere, Kirinyaga and Meru in Kenya.

This month Bishop Gladwin was named as one of four new patrons of Changing Attitude, a campaigning group that aims at equality of opportunity for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the Anglican Church.
the rest

Central New York Priest Deposed After Investigation

Ralph E. Johnson, 79, voluntarily renounced orders April 28 and has been deposed from the priesthood after an investigation by members of the pastoral response team in the Diocese of Central New York determined that an allegation of sexual misconduct against him was credible and deserved further investigation. Mr. Johnson was rector of St. Paul’s Church, Owego, N.Y., from 1970 to 1977.

A former Owego resident said in a written affidavit that Mr. Johnson molested him at least 20 times in the rectory and at a cabin owned by Mr. Johnson in Gibson, Pa. The man, who was about 15 at the time, lives in Florida. Mr. Johnson retired from the ministry in 1989.

In a prepared statement for the media, the Diocese of Central New York stated “Because of his advanced age, frail health and desire to avoid the stress of a protracted prosecution and defense, Fr. Johnson agreed to voluntarily renounce his orders. In other words, admitting no guilt, he has agreed to abide by the canons of the Church which, with the consent of the majority of all the members of the standing committee, will result in a Sentence of Deposition.”
the rest at The Living Church

The most obnoxious group in America
May 23, 2006
by Burt Prelutsky

I am not a religious man. I'm neither proud of that nor ashamed. I merely state that fact to establish where I'm coming from. I have friends who are believers and friends who are not. Where religion is concerned, I believe in live and let live. I only wish that the ACLU shared that attitude. I don't like to describe myself as an agnostic or an atheist because I don't care to align myself with the people whose own religion consists of a profound antipathy to everybody else's.

I decided a long time ago that religion would play no part in my life, but I felt no compulsion to convert others. Oddly enough, I never resented the folks who would ring my doorbell and try to proselytize me. Although I don't like dealing with uninvited guests, I always thought it was nice of them to be that concerned about the eternal soul of a perfect stranger.Having said all that, I wish to announce that I despise the ACLU for its relentless attacks on Christianity and Judaism.

It's bad enough that they will wage battle on behalf of any busybody looking to banish Christmas and Hanukah symbols from public places, including one's own front yard. However, these very same lawyers will eagerly go to the mat to safeguard a Muslim's right to wear a disguise on her driver's license, a Navajo's right to smoke peyote, and a cultist's right to ritualistically slaughter small animals.
the rest

San Diego Votes to Appeal Cross Removal
Wednesday, May. 24, 2006

Christian leaders from Washington flew to San Diego, Calif., Wednesday to establish a legal defense fund for the Mount Soledad Cross as the city council voted to appeal a judge’s ruling to remove the famed Korean War monument.

The Rev. Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council and the Rev. Patrick Mahoney from the Christian Defense Coalition will be meeting with leaders throughout the state to enlist support for the city council decision and to establish a “Mount Soledad Cross legal defense fund.”

According to Schenck, the clergy members will visit San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders to talk about how the funds would be best used.

The visit comes one day after the city council voted 5-3 to direct city attorney Mike Aguirre’s office to appeal an early May decision by a federal judge to remove the cross within 90 days or face a $5,000 per day fine. the rest

Pastors Prepare Pulpits to Protect Marriage
Wednesday, May. 24, 2006

WASHINGTON – With less than two weeks remaining before the Federal Marriage Amendment hits the Senate floor, Christian and pro-family groups are creating a ''groundswell of support'' for traditional marriage among pastors and conservative churchgoers.

The Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has dubbed June 4 “Marriage Protection Sunday,” and is requesting pastors to preach about gay marriage and encouraging Southern Baptists to tell their senators to vote for the amendment.

“Supporters of traditional marriage need to bombard their senators’ offices with e-mails and phone calls,” ERLC President Richard Land told Baptist Press, “and preachers across America need to let the pulpit ring forth in clear and no uncertain terms on Marriage Protection Sunday, June 4, and help create a groundswell of support for this amendment.
the rest

Groundbreaking Study Finds Drug Arouses People from a Permanent Vegetative State
By Terry Vanderheyden
SPRINGS, South Africa,
May 23, 2006

( – South African researchers have discovered a medication that temporarily arouses patients from a permanent vegetative state.

Scientists Ralf Clauss, now practicing nuclear medicine in the UK, and Wally Nel, in family practice in South Africa, found that Zolpidem, an insomnia drug, effectively restored consciousness to three individuals who were all in permanent vegetative states for at least three years before commencing the trial. After administering the drug, which the doctors have been doing every morning for three years, the three individuals all “wake up” to varying degrees, answer simple questions and engage in activities like watching television.

Their findings, published in the most recent issue of the journal NeuroRehabilitation, describe the confirmed permanent vegetative states of two motor vehicle accident patients and one near drowning patient. Drs. Clauss and Nel stated that, according to accepted measures of cognitive function – the Rancho Los Amigos Cognitive score – their level of consciousness was dramatically improved from a range of I-II before to V-VII after the drug.
the rest

"Majesty, the Sorcerer and the Saint" : A Christian Version of Harry Potter
Posted: Wednesday, May 24 , 2006

David Murray's Majesty, the Sorcerer and the Saint is about sorcery from a Christian perspective. A Christian alternative to Harry Potter has released earlier this year, aimed towards people ages 10 and up.

Majesty, the Sorcerer and the Saint, a fantasy adventure novel, was written by David Murray, former Disney animation artist, and award winning story writer, whose screen credits include Mulan, Tarzan, Lilo and Stitch, and Brother Bear.

Compared to the bestselling Harry Potter series, the book is about sorcery from a Christian perspective and portrays magic as a dangerous force with destructive consequences.

The story is about two children, Jack and Katie Campbell, who are thrust into a world where they discover that the power of God and the forces of magic are very real. With a guardian angel to protect her, Katie stands against the wizards of the Nohr World who are at war with the Almighty; while Katie’s brother, Jack, joins forces with the wizards to find and capture the most well guarded creature in the universe, the white horse of Christ’s return, known as Majesty.
the rest

Alabama Teacher Fired for Allegedly Showing Students Obscene Images
By Jim Brown
May 24, 2006

(AgapePress) - An Alabama school board has fired a science teacher who allegedly showed some of his eighth-grade students Internet videos depicting sex acts and other obscene images.
Last week the West Limestone Board of Education voted 6-1 to terminate the contract of tenured teacher Steve White, who has been on unpaid leave since early April. Administrators concluded that White had shown obscene Internet clips, including an animated depiction of former President Bill Clinton engaging in sexual activity.

But Jimmy Corder, one of White's attorneys, insists the teacher did not show students any video film strip. "I was present for the hearing; I heard all of the evidence," the lawyer says. "There were several things reproduced, I think you would say, from his computer." However, Corder asserts, not a single one of these reproduced items, "so far as anybody could show," originated from the teacher's hard drive.
the rest

The New Temptation Of Democrats
By Ruth Marcus
Tuesday, May 23, 2006

When mega-pastor Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church opened last year in its new Houston home, the city's former professional basketball arena, a most unlikely guest was on hand for the celebration: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a minister's son who chairs the House Democrats' Faith Working Group, headed to Dallas a few months later to worship with Bishop T.D. Jakes, an African American Pentecostal minister who's been called "the next Billy Graham."

This month, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean -- yes, that would be the Howard Dean who dismissed Republicans last year as "pretty much a white, Christian Party" -- went on Pat Robertson's "700 Club," asserting that Democrats "have an enormous amount in common with the Christian community, and particularly with the evangelical Christian community." Randy Brinson, founder of Redeem the Vote (think Rock the Vote meets Jesus), met last week with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.
the rest

The Power of Hospitality
How to win over enemies and influence people.
A Christianity Today editorial
posted 05/24/2006

Christian college administrators feared the Soulforce Equality Ride even before the series of protests was announced. They had seen the trouble that the homosexual advocacy organization's founder, Mel White, had caused for his former employer, Jerry Falwell, at Liberty University. And they were not at all interested in becoming media poster children for so-called "religion-based discrimination" against gays.

Indeed, when the protest tour was launched in March, targeting 12 members and 3 affiliates of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, news outlets looked ready to dance to the old Sexual Oppression Waltz. National headlines touted trespassing arrests at Liberty and Pat Robertson's Regent University. When someone sprayed "Fags Mobile" on the Soulforce bus outside Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, it looked like Christian colleges were going to be painted as Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps training camps or, as Equality Ride leaders put it, "epicenters of intolerance and oppression."

But the Lee University stop also marked a change in response to the Equality Ride. The protesters were welcome to walk around campus and speak to students. An entry ban and arrests "would have served their purposes, but not ours," Lee president Paul Conn explained. "Their goal was to stigmatize us as a bunch of fundamentalist bigots. … We weren't going to give them that opportunity."
the rest

Ghana's 10-year-old preacher
By Orla Ryan

BBC, Ghana

At just ten years old, Solomon Yirenkyi is already a veteran preacher.

With two weekly radio shows and two years' practice at the pulpit, he is a big draw for Christians at the Jesus One Touch Church in Oblogo, about half an hour from Accra, the capital of Ghana.

As the church fills up, he fidgets in his smart suit and polished shoes, waiting his turn to preach.
When his time comes, he paces the room, calling on those many years his senior to turn to the Lord for their marital and health problems.

He starts softly but his voice soon booms messages of deliverance for those who look to God.

"Let me tell you this," he cries, a small child with a big microphone. "Seek your way with the Lord."
the rest

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sun of my soul, thou Savior dear,
it is not night if thou be near;
O may no earthborn cloud arise
to hide thee from thy servant's eyes.

When the soft dews of kindly sleep
my wearied eyelids gently steep,
be my last thought, how sweet to rest
forever on my Savior's breast.

Abide with me from morn till eve,
for without thee I cannot live;
abide with me when night is nigh,
for without thee I dare not die.

If some poor wandering child of thine
has spurned today the voice divine,
now, Lord, the gracious work begin;
let him no more lie down in sin.

Watch by the sick, enrich the poor
with blessings from thy boundless store;
be every mourner's sleep tonight,
like infants' slumbers, pure and right.

Come near and bless us when we wake,
ere through the world our way we take,
till in the ocean of thy love
we lose ourselves in heaven above.

John Keble

Christian Groups File Amicus Briefs Supporting Partial Birth Abortion Ban
Tuesday, May. 23, 2006

Faith-based legal counsel groups filed amicus briefs Monday asking the United States Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the national ban on partial-birth abortion.

The Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice and the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel both announced that they have filed a brief arguing that the abortion of babies who are inches away from birth amounts to infanticide.

“The Supreme Court has a critical opportunity to step in and draw a bright line that would bring an end to a horrific procedure that can only be described as infanticide," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, which litigates pro-life issues.
the rest

Anglican Pope, Dual Magisterium - Anything to Save the Comm-Union
Canterbury Tales: The Covenant to Agree to Disagree
By Peter Smith

LONDON, May 23, 2006 ( - In desperation, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has developed a "covenant" to secure the fragile unity of the 77 million member Anglican Communion threatened by the liberal churches' embrace of homosexuality. The measure is an attempt to stave off a complete schism between the conservative, but more populous "global south" of the Communion, and the liberal, but wealthier developed nations. The "covenant" is Dr. Williams' measure to hold together a communion that has its African and Asian primates demanding that the American churches "repent" their 2003 ordination of the openly homosexual bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, and blessing of homosexual unions.

According to the UK's Daily Telegraph, Dr. Williams has come up with what it calls "a two track Church", to keep the liberals and conservatives happy in one fragile organization, which lately has been only able to agree on the name of Anglican. The "covenant" will be presented to the 37 Primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion for their approval at the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
the rest

Indonesian volcano spews lava, ash
Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mount Merapi spit out lava and a spectacular series of hot clouds Tuesday, as Indonesian government observers warned that the volcano remained a danger to villagers living on its slopes.

One of the eruptions sent debris falling two miles down the mountain, said Safari Dwiyono, a vulcanologist at a monitoring post in the densely populated province of Central Java.

Residents in the danger zone had all been evacuated, he said, and there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Thousands of people from villages farther down the 9,800-foot volcano, however, have returned home in recent days to tend crops, milk cows and feed livestock – many complaining of boredom in government-run shelters.
the rest

Southern Europe Seeing a Breakup Boom
Divorce rates are rising across the continent, but the three most Roman Catholic countries are exceeding the pace.
By Tracy Wilkinson, Times Staff Writer
May 21, 2006

ROME — When the Vatican looks out at the state of the Western European family, it is alarmed. It sees parents and children at the mercy of overly secular nations awash in laws and practices that liberalize evils, from abortion to gay marriage.

Church officials now have another trend to fret about. Divorce has been marching ever upward everywhere in Europe, but nowhere more so than in the continent's three most Roman Catholic countries.

Portugal, Italy and Spain, in that order, have registered the highest jump in divorce rates in the last decade, according to a new study.

The institution of marriage, says Eduardo Hertfelder, the study's director, "is in crisis." It is not that these countries have the most divorces (Germany and Britain hold the lead) but that they registered the largest percentage increase. In Portugal, divorces rose 89% from 1995 to 2004, according to Hertfelder's Institute for Family Policies, a nongovernmental organization based in Madrid; the jump was 62% for Italy and 59% for Spain in that period.
the rest

Scientologists Ready for 'Super Power'
Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Scientology is about to unveil a previously secret spiritual training program called Super Power that promises to heighten participants' powers of perception.

The bizarre program is being prepared for a rollout in a new building under construction in Clearwater, Fla.

Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard taught that people have 57 "perceptics" that include not only the five senses, but also an ability to discern relative sizes, blood circulation, balance, compass direction, temperature, gravity and an "awareness of importance, unimportance," the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Super Power uses machines, apparatus and specially designed rooms to exercise these so-called perceptics. Former Scientology members told the Times that the machines include an antigravity simulator and a gyroscope-like device that spins a person around while blindfolded to improve perception of compass direction. A video screen that moves forward and backward while flashing images is used to improve a person's ability to identify subliminal messages, they said.
the rest

Gay foster parents abused young boys
By Nigel Bunyan
(Filed: 23/05/2006)

A council was condemned yesterday for failing to prevent a paedophile homosexual couple from abusing young boys even after being alerted by one of the victim's parents.

Foster parents Ian Wathey, 40, and Craig Faunch, 32, face long terms in jail after being convicted of molesting and filming eight-year-old twins and two boys aged 14.

The twins were video-taped as they showered together, while one of the older boys was sexually abused by Wathey in his bedroom.
the rest

Press Release: Gay and Lesbian Catholics Will Enter Catholic Cathedrals Nationally On Pentecost Sunday
Monday May 22

CHICAGO, May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The following statement was released today by the Rainbow Sash Movement (RSM). The RSM will respond to the fear and intolerance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender (GLBT) persons, by many of our Catholic Bishops on Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2006. We will be entering, with our straight allies, Catholic Cathedrals across the nation on Pentecost wearing Rainbow Sashes as a sign of identification. Some Bishops have welcomed us in the past, and we are thankful for their welcome.

Nationally our Bishops have lobbied against our human rights. Our grief is intensified because many in the GLBT Catholic Community feel alienated from the Church because of this assault on our human rights. We believe the Bishops have a serious obligation to root out structures and attitudes that discriminate against the homosexual as a person. A small number of courageous Bishops are exerting their leadership in behalf of this effort, and these Bishops will have our full support and prayers.
the rest

Is Google Purging Conservative News Sites?
Posted by
Noel Sheppard on May 22, 2006

Something frighteningly ominous has been happening on the Internet lately: Google, without any prior explanation or notice, has been terminating its News relationship with conservative e-zines and web journals.

At first blush, one can easily ignore such business decisions by the most powerful company on the Internet as being routine. However, on closer examination, such behavior could give one relatively small technological corporation (when measured by the size of its workforce) a degree of political might that frankly dwarfs its current financial prowess.

It’s Not So Easy Being A Conservative E-Zine

As reported by
NewsBusters, the most recent occurrence of this unexplained phenomenon was Friday, May 19, when Frank Salvato, proprietor of The New Media Journal, realized that his content that day hadn't been disseminated at Google News as it had been on a daily basis since he reached an agreement with the search engine in September 2005.

After sending the Google Help Desk a query concerning the matter, Salvato was informed that there had been complaints of "hate speech" at his website, and as a result, The New Media Journal would no longer be part of Google News. As evidence of his offense, the Google Team supplied Salvato with links to three recent op-eds published by his contributing writers, all coincidentally about radical Islam and its relation to terrorism.

Unfortunately, this was not the first conservative e-zine to be terminated in such a fashion. On March 29, 2005, Rusty Shackleford, owner of The Jawa Report, received a similar
e-mail message as Salvato informing him that: “Upon recent review, we've found that your site contains hate speech, and we will no longer be including it in Google News.” For those unfamiliar, The Jawa Report focuses a great deal of attention on terrorist issues and how they relate to radical Islam. the rest

Coventry parish quits Episcopal diocese
By: Tracy Scudder, Daily Times

The Rev. Mark Galloway was called to be the rector of St. Andrew and St. Philip in the fall of 2003. He became the rector in January 2004. He said discussions began almost immediately about what was going on in the church and what was the church's future. Galloway described the U.S. Episcopal Church as having two types of religion that exist within a single institution.

"They have two views of reality and they aren't compatible anymore. While they are within a single institution, there's not enough common ground left about what the essentials of faith are anymore to keep those two sides within the same house," he said.

The Church of St. Andrew and St. Philip sponsored two different statewide conferences and monthly meetings. The monthly meetings were Anglican studies that would be informational meetings about what's going on in the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican world, according to Galloway.

"More and more people started to come to the parish. What is amazing is, in two years as rector, the demographics of the parish have changed drastically," he said.The idea to leave the Episcopal Church started at the vestry level, the governing body of the church, according to Galloway. The vote initially was to join the Anglican Communion Network. The vestry did that in September 2004 and then monitored what was going to go on in the life of the church, according to Galloway. the rest

Schools crack down on inappropriate blogs
May 23, 2006

Illegal or inappropriate blogging or social behavior over the Internet is now a violation of District 128's student code of conduct at both Libertyville and Vernon Hills High Schools and can lead to denial of extracurricular student privileges.

The board of education of Community High School District 128 approved the revision Monday night without dissent before a packed house of media, parents and students at Vernon Hills High School. It is one of the first such school board policies in Illinois to address some of the risque social mores students frequently encounter when surfing Internet blogs and various Web sites designed to attract children.

Like many other schools, the district requires a certain standard of conduct from students in order to participate in athletics, fine arts or extracurricular activities. Signatures from both a student and parent bind them to honor the Student Code of Conduct. Nearly 80 percent of the district's 3,200 students are involved in one or more of these extracurricular activities.
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Personal Data on Veterans Is Stolen
Burglary Leaves Millions at Risk Of Identity Theft
By Christopher Lee and Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, May 23, 2006

As many as 26.5 million veterans were placed at risk of identity theft after an intruder stole an electronic data file this month containing their names, birth dates and Social Security numbers from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee, Secretary Jim Nicholson said yesterday.

The burglary occurred May 3 in Aspen Hill, according to a source with knowledge of the incident who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter is under investigation.
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Madonna's giant cross 'offensive'

The Church of England has criticised Madonna's appearance on a cross to kick off her latest tour in Los Angeles.

"Why would someone with so much talent seem to feel the need to promote herself by offending so many people?" said the Church in a statement.

Madonna performed the ballad Live To Tell while suspended from a giant mirrored cross on the opening night.

David Muir of the Evangelical Alliance also accused the singer of "blatant insensitivity".

"Madonna's use of Christian imagery is an abuse and it is dangerous," he said.

"She should drop it from the tour and people need to find their own means of expressing their disapproval."
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Tennessee Bishop Announces New Election Date

If all goes according to plan, the Diocese of Tennessee will have in place a successor to the Rt. Rev. Betram N. Herlong, whose last day as Bishop of Tennessee is Oct. 31. In an interview with The Living Church, Bishop Herlong identified Oct. 28 as the date for the next election, which will be held at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville.

Specific dates for other milestones are still being decided upon, but Bishop Herlong said the diocese has received a positive ruling from the other diocesan chancellors and will not have to submit a new request from bishops and standing committees before holding an election.

About half of the members from the previous nominating committee are willing to participate in a new search, Bishop Herlong said. They will be combined with an equal number of new search committee members. There will be an opportunity to submit names by petition and there will also be a series of question and answer sessions scheduled with the nominees.

Bishop Herlong said the simplest explanation for why the diocese was unable to elect his successor on three previous attempts was because the clergy and laity disagreed as to who that person should be.
the rest at The Living Church

Pro-Family Critics Blast Overturn of Georgia Marriage Amendment
By Allie Martin and Jenni Parker
May 18, 2006

(AgapePress) - Pro-family and conservative leaders are criticizing a state trial court judge's decision to throw out an amendment to the Constitution of Georgia defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Nevertheless, many traditional supporters believe that, despite the court's ruling, traditional marriage in Georgia will ultimately be protected.

Attorneys with the pro-family legal group
Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) say Judge Constance Russell, the trial court judge who declared the Georgia's "Amendment One" unconstitutional, misused a technicality known as the "single subject rule" that says amendments may not deal with multiple issues and must address one subject only. However, ADF senior legal counsel Mike Johnson believes the judge's contravention of the will of Georgia's voters, who approved the marriage amendment in November 2004, cannot stand for long.

"Georgia's Amendment One has one purpose: to protect marriage from attack," Johnson asserts. "The 76 percent of voters in Georgia who voted 'yes' to the single subject of protecting marriage from all contemporary threats deserve to have their vote respected and not dismissed by radical judges," he says.
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'God slots' embrace the spirit of the age
Attracting audiences to religious programmes has always been a challenge. But an injection of reality television seems to be providing the answer.
Sally Turner reports
Published: 22 May 2006

In May of last year, an episode of BBC2's religious "reality" series The Monastery beat ITV's Celebrity Love Island in the ratings. Having pushed the boundaries with food, sex, and sport, it was only a matter of time before producers gave faith the reality treatment as well.

The Convent, which begins on BBC2 next month, follows four women from different walks of life as they spend six weeks with a closed community of nuns. It's an approach that appeals to society's obsession with the make-over; instead of plastic surgery and home improvements we're being sold the possibility of spiritual transformation.

Last Wednesday the Religious Television Awards were held at Lambeth Palace, the official home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and three of the shortlisted shows for the Radio Times-sponsored Audience Award were reality shows. Although the prize went to a documentary (Channel 4's Tsunami: Where Was God?), the success of the reality formats denoted a trend. With church attendances in decline, programme-makers face the same challenge as the religious establishment - how to make faith entertaining, progressive and accessible.
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Monday, May 22, 2006

Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and the servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.

If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity. Now as always God discovers Himself to 'babes' and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent. We must simplify our approach to Him. We must strip down to essentials (and they will be found to be blessedly few). We must put away all effort to impress, and come with the guileless candor of childhood. If we do this, without doubt God will quickly respond. AW Tozer

Network Bishops Issue Position Statement

At the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2003, just moments after consent was given to the consecration of V. Gene Robinson to be bishop of New Hampshire, over twenty bishops stood in the House of Bishops and made this declaration:

“The bishops who stand before you are filled with sorrow. This body, in willfully confirming the election of a person sexually active outside of holy matrimony, has departed from the historic faith and order of the Church of Jesus Christ. This body has denied the plain teaching of Scripture and the moral consensus of the Church throughout the ages. This body has divided itself from millions of Anglican Christians around the world, brothers and sisters who have pleaded with us to maintain the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage and sexuality.

“With grief too deep for words, the bishops who stand before you must reject this action of the 74th Convention of the Episcopal Church.”

They went on to say that they made this declaration as “faithful Episcopalians, and members of this House.”

The Bishops of the Anglican Communion Network reaffirm this statement in its entirety.

The rest at the ACN website

Can A Phoenix Fly?
by Richard Kew+

One of the things that has been said to me repeatedly by liberal/progressive/revisionist (or whatever you want to call them) friends during the last three years is, "Why can't you get over what has happened?" My responses have varied, sometimes angry, sometimes self-pitying, but essentially to do with the fact that it is hard for truth and error to live in union with one another. By the standards of the breadth of universal Christianity throughout the ages (throwing in the values of Islam and Judaism also) the actions of the Episcopal Church in 2003 led down the dangerous path of error.

I have spent much of these years grieving what is as well as what might have been. One doesn't get over such pain in the twinkling of an eye, but as I have hinted before, we cannot spend the rest of our lives being mad at what happened. A former colleague of my wife's had maintained his resentment against the university for several decades, in the process turning himself into one of the grumpiest old men I have ever come across.

I recognize that tendency to grumpiness within myself and must fight it for it is neither helpful, nor constructive. I cannot spent the rest of my life mourning the folly of the Episcopal Church, as Queen Victoria spent the residue of her long life dressed in black and wishing her "dear Bertie" would come back from the dead. The Episcopal Church that once was died in August 2003, the mortal wounds being inflicted by its own governing body. Soon that body will meet again, and I doubt whether it is capable of being loyally Anglican despite the desperate desire of tens of thousands of faithful Episcopalians -- perhaps an overriding majority.

the rest at The Kew Continuum

Members of Congress File Brief in Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Case
by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 22, 2006

Washington, DC ( -- A pro-life law firm has filed a brief in the upcoming Supreme Court case on the national ban on partial-birth abortions for 78 members of Congress who supported the bill. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) delivered the brief to the high court on Monday.

"The Supreme Court has a critical opportunity to step in and draw a bright line that would bring an end to a horrific procedure that can only be described as infanticide," said Jay Sekulow, the law firm's chief counsel.

The Supreme Court has addressed the issue of partial-birth abortion before when it rejected a Nebraska ban on the grisly abortion procedure on a narrow 5-4 ruling. It said the ban was unconstitutional because it lacked a health exception -- even though the three-day long abortion procedure is never necessary to protect a woman's health.

"Congress acted appropriately in crafting the national ban on partial-birth abortion," Sekulow said. "It's also clear that the government has a vital and compelling interest in preventing the spread of the practice of abortion into infanticide."
the rest The Latest Danger in Cyberworld
by Nathan Tabor
May 22, 2006

When you’re a new mother or father, you learn quite quickly that your child has been born into a world filled with hidden dangers. You have to make sure that the stuffed animal you place in your baby’s crib doesn’t represent a choking hazard…that your child doesn’t fall out of his high chair…that your two-year-old doesn’t stray into the street while chasing a bubble.

Once your child graduates from the toddler years, you have to be concerned about whether he’s wearing a helmet when cycling through your neighborhood…or whether she’s spending enough time doing her homework. You have to be focused on what your child is eating…how your child is sleeping…and how your child is dealing with stress.

And, in this age of digital technology, you have to be absolutely obsessed with what your child is doing online.

Sure, you may know enough to keep your child from browsing through porn sites, but did you know that your teenager could easily become a victim of a sexual predator—just by occupying a place in cyberspace?
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Poll: Nearly One-Third of Americans Believe Bible Word-for-Word
Monday, May. 22, 2006

Although some recent surveys found that Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has altered some people’s views of Christianity, a new Gallup poll reveals a long-standing decline in Americans who believe the Bible to be literally true.

According to the survey, about 3 out of 10 Americans continue to profess belief in a literal Bible today, which accounts a 10 percent drop over the past three decades. More than 1,000 adults were asked to describe their view about the Bible with 28 percent responding that the Bible is the "actual Word of God and is to be taken literally."

Poll results saw a 45 to 49 percent increase among those who said the Bible is the inspired Word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally. However, the survey also recorded a larger increase of Americans who said the Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man (13 to 19 percent).
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What the Teaching Can Teach Us
Not all extracanonical manuscripts reveal a 'lost Christianity.' The church's earliest discipleship manual—the Didache—is as orthodox and relevant as it gets.
by William Varner

The telephone call came just after we had finished our evening meal at the Knight's Palace Hotel in the Old City of Jerusalem in May 2005. The message instructed me to come now to the library of the Greek Orthodox patriarch if I wanted to see the manuscript. I changed my clothes quickly and scurried through the labyrinthine lanes of the Old City. After entering the Greek Orthodox monastery, I made my way to the library. Soon, the librarian delivered what I had waited years to see—a 950-year-old, 200-page manuscript containing, along with a dozen other early writings, a little work only 10 pages long. Its name is the Didache (the "Teaching," pronounced "didakhay"), short for The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. While no one believes that any of the twelve apostles wrote it, scholars agree that the work is a faithful transmission of the apostles' teaching, intended primarily for the training of Gentile believers.

Why do I have such an interest in this piece of parchment, the only manuscript copy known to exist? Although scholars fiercely debate many issues about the Teaching, most agree that it was written toward the end of the first century, by an anonymous author who probably lived in the area of Syria near Antioch. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the believers were first called Christians in Antioch. This term also appears in the Teaching.
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International Symposium Responds to Child Abuse in Rogue African-Led “Churches”
A major international symposium has taken place to respond to the issues surrounding the abuse of children in a number of “rogue churches” in the African community, 22nd May 2006, at Methodist Central Hall, London.
Posted: Monday, May 22 , 2006, 16:11 (BST)

A major international symposium has taken place to respond to the issues surrounding the abuse of children in a number of “rogue churches” in the African community, 22nd May 2006, at Methodist Central Hall, London.

The aim of the symposium, entitled ‘Christianity or the Occult? Emerging Trends in the African Diaspora’ was to “create an environment which will foster better understanding of the African-derived church, as well as emerging spiritual trends in Britain,” said Agu Irukwu, Senior Pastor of Jesus House in Barnet, North London.

Irukwu added, “We feel this is much needed in light of recent shocking publicity about the harming of children in African ‘churches’, which threaten to stereotype us all.”

Across Britain, the African churches are the fastest growing sector of Christianity, but as these churches have experienced huge growth, it has been reported that other entirely separate beliefs are present in the UK, which “masquerade as Christianity and prey on the most alienated and isolated members of society,” tells the BBC.
the rest

I Finally Agree With John Shelby Spong
Albert Mohler
Posted: Monday, May 22, 2006

Don't get too excited, but I have found a basis for some agreement with John Shelby Spong, the liberal retired Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey. It probably had to happen sooner or later.

Bishop Spong's doctrinal system is, to state the obvious, undiluted heresy. He has rejected and attacked virtually every Christian doctrine, from the virgin birth to monotheism.

Now, in
The Oregonian [Portland, Oregon], Bishop Spong declares that the battle for the normalization of homosexuality is basically over:

No prejudice is ever debated that isn't already dying. The reason we debate a prejudice is because it isn't holding anymore. We saw black people as being less than human. But we began to see them as human beings. It took a while to work that out. We used to define women as dependent, weak, emotionally hysterical, incapable of bearing responsibilities. Women began to challenge that in the 20th century. The same thing is happening with gay people.
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Hope Rwanda Brings Message of Healing to Scarred African Nation
By Allie Martin
May 22, 2006

(AgapePress) - The anniversary of a tragic and a deadly event in Rwanda has become an occasion to share God's Word and bring healing and hope to the still-scarred African nation.
The Florida-based ministry Book of Hope is in its third week of its scripture distribution project in Africa, an initiative called "
Hope Rwanda: 100 Days of Hope." Through this campaign, volunteers from the United States, Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, and other countries are handing out more than two million copies of scripture to each child in Rwanda.

Rob Hoskins is helping to coordinate the campaign. He says Hope Rwanda is being held during the twelfth anniversary of the 1994 genocide in that country, a 100-day period of bloodshed in which more than one million men, women, and children were killed by extremist militia groups.
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Storm led churches to ‘dream big dreams,’ pastor says
May 18, 2006
By Tim Tanton

NEW ORLEANS (UMNS) — Many Gulf Coast pastors, like the Rev. Cory Sparks, say Hurricane Katrina has forced them to look at ministry in a new way.

“It has revolutionized our thinking about ministry,” Sparks, 35, says.

In the days after the Aug. 29 storm, members of his congregations at Carrollton and Parker Memorial United Methodist churches served as rescue workers, provided relief, and distributed water, food and flood buckets throughout their neighborhoods, he explains.

“It caused us to move out beyond our walls in almost every way,” he says of the storm.

But the two congregations went beyond that, to ask what it means to participate in God’s healing and “to dream big dreams,” he says. “They said, ‘What if we think less of a vision just for this church and more of a vision for this entire city, of rebuilding this city in a way that is more just, righteous (and) at harmony with nature and neighbor?’”
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Church anger over asylum poverty
Monday, 22 May 2006

Asylum seekers are suffering "unacceptable" destitution because of government policies, a report published by the Church of England has said.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu unveiled the Faithful Cities report in London.

The report also called for a narrowing of the gap between rich and poor.

The report comes 20 years after the Faith in the City paper which attacked some of Margaret Thatcher's policies.
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Schools told to give pupils gay sex advice

OFFICIAL guidance on how to teach Scottish schoolchildren about gay sex is being issued for the first time since the abolition of laws which banned "promoting" homosexuality in schools.

Teachers will be told they can discuss issues including safe gay sex and where to get advice on homosexual relationships, in a move which has already set religious groups and health professionals at loggerheads.

Senior health officials have told Scotland on Sunday the current sex education guidelines need to be expanded because they are "heterosexist".

But the move has been condemned by the Catholic Church in Scotland as "appalling, outrageous and utterly unnecessary".
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Episcopal bishops show unity at service
Two differed on gay ordination
By Peter Smith
The Courier-Journal

The situation might have seemed suited to a debate between candidates: two nominees for the highest office in the Episcopal Church, holding opposite views on the denomination's biggest controversy, visiting Kentucky's largest Episcopal congregation.

Instead, Bishops Ted Gulick of Kentucky and Charles Jenkins of Louisiana promoted Episcopal unity during their visit yesterday morning to St. Francis in the Fields Church in Harrods Creek.

The bishops -- who confirmed and received about 40 people into the church yesterday -- said their visit showed Episcopalians could cooperate despite disagreeing over the controversial ordination of an openly gay bishop. Gulick approved while Jenkins did not.
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Sunday, May 21, 2006

There are certain things we must not pray about - moods, for instance. Moods never go by praying, moods go by kicking. A mood nearly always has its seat in the physical condition, not in the moral. It is a continual effort not to listen to the moods which arise from a physical condition, never submit to them for a second. We have to take ourselves by the scruff of the neck and shake ourselves, and we will find that we can do what we said we could not. The curse with most of us is that we won't. The Christian life is one of incarnate spiritual pluck. Oswald Chambers

Canada: Conservative Anglicans livid over lesbian priest
Group denounces bishop; one church withholds its dues
Jennifer Green, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Saturday, May 20, 2006

Anglican Bishop Peter Coffin has allowed a married lesbian to work as a priest in Ottawa, incurring the wrath of a small but vociferous group of conservatives within the Anglican diocese.
One church has withheld about $36,000 of its dues to the the diocese in protest and several clergy signed an open letter denouncing their bishop.

The letter said Bishop Coffin reneged on the spirit of the Anglican church's national moratorium on same-sex unions by allowing Rev. Linda Privitera to work as a priest at St. John the Evangelist on Elgin Street. Rev. Privitera is an American citizen, ordained and married in Massachusetts, who came to Canada with her partner in November.

Bishop Coffin has honoured the moratorium that suspended any church blessing of same-sex unions, but he says: "I cannot see (homosexuality) as a sin. ... We have swept this under the carpet and made people live in fear and in silence."
the rest

Al-Qaida group funded by Christian-slave trade
Pakistani, American missionariesfilm purchase of 20 boys in sting
Posted: May 21, 2006

Two Christian men – one an American evangelist and the other a Pakistani missionary – have exposed a senior member of an al-Qaida-linked group behind a trade in Christian children by going undercover and secretly filming their purchase of 20 boys, age six to 12.

Gul Khan, a wealthy militant and senior member of
Jamaat-ud Daawa, an Islamic organization declared by the U.S. State Department to be a front for another banned terrorist group banned in Pakistan for joining with al-Qaida in 2003 in an attempted assassination of President Pervez Musharraf, was filmed by a hidden camera accepting $28,500 from a Pakistani missionary posing as a businessman wanting to purchase boys to work for him as street beggars.

The two Christian men hatched their elaborate sting after seeing pictures of the abducted boys, taken from Christian villages in the Punjab, the London Times reported. During the months the two developed their plan, the American evangelist, who runs a small charity called Help Pakistani Children returned to the U.S. to raise funds. He asked to be identified only as "Brother Dave," His Pakistani counterpart took on the identity of a businessman named "Amir."
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Archbishop Rebukes Political Leaders for Escalating Nigeria Persecution
Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Primate of Nigeria, has condemned the political and religious unrest in the country.
Posted: Friday, May 19 , 2006

Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Primate of Nigeria, has condemned the political and religious unrest in the country. In an address to his diocesan synod, on 13th May at All Saint’s Cathedral he rebuked the political leaders in Nigeria, commenting that they had failed to provide a “clear vision” for the development of the nation.

Rev Akinola told the synod that “no Nigerian politician is worth dying for”.

He said, “For goodness sake, what do we owe these shameless political opportunists? People, who ordinarily ought to be languishing in jail.

“It is time we tell them to go back to the farm or find something else to do. The current political climate portends enough danger for our nation’s future. Nigeria deserves better than these evil men can offer.”

Insisting that the future of Nigeria had to lie in a true democracy, the Archbishop told the Church that it had to be the body to bring this about and urged members to work toward this goal.
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Abortion clinic violations detailed
Saturday, May 20, 2006
News staff writer

The state health department issued a more detailed report Friday on the closing of Summit Medical Center, saying that other women received abortions without the presence of a doctor, in addition to the woman who delivered a 6-pound, 4-ounce stillborn child.

"Four of 10 sampled patients did not have a physician present," said Dr. Don Williamson, state health officer. "There were multiple violations of rules over multiple days."

Besides the woman who went to a hospital and had a stillborn infant, there were five patients whose records do not show that a determination was made on fetal viability.
The rest

Congress Agrees to Raise Broadcast-Indecency Fines
Conference to Decide Maximum Penalty
By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 20, 2006

More than two years after proclaiming outrage over Janet Jackson's briefly exposed breast during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, both houses of Congress have passed legislation that would significantly increase indecency fines for television and radio broadcasters.

On Thursday night, the Senate unanimously approved a bill that would increase from $32,500 to $325,000 the maximum fine that the Federal Communications Commission could impose for violating its standards for decency. The House previously passed a version that would raise the maximum fine to $500,000.
The rest

White House waits on marriage
By Stephen Dinan
May 20, 2006

President Bush's spokesman said the White House supports the constitutional amendment that passed a Senate committee Thursday to define marriage as between a man and a woman, but the spokesman would not call it a priority and said the administration is taking a wait-and-see approach to next month's full Senate vote.

"I don't know whether you want to get into priorities, you know," White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said. "I think what you let the Hill do, is that they schedule their votes, they schedule their debates. But the president does support the amendment."

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the Federal Marriage Amendment on a party-line vote, sending it to the floor where Majority Leader Bill Frist says it will receive a vote in three weeks.

In anticipation of that vote, social conservatives this week called for Mr. Bush to back up his statements of support during the 2004 campaign by lobbying for the amendment now, the same way he has pushed other top legislative priorities.
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Students Pray At Graduation To Defy Judge
Associated PressSaturday, May 20, 2006

May 19 -- A federal judge on Friday blocked a high school in southern Kentucky from including prayers in its graduation ceremony, prompting students to begin reciting the Lord's Prayer during the opening remarks.

About 200 students interrupted the principal's comments with the prayer, drawing thunderous applause and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Earlier in the day, a judge banned prayers from the ceremony in response to a lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union. The lawsuit sought a restraining order on behalf of an unidentified student at Russell County High School.

Superintendent Scott Pierce said he was pleased with the students' response.

"They have the ability to make these compelling decisions on their own," Pierce said.
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Religious Liberals Gain New Visibility
A Different List Of Moral Issues
By Caryle Murphy and Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 20, 2006

The religious left is back.

Long overshadowed by the Christian right, religious liberals across a wide swath of denominations are engaged today in their most intensive bout of political organizing and alliance-building since the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s, according to scholars, politicians and clergy members.

In large part, the revival of the religious left is a reaction against conservatives' success in the 2004 elections in equating moral values with opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
Religious liberals say their faith compels them to emphasize such issues as poverty, affordable health care and global warming. Disillusionment with the war in Iraq and opposition to Bush administration policies on secret prisons and torture have also fueled the movement.

"The wind is changing."
the rest-excellent

Evangelicals Tightlipped on Immigration
May 19 2006
By RICHARD N. OSTLING AP Religion Writer

While the Roman Catholic Church, mainline Protestants, Jews and Muslims have backed the emerging immigrants' rights movement, the situation has proved more complex for some conservative Protestants.

Struggling to balance compassion with respect for law and order _ and dealing with an increasing number of Hispanics in their churches _ evangelicals have lacked the united front they have presented on matters such as abortion and gay marriage, with some groups notably quiet.

"Evangelical leaders are concerned that our voice be a biblical voice that does not send the wrong signal to the growing Latino community," said the Rev. Richard Cizik, Washington spokesman for the National Association of Evangelicals.
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by John Lawrence
May 21, 2006 11:34 AM EST

As a Christian, I find the controversy surrounding the Dan Brown fable 'The Da Vinci Code' to be absolutely warranted yet at the same time I am puzzled by it.

I try not to stray into matters of religion because I know full well that not all of my readers (or anybody's) are religious. I am also fairly certain that not all that are follow the same beliefs as myself. Having said that, I must add that with the Da Vinci Code as my topic today, I see no way to avoid some religious content. I stated at the top that I can understand the church being upset at the premise of the Da Vinci code. To attempt to portray Jesus as a man who fathered children and who had a lover or wife is simply blasphemy to those of us who embrace the Bible as sacred and as divinely inspired.
the rest of the commentary

Cashing in on the `Code'
The novel's coattails grow ever wider as authors, lecturers, even mediums try to cut in on the action.
By Louis Sahagun, Times Staff Writer
May 21, 2006

CALL it "The Da Vinci Lode": an almost-anything-goes industry of spinoffs and tie-ins emerging in the shade cast by the mega-bestseller and movie.

A researcher says he can prove the story of Adam and Eve actually describes human evolution. A historian says the Holy Grail is buried in an estate near Stafford, England. A documentarian has linked the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandals to satanic images cunningly concealed in the religion's artwork.

Legions of experts are making themselves available to the press to decode "The Da Vinci Code." As the movie's May 19 opening neared, a publicist touting one biblical expert fired off an e-mail to the media pleading, "Last Call for Da Vinci Expert/Author (I Promise)." The books, TV programs, DVDs and lectures are timed to tap into the phenomenal public interest in ancient secrets and religious quests sparked by Dan Brown's book, many teasing potential audiences by embedding "code" in the title.
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