Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name. Bring an offering and come before Him; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and in holy array. 1 Chronicles 16: 29

Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by his holiness, the nourishment of the mind with his truth, the purifying of the imagination of his beauty, the opening of the heart to his love, the surrender of the will to his purpose. ...William Temple photo

Threats Force Egyptian Convert to Hide
The Associated Press
Sat, Aug. 11, 2007

CAIRO, Egypt - An Egyptian Muslim who converted to Christianity and then took the unprecedented step of seeking official recognition for the change said he has gone into hiding following death threats.

Mohammed Hegazy, who sparked controversy when pictures of him posing with a poster of the Virgin Mary were published in newspapers, was shunned by his family and threatened by an Islamist cleric vowing to seek his execution as an apostate.
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Lutherans to allow pastors in gay relationships
Sat Aug 11 2007

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Homosexual Lutheran clergy who are in sexual relationships will be able to serve as pastors, the largest U.S. Lutheran body said on Saturday.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) passed a resolution at its annual assembly urging bishops to refrain from disciplining pastors who are in "faithful committed same-gender relationships."

The resolution passed by a vote of 538-431.

"The Church ... has just said 'Do not do punishments'," said Phil Soucy, spokesman for Lutherans Concerned, a gay-lesbian rights group within the church. "That is huge."
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Outrage as US Lutherans Ease Rules on Pastors in Gay Relationships
by Daniel Blake
Saturday, August 11, 2007

The largest Lutheran body in the US has caused outrage in the wider Christian community as it controversially decided not to punish homosexual clergy who are in sexual relationships, according to an announcement made on Saturday.
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Archbishop to pen Diana prayer
August 12, 2007
Christopher Morgan

PRINCES William and Harry have invited the Archbishop of Canterbury to compose a special prayer in memory of their mother to be said at this month’s memorial service to mark the 10th anniversary of her death.

Rowan Williams’s prayer for Diana, Princess of Wales, is also likely to be circulated to Anglican parishes around the country to mark the anniversary on August 31.

Mourners at the service, which will be shown on BBC1, will be led by the Queen and other senior members of the royal family. Gordon Brown and his two predecessors as prime minister - Tony Blair and Sir John Major - are also expected to be present at the Guards Chapel in Wellington Barracks, London.

The prayer is expected to reflect Williams’s strong feelings about the death of Diana. Writing shortly after her fatal car crash, he described the response from the public as “a potent lament for a lost sacredness, a magical and highly personal but equally a ritualised focus for public loyalty”.
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Canada stakes its claim on the Arctic
11 Aug 2007
Keme Nzerem

Barren ice floes to some - a future military base to the Canadians.

Would-be imperial giant Canada wants to make this tundra - and the oil and gas deep underneath - its own.

Talk of a frosty new world order. Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister, said: "Canada's new government understands the first principle of Arctic sovereignty: use it or lose it."

For the Canadians don't want to be left out in the cold in the scramble for Arctic control, following last week's deep sea expedition from the Russians to place their flag under the north pole.
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Falwell Insurance Rids Liberty U. Debt
Aug 10, 2007

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) -- The late Rev. Jerry Falwell left a $34 million life insurance policy to the college and church he founded, ridding the financially troubled Liberty University of its debt, his son said Friday.

Most of the payment, $29 million, went to Liberty, which Falwell founded in 1971, and the rest was given to Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said. His evangelical minister father died in May at age 73.
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Anglican Report Episode 34

Kevin and Bill Discuss:
ACN Council Meeting
Bp Duncan
Archbishop Venables
Ephram Radner
and much much more

"Be ready in the morning, and come ...present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee" Exod. 34:2-3

The morning watch is essential. You must not face the day until you have faced God, nor look into the face of others until you have looked into His.

You cannot expect to be victorious, if the day begins only in your own strength. Face the work of every day with the influence of a few thoughtful, quiet moments with your heart and God. Do not meet other people, even those of your own home, until you have first met the great Guest and honored Companion of your life--Jesus Christ.

Meet Him alone. Meet Him regularly. Meet Him with His open Book of counsel before you; and face the regular and the irregular duties of each day with the influence of His personality definitely controlling your every act.
Streams in the Desert photo

Hmong Christians Killed, Imprisoned in Crackdown in Laos
Jeff M. Sellers
Compass Direct News
August 9, 2007

Vietnamese, Lao forces searching rice paddies and mountains and shooting on sight.

LOS ANGELES – Soldiers, police and others have killed at least 13 Christians in Laos in the past month in a swarming crackdown on Hmong villagers falsely accused of stirring rebel dissent, sources told Compass.

In the sweep, encouraged by communist village leaders and others who have falsely accused the Christians of being separatist rebels, authorities have arrested and imprisoned about 200 members of a 1,900-strong Laos Evangelical Church in Ban Sai Jarern village, Bokeo province in northwestern Laos.

The hunted Christians are largely Hmong refugees who had fled persecution in Vietnam. Those killed include Hmong who went into hiding when joint forces of Vietnamese and Lao police began rounding up Christians falsely accused of supporting Gen. Vang Pao in August 2006.
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Taliban: Koreans May Be Released Soon
Michelle Vu
Christian Post Reporter
Sat, Aug. 11 2007

A Taliban leader said Saturday that negotiations for the release of 21 South Korean hostages were going well and that the hostages would “definitely” be released even as soon as “today or tomorrow.”

“God willing the government (of Afghanistan) and the government of Korea will accept this,” said Mullah Qari Bashir outside the Afghan
Red Cross Office in the Ghazni province, according to The Associated Press. “Definitely these people will be released. God willing our friends (Taliban militants in prison) will be released.”

When asked when the Koreans might be released, Bashir replied, “Hopefully today or tomorrow.”

Taliban representatives and South Korean officials met face-to-face for the first time for a four-hour talk on Friday. The rebels have not changed their demands and are still calling for the release of 21 Taliban prisoners in exchange for the remaining Korean hostages.

“I’m very optimistic. The negotiations are continuing on a positive track,” Bashir said.
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New Film: Doctor Seuss's "Horton Hears a Who" to Raise Pro-Life Questions
By Elizabeth O'Brien
August 9, 2007

( - A new animated version of the well-known children's book, "Horton Hears a Who," may once again spark debate about the story's pro-life interpretation when it is released next Spring.

The 20th Century Fox production of the well-known children's book, "Horton Hears a Who," is a major production that will be in theatres on March 14, 2008. The film features the voice of Jim Carrey as the main character Horton and Steve Carell as the Mayor of Who-ville.

In the storybook version of "Horton Hears a Who," famous children's author Dr. Seuss tells the story of a community of microscopic people called "Who's" who live in "Who-ville". The world is a tiny, yet technologically advanced community of people living on a dust-speck. The jungle elephant Horton has excellent hearing that alerts him to the presence of the people, and he promises to protect them from danger.

None of the other jungle animals believe that Horton is protecting real people, however, because they can't see or hear them. Horton nevertheless risks his life to guard the dust speck, and repeats the phrase that has since become well known: "A person's a person no matter how small."
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Is the Christian right withering?
It's never going to be irrelevant, there's just too many religious conservatives in the United States David Rayside, U of T politics professor CNN documentary on fundamentalists suggests a sea change in American politics

Aug 11, 2007
Stuart Laidlaw
faith and ethics reporter

Jennifer and Mike Nevarr live a comfortable life in Virginia, where he runs a landscaping business and preaches in a local church. Jennifer stays home to take care of their five children in their two-storey suburban house. By all accounts, they have a good life.

But they worry about the world their children will inherit, and a society they believe has lost touch with its values and needs more religion to get it back on track. That's why Jennifer stays home. She's there to home school all her children, teaching them history, Bible stories and math.

"We study math because God created math and God loves math," she says in a CNN documentary to be broadcast this month.

Two weeks before it airs, the series is already coming under scrutiny from the U.S. Christian right.
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CNN website-God's Warriors
God's Jewish Warriors
God's Muslim Warriors
God's Christian Warriors

Church signs: Provocative or offensive?
By Christine McConville, Globe Staff
August 9, 2007

When she's standing in front of the cash register at Alamo Roast Beef in Medford Square, Kristen O'Callaghan has a perfect view of the New England Baptist Church of Boston and its notorious signboard, so she can always tell when the church's message of the week is especially provocative.

"People are always stopping and taking pictures of it," she said of the 4-foot by 6-foot signboard next to the white church building. "But some weeks are busier than others."

One of the busiest weeks took place last month, when the church posted, "If we didn't abort our children, the U.S. wouldn't have to hire illegals."
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Alabama Woman: "I'm Living Proof that Adult Stem Cells Work Far Better than Embryonic"
Adult stem cells heal a woman's heart crippled by heart-attack

By Elizabeth O'Brien
HOUSTON, August 10, 2007

( - An Alabama woman was successfully cured during a groundbreaking study in which adult stem cells were used to regenerate her failing heart, CitizenLink reports.

Carron Morrow, a 58-year mother of two, was on a heart-transplant waiting list after she suffered a massive heart attack last year while hanging up lanterns for an outdoor event. She discovered afterwards that her heart was functioning at less than fifty percent of its normal level. Morrow was devastated by the worsening condition that made it impossible for her to walk without support.

In the midst of this very bleak situation, however, Morrow and her church community started praying for her life.
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Friday, August 10, 2007

"I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day" Isaiah 27:3

In the scorching Oriental heat the vineyard needs incessant watering, else the vines fail. And our spirits are equally dependent on the refreshment which only God's tender love can afford. The heat of temptation and of sore discipline is so oppressive, that we must faint beneath either one or the other, except for the alleviating succor which our faithful God is constantly administering.

Every moment--literally every time the eye twinkles--God is watering us. We have become so accustomed to it, that we hardly realize how much we owe to it. Sometimes by the gentle distillation of dew, that gathers almost imperceptibly on our spirits, and we hardly know whence or how it has come. Sometimes by the touch of a moistening sponge, applied by the very hand of God. Sometimes by a shower of grace. By a text suggested to our memory; a holy thought; the look, or act, or word of some companion; a paragraph in a paper; a sentence in a book--God waters us, and we become fresh and green, where the leaf showed signs of becoming shriveled and sere.

How blessed is life like this! In such hands--watched and guarded by such care--nurtured with such tenderness! May the result in each of us be--not the disappointment of wild grapes, but--the abundant clusters that will make glad the great Husbandman of our souls. ...FB Meyer

NYT: Fatwas in the digital age
August 10, 2007

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- The Internet, satellite television and even the telephone are increasingly being used in the Muslim world to issue fatwas -- religious decrees -- on issues as varied as whether women can pluck their eyebrows or good Muslims should read
Harry Potter.

A fatwa is a ruling by a recognized Islamic scholar, often on a weighty matter. But the traditional definition is becoming blurred as Muslims turn to Islamic Web sites and ''tele-imams'' for advice on how to live their lives.

For example, going online turns up the fatwa on British author
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, banning reading about the boy wizard because of his ties to witchcraft. Another says plucking women's eyebrows is ''haram,'' or forbidden, because it alters God's creation. One exception: if the lady's bushy brows displease her husband.
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Ancient Byzantine Church Discovered In Tiberias
Thursday, 9 August 2007

In excavations carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority in Tiberias impressive and unique finds were uncovered that shed light on the history of the ancient city.

The excavations were conducted over the course of the last three months at the request of Mekorot, as part of a project that involves the installation of a sewage pipeline and the transfer of the waste water treatment facility from Tiberias to the southern part of the Sea of Galilee.

The finds that were exposed date from the founding of Tiberias in the first century CE until the eleventh century, when the city was abandoned due to an earthquake, wars and dire economic and security conditions. In the lower part of the city, a Byzantine church (from the fourth-fifth centuries CE) was exposed that is paved with magnificent polychrome mosaics decorated with geometric patterns and crosses.
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New Seminary Subject: Homemaking
The Associated Press
Thursday, August 9, 2007

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers coursework in Greek and Hebrew, in archaeology, in the philosophy of religion and _ starting this fall _ in how to cook and sew.

One of the nation's largest Southern Baptist seminaries, the school is introducing a new, women-only academic program in homemaking _ a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a bachelor of arts degree in humanities. The program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern's president calls biblical family and gender roles.
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Legal Status of Catholic Church in Spain Threatened over Opposition to Mandatory Pro-Gay Citizenship Course
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
Spain, August, 10, 2006

( - The eminent socialist Gregorio Peces-Barba Martínez, one of the authors of the current Spanish national constitution, made headlines in Spain Wednesday when he threatened the Catholic Church with a "new status" in Spanish society if it didn't stop attacking his new "Education for Citizenship and Human Rights" program for Spanish public schools.

"Education for Citizenship", which purports to instruct students in matters of ethics, is in reality a vaguely-worded program that seeks to indoctrinate children with the sexual ideology and social agenda of the Spanish left, including the acceptance of homosexuality. The program's stated goals include teaching children to reject "existing discrimination for reason of sex, origin, social differences, affective-sexual, or whatever other type" and to exercise a "critical evaluation of the social and sexual division of labor and racist, xenophobic, sexist, and homophobic social prejudices."
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Bibles, Crucifixes Not Allowed into Saudi Arabia
Jennifer Riley
Christian Post Reporter
Fri, Aug. 10 2007

If you are planning a trip to Saudi Arabia as the summer days wind down, you may want to think twice before taking your Bible with you. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as it is officially called, reportedly bans foreigners from bringing in Bibles, crucifixes, Stars of David and other religious non-Islamic items.

The heavily Muslim country threatens to confiscate them from foreign visitors along with other prohibited items such as narcotics, firearms and pornography, according to the web site of Saudi Arabian Airlines, the country’s national carrier.

“A number of items are not allowed to be brought into the kingdom due to religious reasons and local regulations,” states the airlines’ web site.

It goes on to say: “Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are also prohibited. These may include Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols such as the Star of David, and others.”
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City Without Fathers
Behind Newark’s epidemic violence are its thousands of fatherless children.

9 August 2007

The horrific, execution-style killing of three teens in Newark last weekend has sparked widespread outrage and promises of reform from politicians, religious leaders, and community activists, who are pledging a renewed campaign against the violence that plagues New Jersey’s largest city. But much of the reaction, though well-intentioned, misses the point. Behind Newark’s persistent violence and deep social dysfunction is a profound cultural shift that has left many of the city’s children growing up outside the two-parent family—and in particular, growing up without fathers. Decades of research tell us that such children are far likelier to fail in school and work and to fall into violence than those raised in two-parent families. In Newark, we are seeing what happens to a community when the traditional family comes close to disappearing.
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Tenured bigots
Back-to-school: It is a statistical reality that most faculty members don’t like evangelicals, and they aren't ashamed to admit it

Mark Bergin

David French has known for years that college campuses are bastions of anti-evangelical bias. He knew it when he served on the admissions committee at Cornell Law School and watched his colleagues ridicule evangelical applicants as "Bible thumpers" or members of the "God squad." He knew it during his tenure with an education watchdog organization that routinely challenged university speech codes bent on silencing evangelical viewpoints. He knew it when he shifted into his current role as director of the Alliance Defense Fund's Center for Academic Freedom, a position from which he's filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of victimized evangelical students.

But only now can French declare with certainty that his anecdotal observations accurately represent a widespread statistical reality. In a recently released scientific survey of 1,269 faculty members across 712 different colleges and universities, 53 percent of respondents admitted to harboring unfavorable feelings toward evangelicals.
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BabyBlueOnline: A Very Good Day
Friday, August 10, 2007

BB NOTE: Just back from an afternoon in the Fairfax Circuit Court. Here's the update of what happened this afternoon. Thank you for your prayers - the Lord is good.

After extensive argument over the plea of statutory immunity, the court was prepared to rule but suggested that the parties work out an agreement. After recess, the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church agreed to dismiss all of the vestry members and rectors as defendants without prejudice and the individuals agreed to honor any determination of the court regarding the plaintiffs’ property claims, subject to their rights of appeal of any adverse ruling.

“We are appreciative that after all these months, our volunteer Vestry members and our pastoral leadership are no longer named defendants in lawsuit filed by the Diocese and the Episcopal Church,” said Tom Wilson, Senior Warden of The Falls Church.

As to the ownership of the property, the court stated that it was making a very narrow ruling. The court found that, at this preliminary stage in the litigation, the complaints filed by the diocese and TEC state a sufficient claim to an interest in the property for those claims to proceed to trial where the TEC and the diocese will have to put on actual evidence to support their allegations. The court emphasized that it was not making a determination as to any rights, but simply that the complaints alleged enough to get TEC and the diocese past a preliminary motion to dismiss.
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Sentamu to Send Bible to Every MP
Archbishop urges MPs to 'do nothing to change their lives' this summer - except to read the 100 Minute Bible.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, is to send every MP in the country some summer reading - the 100 Minute Bible and a guide to slowing down.

The guide, written by the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, and released earlier this year, is entitled Do Nothing to Change Your Life. The book urges its readers to create pauses in daily life to benefit their own, and society’s, health and well being. The book argues this fresh perspective of relishing every moment with a greater attentiveness will improve our relationship with God.

"Do Nothing to Change Your Life is a passionate plea for the nation to ditch endless ‘to do’ lists, constant streams of emails, and an increasingly ‘24/7’ culture," said the Church of England. The book was published following an international study that showed that the pace of life in our cities has increased by 10 per cent in the last decade.
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Shots assist in aborting fetuses
Lethal injections offer legal shield

By Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff
August 10, 2007

In response to the Supreme Court decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, many abortion providers in Boston and around the country have adopted a defensive tactic. To avoid any chance of partially delivering a live fetus, they are injecting fetuses with lethal drugs before procedures.

That clinical shift in late-term abortions goes deeply against the grain, some doctors say: It poses a slight risk to the woman and offers her no medical benefit.

"We do not believe that our patients should take a risk for which the only clear benefit is a legal one to the physician," Dr. Philip D. Darney, chief of obstetrics at San Francisco General Hospital, wrote in e-mail. He has chosen not to use the injections.

But others, although they do not perform the banned procedure, feel compelled to do all they can to protect themselves and their staff from the possibility of being accused. Upheld in April, the federal ban is broadly written, does not specify an age for the fetus, and carries a two-year prison sentence.
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Thursday, August 09, 2007

We have need of patience with ourselves and with others; with those below and those above us, and with our own equals; with those who love us and those who love us not; for the greatest things and for the least; against sudden inroads of trouble, and under daily burdens; against disappointments as to the weather, or the breaking of the heart; in the weariness of the body, or the wearing of the soul; in our own failure of duty, or others' failure towards us; in every-day wants, or in the aching of sickness or the decay of old age; in disappointment, bereavement, losses, injuries, reproaches; in heaviness of the heart, or its sickness amid delayed hopes. In all these things, from childhood's little troubles to the martyr's sufferings, patience is the grace of God, whereby we endure evil for the love of God.
... Edward B. Pusey photo

Mosul Christian Community Dwindles
Many go abroad to escape the threat of violence, while others seek refuge in the countryside around Mosul.
By Sahar al-Haideri in Mosul
(ICR No. 230, 7-Aug-07)

They have been threatened because of their Christian faith, their distinctive clothing and their success in business. They have been killed because of a controversy over a cartoon. They have fled to wherever they can find a minimal amount of safety - to Iraqi Kurdistan, abroad to Syria, or just to the countryside outside their city.

The Christians of Mosul can recite one horror story after another. Once a solid, middle-class community in this northern city, thousands of them have fled their homes under threat from militants. Their churches have been bombed, their clergy murdered, and community members regularly face threats and kidnappings.

The story of Mosul's Christians is not dissimilar to that of millions of other Iraqi citizens who live in a state of fear. But their religion makes them especially vulnerable, in a city where governance and the rule of law are non-existent, allowing criminal gangs and Islamic militant groups such as al-Qaeda to intimidate and kill with impunity.

"Life has become difficult in Mosul," said Ilham Sabah, a Christian attorney who wears the veil because she fears she would otherwise be killed. "The militants threaten Christian women. They set them on fire or kill them if they refuse to wear Islamic dress as Muslim women do.
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Sturgis ministry shines light of Christ into massive Harley rally
Posted on Aug 9, 2007
by Debra Hanson

STURGIS, S.D. (BP)--Main Street in Sturgis, S.D., the first week of August each year becomes a sea of motorcycles parked row upon row, block upon block, restrained only by sidewalks lined with vendor booths selling everything from t-shirts to tattoos, and filled with people from around the world wearing "do-rags" (bandanas), ripped jeans, leather and Harley Davidson t-shirts.

It's a massive "party" known worldwide as "Sturgis," which brings up to a half-million people to the Black Hills for a week of motorcycle competitions –- a far bigger crowd than virtually any sporting event in the world. This year's rally began Aug. 6 and runs through Aug. 12.
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Pentecostal Head Warns Against 'Spineless' Christianity
Audrey Barrick
Christian Post Reporter
Thu, Aug. 09 2007

The world is upside down in moral degradation and the church to turn it right side up is an authentic Pentecostal church, according to the head of the Assemblies of God.

Thomas E. Trask is retiring from his post as general superintendent of the largest Pentecostal denomination in the nation. But before he steps down this year, he made an emotional plea to tens of thousands of "brothers and sisters" not to let a "spineless" Christianity enter the Assemblies of God.

"Many churches in America today [are] offering ... new religion that guarantees no hell, requires no holiness," Trask said Wednesday night in his farewell sermon at the Assemblies of God’s 52nd General Council in Indianapolis. "It is a limp, spineless Christianity that does not confront sin for fear of being judgmental. It is an impotent gospel that tells people everything is okay."
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The Econimist: Under the weather
The conservative movement that for a generation has been the source of the Republican Party's strength is in the dumps
Aug 9th 2007

THIRTY years ago Eric Hobsbawm, the dean of Marxist historians, chose as his subject, for the Marx memorial lecture, “The forward march of labour halted?” Things turned out even worse, for his side, than he had expected, thanks in part to the rise of a very American brand of conservatism. But are we now witnessing Mr Hobsbawm's revenge: the forward march of American conservatism halted?

The right has dominated American politics since at least 1980. The Republicans' electoral successes have been striking: five out of seven presidential elections since 1980 and a dramatic seizure of the House in 1994 after 40 years of Democratic rule. Even more striking has been the right's success in making the political weather.
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Communiqué of the Anglican Jewish Commission
Thu, 9 Aug 2007

The first meeting of the Anglican Jewish Commission of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel took place at the seat of the Chief Rabbis in Jerusalem, on Sunday 1st and Monday 2nd July 2007. The Commission had been put in place under the provisions of the joint declaration of the Archbishop and the Chief Rabbis at Lambeth Palace on 6th September 2006. The discussions took place within the framework of the joint declaration made on that occasion which said that: "Our relationship is unique, not only historically and culturally, but also scripturally and for both religions is rooted in the one overarching covenant of God with Abraham to which God remains faithful through all time. ...This will be a dialogue of mutual respect in which we seek only to understand each other better and to strengthen our own communities and their affection and respect for each other".

The leaders of the delegations, Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen of Haifa and The Rt Revd Michael Jackson, Bishop of Clogher, warmly welcomed the first meeting of the Commission as a most important further step in international Christian-Jewish relations and in the contribution of religious communities to the peaceful life of the world.
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Sydney Bishops write to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, and his five Assistant Bishops, have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury to explain why they cannot yet give an answer to his invitation to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. A reply had been requested by the end of July.

The Sydney bishops will wait to hear the response of The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops to the Primates’ Communiqué.

The Sydney letter, which has just been released, is as follows –

Ruth Gledhill: Lambeth RSVP deadline extended

TLC: Sydney Delays Lambeth Response

The bishops of the Diocese of Sydney have told Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that they will not respond to his invitation to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion’s bishops until they learn how The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops responds to the primates’ communiqué.

If the bishops who participated in the consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire attend Lambeth, the bishops of Sydney might not, Archbishop Peter Jensen and his five suffragans said.

Writing to Archbishop Williams on July 30, Sydney’s bishops thanked him for their invitation to the 2008 gathering, saying “it would give us a great deal of joy to be able to join you” in Canterbury. However, “the timing of the invitation has proved difficult,” they explained, because they were first “looking for the response” of the American House of Bishops before giving their final answer.
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Comments: TitusOneNine Stand Firm

Communiqué from the House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

The House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East met in Iran on the occasion of the installation of Bishop Azad Marshall and issued the following communiqué.

We the undersigned have met in Tehran. We were very pleased and rejoice in the election and installation of Bishop Azad Marshall as the 6th Bishop of the Diocese of Iran. We welcome him as a full member of the House of Bishops. We pray that the Lord will give him the wisdom and love he needs as he leads his diocese as well as Pakistani Christian Urdu-speaking parishes under his oversight in the Gulf.

We are very encouraged by the new spirit that we have observed in the church in Iran and also the openness and support of the Government of Iran to our Church and also the keenness and desire of the Muslim religious leaders to start a dialogue with us in the Province.
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Colorado City police torn between religion and law
Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 9, 2007

COLORADO CITY - One by one, police officers in Colorado City are being stripped of their law-enforcement certification because they cannot serve two masters: a polygamous church and their oath to uphold the law.

In a police department normally staffed with just six full-time officers, four have lost their badges in recent years. Two more, including town Marshal Fred Barlow, are awaiting decertification rulings from the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, or Arizona POST.

All the ousted officers belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect that teaches salvation is attained through plural marriage. Authorities from Utah and Arizona have cracked down on FLDS child marriages and fraud in this isolated red-rock country.
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Mauritanian MPs pass slavery law
Thursday, 9 August 2007

Many Mauritanians are born into slavery Mauritania's parliament has unanimously passed legislation making the practice of slavery punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The new law also stipulates that anyone found guilty of promoting or being an apologist for slavery could face two years in jail.

A Mauritanian anti-slavery group, SOS Slavery, welcomed the law as a victory for the people of Mauritania.

Slavery persists in parts of Mauritania even though it was banned in 1981.
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San Diego firefighter says he was 'humiliated' when forced to march in gay pride parade
Allie Martin
August 9, 2007

A captain with the San Diego Fire Department (SDFD) says he was forced to march in a homosexual pride parade after making it clear to his supervisors he wanted no part in the event.

Captain John Ghiotto has served 19 years with the SDFD and he, along with three other firemen, has taken legal action after they claim they were forced to march in the parade this past July. He appeared on Fox Network's "The O'Reilly Factor," along with his attorney, Charles LiMandri, where Ghiotto says the three-hour ordeal was offensive and humiliating.
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Bush Pledges to Veto Homosexual Hate-Crimes Legislation
By Elizabeth O'Brien
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 8, 2007

( - As the contentious "hate crime" legislation that would add sexual orientation as a specially protected class is put before the Senate, after being passed in the House of Representatives, Bush has promised to veto the proposed bill should the Senate vote in its favor, the Washington Times reports.

Democratic Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Republican Oregan Senator Gordon Smith reintroduced the "hate crime" bill, also known as the "Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act" into the Senate this July, buried as one of many amendments to the Defense Reauthorization bill. The bill's inclusion in the Defense Reauthorization bill forces Bush to choose between denying extra resources to his soldiers overseas or allowing the list of "hate-crimes" to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity".

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Egypt Christian activists held for 'insulting Islam'
August 9, 2007

CAIRO -- Two Coptic Christian rights activists have been arrested in Egypt for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammed on a British-based Web site, their lawyer and a judicial source said Thursday.

Security forces Wednesday arrested the Egyptian country director of the Middle East Christian Association (MECA) Adel Fawzi, 61, and the association's photographer Peter Ezzat, 35, their lawyer Naguib Guebrail said.

"They were arrested at home in Cairo and were still being held Thursday morning," said Guebrail. "We haven't been officially told why they were arrested but security sources told us they are accused of distributing religiously defamatory books that incited confrontation between Copts and Muslims," he said.
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Pro-life only choice for Republicans in Iowa
By Stephen Dinan
August 9, 2007

SHELDON, Iowa — After a 30-minute, immigration-packed stump speech, Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo figured that he was done talking, but his campaign chairwoman wouldn't let him sit down until he assured supporters here of his perfect 30-year voting record on pro-life issues.

In a state where "choose life" yard signs dot the mowed grass between the cornfields and country lanes, abortion can be a make-or-break issue for Republicans, both in the top tier and among those such as Mr. Tancredo looking to break out of the lower tier.

Dedicated pro-life voters make up more than 60 percent of potential Republican caucusgoers, and an even larger portion of the dedicated activists who get their family, friends and church members to turn out to vote. As a result, the issue has popped up continuously in the weeks leading up to Saturday's Iowa Republican Party straw poll.
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The Martyrs No One Cares About
Understand Islamic Terrorists? Try Understanding Christians Who Risk Their Lives


The blood of innocent Christian missionaries spills on Afghan sands. The world watches and yawns. The United Nations offers nothing more than a formal expression of “concern.” Where is the global uproar over the human rights abuses unfolding before our eyes?

For two weeks, a group of South Korean Christians has been held hostage by Taliban thugs in Afghanistan. This is the largest group of foreign hostages taken in Afghanistan since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001. What was their offense? Were they smuggling arms into the country? No. Inciting violence? No. They were peaceful believers in Christ on short-term medical and humanitarian missions. Seventeen of the 23 hostages are females.

Most of them are nurses who provide social services and relief.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God's estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He rests perfectly content to allow God to place His own values. He will be patient to wait for the day when everything will get its own price tag and real worth will come into its own. Then the righteous shall shine forth in the Kingdom of their Father. He is willing to wait for that day. ...AW Tozer art

Busting on One
By Chuck Colson

The Dark Side of Population Control

According to its Academy of Social Sciences, China “suffers from the world’s most severe brain drain.” Approximately two-thirds of the Chinese who have studied abroad in the past two decades did not return home.

The BBC offered many possible explanations for this drain: the lack of opportunities at home; a lack of freedom, especially after Tiananmen Square, and a preference for the Western “lifestyle.”

One factor that was not mentioned but should have been was a concern about spending the rest of your life alone.

According to China’s State Population and Family Planning Commission, “by 2020 some 30 million Chinese men will not be able to find wives.” If these thirty million men were a country, they would be one of the forty most-populous countries in the world.
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Albert Mohler: Worldviews Matter -- The Culture War in Europe
Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The cultural and ideological divisions that separate Americans -- fronts in the Culture War -- are increasingly evident in Europe as well. America is often described as divided into "red" and "blue" states, transforming the electoral map into code for conservative and liberal worldviews.

Writing in
The Spectator [London], Stephen Pollard argues that Europe may soon divide along religious lines. the rest

Prime-time TV not gay enough: study
Wed Aug 8, 2007
By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Are U.S. television networks gay enough? Not yet, but ABC is getting close, according to a gay-rights group.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has given the Walt Disney Co.-owned network the highest marks of any of the five major broadcast networks in the group's first-ever report rating depictions of gay, lesbian and transgender characters and issues on prime-time TV.

The study assigned grades of "excellent," "good," "fair" or "failing" based on the number of "impressions," or occurrences, of gay characters, discussions or themes counted during 4,693 hours of programming examined from June 2006 through May 2007.

No network was rated as excellent. But ABC received a grade of "good" with 171 hours of gay-inclusive TV last season, accounting for 15 percent of its prime-time programming.

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Forbidden Fruit
By Gene Edward Veith

Christian parents and churches need to face up to a problem long hidden in the dark: Evangelical teenagers are just as sexually active as their non-Christian friends.

In fact, there is evidence that evangelical teenagers on the whole may be more sexually immoral than non-Christians. Statistically, evangelical teens tend to have sex first at a younger age, 16.3, compared to liberal Protestants, who tend to lose their virginity at 16.7. And young evangelicals are far more likely to have had three or more sexual partners (13.7 percent) than non-evangelicals (8.9 percent).

What about abstinence pledges? Those work—for a while—delaying sex on an average of about 18 months, with 88 percent of pledgers eventually giving up their vow to remain virgins until marriage.
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Most young adults leave the church after high school

Survey: Reasons Why Young Adults Quit Church

What’s in a Name?
Parsing the ‘God Particle,’ the Ultimate Metaphor
Published: August 7, 2007

We need to talk about the “God particle.”

Recently in this newspaper, I
reported on the attempts by various small armies of physicists to discover an elementary particle central to the modern conception of nature. Technically it’s called the Higgs boson, after Peter Higgs, an English physicist who conceived of it in 1964. It is said to be responsible for endowing the other elementary particles in the universe with mass.

In a stroke of either public relations genius or disaster, Leon M. Lederman, the former director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, referred to the Higgs as “the God particle” in the book of the same name he published with the science writer Dick Teresi in 1993. To Dr. Lederman, it made metaphorical sense, he explained in the book, because the Higgs mechanism made it possible to simplify the universe, resolving many different seeming forces into one, like tearing down the Tower of Babel. Besides, his publisher complained, nobody had ever heard of the Higgs particle.

ENS: COLORADO: Former rector Don Armstrong found guilty of financial misconduct
August 08, 2007

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Don Armstrong, former rector of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Colorado Springs, has been found guilty on all counts of financial misconduct presented to an Ecclesiastical Court of the Diocese of Colorado that has been reviewing the evidence since July 31.

The preliminary judgment was made public August 8 by the five members of the Ecclesiastical Court who unanimously found Armstrong guilty of diverting $392,409 from the parish's operating fund and committing tax fraud by not reporting $548,000 in non-salary income and benefits to state and federal tax authorities.

On other counts of misconduct, Armstrong has been found guilty of receiving illegal loans totaling $122,479.16 in violation of Diocesan Canons; unauthorized encumbrance and alienation of Grace Church's real property; violation of the temporary inhibition placed on Armstrong; the improper use of clergy discretionary funds; and failure to maintain proper books of account.

A three-hour evidentiary hearing, held at St. John's Cathedral in Denver July 31, featured testimony from Sheri Betzer, a tax fraud examiner and former IRS agent who investigated parish financial records ranging over a 10-year period, and Karl Ross, an attorney and co-executor of the Clarice C. Bowton Trust, established to fund seminarian scholarships, which Armstrong is accused of misusing for personal purposes.

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TLC: Massachusetts Diocese, Parish Settle Lawsuit

The Diocese of Massachusetts has settled its lawsuit against the former rector and members of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Attleboro. On Aug. 1, the diocese discontinued litigation against the Rev. Lance Giuffrida and members of the vestry of All Saints’ Anglican Church, a parish of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA), in consideration of payment of an undisclosed sum.

Both sides hailed the agreement. The Rev. Gregory A. Jacobs, diocesan staff officer for urban ministry development, said the settlement will help support the remnant of the parish that chose to remain in The Episcopal Church. The agreement “will allow the continuing congregation at All Saints’ Episcopal Church to grow their ministry as they continue to be a vital presence in the faith community of Attleboro,” he said.

Fr. Giuffrida also lauded the agreement, writing to his congregation on Aug. 4 that the agreement was fortuitous.
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AnglicanTV: Canon Kendall Harmon on Leadership

Interview by Sarah Hey of Stand Firm

Five part video series here

Peter Ould: The Miserable Theology of TEC
August 7th. 2007

A fascinating piece by Jacqueline Jenkins Keenan of the Anglican Communion Institute:

Most people realize that change within the church is difficult. In fact, change within any organization is hard, and systems theory has long studied the reality that any change, whether good or bad, will be greeted with resistance. That is because all change causes loss, which creates accompanying reactions of confusion, anger, and grief. The best way to make a change is for the people involved to become convinced that, although they are still doing things the old way, they should be doing them the new way. In religious institutions it is important to undergird changes with a clear and articulated theological reasoning to justify the change. This stated reasoning should always precede the change and allow for a theological discussion about whether the change should be made. In this process either the change will be owned by those involved in the change, or the change in the form proposed may be revealed to be inappropriate before any injury is done to the church. The recent turmoil within the Episcopal Church demonstrates what can go wrong when the articulated theological reasoning follows rather than precedes and founds the change.
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Stand Firm

A woman of the cloth
trailblazing bishop leads episcopal church
Monday, August 6, 2007

From a young age, she felt the call. She remembers the peaceful moments she spent with God in the willow tree in her family's yard; praying quietly on her walks to school; holding services for a congregation of stuffed animals.And at age 10, she turned to her mother at church, pointed to the priest and said "I want to do that."

"Someone, somewhere along the way, said to me: "Jesus is your best friend," said Connecticut Episcopal Bishop Suffragan Laura Ahrens. "It made perfect sense to me. Jesus has always been a part of my life."That lifelong devotion to ministry and stewardship led Ahrens to her current role as bishop — which has put her in the spotlight, because she is the first female Episcopal bishop in Connecticut.

Still, she doesn't think of herself as a pioneer.The female bishops and priests who came before — specifically Barbara Harris, the first female bishop in the Episcopal church, and Katharine Jefferts Schori, the current presiding bishop of the church — were the real trailblazers, she said.
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Orthodox priest blesses Russian missile system
The new 'Triumph' S-400 missile system introduced by Russia received a sprinkling of holy water by Russian Orthodox priest on national TV. Fears are raised of alliance of state and church.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Russia has deployed a new weapons defence system in a ceremony which included an Orthodox priest ‘blessing’ the new Russian S-400 Triumph missile with holy water in a broadcast on national television news.

The event highlights the close identification of church and state in post-Soviet Russia – an alliance which has been a cause of concern to other Christians, to people of minority faith and those of no religious beliefs.

The surface-to-air missile upgrades the previous S-300 system with stronger rocket engines and an improved guidance system, say military analysts.
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National Geographic Acknowledges Huge Loss of Life to Malaria and Need for DDT
Notes DDT ban following Rachel Carson's Silent Spring book "may have killed 20 million children"
By Steve Jalsevac
August 7, 2007

( - National Geographic (NG), a leading environmentalist, de-population supporting magazine, has published a major cover story by Michael Finkel on the extraordinarily deadly and complex malaria parasite. The July 2007 NG edition article discusses possible solutions to the disease but also uncharacteristically acknowledges a leading expert's contention that the international ban on DDT was a terrible mistake which may have cost many millions of lives, especially in poor African nations. Environmental ideologues have been quick to slam Finkel's article as being flawed and damaging to the their past success in convincing the world to ban the DDT pesticide.

The article, Malaria, Stopping a Global Killer, states, "This year malaria will strike up to a half billion people. At least a million will die, most of them under age five, the vast majority living in Africa. That's more than twice the annual toll a generation ago."
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Bishop Pope Rejoins Roman Catholic Church

The retired Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Clarence C. Pope, Jr., has rejoined the Roman Catholic Church.

In an e-mail sent to the clergy of the Diocese of Fort Worth on Aug. 6, the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker announced that his predecessor had “telephoned me this morning” to say that he and his wife had “returned to membership in the Roman Catholic Church, in full communion with the See of Peter.”

Bishop Pope is the second Episcopal bishop to join the Roman Catholic Church this year, and the fifth bishop of The Episcopal Church to resign from the House of Bishops since January. The retired Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Herzog, also returned to the Roman Church this year. The retired Bishop Suffragan of Albany, the Rt. Rev. David Bena, joined the Church of Nigeria; the retired Assistant Bishop of Oklahoma, the Rt. Rev. William Cox, joined the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone; and the retired Bishop of North Dakota, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Fairfield, joined the Church of Uganda.
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A Journey from ConCom to FedCom?
Tuesday, August 07, 2007

We find ourselves this evening sitting here in the newest coffee establishment in Dupont Circle.

I've been thinking (sometimes rather irreverently) about the current "conversation" going on over at StandFirm between what Sarah Hey has described as the Conservative Communion folks (ConComs) and the Federal Communion folks (FedComs). The ConComs are those who are working within the current Episcopal Church structures while the FedComs are working outside those structures. I find myself somewhere in between. I have been a ConCom for over twenty years. How did I become a ConCom and how do I now find myself in a FedCom boat?In around 1984 I went to an organization meeting of The National Organization of Episcopalians for Life.

For the next seven years I worked as the editor of The NOEL News and learned not only about political and theological advocacy, but more and more about the wider church beyond the walls of Truro Church in Fairfax.
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Whenever you have much joy, be cautious; there is sorrow down the road. But when you have much sadness be hopeful; there is a joy on the way to you, be sure of that. Our blessed Lord reveals himself to his people more in the valleys, in the shades, in the deeps, than he does anywhere else. He has a way and an art of showing himself to his children at midnight, making the darkness light by his presence. ...CH Spurgeon image

China hopes to cure Internet addicts at summer camp
Tue Aug 7, 2007

(Reuters) - China is launching an experimental summer camp for 40 youngsters to try to wean them off their Internet addiction, state media said on Tuesday.

The 10-day program would accept youngsters aged between 14 and 22 once they had undergone a psychological test and evaluation, the China Daily said.

About 2.6 million -- or 13 percent -- of China's 20 million Internet users under 18 are classed as addicts, state media have reported.

The youngsters at the summer camp would be treated for depression, fear, unwillingness to interact with others, panic and agitation.
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NYT: Japanese Find Romance and Rituals Far From Home
August 7, 2007

PARIS, Aug. 6 — The first time that Hirosha Watanabe and Naoko Shibuya entered a church was the giddy moment when they marched down the aisle, he in pearl gray tails and she in a frothy wedding dress, to the strains of the Wagner classic “Bridal Chorus.”

They were joined at the altar of the American Church in Paris by a minister, an interpreter, a video maker and a photographer — the players in Japanese wedding packages for lavish Western ceremonies with traditional trappings.

Most of the brides and grooms are more familiar with Shinto practices than Christian rites. But they are flocking to Paris and other romantic European locations in search of rituals, stained glass and bellowing pipe organs, all chosen from convenient online catalogs.

So many Japanese wedding tourists are trading golden rings in the peak summer and autumn seasons that the interdenominational American Church enlisted retired pastors for the marriage ministry dominated by the couples. A towering Adventist church outside Paris and the American Cathedral, which offers Episcopal ceremonies, also perform large numbers of the ceremonies.
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Attleboro: Episcopal diocese settles lawsuit
Michael Paulson

Boston Globe
August 7, 2007

A group of former Episcopalians from Attleboro has agreed to return an undisclosed amount of money to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts to settle a lawsuit alleging that the group, who broke away to protest the denomination's approval of an openly gay bishop, took cash and property belonging to the diocese.

The lawsuit was one of several around the country between Episcopal dioceses and departing members in an escalating dispute over the ownership of parish property. Conservatives have charged that the denomination is using a nationwide litigation campaign to intimidate them; diocesan officials say they are simply trying to protect their patrimony.

In Massachusetts, where the courts in the past have repeatedly ruled that parish property in hierarchical denominations belongs to the denominations, the two sides decided to settle just five weeks after the litigation was filed.
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Toxic Environment
By Chuck Colson

The Truth about Campus Health Care

A young coed named Heather paid a visit to her campus health clinic. She told the doctor she was suffering from depression. The doctor explored possible causes, but Heather could not come up with any reasons for her sadness. Oh, wait—there is one thing, she remembered: Since Thanksgiving, she said, “I’ve had a ‘friend with benefits.’” That is, a male friend that she is not in a relationship with, but has casual sex with.

“I’m really unhappy about that,” Heather said. “It’s hard to be with him and then go home and be alone.”

Heather’s story is told in an explosive new book titled Unprotected. It’s a memoir of misery by Miriam Grossman, a college psychiatrist who says the exaggerated place of sexuality on college campuses “is grotesque and destructive.” But far from warning young women of the dangers of such a toxic lifestyle, colleges go out of their way to glorify promiscuity. At her own clinic, Grossman says, she routinely treats women who are suffering the consequences of casual hookups. They suffer from eating disorders, depression, self-mutilation, a multitude of STDs, and post-abortion syndrome.
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One Way Multiculturalism
August 6, 2007

How will we lose the war against "radical Islam"?

Well, it won't be in a tank battle. Or in the Sunni Triangle or the caves of Bora Bora. It won't be because terrorists fly three jets into the Oval Office, Buckingham Palace and the Basilica of St. Peter's on the same Tuesday morning.

The war will be lost incrementally because we are unable to reverse the ongoing radicalization of Muslim populations in South Asia, Indonesia, the Balkans, Western Europe and, yes, North America. And who's behind that radicalization? Who funds the mosques and Islamic centers that in the last 30 years have set up shop on just about every Main Street around the planet?
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Lutherans Again Face Homosexuality Debate
By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Tue, Aug. 07 2007

The weeklong biennial gathering in
Chicago convenes more than 1,000 members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the nation's largest Lutheran denomination, who will confront the issue of human sexuality years earlier than originally planned for.

The ELCA will continue its conversation on human sexuality and "the place of gay and lesbian people in ministry" although "we are still in the process of developing our social statement on human sexuality," ELCA presiding bishop the Rev. Mark S. Hanson said on Monday, according to the ELCA News Service.
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Film tells the Gay-Straight Allliance story
August 7, 2007

The Gay-Straight Alliance Network, which helps students on high and middle school campuses form Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs to provide “a safe place for students to meet, support each other, talk about issues related to sexual orientation, and work to end homophobia,” has partnered with the ACLU, Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center to promote a movie dealing with “gay” youth issues.

“Wanna be an extra in this film?” asked the July “GSA Network News.” Extras were needed, announced the “News” for the film, Tru Loved, portions of which were being shot at Agoura High School in Agoura Hills from July 12-14. High school-aged students were asked to come dressed “in typical high school student clothing,” and a special plea was made for football players “dressed in workout outfits.”

“Don't miss this amazing opportunity to be part of a film that will help tell the GSA story!” said the “News.”
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Christians Move Towards Code on Seeking Converts
By Robert Evans
Monday, August 6, 2007

GENEVA - Christian churches are moving closer to a common code of conduct on how they go about winning converts among themselves and from other religions, the World Council of Churches (WCC) said on Monday.

Conversion, sometimes dubbed "sheep-stealing" as it targets another's flock, is a cause of friction and conflict between religions and among different branches of individual faiths.
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Giant cross to mark Stalin terror
Monday, 6 August 2007

A giant cross commemorating the victims of Stalin's terror 70 years after the worst of the purges has reached Moscow after a journey from northern Russia.

It was taken by boat from the Solovetsky Islands, site of a prison camp, and will be erected at a former execution ground outside the capital.

An estimated 20,000 people, 1,000 of them Christians, were executed at the Butovo range between 1937 and 1938.
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