Saturday, June 30, 2007

The soul that waits upon the Lord is the soul that is entirely surrendered to Him, and that trusts Him perfectly. Therefore we might name our wings the wings of Surrender and of Trust. If we will only surrender ourselves utterly to the Lord, and will trust Him perfectly, we shall find our souls "mounting up with wings as eagles" to the "heavenly places" in Christ Jesus, where earthly annoyances or sorrows have no power to disturb us. ...Hannah Whitall Smith image

Breakaway Anglican: Episcopal Church 'Redefining Itself as a Radical Offshoot'
Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Sat, Jun. 30 2007

Members of breakaway Anglican churches in Virginia are grieving for The Episcopal Church after its recent motion to add additional defendants to a church property lawsuit.

The 11 Virginia churches, its clergy, trustees and lay leaders (vestry members) that are being sued filed a memo opposing the denomination's motion to add 76 more unpaid church volunteers to the lawsuit and anyone else in the future.

"It's hard to understand The Episcopal Church's and the diocese's motivation for attacking these volunteers and our churches," said Jim Oakes, vice-chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia, an association of conservative Anglican congregations in Virginia. "The motivation appears to be intimidation, but we remain open to negotiating a reasonable solution."

The Virginia churches, including two of the largest and most historic in the Diocese of Virginia, broke ties with The Episcopal Church after overwhelming votes in December. The Diocese, and soon thereafter The Episcopal Church, filed suits against the churches and individuals to reclaim the multi-million dollar church properties.
the rest

NYT: Gave Up Sleep and Maybe a First-Born, but at Least I Have an iPhone
Published: June 30, 2007

Apple wanted a spectacle when the iPhone went on sale, and it got just that.

Dozens of photographers hovered outside Apple’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue near East 59th Street, waiting to snap pictures of the elated, often sunburned faces of the first iPhone owners. Some Apple faithful had waited in line for days.
At 6 p.m., their patience paid off.

“I guess I didn’t need to get in line because they have thousands of them in there,” said Norbert Pauli, 52, who had waited since Wednesday morning outside the Fifth Avenue store. The sweaty tangle of people who lined up there included a customer service representative for a trucking company who took a vacation day to make her first Apple purchase; a jazz musician who declared, “I don’t stand in line for anything”; and a tourist from Argentina who said he was not even sure the phone would work once he got it home.
the rest

Pope OKs opening of St. Paul's tomb
Investigators to remove plug from stone coffin, insert probe
June 30, 2007

Eighteen months after the sarcophagus believed to have once contained the remains of St. Paul the apostle was positively identified by Vatican archaeologists, Pope Benedict XVI has given his approval to plans by investigators to examine the interior of the ancient stone coffin with an optical probe, according to a German Catholic paper.

As WND reported in 2005, the sarcophagus was discovered during excavations in 2002 and 2003 around the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in south Rome.

"The tomb that we discovered is the one that the popes and the Emperor Theodosius [A.D. 379-395] saved and presented to the whole world as being the tomb of the apostle," said Giorgio Filippi, a specialist with the Vatican Museums.
the rest photo

Looking Ahead of a Denomination in Crisis
By Audrey Barrick
Christian Post Reporter
Sat, Jun. 30 2007

A United Methodist leader refuses to lead a dying church. Yet the current reality is a denomination in crisis, he indicated.

The Rev. Paul Nixon, author of recently released I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church, sees much hope in the United Methodist community. At the same time, however, he recognizes that the denomination is in "the midst of a cultural avalanche," Nixon wrote in the May/June issue of New World Outlook, a mission magazine of the United Methodist Church.

"Avalanches can roll on for a while and wipe out whole villages in their path. But if we are quick, nimble, and attentive in our skiing, we may escape burial in snow," he stated.
the rest

Pope says China "suffocates" faith, urges dialogue
Sat 30 Jun 2007
By Phil Stewart

VATICAN CITY, June 30 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Saturday decried Chinese state restrictions on religious freedom that "suffocate" the Church and sow division amongst that country's Catholics, in his most significant address on China to date.

But the Pontiff also extended an olive branch to Beijing, saying he hoped to strike an agreement with officially atheist China, where millions of Catholics worship under a state-controlled church that does not recognise his authority.

Others worship in "underground" churches loyal to the Holy See.
the rest

U.S. state New Hampshire repeals parental notice abortion law
The Associated Press
June 29, 2007

CONCORD, New Hampshire: New Hampshire on Friday became the first U.S. state to repeal a law requiring parental notification for teenagers to get abortions.

The repeal took effect immediately after New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed the bill.

"I strongly believe parents should be involved in these decisions, providing important support and guidance," said Lynch. "Unfortunately that is not possible in every case. The Supreme Court found this law unconstitutional because it fails to protect the health and safety of all women, which is why I am signing its repeal."
the rest

Canada: Renegade B.C. priest to bless same-sex unions
Louise Dickson, CanWest News Service
Saturday, June 30, 2007

VICTORIA -- Father Antonio Osorio is inviting lesbian and gay couples to be blessed at St. Saviour's Anglican Church this Sunday.

"They need to know they are not second-class Christians," said Osorio. "I am going to bless them as a group because they are faithful and beautiful Christians. And if they want to be blessed as individual couples, I will do it too."

The blessing taking place at the morning mass is not a marriage ceremony.

Osorio will also ask his gay parishioners to bless him.

"It will mean in God's eyes they are equal to me," he said.

Last weekend, the Anglican Church of Canada voted not to allow its priests to bless same-sex partnerships.
the rest

Pastor, Flock Face Ouster
Episcopal Diocese Claims Property Of Parish That Defected

Courant Staff Writer
June 30, 2007

The pastor of a Bristol parish that voted itself out of the Episcopal Church in May has been removed from ministry by the Connecticut Diocese, and church members have been given until July 8 to vacate their building.

Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith said the Rev. Donald Lee Helmandollar "renounced his orders" and was deposed - the equivalent of being defrocked - on June 13 by the clerical members of the diocesan standing committee. Smith said he has since written to leaders at Trinity Episcopal Church informing them that the diocese intends to take over the property July 8.

The diocese's decision to claim the property was not unexpected: The same scenario is playing itself out in other parts of the nation as the Episcopal Church grapples with the fallout from the 2003 election of the openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.
the rest

Hamas TV Kills Off Mickey Mouse Double
Jun 29

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - A Mickey Mouse lookalike who preached Islamic domination on a Hamas- affiliated children's television program was beaten to death in the show's final episode Friday.

In the final skit, "Farfour" was killed by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour's land. At one point, the mouse called the Israeli a "terrorist."

"Farfour was martyred while defending his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the
killers of children," she added.

weekly show, featuring a giant black-and-white rodent with a high- pitched voice, had attracted worldwide attention because the character urged Palestinian children to fight Israel. It was broadcast on Hamas- affiliated Al Aqsa TV. the rest image

Friday, June 29, 2007

"I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord." Jeremiah 1:8

God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally - "Thy life will I give unto thee for a prey." That is all God promises His children. Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives. Our personal property and possessions are a matter of indifference, we have to sit loosely to all those things; if we do not, there will be panic and heartbreak and distress. That is the inwardness of the overshadowing of personal deliverance.

The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on Jesus Christ's errands, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, Do not be bothered with whether you are being justly dealt with or not. To look for justice is a sign of deflection from devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will begin to grouse and to indulge in the discontent of self-pity - Why should I be treated like this? If we are devoted to Jesus Christ we have nothing to do with what we meet, whether it is just or unjust. Jesus says - Go steadily on with what I have told you to do and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance. The most devout among us become atheistic in this connection; we do not believe God, we enthrone common sense and tack the name of God on to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts. ...Oswald Chambers art

Matt Kennedy: On the First Article of Religion

The Article moves next to affirm that God is the "Maker and Preserver of all things visible and invisible." God, in other words, is not the famous “Watchmaker” imagined by the Deists. He did not create the universe and then walk away to let it run by itself. God actively "preserves" or sustains everything in existence. If, for one moment, God were to withdraw his sustaining hand, the universe would come undone in the twinkling of an eye. God provides the breath of life to all who live and the power of existence to all things that exist, moment by moment, hour by hour, year by year....

the rest at Stand Firm

Review by Jeffrey Overstreet
posted 06/29/07

Attention, parents, kids, anybody who appreciates good movies and great food! Ratatouille is a feast so fantastic you'll go running back for seconds. And if you pay close attention, you'll also see that it's a film that tells two great stories at the same time.

The first story is what you'll see on the big screen. And the second—at least the way I see it—is a more subtle, almost allegorical re-telling of what really happened to one of the 20th century's most-loved and enduring pop culture icons …. Walt Disney himself.

Once upon a time, there was an adventurous French chef named Auguste Gusteau (think Walt Disney) whose Paris kitchen (think Disney studios) was famous for awe-inspiring cuisine (Disney's classic animated features, like Pinocchio).
the rest at Christianity Today

UK: Love that can be lethal: Muslim couples in fear of 'honour' killing
By Jerome Taylor
Published: 29 June 2007

Rebin and Khaleda never thought falling in love would force them into a life of hiding. At first glance, their London flat looks like the home of any other newlyweds. By the front door, five pairs of his-and-her shoes are lined up in a row and the kitchen fridge is plastered in little heart shaped magnets and private notes.

But for the 25-year-olds, this small and cramped one-bedroom apartment is the only place where they feel safe. Two years ago, they were forced to go on the run after gun-wielding members of Khaleda's family threatened to kill them.
the rest

Lesbian Couple Denied Access for Civil Union
June 27, 2007

by Kim Trobee

Two lesbians in New Jersey have filed a civil rights complaint after a beachfront pavilion, affiliated with the Methodist Church, refused to host their civil union.

For 138 years, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association has owned property on the beach in New Jersey. As part of its ministry, the camp allows weddings to be held on the grounds and, in particular, the beachfront pavilion. But when Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster requested the space for their civil union ceremony, chief administrative officer Scott Hoffman, said they had to be denied.

“That was inconsistent with our deeply held beliefs and inconsistent with the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline.”

Gay advocates often argue that their push for civil rights includes exemptions for religious freedom, but Tom McClusky with the Family Research Council calls that a sham.
the rest

Norway hosts witchcraft experts
By Mike Lanchin BBC News

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Pro-witchcraft groups say discrimination is still widespreadMore than 60 experts on witchcraft from across the world are gathering in a tiny Arctic town in northern Norway.

For three days in Vardo they will have discussions, lectures and the odd film show on ancient and modern sorcery.

The International Midnight Sun Witchcraft Conference is organised by Scandinavian and US universities.
the rest

Team claims synthetic life feat
By Neil Bowdler BBC science reporter

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Dr Venter says the research brings him closer to creating synthetic lifeScientists in the US say they have taken a major step towards producing life from scratch in the laboratory.

Dr Craig Venter says in the Science journal that his team successfully transplanted an entire genome from one bacterium cell to another.

He says he hopes eventually to use the technique to create designer microbes, which could produce artificial fuel or help clean up toxic waste.
the rest

Kenyans Elect Bishop Suffragan for U.S. Parishes

The provincial synod of the Anglican Church of Kenya on June 29 elected the Rev. William L. Murdoch, rector of All Saints’ Church, West Newbury, Mass., as a Bishop Suffragan of All Saints Cathedral in the Diocese of Nairobi.

Bishop-elect Murdoch will be consecrated along with bishop-elect Bill Atwood on Aug. 30 by the Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi, Archbishop of Kenya, in Nairobi to “serve the international interests of the ACK [Anglican Church of Kenya], including taking responsibility for care for the congregations and clergy in the U.S. under Kenyan jurisdiction.”

A statement given to The Living Church noted that the two bishops-elect “will collaborate with others in the Common Cause network, chaired by the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, to provide orthodox episcopal care and oversight, strategically uniting a broad conservative coalition that shares historic Anglican faith and practice.”

the rest at The Living Church

Network Welcomes the Rev. William Murdoch’s Election

All-Stone Hindu Temple Rises in Kauai
The Associated Press
June 28, 2007

WAILUA, Hawaii _ In a clearing within Kauai Aadheenam's lush gardens, the ping, ping, pinging of metal chipping at stone can be heard as a half-dozen artisans from India put the finishing flourishes on the Hindu monastery's legacy for the ages.

Hand-carved in granite and shipped in pieces to the island from India, the Iraivan Temple is faithful to the precise design formulas defined by South Indian temple builders a thousand years ago.

The $8 million temple to the god Shiva is the first all-stone Hindu temple outside of India, according to the Kauai monks. The project is a rarity even in India.
the rest

Mixed reaction to Brown's first Cabinet
Friday, 29th June 2007
By: Nick Mackenzie

GORDON BROWN’S first Cabinet has received a mixed welcome from church groups today.

While Christian Aid welcomed the main appointments, the pro-life pressure group SPUC criticised the appointment of Alan Johnson as the new Health Minister, because of his track record in favour of a woman’s right to choose abortion.Christian Aid welcomed the appointments of Douglas Alexander, Hilary Benn, David Miliband and Alastair Darling.
the rest

Australia: Pentecostal revolution in the suburbs
Linda Morris Religious Affairs Reporter
June 28, 2007

WHEN pastor John McMartin told friends 25 years ago that he would be leading a new Pentecostal church deep in the heart of Sydney's south-west, he was told that he was crazy.

"Back in those days Liverpool had a bad reputation," he recalled yesterday. "Friends said, 'Don't got to Liverpool, it's a preacher's graveyard'. Churches had tried to start here and it was really tough and hard to grow them. People weren't responsive. There was a lot of hurt and wounded people hardened to the gospel."

Times have changed. Liverpool's demographics are very different, and the census shows NSW is at the heart of a revival in Pentecostalism.
the rest

Most Australians are Christian: census
June 27, 2007
Christianity remains the religion of choice in Australia, but Hinduism and Buddhism are growing at a greater rate.
the rest

Vatican to release pope's letter to Catholic Chinese on Saturday
The Associated Press
Published: June 29, 2007

VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI's eagerly awaited letter to Roman Catholics in China will be released on Saturday, the Vatican said, the pontiff's latest effort to reach out to Beijing and bring all of China's faithful into the Vatican's fold.

A Vatican statement issued Friday said the pope's letter — addressed to bishops, priests and lay faithful in China — would be released at noon Saturday (1000 GMT).
the rest

Pope to Relax Policy on Old Liturgy
Letter Will Advise Bishops on Tridentine Mass, Said in Latin

Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 29, 2007

The Vatican said yesterday that
Pope Benedict XVI will soon issue a document providing for wider use of the Tridentine Mass, the centuries-old Latin rite that was largely supplanted in the 1960s by a new liturgy, usually translated into modern languages. the rest

Episcopal Diocese sues Attleboro dissidents
By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
June 29, 2007

The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, faced with the prospect of conservatives bolting the denomination over its support for gay rights, is taking a newly tough stance against would-be schismatics, filing suit to freeze the bank account of a breakaway group in Attleboro.

The diocese, which filed the suit Tuesday in Bristol Superior Court in Taunton, is alleging that in the months leading up to a split in Attleboro, the parishioners secreted away about $200,000 that rightfully belongs to the Episcopal Church.

"It's our contention that property and assets were taken," said the Rev. Gregory A. Jacobs, staff officer for urban congregations and ministry development in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. "It's not an insignificant amount of money, and without that money it's difficult for this congregation to plan for its financial future."

The breakaway parishioners, who have formed a new congregation affiliated with the Anglican Church of Rwanda, declined through their attorney to respond yesterday, but the two sides are already scheduled to meet in court next week.
the rest

Anglicans allege ‘intimidation’ in attempt to name defendants
Jun 29, 2007 by William C. Flook
The Examiner

Fairfax County (
Map, News) - Virginia Anglicans who split from the Episcopal Church last year are accusing their former diocese of “intimidation,” after the diocese moved to specifically name dozens of its former congregants in a land lawsuit.

A hearing is set today in Fairfax County Circuit Court to resolve whether about 75 now anonymous defendants — all vestry members or trustees of eight dissident churches — can be named in the suit.

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is suing to reclaim the properties after one of the most high-profile rifts within the Christian Church in modern American history. The conservative congregations left the Episcopal Church in December after a long-standing feud over the interpretation of scripture, a fight intensified by the ordination of a gay bishop four years ago in New England.

“It’s just harassment of defendants, that’s all it is,” Jim Oakes, vice chair of the Anglican District of Virginia, the umbrella group for the churches, said of the most recent motion. “It’s frankly intimidating to soccer moms and people who aren’t used to encountering our legal system.”
the rest

Press release:
The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia Seek to Sue More Unpaid Volunteers of Virginia Churches

FAIRFAX, Va. (June 29, 2007) – Counsel for the eleven churches, including their rectors, vestries and, in some instances, their trustees, which have been sued by The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia, filed a memo opposing the denomination’s motion to add more volunteer trustees and lay leaders (known as “vestry members”) as defendants in the lawsuit (Multi-Circuit Property Litigation, Case No. CL-2007-0248724, Fairfax County Circuit Court).

If granted, The Episcopal Church’s and the Diocese’s motion would automatically add 76 additional unpaid church volunteers to the lawsuit and anyone else who might volunteer to serve as a Vestry member or Trustee of any of the local churches in the future. the rest

Thursday, June 28, 2007

True spirituality manifests itself in:The desire to be holy rather than happy.
The desire to see the honor of God advanced through his life.
The desire to carry his cross.
The desire to see everything from God's viewpoint.
The desire to die right rather than live wrong.
The desire to see others advance at his expense.
The desire to make eternity-judgments instead of time-judgments.
...A.W. Tozer

Rwanda: Bishops to Boycott Anglican Conference
28 June 2007

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Honourable Rowan Williams invited some Rwandan Anglican Bishops to the Lambeth (UK) Conference 2008, but the Rwandan clergy have "unanimously" decided to boycott the conference, RNA has established.

According to a communiqué from the Episcopal Church of Rwanda, the manner in which the invitations by Archbishop Williams to the bishops of Rwanda were issued is "divisive" as some of "our bishops were not invited".

Conference 2008 will take place on the campus of the University of Kent in Canterbury, from July 16 to August 4, 2008.

Archbishop Williams invited one section of the bishops in Rwanda and left out others because apparently they do not have similar approaches to Anglican faith.
the rest

Ruth Gledhill: Gene Robinson 'to be invited' to Lambeth, says ABC
June 28, 2007

A number of Anglicans in England have been writing to the Archbishop of Canterbury in protest at his decision to leave Gene Robinson off the invitation list to Lambeth. I have been 'leaked' one of the letters sent back in response. Signed by Canon Flora Winfield, of his office for International, Ecumenical and Anglican Communion Affairs, it reflects on the Archbishop's concern about the 'canonical impediment' to Bishop Robinson's consecration. The letter concludes: 'The Archbishop is therefore exploring inviting Bishop Robinson to the conference in another status.' Full text printed at the end of this post.

A source tells me he will indeed be invited as an official guest, with a voice but no vote, in the same way that eight TEC delegates were invited to the ACC meeting at Nottingham. Ecumenical guests would fall into the same category. Martyn Minns will not be invited in any category however. The two more recent consecrations, including that of Bill Atwood, have not been discussed yet. the rest

Comments at Stand Firm

These guys have a lot of time on their hands

More conservative Anglican leaders from overseas are building up a presence in the United States

More conservative Anglican leaders from overseas are building up a presence in the United States to counter the liberal-leaning U.S. Episcopal Church on its home turf.

The Anglican Church of Uganda plans to appoint a former Episcopal priest as an assistant bishop to oversee its American congregations. The Rev. John Guernsey of Virginia will be consecrated Sept. 2 in Uganda, according to the Most. Rev. Henry Orombi, head of the Ugandan province. The date of his installation in the United States has not been released.

Separately, the Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi of the Anglican Church of Kenya plans an Aug. 30 consecration of Canon (nyse:
CAJ - news - people ) Bill Atwood to oversee breakaway U.S. parishes that have affiliated with the Kenyan church.

And last May, Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola installed Bishop Martyn Minns, a former Episcopal priest, to lead the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a group of breakaway U.S. parishes aligned with the Nigerian church.
the rest

Christians Join Human-Animal Embryo Debate
Christian experts join panel at public meeting on whether to allow research into human-animal embryos.

by Maria Mackay
Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2007

Christians were among those on a panel of experts debating the scientific and ethical-moral implications of creating human-animal hybrid embryos during a public meeting by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

The HFEA held the meeting in Central London on Tuesday night as part of an ongoing consultation with the general public to assess their level of support for the creation of human-animal embryos.

The consultation follows an application to the HFEA from the University of Newcastle for a licence to begin research on the creation of human-animal embryos and their stem cells.

The meeting was hosted by Nick Ross, TV presenter and Director and Trustee of the UK Stem Cell Foundation. Panel members included Dr Lyle Armstrong, lecturer in Stem Cell Biology at the University of Newcastle, Christians in Science member the Rev Dr Stephen Bellamy, Vicar of St James’ Church Birkdale, in Southport, and John Cornwell, Director of the Science and Human Dimension Project at Jesus College, Cambridge.
the rest

I Love, Therefore You Are
Why the modern search for self ends in despair.

Mark Galli

In a recent issue of The New Yorker, you can find
a cartoon with a couple sitting on a couch. One says to the other, "I don't want to be defined by who I am."

The line is so human and so modern. The human part is what makes it funny: Often, when we discover who we are, we want to deny it. But it's the modern part that most interests me: that relentless search for self, the yearning to know who I am.

As with so much of modernity, this is a highly individualistic quest, and as such, it is a pointless quest. Not because the search for meaning is pointless, but because the context of modernity—the individual—is a myth.

The myth becomes apparent when we start considering who we are from a biblical and Trinitarian perspective. Both the rigors of orthodox theology and the plain sense of New Testament passages reveal that the Trinity is not merely a formal and logical explanation of God's inner essence. It points to a reality that spills over into the universe. The reality is exposed ever so briefly by Jesus when, in praying for his disciples he says:

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me … . I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:22, 26).

the rest

Only 1 Canadian same-sex couple "married" in Toronto this year
Mostly Foreigners Now Getting Licenses

By Elizabeth O’Brien
TORONTO, June 27, 2007

( – Same-sex “marriage” among Canadian homosexual couples is getting less popular, and now the majority of homosexual couples that obtain a marriage license in Canada are foreigners, says a recent report by Reuters.

The city of Toronto, which hosted the claimed "million-strong" annual Gay Pride March on Sunday, has one of the largest homosexual populations in Canada. Despite this fact, however, the demand for same-sex marriage licenses has drastically declined. Last year, the city issued 107 licenses to Canadian homosexual couples, whereas this year it has so far only issued 1.

Even though the overall number of “marriages” has declined significantly, the proportion of foreign couples has increased to two-thirds of the licenses issued. According to Reuters, last year Toronto gave out 924 same-sex “marriage” licenses, and of these, 338 were for American couples and 479 for foreign couples. This year, of the 320 same-sex “marriage” licenses issued, 118 were for Americans and 201 for foreigners.
the rest

Scientists: Stem cells created from eggs
Thursday, June 28, 2007 07

Scientists say they've created embryonic stem cells by stimulating unfertilized eggs, a significant step toward producing transplant tissue that's genetically matched to women.

The advance suggests that someday, a woman who wants a transplant to treat a condition like diabetes or a spinal cord injury could provide eggs to a lab, which in turn could create tissue that her body wouldn't reject.

Ethicists disagreed on whether the strategy would avoid the long-standing ethical objections to creating embryonic stem cells by other means.

Such cells can develop into virtually any tissue of the body, and scientists hope to harness them for producing specialized tissues like nerve cells or pancreas cells to treat a range of illnesses. But the process of harvesting the stem cells destroys embryos, which many people oppose.
the rest

More Anglicans Reject Global Meeting with 'Unrepentant' Bishops
Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Wed, Jun. 27 2007

Anglican leaders around the world have less than a month to reply to a personal invitation by the worldwide denomination’s spiritual leader to attend a decennial meeting. Many, however, have already indicated their intention to decline the invite given the participation of American bishops who have been "unrepentant" of their controversial actions.

The Diocese of Sydney’s Standing Committee - the council of advice for diocesan bishops - urged their archbishop on Monday not to accept the invitation to Lambeth 2008 in objection to "the continued participation of those whose actions have expressed a departure from the clear teaching of Scripture."

The Episcopal Church – the U.S. branch of Anglicanism – had widened rifts in the Anglican Communion in 2003 when it consecrated openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson and has since expressed no desire to go "backward" on their decision.
the rest

Anti-Jesus activists on warpath
Posted: June 26, 2007
By Gordon James Klingenschmitt

Anti-Jesus activists threatened lawsuits in Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and New York this month to stop Christians from praying "in Jesus' name" or publicly expressing their faith.

In Iowa, activist lawyer Mikey Weinstein declared victory over the Veterans Administration, claiming the agency caved into his demands to remove Christian symbols from the chapel in the Iowa VA hospital, and also promised to ban Christians who sing hymns (such as "The Old Rugged Cross") in the common-use area. Sadly,
the VA also appears eager to silence Christian chaplains, depriving veterans who want Christian ministry in their time of need.

In North Carolina, the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue the town of Clayton after Councilman Bob Satterfield bravely prayed "in Jesus' name" to open a public meeting. "I know who I pray to, and if other people want to pray to that chair over there, they're welcome to. It was my turn to do the invocation, and I did it the way I know how,"
Satterfield said.
the rest

Chimera embryos have right to life, say bishops
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

Human-animal hybrid embryos conceived in the laboratory - so-called “chimeras” - should be regarded as human and their mothers should be allowed to give birth to them, the Roman Catholic Church said yesterday.

Under draft Government legislation to be debated by Parliament later this year, scientists will be
given permission for the first time to create such embryos for research as long as they destroy them within two weeks.

But the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, in a submission to the Parliamentary joint committee scrutinising the draft legislation, said that the genetic mothers of “chimeras” should be able to raise them as their own children if they wished.

The bishops said that they did not see why these “interspecies” embryos should be treated any differently than others.
the rest

Schools playing down valedictorian honors
By Marissa DeCuir, USA TODAY

Keely Breen aspired to be her high school valedictorian.

But Vermont's Burlington High School made the decision to no longer name valedictorians at the end of Breen's junior year, stripping the 18-year-old of the title she would have had on June 15. Breen instead shared the top honor, graduating summa cum laude with her good friend.

"At first, it did bug me. I wasn't really happy about it," Breen says. "To enter high school with that as a goal and have it taken away from you, that's hard."

Valedictorians have become less prominent at graduation ceremonies across the USA, as competition has sent high schools searching for alternate designations.

Nat Harrington, spokesman for the Palm Beach County (Fla.) School District, says that's a positive development, because the fight for the title has gotten out of hand. "The student's mom comes in the first day of school to find out what her daughter needs to do to become valedictorian," he says.
the rest photo

Catholics Begin Campaign on Marriage
The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

DENVER -- U.S. Roman Catholic bishops began a campaign Wednesday to strengthen the institution of marriage by encouraging spouses to perform simple day-to-day gestures for one another.

The campaign, a series of radio and television spots, is part of a broader effort to bring a greater Catholic voice to the debate over the meaning of marriage.

The spots show ordinary people in parks and other public places answering the question "What have you done for your marriage today?" The answers _ waking up early with the baby, organizing a date night _ are meant to promote small acts of kindness as medicine for making marriages last a lifetime.
the rest

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Brown named new British prime minister
Former finance chief's ascension comes after Blair's resignation today

By David Stringer
The Associated Press
June 27, 2007

LONDON Former Treasury chief Gordon Brown became British prime minister today, promising "a new government with new priorities," after Tony Blair resigned to end a decade in power.

Power changed hands traditionally and quietly behind closed doors in Buckingham Palace as Blair first called on Queen Elizabeth II to submit his resignation, and Brown arrived soon after to be confirmed as the new prime minister.

"This will be a new government with new priorities," Brown told reporters outside his Downing Street office minutes later. "I've been privileged with the great opportunity to serve my country." the rest

Province 3 President: Pittsburgh Diocese May Not Opt Out

A decision to leave the Province 3 regional ministry jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church cannot be made unilaterally, according to the Rt. Rev. Robert Ihloff, retired Bishop of Maryland and president of Province 3. Bishop Ihloff wrote all ordained clergy canonically resident in the Diocese of Pittsburgh on June 22.

“We need you,” he wrote. “We need your voices, insights, your convictions, and your Christian fellowship. If the officers or ministry coordinators of Province 3 can assist you, answer questions, or simply be in dialogue with you, we welcome that opportunity. Meanwhile we remain in contact with a number of leaders in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and remember you all daily in prayer.”

Last November delegates to Pittsburgh’s diocesan convention voted to withdraw from active life in Province 3 ministry. Article VII of the constitution states that “no diocese shall be included in a province without its own consent.” But the Rev. Barbara J. Seras, province coordinator, said the provincial leadership has received a definitive ruling from David Booth Beers, the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, that General Convention must approve any changes in provincial membership.
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Doctors back plan to store medical info under your skin
Tue Jun 26

CHICAGO (AFP) - Doctors could soon be storing essential medical information under the skin of their patients, the American Medical Association says.

Devices the size of a grain of rice that are implanted with a needle could give emergency room doctors quick access to the records of chronically ill patients, the nation's largest doctors group said in a report.

The association adopted a policy Monday stating that the devices can improve the "safety and efficiency of patient care" by helping to identify patients and enabling secure access to clinical information.

These radio frequency identification tags (RFIDs) are already used by Wal-Mart and other businesses to speed up their shipping systems by sending out small signals that can be scanned more easily than bar codes.

Implanting them in people "can improve the continuity and coordination of care with resulting reductions in adverse drug events and other medical errors," said the report prepared by the association's ethics committee.
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Canadian gay marriage vote blow to U.S. Anglicans
Jun 26, 2007
Tim Harper

WASHINGTON–Canadian Anglicans further isolated the U.S. wing of the church with their narrow weekend vote against allowing church blessing of same-sex unions.

But those within the U.S. branch of Anglicanism – known here as the Episcopal Church – pointed to the slim margin of the Canadian vote as a sign that the two churches are not that far apart.

"Naturally I'm disappointed," said Rev. Susan Russell, the California-based president of the U.S. branch of Integrity, which advocates on behalf of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church.

"The fallout will not only be for the faithful gays and lesbians in the United States, but all ministries of the church because it will only further drag out this issue to the detriment of larger questions which should be dealt with."
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Pentecostals Buckle Up Africa's Bible Belt
By Tim Cocks
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

KAMPALA (Reuters) - As the miracle-healer descended from the sky in an immaculate white helicopter, his disciples cheered with joy: "Hallelujah! Praise Jesus."

Gospel songs thundered through the speakers as televangelist Benny Hinn landed outside Uganda's national stadium last month, before addressing 40,000 enraptured faithful.

His white suit picked out by floodlights, the U.S.-based preacher promised a "miracle crusade" to heal the sick, make the blind see and the lame walk. "In Jesus' name, lift your hands and sing," he cried, almost drowned out by cheering.

Pentecostal religion is mushrooming in Africa.
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Retired North Dakota Bishop Joins Ugandan Church

The Rt. Rev. Andrew H. Fairfield, retired Bishop of North Dakota, has joined the Church of Uganda and will assist bishop-elect John Guernsey in overseeing the church’s 26 US congregations, according to an announcement this morning by the Most Rev. Henry Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda.

“Now, although I am ‘retired’ from a jurisdictional and financial point of view, I seek further Christian service, especially in the process of this transition in Anglican orthodoxy,” Bishop Fairfield stated, noting that he had written to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, resigning from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church.

Archbishop Orombi said it was an honor to receive Bishop Fairfield into the Ugandan Church, adding he would be a “great support to Bishop-elect John Guernsey and all the congregations in America that are under our care.”
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Homophobia accepted in church, bishop says
June 26, 2007

Canada's only Anglican bishop to authorize the blessing of homosexual unions said yesterday the refusal by his fellow bishops to approve the rite for the national church is the product of institutional inertia rooted in homophobia.

Bishop Michael Ingham of the Vancouver-area diocese of New Westminster said homophobia, hiding behind interpretations of scripture, remains an acceptable prejudice in Canadian Anglicanism.

"There are members of our church who staunchly defend that. In my view, [it] is a total misreading of scripture and a misuse of the Bible to oppress people. But they clearly want to continue to do that."
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Comments at Stand Firm

Man wakes after order to end life support
Parents, sister won reversal of wife's decision
By Dennis Wagner

PHOENIX — Eighteen days after his wife instructed doctors to disconnect food and water tubes, a Chandler, Ariz., man is sitting up in his hospice bed, giving the thumbs-up sign and communicating with visitors.

Jesse Ramirez Jr.'s awakening, which friends called "a miracle," occurred after his sister, parents and other relatives went to court and obtained an emergency order for feeding and hydration tubes to be reinserted, reversing a directive given by his wife, Rebecca Ramirez.

Judge Paul Katz announced the news Tuesday during a Maricopa County Superior Court hearing. Relatives had been in a three-week battle over the 36-year-old postal worker's fate, and who should control it.

Ramirez suffered brain injuries in a May 30 automobile accident. He regained consciousness on Sunday.
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Baghdad Christians Find New Life in Kurdish North
Published: June 27, 2007

Iraq — The 70 houses of this tiny village spring from the treeless, arid plain here in the northern tip of Iraq with the uniformity of an army camp.

Built over the past four years of war, they house Christian refugees from some of Baghdad’s most dangerous neighborhoods: Dora, New Baghdad and Mashtel.

There the residents did not know one another, busy with their city lives. Now a barber, a bank manager, a news anchor and an electrician are comrades in the misery of flight.

“We saw everything a human can see,” said Majida Hamo, a mother of four who came from Mashtel recently. “It was a kind of genocide killing.”

“We were saying to Jesus, ‘See us and save us.’ ”
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Gaza Christians in peril after takeover by Hamas

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Our Saviour kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, he reaches out in kindness and says, 'I can clean that if you want.' And from the basin of his grace, he scoops a palm full of mercy and washes our sin. ...Max Lucado art

Reversal from the California Court of Appeals in the LA Church Fracas
Posted by Kendall Harmon

A press release received via email:

SANTA ANA, Calif. – June 26, 2007 – A three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, today reversed the Orange County Superior Court’s prior ruling that three former Episcopal churches which disaffiliated from the national denomination in 2004 did not forfeit their property. This division of the appellate court broke with nearly thirty years of California church property law, and instead ruled that hierarchical church denominations can take over local church property by simply passing an internal rule – even if the local church is separately incorporated, bought and maintained the property.

In August 2004, St. James Church in Newport Beach, All Saints’ Church in Long Beach, and St. David’s Church in North Hollywood, disassociated from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national Episcopal Church (TEC) because of theological differences, which drew international attention because of similar issues facing the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

the rest at TitusOneNine

We're losing our religion, Census shows
By Mark Schliebs
June 27, 2007

Census figures show strong rise in 'no religion'
Anglicans declining, Hindus, Buddhists growing
Wages rising as support for religion wanes

NEARLY one in five Australians are without religion, with the Anglican Church the hardest hit by decreasing numbers of followers, the 2006 Census has revealed.

But the average Australian can afford more material possessions, with the median weekly income rising 24 per cent in five years.

The figures, released today, revealed that 3,706,557 Australians - or 19 per cent - said they had no religion on Census night last year, which was 3 per cent more than the 2001 figure of 2,905,993. And the number of people who said they were Anglican also decreased by nearly 175,000 since 2005 to 3,718,248.

Christianity is still the dominant religion, with 12.7 million followers nationwide. But as a proportion of the population, Christianity dipped from 71 per cent to 64 per cent.
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ACNS: Church's 400-year heritage is fabric 'woven together with prayer'
Virginia Episcopalians host commemorative service on Jamestown Island
26 JUNE 2007

The fabric of four centuries of history - woven with the 1607 beginnings of the Jamestown Settlement, Native American responses, and the rise of the African slave trade - was prayerfully examined on June 24 as Episcopalians gathered for Eucharist to mark the church's 400-year heritage rooted in the region.

Recalling the settlers’ original sailcloth, canvas suspended from trees shaded the rough-hewn altar around which bishops from the four dioceses that comprised the original Virginia of 1785 gathered with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for Eucharist at which Bishop John Clark Buchanan of Southern Virginia was celebrant.
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Anglican Church 'fiddling away while Rome is burning'
Some fear conference missed biggest issue: slumping membership
CanWest News Service

Among all the items discussed by the Anglican Church of Canada at its national meeting this past weekend, from same-sex unions, to residential schools, and aid to Africa, missing from the agenda was one of the institution's most pressing problems - the fact increasing numbers of Canadians don't go to church.

While the church's 300 delegates talked for days about whether their priests should bless the unions of gay and lesbian members, there was no formal discussion about the serious decline in membership at Canada's oldest Protestant church.

"I think we are a church in denial," says Jonathan Gibson, an Anglican priest from Calgary who attended the Winnipeg meeting as an observer, but not a voting delegate.
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Stand Firm: Godly Bishops
Leander Harding

June 26, 2007

At the center of the apostolic experience of forgiveness is the reality of the one people of God and the body of Christ. The Apostles witness to the reality of the forgiveness of sins not just as an idea, as a teaching of the master, but as something which he has accomplished by his costly work and which has now through the power of the resurrection and the gift of the Spirit appeared.

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Pope Benedict XVI Changes Rules for Vote
Jun 26, 2007

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI has changed the rules for electing a new pope, returning to the traditional requirement that two-thirds of the cardinals in the conclave agree on a new pontiff, the Vatican said Tuesday.

Pope John Paul II had altered the voting process in 1996, allowing the pope to be chosen by an absolute majority if the cardinals were unable to agree after several days of balloting in which a two-thirds majority was needed.

In a document released Tuesday, Benedict said he was returning to the traditional voting norm, essentially reversing John Paul's revision of the centuries-old process.
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Hindu Prayer Will Open Senate Session in July
By Nathan Burchfiel Staff Writer
June 26, 2007

( - For what is believed to be the first time in its history, the U.S. Senate will on July 12 be opened with a Hindu prayer, the Senate Chaplain's Office confirmed Monday.

For more than 200 years, the Senate has opened each workday with a prayer usually delivered by the Senate Chaplain, currently Barry Black, a Seventh Day Adventist. It is common, however, for senators to recommend religious leaders from their home states to serve as guest chaplains.

Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain from Nevada, on will become the first Hindu to deliver the morning prayer. In a statement announcing his scheduled appearance, Zed called the occasion "an illustrious day for all Americans and a memorable day for us."
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Victory for Teacher Told to Pay Dues or Change Religions
By Randy Hall Staff Writer/Editor
June 25, 2007

( - A legal challenge mounted by a teacher in southern Ohio, who said a union official told her to pay dues or change religions, has prompted a federal district court to strike down a state law that allowed only those public employees who belonged to certain denominations the right to claim a religious objection to paying union dues.

"It's wonderful, just wonderful," Carol Katter, a mathematics and language arts instructor in the St. Marys district, told Cybercast News Service on Friday after U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost struck down Ohio Revised Code section 4117.09(C) as a violation of her First Amendment rights.

In addition, Frost permanently enjoined the State Employment Relations Board from further enforcing that law, which stated that any public employee who was a member of a "bona fide religion or religious body which has historically held conscientious objections to joining or financially supporting an employee organization ... shall not be required to join or financially support any employee organization."
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A lively debate over the Dead Sea Scrolls
As the ancient documents are readied for a San Diego exhibition, scholars clash over just who wrote them and what they represent.
By Mike Boehm, Times Staff Writer
June 26, 2007

The first commandment for showing the Dead Sea Scrolls is: "Let there not be too much light."

It has been handed down by the Israel Antiquities Authority, custodian of most of the 2,000-year-old parchments and papyri. The scrolls, many of them pieced together like puzzles from fragments and tatters, contain the oldest known biblical writings — among them a text of the Ten Commandments that will be part of the six-month Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition that opens Friday at the San Diego Natural History Museum. It's billed as the largest and most comprehensive ever.

Museum-goers accustomed to prolonged gazing will have to adjust their expectations when they reach the show's darkened climactic room. There, each of the 15 scroll fragments lies in its own case, with separate climate controls and a fiber-optic lighting system that's set to turn off five seconds out of every 20 to avoid overexposure.
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Religion under wraps
Santeria finds a following among baseball's Latin American players, who'd rather not discuss it for fear of misperceptions.
By Kevin Baxter, Times Staff Writer
June 26, 2007

CHICAGO — On a shelf in the office of Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen, mixed in among the family photos, the Roberto Clemente bobblehead and the Napoleon Dynamite figurine, are four small but intimidating religious icons.

"If you see my saints, you'll be like 'Golly, they're ugly,' " Guillen had said before inviting a visitor to come in. "They've got blood. They've got feathers. You go to the Catholic church, the [saints] have got real nice clothes.

"My religion, you see a lot of different things you never see."

Guillen's religion is Santeria, a largely misunderstood Afro-Cuba spiritual tradition that incorporates the worship of orisha — multidimensional beings who represent the forces of nature — with beliefs of the Yoruba and Bantu people of Africa and elements of Roman Catholicism. And Guillen, born in Venezuela, is one of a growing number of Latin American players, managers and coaches who are followers of the faith.
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Christian Churches Moving Leftward Together
By Mark D. Tooley
June 26, 2007

“Christian Churches Together” (CCT) was to have been the new, more spiritually vibrant alterative to the decaying, chronically left-wing National Council of Churches. But instead, as reflected by its new Religious Left leader, CCT will likely become a tool for exporting the NCC’s failed brand of political activism into Catholic and evangelical circles.

Six years ago, with the National Council of Churches (NCC) then near collapse, CCT was initially conceived as a new coalition for mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, Eastern Orthodox and black church denominations.

But CCT is already quickly repeating the NCC’s mistake of substituting left-wing politics for faith. Emblematic of its new course is the hiring of a mainline Protestant bureaucrat, Richard Hamm, as its first full-time executive. Having recently quit after ten years as president of the Christian Church-Disciples of Christ, Hamm will help ensure that CCT becomes little more than a thin echo of the reflexively political NCC.
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Sydney Anglicans Expressed Its Dissatisfaction Of Attendance of ‘Unrepentant’ At Lambeth
Aaron Smith
Christian Today Correspondent
Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney on Monday has requested the Sydney Anglican Archbishop, to express its dissatisfaction of maintaining union with the unrepentant while excluding the faithful and orthodox Anglicans in the upcoming Lambeth conference in 2008 by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The committee also made clear its displeasure with the invitation of most of the Bishops in the Episcopal Church to attend the conference that have agreed to or participated in the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire, a gay bishop who divorced his wife and left his family.

Archbishop Dr. Peter Jensen, who has briefed the committee about the present situation of the Anglican Communion as he observed it, is a strident critic of the more liberal Episcopal Church in the U.S where he believes that the issue of homosexuality is a life and death issue for the Church as evident in the Bible.
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Anglican sensibilities
Tue Jun 26 2007

CANADIAN Anglicans took a hesitant, ambiguous step toward expansion of gay rights on the weekend. They decided blessing same-sex unions does not conflict with their core doctrines, but their bishops blocked permission for each diocese to make its own choice about blessing such unions.

Votes at the church's Winnipeg general synod showed the wind was blowing toward greater acceptance of the gay and lesbian lifestyle. The church backed away from blessing same-sex unions, however, to preserve the unity of a worldwide church whose African and Asian branches condemn homosexuality.

For Canadian governments, this issue was settled two years ago by the former Liberal government's Civil Marriage Act, which extended the definition of marriage to cover same-sex couples. The new Parliament last year declined the Harper government's invitation to re-open the question. The Anglican decisions on the weekend suggested that acceptance in Canada of same-sex unions has grown. Supporters of the Civil Marriage Act can breathe easier.
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Monday, June 25, 2007

Nativity of St. John the Baptist
June 24 (transferred)

"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 40:1-5 art

UK Anglicans 'less concerned about HIV''
Monday, 25th June 2007
By: Matt Cresswell.

ENGLISH Anglicans are less concerned about HIV and AIDS than any other denomination, new research reveals.

A survey conducted by the Christian Research group showed that only 35 per cent of Anglican respondents listed the disease as a top three global issue of the day.

The research, published in a recent report, was drawn from 1,069 churchgoers from 308 Protestant churches.

According to the survey charismatic evangelicals were the most concerned about HIV or AIDS, with 52 per cent including it as a top three global concern.

Now the Christian HIV/AIDS Alliance (CHAA) has launched a response to the research and stated that more effort was required in the fight against the disease. the rest image

Wal-Mart makes it official: giving less $$ to homosexuals
Ed Thomas
June 25, 2007

Wal-Mart has made it clear that the retail operation is actively pulling back its corporate support -- in financial terms, at least, if not ideological -- of homosexual and transgender organizations, citing a corporate policy adopted last fall and placed on its website.

Reactions have been varied from conservative and homosexual rights groups after Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams, senior vice president of corporate communications, told FORTUNE Magazine, "We are not currently planning corporate-level contributions to GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] groups."

According to the magazine, individual stores can still donate to homosexual groups.Williams said that mirrors a policy posted on its website last fall, which stated Wal-Mart would not make corporate contributions "to support or oppose highly controversial issues unless they are directly related to the company's ability to serve its customers." the rest