A drive through Wadi Shu’ayb in Jordan
1 hour ago
More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study. The high rates extend even to women born in the 1940s, challenging perceptions that people were more chaste in the past.
“This is reality-check research,” said the study’s author, Lawrence Finer. “Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades.”
Finer is a research director at the Guttmacher Institute, a private New York-based think tank that studies sexual and reproductive issues and which disagrees with government-funded programs that rely primarily on abstinence-only teachings.
The Richland Hills church in Texas — the largest of the nation’s 13,000 a cappella Churches of Christ — has decided to add an instrumental worship assembly with communion on Saturday nights.
Jon Jones, an elder and former pulpit minister at the 6,400-member church, told the congregation Dec. 3 that Richland Hills’ elders “fully and completely” endorsed the decision....
Senior minister Rick Atchley — a national leader in efforts to foster better relations with instrumental Christian Churches — told the congregation the decision should help ease crowding at Richland Hills’ two Sunday morning services. Moreover, he said, it will allow the congregation to “reach more people who need Christ.”
[I]t is important to note that Christianity's origins lie more in the image of the empty tomb on the Sunday after the crucifixion than they do at the crèche. It was their fervent belief in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth that convinced his followers he was, as Peter put it, "the Christ, the son of the living God" who had told them of a new way of salvation: that he would die and rise again, thus effecting the forgiveness of sins and offering a portal to eternal life.
His views did generate much support but caused much controversy as well. He ultimately gained more than he lost though because he had a religion named after him. The Lutheran Church.
"Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible," he wrote in a column titled, "America, Not Keith Ellison, Decides What Book a Congressman Takes His Oath On."
"If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress," Prager wrote, adding that using the Koran "undermines American civilization."
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether a high school student has a right to display a banner saying "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" during a school event.
The court's ruling, anticipated early next year, is expected to clarify how far school officials can go to control slogans on banners, T-shirts and other items at school-sponsored events, the Los Angeles Times said Saturday.
The case arises from Juneau, Alaska, where a principal removed a student's "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner. Joseph Frederick unfurled the sign on the street outside the school in 2002 as the torch for that year's Winter Olympics passed. Principal Deborah Morse suspended Frederick, who sued her, alleging her actions violated his right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment. A federal judge in Alaska rejected the claim by Frederick, but he won before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The court also agreed to decide whether taxpayers have the right to challenge President Bush's faith-based initiative as an unconstitutional promotion of religion. Taxpayers normally cannot legally dispute how the government spends money, but the court made an exception for religion.
[H]e has now revealed the reasoning behind the film's opening shot of a painting of Jesus Christ looking down at Rocky fighting in a gym.
The 60-year-old says, "It's like he was being chosen.
"If you look to God, you can overcome your past."
Women are finding it more acceptable to have an abortion than to drift into an unplanned pregnancy, the head of Britain's leading abortion agency said yesterday.
Ann Furedi, the chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), said one women in five was now childless at the age of 45 and an increasing number were making the choice not to have children at all.
Ms Furedi said there had been a shift in public opinion about parenthood. The stigma of abortion had diminished but there was now concern about being a poor parent. "Parenting is considered to be very important and is taken seriously these days," she said. "The idea of just drifting into unplanned motherhood is seen not to be a good thing and you could argue that among many groups of people in society abortion is seen as a more responsible response to being a victim of uncontrolled fertility," she said.
Abortion figures continue to rise year on year. Latest figures show that there are about 165,500 abortions for British residents a year.
"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."
From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate.
The Rev. Ted Haggard resigned as president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals on Thursday after being accused of paying a man for sex in monthly trysts over the past three years.
Haggard — an outspoken opponent of the drive for gay marriage — also stepped down as senior pastor at his 14,000-member New Life Church pending an investigation by a church panel, saying he could "not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations."
"I am voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity," Haggard said in a written statement. "I hope to be able to discuss this matter in more detail at a later date. In the interim, I will seek both spiritual advice and guidance."
Haggard, a married father of five, denied the allegations in an interview with KUSA-TV late Wednesday: "Never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I'm steady with my wife, I'm faithful to my wife."
Mike Jones, 49, of Denver told the AP he decided to go public with his allegations because of the political fight.
"I just want people to step back and take a look and say, 'Look, we're all sinners, we all have faults, but if two people want to get married, just let them, and let them have a happy life,"' said Jones, who added that he isn't actively working for any political group.
Jones, who said he is gay, said he was also upset when he discovered Haggard and the New Life Church had publicly opposed same-sex marriage.
“When she snorted a line of cocaine, she put land mines in Colombia, she killed people in Colombia, she displaced people in Colombia, she helped finance kidnapping,” said [Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos Calderón], who himself spent time as a hostage of the Medellin drug cartel. “That’s the message that we want to put out.” Then he recalled another hot-button talking point meant to arouse European, and especially British, audiences. “She destroyed the environment!” said Santos. “We have lost 2 million hectares [almost 5 million acres] of pristine rain forest to drug trafficking.”
The survey conducted by Harris Poll found that 42 percent of US adults are not "absolutely certain" there is a God compared to 34 percent who felt that way when asked the same question three years ago.
Among the various religious groups, 76 percent of Protestants, 64 percent of Catholics and 30 percent of Jews said they are "absolutely certain" there is a God while 93 percent of Christians who describe themselves as "Born Again" feel certain God exists.
When questioned on whether God is male or female, 36 percent of respondents said they think God is male, 37 percent said neither male nor female and 10 percent said "both male and female."
Only one percent think of God as a female, according to the poll.
Asked whether God has a human form, 41 percent said they think of God as "a spirit or power than can take on human form but is not inherently human."
As to whether God controls events on Earth, 29 percent believe that to be the case while 44 percent said God "observes but does not control what happens on Earth".
The poll of 800 registered voters found that 52 percent opposed the measure that overwhelmingly passed the 2006 Legislature. Forty-two percent favored the proposed ban on abortions, and just 6 percent were undecided.
The poll also found that the proposed ban on abortions would have more support if it allowed abortions in cases of rape and incest.
[N]othing certain is known about the collection before 1980, when its first six pieces were reportedly sold by a Lebanese-born art dealer called Halim Korban to Peter Wilson, a former chairman of Sotheby’s. Two years later, Mr. Wilson and a London lawyer, Peter Mimpriss, persuaded Lord Northampton to invest in the venture, and four more works were acquired.
In 1983, these 10 were offered to the Getty museum, but the museum lost interest after Lebanese export licenses were proved to be falsified. That same year Mr. Wilson died, but through Mr. Mimpriss’s connections, Lord Northampton later bought four more pieces. The collection of 14, by then owned entirely by Lord Northampton, was exhibited in New York in 1990 in anticipation of a Sotheby’s auction planned for later that year in Switzerland.
The Lebanese government then obtained an injunction barring the treasure’s removal from New York, and lengthy legal proceedings followed. Lebanon dropped its claim to the collection, but Hungary and Croatia joined the case. Finally, in 1994, after several lower courts rejected the Hungarian and Croatian claims, the Appellate Division of New York’s State Supreme Court also ruled them to be “without merit,” and Lord Northampton was able to return the treasure to London.
Grave robbers in Egypt have unwittingly helped archaeologists discover the tombs of three royal dentists.
The thieves were arrested after they began digging by the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, near Cairo, believed to be Egypt's oldest pyramid.
Their excavations led archaeologists to the 4,200-year-old tombs, one of which has an inscription warning of a curse.
Two hieroglyphs - showing an eye over a tusk - identified the men as dentists to the pharaohs, experts said....
The grave of the chief dentist, whose name is spelled out as Iy Mry, was protected by a curse written by the entrance, Mr Hawass said.
"The man put an inscription to say: 'Anyone who enters my tomb will be eaten by a crocodile and a snake.'"
In the northern city of Mosul, a priest from the Syriac Orthodox Church was kidnapped last week. His church complied with his captors’ demands and put up posters denouncing recent comments made by the pope about Islam, but he was killed anyway. The police found his beheaded body on Wednesday.
Muslim fury over Pope Benedict XVI’s public reflections on Islam in Germany a month ago — when he quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor as calling Islam “evil and inhuman” — has subsided elsewhere, but repercussions continue to reverberate in Iraq, bringing a new level of threat to an already shrinking Christian population.
Several extremist groups threatened to kill all Christians unless the pope apologized. Sunni and Shiite clerics united in the condemnation, calling the comments an insult to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. In Baghdad, many churches canceled services after receiving threats. Some have not met since.
“After the pope’s statement, people began to fear much more than before,” said the Rev. Zayya Edward Khossaba, the pastor of the Church of the Virgin Mary. “The actions by fanatics have increased against Christians.”
Until recently, Banda said he had no idea the woman seeking to adopt his one-year-old son was a world-famous celebrity. He said all he knew was that she was a "nice Christian lady".
Banda met Madonna in court in Malawi at an adoption hearing. He told the Mail he looked into her eyes and "could tell from them that she was a good lady".
The housing deduction is one of several tax breaks that leave extra money in the pockets of clergy members and their religious employers.
As a result of these special breaks, religious organizations of all faiths stand in a position that American businesses — and the thousands of nonprofit groups without that “religious” label — can only envy. And the new breaks come at a time when many religious organizations are expanding into activities — from day care centers to funeral homes, from ice cream parlors to fitness clubs, from bookstores to broadcasters — that compete with these same businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Religious organizations are exempt from many federal, state and local laws and regulations covering social services, including addiction treatment centers and child care, like those in Alabama.
The Amish say they are quietly accepting the deaths as God's will.
"They know their children are going to heaven. They know their children are innocent ... and they know that they will join them in death," said Gertrude Huntington, a Michigan researcher who has written a book about children in Amish society.
"The hurt is very great," Huntington said. "But they don't balance the hurt with hate."
In just about any other community, a deadly school shooting would have brought demands from civic leaders for tighter gun laws and better security, and the victims' loved ones would have lashed out at the gunman's family or threatened to sue.
But that's not the Amish way.
In the aftermath of Monday's violence, the Amish have reached out to the family of the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, who committed suicide during the attack in a one-room schoolhouse.
Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman, said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them. Among Roberts' survivors are his wife and three children.
George Washington was not the first Mason, and not the only famous one. Mozart worked thinly disguised touches of Masonry into operas. Fourteen presidents and everyone from the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale to the comedian Red Skelton belonged. Masons presided when the cornerstone was laid at the Statue of Liberty.
But the Masons’ numbers have been steadily dwindling — whatever their secrets are, they apparently do not have one for avoiding death — and their ranks have been graying. So the New York State Masons have followed other state Masonic societies in doing something that they would have once considered heretical: they are actively reaching out for new members. And, in the process, a famously reticent fraternal organization that now puts a premium on its community service has lifted its veil of secrecy just a bit.
Her mother, Yakini Ajanaku, does not mind her daughter's T-shirts because she said Ashli wears them to be ironic. "I know she's a sweet girl, and I know that she's very conservative and is not sexually active," Ajanaku said. "Other people would probably get the wrong message, but I am pretty much like, 'Who cares what they think?' "
Joanne Wynn said her daughter's shirts are humorous. "If it's not in good taste, I don't let [her] wear it," she said....
Most parents interviewed said that they would rather not see their kids wear the racy shirts but that they sometimes give in. Rosa Pulley tried to order her daughter Keana, 17, a Gar-Field senior, to return a T-shirt that says, "yes, but not with u!" But Keana insisted. "I have to pick my battles," the mother said. "Okay, I don't like it. She's wearing it, but it could be something worse."
The disputes, over the network’s proposed broadcast of a Madonna concert that includes a crucifixion scene and over its cutting religious references from the animated children’s show “VeggieTales,” have some critics charging that NBC maintains a double standard toward Christianity.
Madonna also issued a statement on Thursday saying that the performance was “neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous.”
“Rather,” it went on to say, “it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another and see the world as a unified whole. I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today, he would be doing the same thing.”
The home entertainment division of Rupert Murdoch's movie studio plans to produce as many as a dozen films a year under a banner called FoxFaith. At least six of those films will be released in theaters under an agreement with two of the nation's largest chains, AMC Theatres and Carmike Cinemas.
The first theatrical release, called "Love's Abiding Joy," is scheduled to hit the big screen Oct. 6. The movie, which cost about $2 million to make, is based on the fourth installment of Christian novelist Janette Oke's popular series, "Love Comes Softly."
Other studios also are beginning to dip an oar into Christian waters. New Line Cinema's "The Nativity Story," scheduled to be released in December, tells the story of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter to give birth to Jesus. Legendary Pictures, which has a multi-film deal with Warner Bros., is planning to make a movie version of John Milton's epic 17th century poem about the fall of man, "Paradise Lost."
Mr. Foreman, who stared down financial collapse as an adult despite a troubled, impoverished childhood, said he knew real wealth when he saw it. “If you’re confident, you’re wealthy,” he says. “I’ve seen guys who work on a ship channel and they get to a certain point and they’re confident. You can look in their faces, they’re longshoremen, and they have this confidence about them.”
He says he can spot a longshoreman who has enough equity in his home and enough money in the bank to feel secure, and that some people, no matter how much money they have, never get there. “I’ve seen a lot of guys with millions and they don’t have any confidence,” he says. “So they’re not wealthy.”
Questioned in 1991 about the reasons rich people hit the skids, the multibillionaire investor Warren E. Buffett told an audience at Notre Dame that debt and alcohol were ever-present culprits in financial demise. “I’ve seen more people fail because of liquor and leverage — leverage being borrowed money,” he said, according to a transcript of his comments. “You really don’t need leverage in this world much. If you’re smart, you’re going to make a lot of money without borrowing.
“I’ve never borrowed a significant amount of money in my life. Never,” he added. “Never will. I’ve got no interest in it. The other reason is I never thought I would be way happier when I had 2X instead of X.”
The poster -- which shows a glass with the words "Where will you find him?" -- will spearhead the Churches Advertising Network (CAN) campaign to boost attendance in the run-up to the Christian festive season.
CAN chairman Francis Goodwin said Thursday he hoped the poster and accompanying radio adverts would spark a debate about religion. A discussion page on the online site www.myspace.com will run in parallel.
"The message is subtle but simple -- where is God in all the boozing at Christmas?" said Goodwin, whose group is made up of Christians of all denominations working the British media and advertising.
"For many, Christmas is just drinking and partying and God is excluded, yet many young people are interested in finding deeper meaning and exploring faith."
The poster is a nod to the occasional discoveries of holy images in everyday objects, from the face of Jesus in a frying pan, toast or fish finger, his mother Mary on a toasted cheese sandwich and even Mother Teresa in a sticky bun.
Rosie O'Donnell says "radical" Christians in America are just as much of a threat as the followers of radical Islam who piloted hijacked jetliners into New York's Twin Towers and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
O'Donnell, the newest face on ABC's "The View," yesterday let her feelings fly after co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck noted militant Islam provides a threat to free people.
"Just a minute," she interrupted. "Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state."
McLaren has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in an increasingly active group of progressive evangelicals who are challenging the theological orthodoxy and political dominance of the religious right. He also is an intellectual guru of "emerging church," a grass-roots movement among young evangelicals exploring new models of living out their Christian faith....
McLaren, 50, offers an evangelical vision that emphasizes tolerance and social justice. He contends that people can follow Jesus's way without becoming Christian. In the latest of his eight books, "The Secret Message of Jesus," which has sold 55,000 copies since its April release, he argues that Christians should be more concerned about creating a just "Kingdom of God" on earth than about getting into heaven.
"When we present Jesus as a pro-war, anti-poor, anti-homosexual, anti-environment, pro-nuclear weapons authority figure draped in an American flag, I think we are making a travesty of the portrait of Jesus we find in the gospels," McLaren said in a recent interview.
"The modern Christian formula of 'I mentally assent to the fact that Jesus died for my sins and therefore I get to live forever in heaven' . . . is entirely cognitive," said Ken Archer, 33, a D.C. software entrepreneur who is studying philosophy at Catholic University. "It's a mathematical formula [that] leaves the rest of our being unfulfilled."
Though a "creative, sparkly writer," added Carson, McLaren has "got so many things wrong in his analysis that his work is not going to last that long."
Do you know what the C in YMCA stands for?
You may know it stands for “Christian,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t. The YMCA has come far from its founders’ intent when it was organized in 1844 — so far that many people have forgotten its roots as a Christian organization established to disciple young men. Today, as John Alexander of the Danville, Illinois, YMCA says, “Unfortunately, people look at us and just see a swim and gym.”
Sadly, over the years the YMCA has redefined its original mission right out of existence. At first, the YMCA’s method of adapting itself to meet community needs looked harmless enough. They moved from what one article called “narrow evangelistic goals” to a goal of “developing the ‘whole man,’” focusing on physical and social development as well as spiritual development.
This wasn’t inherently wrong. But as YMCA staffers realized that physical development programs were becoming far more popular than Bible studies and prayer meetings, they found themselves with a choice to make. I don’t think I need to tell you how they decided.
At the YMCA convention, ideas like posting Bible verses on the wall or maintaining a prayer request box met with disapproval from many. Dick Blattner of the Hollywood, Florida, YMCA, complained, “I respect your religion. But when I see posters and placards on the wall that reflect Christian principles, I feel left out.... It offended me, and I don’t think it’s right for the Y.”
“We were once at least 40, 50 million — can you imagine?” said Mr. Antia, senior priest at the fire temple here in suburban Chicago. “At one point we had reached the pinnacle of glory of the Persian Empire and had a beautiful religious philosophy that governed the Persian kings.
“Where are we now? Completely wiped out,” he said. “It pains me to say, in 100 years we won’t have many Zoroastrians.”
There is a palpable panic among Zoroastrians today — not only in the United States, but also around the world — that they are fighting the extinction of their faith, a monotheistic religion that most scholars say is at least 3,000 years old.
Some fellow passengers are questioning why an Orthodox Jewish man was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight in Montreal last week for praying.
The man was a passenger on a Sept. 1 flight from Montreal to New York City when the incident happened.
The airplane was heading toward the runway at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport when eyewitnesses said the Orthodox man began to pray.
"He was clearly a Hasidic Jew," said Yves Faguy, a passenger seated nearby. "He had some sort of cover over his head. He was reading from a book.
"He wasn't exactly praying out loud but he was lurching back and forth," Faguy added.
The action didn't seem to bother anyone, Faguy said, but a flight attendant approached the man and told him his praying was making other passengers nervous.
"The attendant actually recognized out loud that he wasn't a Muslim and that she was sorry for the situation but they had to ask him to leave," Faguy said.
The man, who spoke neither English nor French, was escorted off the airplane.
HUMANS have evolved over tens of thousands of years to be susceptible to supernatural beliefs, a psychologist has claimed.
Religion and other forms of magical thinking continue to thrive — despite the lack of evidence and advance of science — because people are naturally biased to accept a role for the irrational, said Bruce Hood, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol.
This evolved credulity suggests that it would be impossible to root out belief in ideas such as creationism and paranormal phenomena, even though they have been countered by evidence and are held as a matter of faith alone.
People ultimately believe in these ideas for the same reasons that they attach sentimental value to inanimate objects such as wedding rings or Teddy bears, and recoil from artefacts linked to evil as if they are pervaded by a physical “essence”.
Steinbeck said fighting obesity was not simply a matter of people eating less and exercising more, but discovering environmental and genetic contributors to obesity.
"We know this is not about gluttony -- it is the interaction of heredity and environment," said Steinbeck....
Dietary supplements and alternative treatments promising weight loss have minimal or no effect because they cannot match evolutionary influences that cause the body to conserve energy in times of famine, Dr Anne-Thea McGill told the conference....
"Early humans sought energy-dense food with high levels of fats, starches and sugars. We are genetically programmed to find foods with these qualities appealing," said McGill.
The efforts, educators say, have not cut back on the thousands of students who lack basic skills. Instead, the colleges have clustered those students in community colleges, where their chances of succeeding are low and where taxpayers pay a second time to bring them up to college level.
The phenomenon has educators struggling with fundamental questions about access to education, standards and equal opportunity.
Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford professor who was a co-author of a report on the gap between aspirations and college attainment, said that 73 percent of students entering community colleges hoped to earn four-year degrees, but that only 22 percent had done so after six years.
“You can get into school,” Professor Kirst said. “That’s not a problem. But you can’t succeed.’’
The board has authorized its legal counsel to take steps to have the case dismissed.
All that is left is an empty space in the hallway of Bridgeport High School. It's where the portrait of Jesus Christ once hung, but was stolen just weeks ago....
"In light of current controversy surrounding the painting, we need to evaluate what would be best for the community as a whole," says board member Mike Queen.
In reaction to the board's decision, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State said in a statement, "I'm delighted by this decision. I think the school board has seen the light and has chose not to replace the portrait but simply not to fight our lawsuit."
The ACLU, another civil liberties group involved in the lawsuit, said it's also happy with the outcome.
"The devil can possess not only individuals but also entire groups and populations. For example, I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed by the devil," he said.
"If one thinks of what was committed by people like Stalin or Hitler, certainly they were possessed by the devil. This is seen in their actions, in their behavior and in the horrors they committed," he said.
"Therefore, society also needs to be defended against the devil," he said.
"Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil," says Father Gabriele Amorth, the Pope's "caster-out of demons".
Separation of church and state is"a lie we have been told,"Harris said in the interview, published Thursday, saying separating religion and politics is"wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."
"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin,"Harris said.
Her comments drew criticism, including some from fellow Republicans who called them offensive and not representative of the party....
Harris'campaign released a statement Saturday saying she had been"speaking to a Christian audience, addressing a common misperception that people of faith should not be actively involved in government."
After years of marriage, the romantic spark between Clark and Bobbie Benton was still aglow.
They loved to travel together, and Clark Benton had arranged a trip to Aruba to celebrate his wife’s 50th birthday, said Wayne Galloway, minister of Fort Logan Church of Christ in Stanford, where the couple worshiped.
“She was really excited about going,” Galloway said. “(They were) a very loving couple.”
The Lincoln County natives were aboard Flight 5191 when it crashed yesterday morning.
“They were model Christians, just wonderful people,” Galloway said.
Both taught Bible classes at church.
Bobbie Benton was always ready with words of encouragement for others, and Clark Benton took on a leadership role in the congregation, he said.
Whether they come from theologically liberal denominations or conservative ones, black churches or white, women in the clergy still bump against what many call the stained-glass ceiling — longstanding limits, preferences and prejudices within their denominations that keep them from leading bigger congregations and having the opportunity to shape the faith of more people.
Women now make up 51 percent of the students in divinity school. But in the mainline Protestant churches that have been ordaining women for decades, women account for only a small percentage — about 3 percent, according to one survey by a professor at Duke University — of pastors who lead large congregations, those with average Sunday attendance over 350. In evangelical churches, most of which do not ordain women, some women opt to leave for other denominations that will accept them as ministers. Women from historically black churches who want to ascend to the pulpit often start their own congregations....
People in the pews often do not accept women in the pulpit, clergy members said. “It’s still difficult for many in this culture to see women as figures of religious authority,” said the Rev. Cynthia M. Campbell, president of McCormick Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian seminary in Chicago.
The Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, pastor of Crossroads United Methodist Church in Phoenix, said that at every church where she has served, people have told her they were leaving because she is a woman.
At a large church where she was an associate pastor, a colleague told her that when she was in the pulpit, he could not focus on what she was saying because she is a woman. A man in the congregation covered his eyes whenever she preached.
Conflicting interpretations of the Bible underlie debates over women’s authority and ordination. Opponents of their ordination cite St. Paul’s words in I Timothy 2:12, in which he says, “I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent.” But proponents point to St. Paul again in Galatians 3:28, which says, “There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Ms. Escobedo-Frank is familiar with the argument.
“People have written me in almost every church I have been in except the current one, and said, ‘Timothy says women can’t preach, so how can you?’ ” she said.
Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women--even those with a "feminist" outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.
This comes as the world indeed becomes more modern: It enjoys more political freedom, more democracy and more education than perhaps at any time in history.
It is also wealthier. The average share of people in developing countries living on less than a dollar a day fell from 28 percent to 22 percent between 1990 and 2002, according to World Bank estimates.
But this has not led to people becoming more secular. In fact, the period in which economic and political modernization has been most intense - the past 30 to 40 years - has witnessed a jump in religious vitality around the world.
According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, a greater proportion of the world's population adhered to the major religious systems in 2000 - Christianity's Catholicism and Protestanism, Islam and Hinduism - than a century earlier.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a bare majority of the world's people, precisely 50 percent, were Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Hindu. At the beginning of the 21st century, nearly 64 percent were. The proportion may be close to 70 percent by 2025.
The omission is inadvertent, said Katherine McLane, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, which administers the grants. “There is no explanation for it being left off the list,” Ms. McLane said. “It has always been an eligible major.”
Another spokeswoman, Samara Yudof, said evolutionary biology would be restored to the list, but as of last night it was still missing.
That the omission occurred at all is worrying scientists concerned about threats to the teaching of evolution.
One of them, Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University, said he learned about it from someone at the Department of Education, who got in touch with him after his essay on the necessity of teaching evolution appeared in The New York Times on Aug. 15. Dr. Krauss would not name his source, who he said was concerned about being publicly identified as having drawn attention to the matter....
Dr. Krauss said the omission would be “of great concern” if evolutionary biology had been singled out for removal, or if the change had been made without consulting with experts on biology.
The minister of a church that dismissed a female Sunday School teacher after adopting what it called a literal interpretation of the Bible says a woman can perform any job — outside of the church.
The First Baptist Church dismissed Mary Lambert on Aug. 9 with a letter explaining that the church had adopted an interpretation that prohibits women from teaching men. She had taught there for 54 years.
The letter quoted the first epistle to Timothy: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."
The Rev. Timothy LaBouf, who also serves on the Watertown City Council, issued a statement saying his stance against women teaching men in Sunday school would not affect his decisions as a city leader in Watertown, where all five members of the council are men but the city manager who runs the city's day-to-day operations is a woman.
"I believe that a woman can perform any job and fulfill any responsibility that she desires to" outside of the church, LaBouf wrote Saturday.
Mayor Jeffrey Graham, however, was bothered by the reasons given Lambert's dismissal.
"If what's said in that letter reflects the councilman's views, those are disturbing remarks in this day and age," Graham said. "Maybe they wouldn't have been disturbing 500 years ago, but they are now."
Alicia Ingram is only 22 years old, but she's already $27,000 in debt.
When she graduates from Georgia State University this fall, her entry into adult life will begin with a slow crawl from student loans to solvency.
"I feel like that kind of hinders everything ... where I'm going to live, how I'm going to live," says Ingram, who has delayed plans to attend graduate school. "It's having this burden of dishing out this money for something that I really hadn't expected."
Islamic clerics in eastern India have ruled that a woman divorced by her husband in a fit of drunkenness can remarry him only after she takes another husband for three months, police said on Monday.
Ershad, a rickshaw puller, uttered the word “talaq,” or divorce, three times earlier this month while he was drunk, and when news leaked out in their village in eastern Orissa state, the clerics said they must separate.
“The couple had kept it under wraps and continued to stay together but the clerics ruled that since Ershad uttered the word talaq three times, it constituted a divorce,” district police chief Shatrughan Parida said over the telephone.
Under the rules, the woman, who is a mother of three, must marry another man and obtain a divorce from him before she can be reunited with Ershad, the clerics in the local mosque said.
The clerics have said the man the woman marries temporarily must be 70 years of age, Parida said.
That Qumran was not home to the Essenes has been suggested before, with theories that identify the site as everything from a Roman villa, military fortress, fortified farm, and now a pottery factory. To be sure, Magen and Peled are respected scholars who have excavated at Qumran. But their view is clearly in the minority. When you read a statement like this, "There is not an iota of evidence that it was a monastery," red flags should be flying. That the majority of scholars would hold to a certain interpretation without one iota of evidence tells us more about the speaker than the theory. That the only outside scholar that the NYT quotes is Norman Golb should cause all the bells to be sounding. Anyone who has spent time in the area has to just bust out laughing when reading Magen's idea that these caves are “the last spot they could hide the scrolls before descending to the shore” of the Dead Sea. I can just picture these guys running away from the Romans and just stopping by Cave 1 to drop off some scrolls! Oh wait, we need some jars for these - quick, run to the pottery factory and bring some back here! Those who have been to Cave 1 will understand the humor more; it's not exactly "on the way" (Cave 2 even less so). The proximity of Caves 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 to the site is telling as well. They are all less than 50 meters from the inhabitation. The attempts to separate the scrolls from the site are an utter failure.
two Israeli archaeologists who have excavated the site on and off for more than 10 years now assert that Qumran had nothing to do with the Essenes or a monastery or the scrolls. It had been a pottery factory.
The archaeologists, Yizhak Magen and Yuval Peleg of the Israel Antiquities Authority, reported in a book and a related magazine article that their extensive excavations turned up pottery kilns, whole vessels, production rejects and thousands of clay fragments. Derelict water reservoirs held thick deposits of fine potters’ clay.
Dr. Magen and Dr. Peleg said that, indeed, the elaborate water system at Qumran appeared to be designed to bring the clay-laced water into the site for the purposes of the pottery industry. No other site in the region has been found to have such a water system.
By the time the Romans destroyed Qumran in A.D. 68 in the Jewish revolt, the archaeologists concluded, the settlement had been a center of the pottery industry for at least a century. Before that, the site apparently was an outpost in a chain of fortresses along the Israelites’ eastern frontier.
“The association between Qumran, the caves and the scrolls is, thus, a hypothesis lacking any factual archaeological basis,” Dr. Magen said in an article in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
For years, Dr. Golb has argued that the multiplicity of Jewish religious ideas and practices recorded in the scrolls made it unlikely that they were the work of a single sect like the Essenes. He noted that few of the texts dealt with specific Essene traditions. Not one, he said, espoused celibacy, which the sect practiced.
The scrolls in the caves were probably written by many different groups, Dr. Golb surmised, and were removed from Jerusalem libraries by refugees in the Roman war. Fleeing to the east, the refugees may well have deposited the scrolls for safekeeping in the many caves near Qumran.
The new research appears to support this view. As Dr. Magen noted, Qumran in those days was at a major crossroads of traffic to and from Jerusalem and along the Dead Sea. Similar scrolls have been found at Masada, the site south of Qumran of the suicidal hold-out against the Romans.
THE Government is discussing with airport operators plans to introduce a screening system that allows security staff to focus on those passengers who pose the greatest risk.
The passenger-profiling technique involves selecting people who are behaving suspiciously, have an unusual travel pattern or, most controversially, have a certain ethnic or religious background....
Sir Rod Eddington, former chief executive of British Airways, criticised the random nature of security searches. He said that it was irrational to subject a 75-year-old grandmother to the same checks as a 25-year-old man who had just paid for his ticket with cash.
Billions of dollars have been stolen in religion-related fraud in recent years, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association, a group of state officials who work to protect investors.
Between 1984 and 1989, about $450 million was stolen in religion-related scams, the association says. In its latest count — from 1998 to 2001 — the toll had risen to $2 billion. Rip-offs have only become more common since.
"The size and the scope of the fraud is getting larger," said Patricia Struck, president of the securities association and administrator of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Securities. "The scammers are getting smarter and the investors don't ask enough questions because of the feeling that they can be safe in church."
I just found out that one of the post docs in the lab is a creationist....Does anyone have any stories or advice on dealing with this? I am open minded about things, but I don’t see how I could trust someone’s research if the blindly reject facts in favor of beliefs (would you trust a priest who told you he didn’t believe in God?).
Where did they get their PhD? By mail order... Sheesh.
A Lutheran bishop is asking the church to discipline an Atlanta parish pastor for defying church policy banning clergy from same-sex relationships.
Bishop Ronald B. Warren of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Southeastern Synod released a letter Tuesday explaining the action he is taking against the Rev. Bradley E. Schmeling of St. John's Lutheran Church in Atlanta.
He said he made the decision after Schmeling told him he was in a same-sex relationship.
Schmeling, who could face expulsion from St. John's pulpit, said he doesn't agree with his church's policy for gay clergy.
He made his position clear to Warren when he first arrived at St. John's six years ago.
"The policy isn't working," Schmeling said. "Good and qualified people are being excluded from the ministry. In a congregation likes ours, this is not a divisive ministry."
Homosexuality has been a divisive issue for many mainline Protestant denominations that generally preach tolerance of gays — within limits.
These denominations have tried to avoid splitting by adopting variations of a "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but such efforts are starting to fray.
Previously hidden writings of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes are being uncovered with powerful X-ray beams nearly 800 years after a Christian monk scrubbed off the text and wrote over it with prayers.
Over the past week, researchers at Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park have been using X-rays to decipher a fragile 10th century manuscript that contains the only copies of some of Archimedes' most important works.
The X-rays, generated by a particle accelerator, cause tiny amounts of iron left by the original ink to glow without harming the delicate goatskin parchment....
It takes about 12 hours to scan one page using an X-ray beam about the size of a human hair, and researchers expect to decipher up to 15 pages that resisted modern imaging techniques. After each new page is decoded, it is posted online for the public to see....
The 174-page manuscript, known as the Archimedes Palimpsest, contains the only copies of treatises on flotation, gravity and mathematics. Scholars believe a scribe copied them onto the goatskin parchment from the original Greek scrolls.
Three centuries later, a monk scrubbed off the Archimedes text and used the parchment to write prayers at a time when the Greek mathematician's work was less appreciated. In the early 20th century, forgers tried to boost the manuscript's value by painting religious imagery on some of the pages.
Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
Among heavy listeners, 51 percent started having sex within two years, versus 29 percent of those who said they listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
Exposure to lots of sexually degrading music "gives them a specific message about sex," said lead author Steven Martino, a researcher for Rand Corp. in Pittsburgh. Boys learn they should be relentless in pursuit of women and girls learn to view themselves as sex objects, he said.
"We think that really lowers kids' inhibitions and makes them less thoughtful" about sexual decisions and may influence them to make decisions they regret, he said.