Religion News Blog Roundup for Jan. 25, 2008

“RNB Roundup” is a collection of clippings, snippets, links, commentary and other items that, in one way or another, relate to the topics normally covered in Religion News Blog.

Note: This page may grow throughout the day…


Jennifer Lopez scraps plans to have a Scientology ‘silent birth’

According to US magazine The Enquirer singer underwent special ‘purification’ lessons to prepare her for a silent birth.

A source told the tabloid: “Jennifer made the decision because she’s high risk at her age.

“She wanted to leave it in the hands of her doctors whether she should receive painkillers and other drugs during delivery.

Critics split over DDoS attacks on Scientology

Websites associated with the Church of Scientology are intermittently unavailable today after an internet group calling itself Anonymous declared war on the controversial organisation.

Anonymous justifys its actions by alleging the Church of Scientology has misused copyright and trademark law in censoring criticism against the church. The campaign was sparked off by the church’s attempts to remove a promotional video featuring Scientologist Tom Cruise from YouTube.

Although the Church is known for playing hardball with critics, long-standing Scientology critics have decried Anonymous’s tactics.

Andreas Heldal-Lund, the founder of Operation Clambake, a non-profit organisation critical of Scientology, said that it was hypocritical to uphold freedom of speech while denying it to the Church itself.

“Attacking Scientology like that will just make them play the religious persecution card. They will use it to defend their own counter-actions when they try to shatter criticism and crush critics without mercy,” he said.

“Freedom of speech means we need to allow all to speak – including those we strongly disagree with. I am of the opinion that the Church of Scientology is a criminal organisation and a cult which is designed by its delusional founder to abuse people. I am still committed to fight for their right to speak their opinion,” he added.


Death sentence for Afghan reporter

(CNN) — A three-judge panel in northern Afghanistan has sentenced a student journalist to death for distributing a paper he printed off the Internet that allegedly blasphemed Islam, according to international media groups.

Moulvi Shamas-ul- Rehman Moomand, head of the court which sentenced Sayad Parwez Kambaksh to death gestures during a press conference.

But media groups in the country say the journalist is in fact being punished for investigative pieces his brother wrote.

Those articles exposed human rights abuses by political and paramilitary factions in northern Afghanistan.


Jesus Wants Your Vote — and He Needs a Running Mate

WASHINGTON — He walked on water, he turned water to wine, and now he wants to be your candidate for president.

That’s right, it’s Jesus, ready to lead the free world after President Bush leaves the White House next year. There’s only one hitch: he doesn’t have a platform. Or, for that matter, a running mate.

Jesus’ would-be political goals are up for a vote on a new Web site launched this month, A sort of nominating convention, the site invites participants to academically infer his stances on modern politics and choose a contemporary running mate, using the results as a voting guide in November.

Web Site Assembles U.S. Prewar Claims
“Claims” should be “lies.” Of course George Bush still believes he did the right thing. How sad/sick is that?!

Students of how the Bush administration led the nation into the Iraq war can now go online to browse a comprehensive database of top officials’ statements before the invasion, connecting the dots between hundreds of claims, mostly discredited since then, linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda or warning that he possessed forbidden weapons. […] The database is online at


Church-movie partnership: A leap of faith

Religion and Hollywood normally don’t sound like they mix well — but a Baptist church in Shreveport hopes it will be a good fit.

And Summer Grove Baptist — which built its sanctuary out of an old shopping mall — doesn’t always go by the book.

The church is thinking about selling part of its property to a new film institute and studio. They would exist side-by-side — with the film studio making “family friendly” films with a Christian message.

U2 writes Sundance soundtrack with new film ‘3D’

U2: Elevation.

The Edge says, “For me, it was great to see the film for the first time because I’ve actually never seen U2 live.” Bono laughs, and The Edge jokes: “I’ve been to a lot of U2 concerts, but I’ve never seen the band! So this is the closest I’ve ever seen to what the fans experience.”

The movie also has had an effect on band unity, giving them all a clearer perspective on what the others do. Bono marvels at bassist Adam Clayton’s renewed prowess, while The Edge says he wondered if Larry Mullen Jr. felt isolated stuck on the top platform of the massive stage with his drums.

“He’s very assertive, Adam is, in this,” Bono says. “On this last tour, he really came out of himself. He’s kind of the ‘wise owl’ of the band, and he has become a bit of a hermit. He withdraws to his fine art and quite cerebral life, and on this movie, he’s a real proper rock star.”

See U2 3D Preview Clips at YouTube

Offbeat Stuff

Jesus in a potato

[Pastor] Renee says she had been looking for an excuse to get out of making potato salad. “I was hesitant about making the potato salad because Sister Frankie makes the potato salad at church and I said lord if it’s not for me to make potato salad then send me a sign.”

She thought she got her sign right off the bat. “The first potato I split in half and put it to the side because it looked rotten.
Jesus in a potato
It was her 10-year-old granddaughter who made her give the potato a second look. “My granddaughter said Granny did you see that in the middle? I said what?”

And taking a closer look she saw the cross with Jesus in the middle. “It’s remarkable. Even when I cut the good part off the cross ended up being shaped like a tomb from long ago.”

Pastor Brewster froze the heart of that potato bearing Jesus. The rest was used to make the potato salad served during their weekly rescue mission.

Websites & Blogs

Tim LaHaye and Hank Hanegraaff: The Men Behind the Headlines
A post on the Walter Martin Ministries Blog shows that Hank Hanegraaff — the controversial president of the Christian Research Institute — is still acting like a renegade.

Alpha & Omega Ministries
James White’s apologetics ministry has a fantastic new website:

Three years in the making! Yes indeed, we knew we needed to upgrade our site a long time ago. […] For those who don’t know, the format we had first appeared in 2000. So old, it had become retro!

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is a growing membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Since its formation in January 2006, over 130 religious groups have joined NRCAT, including representatives from the Roman Catholic, evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Unitarian, Quaker, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh communities. Members include national denominations and faith groups, regional organizations and congregations.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday January 25, 2008.
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