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As more details have emerged on abuse by American soldiers against Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, Christian commentators have largely focused on the pornographic nature of the images, speculating that the pervasiveness of pornography is at least partly responsible for the outrageous behavior. When Christian leaders have spoken directly on how religion and the abuse intersect, the focus has largely been on recognizing the sinful nature of each human being. Each of us is capable of great evil, several writers have noted.

In the next few days, however, expect writers both in the mainstream and Christian press to pick up a slightly different angle to the abuse story. That's because new revelations have a somewhat religious bent to them.

The first item comes from Spec. Joseph M. Darby, who reportedly confronted Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr.—apparent ringleader of the prison abuse—about the activities. Darby later told investigators that Graner told him, "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself.'"

That the Christian in Graner lost out (in fact, it wasn't just the prisoner's own urine that Graner reportedly liked to see prisoners soaked in) is ripe for much commentary.

But far more troubling is an allegation that guards deliberately attacked the prisoners' faith. Details on this matter have largely surfaced from prisoner Ameed Saeed al-Sheikh, who, in the words of The New York Times, said that "a hostility toward Islam coursed through much of the abuse." We've already heard of many abuses that would have been particularly offensive to Muslims, but it now appears that the guards may have deliberately chosen some of these methods because they're ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
Previous Weblog Columns:
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The Religious Side of the Abu Ghraib Scandal
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