Catholic School and Church Attacked as Gaza's Christians Worry
Today's Top Five
1. "We all hope it will be better, but it will never ever be good with Hamas"
"Masked gunmen used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the main entrances of the school and church," Roman Catholic priest Manuel Musalam (alt. spelling: Mussalem) told The Jerusalem Post. "Then they destroyed almost everything inside, including the Cross, the Holy Book, computers and other equipment." Every cross inside the church and school was destroyed, he said.
Musalam said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called him to condemn the attack and to promise he'd work against future attacks on Christians. In a separate story, Abbas told the Post, "The torching of the church is one of the fruits of the bloody coup that Hamas staged in the Gaza Strip."
Hamas spokesmen told the Post and the Associated Press that Hamas had nothing to do with the attack and promised to "punish anyone who targets churches." But Christians in Gaza are still very worried about their future under Hamas.
"I can't predict what will happen, but one thing is for certain: There is a group within Hamas which is starting to talk of the Islamization of society. Right now they are a small group, but the more pressure is put on, the more extreme they will become," Omar Shaban, Catholic Relief Services project manager for Gaza, told Catholic News Service. "With Fatah as a secular organization we had no problems, but with Hamas I am not sure how they will perceive us."
One Christian teenager in Gaza told Catholic News Service, "We all hope it will be better, but it will never ever be good with Hamas."
The Jerusalem Post notes:
Several Christian institutions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have been targeted by masked gunmen over the past few months.
Last April, a bookstore run by the Bible Society in the Gaza Strip was bombed, but no one was hurt.
A group calling itself the Huda (Guidance) Army Organization threatened to target all Christians living in the Gaza Strip following remarks against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad that were made last year by Pope Benedict XVI.
"We will target all Crusaders in the Gaza Strip," the group said in a leaflet, "until the pope issues an official apology."
The group also threatened to attack churches and Christian-owned institutions and homes.
"All centers belonging to Crusaders, including churches and institutions, will from now on be targeted," it said. "We will even attack the Crusaders as they sit intoxicated in their homes."
The Los Angeles Times reports that two of Abbas's cabinet members in his new emergency government are Christians.
2. Ruth Graham honored in Montreat, buried in Charlotte
"I wish you could look into the casket because she's so beautiful," Billy Graham told mourners at Saturday's public funeral. "I sat there for a long time just looking at her and praying because I know she had a great reception in heaven."
3. Brownback campaign staffer busted for Mormon questions
The religion-and-politics nom du jour is Emma Nemecek, the southeastern Iowa field director for Sam Brownback's presidential campaign. She forwarded an e-mail message from a separate interest group (she says it was from "an organization of conservative Asian Americans") to Iowa Republican leaders. She asked them to fact-check several statements in the e-mail, including, "Theologically, the only thing Christianity and the LDS church has in common is the name of Jesus Christ, and the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith," and, "The LDS church has never been accepted by the Christian Council of Churches."
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