Indian police accused of murdering witness in missionary killing

Vijay Kumar Ekka, a key witness in the murder of Christian missionary George Kunjhikandam in Uttar Pradesh, India, died in police custody. Authorities say he committed suicide, but Christians say Ekka was tortured to death. Two police officers have been arrested. Security for another witness of Kunjhikandam's murder has been dramatically stepped up. (See also the BBC's coverage)

Despite criticisms, George Barna is standing by his divorce statistics

Barna's finding that evangelical and born-again Christians get divorced at higher rates than mainline Protestants and the unchurched has come under such scrutiny that the pollster issued a special letter "to our partners in ministry" trying to calm people down. But marriage scholars, including David Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, aren't buying it. "It just stands to reason that the bond of religion is protective of marriage, and I believe it is," he tells The Dallas Morning News. "In general, studies show people who are religious tend to have lower divorce rates, especially if both husband and wife are religious." Barna says he's sticking by his findings.

Patriarch to Pope: Stay Home

Despite Russian president Vladimir Putin's recent successful meeting with Pope John Paul II and invitations dating back to Gorbachev, the Russian Orthodox Church doesn't want any attention given to Roman Catholicism, which means no invitation for the pope. "Russia is not a pagan state, it is a Christian state with a long tradition," says Viktor Maloukhine, director of external church relations for the (Orthodox) Moscow Patriarchate. "It is unclear to us if you have an Orthodox Church in this country, why do you need another church?"

Prison-focused Operation Starting Line continues

After launching in Delaware on Easter, the evangelistic initiative has moved on to Michigan's prisons. Backed by such organizations as Prison Fellowship, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, and others, the effort usually starts with a massive entertainment session, followed by one-on-one ministry through local volunteers.

Filtering software reportedly has "zero percent accuracy"

Exotrope's BAIR software, which supposedly can tell pornographic images from nonpornographic ones and filter out the former, miserably failed a test by Wired News. "BAIR inexplicably blocked between 90 and 95 percent of the photographs with no regard for whether they were sexually explicit or not," reports the news site, owned by the Lycos search engine (which offers its own filtering service). "Of the ones that were OK'd, about half were pornographic and half weren't." Exotrope officials blame the company's proxy server and says they plan to fix the errors within the next month. The company also runs the InterFaithNet search engine.

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Church history: Orlando's latest attraction

The Scriptorium: Center for Christian Antiquities, one of the largest and rarest private collections of biblical artifacts, is moving from Michigan to the new Holy Land Experience museum in Orlando, Florida. Both are run by the family of deceased millionaire Robert D. VanKampen.

"Catholics are the ultimate swing vote," says E.J. Dionne Jr.

"The days are gone when taking Communion and pulling the Democratic lever were the outward signs of a good Catholic," says The Washington Post's columnist, who notes that Roman Catholic Americans are evenly split between Bush and Gore. "The new partisan competition makes the Catholic vote interesting. As a Catholic, I'd like to think it could also be useful, and that Catholics might challenge both parties. Catholic Democrats might suggest that social justice and a concern for the health of family life go together. And Catholic Republicans could argue that acting on behalf of society's least fortunate is not just good politics, but the right thing to do."

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