Former Klansman found guilty of 1963 church bombing
After he was convicted of murdering four black girls in the 1963 bombing of the Birmingham, Alabama, 16th Street Baptist Church, Thomas E. Blanton Jr. was asked if he had anything to say before sentencing. "No," he replied, "I guess the good Lord will settle on Judgment Day." Maybe Blanton had simply learned to keep his mouth shut: a 36-year-old taped conversation is credited with his conviction. "I like to go shooting, I like to go fishing, I like to go bombing," Blanton had bragged to a friend.

As The New York Times notes, the case "took 38 years to bring to trial, [but] a Birmingham jury of eight whites and four blacks spent barely two hours in deliberations today before convicting." The Los Angeles Times notes that the jury forewoman "sobbed throughout her reading of the four guilty verdicts."

Blanton is the second of the four former Ku Klux Klansmen named as suspects back in 1963 to be tried in the deadliest attack of the civil-rights movement. But so far, only Robert "Dynamite Bob" Chambliss had been convicted. He died in prison in 1985. Herman Cash, another suspect, has died, and Bobby Frank Cherry was ruled incompetent to stand trial.

"We are very, very grateful for the jury's verdict," USA Today quotes U.S. Attorney Doug Jones as saying. "Justice delayed is still justice, and we've got it here tonight."

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More than Isidore
It seemed rather settled that the Vatican would name Isidore of Seville patron saint of the Internet. Now comes word that the sixth-century Spanish bishop and etymologist may not be alone. News service Ananova reports that Titus Brandsma, a Carmelite professor of philosophy and the history of spirituality executed by the Nazis in 1942 because of his promotion of a free press, is also being considered. The Vatican is also reportedly considering a patron saint of the media in general.

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Pope John Paul II in Greece:

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Rwanda genocide:

Church and state in Africa:

  • Churches say no to merger | A group of evangelical churches want Members of Parliament to reject the Constitution of Kenya (Review) Amendment Bill. (The Nation, Nairobi)
  • Churches in threat on merger | Evangelical churches yesterday threatened to go to court if they were not included in the constitutional review process. (The Nation, Nairobi)
  • Malawi churches to deliberate on third term | All Christian churches in Malawi, have agreed to meet Friday in the capital, Lilongwe, to express opposition to moves by the ruling United Democratic Front to amend the Constitution and allow President Bakili Muluzi to run for a third term. (Panafrican News Agency)
  • Consignment of liquor burnt in Zamfara state | Nigerian governor speaking at the inauguration of a new mosque, calls for destruction of liquor in accordance with Shari'ah law. (U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network)
  • Church alleges muzzling by Malawian government | In a letter read Sunday in parishes across Malawi, the Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP) has said its members were under threats after they read a previous pastoral statement highly critical of the ruling establishment (Panafrican News Agency)

Kenyan bishop's suicide report:

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Religious freedom and persecution:

Other stories of interest:

  • What happened to America's moral climate? | Scholars and other thinkers ponder whether people know right from wrong and can reshape a shared moral center. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Unaffiliated Web sites draw religious visitors | Denominations commonly have their own chatrooms, and congregants always have talked after services. But Web visitors say they feel more free to explore ideas when they venture outside their doctrinal niche. (Associated Press)
  • A bitter end for the Dead Sea? | Scientists and environmentalists note that the Dead Sea's level is dropping fast—at a rate of one meter every year—because both Israel and Jordan have diverted almost all of the fresh water flowing into it. The sea is quite simply drying up. (The Jerusalem Post)
  • Stripper says Hanssen tried to rescue her | Accused spy showered dancer with jewelry, cash, Mercedes— and tried repeatedly to bring her closer to God. (The Washington Post)
  • Monks hold wine family over a barrel | Chianti producers threatened with eviction unless they accept a huge rent increase for monastery cellars where their vintages are stored (The Daily Telegraph, London)
  • The end of a British institution? | London's Metropolitan Police Force has announced that plain-clothes officers are patrolling the historic Speakers' Corner with concealed cameras and tape recorders in an attempt to curb growing friction between rival religious and political groups. (The Japan Times)
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