"There is a tank on church property," says Bishop Munib A. Younan, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala. "You shouldn't put tanks at a church. It is a place for peace." Israeli forces entered the West Bank town yesterday after repeated firing from the town on Gilo, a Jerusalem suburb. During the first-ever reoccupation of Palestinian-governed territory, about 45 boys between the ages of 10 and 16 were reportedly trapped in an orphanage run by the church and placed in the line of fire. Though soldiers took positions in and above the orphanage building, Israeli military officials told reporters that Israeli forces did not enter the church. Nevertheless, Reuters reports, sandbags, army netting, and blankets were placed inside the church and the town's Christian community center became an Israeli army operation center. The U.S. State Department, Lutheran World Federation, and others condemned the occupation. See Yahoo's full coverage for regular updates on Beit Jala and the escalating violence in the Holy Land.
As Taliban prepares trial against aid workers, it gets sympathy from a U.S. columnist
Just when things were starting to look brighter for the eight foreign aid workers arrested for preaching Christianity in Afghanistan, there was more bad news. The radical Islamic Taliban rulers of the country said that its investigation into the aid workers' activities is far from over, and there will be a trial under Shari'ah (Islamic) law. The parents of the two young American women among the aid workers were allowed to visit their daughters, as were diplomats and the International Red Cross. Ironically, if the foreigners are found guilty, they are only subject to a punishment of three to ten days in jail and expulsion—but they've already been detained for more than three weeks.
It serves them right, says Bill Maxwell, a columnist for the St. Petersburg Times. "Sheer arrogance and Christian zealotry drove Shelter Now's foreign aid workers to flout the law," he writes in Sunday's edition. "If these groups are kicked out, many hungry Afghans, including tens of thousands of children and mothers, may starve because a handful of zealots tried to cultivate a handful of apostates." Maxwell says the Shelter Now workers should follow his example: "As an American journalist who travels to Islamic states, I am careful to follow the laws of my host nations, and I go out of my way to respect their customs." Telling the story of how he once "crossed the line" and mistakenly took a photo of a Palestinian Authority building under construction, he suggests that officials were right to arrest him. Media ethicists around the world would find Maxwell's argument utter nonsense. In case you're wondering, this is a columnist for the newspaper in St. Petersburg, Florida, not the city in increasingly repressive Russia. And, in case you're wondering, here's how to contact the St. Petersburg Times.
Send money, not the shirt off your back
InterAction, an international disaster assistance coalition, has released new guidelines telling Americans to stop sending food, clothing, and medicine to disaster relief efforts. "Appropriate giving is a minefield if it's not done right," Neil Frame of Operation USA tells the Associated Press. "You don't want your disaster response to be part of the disaster." Instead of material possessions—worst offenses include cocktail dresses and expired antibiotics—just send money, the organization says. A publicity campaign will target church bulletins. Well, at least the used teabag epidemic seems to be over.
Missions and ministry:
- Florida minister defies drug dealers, despite threat on life | Even as common sense shook his knees, the Rev. John Guns held a tent revival and led a rally against the dealers. (The New York Times)
- Hustling for souls | His flock includes some of the meanest on Washington's mean streets. But the man they call rev sees a truth so many miss: They want out, if only someone could show them the way (The Washington Post Magazine)
- Crusader's story celebrated again | Thirty-five years after God's Smuggler, Brother Andrew gets multimedia treatment (Religion News Service)
- Thousands attend evangelical crusade | | Ventura, California, revival sponsored by 121 churches (Los Angeles Times)
- Earlier: Christians aim to 'harvest' believers (Los Angeles Times)
- A line in the sand | 2,000-year-old Egyptian church trying to establish monastery is fought by ranchers, development foes (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Read poetry not Bible, says bishop | Richard Holloway, retired head of the Church of Scotland, says Christianity gives too many answers (The Scotsman, Edinburgh)
- Praying for 'deadbeat' churches | Block Club Union of Chicago says congregations aren't doing enough community organizing (Chicago Sun-Times)
- Blockheads casting stones at churchmen | It is bizarre that senior leaders of the official churches are held in such opprobrium by the progressive elites, who seem to feel that the only good churchman is either an atheist or a practicing homosexual. (Padraic P. McGuinness, The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Va.'s 'Saint Exxon' torn asunder | For more than 26 years, Arlington Temple United Methodist Church has worshiped above a gas station, but financial concerns have driven pumps and pulpit apart (The Washington Post)
- Growing signs of faith |The increasingly popular witticisms and pithy sayings on church signs are often regarded as a form of ministry. (The Sun, Baltimore)
- Banding together | Community of Jesus seeks to reinvent monastic life (The Boston Globe)
- Magic message: Preacher adds sparkle to his sermons | Illusions illustrate Christian truths (The Scotsman, Edinburgh)
- L.A. cathedral tapestries weave old art with new | Traditional Flemish craftsmen bring to life a California painter's vision for 'Communion of Saints.' (Los Angeles Times)
- Pastor reflects on crash that killed six | April deaths led to renewed commitment to youth ministry, says Falmouth Baptist's John A. Ely (The Boston Globe)
- Breakup expected for Presbyterians | 73 percent of Presbyterian Church (USA) pastors anticipate schism by 2050 (The Washington Times)
- Church quits group in clash over gays | Austin's University Baptist Church opposes Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's conservative stance on homosexuality (Los Angeles Times)
- U.S. District Court judge hears arguments in suit over control of Episcopal parish | Bishop, priest also face ecclesiastical charges (The Sun, Baltimore)
- Also: Judge asked to settle church dispute (Associated Press)
- Also: Episcopal church dispute ends up in federal court (WJLA)
- Paying St Peter's but not St Paul's | Planned reform by the Church of England to the way it distributes subsidies to poor parishes is causing panic in the pews (The Guardian, London)
- DiIulio looking forward to leaving Washington, getting back on streets | Head of White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives says he's done what he wanted to do (Religion News Service)
- The left hand of God | Where's the outrage when Dems invoke God? (John J. Pitney Jr., National Review Online)
- The politics of faith | The White House's faith-based initiative is fast becoming a victim of partisanship and the president's complacency. (Editorial, The Washington Times)
- Video artist to look at U.S. chaplains | "The Lord and The Pork Barrel," will be a satiric look at the prayers offered up each day by the chaplains of the U.S. House and Senate (Associated Press)
- Zimbabwe churches condemn Mugabe's 'monster' | "This [violence] is unacceptable!" says Zimbabwe Council of Churches (The Independent, Johannesburg)
- Reconstitute minorities panel, demands Christian body | Current commission is "an instrument of political blackmail," says All-India Christian Council (The Times of India)
- Churches point finger at Malawi's president | Protestants accuse officials of terrorizing and intimidating critics (The Star, Johannesburg)
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