Sorry to cover the same two stories as yesterday, but they're the big stories again …
German newspaper: Shelter Now workers released
In an article scheduled to be published tomorrow (it's like an episode of Early Edition), German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau reports that the eight foreign aid workers held by the Taliban have been freed and are returning to Kabul. The paper says the news passed from foreign intelligence agencies to the German government, but German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told a news conference today he hasn't heard anything. "I'm afraid we have no new information regarding the Shelter Now prisoners. We are doing all we can to get the prisoners back," he said. Shelter Now officials are also in the dark. "We must unfortunately say that we cannot confirm the report," deputy director Joachim Jaeger said. "We don't know if our workers are free or where they are. We can only wait and just hope that it's true." Readers can bet that officials in Germany, Australia, and the U.S. are desperately trying to find out what has happened to the prisoners since the Taliban fled Kabul. Meanwhile, the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi says that if the Taliban hasn't released the prisoners yet, it will soon. He has reportedly been working for their release for the past two months.
Salvation Army's Western Territory upset with benefits policy override
The mainstream media are being slow to pick up the Salvation Army's decision not to extend health benefits beyond spouses and children. Most of the newspapers that have picked up the story haven't done original reporting: they're just picking up the Associated Press report. One of the only papers that did put a reporter on the story is, predictably, the San Francisco Chronicle. What's less predictable is that the Chronicle didn't get any quotes from gay activist groups. The Associated Press, for example, sought comment from Human Rights Campaign. "[The policy] establishes the organization as anti-gay, and in a country that's yearning to come together and heal, this was an extremely divisive move that I don't think will be looked on kindly,'' David Smith said. Instead, the Chronicle quotes city official Chris Daly, who says, "It's a mean-spirited and divisive move to curry favor with right-wingers." Daly, the Chronicle says, "worked with the Western office to see the domestic partner benefits provided." There's apparently enough dissent within the Army to make for a juicy story. Capt. Robert Rudd, community relations and development secretary for the Western Territory, seems to be upset that the area's policy was overruled by the church's commissioners. "Both the right and the left have both spun this story to their own advantage," he told the AP. "While everyone's fighting, the hurting masses of our society, the ones that are easily rejected and forgotten, will be the ones that carry the brunt of this decision."
War in Afghanistan:
- Questioning a military campaign | While dissent has come from a few traditionally pacifist Christian groups, most other church authorities have upheld a need to bring the terrorists to justice, even if it means war. (The New York Times)
- Pacifist religious groups balance peace, patriotism | Quaker, Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations find pushing peace difficult (The Denver Post)
- Bishops eye limited support of war | American Catholic bishops are poised to approve a sweeping document that provides endorsement of U.S. military action but urges broader attention to global injustices. (The Boston Herald)
- Also: Bishops draft principles to guide response to terrorism | Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza calls on the prelates to preach a message of hope to help to ease the fears of Americans. (The New York Times)
- Christian leaders push peaceful alternative | International clergy from France, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, and South Africa talk about living in a violent world (Chicago Sun-Times)
- Psychics join the manhunt | U.S. government reactivates "remote viewers" program (The Sunday Times)
- Bishops elect first black president | Wilton Gregory will head United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as the group reviews position on the war on terrorism (Associated Press)
- Also: Leader: Church welcomes diversity (Associated Press)
- Also: U.S. Catholic bishops elect black leader | Choice of Illinois prelate, a first, reflects changing image of church in U.S. (The Washington Post)
- Also: American Catholic bishops elect their first black president (The New York Times)
- Also: First African-American set to head U.S. Catholic bishops | Wilton Gregory, 53, now bishop of Belleville, Ill. (The Boston Globe)
- Cardinal at odds with his pastors | Some upset that he toes Vatican's conservative line (Chicago Tribune)
- Reaching out with soul | Black Catholics seek to invigorate the church—and draw more African Americans in—with an emphasis on preaching and fervent worship. (The Los Angeles Times)
- Online church sees prayers go unanswered | Fundraising appeals nets 777live.com only $120 (The Boston Globe)
- Innovative idea: This ministry is just a phone call away | TeleCare teams keep church together despite distance (The Dallas Morning News)
Books and Literature:
- A whole new narrative | "Tolkien and Lewis have their American fanatics, with newsletters and conferences. But over there what appeals is their allegories of Christian supremacy, their versions in fiction of what a universe ruled by Pat Buchanan might be like." (Hywel Williams, The Guardian)
- The rise and fall of a church and its founder | A review of The Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God (Los Angeles Times)
- New Yorkers flock to Christian book | Latest Left Behind book topples Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (New York Post)
- People of faith: Edward F. Bergman | Author of The Spiritual Traveler: New York City helps residents and visitors find houses of worship (Newsday)
- Criticized book wins acceptance with text revision | After conservative criticism, publisher agrees to change of two environmental science textbooks (Houston Chronicle)
Money and business:
- Doing their business more biblically | CEOs meet to discuss how the Scriptures speak to their calling (The Dallas Morning News)
- Socially responsible funds buck the outflow trend | Values-based investors aren't in it for the short term (TheStreet.com)
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