Protestants have their own clergy scandals
Weblog is getting deluged with letters about a recent article on what the clergy abuse scandal means for evangelicals. Many readers didn't like part of the article's report, which suggested that clergy abuse of minors is less common in Protestant churches than it is in Roman Catholic parishes. Don't blame the messenger: That's what the interviewees and other reports said.

An Associated Press report, however, has an opposing view. "While data are sketchy, at least one expert believes the incidence of clergy molesting young children may be about as frequent—or infrequent—in Protestantism as it is in Catholicism," reports AP religion writer Richard N. Ostling. The expert is Penn State historian Philip Jenkins, who says Catholic cases get exaggerated and Protestant cases get ignored. Jenkins admits he has no hard numbers to back up his case, but says neither do those who say it's more common in Catholicism.

Actually, some hard numbers have surfaced from Christian Ministry Resources, the publisher of Church Law & Tax Report (the editor, Richard Hammar, was quoted in the earlier CT online article). "Despite headlines focusing on the priest pedophile problem in the Roman Catholic Church, most American churches being hit with child sexual-abuse allegations are Protestant, and most of the alleged abusers are not clergy or staff, but church volunteers," summarizes The Christian Science Monitor. "Over the past decade, the pace of child-abuse allegations against American churches has averaged 70 a week."

Weblog has had a lot on the clergy abuse scandals, but for regular updates, be sure to check out's Clergy Abuse Tracker and Yahoo's full coverage area.

Burnhams spotted? Maybe.
U.S. spy planes have located where American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham are being held, southern military commander Lieutenant-General Roy Cimatu told reporters yesterday. Actually, that's what he reportedly said. Today he says it was a 10-year-old child, not a spy plane, who spotted the missionaries. Monday's New York Times reported that the Philippine military didn't know where they were, so there is a question about whether the military is trying to save face. U.S. officials aren't commenting on Cimatu's report, says The Wichita Eagle. The newspaper, which deserves much praise for its vigilance on the Burnhams' story, also has a report headlined "U.S. officials downplay Burnhams' importance." Sounds interesting (not to mention worrisome), but the link is dead.

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Gulf News in the United Arab Emirates has another worrisome report: Martin and Gracia Burnham have been separated. Gracia is still on Basilan Island, says the paper, but Martin has been taken away with Abu Sayyaf leader Mujib Susukan. The paper's source is a local who "claimed he saw the hostage when he delivered food to the Abu Sayyaf camp last month."

Meanwhile, Abu Sayyaf is urging the Philippine government to negotiate. "This offer, perhaps the last one, should be an opportunity for the government to resolve this problem," leader Abu Sulaiman told Radio Mindanao Network.

Minister says his dad, not James Earl Ray, killed Martin Luther King Jr.
"My father was the main guy" who shot Martin Luther King, says the Rev. Ronald Denton Wilson of New Covenant Church in Graham, Florida. "It wasn't a racist thing. He thought Martin Luther King was connected with communism, and he wanted to get him out of the way." He says his announcement's timing with the 34th anniversary of the assassination is only coincidental, and that he's coming forward now to "cleanse my soul. … I've carried this weight for a long time." The FBI is investigating, and meanwhile Wilson has become a media celebrity, reports The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun.

More articles

Holy Land violence:

Life ethics:

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Money & business:

  • Signs of faith | Some owners make beliefs part of doing business (The Flint [Mich.] Journal)

  • For some companies, the first rule of business is the Golden Rule | Some companies call it values-driven leadership. Others talk about workplace spirituality. But all of them say they're simply following good business practices: treating customers and employees how they want to be treated. And they say that focusing on a higher purpose has translated into higher profits. (The Dallas Morning News)

Other religions:

  • Christians disrupted pagan equinox party | Group loudly read Bible verses and blared Christian rock music (Los Angeles Daily News)

  • Rethinking religious tolerance | Respect for different traditions butts up against concern about their views on women (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Americans awaken to a new tolerance | As worshipers grapple in aftermath of 9-11, interfaith services open hearts and minds (The Detroit News)

  • Toward theology in dialogue | We must speak about religion honestly, but the discussion will be meaningless unless we know what we ourselves believe. (Bill Tammeus, Kansas City Star)

  • Beyond belief | American Atheists president Ellen Johnson talks about the right to freedom from religion (The Boston Globe)

  • Mission impossible? | In a major blow to Jewish evangelism, Jews for Jesus has allegedly lost millions in bad investments. But this Friday, they return as fierce as ever with the largest international campaign in their history. Will their financial woes affect their mission? (Jewsweek)

Science & health:


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Missions & ministry:


Worship wardrobes:

  • Divine dress-up | Some families are doing First Holy Communion in a big and fancy way. Roman Catholic officials plead for simplicity and spirituality. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • An order of worship: bare nothing but the soul | For many women, there remains an unspoken code to church dressing, and at no point in the year is that code in greater evidence than on Easter (The New York Times)

Pop culture:

  • Jars of Clay | Christian Band Goes Light on Dogma for New Album (Weekend Edition, NPR)

  • Also: Keeping the faith | Jars of Clay's latest album may be ticket back into mainstream (The Orlando Sentinel)

  • Catholics' anger at mad TV image | A Catholic group has launched a campaign to challenge the portrayal of churchgoers in television drama programmes as mad and morally suspect. (The Sunday Times, London)

  • New film clones Jesus | Revelation, a British movie, stars Terence Stamp, Derek Jacobi (Evening Standard, London)

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  • Less sex and violence on TV? | A watchdog group's survey says yes (Austin [Tex.] American-Statesman)

  • 'I don't care if people think I'm a wimp' | Jim Caviezel doesn't like doing sex scenes—he wants to save himself for his wife. (The London Independent)

  • Jesus comic book blasted | Austrian book shows him surfing rather than walking on water and getting high on incense fumes (SAPA)

  • Pulpit fiction | One is an ex-hack who has ghost-written biographies for basketball stars. The other is a preacher who believes the end is nigh. Together, they are the publishing phenomenon of America—and now big players in movieland. (The Guardian, London)

  • Management of Christian label changes | Word Entertainment moves under Warner Bros. Nashville (Associated Press)

  • Rocker comes out of the closet | King's X singer Doug Pinnick leaves Christianity, embraces homosexuality (Religion News Service)


Other sports:

Politics & law:

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  • Pulpits and politics | There's no denying that allowing churches to discuss candidates would blur the line between church and state, a separation maintained to protect both institutions (Editorial, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • 'Choose Life' auto tags get court boost | Federal appeals court dismissed a challenge to a Louisiana program that uses $25 from each specialty license plate sold to help fund adoptions. (The Washington Times)

Religion & violence:

Pope John Paul II:

New Mexico chapel:


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Abuse news:

Abuse opinion:

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  • Secrets, celibacy and the church | Pope John Paul II's failure to confront the pathology of sexual secrecy is his papacy's deepest flaw (Jason Berry, The New York Times)

  • Grabbing publicity by the collar | have seen widespread, well-deserved condemnation of the predators, not of their actions. (John Moody, The Washington Times)

Other articles of interest:

  • 'Sex misconduct': evangelist sacked | Pat Mesiti was one of Australia's most prominent and internationally lauded evangelists (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • A new Christendom | We are currently living through one of the transforming moments in the history of religion worldwide (Philip Jenkins, The Chronicle of Higher Education)

  • Spiritual directors help to focus faith | Across the country, the practice of searching for God through the guidance of a trained counselor is seeing a renaissance. (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • This fight's over | Lessons from fiery fundamentalist Carl McIntire (Joel Belz, World)

  • Creed all about it | Why do we fear fundamentalists? Because we're scared of believers (Cristina Odone, The Observer, London)

  • Southern Baptist Convention urges hotel chain boycott over bash | Howard Johnson hosted sadomasochism party (Associated Press)

  • Religious revival | If the intellectual fashion of the society around you is to stress materialism and to assert that there is no truth, only opinion, it is hardly surprising that young would-be rebels should seek spiritual answers and universal truths (Editorial, The National Post, Canada)

  • Church visitor causes a big flap | Wild turkey finds a perch on Beacon Hill rooftop (The Boston Globe)

  • Jewish believers in Jesus live between two solitudes | Messianic Jews feel isolated by both Jewish and the Christian communities (The Daily News, Halifax, N.S., Canada)

  • God beyond the glossies | Philippine religious publications have lately become more enterprising and energetic in competing with their secular counterparts for a slice of the burgeoning magazine market (Financial Times, London/The Daily Inquirer, Manila; also available here)

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