Examiner: Lee document is the work of jailed forger.
A National Park Service volunteer cleaning out a fort on the Colorado River earlier this year found a rolled piece of lead with a shocking statement etched on it. The letter appeared to be written by John D. Lee, the lone person tried and executed for the 1857 massacre of 120 people in Utah. The letter said the killings were on the orders of Mormon leader Brigham Young.
This week a private forensics examiner announced the document is a fraud. Though examinations are not complete, William Flynn says the etching on the sheet does not match Lee's handwriting, was made with a tool Lee could not have used, and may be the work of imprisoned forger Mark Hofmann.
Both of the experts hired by the park service to inspect the sheet, Flynn and George Throckmorton, manager of the Salt Lake City police crime lab, helped to convict Hofmann in 1986. Hofmann was found guilty of forging Mormon historical documents. When he was about to be exposed, he murdered two people in a bomb explosion.
Gujarat officials accused in the death of hundreds of Muslims.
Human Rights Watch has accused state officials of Gujarat, India of covering up their involvement in the Hindu-Muslim conflict that rocked the area in February.
"What happened in Gujarat was not a spontaneous uprising, it was a carefully orchestrated attack against Muslims," said the group's South Asia senior researcher, Smita Narula, in a press release. "The attacks were planned in advance and organized with extensive participation of the police and state government officials."
A 75-page report written by Narula says police officials not only stood by while the violence occurred but also led charges, pointed out Muslims to attackers, and delivered victims into the hands of the mobs.
Charges of state involvement in the massacre have sent ripples through the country's government. The ruling BJP government has survived votes of no confidence this week, but reports claim the party is now divided. In an intense 16-hour censure debate yesterday, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee ruled for an aid package to go to victims and denied charges of being anti-Muslim. Said Vajpayee: "It is being said I am against Islam. I take that as a slur against my image."
Church of the Nativity standoff:
- Enraged Arafat emerges from siege as fighting rocks Bethlehem | A Palestinian source inside the church told AFP by telephone that some sections of the compound had caught fire after the Israelis tried to storm the church. (AFP)
- Israelis Kill Palestinian at Bethlehem Church | The latest violence in the Church of Nativity followed an hour-long exchange of fire on Wednesday night in the worst fighting around the shrine since the siege began. (Reuters)
- Skirmishes in Bethlehem as life slowly returns to normal | A total curfew has been lifted but there is still the crackle of gunfire. (The Irish Times)
- Bethlehem tales of life under fire | Two groups of Palestinians emerged from the Church of the Nativity this week. (The Christian Science Monitor)
Ex-Boston Priest arrested on child-sex charges
- Priest Charged With Repeated Rape | The Rev. Paul Shanley, 71, who has advocated sex between men and boys, voluntarily surrendered at an apartment in San Diego on three counts of raping a child. (Associated Press)
- Priest in Boston Abuse Scandal Arrested | Under pressure from prosecutors, the Archdiocese of Boston also provided internal documents about other sex abuse cases, including files relating to Father Shanley. (The New York Times)
- Also: U.S. priest arrested over rape claims (BBC)
- Also: Priest arrested on child rape charges (CNN)
- Abu bluffing on execution | Military unfazed by threats of Abu Sabaya (AFP)
- 'We don't entertain threats,' Sabaya told | U.S. forces training in the Philippines respond to death threats. (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Pope's letter on penance:
- Vatican penance letter stirs ire | The Vatican on Thursday stressed the need for Catholics to confess their sins—but said some "habitual" sinners could never be forgiven. (Chicago Tribune)
- Also: Priests told to cut back on absolution for groups (The New York Times)
Church and state:
- School choir must stop rehearsing Lord's Prayer | Federal judge orders them to cease practicing until he decides if it can be sung at graduation. (Associated Press)
- Ten Commandments trial opens | County pleads that display is not religious. (The Tennessean)
- Valedictorian barred from giving graduation speech settles lawsuit | Student not allowed to speak, lead the flag salute, or participate in the graduation ceremony because of religious nature of his speech awarded $59,000. (Associated Press)
- Student who waved unauthorized banner during torch run fights suspension | Civil liberties group said the school violated Frederick's rights to free speech when expelled for greeting Olympic torch with "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" sign. (Freedom Forum)
- Vatican reaches out to Islamic world | The Vatican has signed an unprecedented agreement with the Government of Turkey to promote religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims. (BBC)
- Some Saudis speak out against religious police | The muttawa are the shock troops of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Saudis do not reject those duties, but many feel the muttawa have exploited their broad mandate. (Chicago Tribune)
- Bias incidents against Muslims are soaring, Islamic council says | Two-thirds of the incidents reported in the last year occurred less than six months after the terrorist attacks. (The New York Times)
- Muslim's call on Christian groups is 'ridiculous' | A document saying student religious groups must admit people who are opposed to their aims has been described as "ridiculous." (Daily Telegraph, London)
- 3 hopefuls for top Presbyterian job call on church to unite | Centrists address gathering at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Orthodox priests have the option | Greek Church, unlike Catholic, allows clergymen to marry, but celibacy has its rewards (The Washington Post)
- Chaplains take on new roles in handling crises | Police and fire chaplains increasingly find themselves involved in preserving evidence and helping people deal with horrific events. (Chicago Tribune)
Politics and law:
- Bush promotes virgin values to curb teen sex | Washington has adopted the Right's abstinence campaign (The Guardian, London)
- Bush risks evangelical wrath | If the president heeds Crown Prince Abdullah's advice, resentment from the Christian right could become an open revolt. (Boston Herald)
- Virgin Airlines Settles Case, Allowing Time Off for Religion | The settlement will require the company to develop special work schedules where possible to accommodate an employee's request for time off for religious observance. (The New York Times)
- Group condemns discrimination against Christians in schools | Northern Nigerian Christians are being denied registration in some institutions and educational programs. (This Day, Lagos)
- Damaged synagogue begins clean-up | Work has begun on restoring a synagogue in north London that was vandalised and daubed with a swastika. (BBC)
Sexuality and gender:
- Pullen Memorial breaks new ground | Baptist church welcomes lesbian minister. (The Tennessean)
Money and business:
- Designers hoping to take nuns' fabric beyond the cloth | Versace fashion house is negotiating to buy rich fabric encrusted with metallic embroidery usually made into priests' vestments and about $120 apiece. (The Boston Globe)
- Episcopal fund goes interfaith | Detroit group helps families and small businesses. (Detroit Free Press)
- Independent school's key to success is sacrifice | Tiny San Miguel School in the Back of the Yards neighborhood has done what dozens of other Catholic schools in Chicago's poor neighborhoods could not. It has stayed open. (Chicago Tribune)
- Churches heed a calling to educate poor children | School choice feeds a 'quiet revolution' (USA Today)
Other stories of interest:
- Church stolen as couple prepares for wedding | Congregation that meets at the local YMCA keeps Church materials in a trailer, but someone drove off with it. (The Arizona Republic)
- Biblical organization committed to Egalitarianism | A profile of Mimi Haddad. (The Ledger)
- Tutu's visit provides epiphany to students | 'You are special,' says Nobel laureate. (The Boston Globe)
- Monsignor George Higgins Dies at 86 | "The labor movement's priest" spent more than half a century speaking out for social justice. (Associated Press)
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