Time's up?
Here's how the New York Post sums up the latest issue of Time in its weekly "On the Newsstand" feature: "Time resorts to one of the oldest gimmicks in the book that still makes for good reading—religion and its role telling the future. Here in New York, we don't encounter too many fundamentalist Christians, but out there in the hinterlands, they're everywhere."

Yes, Time takes on the apocalypse. The cover says "The Bible and the Apocalypse," but don't be fooled: the real book of interest here is the one imagined by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. And really, that's where this cover package falls a bit short. Senior editor at large Nancy Gibbs tries to tie together the popularity of the Left Behind series (which launched in 1999) with the war on terrorism. But while there was a spike in sales after 9/11, Weblog has heard that the series is actually diminishing in sales lately (but Weblog can't confirm this with a link—a little help?).

Why Time's religion writer, David Van Biema, didn't get to write the lead article is unknown. Instead, he's left to write a sidebar on the history of apocalypticism. He again shows that he knows his stuff. Next Time, he should be allowed to write more.

Gibbs shows care in a brief sidebar on evangelicals and Jews—one of the few news articles Weblog has seen that doesn't claim conservative evangelicals are wholly driven by eschatology in their support of Israel. The rest of the cover package, however, seems extraordinarily late for Time. Hasn't everyone either done an article on Left Behind, apocalyptic thought after 9/11, or both together?

Colson: Bar radical imams from visiting prisons
In the June 14Christianity Today Weblog, we wondered what Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson had to say about recent articles on recruitment to radical Islam in U.S. prisons. In today's Wall Street Journal, Colson writes:

During 26 years walking the cell blocks of America's prisons, I've encountered a growing Muslim presence. Islam, which offers brotherhood and solidarity, especially for people of color, is for the most part a law-abiding religion. But not always. … [A radical] understanding of the Koran, mixed with inmate resentment, is a lethal combination—and Islam's evangelists for evil know it. Al Qaeda training manuals specifically identify America's prisoners as candidates for conversion because they may be "disenchanted with their country's policies."

Radical imams, Colson says, are twisting the Statue of Liberty's message. Now it's "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses—yearning to get even." (And, as Colson noted in an earlier commentary, it's not just a U.S. problem.)

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The short-term solution, says the CT columnist and Watergate figure, is to deny radical imams access to prisons. But this won't be enough: "The long-term answer lies in what ministries like Prison Fellowship do: bringing the Gospel into the prisons and telling inmates about the love of Christ."

But here Colson starts walking on shaky ground. Do we want the state deciding what religions may evangelize in prisons and which may not? After all, Colson himself notes that one of his prison messages almost caused "a full-scale riot." Wouldn't that be reason enough for a warden to see his message as dangerous?

Actually, Colson answered this not in his Journal article, but in a January 8 Breakpoint radio commentary. "No one is a bigger supporter of prisoners' rights to religious freedom than I am," he said. "Muslims, like Christians, should be free to make and nurture converts within prison walls. But, at the same time, we ought to be aware of what is being preached and the possible consequences of that preaching. … We're rightly concerned about security, and we're also concerned with counteracting the rhetoric that treats all religions as equivalent."

Meanwhile, Colson is working on another prison policy issue: stopping prisoner rape.

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