Afghanistan faces a crisis of faith
An Associated Press article late last month reported on Christian missionaries' plans to enter Afghanistan. "Muslim for a millennium, this prostrate land now looks from far-off pulpits like a God-given opportunity for missionary work," Charles J. Hanley wrote. However, Hanley reported, it might not be as easy as they think. "Resistance would be formidable. To many traditional Afghans, proselytizing threatens the fiber of daily life where religion is an intrinsic part."
Now comes a report on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle that says religion may not be as intrinsic a part of daily life as thought. "Now that the hard-line movement's strong grip on Afghan society has been released—even in the countryside, where support for it was strongest—some people are not sure they want to be Muslim at all," writes Anna Badkhen. Mosques where hundreds once joined together in prayer daily are now empty. "Few pray five times a day, as the Koran instructs," writes Badkhen. "In cities like Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, muezzins' calls for evening prayer now go virtually unnoticed as men gather in restaurants for dinner instead of going to the mosque." Even Muslim clerics are disillusioned. Hamir Jan, 82, tells the paper, "When the Taliban came, they defamed the name of Islam. They beat everyone; they forced people to pray. People became disillusioned in Islam because of the Taliban."
There's even an undercurrent of the democratization of Islam. "Muslim people of Afghanistan are each their own religious leader," a Pashtun leader says.
This crisis of faith could present a huge opportunity for missionaries, especially as Afghans wonder exactly what it is they believe.
ABWE, missionaries shot down say they're not suing government after all
The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism is contradicting reports in The Washington Post, Associated Press, and elsewhere that it and its missionaries are suing the U.S. government for $35 million in compensation for the April shooting in the Peruvian skies.
"Friends of our ministry, including members of Congress, as well as our attorneys, have approached the government agencies involved over the past several months in order to seek redress for the families victimized by the wrongful deaths and physical injury caused by the negligent actions of government agents," a statement from the mission agency says. "While ABWE respects the right of the families involved to seek appropriate legal redress, neither Jim Bowers, nor Kevin Donaldson, nor their families desire to sue the U.S. or the Peruvian government in spite of great personal and financial loss."
Still, as Weblog said earlier, if there's any question in your mind about whether Bowers and Donaldson deserve an apology and compensation, watch the video again.
Priest's dog held hostage
David Lloyd, an English Roman Catholic priest, had quite a rough weekend. On Saturday, his car was stolen. His cell phone was in it, and so was his 4-year-old Welsh Terrier, Rosa. The thieves abandoned the car and burned it, then used the cell phone to demand a £3,000 ($4200) ransom for Rosa. They also called members of the church, threatening to kill the dog if they didn't get the money.
The incident was widely disseminated over the British media, and apparently the dognappers decided they were in over their head. Two boys reportedly found the dog abandoned in a field yesterday and took it to the police. "I can't do anything else but forgive them, can I?" Lloyd said of the thieves. "Because I can't carry them for the rest of my life for what they've done."
Does this story upset you? It's just a dog. Martin and Gracia Burnham have been held hostage for 290 days in much worse conditions. Pray for them, get involved in pushing for their release, and contact your representative to urge the U.S. government to make their freedom a priority.
- China's insecurity complex | As China's leaders wrestle with corruption and other problems of development, they will continually struggle to justify rule by a Communist Party that no longer believes in communism. (Fred Hiatt, The Washington Post)
- Human rights record of the United States in 2001 | China responds (People's Daily)
- Also: U.S. State Department Human Rights Report on China
- The threat of Jaffar | Jaffar Umar Thalib dismisses bin Laden as a lightweight. He wants a radically Islamic Indonesia. He has an army (The New York Times Magazine)
- 12 killed in stampede at Nigerian prayer meeting | Police: Worshippers trying to escape gunmen (Associated Press)
- 410 NGOs face axe in crackdown | Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya part of group that must prove existence (The Nation, Nairobi)
9/11, six months later:
- Fundamentalist religion | In the six months since the calamitous events of 11 September, I've come to feel a member of an embattled minority: I'm an atheist. (George Kerevan, The Scotsman)
- Cleric says others need payments more than he | Paul M. Britton, whose unmarried sister died aboard Flight 93, has decided not to seek financial compensation for her death (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Ashcroft's rhetorical jihad on Islam | The attorney general should contemplate the impact of his remarks—and the effects of some of his actions on our civil liberties. (Nat Hentoff, The Washington Times)
- Their faith lives beyond religion | Leaders join together amid the chaos in Israel (The Jerusalem Post)
- Group aids 'prophetic' Jewish state | Some Christians see immigrants as holy destiny (Associated Press)
- Church council to encourage 'outrage' over Israeli occupation | World Council of Churches tries to rally public opposition to the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank (Religion News Service)
Politics & law:
- Federal, state agencies quietly foster faith-based initiatives | Religious groups have found success at local level (Religion News Service)
- Bush keeps GOP conservatives happy | Unlike his father, president follows Reagan's example (Chicago Tribune)
- Chief of staff's wife—a Methodist pastor—preaches to the president | Bushes attend different church (Associated Press)
- New tactics needed for cultural wars | Being right and being effective are not always the same (Philip Gold, The Washington Times)
- Pastor fights conservatives' rejecting stance | Vineyard pastor's book, Who Is My Enemy? says culture-war rhetoric suggests "that our primary call is to crush those who oppose us, not to bring healing and salvation to them" (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
- Rundle pressed on gay rights law | Groups ask Bush to take her off case (The Miami Herald)
- Pious shots from the pulpit by another turbulent African priest | Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, although educated by European missionaries and a regular at Sunday mass, no longer has much time for the Catholic Church (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Sunday alcohol could face vote | Unless city commissioners change their minds before November, Albany residents will decide if they can buy a drink on Sunday. (The Albany [N.Y] Herald)
- City allows display of banned nude art | Daria Fand's painting of a woman on a crucifix was banned from Honolulu City Hall (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)
Church & State:
- Churchgoers insist plaque should stay | Debate on Ten Commandments display continues after court ruling (Daily Local News, West Chester, Penn.)
- National motto moving into local classrooms | ACLU holds off criticism, saying it may be constitutional (The Flint [Mich.] Journal)
- Bishop of Birmingham calls for end to 'state ties' | Church, state, should withdraw from each other, he says (BBC)
- High court's pending vote on vouchers won't be end of the story | If court watchers are right and Cleveland program is given green light, the nation faces a fierce debate that may well determine the future of public education (Charles Haynes, Freedom Forum)
- Teaching, not preaching | Complaints that California schools present Islam in glowing terms but shortchange Christianity are highlighting a classroom dilemma (Associated Press)
- Snacks, naps, Bible keep student on top | Peter Midgley says Bible is key to his 4.8 grade point average (The Bergen [N.J.] Record)
- Florida House again passes school prayer bill | Third time in less than a year the House has passed a school prayer measure (The Daytona Beach News-Journal)
- Teacher plans a gift of gratitude | This summer, Bonnie Dukes will go beyond the call of duty and give a kidney to one of her high school students. (The Washington Times)
- Yale, Berkeley officially renew affiliation | Agreement renegotiated after charges of financial mismanagement (The Hartford Courant)
- L.A. bishop takes Yale post on interim basis (Associated Press)
- Teaching the preachers | South Florida a perfect home for evangelical seminary with international bent (The Miami Herald)
- Darwinian struggle | Is there a place in evolutionary theory for the hand of God? Maybe in Ohio. Hearings start this month (Time)
- Matter of faith | Creationism at the taxpayers' expense (Editorial, The Guardian, London)
- Top school's creationists preach value of biblical story over evolution | State-funded secondary teachers do not accept findings of Darwin (The Guardian, London)
- Student faith groups unite to fight fundamentalism on campus | Oxford University's Muslim chaplain talks about a new project to combat extremism (The Times, London)
- The view from the classroom | In the New York metro area, long considered a bastion of excellence in science education, what a child learns about the origins of life often depends on one thing: where that child attends school (Newsday, Melville, NY)
- Creation vs. evolution | More than three-quarters of a century after the Scopes monkey trial, Darwin's opponents aren't even thinking of giving up (Newsday, Melville, NY)
- To the rescue | Although healing has been the subject of much skepticism, research shows that it can be beneficial when used alongside other therapies, as well as existing as a treatment in its own right. (Jennifer Harper, The Guardian)
- I'm having my wings done | It's the stuff of science fantasy, but a respected American surgeon says that, within five years, he will be able to graft wings and tails on to human beings. (The Guardian)
- Where are bold defenders of an embattled faith? | As stories abound of priests increasingly reluctant to be seen wearing Roman collars in public, disheartened by the suspicions conveyed in icy stares from strangers, why are they left to twist in the wind alone? (Joe Fitzgerald, Boston Herald)
- Abuse problem is clouded by a lack of data | Opinion split on whether molestation is more prevalent in Catholic clergy (The Washington Post)
- Zero-tolerance policy on priests stirs debate | Ousting sex offenders doesn't help, some say (The Baltimore Sun)
- Faith in their Father? | A journalist goes home to witness a priest testing his parish's loyalty (Robert Sullivan, Time)
- Bishop resigns in Fla. over charges (The Boston Globe)
- Fla. bishop quits post, admitting sex abuse (The Washington Post)
- Catholic bishop in Florida quits, admitting sex abuse in the 70's (The New York Times)
- As rabbis face facts, Bible tales are wilting | A new Torah and commentary represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine document. (The New York Times)
- Authors say one Gospel stands apart, but disagree on which | John is usually singled out, but Ben Witherington III of Kentucky's Asbury Theological Seminary depicts Luke as the oddity (The Daytona Beach News-Journal)
- Holy smokes | Inmates find Bible pages make for excellent rolling papers
- Bibles tone down the 'He' | Churches already starting to use TNIV, though it hasn't been published yet (Kalamazoo [Mich.] Gazette)
- Was Kashmir Jesus' final resting place? | American researcher thinks so, and wants DNA testing on body (AFP)
- Let there be Web sites | Churches create online worship sites (ABCNews.com)
- Secret police get chance to confess | Russian secret policemen, the successors to the KGB, now have their own church in which to confess sins, seek spiritual guidance and pray for salvation (The Daily Telegraph)
- Christian pub that opened with exorcism calls time | Owners found someone willing to pay full rent (Ananova)
- Former Grand Rapids preacher defends friendship with Andrea Yates | Michael Woroniecki has been implicated as someone whose evangelical influence may have contributed to the mental state that caused the Texas woman to kill her five children. (The Grand Rapids Press)
- Romancing the reverend | Rules, written and unwritten, regarding single clergy's dating life vary with denomination and congregation (The Roanoke [Va.] Times)
- U.S. evicts pastor from Iran ambassador residence | Ruth Schofield, who called the building the Prince of Peace Embassy, hasn't paid the rent of $15,000 a month for four years (Reuters)
- Archbishop of Washington Returns | "Fasting and blood donation after a strenuous day are not the best combination at 71," says Theodore E. McCarrick (Associated Press)
- Guitar plays second fiddle to church pulpit | Church of Christ minister finds time for musical instruments (The Dallas Morning News)
- Drawn to serve God | Half a century ago, Father Dunstan Massey left behind wealthy, influential admirers to devote his art, and life, to St. Benedict (Vancouver Sun)
Sex & marriage:
- Bush plan rightfully jilts those against marriage | Despite the overheated rhetoric of some critics, the plan doesn't amount to a Bush push for shotgun weddings (Leonard Pitts Jr, The Miami Herald)
- Bigamy case dismissed against Rev. | Judge says complaint was filed in wrong city (Las Vegas Sun)
- Earlier: Va. pastor accused of bigamy, fraud | Thomas Cross allegedly sold his Boston church out from under his congregation (Associated Press)
- Labor minister backs new 'gay Jesus' prayerbook | Britain's Foreign Office minister offers foreword to new anthology (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- No sex, please, we're celibate | Britney Spears, Josh Hartnett and I have something in common—and what's wrong with that? (Peter T. Chattaway, Vancouver Sun)
- Finns celebrate first gay weddings | Finland is least liberal of Nordic countries (Reuters)
What would Columba say?
- Iona lets the new spirit in | Abbey has made sexuality one of its designated "areas of concern"—alongside ecumenism, justice, peace and integrity of creation, racism, rediscovering spirituality, economic justice, and youth concern (The Scotsman)
- Iona's first female leader | Kathy Galloway said she hoped to use her position to advance the cause of those who did not have a voice in society (The Scotsman)
- Also: Iona Community chooses female Rev (BBC)
- Rebellion through religion | How did a California kid end up fighting for an oppressive fanatical regime? (Belia Mayeno-Choy, Youth Radio)
- Dressed as Jesus, child gets into fight | A 12-year-old from a neighboring middle school saw him and made fun of him, calling him "Little Bo Peep" and "Heidi." (The Omaha World-Herald)
- Teen forum: Rock of religion | Students say belief is worth searching for and living by (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Stigmata priest has church buzzing | Pastor says priest is nervous (New York Daily News)
- Italian statue 'weeps blood' | Padre Pio will be made a saint in June (BBC)
- Would-be saint impassions Mexico | Indians' role, truth of life story at issue (The Boston Globe)
- Ailing Pope thanks well-wishers | Pontiff appears to be in much pain (Associated Press)
- Also: Ailing Pope cancels several appearances (The Washington Post)
- Pastors, parishioners big on George, polls say | Despite recent high-profile controversies, an overwhelming majority of Chicago parish pastors approve of the job Chicago's Cardinal Francis George is doing (Chicago Sun-Times)
- Film spotlights 'murky Vatican finances' | Twenty years after he was found hanging from a London bridge, a film opens in Italy on Friday 8 March which reignites the controversy about what happened to Vatican banker Roberto Calvi. (BBC)
Other stories of interest:
- An enduring academic study of religion | After 100 years, William James's 'Varieties,' maybe not flawless, resonates nonetheless. (The New York Times)
- Fearing rifts over religion, most of us stay silent | Why don't more folks talk about their belief? Would it be good for us if they did, or would it be divisive? (Jerry Large, The Seattle Times)
- Radical new views of Islam and the origins of the Koran | Scholars argue that the Koran has been misread and mistranslated for centuries (The New York Times)
- Preaching the power of reconciliation | He survived a bomb set off by the Irish Republican Army. Years later, propelled by the need to forgive, he reached out to his attacker. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- St. Patrick's Day traditions in U.S. at odds with Ireland's religious holiday | Beer and parades versus church and prayer (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
- Film 'censor' moves to the Church | Andreas Whittam Smith, the man who oversaw the relaxation of the classification of sex movies, will oversee management of Church of England's investments (BBC)
- Catholic Church calls Colombia "morally sick" | "A true spiritual slaughter," says Monsignor Alberto Giraldo (Reuters)
- Religious issues demand inquiry | Journalists owe it to the public to look hard at every religious and political group that attempts to influence our lives (Marsha Budz, The Denver Post)
- Go Valpo! Go … Crusaders? | I am uneasy with Valparaiso's mascot (Jon Pahl, Sightings/The Christian Science Monitor)
- Fear, faith lay cornerstones of $50m empire | Bensons Group's Elias Jreissati says his Catholicism guides his decisions (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
See our past Weblog updates:
March 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4
March 1 | February 28 | 27 | 26 | 25
February 22 | 21 | 20 | 19 | 18
February 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11
February 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4
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