Lack of tourism, weight of economic struggles mount in Israel
For over a year, the Holy Land's tourism industry has been staggering in the face of renewed violence. "Now, it's a disaster," convention organizer Hanna Barag tells the Chicago Tribune. "Would you go to a place where they are shooting and blowing up coffee shops?"
Because religious travelers are putting off trips to Israel and business conventions have cancelled Israel dates—up until 2007—the tourism industry has toppled. Barag's own trade convention business was forced to close last November. Christianity Todayreported last month that tourism, once one of the Holy Land's strongest industries, has declined 45 percent since 2000.
But tourism does not exist in a vacuum. The dramatic drop and related economic woes have caused political turmoil that escalated in the firing of 11 Cabinet ministers on Monday.
Pedophilia: an incurable disease?
In researching the effectiveness of Megan's Laws, which require convicted pedophiles to notify their communities of past convictions, George Washington University professor Amitai Etzioni extensively studied various methods to treat pedophilia. He writes in the Chicago Tribune this week that much of what the Catholic Church has done in response to clergy pedophilia assumes that it is a curable disease.
The sad truth is that pedophilia is almost never cured. Pedophilia is not a normal sex drive but an obsession, a strong impulse difficult to control. It has been characterized as a chronic, progressive condition that can never really be cured. The fact that pedophiles are rarely cured is reflected in the fact that even if jailed and treated, they continue to act out their impulse.
Consequently, Etzioni concludes that psychoanalysis, reassignment, and church-sponsored institutes are not suitable solutions for pedophilia.
Several states, fully cognizant of the limits of Megan's Laws, enacted much stronger laws: the Sexual Predator Acts. These allow public authorities to keep pedophiles locked up in state mental hospitals--after they have completed their jail sentences.
Regrettably, if we are to spare children much more abuse, and if one agrees that priests should not be treated differently from other mortals who commit major crimes, such hospitals are the place many of these priests will end up, until an effective cure is found. At least it is the place they ought to be.
Torrey and Evelyn Johnson died last week
Dr. Torrey M. Johnson, founder of Youth For Christ, died May 15 of natural causes. He was 93. His wife, Evelyn, 92, died on May 16, also of natural causes. Torrey M. Johnson attended Wheaton College and in 1933 founded Midwest Bible Church. He was influential in the 1943 formation of the National Association of Evangelicals and became the organization's Midwest representative. In 1945 he founded Youth for Christ and served as its first president. He was the senior pastor of Bibletown Community Church for 15 years and founded a Carol Stream retirement community now named in his honor.
Sex & marriage:
- Spiritual trip is off for gay man | He says the sponsoring ministry barred him because he belongs to Pepperdine straight-homosexual group, and that the school backs decision. (Los Angeles Times)
- Risky business | Teens are having more sex—and getting more diseases. But is telling them to wait the answer? (U.S. News & World Report)
- Church websites 'ugly as sin' | In a new book, Son of WebPages that Suck, web designer Dean Peters comments on church websites. (Vnunet)
- Papal vision for the web | "If it is used competently and responsibly, it could offer an opportunity for spreading the evangelical word," Pope says.
Crime & justice:
- 1963 Church Bombing Case Goes to Jury | The jury of nine whites and three blacks deliberated about 2 hours before recessing for the night. (Fox News)
- Also: Jurors begin deliberating fate of Klansman (Associated Press)
- Earlier: Defense rests after one day in '63 church bombing | Defense lawyers for a former Klansman accused in a church bombing that killed four black girls in Birmingham, Ala., rested their case on Monday. (The New York Times)
- Man attacks Assemblies of God pastor and family | Suspect, reportedly insane, still at large (The News, Monrovia, Liberia)
- Churches deliver seatbelt safety message | Connecticut government promotes "Seat Belt Sunday" in black churches (The Hartford Courant)
- Pagan Scots turn backs on the Kirk | So few people now go to church that researchers say Scotland can no longer be considered a Christian nation. (The Scotsman)
- Analyzing the unchurched | The proportion of Americans claiming no religion doubled in the 1990s. Many moderate and liberal Christians became alienated, experts say. (Los Angeles Times)
- Bishop vows to sell £1m mansion and give proceeds to the poor | Patrick O'Donoghue, Roman Catholic bishop of Lancaster, plans to strip himself of many of the trappings of the job (The Guardian, London)
Missions & ministry:
- Keeping their faith alive | Christian raves give teens a place to soothe their hearts — and souls. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Rescued aid workers cope with irony while on tour | Posh hotels a world away from their Afghan mission and captivity (The Dallas Morning News)
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