Campus killer: "Here's a lesson in spirituality"
Robert Stewart Flores Jr., walked into the College of Nursing at the University of Arizona, where his fellow students were taking a multiple-choice midterm exam.
He walked up to Cheryl M. McGaffic, a volunteer chaplain at the University Medical Center and ethics teacher who taught students about the relationship between health and spirituality.
"Cheryl, are you prepared to use your spiritual resources now?" Flores asked. "'Here's a lesson in spirituality. Make peace with your maker." Then he killed her.
"It didn't register at first, then I just heard the gunshot go off and I could see her fall to the ground," student Diana Lugo told The Arizona Daily Star. "He did it in a kind of calm, gross, happy way. It was kind of like a joke to him."
Then Flores approached assistant professor Barbara S. Monroe and asked, "Do you remember what was the last thing you said to me?" Monroe said she didn't. "Are you ready to meet your maker?," he asked. When she choked out, "Yes," he shot her in the chest.
Flores then released the 50 or so students in the room and shot himself.
The students who witnessed the killings found out later that another professor had been killed: Robin E. Rogers, a very active member of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church who led singing and the congregation's nursing ministry.
Rogers had asked her fellow worshipers to pray for protection from Flores just two days before the murders.
Surely Flores was driven by more than just spirituality, but it seems to be a thread to the three murders. Yesterday, reports the Star, mourners at the three women's memorial services struggled for healing and answers.
Beliefnet no longer financially bankrupt
Scaling back from 69 employees to five, depending mostly on reprints, massively cutting original material, and scrubbing their own toilets, multifaith website Beliefnet has pulled out of bankruptcy, reports USA Today. CEO Stephen Waldman says it's unclear "if it's a reincarnation, a resurrection, or just good fortune. But we do know we're alive and feeling very blessed!"
But all those cuts apparently came at a steep price. USA Today calls Beliefnet "the Net's most popular religion site," but then says it "drew 1 million visitors a month." Is it still drawing that many? And if so, why can't it make a profit? After all, ChristianityToday.com drew 1.2 million unique visitors this month, employs 18 — and it's in the black.
- Spellbound | Halloween fever is upon us again, and thanks to Buffy, Sabrina and Harry, witches and wizards are more popular with kids than ever. Is there any harm in it? (The Guardian, London)
- Halloween alternative delivers fire, brimstone | "Heaven's Gates and Hell's Flames" is among a growing number of congregations trying to come up with alternatives to what they see as the subversive Halloween traditions of witches, ghosts, and goblins (The Bergen [N.J.] Record)
- Church's Hell House draws on Sept. 11 tragedy | Wife of youth pastor said the organizers don't want to upset people, and they decided not to portray any of the Islamic terrorists to avoid inflaming the local Muslim population (Waco [Tex.] Tribune-Herald)
- Film looks at Halloween alternative | A new documentary, "Hell House," looks at the phenomenon through one church, Trinity Assembly of God Church in Cedar Hill, outside Dallas, which has staged a Hell House for the past 12 Halloweens (Associated Press)
- Churches use pagan day to send message | Some Christians turn to haunted houses to spread word about damnation, salvation (The Detroit News)
- Churches offer alternatives to Halloween (The Miami Herald)
- Woman puts out a devil of an anti-Halloween display | This you've gotta see (The Star Press, Muncie, Ind.)
- Pa. politics and religion don't mix | A poll shows that churchgoers prefer a separation, although many see a limited role for the clergy (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Clergy crosses endorsement line | Candidates are looking for support wherever they can—and finding it, unfortunately, in many of the nation's synagogues and churches (Gerald L. Zelizer, USA Today)
- Group takes faith-based approach to jobs | Coalition will try to use Christian links to create work (Daily Mail, Charleston, WV)
- Preaching politics | Religious texts rarely offer political guidance, and it is dangerous to think otherwise (Jason L. Steorts, Harvard Crimson)
- Evangelical politics | D.G. Hart, in his compact, instructive and well-argued That Old-Time Religion in Modern America, posits this central question: "How did born-again Protestants, who were by most accounts among the most respected Americans, become in the minds of many at best an annoyance and at worst a threat to civil society?" (Chicago Sun-Times)
U.S. foreign policy:
- Archbishop warns on Iraq | The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, yesterday used his final Sunday in office to warn the government not to go to war with Iraq. (The Guardian, London)
- The end of the affair | Thanks to American missionaries and diplomats, the Arab world once looked to the United States as a friend and source of hope. It didn't last (Ussama Makdisi, The Boston Globe)
- Since attacks, U.S. admits fewer refugees | The United States had allocated space and money for up to 70,000 refugees for the fiscal year starting on Oct. 1, 2001, but it admitted only 27,113. (The New York Times)
Missions and ministry:
- Billy Graham breaks ground for center | Shovel in hand, famed evangelist brings his ministry to Charlotte (The Charlotte Observer)
- Also: Graham Breaks Ground for Headquarters (Associated Press)
- Group helping Christian men fight sexual addiction | Pure Life Ministries, 45-acre farm in a 45-acre farm in rural Pendleton County. Kentucky, bills itself as a "totally Christ-centered and Biblical" treatment program for Christian sex addicts (Evansville [Ind.] Courier & Press)
- Leading his flock of refugees to asylum | A missionary helps North Koreans flee via China and Mongolia. Risking death, the escapees brave the elements and jail (Los Angeles Times)
- To chaplain, warship's just the place to spread message of peace and love | Nightly rosary prayers are said below the flight deck, accompanied by the roar of engines. (Los Angeles Times)
- Rock 'n' roll revival | Combine the atmosphere of Lollapalooza, the anointing of the Pentecost and the fun of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus and you have the newest entry in the massive Christian entertainment market: the evangelical festival tour (The Tampa Tribune)
- Out of Utah | Against stiff competition, Mormon missionaries win hearts and converts in West Africa (The Boston Globe)
- Iowa's rural churches become casualties of change | As they vanish, so does heritage, historians say. (Associated Press)
- Archbishop goes back to the beginning to say farewell | The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, admitted yesterday that the decline in Sunday churchgoing during his tenure was a "disappointment," but he denied that the Church of England was dying (The Times, London)
- After 4 years, conservative Baptist group coming into its own | 'We have … turned the corner,' says executive director of convention. (The Dallas Morning News)
- Church renewal on the roll | A buoyant atmosphere marked the first national gathering of confessing movements from 12 mainline denominations in Indianapolis (UPI)
- Kirk rejects woman moderator after late vote switch | The Church of Scotland yesterday passed over yet another opportunity to appoint its first female moderator in one of the closest votes held for the post (The Scotsman)
- Rumours of female moderator unfounded (The Daily Telegraph)
- Student sues UBC on religious grounds | Anglican woman claims she was exposed to 'hatred and contempt' (The National Post)
- Bishop's doubts split United Methodists | Chicago Bishop Joseph Sprague describes Christ with "the attraction of any great hero, but falls short of the eternal fullness of the second person of the Trinity." The bishops of Florida and North Carolina publicly challenged him, while the South Carolina bishop endorsed his beliefs. (The Washington Times)
Money and business:
- Vice fund will not repent for investing in 'sin' | New mutual fund will invest heavily in "sin" stocks from four industries: alcohol, tobacco, gambling and defense (The Washington Times)
- Teens skip skimpy styles | Several teens and their advisors collected over 1,500 signatures on petitions to encourage retailers to start offering more modest clothes for teenagers (The Arizona Republic)
- Five indicted in Arizona Baptist Foundation fraud case | The five men had earlier been indicted on May 4, 2001, but a superior court judge last month threw out those indictments, ruling that some evidence presented to the grand jury was improper and prejudicial (The Wall Street Journal)
- Receivers sent in to church | One of the country's wealthiest evangelical churches is being investigated by the Charity Commission over the alleged misuse of funds (BBC)
Science and medicine:
- New status for embryos in research | Embryos in experiments are "human subjects" whose welfare should be considered along with that of fetuses, children and adults, says federal advisory committee (The Washington Post)
- Administration directs panel to study embryo protections (Los Angeles Times)
- Patient dies after visit to faith healer | The Santa Ana man sought help for a rash but was injected with an unidentified substance (Los Angeles Times)
- 'Gulf syndrome' forces vicar's retirement | A former Army chaplain is being forced to retire because of illnesses he believes are caused by Gulf War Syndrome (BBC)
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