That Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell doesn't think highly of Muhammad is hardly surprising, but his comment that the founder of Islam was a terrorist makes a lot of headlines today. "I think Mohammed was a terrorist," he says in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday's 60 Minutes. "I read enough … by both Muslims and non-Muslims [to decide] that he was a violent man, a man of war."
CBS is really playing up the quote in promoting Sunday's show, but other news sources are quick to point out that he was baited. The word terrorist wasn't his own — it was that of interviewer Bob Simon.
The Associated Press that "Simon asked directly whether Falwell considered Muhammad a terrorist and he tried to reply honestly. The minister said he would never state his opinion in a sermon or book."
"I've said often and many places that most Muslims are people of peace and want peace and tranquility for their families and abhor terrorism," Falwell told the news service. "Islam, like most faiths, has a fringe of radicals who carry on bloodshed wherever they are. They do not represent Islam."
Falwell made a similar statement to the conservative website WorldNetDaily. "My intent was not to attack Muhammad," he told reporter Art Moore. "I have avoided that. But [Simon] was pressing me on the issue of Muhammad's behavior, his involvement in war, and I simply said what I do believe, that Muhammad is not a good example for most Muslim people." (For more, see Falwell.com's "Historical Data About Muhammad.")
The Council on American-Islamic Relations responds: "Anybody is free to be a bigot if they want to. What really concerns us is the lack of reaction by mainstream religious and political leaders, who say nothing when these bigots voice these attacks."
Falwell's comments aren't just on Muhammad. He also speaks on Israeli-American relations. "There are 70 million of us … [and] there's nothing that would bring the wrath of the Christian public in this country down on this government like abandoning or opposing Israel on a critical matter," he said.
Missionary hospital in Pakistan attacked
Attacks on Pakistani Christian institutions continue, but thankfully they're not killing anybody. Five days after a small bomb exploded in a small Pakistani church, two men on a motorcycle threw a grenade into a Christian missionary hospital in the northwest Pakistan town of Bannu, 30 miles from the Afghanistan border. No one was hurt in either attack, but the terrorism continues.
Department of Health and Human Services offers millions to faith-based organizations
The faith-based initiative lives. On Wednesday the Bush administration announced that millions of dollars (the Associated Press says $25 million, The Washington Times says $30 million) will go to religious organizations — not just secular ones. At the top of the list, with a $2.5 million grant, is Nueva Esperanza (New Hope), a Philadelphia-based Hispanic network of more than 100 congregations from more than 25 denominations. The Christian Community Health Fellowship of Illinois received a $1.1 million grant, and Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing International received $500,000 (the Council on American-Islamic Relations is trying to get that grant stopped).
The Associated Press names several other organizations that also received funding.
In other faith-based organization news, the American Jewish Congress is suing the Corporation for National and Community Service, the independent federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps. The group opposes the agency's grants to religious educational organizations, saying that such funds violate the Constitution.
- Commission cites countries on religious freedom | An independent advisory group funded by the U.S. government has recommended that the administration add India, Laos, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Vietnam to its black list of countries that restrict religious freedoms (Associated Press)
- Commission recommends 12 nations for designation as 'countries of particular concern' (Press release)
- Belarus to impose strict curbs on religion | Human rights activists call legislation the most suffocating religion law in Europe (The Washington Post)
Church and state:
- Judge denies motion for summary judgment in Commandments case | Alabama chief justice's case will go to trial (Associated Press)
- Federal appeals panel OKs university's student-fee distribution system | 7th Circuit judges find standards University of Wisconsin uses in distributing grants are sufficient to guarantee that decisions are neutral (Associated Press)
- Plaques at city plaza become source of conflict | Another Ten Commandments battle (The Tomball Potpourri)
- Mexico's Protestants disturbed by narrowing line between church and state | An expert on minority religions is warning that Mexican President Vicente Fox's increasing displays of ardent Roman Catholicism are angering the country's Evangelical Protestant community (Voice of America, audio)
- Kunonga asks court to bar parishioners | Zimbabwe Anglican bishop wants to ban those who disagree with his support of Mugabe government (The Daily News, Harare)
- Catholics refuse to hand mission hospital to Zimbabwe government | Church fears the hospital might deteriorate like other government controlled health institutions countrywide (Zimbabwe Standard, Harare)
- Christian church wins right to build in spiritualist community | A town of psychics didn't want a church; they didn't foresee a suit (National Law Journal)
- Fallen Christian puts faith in the law | Loraine Daly is suing the Sydney Christian Life Centre for $750,000 after she was "slain in the spirit" and not caught. (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Minister's troubles not over | Creator of rescue mission, newsletter facing civil court fight (The Beacon Journal, Akron, Ohio)
- TV ministry in Arizona to get refund of property taxes | Suit contended that the television production facilities were an integral part of Ron Hembree's Good Friends ministry (The Washington Times)
- Falwell, city, state settle lawsuit | Lawyers on both sides agreed that an 18th-century law limiting how much land a church can own does not apply to the Thomas Road Baptist Church, which plans to expand (The News & Advance, Lynchburg, Va.)
- Also: Va., Falwell Church to End Suit (Associated Press)
- A legal tattoo hullabaloo | The U.S. Supreme Court considers whether tattooing is a protected form of religious or political speech under the Constitution (Jonathan Turley, Los Angeles Times)
- Graham is news because many listen | Just seeing his words on the front page of our newspaper can evoke emotional outbursts (Bob Gabordi, Ashville Citizen-Times, N.C.)
- Earlier: Franklin Graham not afraid to stand out, in words and deeds (Ashville Citizen-Times, N.C.)
- Also: Evangelist Franklin Graham says that America is being 'Islamized' (Associated Press)
- Earlier: Graham's positions are holding up well | Franklin Graham is less interested in a ministry permeated by protocol than one steeped in the actual practice of saving lives and doing the work he has been called on to do (Editorial, Ashville Citizen-Times, N.C.)
- Turf battles mar peace of Christian shrine | Muslim doorkeepers, Jewish police keep order among monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (The Boston Globe)
- Holy Land tourism still suffering from Middle East violence | From the start of the fighting through the end of 2002, Israel's hotels will have lost 1.9 billion shekels (US $400 million) worth of business, the Israel Hotels Association projects (Associated Press)
- Worship at Joseph's Tomb banned | Has been closed to Israelis since October 2000 (The Jerusalem Post)
- 'Militant Islam reaches America': Naming the evildoers | Daniel Pipes identifies Islamism, a totalitarian ideology, as America's enemy (The New York Times)
- A war against what? | Militant Islam keeps on killing, but politicians and journalists still avert their eyes (Daniel Pipes, New York Post)
- Audience learns faiths share similarities | Apparently those similarities are that each faith has its differences (News-Star, Shawnee, Okla.)
- John Paul II is history's champion saintmaker | The 82-year-old pontiff heads into his 24th year of papacy this month having named an astonishing 463 saints — so far. On Sunday, he declares yet one more (USA Today)
- Also: The road to sainthood (USA Today)
- New saint reflects lay group's new influence | The canonization of the founder of Opus Dei, a lay organization, has delighted traditionalists in the Roman Catholic Church and distressed progressives (The New York Times)
- Cross-shaped welts appear on priest's forehead | Stigmata appeared on the head of Father Zlatko Sudac as he was speaking to them on the evil of drug abuse among young people (Ananova)
- Return of the prodigal son | An unorthodox cleric who deserted the Vatican for the Moonies has been welcomed back into the fold (The Guardian, London)
- Sliver of land severs church from teachings | The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago does not deny that it made a stupid mistake, an amateurish blunder, when it sold the former custodian's house at St. Nicholas Church in Evanston to a couple who had just joined the parish (Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune)
Missions and ministry:
- Norwegian Church Aid accused of weapon smuggling | Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail made accusation. Group rejected the claims as groundless. (Afternposten, Oslo)
- Christian cyclists take to the road | Members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association ride their shiny Harley-Davidsons in the name of the Son (The Miami Herald)
- Polish missionary recommended for Nobel Prize | Father Marian Zalazek (84), who lives among leprosy patients in a colony set up by him in the pilgrim town of Puri, India, has been a shining example of how love for fellow human beings can help a man transform the life of others (Rediff.com)
- Lord's gym | Changing one life at a time (Peter Bronson, The Cincinnati Enquirer)
- One-parent families double in only 15 years | A quarter of all children in Britain now grow up with either their mother or father. (The Telegraph, London)
- Marriage makes both sexes happy | Contrary to popular belief, marriage gives men and women an equal mental health boost, a study in Australia shows (New Scientist)
- Also: Marriage makes both sexes happy (BBC)
Other stories of interest:
- What's the deal with the bright light you see before dying? | Assuming it's not the Great Beyond, medical science has advanced several theories as to the bright light's physiological roots (Brendan I. Koerner, Slate.com)
- No ordinary path | Columbia doctoral student Lauren Winner outs herself as a Christian (Susan Lee, The Wall Street Journal)
- If, biblically | Things would be different if Abraham weren't so obedient, or if Goliath had Samson's hair (Sam Orbaum, The Jerusalem Post)
- The gospel truth | The story of Thurmond Ruth, a man who lived for music & faith (David Hinckley, New York Daily News)
- God got me into this | An interview with the matriarch of Charismatic Catholics, Marilynn Kramar (LA Weekly)
- Don't count on census of faiths | Maybe the statisticians should do what modern theologians do about the number of angels on the pin (Charles W. Bell, New York Daily News)
- Debating 'miracle' in Jamaica | Many say there's no easy explanation for why spring water is mysteriously bubbling up from the ground in Porus, about 40 miles west of Kingston, the capital (The Washington Times)
- Christians want to 'exorcise' Devil's Peak | The African Christian Democratic Party wants the South African mountain to be re-named Dove's Peak (Ananova)
- Killer who will not confess is banned from theology course | Sion Jenkins, the former deputy headteacher convicted of murdering his foster daughter, has been refused permission to take a prison theology course because he continues to plead his innocence (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Taking a hard look at organized religion | Does organized religion do more harm than good? (Allison Moore, The Bergen Record, N.J.)
- Report details child sex abuse in Congo | Preventive measures recommended; survivors' courage lauded (Presbyterian News Service)
- A new religious America | In a wonderful illustration of the phenomenon of unintended consequences, the radical social policy of color-blind open immigration is producing rich benefits for religion of a powerfully traditional bent (First Things)
- Whose holy day is it? | Employers cope with diverse religious observances (East Bay Business Times, Sacramento, Calif.)
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