Falwell's latest
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).

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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.

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Church and state:

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Franklin Graham:

Holy Land:

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Other religions:


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)


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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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