Sad news from Alaska
Monday night, 19-year-old James Cunning attended an Assembly of God revival meeting. By midnight, he was still thinking about what he'd heard, and decided to go for a walk down a bike trail in his Anchorage neighborhood. Then he came across two other men, about his age, and started telling them about God. "Jesus loves you and he has a plan for all ya'll," he said.

The two men seemed interested at first, Cunning said, until one of them punched him in the face.

The other one then pulled a gun, asked "Where's your God now?" and shot him in the arm.

Cunning says he understands his attackers. When he moved out of his parents' house at age 14, he says, "I got into the gang-banging, the drug-dealing and all that other stuff." But six months ago, he returned home to reunite with his family, and earlier this month he found Jesus. And ever since, he says, he's had to talk about it.

"It's like this feeling you get inside," he told the Anchorage Daily News. "It comes from the heart. I feel like I've got to let people know there's hope."

Sadly, it was only the first story of religion-related violence in the area this week. Yesterday in Big Lake (about 44 miles from Anchorage), pastor Phillip Mielke shot and killed two men he caught robbing his church, Big Lake Community Chapel. The area has been plagued by break-ins this winter, but this was apparently the first to target a church.

Local residents say the burglary wasn't only immoral and illegal, it was stupid. "That's got to be the smallest church in the Valley," Helme Blank told the Daily News. "There's maybe 50 of them. That's why they call 'em poor as church mice."

Baptist missionaries won't resign
The six missionaries told by the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board to either resign or be fired for "clearly and publicly stat[ing] positions contrary" to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message say they won't quit, reports Associated Baptist Press.

"We cannot resign," Rick and Nancy Dill, missionaries to Germany, wrote in a letter to IMB president Jerry Rankin. "We are guilty of no misconduct or false teaching, and have been accused of none." In a letter last fall refusing to sign the faith statement, the Dills explained, "Our authority is the Bible, and no man-written document."

Similarly, Leon Johnson, who serves in Mozambique, said that Rankin's statement that he and his wife teach a message contrary to Southern Baptist doctrine is untrue. "I challenge you to produce one piece of evidence to substantiate this statement. … We already stand accountable to Southern Baptists. Signing a document will not make me more accountable."

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The six missionaries expect to be fired at the May 6 meeting of IMB trustees.

Shorter College officially leaves Georgia Baptist Convention in wake of ruling
Shorter College's dispute with the Georgia Baptist Convention took a significant turn Wednesday as a judge ruled it could transfer its assets—worth about $50 million—to a new private foundation. "The ruling signaled a victory for the college in a long-running dispute with the Baptist convention over funding and selection of trustees," says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but the Baptist Press reports that the Georgia Baptist Convention saw victory in the judge's ruling "that Shorter College's board of trustees must still be elected by the Georgia Baptist Convention."

No one believes this is the end of the story. The case is almost certainly going to the Georgia Supreme Court.

More articles


History and artifacts:

Iraq relief and aid:

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  • Don't stir ferment | It's ominous that U.S. fundamentalists such as evangelist Franklin Graham and Southern Baptist agencies are preparing to send missionary relief workers to Iraq (Editorial, The Charleston (W.V.) Gazette)

  • Faith-based groups see key postwar role | One thing American religious leaders—most of whom vehemently opposed the war—agree on is that religion is essential to the rebirth of a nation (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • U.S. role to save lives, not souls | The perception that the United States is engaged in a war on Islam itself can only be worsened if our troops are followed into Iraq by a horde of Christian soldiers who view conversion as part of their human relief effort (Editorial, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

War in Iraq:

God and war:

  • God only knows | Rogue deity must decide which side he is on (Jodie T. Allen, Reason)

  • Faithful grapple with forgiveness | Some draw the line at prayer for enemies (The Star-Ledger, N.J.)

  • 'Does America really merit God's blessing?' | We must not forget that 13 times in Israel's history God allowed that nation to be conquered by pagan armies, and only when there was true repentance did God restore the nation (Editorial, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)

The Fellowship:


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Missions and ministries:

Church life:

  • Young don't even know our Father, says Cardinal | Young people no longer understand what clergy are referring to when they talk about Jesus, the Cross and the Lord's Prayer, says the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor (The Times, London)

  • The Knott's faithful | The congregation reaches for the heavens as the Jaguar roller coaster reaches for the sky (The Orange County Register)

  • SARS no threat to holy ritual | Common spoon will be used at Orthodox Easter; changes to tradition can't be made at local level (The Toronto Star)

  • The debate over cathedrals charging for admission | How does levying a fee on access to God square with the doctrine of a religion open to all? (Editorial, The Times, London)

  • 'Out of control' eulogies prompt ban | Church leaders, fed up with jokes and unseemly odes, are cracking down (The Globe & Mail, Toronto)

  • No rooms at the church inn until peace becomes a reality | The head of the £13m Tiberias project on the Sea of Galilee, which has survived repeated demands for its scrapping, admitted one of the church's biggest property investments might take years to complete because of unrest in Israel (The Herald, Glasgow, Scotland)

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Church and state:

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Politics and law:

  • Defending Senator Santorum | The Pennsylvania Republican has been subject to shameful treatment (Stanley Kurtz, National Review Online)

  • Also: Santorum controversy illustrates dilemma of catholic politicians | Religious conservatives defended Santorum yesterday as a politician who did what, in their opinion, politicians should do: carry their personal religious convictions into political life, rather than try to separate those realms (The Washington Post)

  • Also: Santorum and tolerance | The demonization of Mr. Santorum tells us that his opponents really aren't interested in a legal or moral debate (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Excommunicating Daschle? | Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Carlson said he "would never break off dialogue or a pastoral relationship with anyone," after an article implied a breach had developed between the prelate and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle over abortion (Associated Press)

  • Also: When must bishops intervene? | Where is the demarcation line between the spiritual and the secular, and when may a cleric weigh in on temporal issues? (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)

  • Also: Sen. Daschle's letter, an update | Tom Daschle issues a non-denial denial about the letter he was sent by his bishop asking him to stop calling himself a Catholic (J. Bottum, The Weekly Standard)

  • Earlier: Tom Daschle's duty to be morally coherent | The Senate minority leader is ordered to stop calling himself a Catholic (J. Bottum, The Weekly Standard)

  • California Assembly okays new bill on sex bias | Civil rights protections broadened to apply to 'perceived gender' (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Collaborators always existed in the church | The Church in Zimbabwe has come under great scrutiny of late in regard to its role in the current crisis (Dumisani Nkomo, The Financial Gazette, Zimbabwe)

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  • Progress seen on faith-based agenda | A new report says the Bush administration has made "ample progress" in its goal of expanding funding opportunities for religious groups, even though Congress has failed to pass legislation toward that end (The Washington Times)

  • New cabinet fails to inspire Christians | Berri leads charge to deny that changes are only cosmetic (The Daily Star, Lebanon)

Interfaith relations and conversion:


  • Denver Seminary to build new campus | Move will boost student capacity (The Denver Post)

  • Also: Seminary to move | Denver facility selling 11-acre campus, relocating to Littleton (Rocky Mountain News)

  • What Rod Paige really said | The trigger-happy media target the secretary of education (Kenneth L. Woodward, The Weekly Standard, subscription required)

  • Also: Taking a Paige out of context | Secretary of Education Rod Paige is in hot water over an interview he gave to the Baptist Press. Is the turmoil justified? (Terry Eastland, The Dallas Morning News)

  • Suit challenges a university's speech code | Shippensburg University gives each student a "primary" right to be free from harassment, inimidation, physical harm or emotional abuse, and a "secondary" right to express a personal belief system in a manner that does not "provoke, harass, demean, intimidate or harm" another (The New York Times)

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Money and business:


  • Easter's gaudiness dims next to Cross | When did Easter turn into Christmas in springtime? Everywhere I looked were Easter baskets filled with items that say anything but Feast of the Resurrection of Christ (David Waters, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)

  • In praise of commercialized holidays | Some of the religious passion has gone out of Easter, but then again, so has the violence (The Hartford Courant)

  • On the cross | Suffering, compassion and the Easter message (The Times, London)

  • Easter's hawks and doves | Sin must be paid for with blood - that view of the crucifixion leads to support for capital punishment and war (Giles Fraser, The Guardian, London)

  • From bone box to big screen, Jesus reconsidered | Nearly 2,000 years after Jesus trod the globe, there is, this Easter season, a fresh focus on the physical details of his life and death - and about what lessons they hold for today's religiously conflicted world (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Archbishop steps back 400 years | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, last night reinstituted after 400 years one of the oldest and most humbling rituals in the Christian church by washing the feet of 12 parishioners at his cathedral during the Maundy Thursday evening service (The Guardian, London)

  • Also: Foot-washing Archbishop shows his humility (The Times, London)


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  • Comic book pages carry messages of faith | Fuller Seminary welcomes Jim Krueger, who has written more than 100 comic books, including the "Earth-X' trilogy, which featured Spiderman, Hulk and the other heroes from Marvel comics; "The Foot Soldiers'; and his latest series, "The Clock Maker.' (Pasadena Star News)

  • Spiritual feminists | Damaris salons have a seven-session study that juxtaposes texts written by authors like Gloria Steinem and Alice Walker with the New Testament teachings of Jesus (The Washington Times)

Life ethics:

  • Stem cell strides test Bush policy | Scientists push for use of newer cell colonies (The Washington Post)

  • N.H. House passes abortion bill | Restriction that breaks with tradition heads for senate (The Washington Post)

  • Case renews push for fetus protection | The murder charge California prosecutors are seeking for the death of Laci Peterson's unborn son would not be allowed if the crime were being prosecuted under federal statutes, said supporters of legislation designed to close that loophole (The Washington Times)


  • Saint Fulton? | Karen Fulte is looking for stories about the experiences of people whose lives were deeply influenced by the late Roman Catholic teacher—provable testimonials tinged with enough divine influence to persuade the church to name Sheen a saint (Associated Press)

  • Pope woos conservatives expelled for rebellion | Marcel Lefebvre broke with Rome in 1988 to protest against the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, including the abolition of the Latin Mass (The Times, London)

  • 'Under God' or 'under conscience'? | One of the last "respectable" bigotries in some quarters is anti-Catholicism (Nat Hentoff, The Washington Times)

  • Russia's Kasyanov: Papal visit possible | But Russian Orthodox Church doesn't want it (Associated Press)

Clergy sex abuse:

Holy land:

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Sexual ethics:


  • The word made flesh | Michael Prodger on Holbein's harrowing picture of Christ lying in the tomb (The Spectator, U.K.)

  • Unholy visions | Photography can't make great religious art. But that's never stopped it from trying (The Guardian)

  • Jesus, the early years | How do you create an image of Christ when you've no idea what he looks like? Neil MacGregor believes an ancient mosaic on a dining-room floor in Dorset may provide some answers (The Guardian, London)

  • Inside the Spiritual Jacuzzi | What JewBus, Unitarian Pagans, and the Hot Tub Mystery Religion tell us about traditional faiths and art (Reason)

Music and pop culture:

Internet and technology:

  • | The Ark, a role-playing Christian internet reality show, began on Easter Day (The Times, London)

  • Holy surfers have faith in the web | Traffic to UK religion sites has risen by over 150 per cent since this time last year, according to internet measurement company Hitwise (Webuser, U.K.)


  • Prisoner sues for missing church services | One of Scotland's most notorious prisoners is claiming £15,000 damages for being held in solitary confinement for more than five months, denying him the chance to attend church (The Scotsman)

  • Sunday work challenge dismissed | A man who claimed he was fired because he objected to working on Sundays has lost his case for unfair dismissal (BBC)

  • Court strikes down Fla. adoption rule | Mothers who want to give a child up for adoption in Florida will not be required by law to publicize their sexual histories in newspaper ads (Associated Press)


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  • Believing doesn't bless the bunkers or save your swing | Augusta's churches were packed to the rafters on Sunday morning, with one or two, as usual, professional golfers who were invited to give testimonies while simultaneously offering up petitions to the Lord for good luck in the final round of the Masters (The Herald, Glasgow, Scotland)

  • Ministers protest end of free golfing | Elimination of privilege at city course called 'unfair' (The Boston Globe)

Other stories of interest:

  • Tempting faith: A candy store debates religious chocolates | "I just don't think that you should eat anything that's Jesus," Liz Samuel. "It's OK to eat the cross as long as God is not on it." (Bucks County Courier Times, Penn.)

  • The threat of secular fundamentalism | Our leaders are tempted to abandon the distinctively Christian claims on our historical imagination (Daniel Johnson, The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Religion news in brief | National Day of Prayer rivalry, Duke Divinity School ethics code, and other stories (Associated Press)

  • Walk this way | Not all religious pilgrimages are as strenuous as the Shiites' (Tunku Varadarajan, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Keeping the faiths | America, it is frequently noted, is among the world's most religious societies. Yes, and its religion frequently takes a form that no Medieval monk, 17th century Puritan, or learned European rabbi would recognize (Alan Wolfe, Financial Times)

  • Among the atheists | American atheists are a reclusive lot, trapped between a federal government they consider increasingly theocratic and a populace they consider increasingly fundamentalist (Orlando Weekly)

  • Threats to burn Omieri put Christian views to test | Kenya's news-making gigantic python, Omieri, which three months ago appeared and received friendly treatment in a tiny village in Nyakach district in western Kenya, was recently in danger following threats by a section of Christians to burn it, saying it was "a symbol of the devil". The threat on the serpent's life has invoked sharp differences in opinion between old-time foes, Christians and traditionalists (African Church Information Service)

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