U.S. to resume anti-drug flights in Colombia with few changes since 2001
Missionaries in Colombia and Peru beware: the U.S.-Colombian program that killed American missionary Veronica "Roni" Bowers and her 7-month-old daughter in April 2001 is resuming.
The plan allows fighter pilots to shoot down any plane suspected of transporting drugs. Or transporting terror. Or something. According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the resumption of the U.S.-supported program for the first time since the fatal shooting is because of the war on terror.
Yes, terror. Like the kind that Bowers, her husband, and missionary pilot Kevin Donaldson experienced when the Peruvian military opened fire on them for no apparent reason.
"Me estan matando! Me estan matando!" Donaldson screamed into the radio as the bullets began flying, shredding his leg. "They are killing me!"
The brilliant CIA pilots observing and supporting the shooting spoke less Spanish than the average Sesame Street watcher, and didn't bother to check out the huge registration number on Donaldson's plane or the fact that Donaldson had filed a detailed flight plan. There's an absolutely devastating video of the shoot down, but Weblog can no longer find it online. (Anyone know where it's at? E-mail Weblog.)
Here's what the Los Angeles Times says about the resumption in light of the Bowers tragedy:
U.S. officials said that appropriate safeguards are now in place to prevent a similar tragedy. Under the program, U.S. and Colombian radar sites pinpoint suspected drug flights, then relay that information to the Colombian air force, which has the authority to shoot down the planes. In the past, Colombian air force pilots rarely used weapons, preferring to pressure the planes to land.
Here's The New York Times:
A White House statement said that President Bush had determined that Colombia had since "put in place appropriate procedures to protect against loss of innocent life."
The announcement did not specify those safeguards, but American officials said they would include radio or visual contact, first trying to force suspect planes to land, and then firing warning shots. Only as a last resort, American officials said, would a plane be downed.
"Some of these procedures existed in the old program," one American official said, "but they were not enforced."
Ah, in other words, the policy is pretty much exactly the same as it was when Bowers was killed. Okay, then!
So far, the missionaries' agency, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, doesn't have anything to say about the resumption of the program, but given the ridiculous troubles it has had fighting those in the U.S. and Peruvian governments who wanted to blame Donaldson for the tragedy, it can't be thrilled with the news.
It's one thing for missionaries to have to put their life on the line when they go to the mission field. It's quite another to have to be worried that your own countrymen are going to kill you.
Showdown at Montgomery
Today is the deadline given to Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.
Moore says he won't remove it. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused his request for more time. Moore has filed another appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor (yes, the same Bill Pryor who's been appointed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but congressional Democrats refuse to confirm) says he'll enforce the court order to remove the monument. About three dozen protesters are holding a candlelight vigil in support of the monument. Anti-Moore newspaper editorials are getting even more rabid (though here's an insightful NPR commentary from Joe Loconte). The stage is set. Tune in tomorrow.
- Where angels will not tread | Liberia is rid of one despotic president, but its innate corruption could taint the most saintly of leaders (Fred Bridgland, The Sunday Herald, Glasgow, Scotland)
- Area pastor leading effort to aid Liberians | Rev. Michael Hollinger of Tallmadge is organizing Evangelical churches to get funds to their brethren (The Beacon Journal, Akron, Oh.)
- Liberian Archbishop calls for U.N. to send more troops | The Roman Catholic archbishop called for additional troops to help save Liberia from those who want to rule it (The New York Times)
- Presbyterian is part of effort to help Liberia | Louisville-based worker to assess best ways to help war-torn nation (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)
Church buildings and grounds:
- Sacred mysteries: St. Gaudi? | It has been a-building for nearly a century, but now we learn that its architect, Antonio Gaudi (1852-1926) might be declared a saint before his great work is done (Christopher Howse, The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Aging church buildings face a growing maintenance crisis | The maintenance crisis for churches has worsened in the last decade as urban populations shift and congregations decline (Religion News Service)
- Church files suit for okay to build | Long Grove clash over construction in federal court (Chicago Tribune)
- Also: Church will sue Long Grove | Predominantly Korean Christian congregation can't build on property it owns (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)
- Also: Korean church sues to build in Long Grove (Chicago Tribune)
- In summer, more clergy use picnic tables as pulpits | Leaders in a number of religious organizations are exploring whether the best way to reach out might be to lighten up, especially in the warm months when regular church life takes something of a breather (The Christian Science Monitor)
- Learning from interim pastors' lives | If an interim pastor feels free to dispense with meetings and focus on what he believes is most important, why can't a permanent pastor? Why can't anyone who feels imprisoned by their job? (Ken Garfield, The Charlotte Observer)
- Five bucks, and change | Fred Caldwell says the superficial news reports focused more on the novelty of a black paying whites to pray and less on his real concern: the racism of religion (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)
- Coptic Christians' leader visits N.O. congregation | Ritual thrilling to little church (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)
- Also: Leader of Coptic faith blesses Mauldin church (Greenville News, S.C.)
- New pastors could revive bully pulpit | Today, as the Carolinas are hit hard by unemployment, schools are being resegregated and the war in Iraq drags on, a local historian asked me: Where are those church bully pulpits? (Don Hudson, The Charlotte Observer)
- Look what the church dragged in | All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale just started monthly services for pets and their loved ones, even providing doggie treats for Rover at communion time (The Miami Herald)
- Army appoints new chief of chaplains | Maj. Gen. David Hicks, 61, who was previously deputy chief of chaplains, has almost 30 years of Army chaplain service (Los Angeles Times)
- Pell for cardinal? Rumor mill says yes | Sydney Archbishop George Pell may be promoted to cardinal as early as October, according to speculation in Italy (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
- Borrowed sermons roil downtown congregation | Ethics questioned in uncredited use of other pastors' text (The Washington Post)
- Also: Pastor asks congregants to forgive 'borrowing' (The Washington Post)
Church and state:
- The teen, an alderman, and Ten Commandments | The young man's letter questioning a stone monument in a city park prompts a tempest of biblical proportions (St. Petersburg Times)
- City religious sites may be vulnerable | If the Ten Commandments are taken down from a judicial building in Alabama and Wesley Bolin Plaza at the state Capitol in Phoenix, can removal of Tucson's Garden of Gethsemane or other religious displays on public properties be far behind? (Arizona Daily Star)
- Stretching an elusive wall | Ironically, while walls are tumbling around the world, here at home some are actively trying to expand a wall — the wall of separation between church and state (David Davenport, The Washington Times)
- N.C. county will fight 'In God We Trust' lawsuit | Two attorneys have sued over motto on front of Davidson County government building (Associated Press)
- Buddhism and the badge | An internationally known Buddhist monk who teaches non-violence will lead a five-day retreat for police officers and others in public service here to help them handle job-related stress. Does it violate the separation of church and state? (USA Today)
- Religion, politics curdle lunch | The question of banning prayers before noonday meals at the government-funded Silver Foxes Den Senior Center has gotten more than a few seniors riled (The Durango Herald, Colo.)
- Others welcomed in church state | Christianity will not be forced on people of other religions if and when Fiji is declared a Christian State (The Daily Post, Fiji)
- Has experimenting on human life lost its power to disgust? | It's taken less than two years for us to get used to regarding human embryos as pharmaceutical fodder (Michael Cook, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
- Fetal position | The real threat to Roe v. Wade (The New Republic, subscription required)
- Also: A threat to Roe? | New reproductive technology on the horizon could undermine a basic premise supporting the legality of abortion on demand (Family News in Focus, Focus on the Family)
- Study links religion and euthanasia | The religion of the doctor and the longitude of the hospital affects whether treatment is administered or withdrawn from terminal patients, according to a new study (The Jerusalem Post)
- Bishop welcomes mercy-killing debate | The lord bishop-elect says people with strong views either for or against voluntary euthanasia should listen to each other (Isle of Man Online)
- Doctor faces 67 counts of sexual assault, abuse as trial starts today | Three years ago, national shock jock Howard Stern called the straight-talking, gun-loving Dr. Brian Finkel a national hero because he wasn't intimidated by unending protests and threats outside his Phoenix abortion clinic (The Arizona Republic)
Wisconsin push for married priests:
- Wisconsin priests sign celibacy letter | More than 160 priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee have signed a letter arguing that married men should be allowed to enter the priesthood (Associated Press)
- Group seeks celibacy debate | Wisconsin letter cites abuse crisis and shortage of priests (The Washington Post)
- Milwaukee priests seek end to celibacy rule | More than 160 Roman Catholic priests in the Milwaukee Archdiocese have signed copies of a letter calling on the church to allow married men to join the priesthood (The New York Times)
- Effect of celibacy letter debated | Some foresee changes, some advocate tradition (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Missions and ministry:
- Hell House is homeless | Pastor seeks place to hold in-your-face Christian event (The Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
- Water touted as a tonic may make drinkers sick | Ohio prohibits sale of S.C. evangelist's elixir (The Charlotte Observer)
- Also: Controversial evangelist brings "miracle water" to Charlotte | Evangelist Leroy Jenkins, whose allegedly healing water has been labeled contaminated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, is staging a revival through Sunday at the Charlotte Convention Center (Associated Press)
- Point of honor for the faithful | Orange tattoo festival showcases those who use bodies to spread Christ's message (Los Angeles Times)
- Faith-based initiatives working to help suffering Americans | Groups and organizations as wide-ranging as the Salvation Army to church soup kitchens do not have to "lose their soul" to participate, as long as religious activity is voluntary and carefully segregated from services (Chuck Slocum, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)
- Performers flip script on sharing Scripture | A South Side Christian club's dancers, poets and rappers combine modern forms of expression with traditional values (Chicago Tribune)
- Audit's lesson was 'painful' for evangelist | Hank Hanegraaff and auditors won't say how much was repaid to the Christian Research Institute or by whom. Critics allege whitewash (Los Angeles Times)
- Earlier: Christian Research Institute accused of 'naïve' bookkeeping | Report by whistleblowers to Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability prompts CRI employees to reimburse funds (Christianity Today, July 16)
- Chaplains, volunteers pay house calls for the soul | Beatriz Villegas' eyes, long clouded by cataracts, brighten when she speaks of her friend—the chaplain she almost didn't invite into her home (The Dallas Morning News)
- Finding redemption in hard work | Hired by the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, four former gang members develop job skills in a program for 'at risk' youths (Los Angeles Times)
- Christian women can enjoy single life | The message that Lydia Brownback preaches is to enjoy the single life, be thankful for it, and be productive (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Books on Catholics | Crisis and change in the American Church, and some women of conviction (The Washington Post)
- Science, spirituality and Galileo | The image of an enlightened Galileo fighting for truth against the Catholic Church over astronomical concepts is far too simplistic, Wade Rowland writes in "Galileo's Mistake" (Chicago Tribune)
- Our Thirty Years' War: the fight over abortion | Stanley I. Kutler reviews William Saletan's Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War (Los Angeles Times)
- Faith and works | Lisa Jardine reviews For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and The End of Slavery by Rodney Stark (The Washington Post)
- Earlier: Editor's Bookshelf: Getting Western Civ Right | Christian theology is the catalyst, not the brake, for progress in Western history (Christianity Today, July 18)
- Dying for a cause | Hanna Rosin reviews Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill by Jessica Stern (The Washington Post)
- Christian martial arts explored | Kalamazoo instructor chronicles apparent paradox in new book (The Detroit News)
Other stories of interest:
- Father Constantin Galeriu dies at 84 | Orthodox priest who spoke out against the Communist regime in Romania (The Independent, London)
- God and the demographers | Counting religious believers is a tricky business (The Boston Globe)
- Ariz. church builds toilet paper tower | The goal was to stack the rolls to reach the ceiling of the estimated 12-foot-high church sanctuary (Associated Press)
- Amish-Mennonites face dilemma of faith vs. national security | Their faith allows them to get behind the wheel, but not to sit for driver's license photo as Kentucky law requires (Associated Press)
- Heavens open up to dry prayer | Kyabram has harnessed the power of prayer to break the crippling drought (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)
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