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.

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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.

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Church buildings and grounds:

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Church life:

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)

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  • 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)

Life ethics:

  • 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)

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Wisconsin push for married priests:

Missions and ministry:

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  • 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:

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