Three teens charged with rape at Lutheran youth conference
Church youth retreats are often fondly remembered as times of getting close to God, committing one's life to Christian service, and the occasional crush. But attendees of last week's concurrent "Rainbow of Gifts" and "Holy Commotion" retreats at Trinity Lutheran College in Issaquah, Washington, will remember it as a time of horrific violation.
According to King County prosecutors, three local boys, ages 16 and 17, raped three young Alaskan girls (two 14-year-old cousins and a 15-year-old) during the conference.
"The boys invited the three to a dorm room late Sunday night to talk," says the Associated Press. "One boy grabbed one of the girls and pulled her into another bedroom, while the other two pinned down the other two girls in that room and raped them, court papers allege."
Initially, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the girls were not going to report the rapes out of "fear of humiliation," but changed their minds when one of the girls was raped again the following day.
Dave Ellingson, ELCA's local Congregational Ministries Coordinator, downplayed the crime. "We all make mistakes and this was a big mistake," he told Seattle's KOMO-TV (video). "And young people are probably prone to mistakes more than many people. But there's forgiveness and new possibilities and hopefully everybody will learn from this. … [Students at the retreat will] learn to be trustworthy by being trusted. … So, an unfortunate thing happened here and we'll learn from it and go on."
Weblog doesn't do original reporting for this feature, so we haven't talked to Ellingson. There's a chance he was misquoted, or incompletely quoted. Still, his comments seem blasé about these rapes under his watch.
"You do your best to make sure all the kids are in their rooms by midnight, and we have hall monitors who walk the halls for at least an hour (after curfew), but you can't watch every kid 24 hours a day," he told The Seattle Times. "We deeply regret what's happened."
Weblog is not linking to this story simply because it's horrific. This isn't tabloid journalism here. This is important to talk about because in Protestant churches, one out of five cases of sexual misconduct are committed by youth.
Rape happens in youth groups, and churches and denominations need to have better systems in place to prevent it from happening. Simply having students promise not to go to the opposite sex's dorm room, then looking the other way at "youthful indiscretions" isn't going to cut it. If the Roman Catholic clergy sex-abuse scandals have taught us anything, it's that church leaders can be held accountable for abuse. According to the Post-Intelligencer, an adult warned a group of girls to be careful around these three boys. If the church leaders knew there was a danger, they could be liable.
So far, Weblog hasn't seen a statement on the case at the ELCA website or at ELCA's Region 1 site. If one is posted, we'll let you know.
Episcopal Church USA General Convention:
- Episcopalians give first nod for gay bishop | Those opposed to the selection called on bishops to block approval when they get the final decision on Monday (The New York Times)
- Episcopal Church panel endorses selection of gay bishop (The New York Times)
- Episcopal Church takes step toward approval of first gay bishop | Deputies confirm election; senior bishops to vote (The Washington Post)
- Homosexual debate threatens Episcopal unity (The Washington Times)
- Divisions among nation's Episcopalians resonate in Va. | Church faces tough decisions on openly gay bishop, unions (The Roanoke Times)
- Scripture and sexual behavior | "Progressive" Episcopal clergy, and their counterparts in Canada and Britain, are increasingly preoccupied with politics and have become a marginalized faction within Anglicanism (George F. Will, The Washington Post)
- Bishop-elect: Relationship is 'sacramental' | Family defends gay cleric; Episcopal leaders remain divided on confirmation (The Washington Post)
- For a bishop appointed, an overflow crowd | For his first Sunday Mass after his appointment as bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn was announced, Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio Jr. kept it simple: He sermonized about bread (The New York Times)
- Episcopal debate on gay rites is polite, passionate (The Washington Post)
- Anti-gay Anglicans turn their fire on US | Convention warned of schism if homosexual bishop is confirmed (The Guardian, London)
- New York leads Episcopal liberals | The Diocese of New York is proudly carrying the liberal flag into battle, trumpeting the very inclusive and pluralistic positions that have agitated conservatives here and abroad into threatening to split the church (The Journal News, Westchester, N.Y.)
- Jensen warns US church over gays | Anglican Archbishop of Sydney warned that a "constitutional crisis" was inevitable if the Episcopal Church USA voted in favor of approving homosexual bishops (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Earlier: Homosexual issue threatens Episcopal Church | National convention opens today in Minneapolis (Grand Forks Herald, N.D.)
- Earlier: U.S. Episcopalians may confirm church's 1st openly gay bishop (The Orlando Sentinel)
- Earlier: Episcopalians brace for votes on gay issues | Some threaten split if conference okays openly gay bishop, blessing of same-sex unions (The State, Columbia, S.C.)
- Earlier: Episcopal convention to tackle homosexuality (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
- Two old friends to take opposite sides in Episcopal debate (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)
- Earlier: Time arrives for church to vote on gay issues (The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.)
- Earlier: Ordination vote divides church (Contra Costa Times, Calif.)
- Earlier: Church's unity is at risk | Episcopalians to face issue of gays. (The Washington Post)
- Earlier: Episcopal leaders gird for battle over gays (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Gay marriage legalization facing backlash | After some breakthroughs earlier this year, the drive to legalize gay marriage has run into formidable obstacles — blunt opposition from President Bush, a global counterattack by the Vatican, and U.S. opinion polls suggesting rising doubts about same-sex unions (Associated Press)
- A license to marry | Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized gay privacy, is gay marriage next? (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)
- Is homosexual backlash a permanent trend or mere 'blip'? | For the first time since the AIDS crisis in the late 1980s, there's been a significant drop in a trend of rising acceptance for homosexuals (USA Today)
- Liberal Party's Paul Martin says duty comes before faith | Admits caucus divided over same-sex marriage (CanWest News Service)
- Bush rejects same-sex unions (Newsday)
- Also: President opposes legalizing same-sex marriage (The Orlando Sentinel)
- Also: Conservative base pressed president to defend traditional matrimony | The president's campaign strategists have acknowledged repeatedly since the 2000 election that without the enthusiastic support of these conservatives, Mr. Bush will find re-election difficult (The Washington Times)
- Also: President steps into toxic campaign debate on gay marriage | Mr. Bush's ambiguous, religious response, that "we're all sinners," was taken by many gays to mean that the president considered them sinful (The New York Times)
- Butch, Butch Bush! | Let's get it straight. The president and the pope aren't riding the new gay wave (Maureen Dowd, The New York Times)
- Foes of gay marriage claim new momentum | The Supreme Court's ruling appears to have hit a nerve with Americans (Los Angeles Times)
- Sodomy ruling fuels battle over gay marriage (The Washington Post)
Catholics respond to Canada same-sex marriage:
- Vatican instructs legislators on gays | Backing marriages called 'immoral' (The Washington Post)
- Gay marriage is immoral, Vatican says | Document signed by the pope urges lawmakers everywhere to fight against same-sex unions (Los Angeles Times)
- Bishop tells PM: You've lost your way | If true to his faith, a Catholic must not support gay marriage, Gervais warns. (CanWest News Service)
- Also: Archbishop scolds Canadian PM (UPI)
- Vatican issues guide against gay 'marriage' | The Vatican, alarmed by growing legal acceptance of homosexual "/marriage," is issuing instructions to bishops and Catholic politicians in an effort to halt the trend. (Associated Press)
- Also: Pope to MPs: Stop gay marriage (CanWest News Service)
- Bishops take gay-marriage issue to court | 'Keep traditional definition,' Catholics say; Will ask Supreme Court for right to press their case (Toronto Star)
- Vatican urges unity against gay marriages | Catholic politicians have a "moral duty" to oppose laws granting legal rights to gay couples, and non-Catholics should follow their lead since the issue concerns "natural moral law," said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Associated Press)
- Vatican exhorts legislators to reject same-sex unions | Worried about laws that recognize same-sex couples, the Vatican called support for such legislation "gravely immoral." (The New York Times)
- Pope condemns gay marriage (The Orlando Sentinel)
- Church to pay white visitors | Official wants to increase diversity (The Times, Shreveport, La.)
- Churches launch $1 million ad blitz | Campaign invites people to "explore the meaning of life" over dinner (CanWest News Service)
- Faith, hope, and charity | The Fort Worth congregation of about 300 at St. Augustine Catholic Church is exposed to a mix of Roman Catholic, conservative evangelical and Pentecostal/charismatic theology and practices (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)
- Women seek higher church roles | Even the most closed doors may be cracking (The Shreveport Times, La.)
- Thou shalt laugh | Church fills void in G-rated fun at its comedy night (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
- U.S. Lutheran bishop to represent church | Delegates to the Lutheran World Federation chose the Rev. Mark Hanson to be president of the organization in the first round of voting (Associated Press)
- Married Catholic priests still committed to calling | Philip Cerrato is among hundreds of priests who resigned from the Catholic Church in order to get married but decided to remain involved in active sacramental ministry, presiding at the Eucharist, weddings, funerals and baptisms (The Washington Post)
- Adapting the ways of worship | Immigrants of many faiths seek growth by heeding Christian culture (The Washington Post)
- 'One lively church' | Merging African culture and Christian faith, The Village Church aims to change Nashville as it puts its faith in motion (The Tennessean)
- Church votes to secede | Cathedral of Hope overwhelmingly OKs leaving denomination (The Dallas Morning News)
- Also: Cathedral's embattled dean gives resignation | Piazza takes sabbatical; church will hold letter, see if conflict subsides (The Dallas Morning News)
- Troops given another cross to bear | A row has broken out in Spain after the country sent its first troops to patrol Iraq wearing on their shoulders the Cross of St James of Compostela—popularly known in Spain as the Moor Killer (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Message of hope | One of Iraq's most senior archbishops used a recent visit to Croydon to pass on letters and messages to worried relatives, who have been unable to contact their loved ones in Iraq (Croydon Guardian, England)
- Bishop tells of looting at Iraq church | Baghdad's only Anglican church is trying to re-establish itself in the wake of the Iraq conflict with the help of the Diocese of Exeter (Express & Echo, Exeter, England)
- Fresnan leaves Kenya hospital after assault | Man and son were mugged during an evangelical mission (The Fresno Bee, Calif.)
- Theft of a church's prized window stumps police | A stained-glass window belonging to the Zion Episcopal Church in Rome, N.Y., and dating from 1857, was stolen last weekend, along with the van it was in (The New York Times)
- Bible sways MPs' views on crime bill | MPs want to wipe out criminals' convictions after seven years—a show of forgiveness linked to the Old Testament of the Bible (The New Zealand Herald)
- Man who killed L.I. priest is sentenced to life in prison | The priest's brother told the judge, "We hold no animosity." (The New York Times)
- Two teens charged with burning cross near mosque | No motive made public (The Washington Post)
- Teenagers traded for slave labor and sex | Today, a new international study reveals that Britain has become an easy target for child trafficking gangs. In a special report, Audrey Gillan exposes the plight of the victims of this hidden trade in human misery. (The Guardian, London)
- Also: Thousands 'victims of child trafficking' (Press Association)
Israel and Palestine:
- Calgarian's arrest violates world rules | Canada demands Lebanese explanation (The Ottawa Citizen)
- Also: Canadian tree-planting missionary already convicted of Israeli collaboration | Canadian authorities will not comment on the case until they know just what Bruce Balfour is accused of doing to help Israel (Canadian Press)
- Also: Man jailed in Lebanon to meet with lawyer (CBC)
- Christian Right waves flag for Israel | As its political influence has waxed since the Republican takeover, its agenda has broadened from traditional domestic concerns such as abortion to foreign policy issues like the Middle East (Newsday)
- DeLay veers off 'road map' in Israel speech | No concessions yet, he tells lawmakers (The Boston Globe)
- Also: House's DeLay bonds with Israeli hawks | The visiting lawmaker assures Jewish state of continued U.S. support. His conservative audience, however, still sees cause for concern (Los Angeles Times)
- Also: DeLay's foreign meddling | The House leader, speaking in his official capacity, did nothing to separate his personal beliefs from this nation's foreign policy, whether or not those beliefs are explicitly religious (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)
- Evangelical Christians plan fall solidarity mission | A group made up largely of evangelical Christians from various denominations across Canada is planning a mission to Israel this fall to show solidarity with the Jewish state and to build better relations and understanding between Christians and Jews (The Canadian Jewish News)
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