James Kopp guilty of murder
James Kopp, who admitted shooting abortionist Barnett Slepian in 1998 but said he only meant to wound him, was convicted of intentional murder yesterday. He faces a minimum sentence of 15 years at his May 9 sentencing, but is likely to receive 25 years to life.
"There wasn't much suspense about the verdict," his lawyer admitted. He also said Kopp told him to ask his detractors one question: 'What's your plan to save babies?'"
Sadly, it doesn't look like many prolife groups are eager to answer that question. Searching the websites for the National Right to Life Committee, Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and the American Family Association didn't even turn up a mention of Kopp, even though these organizations usually cover abortion news with depth and speed. Several of the groups have in the past issued general statements against abortion violence, but they're not being proactive in responding to the Kopp verdict.
Abortion advocacy groups, on the other hand, are quick with comment. "It's heartening to know there's one less antiabortion terrorist on the street," Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt told The Washington Post. "But I don't think the radical fringe is in disarray. They are just emboldened."
The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y., has some local prolife reaction. "I believe justice was served," said Rescue Rochester director Michael Warren. "Scripture says that the state … wields the ability to issue punishment—not the individual. Unfortunately in our country, abortion is legal."
Brighton Residents Against Violence head Carol Crossed agrees. "James Kopp became like the abortionists he abhorred," she said.
Meanwhile, we're posting our 1993 editorial responding to the first murders of abortion doctors.
Heads of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on trial over special assembly
Shortly after dismissing complaints about an openly lesbian minister, the Permanent Judicial Commission (or supreme court) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) tried the denomination's top two officials over whether they improperly prevented a special assembly to enforce a ban against clergy who engage in homosexual sex.
In a 12-hour trial Monday, Paul Rolf Jensen argued that PCUSA Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel and chief executive Clifton Kirkpatrick were obligated to call the special assembly upon receiving a petition with the requisite number of names attached.
"This case will decide the future of our denomination," he said. "If the moderator doesn't have to follow the [denomination's] constitution, why do I?"
Jensen and others argue that Abu-Akel bullied several of the petition signers to take their names off the list, but the moderator denies it. "That is not true," he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week. "I wanted to verify that they still wanted the special assembly."
Yesterday, Abu-Akel's attorney said he "took every reasonable, prudent, and expeditious step" to make sure the petition was in order. "Everyone was free to say yes again, but they didn't want to," she said.
A decision in the case is expected today or tomorrow.
War with Iraq:
- Christian patriarch, schooled in U.S., loses sleep over his Iraqi flock | But Patriarch Zakka Iwas of the Syriac Orthodox Church insists he is no friend of Saddam Hussein (Associated Press)
- Countdown to war should include prayer | I'm probably committing a terrible sin against journalism here, at least modern journalism, in asking this of you (John Kass, Chicago Tribune)
- Iraq peace through divine intervention | Sojourners' strong suits are neither geopolitics nor, in fact, reality. (Glenn Craven, Daily Dispatch, Henderson, N.C.)
- Worshippers pray for area troops, peace | Different congregations are reacting to the imminent war in different ways (Orlando Sentinel)
- 'Human shields,' armed with prayers | Perhaps 100 human shields still remain inside Iraq (The Washington Post)
The Pope and war:
- French MP urges Pope to become Iraq human shield | Didier Julia is a maverick conservative who has visited Iraq twice in the past six months (Reuters)
- War in Iraq a crime, says Vatican | "War is a crime against peace which cries for vengeance before God," said Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino on Vatican Radio (The Australian)
- Also: Anti-war priest calls war 'unjust' (UPI)
- Pope's position makes him Saddam enabler | His opposition to military action is understandable in theory but troubling in practice. (Bill O'Reilly, New York Daily News)
- Catholic doctrine and Saddam Hussein | While we have great respect for the pope and his teachings, we believe that Messrs. Weigel and Novak make a much more cogent and compelling case that U.S.-led international action to disarm Saddam Hussein would constitute a just war in every way (Editorial, The Washington Times)
- Torn between church and country? | While consistently warning against the war, Pope John Paul II has consistently sounded more nuanced than many mainline Protestant church leaders critical of Bush's policies (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)
- Relations among American Jews, Muslims, Christians at low point | So claims Interfaith Alliance (Associated Press)
- Boldly goes the dean | What has caused most of the fuss is Mr Jensen's uncompromising declaration that if Christianity is right, then other religions, inconsistent with it, must be wrong. His logic may be uncomfortable but it is faultless. (Editorial, The Sydney Morning Herald, second item)
- Also: How the dean raised the devil | The Dean needs to be careful that in his enthusiasm for his own cause, he does not give offence to believers as genuine about their different faith (Editorial, The Australian, second item)
- Also: Groping at shadows in a darkened room | To say that my religion is the one true religion can only ever be a claim based on faith (Chris McGillion, The Sydney Morning Herald)
Persecution and violence:
- Indian movie about missionary draws threats | Ignoring repeated threats from Hindu fundamentalists, a voluntary group working among the poor and lepers in India is going ahead with a film on the life of Australian missionary Graham Staines, who was killed by Hindu extremists in 1999 (South China Morning Post)
- Extremism rising in Pakistan, unprecedented violence: report | But government says it is doing all it can (Associated Press)
- Police arrest clergyman over demolished church structures | The leader of the trouble-ridden Church of God in East Africa spent the night in the cells after a dramatic arrest on Friday evening (The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)
- Fighting in church leaves man dead | Joseph Okech, 26, died after being hit in the nape with a wooden plank yanked off a huge cross standing on the church compound, by a worshipper (The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)
- FBI arrests 8 men in scheme that used religion to bilk investors of $50 million | John Franklin Harrell claimed to be in charge of a $1.6-trillion trust created by a descendant of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church (Los Angeles Times)
- Expert: Religion made Smart vulnerable | Shared Mormon background allowed his hold over her to become stronger (Associated Press)
- Mennonite midwife reports to jail for 97-day stay | Freida Miller will remain incarcerated unless she tells who gave her the drugs that she illegally used to treat a patient (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
- Church votes to fire pastor who had service during Super Bowl | Three deacons and three trustees who didn't attend received a letter from the pastor, dismissing them from their positions as deacons and trustees (The Birmingham [Ala.] Times)
- Secretive sect softens ban on outside contact | Brethren priests admit 'hasty' decisions split families (The Guardian)
- Immigrants worship more | Attendance down for Canadian-born, StatsCan finds (Toronto Star)
- Left by her husband, hurt by her church | Efrain Lopez returned to the priesthood in 1992, leaving his wife of 20 years $60,000 in debt (The Washington Post)
- Graceful dwelling | John General lives in the former All Saints Church of Easton, Md. (The Washington Times)
- Keeping the faith | An Oklahoma preacher whose "Gospel of inclusion" has made his fellow clergyman decry him as a heretic remains undaunted in his belief that everyone is entitled to go to heaven (The Washington Times)
- Earlier: Heresy Charge Torpedoes Pastor's Political Debut | Tulsa Christian leaders reject Pearson's 'gospel of inclusion' as universalism (Christianity Today, June 12, 2002)
- Pat Robertson aids Disney in DirecTV flap | Can Pat Robertson's faithful keep the ABC Family cable channel beaming down from the heavens? (The Wall Street Journal)
- Brand new Jesus | The old Jesus' effectiveness has been minimalized by … shall we say an "overactive" public relations team. Who exactly should be the "new" Jesus? Fred Rogers. (Wm. Steven Humphrey, Portland [Ore.] Mercury)
Politics and law:
- Campaign trails now stop for religion | Candidates feel comfortable, even obligated, to express their beliefs and explain how moral values shape their political judgments. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
- Religious fright | The Left is appalled by President Bush's faith (Dave Kopel, National Review Online)
- A Milwaukee election may test voter view of vouchers | April 1 will be a day of reckoning for the five pro-voucher representatives who hold a one-vote majority on the nine-member Milwaukee School Board (The Christian Science Monitor)
- Dispute flares over crosses on brick path | The dispute stems from a fundraiser for the school's parents group, which sold bricks on a "Walkway of Fame" in front of the school for $50 each (The Washington Post)
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