Prosecutors dismiss charges against boys accused of rape at youth conference
Two 16-year-old boys in the Seattle suburb of Issaquah were due to face trial this week for raping a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old at an Evangelical Lutheran Church of America youth conference in late July. Instead, prosecutors dropped all charges against them.

"There's been an ongoing investigation in this case,'' Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County prosecutor's office, told the King County Journal. "After receiving additional information, we came to the conclusion that we could not prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt."

Deputy prosecuting attorney Erin Ehlert said almost exactly the same thing in speaking to The Seattle Times, and said she wouldn't elaborate "out of respect for the (alleged) victims and their families."

Charges against a third boy, who had been accused of twice raping one of the other girls' cousins twice, were dismissed in August after the accuser reportedly recanted.

It's clearly a tragedy—but without the facts, Weblog has no idea precisely whether it's a tragedy for the boys, the girls, or both. Still, as CT mentioned earlier, youth-peer sexual harassment and sexual abuse is serious and not rare.

More articles

Anglican woes (news):

  • Episcopal parish in an uproar over dismissal of its priest | An Episcopal priest who clashed repeatedly with the diocese over its election of a gay bishop has been removed from his Rochester church (Associated Press)

  • Earlier: Two N.H. congregations seek outside help | Members of at least two Episcopal churches are asking an out of state diocese to supervise their congregations after an openly gay man was consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire. (Associated Press)

  • Gay bishop describes recent developments | Answers to frequently asked questions (Associated Press)

  • Setback for Bishop Ingham in Canada dispute | Canada's House of Bishops last week directed Ingham stay legal proceedings against the ACiNW clergy and cede alternative Episcopal oversight for conservatives in New Westminster to a Bishop mutually agreeable to all parties (The Church of England Newspaper)

  • Americans cut funds to Uganda churches | Out-going Church of Uganda Archbishop Mpalanyi Nkoyooyo yesterday said he had received warnings from American church aid organizations and charities about Ugandan opposition to the bishop (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)

  • Nigerian archbishops meet on major decision | All the 10 archbishops in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) yesterday held a lengthy closed door meeting at the Church House (Vanguard, Lagos, Nigeria)

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  • The last straw? | After months of unheeded warnings, liberal Episcopal churchmen consecrate openly gay bishop Gene Robinson; conservatives in the ECUSA now have the next move (World)

  • Name dropping: Episcopal school weighing a change | Trinity Episcopal School of Ministry, a refuge for conservative seminary students, may change its name (World)

  • Church explores gay debate | A Church of England document is urging a full debate on homosexuality (BBC)

  • Church of England 'obsessed' with sexual sin |The Church of England has an "unhealthy obsession" with sexual sin, a panel of bishops suggested yesterday in a document exploring cross-dressing, bisexuality, gay marriage and homosexual clergy (The Guardian, London)

  • Rector disillusioned with state of Episcopal church | An Episcopal rector has left the WNC Diocese, saying the church has strayed from strict interpretations of the Bible, including allowing gays in the ministry (Ashville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

  • Rowan plea for unity over gay bishop | Sections of the worldwide communion turned their backs on America over the consecration of Gene Robinson (The Guardian, London)

  • Lambeth's fragile peace shattered | Dr Williams will need a miracle to heal worldwide schism (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Archbishops condemn 'choice' | The "new realignment" of the 70-million-member Anglican Communion began in earnest this week as about half of the denomination's 38 archbishops condemned the U.S. Episcopal Church for its consecration Sunday of the world's first openly homosexual bishop (The Washington Times)

  • Day the Church split | Worldwide Anglicanism split in two yesterday after conservative leaders representing up to 50 million worshippers angrily rejected the Church's first openly homosexual bishop (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • African Anglicans fear cost of split | The Nigerian Anglican church yesterday led the developing world's chorus of criticism of Gene Robinson's consecration but held back from cutting all links with its sister church in the United States (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Gay bishop is put on blacklist by Anglicans | Kenya's Anglican Church wrote to all its dioceses yesterday, barring them from dealing with the gay Bishop Gene Robinson of the United States (The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)

  • A gay bishop, and a revolt in some pews | Misgivings in the Maine diocese echoes larger Episcopal rifts after Sunday's ordination (The Christian Science Monitor)

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Anglican woes (opinion):

  • The limits of inclusiveness | As they watch the argument among Episcopalians about the consecration of a gay bishop, Catholics must be thinking: we told you so (George F. Will, Newsweek)

  • Gay bishops threaten our foundations | Liberalism has pushed its dogma to a kind of logical conclusion (Janet Daley, The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Gay U.S. bishop wrong | It is all right for the Church to disagree with homosexuals, but not right to persecute or exclude them, for we are all sinners (Editorial, New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)

  • Rift embarrasses church | Protesters fail to put scripture in perspective (Harry T. Cook, Detroit Free Press)

  • Divisions and incongruities | We are out of sync with each other and have been so for some years (William Murchison, The Washington Times)

  • What they said about Bishop Gene Robinson | A roundup of newspaper editorials (The Guardian, London)

Ten Commandments, crucifixes, and other icons:

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  • Minister offers to buy city land for anti-gay monument in Idaho | Fred Phelps says he got the idea after learning that Rupert's American Legion post was seeking to purchase the land for a Ten Commandments monument (Associated Press)

  • Faith and fury | Clashes over crucifixes and head scarves in public schools show that Europeans are still searching for the fine line that separates church and state (Time Europe)

  • Italian newspaper sells cross as 'gadget' | We're not giving it away out of the fear that someone, not interested in the symbol of Christianity, might throw it away. It's not nice to throw away the cross," says editor (, Italy)

  • Judge suspends crucifix verdict | An Italian judge has suspended a court order to remove crosses from schools after an education ministry appeal. (BBC)

Pledge of Allegiance:

Free speech on campus:

  • Religion is at center of yearbook battle | Fountain Valley High blocked seniors' attempt to spell out Christian messages in photograph (Los Angeles Times)

  • Also: Students walk out over Jesus T-shirt flap | Group asked not to wear shirts in yearbook photo (Associated Press)

  • Also: It's not the message, it's the messengers | By your deeds shall ye be known, not by your T-shirts. (Dana Parsons, Los Angeles Times)

  • On campus: Free speech for you but not for me? | As campus officials look for ways to accommodate the growing diversity of their student bodies, an increasingly vocal number of students — most of them white and predominantly conservative or Christian — say there is little room for their opinions and beliefs (USA Today)

  • Orlando school avoids lawsuit, allows controversial parade floats | An Orange County school avoided a lawsuit Wednesday after school officials agreed to allow a homecoming parade float that replicates the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statute and another that urges students to "Let Jesus Rock Your Night Away." (Associated Press)

  • Let us pray | A lawsuit challenging school prayer in the small Tangipahoa Parish town of Loranger has many baffled—and, in some cases, hurt. (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, La.)

School vouchers:

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More education:

  • Vote in Texas is one for the science books | State board, in what is seen as a rebuke to religious conservatives, adopts high school biology texts that teach the theory of evolution (Los Angeles Times)

  • Earlier: Religion, science may turn a page over textbook in Texas | Conservatives want the state to reject a biology book or require editing of parts on evolution. Some say it may open the door to creationism (Los Angeles Times)

  • Texas adopts controversial biology books | 11-4 vote approves texts despite criticism from some scientists and religious activists who say the books fail to present criticisms of evolution (Associated Press)

  • Earlier: Environment, biology texts at issue in Texas | Author sues state board of education members, claiming suppression of his environmental viewpoints; board also to vote next week on texts teaching evolution (Associated Press)

  • The big chill at the lab | Traditional Values Coalition is attempting to discredit 200 scientific researchers and challenge or revoke their federal grants (Bob Herbert, The New York Times)

  • Also: Questioning grants | Can weighty scientific matters like prostitutes who ply their trade in truck-stop parking lots be understood only by Ivy League-trained doctors and scientists? (Andrea Lafferty, letter, The New York Times)

  • Student religious groups question Maranatha lawsuit | Leaders of several campus groups said the University's nondiscrimination policy benefits student clubs (The Minnesota Daily, U. Minn.)

  • Oahu kids get 'other' survival kits | The "Real World" project offers tips on birth control and anti-war material to counter The Jesus Project (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

  • Evangelist: Ban Halloween in schools | Mark Poff of New Harvest Ministries' Preaching Christ Church in Kingsport said he hopes to garner 3 million signatures on the petition he is circulating (Associated Press)

  • Of stars and heaven: Dual worlds for a man of faith and learning | Nick Knisely is rector of Trinity Episcopal Church and adjunct professor in the physics department of Lehigh University (The Express-Times, Easton, Pa.)

Bible and theology:

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  • The real Mary Magdalene? | Despite Mary Magdalene's reputation as a "bad girl," the Bible never even hints that she was an immoral person, let alone physically intimate with Christ (Jen Waters, The Washington Times)

Missions and ministry:

Gen, Boykin:


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  • Christians and Muslims | An Italian article may represent a shift, if not a break, in the long-standing Vatican policy of silence on the persecution of Christians in Muslim countries (Diana West, The Washington Times)

  • When the wise guys aren't very wise | The wise guys want the president to pander to the Islamists who are so busy grieving over a dirty look in the checkout counter at Safeway or dog feces dropped on the doorstep of a Muslim day care center in Kansas City they can't find the time to be outraged by the murder of American soldiers in Baghdad (Wesley Pruden, The Washington Times)

  • Muslims reach beyond religion with a belief in home schooling | For the past two decades, home schooling has largely been a trend among evangelical Christians who have felt marginalized by the public schools and wanted to have a more active role in their children's education. But increasingly, the option has become attractive to Muslims, particularly with the scrutiny they have experienced since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (Washington Post)

Interfaith relations:

  • Yoga for teachers rouses ire of Croatian bishops | The Croatian Bishops' Conference said the program would "make an unacceptable favor to an organization and its founder who wants to introduce Hinduistic religious practice in Croatian schools." (Reuters)

  • Interfaith gathering for peace plan | Long Island religious leaders representing Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths met recently to endorse the Alexandria Declaration, a document that denounces political killings in Israel and the Occupied Territories as a desecration of God's name (Newsday)


  • Pope thanks Putin for helping boost Orthodox ties | But the courtesy visit, Putin's second in three years, was not expected to pave the way for the 83-year-old pontiff to fulfill his long-hoped-for trip to Russia any time soon (Reuters)

  • Russia church hails Putin-Pope meeting | Tensions have increased markedly after communist restrictions on religion ended along with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union (Associated Press)

  • Putin meets Pope at Vatican | Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced hope for improved understanding between the Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches, following an audience with Pope John Paul II. (BBC)

  • Holy help from Putin? | Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Rome Wednesday and Thursday opened one of the most ironic prospects thus far in the past 1,000 years of church history (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)

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Church life:


  • The crusaders | A powerful faction of religious and political conservatives is waging a latter-day counterreformation, battling widespread efforts to liberalize the American Catholic Church. And it has the clout and the connections to succeed. (Boston Globe)

  • Proposal to ban clapping during Mass brings cultural differences into focus | In Kenya, and especially in Nairobi, mass is a lively affair, as the worshippers sing and dance to rhythmic drumming and percussion instruments, stamping their feet and clapping, albeit with evangelical fervor (The Nation, Nairobi)

  • Religion Today: Annulling annulments? | Traditionalists, progressives, even loyal Roman Catholic insiders have unkind things to say about the annulment process. Yet church leaders say their method of dissolving marriages — now used by tens of thousands of Americans each year — is better than any alternative (Associated Press)

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  • In New Jersey, Seeing the Virgin Mary in a tree stump | Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson will ultimately decree whether the hand of God had something to do with any images suggested by the stump (The New York Times)

  • Catholic order lets disabled women serve | Since it was founded in France in 1930, the Roman Catholic order of Benedictines of Jesus Crucified has opened the doors of religious life to women whether they are sick, handicapped or healthy (Associated Press)


  • Catholic donations rise, despite sex scandal | The reported rise in Catholic giving is doubly remarkable because it took place during an economic downturn (The Washington Post)

  • Catholics in survey seek accountability by church | Three of every four Roman Catholics who regularly attend Mass say they want their church to be more financially accountable in the wake of its sexual-abuse crisis, according to a new Gallup survey, and one in four say they did not respond this year to financial appeals from the national church (The New York Times)

  • Abuse scandal prompts U.S. checks on lay Catholics | The clergy sexual abuse scandal that erupted nearly two years ago is forcing not just priests but also employees and volunteers in Roman Catholic dioceses across the United States to undergo background checks and attend workshops on how to prevent future cases of molested children (Reuters)

  • D.C. archdiocese issues abuse data | 26 priests identified as likely molesters (The Washington Post)

  • Wis. archdiocese changes abuse mediation | The Milwaukee Archdiocese plans to sell church property and set up a $4 million fund to compensate people who have been molested by priests (Associated Press)

  • Priest molested 5 others, suit filed after settlement alleges | A year after the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles quietly paid $1.5 million to settle a sexual-abuse claim against a priest, five more men stepped forward Wednesday claiming that they had been molested by the late Father Clinton Hagenbach (Los Angeles Times)


  • Church defends couple charged with starving four adopted children | After a week's hesitation, the church of the Collingswood couple charged with starving four of their adopted children issued a statement on Friday attacking prosecutors and the state's child welfare agency, saying they had torn apart a "totally innocent and loving family" (The New York Times)

  • Religious leaders stand behind 'spanking minister' | Oliver's supporters, like Donald Morris, executive director of the Christian Community Commission Inc., portray Oliver's actions as a spanking and necessary discipline, not abuse (New Haven Register, Conn.)

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  • Also: 2 cops testify in spanking trial | The Rev. Walter Oliver told cops he spanked two young boys with a belt "with a smile and with love, to direct them to the correct path," a city police officer told a jury Thursday (New Haven Register, Conn.)

  • Earlier: Minister: God behind spankings | Walter Oliver is charged with two counts each of assault and risk of injury to a minor for beating two child parishioners of his former church in New Haven (Associated Press)


Terri Schiavo:

  • Playing God | For 13 years Terri Schiavo has been in a coma - with her husband, her parents, the Christian right and now the president's brother locked in a bitter struggle over her fate. This week could see a final decision on whether she lives or dies (The Guardian, London)

  • Family's lawyers weigh in on Schiavo suit | ACLJ asked that the Schindlers be allowed to directly intervene in the lawsuit filed by Schiavo's husband (Associated Press)

  • Right to life, or death, divides nation | There is a video called Big Eyes doing the rounds in Florida and it is not easy to watch. (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Schiavo case deserves less-reckless handling | Those who are absolutely certain they know all the answers in this case simply are not acquainted with the complexity of the issues (Leo Sandon, The Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)

  • Who controls your life or death choice? | It wasn't the volume of mail that surprised me when I protested "Terri's Law." After all, the case of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman back on a feeding tube, had been put before a national jury. The vast majority of my e-mailers seemed to believe that the few minutes of edited video represented the 24/7 reality of her last 13 years. (Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe)

  • Deciding 'quality of life' | I do not have a law degree, but I would have thought that the ultimate violation of anyone's bodily integrity is to starve a person to death. (Nat Hentoff, The Washington Times)

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Life ethics:

Sexual ethics:

  • Porn goes mainstream | Hard as it is for some to believe, Hollywood has always had its standards, but lately they've become more like guidelines (Dave Berg, The Washington Times)

  • Looking beyond lust | In a sex-saturated culture, Joshua Harris says he believes "lust may be the defining struggle for this generation." (Emily Louise Zimbrick, The Washington Times)

  • Sexual and gender issues high on agenda of Lutheran Synod | Initiatives made to embrace and shun gays in Church (Helsingin Sanomat, Helsinki, Finland)

  • Southern Baptists battle gay rights | Southern Baptist Convention leaders are aggressively pursuing their fight against the ''homosexual agenda'' on several fronts. (Associated Press)

Gay marriage:

  • N.J. court bars gay marriage | A state judge in New Jersey ruled yesterday that same-sex couples do not have a right under the state's constitution to marry—the second state court to make that decision since a gay rights decision by the US Supreme Court last June put new emphasis on the issue. (Boston Globe)

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Politics and law:

Sundays and holidays:

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George Bush:

  • Bush says God chose him to lead his nation | Book reveals how President's religious and political beliefs are entwined - and claims he did pray with Blair (The Observer, London)

  • Bush's faith-filled life | President's conversion, 'sense of divine calling' and struggle with sobriety are subjects of forthcoming book (Bill Berkowitz,


  • In Uzbekistan, religion is victim of war on terror | Imagine the police forcing a gas mask onto your head and shutting off the air supply - because you are "guilty" of hosting Bible studies in your own home (Lawrence A. Uzzell, The Christian Science Monitor)

Graham Staines:

  • Who was this Staines really? | Staines was courting disaster with his extremely provocative actions (Chitranjan Mahopadyay, News Today, India)

  • Dara film with Bajrang help | Hindu radicals plan movie to counter one about Graham Staines (The Telegraph, Calcutta, India)

  • Indian legislator 'proud' of Australian missionary killer | A state legislator from India's governing Hindu nationalist party says he is "proud" of the man who has been condemned to death for the mob deaths of Australian Christian missionary and his two children four year ago. (Daily Times, Pakistan)



  • Man in Black plays on | Johnny Cash's diverse audience inspires tributes from Christian and mainstream publishers (Publishers Weekly)

  • "!Hero: The Rock Opera" meaux | It's not "Jesus Christ Superstar" for a new millennium, just a new marketplace (The Washington Post)

  • Winans stays true to calling | Singer's smooth style breaches the barriers of race and religion (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.)

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  • Jonny be good? | New album, new life and belief in God give singer Lang a different perspective (Sioux City Journal, Ia.)

  • Adding a little jazz to the faith | The Jazz Celebrations concerts at First Lutheran Church brings high-quality jazz to Glendale without the distractions of a nightclub. Rio Soul is scheduled to perform Sunday (News-Press, Glendale, Calif.)

  • P.O.D.: 'Payable On Death' | On the heels of P.O.D.'s well-received "Satellite," the born-again Christians turn in another rap/metallic collection that's surprisingly melodic and heartfelt as it preaches morality in a corrupt world (New York Post)

  • Setting the Gospel music record straight | Because Christians in Zambia and other parts of the world still clash over what Gospel music is or should be, it is necessary to remind all interested parties about those things that are more important than endless debate (Charles Kachikoti, The Times of Zambia)

More pop culture:


The Purpose Driven Life

  • Churches read a good book along with the Good Book | By all observations, The Purpose Driven Life does not contain any new ideas about the meaning of life, a topic that has been the subject of countless books before it. So why are millions around the world, including more than 1,000 West Sound residents, reading Pastor Rick Warren's work? (The Sun, Bremerton, Wa.)

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Bruce Wilkinson:

  • Where Jabez doesn't cut it | 'I had to repent,' says Bruce Wilkinson, when he realized he hadn't followed God's command to help people in need (Beliefnet)

  • Earlier: Mr. Jabez Goes to Africa | Bruce Wilkinson expands his borders to include racial reconciliation and HIV/AIDS (Christianity Today)

  • Also: Expanding His Territory | |fter finding worldwide success with The Prayer of Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson felt God leading him to Africa to fight AIDS (Christian Reader)


  • Experts to examine bones of Italian poet | Led by an Italian anatomy professor, the team wants to reconstruct Petrarch's physical features to shed light on the man considered second only to Dante in the pantheon of Italian writers (Associated Press)

  • Biblical tunnel timing | The Siloam Tunnel in Jerusalem, Israel, was actually built when the Bible says it was, according to new geological dating. The first well-identified biblical structure to be radiometrically dated, the man-made tunnel is around 2,700 years old and has carried water into old Jerusalem near-continuously since 700 B.C., says Amos Frumkin of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, lead researcher on the project. (Geotimes)

California fires:


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Health and illness:

  • Faith & healing | Can religion improve health? While the debate rages in journals and med schools, more Americans ask for doctors' prayers (Newsweek)

  • A millionaire's last vocation | Sir John Templeton funds research that explores links between science and God (Newsweek)

  • 'Patients want to be talked to' | A Duke professor says religion has a place in medical school—and in practice (Newsweek)

  • 'Religion is a private matter' | A Columbia professor says the melding of medicine and prayer may cause harm (Newsweek)

  • Faith turns hell of ALS into dream of heaven | Being diagnosed with a fatal illness such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, forces people to think about their mortality and where they stand with God (The Huntsville Times, Ala.)

Other articles of interest:

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  • Safe or satanic? | Church leaders argue over Freemasonry (Jamaica Gleaner)

  • Mormon church seeks to toss block suit | The Mormon church on Wednesday asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a land deal with the city that allows the church to regulate behavior on a downtown block. (Associated Press)

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