Anti-Christian violence returns to Poso
The area around the town of Poso, in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi, has seen about a year of relative calm after years of a deadly anti-Christian campaign by Islamic extremists. But there had been little cause for celebration: as Christianity Todayreported earlier, the reason for the letup was that the militants had succeeded in ridding much of the area of Christians. About 600,000 Christians had been displaced around Indonesia, more than 600 churches razed in the provinces of Maluku and Sulawesi, and thousands in the area were killed in the religious violence between 2000 and 2001.

In recent months, more Christians have been cautiously returning to the Poso area. Over the weekend, apparently so did the Islamic extremists. At least 10 Christians were killed in raids by masked gunmen on four villages. Others say the death toll may be as high as 15—some shot, others hacked to death by machetes. Several others were injured in the attacks, which also left 30 homes and a church destroyed.

The national government sent in thousands of troops to ensure that the violence did not spread, and that Christians did not retaliate against their Muslim neighbors, who make up about 85 percent of the country and 75 percent of Sulawesi's population.

"We are afraid that it will bring back the horrifying experience of fighting among ourselves, just as it was before," local Muslim leader Sulaiman Mamar told The Jakarta Post.

Likewise, the Central Sulawesi Protestant Church Crisis Center's Ferry Naray told The Sydney Morning Herald, "Christian communities here are frightened. … There have been many victims from our side." The paper quotes speculation that the attack may have been connected to commemorations of last year's nightclub attack on the Indonesian island of Bali.

After plagiarism charges, National City Christian Church pastor takes leave
Alvin Jackson, the most prominent pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which he also serves as moderator, is taking a leave of absence to "regain strength—emotionally, physically and spiritually," The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The announcement came as The Washington Post and Disciples World, a denominational magazine, uncovered several instances of plagiarized sermons—including one published in an anthology. This week, the denomination is holding its general convention; Jackson was due to preach at the opening worship service and preside at all business meetings.

Disciples World says Jackson plans to resume his church duties in January, but he has asked the church to discern "whether the vision of a diverse and multi-cultural congregation is God's vision for National City Christian Church at this time, if we are really ready to embrace that vision, and if I am the person to lead us in claiming that vision."

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Politics and law:

  • Judge faults Marsh for citing Bible | A day after attorneys in a sex abuse case agreed that Common Pleas Court Judge Melba Marsh's devout religious beliefs wouldn't affect her presiding over the case, a federal court ruled the judge's religious beliefs were improperly used in 1998 to send a child rapist to prison for 51 years (The Cincinnati Post)

  • Also: Marsh says religion important part of life | While Judge Melba Marsh wouldn't talk Wednesday about a federal court reversing a ruling in which she used the Bible to sentence a child rapist, she has weighed in on the issue before (The Cincinnati Post)

  • Also: Ruling based on religion tossed | Rape sentencing sent to new judge (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

  • Tapping into White House vision | Experienced organizations have an advantage in winning government funding, but a faith-based initiative program may help even the odds (Chicago Tribune)

  • Turner to pray again at council meetings | His decision challenges ACLU's position (The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.)

  • Judge blocks new Missouri abortion law | Law would have required a 24-hour waiting period for abortions (Associated Press)

  • Amish want labor laws for teens relaxed | An Amish group asked lawmakers Wednesday to relax federal labor laws that prohibit teenagers from working near powerful woodworking machines — rules they said threaten a cornerstone of their culture (Associated Press)

  • Why are soldiers treated differently? | Islamist Fifth Columnists are benefiting from the very guarantees of religious freedom being denied to devout Christian soldiers (Michelle Malkin, The Miami Herald)

  • EU-wide petition for Christianity in Constitution | Following the beginning of the intergovernmental conference to finalize the draft Constitution, a campaign has been launched all over Europe for a reference to Europe's Christian heritage to be explicitly mentioned in the text (EU Observer)

First Amendment:

  • Ovadal's beach rant ruled unconstitutional | A minister crossed the line of constitutionally protected free speech in a confrontation with a woman who had gone to a southern Wisconsin beach that allows nude sunbathing, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday (Associated Press)

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Marriage laws:

Religious displays:

  • Commandments monument is testament to states' rights | Folks can loathe Judge Roy Moore or love him, but no one should believe that we're dealing with some backwoods hick (Gregory Kane, The Baltimore Sun)

  • Ten Commandments debate may arise | Lawmaker wants state to affirm it as vital to government (Dayton Daily News, Oh.)

  • 500 rally for Commandments | Threatening skies did not deter demonstrators to show their resolve against a lawsuit to remove a framed copy of the Ten Commandments from the Habersham County Courthouse (The Gainesville Times, Fla.)

  • Lawyer: City would lose legal fight | A First Amendment expert in Laramie said the city of Casper would lose if its officials decide to fight in court to keep a controversial Ten Commandments monument in City Park (Casper Star-Tribune, Wy.)

  • Three seek to enter Bible suit | Group opposes removal of book outside courts building (Houston Chronicle)

  • Family protests plaque | Victim's relatives don't want racial reconciliation display in courthouse (Chronicle-Tribune, Grant County, Ind.)

Mark Paschall's rules for jurors:


  • Funeral for slain pastor to be Friday | More than 100 people gathered Thursday night to remember the Rev. Johnny C. Reynolds at a small Kirkwood church a block from the sanctuary where the revered pastor was gunned down by a member of his flock (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Religious liberty abroad:


Missions and ministry:

  • On this they do agree | Evangelicals take the lead in human-rights activism (Allen D. Hertzke, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Religious groups aid flooded residents | Interfaith disaster relief organizations are forming to help flood victims who have exhausted known local resources (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

Anglican troubles:

  • Anglican bishop disciplined for opposition to gay union blessings | The Anglican bishop for the Yukon could be suspended or removed for challenging the authority of Vancouver Bishop Michael Ingham in a dispute over same-sex blessings, says the top Anglican church leader in British Columbia and the Yukon (Associated Press)

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  • Hollywood's Luther | From 95 Theses to 112 silver-screen minutes (Thomas Hibbs, National Review Online)

  • Will movie spark talk of Christian values? | Would Jack Chick's views dissuade you from seeing his film or screening it for your congregation? Religious leaders respond (Los Angeles Times)

  • Spreading the 'Light' | Chick Publications produces film showing paintings of biblical events (San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.)

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  • Chief seeks to ease ITV's religious burden | Nigel Pickard, director of programmes since February, said the channel's annual commitment to 104 hours of religious programming may be "too much" in an increasingly competitive environment (The Guardian, London)

  • FCC gives Bono a pass on cursing at awards | When it comes to cursing, the government says, it's all in the delivery (Associated Press)

  • Falsani Fridays: God, Bono, the Cardinal, and the Cubs | Cathleen Falsani manages to be silly, humorous, thoughtful, intelligent, and spiritual (Chicago)

  • Executives fine-tune KOCE bid | Business leaders who hope to save O.C.'s PBS affiliate sweeten their offer, the lowest of five (Los Angeles Times)

  • Also: Foundation makes new, higher bid | Nonprofit group boosts its bid for KOCE with the help of local business leaders and Peter Ueberroth (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Calif.)

  • Also: It's KOCE decision time | Bidding has closed and the Coast Community College District board must decide by Wednesday who will take over Orange County's public television station (The Independent, Huntington Beach, Calif.)

  • Also: Foundation's bid should win | In a county as well off as Orange County, saving the sole local television station, the only source of local news programming, should not be so difficult (Editorial, The Independent, Huntington Beach, Calif.)

Church life:

  • Religion Today: 'Emerging' churches | Consisting largely of younger Christians, emergent churches cut across denominational lines in an effort to reclaim the sense of mystery found in the ritual and symbols of the faith's ancient past (Associated Press)

  • DuPage forest district seeks church's land | A proposed 160-unit upscale town home development on church-owned property in Aurora has come under fire from the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, which seeks to acquire the land for its own use (Chicago Tribune)

  • Harlem church needs saving | From what I can tell, this is but another example of black people being sold out by those who supposedly represent their interests (Stanley Crouch, New York Daily News)

  • Vicar tells of hate campaign by 'vampires' | The two men, plus a 19-year-old woman, are accused of religious harassment of a Christian. They are believed to be the first to face the little-known charge (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Also: Vampire fans 'harassed vicar' (BBC)

  • Also: 'Vampire-obsessed men targeted vicar's family' | Two men obsessed with vampires waged a three-month religious harassment campaign against a vicar and his family, a court heard today (PA News, U.K.)

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  • Heaven's angels | Each service consists of 20 minutes of rock-worship music and dancing, a short message, and 20 minutes of social interaction (over light snacks and dessert) (Santa Cruz Sentinel, Calif.)

  • Renaming Calif. parish sparks dispute | Construction of a multimillion-dollar Roman Catholic church named for Vietnam's patron saint has been delayed indefinitely because of a dispute over who should be pastor of a congregation that is now mostly Hispanic (Associated Press)

  • Amish seek help from machines after storm | Amish bishops can be flexible on rules about electricity and other modern conveniences, especially involving medical or other emergencies (Associated Press)

  • Portable religious beliefs | Expats face faith challenges (Sofia Echo, Bulgaria)

Pat Robertson:

Jonathan Edwards:

  • Is Jonathan Edwards history? | The contested legacy of the great Puritan—and what it tells us about religion in America today. (John Wilson, Beliefnet)

  • Hell, yes | There's more to Jonathan Edwards than "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)

Other stories of interest:

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  • America obsessed with future apocalypse | There is no work in all literature that has been more misunderstood, prostituted, exploited and abused than the Bible's final book, titled simply in the Greek, "Apocalypse of John." (Tom Harpur, The Toronto Star)

  • Trouble in the pastor's house | In his first week as an Arizona church's pastor, John Vawter learned that his adult daughter was addicted to heroin (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Holding the Bible by day, seeking oracles by night | Events cast doubt as to whether the faith has really stamped its authority on the lives of the people (Joseph K'amolo, African Church Information Service)

  • Ethiopia recovers looted manuscript 135 years on | An ancient handwritten Book of Psalms taken from the fortress of Ethiopian Emperor Theodros by British troops 135 years ago was returned to the Horn of Africa country on Monday (Reuters)

  • Is it okay to pray for the Cubs? | Priests, rabbis, historians, theologians, and ministers respond (Chicago Tribune)

  • Son of a preacher man | Mark Curtis Anderson's '70s memoir looks at what happened when white evangelicals first embraced the devil's music (City Pages, Minneapolis)

  • Pagan, Christian debate continues | Religious debate returned to Sylva last week as a local Baptist preacher and pagan high priestess traded volleys during an Oct. 2 meeting of Sylva's town board (The Sylva Herald, N.C.)

  • Religion news in brief | NCC gets financially healthier, North Carolina Baptists expel church, and other stories (Associated Press)

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