Rhode Island pastor killed in Iraq
There's now identities to go with yesterday's story on the shooting of a taxi full of American Christians returning to Baghdad from Babylon.

The Providence Journal reports that John Kelley, pastor of the "tiny" Curtis Corner Baptist Church in Wakefield, Rhode Island, was killed. Three other pastors were injured: Kirk DiVietro of the Grace Baptist Church in Franklin, Massachusetts; David G. Davis, of the Grace Bible Baptist Church in Vernon, Connecticut, and Garland Carey, of the Valley Bible Baptist Church in Newburgh, New York.

"They were helping an Iraqi man start a church, the first Baptist church in Baghdad," DiVietro's assistant pastor, Doug Pettit, told The Woonsocket Call. "They were going to ordain him."

Kelley, a former Marine who had pastored Curtis Corner Baptist for about 18 years, had been in Iraq for about a week. They were due to return this Friday.

Jane Kelley, the deceased pastor's wife, "played hymns the next day during two Sunday services," the Journal reports. "She kept a box of tissues on the floor while the congregation sang 'Count Your Blessings' and 'Nothing But the Blood.'" The couple had four children: Jenney, 15; Jason, 17; James, 21, and Julia, 23.

"I feel like I lost a brother," Roland Vukic, one of Curtis Corner Baptist's 120 congregants, told the Journal. "Pastor Kelley was not aloof — he was not one to run around in fancy robes. He could be your brother, he could be your best friend."

Evangelical church attacked in Thessaloniki
"A homemade gas-canister bomb, placed at the entrance to offices housing Thessaloniki's Missionary Evangelical Church — on the third floor of a seven-floor block in the northern city — caused 3,000 euros of damage when they detonated [Friday] morning," the Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported Saturday. There are no reports of injuries. Anarchists have been blamed for the attack and several others around the city.

This is not the first time that churches in Thessaloniki have faced persecution.

More articles

The Passion of The Christ—general:

  • The agony and the ecstasy | Will ''The Passion'' ruin Mel Gibson's career? The much-anticipated, hotly debated, and closely guarded film dramatizing Christ's final hours threatens to forever alienate the actor/director from Hollywood (Entertainment Weekly)

  • Gibson's 'Passion' in very 'select' theatres | If you live on the west side of Manhattan, on most of western Long Island, or in Beverly Hills and you want to see Mel Gibson's controversial new movie "The Passion of the Christ," you will be out of luck (Fox News)

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  • Gibson reworks 'Passion' to mute anti-semitism | The blood pours more freely than in any Jesus film in history, but the final cut of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" takes some care to distance Jewish people from centuries-old anti-Semitic charges of deicide (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

  • The gospel according to Mel | After spending £10million of his own money on one of Hollywood's most controversial and violent movies, Mel Gibson remains unrepentant despite a storm of protest (The Mirror, U.K.)

  • The passion of the cinema | Is two to three hours enough time to give viewers all they need to fully digest such a story? (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Calif.)

  • 'Passion' revives religious debate | There is at least one upside to the brouhaha over Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion of the Christ: It has led to some serious probing of current Jewish-Christian relations and given many Jews a crash course in the varieties of Christian theology (The Jerusalem Post)

  • Parents will take their children to 'The Passion of the Christ' despite 'R' rating | "The graphic nature of the story is told in the Bible for a reason and I believe that reason is that God wants us to see how clearly he believes sin is a horrible, horrible thing … and the results are dramatic," says one parent (KPOM, Ft. Smith, Ark.)

  • Reflections on Gibson's 'Christ' | A Gardner preacher who came close to Hollywood stardom in the role of Jesus Christ 47 years ago said he looks forward to Mel Gibson's controversial new movie on Christ's last 12 hours (Sentinel & Enterprise, Fitchburg, Mass.)

  • Hype at crescendo for 'Passion' | Hollywood's efforts to portray the life of Jesus of Nazareth haven't been received well by Christians in the past (Kennebec Journal, Me.)

  • Most contentious story ever told | For many Christians, especially those already angry over pop culture's tendency to mock their faith, Gibson's film has become a rallying cry. It has become a symbol of their right to tell the story of Jesus in the way they choose — without bending to the winds of political correctness (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Before it opens, Gibson's movie is raising passions | Some news events are so complex, the points of view so different and intricate, that they can't be captured in a news story, even several news stories (The Kansas City Star)

The Passion of The Christ—local:

  • The Passion over 'Passion' | Avalon Theatre Project intends to confront the controversy by staging a teach-in (The Washington Post)

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Church response:

  • Movie movement | Evangelical Christians are drumming up interest in The Passion (ABCNews.com)

  • 'Passion' is already big box office | Churches have bought blocks of tickets, and many hope the Mel Gibson film draws people to Christianity (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

  • McHenry County congregations snap up tickets to 'The Passion' | Fox Valley moviegoers who don't want to get stuck in the front row, or out in the cold, when "The Passion of the Christ" opens next week should get to the box office early (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • Area churches passionate about 'The Passion' | At Singing River Theaters, every show during the film's opening week is sold out, and tickets are still going for other showings within the first two weeks of release (WLOX, Biloxi, Miss.)

  • Churches up for 'Passion' | Three congregations are making sure their parishioners have a seat for Mel Gibson's controversial movie about Christ (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Calif.)

  • 'Passion' is already generating a faithful following | A week before its release, before a single member of the general public has seen it, Mel Gibson's graphically violent film about the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ has become the most talked-about movie event in America, in large part because of a marketing strategy that is targeting Christian audiences while trying to manage the controversy about anti-Semitism that swirls around the picture (The Washington Post)

  • A film fuels faith | Churches are preparing to use Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of The Christ' as a ministry tool (York Daily Record, Pa.)

  • Film's marketing stirs strong passions | Local clergy members discuss exclusion of Jews at screenings (The Beacon Journal, Akron, Oh.)

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  • Faithful plan evangelism with 'Passion' | For hundreds of Christians in Nashville and across the country, the upcoming Mel Gibson movie about Jesus' last hours isn't just about entertainment. It's also about revival (The Tennessean)

  • 'Passion' spotlights religious differences | Christian leaders say the movie will affirm their congregations' beliefs and help them evangelize. Roman Catholics are organizing fund-raisers in connection with it. Local pastors are preparing weeks of sermons based on it (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)


  • Film shouldn't fuel hate among true Christians | It's hard to believe that — other than a few radical acts by those who profess Christ's love, but practice something very different — anti-Semitism will result from this film (Editorial, Chillicothe Gazette, Oh.)

  • Gibson's 'Passion' a matter of choice | Each filmmaker has cast the Passion in the values of the era in which the movie was made, reflecting that period's cultural sensitivity "or lack thereof" (Rich Barlow, The Boston Globe)

  • Art scandals as old as religion | If controversy explodes around Mel Gibson's life-of-Jesus movie, that will merely earn it a place in a very long lineage (Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Mel Gibson is closing Jewish hearts to Jesus | This whole Passion of Christ controversy is only doing a disservice to Jesus himself (Shmuley Boteach, Jewsweek)

  • Passion of Gibson's film on Christ is in the conflict it generates | If experience is anything to go by, expect several weeks of heated debate and possible protests, before the movie heads off to the video stores and cable television channels on its way to obscurity (Chris McGillion, Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Gibson defends 'Passion' film, weighs in on religious debate | Without meaning to seem cynical, or to suggest that Gibson — a deeply religious man — was giving a carefully calibrated performance, it is fair to say that he displayed several different public faces (Mark Jurkowitz, The Boston Globe)

Mel Gibson speaks:

  • Pain and passion | Mel Gibson tackles addiction, recovery and the controversies over his new film (ABCNews.com)

  • Gibson tackles concerns about his 'Passion' | The only thing he refused to talk about was his father (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)

  • One man's 'Passion' | Mel Gibson breaks his media silence to respond to the controversy surrounding his new film about Christ's final hours on Earth (The Orange County Register)

  • Gibson talks about film, furor and faith | A big opening is projected for his 'Passion of the Christ.' But he anguishes over accusations of anti-Semitism (Los Angeles Times)

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  • Anti-Semitism is not about Jews | For Jews, it is hard not to take anti-Semitism personally. It matters little to us whether it is the supposedly "new" variant that infects anti-Israel Arabists, or the older racial-nationalist type (Leonard Zeskind, Jewsweek)

  • The 'Passion' controversy | What does the Bible say about the Jews and Jesus' death? (Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • The Passion crib notes | Forgot what they taught you in Sunday School? Too lazy to read the subtitles? We've got your Passion primer right here (Jewsweek)

The Bible:

  • Belief and blame | Six in 10 take Bible stories literally, but most don't blame Jews for Jesus' death (ABCNews.com)

  • Also: Most Americans take Bible stories literally | God's creation of the Earth, Noah and the flood, Moses at the Red Sea: These pivotal stories from the Old Testament still resonate deeply with most Americans, who take the accounts literally rather than as a symbolic lesson (The Washington Times)

  • In choice of Bible versions, we shall not want | One of many offerings is a more gender-inclusive take on the New International. For the more traditional there's the English Standard (Los Angeles Times)

Life ethics:

  • F.D.A. to delay its decision on sale of morning-after pill | The agency has asked the company, in Pomona, N.Y., for more information about the emergency contraceptive, also known as Plan B, especially among teenagers, the company said (The New York Times)

  • Bank for human stem cells starts ethics debate in Spain | The nation's first public stem cell bank has ignited a political battle over the regulation of medical research in Spain that uses human embryos (The New York Times)

  • States aim at fetal homicide | In the wake of a recent unsolved slaying of a mother and her unborn son, Kentucky is considering adopting fetal homicide laws similar to those in 28 other states (The Washington Times)

  • The rush to clone | Being first will be less important than getting the ethics right (The Asian Wall Street Journal)


  • Abortion advocates pledge anti-Bush campaign funds | An abortion advocacy group — in conjunction with several Democratic governors — has pledged to raise $25 million to defeat President Bush this fall and elect leaders on all levels who support abortion rights (The Washington Times)

  • Partial-birth privacy | John Ashcroft wants to know the science behind the "protecting the life of the mother" (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)

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  • Protesters who push the limits | Abortion opponents are legally invading the privacy of everyone who works at a Kansas clinic. The providers refuse to be intimidated (Los Angeles Times)



  • Keeping the faith | A scholar examines the roots of an epic American struggle (The Washington Post)

  • General Tubman | Harriet Tubman, who is better known among schoolchildren than in the serious historical literature, is the subject of three new scholarly studies (The New York Times Book Review)

  • 'The Closing of the Western Mind': When the lights went out in Europe | Charles Freeman's main thesis has two parts. First, that the Greek intellectual tradition did not simply fade away but was actively suppressed by the rise of Christianity, especially in the fourth and fifth centuries. Second, that the main reason this happened was political (The New York Times Book Review)

  • Professor's book focuses on religion, bioethics | Hope College professor Allen Verhey's "Reading the Bible in the Strange World of Medicine," is designed to be a tool for clergy, Christian physicians and others faced with medical issues (The Holland Sentinel, Mich.)

  • Deconstructing 'Da Vinci' | "The Da Vinci Code," the best-selling novel that asserts as fact that Jesus Christ had a daughter as well as a wife, has provoked fierce opposition from Protestants and Catholics alike (The Washington Times)

  • One God, three religions | Jack Miles reviews The Monotheists (Los Angeles Times)

  • Professor maps Christianity's path | OSU researcher Marcus Borg gains notoriety with his books on religion (Statesman Journal, Salem, Ore.)

  • Reflections In Glass | This book is a battle for the soul of Australia's Anglicans, in which the foe is the influential Sydney diocese, often characterised as fundamentalist (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

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American Airlines pilot:

Earthquake, damaging snowstorm in Israel:

  • Recent Mideast earthquake endangers church building in Bethlehem | The pastor at one of the most prominent churches in Bethlehem says the building is in danger of collapsing, following last week's earthquake that shook parts of the Middle East (Voice of America)

  • Fears for Bethlehem church after earthquake | Rev Mitri Raheb at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, whose steeple dominates the skyline in the birthplace of Jesus, told Scotland on Sunday parts of the shrine broke off when the quake hit the region on Wednesday, and he fears more may collapse (Scotland on Sunday)

  • Wall of Mugrabi Gate pathway collapses | The section of the Western Wall allocated for women's prayer has been cordoned off and declared temporarily off-limits to worshipers, after sections of a wall on the pathway leading up to the adjacent Mugrabi Gate caved in during a snowstorm early Sunday morning (The Jerusalem Post)

Related Elsewhere:

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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