South African pastor loses job, money after kidnapping hoax
Thursday night, Evangelical Reformed Church pastor Paul Beyl told his wife that he was going to pull the car into the garage of his Pretoria, South Africa, home.
"She heard the garage door open, then a blood-curdling yell, and the sound of a car speeding away," the South African paper Beeld reported. Police were called in, and a search began with helicopters, highway patrols, several police patrols, dogs, and border guards. Within two days, South Africa's Christians had been mobilized into prayer, with vigils and prayer alerts. Calls for prayer went out nationwide, with support pouring in from as far away as New Zealand. Beyl's kidnapping was big news in the South African media all last weekend, but appears to have been even bigger news in the informal prayer networks and international prayer trees that the Internet has made possible.
Meanwhile, police had spent up about $72,000 in the search, which was expanded to all of Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Midrand.
But to no effect. It wasn't until Saturday morning, when Beyl walked into the Johannesburg Central police station, that anyone knew he was okay.
Beyl told police of his ordeal, how he was blindfolded and bound, thrown into his car, then later dumped in a field.
Or not. As it turns out, Beyl had spent the night at the Gold Reef City resort, a large casino.
"This type of behavior cannot be allowed and this man must face the full wrath of the law," police commissioner Amon Mashigo told reporters, saying the department will likely try to recoup the costs of the manhunt from Beyl. "We cannot play games when it comes to fighting crime, especially ones as vile as hijacking. These types of action are extremely traumatic, not only for the families of the victims but also for the men and women who put their lives on the line to find and rescue those in trouble. These vital resources needed in fighting crime could have been used effectively for finding and rescuing people who were really in distress at the time."
Beyl's church Sunday heard a sermon on forgiveness, but the church also noted that forgiveness and consequences are not mutually exclusive. The congregation accepted the pastor's resignation.
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- Gibson surprised by controversy over 'Passion' | "It was a surprise to have shots being fired over the bow while I was still filming, and then to have various loud voices in the press—people who hadn't seen the work—really slinging mud," Gibson said (Reuters)
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- Gibson's right to his 'Passion' | Overreaction will cause more anti-Semitism than movie itself (Michael Medved, The Christian Science Monitor)
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- The searchers | On the importance of being dubious: A review of Doubt: A History (The Washington Post)
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Religion and politics:
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- Clergy play slots politics, not Bible card | Listen in on the debate among ministers, because they're not thumping the Bible on this one. They're engaging like politicians, weighing competing interests and looking for safe haven (Marc Fisher, The Washington Post)
- The 'religion gap' | Analysis of the religion gap and what it means for the election is far from complete (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)
- Debate over shelter forces town to confront its beliefs | The debate over a makeshift homeless shelter proved much bigger for the city than the shelter or even the broader problem of homelessness in the San Francisco Bay area (The New York Times)
Episcopal Church rift:
- Virginia Episcopalians avert split over gay bishop | Episcopalians of Virginia voted yesterday to set up a year-long "reconciliation commission" to examine ways of maintaining their unity in the face of deep theological differences over what the church's stance on homosexuality should be (The Washington Post)
- Heresy better idea than schism? | Heresy is better than schism, the Episcopal bishop of Virginia said yesterday in a speech that gently chided church conservatives for imperiling the unity of the country's largest diocese over the consecration of the denomination's first homosexual bishop last November (The Washington Times)
- Virginia Episcopal Church reaffirms marriage | Virginia Episcopal Church leaders reaffirmed a 10-year-old resolution saying sex should be restricted to heterosexual marriage and appointed a panel to smooth over differences among local parishioners about last summer's election of the denomination's first openly homosexual bishop (The Washington Times)
- Diocese says gay bishop should not be cause of split | The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia urged church members not to let the consecration of the first openly gay bishop to create a split in the church (Associated Press)
- Notification bill faces challenges | Clergy already report abuse, opponents say (The Washington Post)
- Sex-abuse panel criticizes Irish govt. | A commission investigating child abuse in Ireland's Catholic Church-run institutions published a scathing report Friday, accusing the government and most religious orders of obstructing its work (Associated Press)
- Ky. class-action abuse suit moves forward | The nation's first class-action lawsuit over sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests is moving forward in Kentucky, with plaintiffs lawyers expecting to represent as many as 500 people following a Saturday deadline (Associated Press)
- Sealing of sex-abuse lawsuits rejected | Jefferson judge rules state law unconstitutional (The Courier-Journal, Louisvile, Ky.)
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