Baptist pastor gunned down while praying
Baptist minister Sergei Bessarab was shot 13 times with a Kalashnikov assault rifle Monday evening, apparently while he was praying in his church in the northern Tajikistan town of Isfar, near the borders of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Reuters quotes officials saying that nothing was taken from the church and a motive is unknown. The Itar-Tass news agency says Bessarab was a missionary from the capital, Dushanbe, and the local leader of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists.
According to Operation World, Christians make up only 1.4 percent of Tajikistan's population, with only 4,000 Protestants (about .06 percent of the population). Baptists are the largest Protestant group in the country, with about 500 members and 1,000 affiliates in 20 congregations.
Forum 18, an Oslo-based persecution watchdog/news agency, reported earlier this month that its reporters were "told by some that an official campaign against Christian proselytism may soon be launched." Expect Forum 18 to have more on Bessarab's murder in the next few days.
That's about all Weblog knows at this stage: The only Sergei Bessarab on Google is a Russian landscape artist.
Washington Post: Conservative Episcopalians plan widespread disobedience to church law
"Episcopalians who oppose the consecration of a gay bishop are preparing to engage in widespread disobedience to church law in 2004, according to a confidential document outlining their strategy," Washington Post religion reporter Alan Cooperman reports in today's edition.
The main author of the six-page plan, Geoff Chapman, says the document is legit. "Our ultimate goal," he wrote, "[is a] replacement jurisdiction … closely aligned with the majority of world Anglicanism."
But it's a letter from Chapman, senior pastor of St. Stephen's Church in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, to Episcopalians who have contacted the American Anglican Council. Does it represent Chapman's views or those of the AAC? Likely the latter: Chapman, after all, was in charge of overseeing churches' applications for "alternative oversight" through the AAC.
The two-stage process that the document outlines, however, isn't all that surprising, given recent AAC actions. Phase one is already underway, as parishes say that their relationship with their diocesan bishop is "severely damaged" and apply for alternative oversight.
Phase two, which Chapman says is likely this year, will entail "negotiated settlements" over property and oversight. "If settlements cannot be reached, the document says, 'faithful disobedience of canon law on a widespread basis may be necessary,'" Cooperman writes.
Expect more on this from such sites as Midwest Conservative Journal and Classical Anglican Net News.
More on Anglicanism:
- Vote on gay bishop still echoes in Dallas church | St. Michael rector's support of Gene Robinson puts him at odds with many of his parishioners (The Dallas Morning News)
- A traditional revolutionary | Schism threat in coming battle over women bishops (The Guardian, London)
- Cathedrals to lock doors as debts mount | Dean warns of demise for Anglican traditions if tourists continue to stay away from England's great churches (The Observer, London)
- Support for homosexuals angers local Episcopalians | More than 3,000 conservative Episcopalians met Friday and Saturday in Woodbridge to pledge solidarity against their denomination's decision last summer to consecrate a homosexual priest as bishop (The Washington Times)
- Episcopal dissenters plan their strategy | Many traditionalists prefer not to flee (The Washington Post)
- Orthodox Anglicans may split from church | Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, a vocal opponent of the church's recent softening on gay issues, said Friday the "Plano-East Conference" could shore up support for the creation of a new network of parishes within the Episcopal Church (Associated Press)
- For couples like Stephen and Michael, blessing and hope | My first official act after being ordained to the Episcopal clergy two years ago was to serve as deacon at what is customarily called a "same-sex blessing ceremony" (Neil Elliott, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
- Faith tested as local leaders take sides over homosexuality | The consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, is tearing apart the Episcopal church (Times Union, Albany, N.Y.)
Jack Kelley troubles continue:
- Kelley story gets new scrutiny | USA Today is examining whether former reporter Jack Kelley, who resigned last week, plagiarized parts of a Washington Post article five years ago (The Washington Post)
- Another article questioned in inquiry at USA Today | USA Today's editor said she had "serious concerns" about an article from a former reporter who was just investigated by the paper for accuracy (The New York Times)
- Similar wording is found in 'Post,' USA Today stories | Editor Karen Jurgensen said that her review of the two stories "raises significant concerns" (USA Today)
- Also: Passages from the two stories | Compare the USA Today and Washington Post articles (USA Today)
- Minority report: why Pakistan gets an F? | Minority rights groups in Pakistan are threatening to launch protests against the killing of two priests in the last six months, bringing the total number of Christians killed in the past four years to 46 (Indo-Asian News Service)
- Make the tough decisions | Since September 11, world attention has focused on the dangers of Islamic extremism. Unfortunately, threats to human rights are tied to only one religion. The disturbing political trends in India — fueled by Hindu extremists and their allies in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Indian government — have largely been ignored (Paul Marshall, The Washington Times)
- Brazil: Settlers kidnap missionaries and attack indigenous people | Settlers have invaded a Catholic mission in an indigenous reserve in Roraima State, Brazil, in protest at government plans to guarantee the land to indigenous peoples (Amnesty International U.K., link via Christian Headlines)
- Health official, Yuba settle suit | Yuba County Health Officer Joe Cassady sued the county and others in September 2002, alleging that county employees were out to destroy his career because he's an evangelical Christian (Appeal-Democrat, Marysville-Yuba City, Calif.)
- Council asked to replace Columbus Day with Orthodox Christmas | Orthodox Councilman has tried twice before, saying lack of holiday is discriminatory (Post-Tribune, Merrillville, Ind.)
- The faulty logic of religious hate | If Mr. Khatami wants to look for religious hatred, he might find it by looking in the mirror (Chuck Brooks, The Mississippi Press)
- Earlier: Parents get God back in 'God Bless the USA' | Angry parents got "God" put back in Lee Greenwood's patriotic anthem "God Bless the USA," which was changed to "I Love the USA" by the directors of a school show (Associated Press)
San Antonio church vandalized:
- Worshippers subdue man who says he sought to save souls at historic church | A man proclaiming himself the "Prince of Peace" intent on saving souls from idol worship ran amok Tuesday morning at San Fernando Cathedral, toppling seven statues, reducing parts of them to piles of dust (San Antonio Express-News, slideshow, video 1, video 2, video 3)
- Cathedral statues smashed | Seven religious statues, most a century old, were smashed yesterday in the San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio by a man who proclaimed himself God and shouted that he wanted to save worshipers by destroying idols, the police said (The New York Times)
- Vandal hits San Antonio cathedral (Associated Press, KENS video)
Religion and politics:
- Candidates should apply faith to all their policies | If morals and ethics don't affect political decisions, they're not really morals and ethics (Brian Lewis, The Tennesssean, Nashville)
- State senator joins in Nativity scene | In one of the more bizarre Christmas mailings by a local pol, Tom Reynolds last month sent out a postcard of Jesus in the manger, but he substituted pictures of himself, his wife and their five children for key figures at the Nativity scene (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- Hate speech and the American way | American tolerance for dissent that calls for the violent overthrow of the government and for racial hate is unique — but not absolute (Adam Liptak, The New York Times)
- Politicians miss religion's middle ground | To define the separation of religious commitment and presidential politics only from the "God gap" angle is to ignore the gap between politicians and those Americans who are critical believers, who try to be both critical of and faithful to a religious tradition (Leo Sandon, Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)
- Politicians must wrestle with place of religion in political life | Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Catholic, recently took fire after quoting the New Testament while questioning some conservative lawmakers' commitment to the needy (Associated Press)
- You do love God, right? | Piety, politics, and polls about religion (Steve Perry, City Pages, Minneapolis)
- Talking politics, religion | For the second time in a month, a local religious leader visits the White House and meets Bush (St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)
Dean's religion and politics:
- A wise Howard Dean will keep religion out of his politics | Dean isn't vowing to eat more soul food to prove how in touch he is with the black experience. Such a notion would be ridiculous and insulting. That's why his decision to acquiesce to the temptation to appear "more Christian" as his presidential campaign heads into the South strikes a false note with so many (Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Dean's pedicured foot firmly in mouth | Dean's explanations are weirder than the original gaffes (Jonah Goldberg)
- Evangelicals press Bush on AIDS funding | A week before President Bush gives his State of the Union address, evangelical leaders Tuesday urged the president to make good on his promise to fight global AIDS by providing $3.6 billion in his budget proposal for 2005 (Religion News Service)
- Also: Groups fighting AIDS in Africa call for funding increase | Evangelicals join with secular nonprofits in condemning last year's $2.4 million (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Also: Evangelicals seek expanded funding next year for global AIDS initiative | Evangelical Christian leaders applaud President Bush's pledge to fight the Global AIDS pandemic, but say $3.6 billion will be needed next year alone (Associated Press)
- HIV/AIDS and hunger | In the absence of sufficient free drugs to treat those suffering from AIDS or those currently infected who may develop full-blown symptoms of the disease, we will still have to find ways to keep them alive and productive (James T. Morris, The Washington Times)
- Cardinal backs use of condoms | Suggested role in preventing Aids breaks Catholic taboo (The Guardian, London)
- Also: Use of condoms can limit AIDS, Belgian cardinal says | The remark by Brussels Cardinal Godfried Danneels is at odds with official Roman Catholic Church teaching, which bans the use of condoms because they are a form of contraceptive (Reuters)
- Also: Cardinal's condom move praised | Aids campaigners have welcomed a leading Catholic cardinal's acceptance of the use of condoms if one partner in a relationship is HIV positive (BBC)
Pledge of Allegiance:
- Colorado House panel okays fixes to Pledge law | Lawmakers began their repair of the Pledge of Allegiance law Tuesday, adding that only "willing" students and teachers are required to recite it every day (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
- Also: Bill would let kids opt out of reciting Pledge (Associated Press)
- Pledge of Allegiance case to be argued March 24 | In Newdow case, Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against inclusion of reference to God (Associated Press)
- Pledge foe is confident he'll succeed | Michael Newdow finally knows his court date (The Sacramento Bee)
- Valley man puts himself above God | If the words "under God" are removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, we suggest someone sneeze at the end of the recitation, thus eliciting the common response, "God bless you." (Editorial, Turlock Journal, Calif.)
- Bush pushes for D.C. vouchers | Bill would give up to $7,500 to 1,700 low-income students (The Washington Post)
- Bible's lessons inspired initiative | The O.C. attorney behind a measure that would put Scripture in literature classes says studying it sharpened his thinking (Los Angeles Times)
- School shake-up spurs talk of religious coup | Monte Vista board dismisses fundamentalist conspiracy as 'ridiculous' (Santa Cruz Sentinel, Calif.)
- Diversity or doctrine on campus? | Resolution defends free-speech rights (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
- Also: GOP lawmakers plan campus rights resolution | Rep. Ray Rose said Islamic groups are allowed on campuses but Christians are prevented from spreading their faith (Associated Press)
- Also: GOP lawmakers condemn mandatory diversity training | Republican legislators have drafted a resolution that condemns mandatory diversity training for students at publicly funded colleges and seeks protection for students "to speak disapprovingly against certain sexual behaviors" (Associated Press)
- Fla. court disallows guardian for fetus | A state appeals court upheld a decision that a guardian could not be appointed for the fetus of a mentally disabled rape victim, striking another blow to Gov. Jeb Bush's bid to extend guardianship rights to unborn children (Associated Press)
- Beyond Terri's Law | What we can learn from the Schiavo case (Wesley J. Smith, The Weekly Standard)
- Brain-damaged woman won't get guardian | Chief Judge David Demers ruled that he would not reappoint a guardian to the case, citing pending litigation over the constitutionality of the law that called for the guardian for Terri Schiavo (Associated Press)
- Maryland abortion foes try new rules tactic | A group of lawmakers calling themselves the Pro-Life Caucus say they will introduce a bill to require free-standing abortion clinics to operate under the same licensing rules as other outpatient medical facilities (The Washington Times)
- Roe, Roe, Roe their boats | When it comes to abortion, Democrats hate democracy (William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal)
- GOP dominates antiabortion rally | Midlands residents at march say they'll back only candidates who oppose abortion (The State, Columbia, S.C.)
Catholic pro-abortion politicians refused communion:
- Bishop: No Communion for abortion backers | A Roman Catholic bishop who waded into politics with a decree that lawmakers who support abortion rights can no longer receive Holy Communion has ignited a debate over the separation of church and state (Associated Press)
- Legislators can't have Eucharist, bishop says | Don't serve supporters of abortion rights, euthanasia, Burke says (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- Separation of church and state | The Bishop's ban on Communion for politicians voting the abortion issue makes a mockery of the Catholic Church. When people elect representatives to Congress, they elect individuals who represent people of all faiths (Stuart James, The Chattanoogan, Tenn.)
The Passion of the Christ and other films:
- Gospel-tract authors put spin on Mel Gibson movie | The American Tract Society is weighing in on the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's soon-to-be-released The Passion of the Christ with tracts that attempt to answer one question posed by the movie: Who is responsible for Jesus Christ's death? (Associated Press)
- Also: Who is responsible for Jesus' death? | American Tract Society's "Passion" tracts answers controversial movie's question (Press release)
- Also: Read the tract
- The Gospel according to cinema | In the last few weeks Kansas City audiences have seen two overtly religious films playing in mainstream movie houses, and a third, more controversial movie opens early next year (Kansas City Star)
- Scott's Crusades cameras banned from cathedral | The Catholic Church in Spain has refused to allow the filming of a new epic in a former mosque (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Preacher's conviction over anti-gay sign upheld | A preacher who held up a sign in a town square calling for an end to homosexuality, lesbianism and immorality was "properly convicted" of a criminal offence, the High Court ruled yesterday (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Legal battle over 'end homosexuality' sign | Two judges at the High Court in London were told the decision to convict the late Harry John Hammond, a "sincere" 69-year-old evangelical Christian, for displaying an "insulting" sign hit at the heart of freedom of expression and infringed human rights (PA, U.K.)
- Lawmaker at 'homo-fascism' event unmasked | A gay rights group last month called for an investigation of the unnamed state senator who attended the 2003 International Conference on Homo-Fascism - a meeting of extremists opposing "the sodomite agenda." He's no longer unnamed (Cary Spivak & Dan Bice, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- When types of discrimination compete for legal recognition | Should anti-gay religious practices be accommodated in the workplace? (Sherry F. Colb, Findlaw.com)
- No gay tolerance in Africa's Anglican Church | Growing rebellion against liberal doctrines of U.S. (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Gay 'civil union' not as divisive as 'marriage' | A majority (53%) opposes a law that "would allow homosexual couples to legally get married," while 24% favor it. But significantly fewer (41%) oppose "civil unions," giving homosexual couples "some of the legal rights of married couples" (USA Today)
- Coveting Luke's faith | My son found God. I can't help envying him — even if he is only 4 years old (Dana Tierney, The New York Times Magazine)
- 'Evil': The 'E' word | The thoughtful investigation of evil in Lance Morrow's new book is so timely. Evil can help Americans think more clearly about an ancient question that is urgent in a new way (James Carroll, The New York Times Book Review)
- Women find new ways to talk of God | Re-Imagining conferences end after decade of exciting discussion (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)
- Busting on the 'cult buster' | Self-styled "cult buster" Rick Ross stirred up a hornet's nest last week with his warning to Madonna's favorite presidential candidate, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, to keep his distance from Madonna's spiritual home, the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles (Lloyd Grove, New York Daily News)
- Belgium considers school headscarf ban | Belgium's interior minister, Patrick Dewael, has added his support to proposals in France to outlaw Islamic headscarves in state schools by saying he favored a similar ban in his country (Associated Press)
- A religious symbol of secular conflict | France's latest national drama started with several thousand Muslim schoolgirls across the country demanding the right to cover their heads in public-school classrooms (The Washington Times)
- Why Canada doesn't ban headscarves | France offers a half-open society that debates what citizens shall be required to do (John Robson, Canwest News Service)
- Protests aimed at Europe, future | Muslims in the U.S. are taking steps to head off implementation of dress restrictions—such as a ban on women wearing head scarves in public—being considered in some parts of Europe (Chicago Tribune)
Church and health:
- Consequences: Among Amish, work is workout | When researchers studied an Amish farming community in southern Ontario, they found that obesity was virtually nonexistent (The New York Times)
- Minding body and soul | Churches try programs to promote better nutrition and health (The Washington Post)
- Churches unite to help congregations get better health care | Hill District ministries join forces to provide better and broader access to care (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
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