Church damaged, Christians injured as car bomb explodes in Karachi
Around 3:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. Eastern) today, Karachi police received an anonymous tip that the Pakistan Bible Society would be attacked. Indeed, it was, but the tip itself was apparently part of the attack.

As police arrived, two motorcyclists reportedly drove up, threw a small explosive device—reportedly a firecracker—at the Bible society's offices, then drove away. That attack, along with the police tip, was apparently designed to draw a crowd. The real attack came about 15 minutes later, when a car parked nearby exploded. (The car was reportedly stolen earlier in the day from a government official.)

"We were investigating the first explosion when the second explosion occurred," Mohammed Iqbal, deputy superintendent of a paramilitary force called the Rangers, told the Associated Press (photos). "It was a sudden and huge explosion."

At least twelve Pakistanis were injured, including six police and Rangers and at least two Bible Society employees. (China's Xinhua news agency is the only outlet reporting one death.) The nearby Holy Trinity Church, a Karachi landmark, was also damaged in the blast.

"This terrorist act has increased the sense of insecurity among Christians," Shahbaz Bhatti, head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, told the news service. "We are shocked, grieved and worried. … These people are hell-bent on creating anarchy in the country."

Expect more details in the next few days, and keep your eyes on Pakistan Christian Post's web site.

Church attacked in Sri Lanka
While Muslims were presumably behind the attack in Pakistan, Buddhists continue to attack in Sri Lanka. St. Michael's Church in Katuwana, Homagama, is the latest victim in a series of half a dozen church burnings and attacks across the country. The attacks have increased after the death of radical Buddhist monk Gangodavila Soma. The church apparently suffered about $5,000 in damages, with statues and crosses inside completely destroyed.

Church member Dion de Silva told the AFP news agency that he thinks the attack was related to an angry visit two months ago by two dozen or so Buddhist monks, who accused the church of converting local Buddhists.

"We told them that we don't do that sort of thing, but they still pulled down our cross and put up a Buddhist flag," de Silva said. "There has been no action taken following our complaint at the time."

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Religious freedom:

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  • Proposal to beatify convert stirs controversy | A proposal by the Catholics Bishops Conference of India to recommend the beatification of an 18th century convert to Christianity has stirred up a huge controversy in Kerala (Indo-Asian News Service)
  • 'Church doesn't promote forcible conversion' | The allegation that the Catholic Church in India used money for religious conversion has no basis and the 'misunderstanding' on the subject is mainly due to 'misrepresentation' of the concept of evangelization, Vatican's envoy to India, Rev. Pedro Lepz Quintana, said (PTI)
  • Religious liberty under threat in Europe, Pope says | Pope John Paul said on Monday religious freedom might be threatened in some European countries that confused the official separation of church and state with a ban on religion in the public sphere (Reuters)

Religious liberty in the U.S.:

Religious displays:

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Jack Kelley:

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  • Discredited USA Today reporter's story based on real report | Serbian activist Natasa Kandic confirms existence of ethnic cleansing report in Yugoslav officer's notebook (Reuters)
  • 'Good journalism' uncovers all facts | "I realize that USA TODAY would not dismiss Kelley without due cause, but I simply cannot believe that someone of Kelley's integrity and faith would purposely deceive the paper or its readers" (Bruce C. Swaffield, USA Today)

Missions & Ministry:

  • Thousands to attend Bible meeting in India | More than 17,000 people from all over India will be attending the International Joyce Meyer's conference to be held at the Polo Grounds in the city from January 15 to 17 (The Times of India)
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Episcopal Church:

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Anglican bishop in Kenya accused of corruption:

  • Council-row bishop paid in advance | Anglican bishop Peter Njoka has already received a two-month advance payment from the Nairobi City Council for his controversial duties as chaplain, it was revealed yesterday (The Nation, Nairobi)
  • Yes, I got Sh1.5m to pray, says bishop | Anglican bishop Peter Njoka yesterday admitted earning a monthly allowance of Sh54,000 for praying for City Hall once a week (The East African Standard, Nairobi)

Religion & politics:

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  • Dieting for Jesus | We should worry less about America's Christian conservatives. They are more American than they are Christian or conservative (Alan Wolfe, Prospect)
  • Policy decisions, not religion, should shape your voting | Trouble comes when voters make religious beliefs the litmus test or candidates misuse their faith as a tool in their electoral strategy (Phil Haslanger, The Capital Times, Madison, Wis.)
  • Philippine evangelist protests election ouster | Eduardo Villanueva, who planned to run for president on a platform of fighting the evils of corruption, warned on Monday of massive street protests after election officials disqualified him (Reuters)
  • Rev. Robertson's ruminations | The Rev. warns Israel not to make peace with the Palestinians, and God opens up to him about Bush's prospects in November (Bill Berkowitz,
  • Bush plan to honor Dr. King stirs criticism | Many of Atlanta's civil rights leaders are outraged about the president's planned visit to commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 75th birthday (The New York Times)
  • Haitians stage protest, church condemns Aristide | The march on Sunday, the latest in a series of mounting protests in recent months, began after a mass by Roman Catholic Bishop Pierre-Andre Dumas who criticized the corruption, repression and anarchy that he said Aristide's government had created (Reuters)

Bush's marriage initiative:

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  • Bush renews marriage funds vow | The Bush administration yesterday reiterated its intention, first announced in 2002, to spend $300 million annually to promote "healthy marriages" (The Washington Times)
  • Bush plans £800m 'healthy marriage' drive | President George W Bush is planning to spend at least £800 million on an election-year drive to promote marriage, especially among the poor (The Daily Telegraph, London)

The Passion, movies, and media:

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  • Pastors push to put Gibson movie in Great Falls theater | Great Falls evangelical pastors hope to persuade Carmike 10 Cinema to bring Mel Gibson's powerful film about Christ's last agonizing hours to town with pledges of sellouts for several days or weeks (Great Falls Tribune, Montana)
  • Who took the Lord out of 'Lord of the Rings'? | At least as problematic as the films' non-religious spirituality is their racism (Fenton Johnson, Pacific News Service)
  • Ridley Scott film row talks start | Talks are under way to try to resolve a row over filming in a historic Spanish cathedral for UK director Sir Ridley Scott's new movie about the Crusades (BBC)
  • Channel reaches out to local congregations | Imagine a Christian-based cable channel that features services by preachers in the Tallahassee area, strong public-affairs programming and a mix of national Christian programs (Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)
  • Leap of faith | Jonathan Edwards was the greatest triple jumper in the world. But soon the staunch Christian will be facing an even bigger challenge—deciding what's fit for us to watch on television (The Guardian, London)

Art and theater:

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These kids today:

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  • The perils of living in a consumer paradise | With so many things to choose from, why aren't Americans happier than ever? A review of Barry Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • The second coming | Nike's new ad is a humble prayer that LeBron will turn out like Mike (Slate)
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  • What do clergy drive | Economics, personal need determine vehicle choices (The Times Herald, Port Huron, Mich.)


  • Monk e-business (Love that headline!)| LaserMonks, a two-year-old e-commerce venture based at the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank — yes, with actual Catholic monks — appears to be on a stratospheric business trajectory (Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)
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Church life:

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Women and sex:

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  • This is my body | A new mother contemplates the place of the body, its power to endure and its most holy moment (Elizabeth Wirth, Damaris Project, reprinted at Godspy)

Islam, other religions, and interfaith relations:

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  • Israel wavers on entry of Ethiopians | The arrival of thousands more Ethiopians in Israel has run into increasing opposition amid suspicions that many of the would-be immigrants may not be the descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity as they claim (Associated Press)


Pope John Paul II:

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  • Biographer to speak on 'soul' of pope | Pope John Paul II has defined the papacy for his successors, says George Weigel, a papal biographer and a scholar in religion and culture (The Cincinnati Enquirer)
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  • Jury selection begins in bishop's trial | A judge told prospective jurors Monday in the hit-and-run trial of Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien that they can be fair and impartial even if they have already heard a lot about the case (Associated Press)
  • Backlash to church grows, says gay body | A backlash is growing in the Catholic Church against the Vatican "demonising and dehumanising" homosexuals, a spokesman for the Rainbow Sash movement said yesterday (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Church refuses confession change | The Catholic Church today backed the absolute silence of the Confessional despite criticism the practice encouraged pedophile priests (The Australian)
  • Neb. diocese won't partake in study | The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lincoln won't participate in a national study tracking sexual abuse in the church, making it the only diocese in the nation to refuse to take part. (Associated Press)
  • Catholic high texts to be pulled | Most are flawed, N.O. Archbishop Hughes advises (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)
  • Bishop who quit for love fights cancer | Roddy Wright, the former Roman Catholic bishop who deserted the Church to marry one of his parishioners, is fighting for his life in New Zealand (The Scotsman)
  • Court lets suit against archdiocese go forward | The Archdiocese of Milwaukee must answer in a California court for transferring a molesting priest to Orange County, where he was accused of molesting again (The Sacramento Bee)

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