Evangelical Korean kidnap victim was beheaded; Iraqi Christian sisters also murdered

U.S. soldiers have recovered the body and head of Kim Sun Il, the South Korean translator who wanted to be a Christian missionary to the Arabic world.

Reuters describes the murder this way:

Monday, Kim Sun-il stood gesticulating as he shouted desperately at the camera, "I don't want to die."
On Wednesday, the Arabic interpreter and devout Christian who dreamed of missionary work in the Arab world knelt silently and impassively before his Muslim militant captors beheaded him

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun called Kim's murder a "crime against humanity. … When we think of his desperate appeals for life, our hearts are wrenched with grief."

Widely published photos clearly show Kim's parents and sister are wrenched with grief. The Korea Times reports that some Koreans have threatened to retaliate against a local mosque.

Meanwhile, other non-American Christians were killed by Iraqi insurgents yesterday. Two sisters, Assyrian Christians who were working with the U.S. company Bechtel in reconstruction projects, were shot to death as they arrived home, Reuters reports. That home happens to also be a church, where the girls' father works. (There are also photos of the grieving relatives in this case.)

More articles

Peyote okay in Utah religious services:

  • Utah high court okays non-Indian peyote use | In a unanimous decision, the court found in favor of a couple charged in 2000 with drug distribution for providing peyote to members and visitors at their church in Benjamin, about 50 miles southwest of Salt Lake City (Associated Press)
  • Justices uphold religious peyote use | The Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday ensured that Utah members of the Native American Church, regardless of their race, cannot be prosecuted for using peyote as part of their religion (The Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Church's peyote use okayed | High court ruling may clear founder of charges (Deseret Morning News)
  • Earlier: Religious freedom can be ethnically limited, Utah judge rules | Judge: White man can't use peyote in religious ceremony (Weblog, May 11, 2001)

Archbishop recommends sexed-up Bible:

  • St Paul urges more copulation for couples in sexed-up Bible | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has given his personal backing to a new translation of the New Testament in which St Paul's notorious condemnations of gay sex are deleted and Christians are told to go out and have more sex (The Times, London, sub. req'd.)
  • Summary: New Testament scholar defends radical translation of Bible (Ekkesia)
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  • Also: Radical new translation makes Bible accessible to unchurched (Ekkesia)
  • Document: ONE Translation


  • Salesians dispute report that they moved suspects in abuse | Order's leaders don't address specifics; News stands by story (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Church compounds the sins of the fathers | The Salesian order has failed to ensure priests do not flee police inquiries into sexual abuse (Editorial, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Runaway priests hiding in plain sight | Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children are hiding abroad and working in church ministries, The Dallas Morning News has found (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Convicted sexual abuser and fugitive works with kids under his religious order's wing (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Cardinal offered sanctuary to admitted molester | Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez could be the next pope. He also recently sheltered an admitted child molester (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Cleric slipped out of U.S., continues to work in Mexico | 'Everyone knew you had to stay away from Aguilar' (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Church aid, legal lapses leave cleric free to roam | 'That's when your hair stands on end and your blood boils' (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Robert Bullock, 75; priest, critic of church's role in sex scandal | Father Robert Bullock, the Roman Catholic priest who became an outspoken critic of the church's handling of the sexual abuse scandal in the Boston Archdiocese, has died. He was 75 (Los Angeles Times)
  • Priest in grand jury probe critical of media | A retired Catholic priest at the center of a federal investigation into the possible coverup of sex abuse allegations by leaders in the Boston Archdiocese is lashing out at what he calls the ''media condemnation'' of his character (Associated Press)

Eric Rudolph tried in Birmingham for abortion bombing:

  • Abortion bomb suspect Rudolph to face Alabama trial | Eric Rudolph, accused of the fatal 1998 bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama, abortion clinic, will be tried in Birmingham before a jury selected from other parts of the state, a judge said on Tuesday (Reuters)
  • Rudolph trial won't leave Birmingham | Eric Robert Rudolph will be tried in Birmingham with jurors to be picked from throughout north Alabama, not just a three-county area, a federal judge decided Tuesday (The Birmingham News, Al.)

Missions & ministry:

  • Is VBS soul care or daycare? | Churches look for solutions as kids flock to summer programs (The Dallas Morning News)
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  • Prison pursues faith-based program | Officials hope to cut recidivism rate of Northampton County Prison inmates (The Express-Times, Bethlehem, Pa.)


  • Exhibit chronicles NYC religious centers | A new photo exhibit chronicles many of the hundreds of places around the New York borough dedicated to a higher spiritual authority — churches, synagogues, mosques (Associated Press)
  • Little bits of soul | Religion may take its lumps, but the ruthlessly irreverent South Park also addresses fundamental questions of faith (The Orlando Sentinel)


  • A trinity of videos for one religious rap | Of the three music videos that Kanye West plans to release with his single, "Jesus Walks," the second, set in the deep South, is the most controversial (The New York Times)
  • Pope singles out Madonna for criticism | The lapsed-Catholic diva has come under scrutiny from the Vatican because of her support of Kabbalah (Jeannette Walls, MSNBC)

Religion & politics:

  • Christian leaders put faith in elections | Gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, banning of prayer in schools and the belief that righteous judges are being kept off the courts have enraged many conservative Protestants and Catholics who see the 2004 election as their best chance for political redemption (Palm Beach Post, Fla.)
  • Catholics are deciding for themselves | We Catholics are quite capable of using our own conscience -- it's called "primacy of conscience" and was well-defined at Vatican II. Right or wrong -- and wrong we may be -- it's ours (Mary McDonough Harren, The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)
  • Texas Republicans urged to drop 'Christian nation' | A leading Jewish group on Tuesday asked the Republican Party in President Bush's home state of Texas to stop calling the United States a "Christian nation" in its platform (Reuters)
  • Church hot topic of council flare-up | A special-events law's approval comes with religious and political baggage from members (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Ca.)
  • Politicians no longer avoid separation of church, vote | Embracing religion is viewed as more an asset than albatross in the 2004 campaign (Houston Chronicle)
  • Religion to have role at the polls | For white Americans, church attendance is the single biggest predictor of voting behavior besides party identification, with weekly churchgoers favoring Republican candidates by overwhelming margins, according to John Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron (Newsday)
  • Bush appeal to Vatican shouldn't come as shock | Anyone whose mind is boggled by this should find another spectator sport (John L. Allen Jr, Newsday)
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  • How to handicap the Lord | Why does David Brooks want to be the Democrats' spiritual guide? (Jeff Sharlet, The Revealer)
  • Party agendas | Abortion and same-sex marriage are close-knit parts of the Tory agenda (Larry Zolf, CBC)
  • India's opposition aims for comeback | India's Hindu nationalist opposition, still licking its wounds after last month's election defeat, aims to kick-start its political comeback Wednesday with the unveiling of plans for state polls due over the next year (Reuters)

Moonies on Capitol Hill:

  • The Rev. Moon honored at Hill reception | Lawmakers say they were misled (The Washington Post)
  • Earlier: Hail to the Moon king | The deeply weird coronation of Rev. Sun Myung Moon in a Senate office building -- crown, robes, the works -- is no longer one of Washington's best-kept secrets (Salon.com)

Sexual ethics:

  • Papa, don't preach, it won't be effective | A trend toward trying to curb youth sexuality rather than help them make wise decisions is risky (Doreen Rosenthal, The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Report critical of abstinence education | The almost $900 million spent nationally on abstinence education during the last five years is a travesty, says a sex-education council that yesterday released a state-by-state report on abstinence funding (The Washington Times)

Vietnam to receive AIDS money:

  • Vietnam to be on U.S. AIDS funds list | Bush plans to release $500 million to 15 countries to help fight the disease (Los Angeles Times)
  • Also: Bush to add Vietnam to global AIDS initiative | President Bush will include Vietnam in his $15 billion plan to combat global AIDS, passing over harder hit India and China in expanding the initiative to Asia, U.S. officials said (Reuters)
  • Aids 'killing Africa's soldiers' | Aids is the leading cause of death in military and police forces in Africa, according to research (BBC)

Mass. governor backs FMA:

  • Romney urges federal ban on gay-marriage 'experiment' | Governor Mitt Romney urged the US Senate yesterday to immediately pass a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but Democrats and other opponents of the measure were predicting that the measure would be defeated if it comes up for a vote next month (The Boston Globe)
  • Marriage bill backed by Romney | Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, told the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday that a federal marriage amendment is needed because his state is forcing same-sex "marriage" on everyone else (The Washington Times)
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  • Romney's marriage vows | More than a month since the first gay marriages, and after thousands of same-sex couples have committed their lives to one another, Romney couldn't point to any concrete damage to the Commonwealth or its institutions, and he was honest enough to tell the committee that "same-sex marriage doesn't hurt my marriage, or yours." (Editorial, The Boston Globe)
  • Is Romney running against Bay State? | Can Romney be an effective governor by continually taking on the culture and candidate of the state he leads? (Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe)

FMA argued in Congress:

  • Amendment's backers try again on same-sex marriages | Though a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage stands little chance of passing this year, the issue is nonetheless heating up on Capitol Hill (The New York Times)
  • GOP senators hasten push for gay-wedding ban | July vote sought on amendment (Chicago Tribune)
  • Gay marriage ban on ropes, Hatch says | Despite discouraging count, Musgrave and Allard want vote (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
  • Same-sex marriage may be up to voters | Petition drive gains support across state (Detroit Free Press)
  • Mass. governor backs amendment against same-sex marriage | Barr testifies against proposal (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Conservative fights push to ban gay marriages | Former congressman Bob Barr warns against "meddling" with Constitution (Palm Beach Post)

Homosexuality around the world:

  • France to outlaw homophobia | The French government today approved a bill to outlaw homophobia, drawn up in the wake of a vicious attack on a gay man who was badly burned earlier this year (AFP)
  • Australia's gay marriage ban faces review | Senate inquiry will investigate the marriage powers in the Australian Constitution, international standards on marriage, human rights conventions and state and federal adoption processes (AAP)

Homosexuality & Episcopal Church:

  • Austin church breaks with denomination | Disagreements over homosexuality, church's direction prompt Episcopal congregation to move on (Austin American-Statesman, Tex.)
  • Also: St. Barnabas breaks from Episcopal Church (Associated Press)
  • Gay bishop must go 'or the church will split' | Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop was invalidly consecrated and must be stripped of his post if the worldwide Church is to avoid schism, a leading conservative demanded (The Telegraph, London)
  • Weld adds to friends' bliss | A gay wedding in one of the country's oldest churches, attended by both a former Republican governor and an Episcopal bishop? Believe it. Bill Weld even took part in yesterday's service at King's Chapel on Tremont Street, delivering the homily at the wedding of Kevin Smith and Mitch Adams (The Boston Globe)
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  • Bush pushes marriage initiative in Cincinnati | Program offers premarital counseling to parents on welfare (The Washington Post)
  • Christian group rallies to support marriage | A coalition of Chinese Christians from more than 120 Los Angeles churches is scheduled to rally to support traditional marriage Sunday. (Pasadena Star News, Ca.)


  • Couple who died after suicide clinic visit 'not terminally ill' | A British couple who were not terminally ill were helped to kill themselves at a Swiss euthanasia clinic, an inquest was told yesterday (The Independent, London)
  • Suicide clinic pair 'sought attention' | The decision by a couple to have their lives terminated at a Swiss euthanasia clinic, described at an inquest yesterday, has left their family divided(The Telegraph, London)


  • Annan seeks to evade Sudan blame | The UN chief was in charge of peacekeeping during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and was widely criticized (BBC)
  • Sudan's killing grounds | Slaughter of villagers sparks concern, debate (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Religious freedom:

  • Majority of adult Americans believes that religious differences are the biggest challenge for world peace | Nearly 70% Want Their Church Or Synagogue To Teach Children To Respect Other Faiths (Press release, Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies)
  • Moscow ruling vexes religious minorities | A district court decision here to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses, upheld by the city's top appeals court last week, is either an isolated event or a chilling sign of reviving religious intolerance in Russia, depending on whom you ask (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Cardinal Arinze urges religious harmony | Dialogue, self-respect, mutual acceptance, and promotion of development and justice have been identified as the best ways of engendering global inter-religious harmony and relations between Christians and Muslims in this millennium (This Day, Nigeria)
  • Pentecostal churches train members in self-defense | Feeling vulnerable with its posture of "passive tolerance," the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has directed pastors and other Christian leaders in Kaduna to start training their members in self-defense skills. (This Day, Nigeria)

Church & state:

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  • ACLU deal separates church from July 3 park festivities | The city's Independence Day celebration at Kapiolani Park will be without the Christian nuances of last year as a result of a court settlement reached with the American Civil Liberties Union (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)
  • Religious remarks at graduation upset attending parent | Mona Dobrich stood before members of the Indian River School District Board last week and asked that the name of Jesus be removed from public school events -- and that instead prayers be made in the name of God (Delaware Wave, Bethany Beach)

IRS to examine charities:

  • Charities face increased reviews by IRS as Senate considers strengthening oversight | As part of its contribution to a broad regulatory effort to police the nonprofit sector better, the Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday that it would examine some 400 foundations to determine whether the philanthropic institutions, which control billions of tax-exempt dollars, were complying with tax laws (The New York Times)
  • IRS to probe pay to leaders of charities | The Internal Revenue Service plans to investigate the "seemingly high compensation" paid to leaders of some tax-exempt and charitable organizations, the agency's commissioner said Tuesday (Associated Press)

Church life:

  • Pastor tested HIV+ soon after marriage | No sooner had he mentioned to the congregation that he was living with HIV, than people began whispering amongst themselves. The sermon was not to come to an end. The elders of the church could not stand Wasagami's 'unpopular' sermon. He was dismissed without remorse (Joan Mugenzi, New Vision, Uganda)
  • Deeper Life Church: Ministry or money machine? | Few nonmembers ever see inside Deeper Life Church, not even the church's primary financial source — drivers at busy intersections who drop spare change into white buckets held by Deeper Life members (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)
  • Theologian takes on establishment | She's been called "one of the most creative living Christian scholars" and "a witch" for her leftist views of theology and feminism. Hyun Kyung, who dropped her last name to protest the tradition of inheriting your father's family name, has a long history of shrugging off the establishment (JoongAng Daily, South Korea)
  • Killer now listens to son of God | Springs group draws fire for selling 'Son of Sam' interview (Rocky Mountain News)
  • Infant left at Tisbury church in critical condition | He had been born just hours before, and now he was wrapped in a white blanket, his face literally blue. But whoever abandoned him yesterday morning seemed to want him to be close to God, leaving him behind St. Augustine Church in Tisbury, next to the chapel (The Boston Globe)
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  • Capistrano's round, waxed mission bells back in place | After years of debate about how to restore them, the 18th century chimes again hang where a tower once stood (Los Angeles Times)

Dresden, Germany church rebuilt 60 years after WWII:

  • Dresden church rises from the ruins after 60 years | Restoration work on one of Germany's most famous baroque churches was completed yesterday nearly 60 years after allied bombers destroyed it in the second world war (The Guardian, London)
  • Cross of RAF pilot's son crowns rebuilt church in Dresden | The Church of Our Lady in Dresden, once one of Europe's finest baroque buildings, was restored to glory yesterday almost 60 years after it was destroyed by Allied bombers (The Telegraph, London)
  • Dresden's new golden cross is symbol of reconciliation (The Independent, London)
  • Dresden church gets British cross in WWII gesture | A British-built cross was hoisted onto Dresden's Frauenkirche cathedral Tuesday in a gesture of reconciliation that coincides with new controversy over whether the 1945 Allied bombing of the city was justified (Reuters)
  • Dresden celebrates crowning of church | The city of Dresden crowned its rebuilt Frauenkirche with a British-made gilded orb and cross Tuesday, a landmark step in the restoration of the famed 18th century church that was destroyed by Allied firebombing in 1945 (Associated Press)


  • No one expects the Spanish Inquisition | With right the Vatican may defend the record of the Spanish Inquisition, but it alters not a jot or tittle of the awful sentence - oblivion - that history has passed upon European Christianity. (Spengler, Asia Times)
  • Cardinal Mahony seeks meeting over Border Patrol sweeps | Cardinal Roger Mahony issued a letter Monday urging a Border Patrol official to meet with him and the state's U.S. senators over recent enforcement tactics against illegal immigrants that have "generated fear, confusion and anger" in the Hispanic community (Associated Press)

School antidrug program investigated for Scientology ties:

  • L.A. schools look hard at Narconon | Scrutiny follows S.F., state review of anti-drug program (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • The results behind Narconon's 'Truth About Drugs' program | This is what every parent and every teacher wants (Clark Carr, San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Anti-drug program with Scientology ties under investigation | California's schools superintendent orders probe after newspaper publishes articles detailing links between Narconon's instruction and church's teachings (Associated Press)
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  • Common sense prevails | Ackerman and O'Connell have rightly moved swiftly to makes sure students get sound scientific information about drugs without any hype or hint of theology (Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle)

More articles:

  • Putting Bible back in school | Losing familiarity with Christian basics spurs push to add it to academics class list (Rena Pederson, The Dallas Morning News)
  • Lawyers argue over abortion law in court | A U.S. attorney on Tuesday said a federal ban on what the Bush administration calls "partial birth abortions" was a reasonable restriction that did not endanger women's health, but lawyers for abortion rights groups called the measure unconstitutional (Reuters)

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