1. Were Baptist church attacks really "just a joke"?
You've probably already heard that police arrested three college students for the arsons of nine Baptist churches in Alabama. And you've probably heard that they did it just "as a joke" without any religious or racial motives. You may have heard Alabama Gov. Bob Riley say, "We don't think there is any kind of organized conspiracy against religion or against the Baptists. … The faith-based community can rest a little easier."

That's very good news. But is it really true? Details in some Birmingham News reports raise some questions:

Friends said [suspects Russell DeBusk] and Ben Moseley were Satanists, which DeBusk told friends was "not about worshipping the devil, but about the pursuit of knowledge," according to [DeBusk's college roommate, Jeremy] Burgess. …
Burgess said he and DeBusk discussed religion loosely, debating whether pets go to heaven and what heaven looks like. "He told me I was one of the more intelligent Christians he's talked to," Burgess said. "Coming from a Satanist, I didn't know quite how to interpret that."
Ian Cunningham, a sophomore who lived in the same dorm as DeBusk, recalled returning from the campus chapel recently to snide remarks about being saved from DeBusk and Moseley. "He would constantly mock me," Cunningham said of DeBusk.

Another News article looks at suspect Matthew Cloyd:

After he got a speeding ticket—85 mph in a 70 zone—his Web site musings grew cryptically violent. In a posting to Moseley last summer as the two planned a road trip, he wrote, "Let us defy the very morals of society instilled upon us by our parents, our relatives and of course Jesus."

The only other paper, it seems, to have picked up on this theme is ...

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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 editorial director. 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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