Martin and Gracia Burnham are weary and "incredibly sad."
New Tribes Mission has received a letter from kidnapped missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham. It says that while weary, the couple is free of major sickness or injury. However, food is scarce. "[We] don't wish to complain—just thought you'd want to know our situation," Gracia wrote.

The letter praises God for keeping them safe from serious harm. But, Martin said, they do need medical attention. Though he does not mention the shrapnel wound he reportedly endured this summer, a missing tooth filling now troubles him.

Gracia admits that the ordeal has been emotionally trying and she confirmed reports that she often weeps. "We think about everyone so often—and I'll admit that I cry a lot," Gracia wrote. "It doesn't mean that I've lost my faith—I'm just incredibly sad, especially to be separated from the kids."

New Tribes Mission is encouraged both by the letter and reports given by released hostages held with the Burnhams. One says Martin's ministry continues. "He regularly taught us Bible stories, led us in songs and prayer," the former hostage told New Tribes. "He has been engaged by the [kidnappers] on numerous occasions in discussions concerning Christianity and Islam, but he has always been so kind to them."

Could the faith-based initiative be passed by Christmas?
The Boston Globe reports that the faith-based initiative is quietly gaining momentum. Key senators have been working with the White House for weeks, the article says, and is expected to pass the legislation by Christmas as part of an overall economic stimulus bill.

The faith-based initiative has traveled a bumpy road to get here. In July, the House passed a limited bill. The legislation then stalled in the Senate when Democrats opposed sections of the House version. The Boston Globe attributes the bill's new momentum partly to changes made recently. The controversial expansion of religious groups' access to direct federal funds has been dropped. Instead, the proposal uses personal and corporate tax incentives used to spur giving.

The renewed religious spirit in America has also played a part in boosting faith-based legislation. "What we're hearing fromthe right, left, and center is they want us to move forward with the initiative," John Bridgeland, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told The Boston Globe. "September 11 has given us more heart to do more good."

It also created an unprecedented blending of church and state. This was most strikingly seen, The Boston Globe notes, in President Bush's September 20 address to Congress in which he urged grieving Americans to worship, pray, and donate to charities.

Article continues below

Franklin Graham says Islam is "evil"
Hours before the September 20 speech, Bush privately sought counsel from several religious leaders. One of them was Franklin Graham. But now, reports suggest the White House is distancing itself from him.

On Friday, NBC Nightly News ran (and apparently kept running) a segment in which Graham called Islam "a very evil and wicked religion."

According to The Charlotte Observer, the quote came from an interview taped last month at the dedication of a chapel in Wilkesboro, Carolina. "We're not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us," Graham said in the interview. "The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the Son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion."

MSNBC reports that the Bush administration answered the remarks by repeating that the president "views Islam as a religion that preaches peace."

Nevertheless, Graham is not apologizing. According to The Observer, he does not plan to make a retraction or comment other than a statement released Sunday:

It is not my calling to analyze Islam or any other religions, though I recognize that all religions have differences. In the past, I have expressed my concerns about the teachings of Islam regarding the treatment of women and the killing of non-Muslims or infidels.

More Articles

War on terrorism:

Harry Potter:

Article continues below
  • Satan loves Harry Potter | The blasphemous boy wiz clearly turns kids into anti-Christian witches and Wiccans—and thank God for that (Mark Morford, SF Gate)
Christian band Raze:

Other stories of interest:

Related Elsewhere

See our past Weblog updates:
November 19

November 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12

November 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5

November 2 | 1 | October 31 | 30 | 29

October 26 | 25 | 24 | 23 | 22

October 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15

October 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8

October 5 | 4 | 3 | 2

September 28 | 27 | 26 | 25 | 24

September 21 | 20 | 19 | 18 | 17