Richard Mouw: I'm fasting for Ramadan
The evangelical president of Fuller Theological Seminary says he has never fasted for religious reasons before, but he's starting this year during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. "Like many other Christians—and Jews and people of other faiths or of no faith at all—Islam has been much on my mind since Sept. 11," he explains in a Beliefnet column. "And like many others, I have also thought more intensely about my spiritual life during the past two months. … I should make it clear that I don't see this as 'joining' Muslims in their observance. I don't do well at participating in spiritual practices with people with whom I disagree on religious matters. … But still, I am motivated in this largely by the example of Muslims I know." Mouw says he's only fasting for a day, not the whole month.

Burnhams are suffering, say freed hostages
The Abu Sayyaf group holding New Tribes missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham released seven of its last ten hostages yesterday—but still hold the Burnhams and a Filipino nurse. "[The Burnhams] want me to tell what we really know of their condition—that they are not OK, they are not fine; they are sick and tired of being there, sick and tired of running,'' said Angie Montealegre, who carried a message to the Burhams' family here in the U.S. Another hostage says Gracia Burnham is "always crying."

Military southern command chief Lieutenant General Roy Cimatu told reporters he believes the Philippines military will rescue the Burnhams by next week. "We are very close to recovering the Americans," he said.

But New Tribes Mission has heard that before and is getting tired of it. Mission officials are in Washington with Martin's father to pressure the U.S. government to do more. "We hope to convey to the president through our contacts in Washington our concern for Martin and Gracia's safety," spokesman Scott Ross tells The Orlando Sentinel. "We want to convey our desire for a start of a dialogue between the Philippine government and the rebels to get Martin and Gracia released."

Graham headquarters moves to Charlotte
At every evangelistic crusade (or whatever they're being called now), Billy Graham has a spiel about writing to him: "All you have to do is put Billy Graham, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and it'll get to me," he promises. He would regularly tell the story about the letter he received once, addressed to "Billy Graham, Many Apples, Many Sodas." He won't be saying it any more—the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is moving its headquarters to Graham's hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina. Franklin Graham says the organization had outgrown its Minneapolis offices and had to move anyway. What better place than Charlotte? "My father was born here," Franklin Graham said. "Charlotte is in his blood. There was a desire on his part to come back to Charlotte." The organization is expected to spend $43 million over the next four years on the new building and the move.

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Catholics like Muslims and Mormons more than they like fundamentalist Christians
A recent survey found that 58 percent of Catholics believe "fundamentalist Christians tend to be religious fanatics" and 50 percent believe fundamentalist Christians are "not tolerant of others." When asked the same questions about Muslims, the numbers were much lower: 49 percent and 44 percent. "Everyone from the president of the United States to the mayor of New York made the case in a very public way that this is not a war against Islam, and I think we actually have a heightened favorability toward Islam because of this," pollster John Zogby tells USA Today. "Perhaps the images they have of Christian fundamentalists are flamethrowers and ideologues." The Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land finds the survey's fatal flaw: Catholics weren't asked about their thoughts on evangelical Protestants. The poll had other unsurprising findings: American Catholics love Pope John Paul II and American bishops, but disagree with them on everything from birth control to homosexuality to ordaining women.

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War on terrorism:
  • Church of England backs military | Terrorism "may legitimately be opposed in the last resort by the use of proportionate armed force," says General Synod (Associated Press)
  • Also: Church refuses full support (The Daily Telegraph)
  • Justice is still the goal | Causing the loss of additional innocent lives, however unintentionally, will undermine what should be our only goal: bringing terrorists to justice (Jim Wallis, The Washington Post)
  • Theologians examine crisis | N.T. Wright and Gilbert Meilaender discuss Christian response to terrorism (The Washington Times)
Belief after Sept. 11:
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Social justice:
Pat Robertson:
Politics and law:
Church and state:
Jim and Roni Bowers:
  • Missionary seeks apology for deaths | Jim Bowers says Peruvian plane shooting was part of God's plan—but CIA and Peruvian government still need to admit guilt (The Grand Rapids Press)
  • Renewed spirit | Widower of missionary Roni Bowers is inspired to share his faith (The Grand Rapids Press)
Church growth:
  • Spiritual developments | More than a dozen new churches, temples and mosques costing more than $400 million are in the works across Orange County (Los Angeles Times)
  • Gaining converts | An emphasis on missionary work is fueling the expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Newsday)
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