Salvation Army: We don't want lottery bucks
Last week, the winner of the $314 million Powerball lottery promised to tithe his winnings, rekindling the debate over whether churches should accept gambling money.

This week, the Salvation Army of Naples, Florida, made its costly stand on the issue by rejecting $100,000 from a local man who won $14.3 million in the state Lotto.

"There are times where Major [Cleo] Damon [head of the local office] is counseling families who are about to become homeless because of gambling," Army spokeswoman Maribeth Shanahan told the Associated Press. "He really believes that if he had accepted the money, he would be talking out of both sides of his mouth."

"Everybody has a right to be sanctimonious if they want to be," responded David Rush, who says he has given to the Army for 40 years. "I respect the Salvation Army's decision. I do not agree with it, but that is their prerogative."

University of North Carolina chancellor supports InterVarsity chapter
James Moeser, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has ordered the school to allow InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to continue as an officially recognized organization. Last month, the school's assistant director for student activities and organizations told the group that InterVarsity's requirement that its leaders be Christians violated the school's anti-discrimination codes.

"The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill values its long relationship with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the valuable contributions to student life and campus leadership that the IVCF has made in its many years here," Moeser said in a statement. "I want to preserve that relationship, and I pledge to do all I can to support the IVCF and its values. … This is not a simple matter. While the university continues to seek to ensure that our facilities and resources are not used in any way that fosters illegal discrimination, we also wish to uphold the principles of freedom of expression. On balance, given that general membership in IVCF is open to all students, I believe that in this matter, preserving freedom of expression is the more crucial consideration."

Earlier reports said that two other Christian groups also received an ultimatum demanding that they allow non-Christians as leaders, but there's no mention of them in the new stories. They're hinted at in Moeser's statement ("The fact is, university officials made the same request of a number of student groups that wanted to use university facilities or funds generated from student fees but excluded persons from membership and full participation based on race, gender, or religious belief"), but he doesn't give any indication about whether they are still in danger of losing their status.

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Yemeni newspaper ties missionaries' killer to Al Qaeda
According to the Reuters news service, a state-run Yemeni newspaper says that confessed missionary killer Abed Abdel Razzak Kamel met with Al Qaeda members before his attack on the Jibla Baptist Hospital Monday. Among the al Qaeda members he met with was the suicide bomber who attacked the USS Cole in 2000.

"Kamel also admitted to knowing other suspected Al Qaeda members," said the paper. "He also told interrogators to kill him since he was going to go to heaven anyway."

Meanwhile, Yemeni officials are convinced that Kamel, though the lone shooter, did not act alone. Yemeni officials have arrested at least 30 Muslim militants in connection with the attack, and say they were planning to kill more foreigners and secular political leaders.

Meanwhile, Muslims in Jibla, Yemen, mourned the deaths of the three missionaries. "Every day [Martha Myers] looked after me, she used to come to my house, until I was able to stand and walk without endangering my pregnancy," said Samira Abdullah about her troubled pregnancy two years ago. "Without her, I wouldn't have Ali," Abdullah said. "She was a friend more than a doctor."

"All Jibla weeps for them," said Malka al-Hadhrami, who worked as a clerk in the hospital.

Other follow-up press reports say that missionaries remain undeterred in ministering in Yemen and other Islamic countries.

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Life ethics:

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  • Also: New try urged for abortion plate bill | Ohio State Senator Jack Westwood has proposed a bill that would create a vehicular license plate that says "Choose Life" (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

  • Judge rules against abortion clinic | Montgomery County judges uphold zoning decision that bars a women's health services clinic from performing abortions at its site in a multi-story office building. (Times Herald, Philadelphia)

  • Assembly to mull abortion curbs | Abortion issues will likely take center stage when the Virginia General Assembly reconvenes next week (The Washington Times)
  • Bad eggs in the cloning lab | But the Dec. 26 birth, real or not, presents us with a dilemma because cloning is also an ongoing goal by scientists who do not believe in space aliens (Dennis Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Cloning protocols pressing | Sensible, worldwide protocols are badly needed because even if "Eve" is a hoax, some maverick scientist will some time produce a human clone (Editorial, The New Zealand Herald)

Church and state:

  • When God needs a joke, He just has to look at us | It's been a funny year along America's border between church and state. Funny strange and funny ha-ha (David Waters)

  • Students face discipline for offering Bible message | Several Westfield High School students who handed out candy canes with religious note to their classmates the week before Christmas are bracing for possible suspension from school after they return from winter break tomorrow (The Boston Globe)

  • Monument sale ends controversy | The City of Frederick received what could be considered a Christmas present last week, when it sold the property on which the Ten Commandments monument stands and ended one of the biggest controversies of 2002 (The Gazette, Gaithersburg, Md.)

  • Elgin searches for balance with public prayer | Baptist school's involvement is latest incarnation of a 2-year-old saga in Elgin over the invocation that traditionally begins, with the Pledge of Allegiance, all of the city's council meetings (The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)


  • Vietnam announces prison sentences for 8 in Christian minority | Vietnam announced the latest in a string of prison terms as part of a crackdown on the Christian hill tribe minorities known as Montagnards (The New York Times)

  • Christmas crackdown in Vietnam | The Vietnamese government took the largely-Christian holiday as an opportunity to launch another wave of repression against this largely-Christian Montagnard minority (Editorial, The Washington Times)

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Missions and ministries:

Church life:

  • Ex-Union-Tribune editor explores his spiritual side | Jerry Warren, 72-year-old former Union-Tribune editor, is now an Episcopal seminarian in Virginia hoping to go into the lay ministry (San Diego Union-Tribune)

  • Bending God's ear for a fee | At one Manila church, believers can hire 'prayer ladies' to do their praying for them. But many Catholics look askance at the practice (Los Angeles Times)

  • Spiritual connection on the Internet | Requesting prayers and joining virtual prayer circles has become commonplace on the Internet, but e-mailing a prayer for the intercession of a saint is new (The New York Times)

  • For churches, births and rebirths | Construction and renovation projects around New York City are subtly changing the ecclesiastical landscape, creating new sanctuaries and refreshing old ones (The New York Times)

Clergy sex abuse:

  • Accused New London priest apparently took his own life | "The anguish, loss and fear that Father Lower most likely was dealing with must have diminished his capacity to recognize the inestimable value of his own personal dignity and the pain that his suicide would bring to many, especially his family and parishioners," says Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack (The Union Leader, Manchester, N.H.)

  • Also: Accused N.H. priest a presumed suicide (The Boston Globe)

  • Calif. dioceses win reprieve in lawsuits | Lawyers for purported victims in Los Angeles and Orange counties agreed Tuesday to try to mediate claims instead of taking them immediately to court (Associated Press)

  • 2 pastors arrested for sexual abuse | A bishop and an assistant pastor at the Provision of Promise Pentecostal Church were arrested last week for allegedly sexually abusing a 14-year-old child (Suffolk Life, New York)

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