U.S. government will compensate missionaries shot down over Peru
"Our government is compensating the victims of terrorist attacks, so it seems very appropriate that the government compensate innocent victims of negligence on the part of the United States," Donald Davis, an attorney for the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE), told the Associated Press yesterday. Apparently the Bush administration agrees, and will pay Baptist missionaries shot down over Peru last April. Davis says the ABWE initially asked for $35 million (that's asked for, not sued for), but settled for an undisclosed smaller amount. In addition, the Peruvian government will buy the ABWE a new plane and pay the medical expenses of pilot Kevin Donaldson. (The AP story says the U.S. "will compensate the family of an American missionary and her infant daughter who died," i.e., Jim Bowers. Surely Donaldson is part of the deal, too, but the AP suggests he isn't.)

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer also issued a non-apology for the incident yesterday. "The United States Government and the Government of Peru deeply regret this tragic event," said a written statement. "We offer our sincere condolences to the victims and their families. Neither government believes that Mr. Donaldson was responsible for this incident. It should never have happened, and efforts are underway to prevent such tragedies in the future."

While signing books in Grand Rapids, Michigan (near his hometown of Muskegon), on Saturday, Bowers apparently knew of the deal. But he's still clearly upset. "There will be no justice served in this case, because the Peruvian Air Force officers and CIA operatives continue as usual with no repercussions," he told The Muskegon Chronicle. "They all have their jobs, didn't get a pay cut, didn't get reprimanded, didn't get anything. Everything continues as before."

In a separate story, the Chronicle reports that only three weeks after the initial publication of If God Should Choose: The Authorized Story of Jim and Roni Bowers, Moody Press is preparing for its third 10,000-copy printing. Profits from the book will help to build a sports complex in Peru, and Bowers says he wasn't looking to get rich from government compensation. "It should be obvious to all who know me and the other individuals involved that we would not consider any settlement money in a way other than missionary work," he said.

Expect more from the Chronicle, the ABWE Web site, and elsewhere today and tomorrow.

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Google forced to remove links to anti-Scientology site
In an article snarkily titled "Cult forces Google to remove critical links," ZDNet reports that the hugely popular search engine is deleting links to propriety information on Xenu.net's "Operation Clambake: The fight against the Church of Scientology on the Net." Apparently the Scientologists have invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: the same law that makes it a crime for Weblog to link to a site that tells readers how to make copies of DVDs. "Had we not removed these URLs," Google told the tech news site, "We would be subject to a claim for copyright infringement, regardless of its merits." This is very bad news, people. But don't blame Google: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is, in Weblog's opinion, a very bad law.

Faith-based organizations work better
"Of the 25 existing studies of the effectiveness of faith-based service providers, or 'intentional religion,' 23 found that faith-based groups were more effective than their secular equivalents, with the remaining two studies finding no difference between them." That's just one of the findings in Objective Hope: Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations, released by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and the Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania. Expect more on this story later, too.

More articles



  • ACLU wants religion kept out of schools | Seminar on creationism is illegal, says group (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Ancient but still modern | Catholic school offers a distinctive moral vision in a darkening world (Antony Sutch, The Daily Telegraph)

  • Ban on safe sex lessons under fire | A ban on teaching safe sex in Australia's Catholic schools has been condemned as irresponsible and criminal by health experts and educators. (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

  • Faith, fear and public schools | While we can respect the right of people of all faiths to live their lives according to their beliefs, we cannot allow the fears of individuals who see knowledge of other beliefs as dangerous to take our schools off the educational path to greater intercultural understanding. (Lori Colvin-Hobbs, The Denver Post)

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  • Sacred mysteries | If John Polkinghorne can persuade the scientists that they can have something to say about God, £700,000 is a bargain (Christopher Howse, The Daily Telegraph)

  • Study finds no evidence for religion-health link | Earlier studies have found that prayer, meditation and other religious activities provide health benefits, but researches question study methods (Reuters)


  • Darwinian struggle in Ohio | Teaching students the mysteries of the universe—letting them wrap their minds around unresolved questions — is a good way to get them interested in science. But no theory that answers those questions by invoking the supernatural deserves a place in a public school science curriculum. (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • Ripples in Ohio from ad on the big bang | A full-page advertisement in The New York Times on Sunday by a professor of radiology at Ohio State University about abstract theories of heat, the Sun and the cosmos was described by other scientists as demonstrably incorrect and, because of a debate on teaching science in Ohio, politically worrisome. (The New York Times)

  • U.S. creationists on mission to Britain | Peter Vardy, a British creationist and multimillionaire car dealer, has just pledged £12 million to expand creationist teaching in Britain (The Times, Londond)

  • Nature's diversity beyond evolution | Debate over 'intelligent design' (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Young Earth Creationists teach bad science and worse religion (Richard Dawkins, The Daily Telegraph)

  • God knows what Professor Dawkins is talking about | What worries me is the superstitious way in which Prof Dawkins clings to his theory, and refuses to admit even the slightest possibility that anybody else may be right. (Tom Utley, The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • There's God's way, Darwin's way, and the Third Way | Tony Blair's support of creationism in the schools marks an unfortunate triumph for diversity (Matthew Parris, The Times, London)

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Money & business:

  • Watchdog nuns defy big firms | For 25 years, Dominican Sisters have urged U.S. companies to be socially responsible (The Detroit News)

  • Old Lutheran store sells fun and faith | Online gift shop features T-shirts, office accessories and food products emblazoned with Lutheran theology and, of course, images of Martin Luther himself (Associated Press)

Missions & ministry:

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  • Gospel over the airwaves | Radio host Ben Hill's musical ministry spreads hope, joy and prayer across the island (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

  • Tracing development from spirituals to gospel | Horace Clarence Boyer teaches about changes that African-American sacred music has gone through from slavery to today. (The Baltimore Sun)

  • This boy band's divine | With religious-minded music breaking out, and teenybop bands still raking it in, it was inevitable that the record industry would concoct the first band of Christian cutie pies. (Jim Farber, New York Daily News)

  • Pro Bono | When George Bush announced a $5bn hike in US aid last week, many were surprised by the figure at his side - the same Irish rock star who once routinely denounced the president's father. (The Guardian, London)

Pop culture:

  • The Writer of Dreck™ | With his appalling new novel, Thomas Kinkade, "The Painter of Light™," makes a strong bid to become the world champion of vapid, money-grubbing kitsch. (Laura Miller, Salon.com)

  • Predators promotion to mix religion, hockey | The Predators' nondenominational ''Share Your Faith Night'' at Gaylord Entertainment Center is billed for youth and faith-based groups (The Tennessean, Nashville)

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  • Controversial dean refuses to step down | Andrew Furlong denies Jesus is God (The Irish Times)

  • More than soup for the soul | A growing number of Protestants are sensing a need for confession—not just to God in private but to another person—and rediscovering individual confession as a spiritual practice. (The Dallas Morning News)



  • Confessions of a former celibate | A former priest, now married, thinks celibacy should no longer be an absolute condition for the priesthood. (Eugene Kennedy, Salon.com)

  • Confession: Raised a Catholic, trained to raise questions (Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times)

  • Catholic soul-searching | The Boston archdiocese is wise to go beyond the issue of sexual abuse by priests to discuss broader problems, including the celibacy requirement, homosexuals as priests, and the view of many Catholics that Jesus did not mandate a men-only priesthood. (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

Other stories of interest:

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