Pastor attacked by Hindu mob served deportation notice as he leaves hospital
Joseph W. Cooper, who was attacked and stabbed by a Hindu mob last week after leaving a church convention in southern India, has now been ordered by government officials to leave the country.

"We have served orders to Cooper to leave the country within seven days for preaching while on a tourist visa and thereby violating visa rules," police superintendent T.K. Vinod Kumar said. "The order has been personally served to Cooper at the hospital where he is recuperating after suffering injury in the attack."

Cooper says he didn't speak about any other religions at the gospel convention, which was organized by the Protestant "Friends of Bible" church outside Trivandrum, in Kerala province (map). "I am almost offended by this allegation that we are converting Hindus to Christianity," he earlier told Reuters. But a 1995 central order bans foreigners on tourist or student visas from speaking at any religious gathering, whether evangelistic or not.

"The government is letting Cooper off cheaply," complained Kummanam Rajashekharan, head of the World Hindu Council in Kerala province. "The U.S. missionary should have been arrested and prosecuted according to Indian law."

Cooper, who was attacked (along with five other Christians) with swords, iron bars, and sticks, now has a week to leave the country. Ten Hindu activists have been arrested so far. Police are looking for four more.

Draft Palestinian constitution declares Islam official religion
The Associated Press has received a copy of the draft constitution for a would-be Palestinian state. That it would be a democracy headed by a president (with a limit of two five-year terms) and a prime minister gets most of the press, but its declaration of an official religion is important as well.

"The document says that 'Islam is the official religion of the state,' but that the state will guarantee the sanctity of places of worship and respect other religions," reports Mark Lavie, who notes that about 50,000 of the 3 million Palestinians are Christians.

Both the Vatican and the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem refused to comment.

But Raanan Gissin, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, says the draft constitution is a ruse. "There is no doubt that all these attempts to put out a constitution and talk of reform are just meant to give legitimacy to Arafat, to give the impression of reform," he told the AP.

So you want to be in religious pictures
Left Behind: The Series is offering an open casting call, and The Washington Post dropped by to see who showed up. "Here is faith: a casting call for a TV series," Libby Copeland writes. "It draws all kinds. The young and the gray, the polished and the homely. A Babel of voices, reading lines like new prayers not yet memorized. To meet the multitudes—among them the shy, the dry, the inflectionless—is to wonder whether the quest for fame is a rite, an American kind of journey to Mecca."

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The show will air on a Christian station in Canada but will only be available in the U.S. on DVD and VHS (you have to wonder about a show that can't even make it on U.S. Christian television). Many of those auditioning are Christians who see their possible role as ministry. Many others are out-of-work actors who see it as a paycheck.

If you want in, you have until the end of the month.

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LCMS drops Valparaiso University syncretism charges:

Missions and ministry:


  • Basic help for digging out of debt | Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace: Revisited says that our inability to say "no" to stuff we don't need is a spiritual failing (USA Today)

  • A Gen-Xer's bumpy spiritual path | Though Lauren F. Winner's Girl Meets God has several poignant chapters that deal honestly with her spiritual growth, it also has glaring weaknesses, many of which stem from the fact that the author, though obviously ambitious and sophisticated, is still finding herself (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)

  • Huntington House not paying its authors? | That's what Andrew Careaga, author of E-Vangelism, says (Bloggedy Blog)

  • Armageddon fiction grips the U.S. | Fifty million Americans at the last count, are reading a series of novels which dramatise the 'end times' as fundamentalist Christians call them (Justin Webb, BBC)
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  • Spiritual film a big hit near Sundance festival | Documentary on the German theologian and Hitler foe Dietrich Bonhoeffer crashed the Sundance Film Festival in Utah this week and made a splash with packed showings at three churches (The Washington Times)

  • Also: The ultimate cost of discipleship | New documentary traces theologian's decision to join plot against Hitler (The Washington Post)

  • The power and the silence in the Vatican | Now, with Amen, the latest in a long line of powerful political movies by the Greek-born director Constantin Costa-Gavras, the case against Pius XII has been brought to the screen (The New York Times)

Church life:

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