Investigation into Yemen missionary attack continues as Baptists turn control of hospital over to Muslim government
Abed Abdul Razak Kamel, the Muslim extremist accused of killing three American missionaries at the Jibla Baptist Hospital December 30, sought help with his wife at the medical center a year ago, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"In a society that prizes large families, Kamel said his wife was plagued with miscarriages."

But the care given by the missionaries did not dissuade him. "Kamel's decision to kill the hospital workers, either because they were Christian, because they were Americans—or both—appears to have been made with care and patience," reports Michael Slackman. "What seems clear …   is that the killings were part of an overall plan to attack people viewed as enemies of Islam."

Residents of Jibla and the media are quick to point out that Kamel wasn't a local, and that most area Muslims were outraged by the attack and appreciated the hospital's work. But local Muslim leaders weren't so supportive. "They used to preach against us for hours, especially in Friday prayer," nurse practitioner Kaye Rock tells the Times. Now, says Slackman, "The critical sermons have stopped, at least publicly."

They may not be silent just out of respect for the dead. After all, since the shooting, control of the hospital has passed from the Baptists to the Muslim government. And many Baptists are not happy about it. Some of those killed in the attack had recently tried to stop the handover.

"If the Muslim extremist who attacked Jibla Baptist Hospital Dec. 30 was trying to rid Yemen of that country's most prominent Christian ministry, it might look like he succeeded," begins a dispatch from Associated Baptist Press. "The hospital has been closed since the shooting. Most of the 13 American mission workers and their families have left Jibla, and many won't return. Despite appearances, those leading the hospital through its most difficult period say the Christian ministry of the hospital will survive."

But not everyone is so optimistic. "We have lost so many staff because of all the months of uncertainty that there is no way the place can be kept open," says Australian surgeon Ken Clezy. "My own feeling is that Jibla is finished, but I may be wrong. It will certainly take some time to get going again, with the best will from everybody."

Southern Baptists upset at hometown over gay ordinance
The Southern Baptist Convention says it may withdraw its 2005 annual convention from Nashville, where it is headquartered, over the city's plan to include "sexual orientation" in its employment and housing anti-discrimination laws.

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"This alters the nature of Nashville as a convention city for us," SBC vice president Bill Merrell told Nashville tourism officials, according to the Associated Press.

The convention is particularly upset that the proposed ordinance does not exempt churches and religious organizations, though the bill's lead sponsor says he'll include the exemption before the January 21 vote.

Not good enough, says Merell, calling the bill "another attempt by pro-gay activists to secure the approval and affirmation of the broader culture of the homosexual lifestyle" that will turn Nashville into "the San Francisco of the Southeast."

"The Southern Baptists previously have met in Las Vegas and New Orleans," the Associated Press dryly concludes its article.

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Crime and persecution:

Sex abuse cases:

First Amendment:

  • Inuit cleansing ceremony creates stir | A decision by Greenland's top civil servant to use an Inuit healer to chase away evil spirits in local government offices drew criticism from the Danish territory's political leaders (Associated Press)

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City ordinances:

Sexual ethics:

  • Why some teens are putting off sex until marriage | The percentage of U.S. high school students who say they have had sexual intercourse has fallen from 54.1 percent in 1991 to 45.6 percent in 2001 (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • The secret war on condoms | Conservative groups in President Bush's support base have declared war on condoms, in a campaign that, if successful, could lead to millions of deaths from AIDS around the world (Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times)

Missions and ministry:

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  • The inside story on giving love the hard cell | A group of Christians from different denominations spend a week in prisons with a selected group of inmates, talking to them about love, acceptance and how to learn to forgive others and yourself (Julia Baird, The Sydney Morning Herald)

Interfaith relations:

Church life:

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  • Former Anglican is new Catholic bishop | A vicar who left the Church of England in protest at the ordination of women has become the first Anglican since then to become a Roman Catholic bishop (The Times, London)

  • As scum surfaces, the church sinks lower | The Catholic Church looks shabby and the leadership sounds stale. Time to let in some fresh air (Amy Pagnozzi, The Hartford [Conn.] Courant)

  • His Holiness was not amused | The bizarre career of Zambia's Archbishop Milingo has embarrassed the Vatican—and it isn't over yet (Hugh Russell, The Spectator, U.K.)

  • Nuns as sexual victims get little notice | A national survey, completed in 1996 but intentionally never publicized, estimates that a "minimum" of 34,000 Catholic nuns, or about 40 percent of all nuns in the United States, have suffered some form of sexual trauma (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Raëlian Movement:

  • Religions oppose cloning | The Raelian movement may or may not prove it produced the first cloned human, but the sect can already claim another distinction: It is virtually the only religious group that says this type of reproduction is a good idea (Associated Press)

  • Did respect for religion cloud 'clone' coverage? | The Raelian component, however "out there" the belief system might be even on cursory examination, seemed to be an obstacle in the reporting of the story for many reporters (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)


Television and film:

Biblical exhibits:

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Other stories of interest:

  • Losing faith in God's strategy | When things pick up again, should companies contemplating a makeover learn something from God's brand strategy? (Richard Tomkins, Financial Times)

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