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Taliban Kidnaps South Korean Christians

Plus: Priest freed in Philippines, Israeli cable to drop Christian network Daystar, and other stories from online sources around the world.

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Korean Christians kidnapped | Priest freed in Philippines | More Philippines | Iraq | Israel | Sudan | India | Zimbabwe | Church and state | Life ethics | Politics | Immigration and asylum | Missions and ministry | Education | Church life | Catholicism | Abuse | Crime | People | Harry Potter | Money and business | Other articles of interest

Korean Christians kidnapped:

  • 18 South Koreans abducted in Afghanistan | Taliban gunmen abducted 18 members of a South Korean church group, and a purported spokesman for the Islamic militia said Friday that it will question the 15 women and three men about their activities in Afghanistan before deciding their fate (Associated Press)

  • S. Korean nationals abducted by Taliban in Afghanistan: Foreign Ministry | Some 20 South Koreans were kidnapped by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, days after they entered the country for Christian volunteer work, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said Friday (Yonhap, South Korea)

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Priest freed in Philippines:

  • Philippine rebels free Italian priest | The Rev. Giancarlo Bossi, held hostage for over a month in the southern Philippines, said Friday he lost 15 pounds on a meager diet during his ordeal but was not threatened by the Muslim militants who kidnapped him (Associated Press)

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More Philippines:

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  • The death of Iraq's Christians | The United States should welcome Christians fleeing the violence. Muslim refugees may have some hope of returning to a future Iraq that becomes stable if not liberal. The Assyrians are far less likely to find a tolerant and tolerable environment (Doug Bandow, FrontPageMag.com)

  • The destruction of Iraq's Christians | We will likely soon find ourselves writing the epitaph of Iraq's Christian community. Indeed, even if the situation were suddenly to improve - a highly unlikely prospect - it is already too late to reverse the effects of the hemorrhaging. (Rayyan al-Shawaf, The Daily Star, Lebanon)

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  • HOT wants to pull Christian station | Israeli cable television is planning to drop a major Christian TV network which runs missionary advertisements directed at Jews. The move has prompted threats of legal action by the station's representatives (The Jerusalem Post)

  • World Likud head seeks evangelical funding | World Likud chairman Danny Dannon is going to the United States next week to take part in an evangelical Christian fund-raising campaign to bolster his campaign for party leadership (The Jerusalem Post)

  • 'Not one inch' still alive and well | Message from Hagee's Evangelical group runs counter to Israeli government it purports to back (The Jewish Week, New York)

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  • Sudan to mark north-south border by end 2008-Kiir | Sudan may begin to mark the boundary between north and south by the end of the year to overcome a key point of dispute between former foes, Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir said on Thursday (Reuters)

  • An American reacts to Darfur | In The Devil Came on Horseback, Brian Steidle, who served as an observer for the African Union, chronicles his experiences (Los Angeles Times)

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  • Do Christians also practise caste system, asks SC | The campaign of Dalit Christians for Scheduled Caste status took an interesting turn on Wednesday with a sceptical Supreme Court responding to their demand by asking whether Christians also practised caste system (The Times of India)

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  • Region's bishops express solidarity with Archbishop Ncube | Adultery allegations made against Archbishop Pius Ncube should not divert attention from the terrible political and economic crisis facing the country, Southern African bishops said (Catholic Information Service for Africa)

  • Also: Don't pre-judge Zim's Pius Ncube | Allegations of adultery against Zimbabwe's Catholic Bishop Pius Ncube were aimed at casting doubt on his credibility, the Southern African Catholic Bishop Conference (SACBC) said on Friday (SAPA, South Africa)

  • Ncube case a state security job—analysts | The alleged adultery case involving Archbishop Pius Ncube, a fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe, which has been sensationally playing out in the media, has a new twist to it after it emerged that the saga is a state security hatchet job to discredit the vocal cleric. (Zimbabwe Independent)

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Church and state:

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Life ethics:

  • When to let go? Medicine's top dilemma | End-of-life issues top the list of ethical dilemmas hospitals face as medical progress enables doctors to extend an endangered life to the hard-to-determine point where they may actually only be dragging out death (Reuters)

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  • A fight for GOP 'family values' banner | New evidence of Thompson's abortion rights work complicates his bid and improves Romney's chances with religious conservatives (Los Angeles Times)

  • Must the US president believe in God? | The most unpredictable presidential race for a generation is well under way in the US, and so far, issues of personal faith have never been far from the headlines (BBC)

  • Thompson's turn | Millions of Americans have changed their minds about abortion over the same years in which Fred Thompson appears to have changed his. He should not hesitate to represent these voters. (Editorial, National Review)

  • The left wing and a prayer | Democrats try to squeeze secular and religious voters under one tent (Naomi Schaefer Riley, The Wall Street Journal)

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Immigration and asylum:

  • Sweet sanctuary | A new movement that puts undocumented aliens in protective custody may help revive the religious left (Time)

  • Easier work permits for religious leaders | From next week it will be easier for churches, synagogues and mosques to appoint staff from outside Europe because of changes to the procedure for work permits for religious leaders (Dutch News)

  • Church offers refuge to asylum seeker | The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kuopio has offered refuge to a Sudanese woman asylum seeker. She currently faces expulsion from Finland (YLE, Finland)

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Missions and ministry:

  • Lone sentry on the wall | How do wealthy ministries spend the millions of dollars that Americans give them? Many of them won't say, and few donors seem to know. That's where Rusty Leonard and Wall Watchers come in (World)

  • Katrina volunteers feel unwanted | With the government overwhelmed in Katrina's immediate aftermath, tens of thousands of volunteers from across the country poured into Mississippi and Louisiana and performed heroic service. But now, some are finding their help is no longer welcome (Associated Press)

  • Defying stereotypes | Women of Faith tour draws 7,000 to talk about relationships with an emphasis on Jesus (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Struggling families get mortgage advice | Churches, city agencies and financial experts join together to help families at risk of losing their homes in the sub-prime mortgage crisis (Chicago Tribune)

  • U.S. group delivers aid to Cuba | Some 140 Pastors for Peace volunteers drove across the Texas border to Mexico, and then flew to Havana with computers and medical supplies, including X-ray machines, walkers and surgical gowns. It's a violation of the 45-year-old U.S. trade embargo. (Associated Press)

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  • Freedom of religion still not free at some schools | Civic groups, students challenging rules and asking for guarantees on choice of religious education (The Hankyoreh, Seoul)

  • Lombard seminary may sell land | Property values have grown so significantly since Northern Baptist Theological Seminary moved to Lombard in 1963 that officials are exploring the possibility of selling all or pieces of the 28-acre site (Chicago Tribune)

  • We all have our crosses to bear | Playfoot's argument that the chastity ring was "an expression of my Christian faith" is pernicious (Fergus Sheppard, The Scotsman)

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Church life:

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  • Pope to appoint more women in top Vatican jobs | Briefing journalists after visiting the Pope at his holiday retreat in the Alps, the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said the pontiff would give women "more space and more importance" (The Guardian, London)

  • Interchurch dialogue | The reaction from some of these defective churches has been surprisingly lighthearted (The Religion Report, ABC, Australia)

  • One more time: It's all about the Eucharist | The recent document from the CDF says to people who don't believe all that Catholic stuff, "You don't believe all that Catholic stuff." Why on Earth anybody should be offended by that is beyond me (Mark Shea, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • I confess, I want Latin | Even for a young, progressive Catholic, the ancient rites have a powerful allure (Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Time)

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  • Sex charges unsettle church | Members of Chapel Hill United Methodist Church are trying to cope after allegations that their youth pastor, Troy Deal, went online to solicit a child for sex. (Battle Creek Enquirer, Mi.)

  • Also: Youth pastor faces sex charges | Troy Deal, 34, director of youth ministries at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, was arrested Wednesday morning following an investigation that began in 2005 (Battle Creek Enquirer, Mi.)

  • Youth pastor arrested for alleged rape | Wendel Nix, a part-time youth pastor from Aztec Bible Baptist Church, was arrested Thursday on charges that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl from his congregation (The Daily Times, Farmington, N.M.)

  • Swedish Catholic Church apologises for sex attacks | Sweden's Catholic church has apologised for sex attacks against a child that were committed by a priest 50 years ago. The apology emerged in the form of an advertisement in the newspapers Göteborgs-Posten and Dagen (The Local, Sweden)

  • Doing penance | The pain of the sex-abuse scandal may be helping the church (The Economist)

  • Upset at leadership but steadfast in faith | Polls indicate many Catholics retain belief despite the abuse scandal. It's not 'Christ in crisis … it's the institution,' scholar says (Los Angeles Times)

  • Church 'ignored' sex abuse claims | An Anglican Church leader escaped sanction over sex abuse complaints, despite an independent investigator finding that the evidence against him was credible and consistent with a pattern of preying on vulnerable women (The Australian)

  • Settlement keeps cardinal from fray | Although Mahony agreed to a record $660-million settlement to get the victims to drop their suits against the church, it appears his motive was as much to protect himself as to bring relief to the priests' victims. (Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)

  • Church gives millions, but little justice, to victims | How do you negotiate horror? How do you say, "I'm sorry, here's a check" to people whose lives you've ruined? (Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press)

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  • Polish priest remarks on Jews condemned | More than 700 people in Poland, including a former prime minister and foreign minister, signed an open letter condemning statements about Jews by a right-wing Roman Catholic priest who runs a controversial radio station (Associated Press)

  • Lady Bird gave $300,000 to Fredericksburg church | A month before her death last week at 94, Lady Bird Johnson quietly made a substantial financial gift to the parish she loved — but characteristically, she declined a proposed flower garden to be named for her (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)

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Harry Potter:

  • Christian elements lurk in Potter books | Is Harry Potter a Christ figure? Or does author J.K. Rowling simply employ a common literary technique that novelists use to describe their heroes by giving them Christ-like qualities? (Manya A. Brachear, Chicago Tribune)

  • 'Potter' books still meet mixed reaction from Christian parents | With book seven now out, many religious conservatives are just as entrenched in their belief that the books offer no redeeming qualities, given the characters' use of magic (The Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus, Oh.)

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Money and business:

  • God Inc. | Companies incorporate faith into their names, business models (The Columbus Dispatch, Oh.)

  • Collection plates welcome credit cards | Churchgoers increasingly praise the Lord and skirt cash donations (The Denver Post)

  • The new swimsuit issue | Modest beachwear for Muslim women is taking off with secular swimmers too (Time)

  • Piece of Christ | We crucify Him daily, then cast lots for the fashionable trinkets (Tony Woodlief, World)

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Other articles of interest:

  • Strippers' backers refuse to give in | Citizens for Community Standards, a group backed by adult-entertainment-business owners, is refusing to change its name despite legal threats from Citizens for Community Values (The Columbus Dispatch)

  • The skull man | Skulls join genes in suggesting an African origin for modern man (The Economist)

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