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A Ukrainian burglar who accidentally locked himself inside a church survived for five days on unleavened bread and 12 liters of wine before surrendering to police. The man, identified as a professional thief, entered the Orthodox church in the town of Klevan early in the morning, before Sunday liturgy. His plan to remove the church’s gold fixtures went awry after he fell asleep while attempting to file the lock off an attic door. The thief woke up later in the evening, after church services had been completed and the village priest had locked the building up tight. Burglar bars and burglar-proof doors prevented the burglar’s exit until priests returned the following Thursday (Pretoria News, Feb. 17).
A Malaysian state plans to recruit “spies” from the public to snoop on unmarried lovers and report them to Islamic religious authorities. The Terengganu state government is enlisting the part-time spies to look out for un-Islamic behavior, such as unmarried couples kissing or holding hands. “Some of these spies could be waitresses or even janitors at hotels acting as auxiliary undercover agents for our religious department,” explained the head of the state’s Islamic and Welfare Committee, Rosol Wahid. “Accurate details are required for the enforcement officers to act, otherwise they could be pouncing on married couples,” he emphasized (The Australian, Feb. 20).
The California-based nonprofit organization Exhale has unveiled a series of electronic greeting cards that concerned friends and relatives can send to a woman after she aborts her child. The group’s website offers six e-cards designed to be “nonpartisan and encompass the range of someone’s potential responses” to going through an abortion. One card expresses sympathy, offering the gentle reminder that, “As you grieve, remember that you are loved.” Another provides encouragement for someone who “did the right thing.” Yet another strikes a religious tone with the thought that “God will never leave you or forsake you.” Exhale’s director told the Associated Press (March 14) that the inspiration for the project came from a longtime abortion provider who frequently observed that there were no Hallmark cards for abortion.
Rep. Pete Stark, a Democrat from California, has been identified as the highest-ranking elected official — and first U.S. congressman — to publicly claim to be an atheist. The American Humanist Association honored Stark for the dubious distinction by congratulating him for his unbelief in an ad in the Washington Post. “With Stark’s courageous public announcement of his nontheism, it is our hope that he will become an inspiration for others who have hidden their conclusions for far too long,” the group’s executive director Roy Speckhardt proclaimed (NewsMax, March 13).
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