Muslim nations differ on suicide bombings

Saturday, May 11, 2002

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Religious leaders from Muslim nations disagreed at a meeting this week over whether suicide bombings should be condemned.

The debate among religious affairs ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference echoed a March meeting of Muslim foreign ministers. They also were unable to agree on a definition of terrorism.

Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Monday that holy war cannot be won with violence and that suicide bombings only serve to bolster the view that Palestinians are terrorists.

But Saudi Arabia's minister for Islam, Sheik Salleh Abdul Aziz Mohammed al-Sheik, said "the suicide bombings are permitted" and bombers "are considered to have died a martyr's death."

Presbyterian losses go on, but at a slower rate

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) headquarters announced Monday that a 35-year downward slide in membership continued in 2001, but the net loss of 31,549 was less than in previous years.

While total active membership slipped to 2,493,781, enrollment in Christian education programs rose by 17,000 during the year, to 1,101,478.

The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the denomination, noted that 150,000 new members joined the church last year.

--From wire reports

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