Bible Archaeology

American Arrested Over Alleged Antiquities Smuggling in Israel

CNN reports on an American tour guide who has been arrested in Israel on suspicion of selling ancient artifacts to American tourists:

Israeli authorities arrested a retired American university lecturer this week on suspicion of selling ancient artifacts illegally to U.S. tourists, they said Wednesday.

The suspect, a tour guide, is accused of selling ancient coins and 1,500-year-old clay lamps, and pocketing the equivalent of $20,000.

He admitted attempting to smuggle antiquities, selling suspected stolen antiques and trafficking in antiquities without a permit, the authorities said.

He was allowed to fly to the United States after depositing “a large bond,” to “ensure he will show up for trial in the future,” they said.

The suspect faces up to three years in prison.

Amir Ganor, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, also criticized the buyers, saying Wednesday they “are actually encouraging antiquities robbery and the plundering of the country’s history.”

The suspect, who has not been named, was detained once before after Israel Antiquities Authority inspectors raided a hotel room where he was selling ancient artifacts, they said. They seized hundreds of objects allegedly stolen by antiquities robbers from different sites throughout the country, they said.

But the suspect was released after questioning, the IAA said in a statement Wednesday, without explaining why.

He was under undercover surveillance during the last week, and resumed his illegal activities, selling artifacts to a group of American tourists, Israeli authorities say.

The tourists were detained Monday in a “wide-sweeping, combined operation” in Eilat and at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.

Eilat customs officials and Antiquities Authority inspectors “were amazed to discover that about 20 members of the group possessed dozens archaeological items purchased in Israel illicitly, which they attempted to take out of the country illegally and without a permit,” the IAA said.

They seized ancient bronze and silver coins dating to the Second Temple period approximately 2,000 years ago, as well as clay oil lamps and glass and pottery vessels.

The tourists said they had bought them from their tour guide, paying more than $20,000 in total, Israeli officials said.

The tour guide was detained Monday night at Ben Gurion airport while trying to leave Israel, they said.

He had ancient coins, but no permit to export them, plus “evidence indicating dozens of illegal sales of antiquities during the past two weeks,” they said.


Pulpit Pals: Churches to Invite Jewish and Muslim Clergy in Shared Worship Plan

Interfaith madness!

Religious and human rights activists are asking U.S. churches to invite Jewish and Muslim clergy to their sanctuaries to read from sacred texts next month in an initiative designed to counter anti-Muslim bigotry.

The June 26 initiative, called “Faith Shared: Uniting in Prayer and Understanding,” is co-sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First. Leaders of the two Washington-based groups said the event hopes to demonstrate respect for Islam in the wake of Quran burnings in recent months.

“As a Christian minister who is a pastor in a local congregation, it is important to me for our nation and our world to know that not all Christians promote hate, attack religions different from their own and seek to desecrate the scripture of others,” the Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, said Tuesday.

More than 50 churches in 26 states already have committed to the initiative, including the Washington National Cathedral.

Tad Stahnke, director of policy and programs for Human Rights First, said he hopes the initiative will draw attention to religious freedom and counter negative stereotypes of Christian leaders making anti-Muslim statements.

“We want to send a message to the world,” he said, “that Americans do respect religious differences and reject religious bigotry and the demonization of Islam or any other religion.”

This is heresy induced  by a liberal, modern pluralistic society. 50 churches!?!  Abandoning the faith, that’s what they are doing. Scandalous!


Dublin Archbishop Says Catholics Not Passing on Faith to Young People

Via CNS:

Irish society is not just suffering from the sex abuse scandal but from a failure to pass on the faith to the younger generation, said the archbishop of Dublin.

“We have to completely, radically change the way we pass on the faith,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told Catholic News Service May 16. “Our parishes are not places where evangelization and catechesis are taking place.”

The archbishop traveled to Washington to present the Order of Malta Inaugural Lecture, “Faith and Service: the Unbreakable Bond.” During his speech and in remarks to CNS beforehand, he spoke of the declining practice of the faith in Dublin — 18 percent of Catholics regularly attend Sunday Mass — and of the need to give young people responsibility in the parish to reinvigorate them.

Archbishop Martin has served in Dublin since 2003 and presided over the uncovering of hundreds of past cases of sex abuse and the mishandling of priest abusers, but he says the problem goes deeper than abuse.

The Catholic Church runs 90 percent of the elementary schools in Ireland. Yet if only 18 percent of Catholics attend Mass, he said, he has to wonder about the commitment of Catholic teachers.

“If people are being prepared for the sacraments by people who don’t frequent the sacraments, there’s a real problem there,” Archbishop Martin told CNS.

He reiterated what he has said often in the past, that “young Irish people are among the most catechized and the least evangelized.”

“Unless we address it, we’re not going to have a next generation of young Catholics,” he said.

“We’re suffering from some of the products of being a mass Catholicism in the past. We’re still living, in some ways, as if that were the case today,” he said.

In his speech near the Georgetown University campus, Archbishop Martin said he believed the secularization of Irish society was quite advanced, and he spoke of what it means to live as a Christian citizen.

“If we start out in … reflection on the place of faith in our culture with the conviction that God’s grace is present and can be found even within a world marked by human sinfulness, then our vision of the place of the faith in society changes, and the entire framework for the presence of Christians in society takes on a new shape,” he said.

“Christian commitment means getting your hands and your shoes dirty,” he said. “The Christian in society is not just another social commentator, but a witness to another way of living.”

He said Christian commitment “must not be limited to the occasional outburst of global solidarity” after natural disasters or “the more militant enthusiasm engendered around protest meetings.”

“For the Christian, solidarity and sharing should be the stuff of every day, an imperative and not just an option, a daily imperative and not an occasional awakening of conscience,” he said.

“Faith and service constitute an unbreakable bond,” he said.

“Defense of the faith is about living the faith without being afraid,” he said, adding that it means knowing that faith can improve all aspects of life…

Some frank words!


Methodist Seminary to Train Rabbis and Imams

 The Claremont School of Theology, a Christian divinity school in Los Angeles, will use a $50 million gift to begin training Jewish and Muslim clergy.

The gift from David and Joan Lincoln of Arizona, $10 million of which was given last year, will help Claremont transform itself into a multifaith institution offering interfaith degree programs as well as training for rabbis, imams and ministers, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The Claremont Lincoln University, as the new school will be called, will be the first U.S. school to offer clerical degrees in all three religions, according to Tamar Frankiel, dean of academic affairs for the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. The Los Angeles-based academy, which is not affiliated with a particular Jewish stream, will provide the Jewish clerical training.

The academy has 60 students enrolled in its rabbinic, cantorial and chaplaincy programs. It plans to institute distance learning as early as this fall to help students not located in Los Angeles, Frankiel told JTA.

The Islamic Center of Southern California will train the Muslim clerics. The Claremont School of Theology, which has about 240 students enrolled in master’s and doctorate programs in religion and counseling, and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, will continue to educate Christian ministers. 

All three institutions will remain in their existing locations, with degree programs and courses coordinated through the new university.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a plan announced last year to train clergy for all three faiths in one college upset the United Methodist Church, which has funded the seminary since its creation. The three-part structure for the new university was developed so that only the Christian program will receive church monies.

Claremont officials are hailing the interfaith initiative as unique…

The above and more here.


Election Day

Here in South Africa:

Polling stations have officially opened in the fourth local government election since the end of apartheid.

Close on 24 million people are registered to vote in the polls with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) calling on all eligible voters to make their mark.

People have already started queuing at some stations across the country in a bid to cast their votes as early as possible…

So far, everything seems to be going well…