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Filling the pews

Last Sunday, being Easter, was busy at all Protestant churches. Which churches were busiest? The Hartford Institute for Religious Research gives a clue with its ongoing survey of the country’s Protestant megachurches. We learned of this source thanks to the entertaining religion blog operated by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s new religion editor, Frank Lockwood, who we must also credit for news that evangelist Rex Humbard is being added to Hot Springs’ celebrity sidewalk.

Hartford Institute says these are the biggest Protestant churches in Arkansas, based on average attendance:

1. First Baptist Church (Springdale) 10,382

2. Fellowship Bible Church (Lowell) 7,000

3. Fellowship Bible Church (Little Rock) 5,300

4. Harvest Time Tabernacle (Fort Smith) 4,000

5. St. Mark Baptist Church (Little Rock) 3,200

6. College Church of Christ (Searcy) 2,700

7. New Life Church (Conway) 2,500

7. Immanuel Baptist Church (Little Rock) 2,500

9. Fort Smith First Baptist Church 2,200

10. Church at Rock Creek (Little Rock) 2,000

11. North Little Rock First Assembly of God 1,910

12. Geyer Springs First Baptist Church (Little Rock) 1,800

Watson Chapel’s a winner

The Watson Chapel School District is a winner, but only its authoritarian leaders would be proud of the honor. The district has won a Jefferson Muzzle award from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression for its affront to free expression.

The ACLU is now suing the school district, which suspended students for wearing a simple black armband to protest the district’s dress code, itself unequally enforced. (The district had not punished students who wore armbands with a Biblical message, for example.)

Watson Chapel is in bad company. Other offenders included the Bush administration, for censoring scientific reports to make them support administration policies, and Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a Republican, who banned access to some liberal websites on state computers but allowed access to conservative websites. Sound like anybody we know?

The vandals have the handles

The U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock last week announced the arrest of 31 people for trafficking in cocaine and crack cocaine. They seized almost 18 pounds of cocaine, 300 pounds of marijuana, two BMW 745s, a Cadillac, a Lincoln Navigator, five firearms and $105,000 in cash. Quite a haul. Authorities also rounded up a haul of nicknames of the drug dealers’ world in the case known as Operation Black Falcon.

Some of the nicknames of the defendants: Quick, Little Joe, Fizzy, Fritchy, Monkey Mike, Rich, Short Dog, RJ, Yo, Tre Fo, Jumar, Keety, Yogi, Poochie and Big O. Not a Junior, Red or Bubba in the bunch.

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