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The faith of a murdered war photographer

The faith of a murdered war photographer


(Photo: Marquette University alumni magazine)

Daniel Burke of CNN has written a moving story of the faith of James Foley, the war photographer who was beheaded earlier this week by ISIS, the extremist movement that has made significant territorial gains recently in Iraq and Syria. It begins:

We don’t know if James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by Islamic extremists, prayed in the hours and days before his death. We probably never will.

But Foley said faith sustained him during another ordeal in 2011, when he was held captive for 44 days by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.

In a gut-wrenching article he wrote for Marquette University’s alumni magazine, Foley said he prayed while imprisoned that his family, many miles away, would somehow know that he was safe.

“Haven’t you felt my prayers?” Foley asked his mother, Diane, when he was finally allowed to call home.

It’s worth reading, as is the alumni magazine article to which Burke refers.

Alissa Rubin, The New York Times reporter who was recently injured in a helicopter crash covering the conflict in Iraq, is also a person who takes religious faith seriously. I’ve had few more probing and satisfying conversation about faith than those I had with Alissa in the late 1980s when we were both youngish reporters in Washington and both struggling to figure out what the Catholic Church might hold for us.

It isn’t easy for those of us who liver safe and comfortable lives to understand what drives journalists, aid workers and others who intentionally put themselves in harm’s way. But I think that in some cases it is a concern for ultimate questions that drives them.


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Gary Paul Gilbert

Mr. Fisher, There is no good data to back up claims that faith necessarily leads to heroism.

Gary Paul Gilbert


[Disclaimer: I am annoyed.]

Gary Paul, when you’ve put your literal *head* on the line, you can tell us faith isn’t useful, and motivation doesn’t matter.

Until then, this thread is not about you, OK?

JC Fisher

Holy James, pray for us—ALL the Children of Abraham!

Gary Paul Gilbert

Although some reporters may find faith useful, others don’t. The motivation for standing up as a journalist may not matter.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Rod Gillis

If you love your freedom then thank a journalist. Let’s hope that justice catches up with those responsible for this horrific crime.

Sara Miles

Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr James: Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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