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STATE STAMP OF APPROVAL: Japan’s postmaster nods to Darth Vader, who was named honorary postmaster as part of a promotion of the three-day “Star Wars Celebration of Japan,” marking the 30th anniversary of the film’s release in the country.

Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

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A Church and State Blessing: In reporting today's story about corporate-sponsored churches in China, staff writer Carol Huang was told that such state-approved churches differ from unregistered ones mainly in how much they cooperate with the government.

She caught a glimpse of that when she showed up for church at SMIC last Sunday. The Chinese authorities have been ramping up security ahead of the Olympics. "So for the first time in recent memory, a police officer manned the entrance gate to SMIC's residential compound, registering every person coming to worship. Congregants were informed during the service that they should start bringing their state ID cards," says Carol.

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The government-appointed pastor opened his sermon by trying to smooth over any hard feelings. "You might feel a bit uneasy this morning. I do, too," he began, referring to the new checkpoint. "But the police have no bad intentions. They're just preparing for a little thing called the Olympics," he told the congregants. He finished with "Thanks be to the state."

David Clark Scott

World editor


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