In Today's Edition:
- Pledge Case to be Reheard
- Christian Solidarity International Frees 4,735 Black Sudanese Slaves
- Macedonian President to Receive Methodist Peace Award
- Another Asian Church Apologizes For Priestly Abuses
- Good News Club Wins Court Ordered Access To Los Angeles Schools
Pledge Case to be Reheard ... WorldNetDaily is reporting that the judge who decided "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional will not have the final say. A Justice Department official told WorldNetDaily the U.S. solicitor general plans to authorize a rehearing before the full court. Justice spokesman Charles Miller said he could not confirm the information but added, "Attorney General John Ashcroft stated the Justice Department would request a rehearing ... so I'm assuming the solicitor general will approve of it." The government has until early August to file the request.
WorldNetDaily also learned the recent revelation that the daughter of the plaintiff is a churchgoing Christian who voluntarily says 'under God' in the pledge may potentially help the government's case. "The little girl, as I understand, was never offended by 'under God' because she does believe in God," Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, Calif told WorldNetDaily. "I understand when the decision came down, the little girl came home and said to her mother, 'Well momma, I guess we can't say under God anymore,' and then she decided she could say it under her breath and no one would know the difference,'" said Smith.
According to the Justice official, Newdow had to show in his case that he's been injured. He did so by asserting his daughter has been injured and he has an interest in directing her education as a parent. The Justice official reportedly told WND that the case would be considered fraudulent only if Newdow said something knowingly false.
Smith and other pastors throughout California are determined to keep the girl's reported love for God front and center by mounting a publicity campaign to win the case in the court of public opinion. "The daughter has said she disagrees totally with what the father is doing," Pastor Wiley Drake of First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park told WorldNetDaily.
Christian Solidarity International Frees 4,735 Black Sudanese Slaves ... Approximately 4,735 Black Sudanese slaves were redeemed by Christian Solidarity International (CSI) during a 12-day visit to Sudan ending July 6, according to a press release from the organization. The overwhelming majority of the redeemed slaves - mostly women and children - were captured over the past two decades by the armed forces of the Government of Sudan and allied Arab militias during raids against Black non-Muslim communities in Southern Sudan.
The redeemed slaves were liberated from bondage in Northern Sudan and were returned to their homeland in the South through Sudan's 'Underground Railroad' - a local peace and reconciliation endeavor of Sudanese civil society involving Arabs, Black Africans and CSI. Nine networks of Arab retrievers were involved in the redemption of these 4,735 slaves in six locations. Representatives of local Arab-Black African peace committees reported that several thousand additional slaves were freed since last spring, without payment of compensation, through a new CSI-supported branch of the 'Underground Railroad'.
Extensive interviews conducted by CSI with freed slaves confirm a clear pattern of physical and psychological torture. Sexual abuse of women and children is rampant. The majority of women and older girls were gang-raped at the time of their capture and subsequently served their masters as concubines. Boys claimed to have been sodomized. Forced labor, beatings, death threats, racial and religious insults and forced conversion to Islam are also characteristic of slavery in Sudan.
CSI was assisted in the slave redemption and documentation process by the Rev. Santino Bol (Episcopal Church of Sudan), Peter Ring (Catholic Diocese of El Obeid), Abdon Agaw Nhial (co-author of Slavery in the Sudan - a report of the Sudan Human Rights Organization, Cairo), Dr. Luka Deng, MD and Brent Salsgiver (American Anti-Slavery Group). The Rev. Dr. Gloria White Hammond, accompanied by representatives of Our Sister's Keeper, also participated in this slave redemption visit.
Macedonian President to Receive Methodist Peace Award ... United Methodist News Service (UMNS) reports that the president of the Republic of Macedonia will receive the 2002 World Methodist Peace Award. The World Methodist Council, which has presented the award annually since 1977, will honor Boris Trajkovski in Oslo, Norway, when its executive committee meets there in September. Past peace award recipients include Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev. In announcing the award, the council cited Trajkovski's efforts to bring economic stability and peace to his European country.
He is a lay preacher and active member of the small United Methodist community in Macedonia, often assisting in services at his church in Skopje, according to the Rev. Peter Siegfried, an executive with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Trajkovski's vision of a united country, with both Macedonians and Albanians living in peace, helped him win the Albanian vote in the 1999 elections, Siegfried noted. Trajkovski also played a crucial role in pushing Macedonia's Parliament to approve a new constitution that recognizes the Albanian minority as well as the main non-Orthodox religious groups. Those groups include Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Methodists.
During the past 12 years, Trajkovski has participated in international conferences involving conflict resolution, religious tolerance and religious freedom. According to his official biography, he is committed to improving relations and cooperation between Macedonia and other countries.
Another Asian Church Apologizes For Priestly Abuses ... From CNS News -- The Roman Catholic Church in Asia's staunchest Catholic country, the Philippines, has apologized for cases of sexual abuse by priests over the past two decades. Following a weekend conference, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference, said up to 200 priests - of a total of 7,000 - may have been involved in "sexual misconduct" over that period. Some had been dismissed and most had voluntarily left the church.
The church is drafting a "protocol" on dealing with future problems, including child abuse, romantic affairs and homosexuality. Offending priests may face rape or child abuse charges. The bishops' statement said, "Forgiveness and apologies must flow into a commitment to be purified and renewed. That is what we resolve to do."
An estimated 85 percent of the 76 million people in the Philippines are Catholic. The only other Asian country that is predominantly Catholic is newly independent East Timor. The church has a large following in both Australia and New Zealand, and bishops in both countries have in recent months apologized for sexual misconduct by priests and other representatives. Police in Hong Kong are investigating several abuse complaints involving current or former Catholic priests, some going back almost four decades.
Good News Club Wins Court Ordered Access To Los Angeles Schools ... A California District Court awarded a Preliminary Injunction to Child Evangelism Fellowship, organizer of the Good News Club, a religious after-school club for elementary children. The Court found that the school's policy limiting access of the Good News Club to the schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District is unconstitutional. Child Evangelism Fellowship is represented by Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel.
In October of 2001, Nancy Thomason, director of the San Fernando Valley Chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship, made a request to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for permission to hold a Good News Club meeting at the Chase Street Elementary School in Panorama City. The LAUSD has a policy regarding civic or community meetings, which allows school facilities to be used by groups or individuals to "meet and discuss any subjects and questions which appertain to the educational, political, economic, cultural, artistic and moral interests of the citizens of the community in which they reside." However, the Policy forbids "sectarian or denominational religious exercises or activities...."
Since the Good News Club teaches morals from a Christian viewpoint, a request to use the facilities under the civic and community policy was denied, although LAUSD permits groups such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to use the facilities at no charge. Religious groups may only apply to use the facilities through the Real Estate Branch, and must pay an application fee and a rental fee. After the Good News Club was denied the right to use the facilities for free, Thomason applied through the Real Estate Branch and even agreed under protest to pay the fee, but the Good News Club was still prohibited from meeting because of its religious message.
So far, 72 children signed up to attend the after-school club meeting at the elementary school. The court order will open the door that until now, the Los Angeles Unified School District had slammed shut on religious groups. The Christian Club may begin holding meetings immediately, free of charge, just like the Scouts.