Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- UNC Resurrects Discriminatory Attitude Toward Christian Group
- Religious Freedom Debated in Maylasia
- Evangelist Claims Christians Must Support Jerusalem to Know God's Plan
- Christian Leaders Seek Government's Intervention
UNC Resurrects Discriminatory Attitude Toward Christian Group
Jim Brown, Agape Press
A conservative columnist says "a crisis of religious persecution" is brewing at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where once again, the university is being accused of discriminating against a Christian student group. UNC recently de-recognized and froze funding to the Alpha Iota Omega Christian fraternity over its refusal to sign a diversity clause, which would require the Christian group to toss out its orthodox beliefs. Believing they were being treated in a way that was unconstitutional, immoral, and illegal, Alpha Iota confronted the university. UNC refused to reverse its stance. Dr. Mike Adams, a UNC-Wilmington professor, says UNC is waging a "covert religious war" against Christian students. "[T]heir First Amendment rights are not only being violated, but in addition ... their due process rights are being violated in a way that shows that the administration of UNC-Chapel Hill knows that it is acting illegally -- and continues to do so all in the name of tolerance and diversity," Adams says. In December 2002, UNC threatened to de-recognize InterVarsity Christian Fellowship unless it signed a diversity statement that allowed non-Christians to assume positions of leadership with the group.
Religious Freedom Debated in Maylasia
Religious freedom has become a hot topic in Malaysia in recent weeks, sparked by a decision made in the Kelantan Sharia Court. Four Malay Muslims had originally applied to change their religion in 1992. Since all ethnic Malays are considered Muslims from birth under the constitution, all four were arrested and imprisoned for 20 months. The four eventually renounced Islam under a commissioner of oaths in 1998, hoping to sidestep the sharia (Islamic law) court system. However, they were then sentenced to contempt of court. Malaysians are now debating whether ethnic Malays have the right to choose their own religion under the terms of the constitution, the Quran and sharia law.
Evangelist Claims Christians Must Support Jerusalem to Know God's Plan
An evangelist based in Jerusalem says it is time for Christian individuals and congregations to speak up for the people who gave them the Holy Bible. Clarence Wagner is an American Evangelical Christian who moved to Israel and helped to found the ministry known as Bridges for Peace. Wagner says born-again believers must bless Israel and the Jewish people around the world. He explains, "We believe we need to know God's plans and purposes for Israel today, not just man's plans. Certainly we'll mess it up if we aren't getting on God's track with what He's planning for and speaking of prophetically." According to the co-founder, Bridges for Peace is working to build relationships between Christians and Jews around the world, and the ministry intends to be on the scene as God fulfills his prophecy in the Holy Land.
Christian Leaders Seek Government's Intervention
Governor Alhaji Ahmed Sani of Zamfara state, who first introduced the Islamic legal system in Nigeria four years ago, is being accused by Zamfara's Christians of religious persecution. The Zamfara state Islamic government recently said it would demolish all churches it marked as illegal structures, close all businesses belonging to Christians during Muslim prayers, and enforce a new law against clothing that is not compliant with Islamic law. In addition, the Zamfara state government has decreed payment of school tuition for Christian children. While Muslim students do not pay tuition fees in the state, Christian students are charged from $50 to $250 per term. Mr. Saidu Dogo, the secretary general of Christian Association of Nigeria, northern Nigeria, feels that the implementation of the Islamic legal system in Zamfara and other northern states is targeted at eliminating Christians and their religion.