Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Church-Based Social Activist Gunned Down in the Philippines
Santosh Digal, ASSIST News Service
A coordinator of a Church-based human rights organization in the Philippines was shot dead by a lone gunman on November 28. Jose Pepe Manegdeg III, 37, coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), had just spoken at a seminar sponsored by the Ilocos Human Rights Advocacies and was waiting for a bus at about 10 p.m. when a man stopped in front of him and shot Manegdeg with a 45-caliber pistol, police said. Fearing for his life, an eyewitness on a bicycle sped off, returned to the resort where the seminar was held, and informed Manegdeg's companions about the incident. Police rushed to the scene and found his bag, cell phone and other belongings missing, while his body bore 22 gunshot wounds. Sister Genovera Dumay, coordinator of the RMP, said Manegdeg had received death threats through several mobile phone text messages after his predecessor Romeo Sunchez was killed in March this year. “We believe that this is a work-related attack," Sister Dumay said. “We ask for justice and we call on the government to stop [the] killing against progressive church workers.”
Paris Evangelicals Feel Demands of Muslims' Persecution
The 300-member Temple de Paris evangelical church in France may be evicted from its building thanks to pressure from the growing Muslim population in the area. The lease on the church's current building expired Nov. 30. In the past 11 years, the congregation has had to relocate six times. Now its ability to continue meeting at its present location is in jeopardy. Christine Thabot, the wife of the church's pastor, says the church has been working for the past few months to obtain the proper permits to purchase the building. But then a local Muslim cleric demanded a permit for a mosque. To which the town hall responded, says the pastor's wife: "Okay, if this is such a major problem, then we want you both out now." Thabot says the church eventually won a court decision to keeps its permit -- but then the Muslims threatened the owner of the building, pressuring him to kick the church out of the facility after their lease expires, "otherwise we'll make life miserable for you." Thabot said of the landlord, "He sent us a letter saying on the 30th of November, 2005, you will have to get out of the building because I am threatened by these people.” The owner has given the church the option to rent the building for purposes other than as a church, but if they hold services, they risk problems with the authorities.
Pastors Gather on World Aids Day in the U.S.
Worldwide there are up to 36 million people living with HIV or AIDS. Christians are doing very little about that, and that's why Purpose Driven Ministries held its first AIDS conference - Disturbing Voices - for pastors in the United States in conjunction with World AIDS Day December 1. 1,600 pastors and church leaders gathered at Saddleback Church. "We've called this conference a wake-up call and a kick in the butt,” says Kay Warren. Why? Warren explains: "When I came back from Africa… I came home and realized, what have I done for an HIV positive person? The answer is nothing." Evangelical churches in particular are doing little about AIDS. Warren hopes pastors will go home "having repented of not caring, of being apathetic. We want them to go home full of enthusiasm for beginning an HIV ministry in their own church." The conference presented six things each church can do to help AIDS victims: help with care and comfort, testing, volunteer, reduce the stigma of the disease, champion behavior, and help with nutrition and medication. According to Warren, people must personalize this disease in order to make a difference.
U. of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Suspends Controversial Bible Study Ban
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is suspending a practice that banned resident assistants from leading Bible studies in their dorm rooms. Interim Chancellor Vicki Lord Larson says a review found the unwritten policy was poorly communicated and inconsistently enforced. The campus launched a review of the policy after a senior resident assistant publicly challenged it after he was warned he could face discipline if he continued having Bible studies in his room. Congressman Mark Green, state lawmakers and conservative groups attacked the policy as an assault on students' constitutional right to practice religion. Larson says the suspension will last until a committee makes recommendations on systemwide policies to guide the activities of resident assistants.