In Today's Edition:
- Violence Mars Christmas In Pakistan; Indonesian Christians Enjoy Quiet Holiday
- U.S. 'Most Religious' Nation According to New Study
- Philippine Pastor Released from United Arab Emirates Prison
- California Judges Urged to Terminate Ties to Boy Scouts
Violence Mars Christmas In Pakistan; Indonesian Christians Enjoy Quiet Holiday
(CNSNews.com) - Asia marked Christmas this year under a cloud of terrorism, and while church services went off without feared disruption in Indonesia, Christians in Pakistan were once again targeted by those hostile to their faith. Violence also hit the Philippines, although security forces have yet to determine whether a bombing that killed 13 people was politically or criminally motivated. In Pakistan, a hand grenade attack on a church in the center of the country on Christmas night left three children dead and a dozen others hurt, police in Punjab province reported. Two masked men lobbed the grenade into a village Presbyterian church during a service, they said. Sixteen worshippers were killed during a church service in Bahawalpur; five -including two Americans - in a church in the capital; six at a Christian school in the north; four at a Presbyterian mission hospital; and seven at the offices of a Christian charity in Karachi. The attacks have been widely attributed to Islamic groups - some of which were banned this year by President Pervez Musharraf - angered by the U.S.-led war against terrorism and the perceived association with the West of indigenous Christians.
U.S. 'Most Religious' Nation According to New Study
(Charisma News) Prayer and the Ten Commandments may have been tossed out of American schools, but the United States is still the most religious of the world's wealthy nations, according to a poll of 44 countries. The survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, released last week, found that America's inclination for belief makes it more akin to poorer countries than to other industrial societies, "The Washington Times" reported. "Wealthier nations tend to place less importance on religion - with the exception of the United States," the study said. "Americans' views are closer to people in developing nations than to the publics of developed nations." With six in 10 Americans saying religion plays a "very important" role in their lives, Americans are about twice as religious as Canadians and far more inclined to faith than people in Western Europe or Japan. Calling the contrasts "stark global regional divides," the study found France to be Western Europe's most secular country, with Czechoslovakia taking that rank in Eastern Europe. In both places just 11 percent of citizens said religion was very important. The English turned out to be the most religious in Western Europe, with a third saying religion is very important, the "Times" reported. www.charismanews.com
Philippine Pastor Released from United Arab Emirates Prison
(Voice of the Martyrs – USA) A Filipino pastor, charged with distributing Christian materials, has been released after spending more than a month in prison. According to International Christian Concern (ICC), Fernando Alconga was arrested for giving "The God Story" to an Egyptian Arab. He was then accused of distributing cassette tapes, tracts and New Testaments, after being approached by undercover agents who asked for them. Pastor Alconga was held without bail. His legal counsel from the Philippines Embassy was unable to attend a trial earlier this month because they were not informed of the hearing. Alconga was also refused a translator and forced to sign documents in Arabic, which he could not understand. He was released upon the deposit of two passports, his and that of a guarantor. Christians around the world are being asked to pray that charges against Pastor Alconga be dropped and the case closed. Pray this faithful child of God will know His Father's comforting presence. Pray Muslims in the UAE will come to understand the goodness of God in sending his Son for our salvation. www.persecution.com
California Judges Urged to Terminate Ties to Boy Scouts
Michael L. Betsch
(CNSNews.com) Two of California's largest bar associations are petitioning the state Supreme Court to prohibit judges from associating with the Boy Scouts of America. The legal groups claim that by affiliating with the Boy Scouts, the judges are giving the perception that they have an anti-homosexual bias in the courtroom. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has a policy of excluding homosexuals as scout leaders. Despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the policy was legal, the BSA has been the target of unrelenting criticism from liberals since then. The Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) and the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) claim an anti-homosexual loophole exists in the code that must be corrected. "We believe that it would be not only inappropriate, but unconstitutional for the Supreme Court of California to forbid its members from participating in the Boy Scouts," said Gregg Shields, spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America. "The proposed policy would be equally inappropriate as a policy forbidding judges from being members of the Roman Catholic Church or the Baptists or Orthodox Jews or any of the number of faiths that share the Boy Scouts' opinions," Shields said.