Religion Today Summaries, February 4, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, February 4, 2004

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.  In today's edition:

  • More Concern Voiced About 'Religious Freedom' in an Islamic Afghanistan
  • Four Christian Women Mown Down Going to Work
  • College Student Stands Up For Public Prayer before Student Senate Sessions
  • 'Huge' Christian Project to House African AIDS Orphans

More Concern Voiced About 'Religious Freedom' in an Islamic Afghanistan
Chad Groening, Agape Press

A pro-family activist and former presidential candidate says the jury is still out about whether Afghanistan will be able to establish a government that will be tolerant of non-Muslims. Last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzid announced that he signed a new constitution that declared the Nation of Afghanistan is an Islamic republic.  The document declared religious freed -- but that "no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam." Gary Bauer of American Values says Karzid's announcement is a mixed bag.  He says while it appears the Karzid government will not tolerate terrorists in Afghanistan and will cooperate in the war on terrorism, that same measure of safety may not hold true for non-Muslims. "[T]he suffering religious minorities in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, depending on how things go there, things could be very bad indeed if we can't move beyond this idea that the governance of those countries will recognize Islamic law," he observes. Bauer adds that Karzid's signing of the new constitution does raise concerns about how Christians and Jews will be treated in Afghanistan.

Four Christian Women Mown Down Going to Work
Barnabas News Fund

Four Christian women have been killed as militants from a passing car raked their minibus with automatic gunfire. On Wednesday 21 January nine Christian Iraqi women were on their way to work in the laundry at Habaniyah US military base. “Suddenly, four masked men, in a white Opel, machine-gunned our minibus and four women died”, recounted survivor Maggi Aziz, 49. None of the passengers escaped the attack, 50 miles west of Baghdad, unscathed. Maggi herself was speaking from a hospital bed with wounds to the leg, shoulder and head. Ashkik Varojan boarded the bus on Wednesday morning having decided to hand in her resignation, rather than live in fear of reprisals for cooperating with the coalition. Necessity had driven her to work to support her paralyzed husband and four children. Vera Ibrahim, who survived, said “I won’t continue this work. I am afraid. They wanted to kill us all.” Suzanne Azat, also a survivor, and Mussa Adam Abu Shaba, whose sister Nadia was killed, believe the assailants were insurgents fighting against the coalition forces. 

College Student Stands Up For Public Prayer before Student Senate Sessions
Jim Brown, Agape Press

The student body president at one West Virginia university campus says despite complaints from Protestant groups on campus, prayers before Student Senate meetings will continue. Three months ago, Seth Murphy sent a letter to religious student groups on the Marshall University campus, inviting them to open Student Senate meetings with prayers that are heartfelt and directed to God.  "I don't want to tell people that because of the idea of political correctness that they cannot pray…in public exactly as they would in private," he says. But United Methodist and Presbyterian student groups are demanding that the prayers be stopped. The opposition from other professing Christians is not something Murphy expected. The U.S. Senate also starts its meetings with prayer. He says the very idea that prayer in public is somehow unconstitutional is the result of an epidemic of political correctness in America that is "just going against not only our constitution but the very foundations that our country was built upon." But despite the demands from the Christian groups, as well as those from the Marshall University Civil Liberties Union, that the prayers be banned, Murphy says he will not cave in to those who would put political correctness above religious freedom.

'Huge' Christian Project to House African AIDS Orphans
Charisma News Service

Prompted by God, a South African businessman is returning to his homeland with an ambitious project to provide homes for 400,000 children orphaned by AIDS. Rob Smith hopes to purchase 4,000 farms in the next decade, which will be converted to villages for children devastated by the outbreak that has left an estimated 13 million youths in Africa under the age of 15 with one parent and 3.6 million with no parents. Initially, Smith and his wife planned to adopt 100 children and care for them on a farm. Smith, who left South Africa nearly 30 years ago because of his disgust for apartheid, ruled out that idea because the scope wasn't big enough. "He wanted to help as many kids as he could," Marc Fulmer, a friend of Smith's who is involved in the project, said. A year ago, Smith shared his dream with Fulmer. In September, Fulmer and his wife moved to South Africa to take charge of building the villages. Fulmer will oversee the construction of 60,000 buildings over the life of the project. Each village will consist of prefab homes big enough for six to seven children. Fulmer admits at times he is overwhelmed by the size of the project. "Once I wrapped my mind around this, I saw that I'm totally not qualified for this job," Fulmer said. "It's too huge. I need to rely on my faith that God is going to supply what we need and that He is going to lead me."