Religion Today Summaries, January 13, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, January 13, 2003

In Today's Edition:

  • Christians and Muslims Condemn Ramsey Clark, Demand Apology
  • White House Defends Plan for Faith-Based Environmental Grants
  • Secret Document Outlines Anti-Church Campaign in China
  • Muslim Backlash in Indonesia?  Extremist Driving People from Muslim Faith

Christians and Muslims Condemn Ramsey Clark, Demand Apology
Michael L. Betsch

( The comments of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, comparing Jesus Christ to a modern-day terrorist, incurred the wrath of both Christians and Muslims Friday.  Headlining a media event Wednesday for the anti-war protest group, International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop the War and End Racism), Clark referred to Christ in front of more than 20 international reporters.  "The Christian Church overwhelmingly -- there are exceptions - who choose to call Muhammad a terrorist -- they could call Jesus a terrorist too," said Clark.  "I mean, he was pretty tough on money lenders a time or two."  Rev. Lou Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, scolded Clark for his comments and demanded an apology on behalf of Christians and Muslims.  "Mr. Clark has made a very serious error and he needs to apologize both to the Christians and to the Muslims," Sheldon said.  "He has insulted and offended people on both sides of the Christian-Muslim line ... I hope he's forthcoming right away with an apology."  Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), agreed that any insult against the man Christians consider their savior is also an insult against Muslims, who consider a Jesus a prophet.

White House Defends Plan for Faith-Based Environmental Grants
Marc Morano
( Already under attack from the Left and increasingly from the Right, the White House is defending a plan to expand its Faith Based Initiative in order to fund religious groups dedicated to environmental causes like "global warming."  Jerry Lawson, director of the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program, recently advocated the expansion of President Bush's program while speaking to a group of environmentalists in Washington.  Some conservatives immediately complained that Lawson was proposing to take the Faith Based Initiative in a direction not originally intended by the president.  One critic of the idea called it "tragic."  But, in a Thursday interview with, David Kuo, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, called the EPA's efforts to include religious groups that advocate green causes a "great" idea.  "We are seeking to expand the initiative across the government because we think the involvement of faith based and community groups is important," Kuo said.  "If EPA or the Department of Veterans Affairs or any other organization wants to involve faith and community based groups, that is great, and we are fully supportive of that," Kuo added.

Secret Document Outlines Anti-Church Campaign in China

(Compass) -- A confidential document entitled “Work Plan of the Baoding Municipal Public Security Bureau to Prohibit Christian Illegal Activities” calls for specific action against unregistered house church Christians in Hebei province in the months leading up to the Communist Party Congress in November last year. The document states the aim of the repressive campaign, “to protect legal [religious activities] and to prohibit illegal ones; to resist infiltration and to strike down criminal acts … and to ruthlessly strike down all cult activities masquerading under the banner of Christianity.” A special leadership team headed by Li Yunlong, Head of the Public Security Bureau, carefully coordinated the campaign. The incident, say China watchers, provides proof of continuing action taken at the official level against unregistered house churches and shows Party and government are capable of mounting coordinated campaigns against house-church Christians.

Muslim Backlash in Indonesia?  Extremist Driving People from Muslim Faith

(Missions Insider) Indonesia watchers are saying that the recent violence by Islamic radicals in may actually be driving people from Islam.  About 80% of Indonesia's 212 million population is Muslim.  Carl Cady, U.S. Director for International Friends of Compassion, says that of these only about 70 million are registered at local mosques.  Another 100 million are "casual" Muslims who do not attend the mosque regularly and don't have strong devotion to Islam.  "These are the ones who are questioning Islam," Cady said.  "The radicals who have bombed and killed in the name of Islam are not winning many of these.  In fact, I have spoken to pastors in Central Java after 9-11 and they said that large numbers of Muslims are coming to the churches in Central Java saying, 'If running into buildings and killing innocent people is what Islam is all about, we don't want anything to do with it.'"