Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Black Jesus Film Preaches Politics over Religion
A Reuters news story reports that a film billed as the world's first black Jesus movie portrays Christ as a modern African revolutionary and aims to shatter the Western image of the “meek, mild, European, blonde-haired, blue-eyed” Savior. The South African film Son of Man, which premieres Sunday at the Sundance festival, transports the life and death of Christ from first century Palestine to a contemporary African state racked by war and poverty. Jesus is born in a shanty-town shed; His mother Mary is a virgin, though feisty enough to argue with angels; gun-wielding authorities fear His message of equality. "We wanted to look at the gospels as if they were written by spin doctors and to strip that away and look at the truth," director Mark Dornford-May said. "The truth is that Christ was born in an occupied state and preached equality at a time when that wasn't very acceptable." By portraying Jesus as a black African, Dornford-May hopes to sharpen the political context of the gospels, when Israel was under Roman occupation, and challenge Western perceptions. "The important thing about the message of Christ was that it is universal. It doesn't matter what he looked like."
Uzbek Television Slanders Protestant Church
Relatives and neighbors of evangelical Christians in Uzbekistan have been swayed by ‘terrible lies and accusations’ thanks to a “documentary” televised regionally last summer, a Compass Direct release reports. “Zalolat” (Disaster), the 22-minute “exposé” has left entire communities convinced that a Protestant congregation is an “extremist” group worse than fundamentalist Islam. The program sensationalized a police raid last June against the Full Gospel Church in Urgench, capital of Khorezm province in northwest Uzbekistan. Interspersing scenes from the raid with interviews with local police, judicial and Muslim officials, the program represented Pastor Ruzmet Voisov and his congregation as “Christian extremists” guilty of breaking the laws of Uzbekistan and trying to destroy national stability. “After people saw this program,” one Uzbek Christian said, “some of them told us, ‘The Wahhabis are much better than you.’”
Muslim Cleric in Pakistan Arrested in Murder of Christian
Nearly 21 months after the murder of a Christian student in Pakistan’s Punjab region, police have arrested a Muslim cleric suspected of torturing the young man so that he would convert to Islam. Umar Hayat was arrested last week under charges that he and two other Islamic seminary members in the town of Toba Tek Singh had tortured Javed Anjum for five days. Another suspect, Maulvi Ghulam Rasool, was re-arrested in November after Pakistan’s Supreme Court revoked his bail. Judge Javed Iqbal Warraich ordered police protection for Anjum’s father, Pervez Masih, and his lawyer, after Masih filed a formal complaint that armed members of Rasool and Hayat’s madrassa (Islamic school) were harassing him at court hearings.
An “Open Call” on the Internet for Suicide Bombers to Blow themselves up in Sharon’s Hospital
A horrifying e-mail calling for suicide bombers to blow themselves up at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital where Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been in intensive care has been making the rounds of various Internet chat groups, says an ASSIST News release. Titled “Open Letter to the Next Suicide-Bomber” and dated Jan. 8 2006, the e-mail is apparently composed by a Raja Chemayel, who describes himself as “a Christian for Hamas.” The e-mail is very specific, even giving a room number and a return e-mail address. The letter reads: “If you are next Martyr on the waiting list get started and pack your heavy-stuff, kiss the hand of your mother, kiss goodbye your brothers and sisters, kiss the hand of your father (and) put on that heavy jacket. Take the Express-Bus to Jerusalem-Central and then take bus Nr. 17 which takes you to Haddasah then step out at the Bus-Station called the ‘Hospital for War Criminal.’ Show your Fake-Press-Card to the Security and speak with an American-accent. Walk slowly and do not attract attention. Enter the main hall and walk straight to the VIP- elevator. Tell them Mr. Wolf Blitzer has sent you! Go up to the seventh floor (and) look for the room 714 (intensive care), and then slowly but surely hold on to that detonator under your jacket… Then, order for yourself a cup of coffee, sit down, rest and think for a while. If by then, you are still not convinced by the arguments you have heard from [Sharon’s] well wishers then release that detonator! This man under intensive care will anyhow die, with or without your suicide, my brother; your real enemies are those who have called him a ‘Hero’ and could not convince you why.” An e-mail sent to the sender’s address seeking comment was not immediately responded to.