Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- South Korean Minister Jailed for Aiding Refugees
- Christian Medical Association Rallying against ‘Morning-After Pill’
- Student Suspended in 'God Bless' Case Reinstated
- 10 Killed In Bomb Blast near Israeli PM's Residence
South Korean Minister Jailed for Aiding Refugees
Charisma News Service
A South Korean minister and humanitarian worker was recently sentenced to a nine-year jail sentence for aiding a small group of North Korean refugees in defecting to South Korea. On April 12, 2002, the Rev. Choi Bong-il was arrested in Yanji and charged with organizing illegal border crossings for helping North Korean refugees attempt to defect to South Korea. He offered North Koreans hiding in China shelter, food, clothing and biblical truths. During a December 2002 trial, a Chinese court did not render a verdict, but authorities continued to detain Bong-il. Twenty-eight months after his arrest, the court finally found Bong-il guilty. His wife and Bong-il's attorney have only had limited communication with him in jail. Bong-il has also complained of a very poor diet while imprisoned. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), authorities recently arrested an aid worker affiliated with Life Funds for North Korean Refugees. In December, Takayuki Noguchi, who is responsible for international relations for the organization, was detained with two North Korean refugees. Humanitarian workers help North Koreans in China by providing humanitarian relief and the means to travel to other countries such as South Korea. However, the Chinese government has imprisoned, tortured and convicted the workers.
Christian Medical Association Rallying against ‘Morning-After Pill’
The Christian Medical Association is commending U.S. congressional leaders who are pressing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent the over-the-counter sale of the "morning-after pill." CMA's associate executive director, Dr. Gene Rudd, says that the pill, if sold without physician guidance, will likely result in serious physical consequences for many women, particularly young women. The physician says the high doses of hormones that such "emergency contraception" drugs contain have not been adequately tested for their effect on teenagers, even though teens are a prime market for the morning-after pill. Rudd also fears that OTC distribution of the drug without a medical doctor's counsel could create a false sense of security in many couples, encouraging them to engage in high-risk sexual behavior because they are routinely trusting the morning-after pill to eliminate the consequences. "The use studies with this drug suggest that many will use this as a primary method of birth control," he says, "yet the drug has not been adequately tested for long-term or frequent use." Rudd also notes that there are many other issues that have not been addressed, including patients' ethical concerns about the morning-after pill's potential to terminate the life of an unborn child. He says although abortion activists lead women to believe the drug prevents pregnancy rather than causing abortion after pregnancy, many physicians recognize its abortion-causing potential.
Student Suspended in 'God Bless' Case Reinstated
Charisma News Service
An Illinois student suspended from his high school's TV broadcast for saying "God bless" was reinstated this week. Dupo High School senior James Lord, 17, pleaded his case before school board officials Tuesday night, arguing that the school's principal infringed on his constitutional rights when he suspended Lord after signing off his Dec. 17 broadcast with: "Have a safe and happy holiday, and God bless." A meeting room overflowing with supporters cheered when the school board announced Lord could go back on the air immediately. School board president Brian Thompson said Lord agreed not to make "God bless" a staple of the show, but the school board doesn't have a problem with an occasional "God bless" over the air. "I'm satisfied," Lord said. "It shouldn't have been a big deal in the first place.” When school officials decided last month to suspend Lord until Feb. 1, he contacted the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a Christian law firm that battles church and state issues. "This is a very important victory for our client and the First Amendment," said an ACLJ attorney who represented the student. He noted that ACLJ was prepared to file a federal lawsuit on Lord's behalf if the outcome had been different.
10 Killed In Bomb Blast near Israeli PM's Residence
Stefan Bos, ASSIST News Service
The Western backed road (map) to peace in Israel was blocked Thursday, January 29, by a major suicide blast on board a bus near Prime Minister's Ariel Sharon's residence in Central Jerusalem, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens, eyewitnesses said. Sharon was reportedly not in his residence when the suicide bomber blew himself up, the first such attack inside Israel since Christmas Day. In a statement to ASSIST News Service (ANS) the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) said the sound of the explosion "reverberated all the way to the southern suburbs of the capital." The attack took place shortly before 9am and according to eyewitnesses completely decimated the vehicle, believed to have been packed with rush hour commuters, the ICEJ and other reports said. "It was packed with passengers. When it reached Gaza Street, there was a massive explosion on board," Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy told Army Radio. There was no claim of responsibility, but Palestinian militant groups had pledged revenge for the killing by Israeli soldiers of at least nine Palestinians during gun battles Wednesday, January 28, which erupted when tanks raided the edge of Gaza City.