Religion Today Summaries -- July 26, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries -- July 26, 2004

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

  • Christian Group Plans to Sue Secret Service
  • Iraqi Christian Killed For Selling Food to Americans
  • Group Calls for Reference to God on WWII Memorial
  • Bulgaria Closes "Hundreds" Of Churches in Massive Police Raid

Christian Group Plans to Sue Secret Service
Nathan Burchfiel, CNS News

While the Democratic National Convention opens today in Boston, a pro-life group is in federal court suing the U.S. Secret Service for the restrictions imposed on its planned protests. The Christian Defense Coalition is filing its lawsuit in response to the Secret Service barring the coalition from demonstrating in front of the residence of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. The pro-life group was told it could not demonstrate even after it had already obtained a permit from the city of Boston. Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said the group had planned to hold a prayer vigil at Kerry's home Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights. Kerry supports abortion rights. Mahoney called the protest restrictions "very troubling." "The city of Boston ... promised us the world," he said, referring to the settlement the city offered when threatened with a lawsuit. The Coalition filed a lawsuit against Boston claiming the city's permit process for the convention restricted free speech. The city settled before the case went to court. "They knew, I think, all along that the Secret Service would shut the area down." Mahoney said he hopes the Secret Service will relent and allow his group to demonstrate starting Sunday night. But if the Secret Service holds firm, he said, "We'll ask for a temporary restraining order against the United States Secret Service."

Iraqi Christian Killed For Selling Food to Americans
Barnabas News Fund

The Christian owner of Al-Hanna restaurant in Mosul's Al-Dawasa district was murdered by the Islamic Wahhabbeen group on Monday 19th July because he had American customers. A local report states that the militants accused the shopkeeper: "You are a Christian. Why do you sell food to the Americans? Are you an agent for the Americans?" After killing Hani Matti Betti, the owner of the restaurant, the militants cut both hands off his business partner, a Muslim, and also blinded him in both eyes. They stated that this was to be understood as a sign to anyone working with the Americans.

Mob Assaults Church Under Construction
Joshua Newton, Compass Direct

Tension has gripped the tribal village Rohiyal Talal in the northwest state of India, after a mob of 15 local Hindu farmers desecrated a Christian church under construction in the hamlet. In an early-morning assault on Sunday, July 17, attackers demolished walls, iron gratings and windowpanes of the independent Protestant church. Officials at the nearby Kaprada police station have identified the assailants and say some are local leaders of the extremist Hindu organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad. However, no arrests had been made by press time. Attacks on Christian churches are a major issue of religious freedom in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, where dozens of places of worship have been damaged or destroyed in recent months. Militants belonging to the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which lost ground in India's recent national elections, have distributed thousands of anti-Christian pamphlets accusing Christians of forcibly converting impoverished Hindus to Christianity, raising fears of yet more attacks. (www.compassdirect.org)

Bulgaria Closes 'Hundreds' of Churches in Massive Police Raid
Stefan Bos, ASSIST News Service

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), a human rights watchdog, condemned Bulgaria's government Thursday, July 22, after police allegedly closed down 250 churches nationwide and detained several priests in the largest crackdown on clergy since the collapse of Communism. Officials disputed the numbers and said Bulgarian police evicted dissident Orthodox priests from dozens of churches across the country, which they occupied in defiance of a 2001 law that handed their property to the traditional church. "Some 25 churches have been closed," interior ministry spokeswoman Sonya Momchilova was quoted as saying. She reportedly added that more could follow in the future. The priests broke from the mainstream church after the fall of Communism in 1989, saying the patriarch had been too close to the former authoritarian regime. At least one priest was injured in the police operation, said the BHC in a statement. "The raids were carried out in Sofia, Plovdiv, Smoljan, Bansko, Chepelare, and other places across the country with a prosecutor's warrant," the BHC claimed.

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