Religion Today Summaries, July 7, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, July 7, 2003

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

  • Filipino Pastor's Departure from UAE Stalled
  • Bush Affirms Traditional Marriage, Uncertain about Federal Marriage Amendment
  • Kashmir Protestant School Attacked
  • Christian-Led North Korea Prayer Event Draws Hundreds

Filipino Pastor's Departure from UAE Stalled
Barbara Baker, Compass Direct

A Filipino pastor and his family are still awaiting legal permission to leave the United Arab Emirates due to a petition filed by the Dubai Prosecutor General objecting to an appellate court decision that cancelled a deportation order against him. Rev. Fernando P. Alconga, 54, said today that he expects the Supreme Court to end eight months of judicial tangles surrounding his case with a ruling on July 5. "We are praying that the Dubai Supreme Court will be decisive on Saturday to uphold the Court of Appeal's cancellation of my deportation, so that we will be cleared to leave the UAE immediately," he said. Arrested in November 2002 and jailed for 36 days, Alconga was tried for "preaching other than the Islamic religion" because he gave a Bible and Christian literature to an Arab Muslim at a shopping mall in Dubai. Although Alconga was found guilty of the charges on April 27, the presiding judge suspended his one-year prison sentence. An ordained Conservative Baptist minister, Alconga had planned to return to the Philippines last January to pastor a congregation in Manila.

Bush Affirms Traditional Marriage, Uncertain about Federal Marriage Amendment
Baptist Press News

President Bush has affirmed marriage "is between a man and a woman" but stopped short of endorsing a constitutional amendment to protect the institution. Some pro-family leaders said the president would eventually have to announce a position on the amendment. The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Focus on the Family commended Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for supporting the amendment, while the Human Rights Campaign declared it as "discriminatory" and "wrong." In addition to limiting marriage to "the union of a man and a woman," the Federal Marriage Amendment also would prevent federal and state constitutions and laws from being interpreted to mandate marriage or its benefits for homosexuals and other unmarried people.  Supporters of the FMA face an intimidating task in their effort to make it part of the Constitution. Proponents of the FMA say the high court's recent decision in Lawrence v. Texas is only one of several reasons such an amendment is needed. Many legal observers expect the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to rule soon there is a right in the state constitution for homosexuals to marry. Moreover, an appeals court in the Canadian province of Ontario recently legalized civil marriage for homosexuals. Pro-family supporters fear the spread of such rulings.

Kashmir Protestant School Attacked
Christian Aid Report

A school attacked in Kashmir in late May, said to be a Catholic School, was in fact a Protestant school, according to recent reports received by Christian Aid. In early June various media reported the attack that occurred on May 22 near the main entrance of Saint Lukas Convent School in Nai Basti. The explosion killed one of the female teachers and seriously wounded another. The report called the victims "nuns." But Christian Aid has learned that the school was indeed a private school run by the son of one of the converts of an evangelical ministry assisted by Christian Aid. The leader, who now directs his ministry from a location in Uttar Pradesh state, for years worked out of Udhampur in Kashmir, and was, in fact, in Kashmir when the attack occurred. "It was a private school run by one of our boys named Luke who was the son of one of our believers near Doda," he told Christian Aid last week. "The father was converted through the ministry of WEC missionaries, and when they left, the family fellowshipped with us."  "The school was coming up fairly well when this incident happened," he continued, "The teachers who were wounded and killed were not Catholic sisters; they were single, Protestant girls." And now "you know the rest of the story."

Christian-Led North Korea Prayer Event Draws Hundreds
Assist News Service

A prayer event held last Saturday drew hundreds of people to pray for the oppressed people of North Korea. Some 300 people went to the event held in Westminster Chapel, London, England, and were encouraged to pray in an opening address by the General Director of the Evangelical Alliance UK. The Hanbeet Korean Choir performed songs and several Korean Church leaders and Christians led prayers. People were encouraged to pray in small groups, to put prayer stickers on a map of North Korea, to write prayers against specific violations of religious freedom and even to spend a short time in a tiny cage remembering more than 100,000 people held in prison camps inside North Korea. Resources such as the North Korea country report were available for people to take away and use for future prayer meetings and people were encouraged to sign a petition to the UN High Commission for Human Rights calling for an end to the widespread human rights abuses in North Korea. Similar events were held in Glasgow, Swansea, Lisburn, Sutton Coldfield, Richmond in Surrey, Raynes Park in London, Birmingham and Bawtry. Prayer meetings focusing on North Korea were also held in Seoul, Zurich and Los Angeles. Churches across the UK were encouraged to remember the people of North Korea in their prayers during the week.