Religion Today Summaries, June 27, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, June 27, 2003

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

  • Deadly Attack at U.N. Iraq Headquarters Challenges Christians 
  • Evidence Found for More Attacks on Christians in Indonesia
  • Bush Makes Appointments to International Religious Freedom Panel
  • Hindus Attack Church in India

Deadly Attack at U.N. Iraq Headquarters Challenges Christians
Stefan J. Bos, ASSIST News Service

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (ANS) -- United Nations Envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and at least 19 others were killed when a truck bomb exploded at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad Tuesday, August 19, just over a week after a top official warned of "guerilla warfare." In an ASSIST News Service interview published August 9, the U.N. Consultant and International Chief Observer of the Food for Oil Program and the U.N. Development Program Marcel Alberts, predicted increased attacks. "We know what happened in the Vietnam War… (In Iraq) Every day one or two Americans are dying. You should not be surprised that number of casualties goes up," he said.  In a statement sent to ANS, Joanna Weschler, U.N. representative for Human Rights Watch, said, "No political cause can ever justify intentional attacks on civilians.” U.S. officials described the bomb blast at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad "as an attack against a soft target" carried out by loyalists of the former regime, including possible foreign Muslim extremists, who oppose Western style reforms. These groups are also linked to killings of minority Christians in recent weeks in Baghdad and other area's, ANS has learned. It was not immediately clear what impact, if any, the latest violence would have on Christian aid organizations.

Evidence Found for More Attacks on Christians in Indonesia
Barnabas Fund

Church service schedules have been found in a raid on terror suspects, just days after the alleged mastermind of the Bali bombings, Imam Samudra, shouted during his trial “We are ready to win the crusade against Christians! We will win!” Westerners and local Christians are clearly considered one and same enemy. From July 4-11 police arrested seven suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asia terror group with links to al-Qaeda. In their raids they discovered three books containing the schedules of various church services and enough explosives for a blast ten times the size of the Bali bombs, which killed 202 people on 12 October last year.  For most Islamic militants, western and Christian are virtually synonymous and local Christians in Muslim countries have often born the brunt of extremist anger at the actions of western governments. In a later appearance, Samudra said of the Bali attack “If my actions touched the unbelievers … then that is justified in the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.”
Bush Makes Appointments to International Religious Freedom Panel
Emily Dagostino, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Bush has reappointed a Southern Baptist and named a Roman Catholic bishop and a Muslim academic to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The nine-member commission is a worldwide watchdog for religious liberty. It counsels Congress, the president and the secretary of state on how to sponsor and uphold religious freedom and tolerance. “If the United States does not insist that religious liberty be part of the agenda, no one else will," said Southern Baptist Richard Land. The panel is composed of a nonvoting ambassador-at-large and nine voting members, three of whom are appointed by the president and the rest by congressional party leaders. Land is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and is the first commissioner to be reappointed since the establishment of the independent federal agency in 1998. Bush also named Archbishop Charles Chaput, head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, and professor Khaled Abou El Fadl of Los Angeles. 

Hindus Attack Church in India
Charisma News Service

Militant Hindus recently attacked a church in Haryana State. "A mob of 250 people came and burned Bibles and Christian literature, damaged furniture and property, and vandalized the place," an Indian ministry leader told Christian Aid Mission (CAM) regarding the July 31 incident. The vandals reportedly beat several Bible college students who attended the church, including five women. A local Hindu leader had charged the students with being a menace to the neighborhood. Meanwhile, police arrested a 36-year-old Christian worker in Gujarat State earlier this month on undisclosed charges. Elsewhere, the Evangelical Fellowship of India claims a New Delhi newspaper recently published a false and inflammatory report that incited local suspicion and hatred against Christians, CAM said. In southern India, nationalistic Hindus have begun taking a census of Christian families in Kerala State, the All India Christian Council said. A census was taken of Christians in Gujarat State just before violence wiped out scores of churches and destroyed hundreds of homes of believers in December 1998, Assist News Service reported. Local Christian leaders fear the unofficial census being undertaken in Kerala is a prelude to attacks against Christians. (