Religion Today Summaries - March 11, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 11, 2005

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

  • Christian Human-Rights Activist Says There Is No Regime More Evil Than That Of Kim Jong Il

  • Sierra Leone: Amputees Receive Food, Hope from Native Missionaries 

  • United Arab Emirates

  • Judge Upholds Navy Man's Right to Witness at State Building

Christian Human-Rights Activist Says There Is No Regime More Evil Than That Of Kim Jong Il
Agape Press

A Christian human-rights activist who specializes in North Korea says there is no regime on earth that is more evil than that of Kim Jong Il. Suzanne Scholte is president of the Defense Forum Foundation, which has published documents about North Korean political prisoner camps, and was responsible for bringing five defectors from the northern nation to testify at hearings about the regime. Scholte says North Korea has systematically targeted Christians for elimination. "This is a regime that from the very start tried to wipe out, murder, and kill Christians," she shares, "and people don't know this, but at one point the Christian faith was so strong in Pyongyang that it's nickname was 'the second Jerusalem.'" Scholte says North Korea is a satanic regime that has created its own twisted version of the Holy Trinity.

Sierra Leone: Amputees Receive Food, Hope from Native Missionaries
Christian Aid Mission

In 1991, civil war began in Sierra Leone with the forming of the Revolutionary United Front, a group that claimed it intended to free the population from an incompetent government, provide free schooling and medical care and end corruption. Yet the very people its leaders declared they were freeing became its greatest victims. Rebel fighters in Sierra Leone launched a campaign of terror across this West African country, slaughtering and maiming thousands. Innocent civilians were shot down like animals as they huddled for sanctuary in mosques or churches. Entire families were locked in their houses and burned to death. Boys were forcibly conscripted into the army, pumped with stimulating drugs, and sent to unleash atrocities on innocent villagers. The effects of the decade-long civil war are still felt today, particularly by those who lost arms, legs and even ears in the mass amputations conducted by rebels. Amputees suffer not only from unemployment and poverty due to their condition but to psychological trauma and feelings of worthlessness. Soon after peace was established in Sierra Leone, native missionaries began reaching victims of amputation with practical aid. When funds allow, missionaries provide scholarships for amputees' children to attend school. They have also distributed hundreds of pounds of maize to poverty- stricken victims, always giving glory to God before handing out the grain. Many have been drawn to Christ through such outreaches.

United Arab Emirates
Charisma News Service

Two U S short-term missionaries detained on suspicion of distributing Christian materials in the predominantly Muslim nation were recently released. Vivian Gilmer, 72, a grandmother and member of First Baptist Church in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was on a mission trip with the Tom Cox Evangelistic Association (TCEA) in the Middle East country when she was charged with illegal activity by authorities Feb. 21, The Myrtle Beach Sun News reported. Last Friday, Gilmer and Marie Bush of Waxahachie, Texas, returned to the United States after being held in Dubai for two weeks after authorities said they gave compact discs and Bibles to people in the city. "They were on a mission trip to India, and they extended their trip and went on to the United Arab Emirates where they were handing out Bibles and were then detained," Bruce Crawford, pastor of First Baptist, told Baptist Press. The rest of the TCEA group was expelled from the country, but the two women's passports were confiscated. Located between Oman and Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is slightly smaller than Maine, is 96 percent Muslim. In 1993, a UAE court sentenced a British man to six months in prison for handing out Christian literature to Iranians. (www.charismanews.com)

Judge Upholds Navy Man's Right to Witness at State Building
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A federal court has ordered officials in Illinois to respect the free-speech rights of a U.S. military reservist who sued to defend his freedom to distribute religious material in public. Last year, Kevin Cantrell, an airline pilot and Naval Reservist, began handing out Christian tracts in the atrium in front of a state building in Chicago. Police stopped him from speaking and distributing the literature, saying he needed to get a "Special Events Request," which he did. But then the authorities told Cantrell that he had to pay $300 to apply for the "Special Events" permit. He then contacted the Alliance Defense Fund, which sued on his behalf. ADF attorney Elizabeth Murray says the judge in the case granted a declaratory judgment in favor of Cantrell. She commends the soldier's stand for his personal freedom of speech and religious expression, and notes, "It was important for Kevin to fight this because important First Amendment rights were at stake." The federal judge who presided over the case agreed, Murray says, that the local policies hindering Cantrell from speaking or distributing his literature in the atrium or outdoor plaza of the state building are unconstitutional. The judge told Illinois government officials they cannot forbid Cantrell from sharing his faith in a public building.

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