Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- French Parliament Passes Controversial Bill
- Christian Radio Pioneer Dies
- Prison Ministries Transform Lives, Reduce Recidivism Rates
- Mid-East Expert: Human Rights Offenders Have No Right Judging Israel
French Parliament Passes Controversial Bill
Voice of the Martyrs
A controversial government bill that bans the wearing of conspicuous religious insignia in state schools cleared its final hurdle with ease in the French parliament despite loud protests inside and outside the country. Senators of both left and right voted 276 to 20 in favor of the bill, ignoring demonstrations by angry Muslims claiming they are being discriminated against and brushing aside a recent warning from Osama bin Laden's right-hand man who accused France of "crusader enmity." Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told senators before the vote in the upper house that the law did not aim to discriminate against religions but to "send a powerful and quick signal." "Our vision of secularity is not opposed to religions. Everybody has the right to express his faith as long as he respects the laws of the Republic inside the Republic's schools." But he added: "We do not feel or claim to believe that all's been settled with this bill."
Christian Radio Pioneer Dies
A pioneer in Christian radio has passed away. Marlin Maddoux, the founder and president of the USA Radio Network, died just before noon on Thursday at Baylor Medical Center in Irving, Texas. Maddoux died due to complications following recent heart bypass surgery. He founded USA Radio Network in 1985, a network that today includes more than 1,300 affiliated radio stations. He was also host of the “Point of View," a daily two-hour talk show heard on more than 360 stations nationwide. Maddoux is survived by Mary, his wife of 49 years, four adult children, and ten grandchildren. Funeral services are pending.
Prison Ministries Transform Lives, Reduce Recidivism Rates
Charisma News Service
Faith-based prison ministries nationwide are reducing recidivism rates of ex-offenders, but the organizations are also credited with transforming lives through the preaching of the gospel. House of Hope of Alachua County is an after-care prison ministry in Gainesville, Fla., that houses converted inmates immediately upon release. Since its humble beginnings in 1996, House of Hope has been home to more than 150 men, and the ministry has seen dozens of lives drastically changed. According to a recidivism report released by the Florida Department of Corrections in July 2003, approximately 40.5 percent of male inmates re-offend after three years of release from prison. This is in stark contrast to House of Hope's recidivism rates - only 17 percent of their total number of graduates have ever re-offended. Thomas Johnson, executive director of House of Hope, says his program offers the answer for what the world is looking for. "The world has no answers for the state of self-destruction that it's in," Johnson said. "There's no answer other than Christ," Johnson added. A recent study conducted by Byron Johnson, Ph.D., director of The Religion and Civil Society Program at The Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J., found a significant relationship between faith-based mentoring and decreased recidivism rates. "Findings are consistent across a wide range of studies," Byron Johnson said. "When religious commitment goes up, crime goes down."
Mid-East Expert: Human Rights Offenders Have No Right Judging Israel
Chad Groening, Agape Press
An Israeli Middle East expert says several Islamic countries that gave briefs to the International Court of Justice against Israel's security wall should be hauled in front of the court themselves for numerous human rights violations. From February 23-25, the United Nations' International Court of Justice heard oral arguments from a panel in a request for advisory opinion on the legality of Israel's security wall, built to protect its citizens from Palestinian terrorist attacks. But Israeli author and lecturer Victor Mordecai says several countries who presented oral arguments to the court have no business pointing fingers at Israel. For example, Mordecai notes, "a country like Sudan," he says, "which is a murderous, genocidal regime against black Christians, is not judged." And the author points out that Indonesia, the most populous Islamic country on the face of the Earth, had a judge on the 15-member advisory panel. But Mordecai asserts that the Indonesians killed half a million ethnic Chinese in the 1960s. And in one particularly egregious example, Mordecai contends that the recent prime minister of Malaysia, who not long ago completed a 25-year term, once called for the worldwide extermination of the Jews. According to Mordecai, Malaysia's former prime minister said that Muslims needed to re-think its strategy in order to accomplish the destruction of all the remaining Jews on the face of the earth.