Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today’s edition:
State-Sponsored 'Narnia' Contest Causing a Stir in Florida
Jim Brown and Jody Brown, Agape Press
A religious freedom group is offering pro bono legal representation to any Florida school that is threatened with a lawsuit for taking part in a state reading contest that features a book in C.S. Lewis's "Chronicles of Narnia" series. As part of Governor Jeb Bush's "Just Read, Florida!" program, students are being encouraged to read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in conjunction with the December release of the Disney movie. The director of the program, Mary Laura Openshaw, said the goal is "to get kids reading.” However, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is arguing that the contest violates the First Amendment because it promotes a "religious story." Barry Lynn, director of AU, calls the reading contest "just totally inappropriate" because the book “is simply a retelling of the story of Christ." Openshaw responds that the story can be read without references to Christianity, and children can "read the book and decide for themselves." The Alliance Defense Fund has already offered to provide free legal representation to any schools threatened with legal action.
NorthKorean ChurchLeader Faces Death Penalty
Jeremy Reynalds, ASSIST News Service
A North Korean church leader is facing the death penalty after being arrested on charges of plotting to overthrow the government. According to Jubilee Campaign, a British human rights organization, Seong Jeun Moon, 64, was taken into custody by North Korean State Security Agency officers in Peeyeong Gun, in the Pyongan Province of North Korea. Moon, leader of an underground church in North Korea, and a number of his brothers and sisters, have also been arrested and questioned. The charge of treason carries the death penalty. The interrogation of Moon was nearly completed as of early Sept., and has gone on in secret. Past cases of a similar nature have led Jubilee Campaign to believe that Moon and many others could quite possibly be executed.
Sudan: Christian Aid Worker Murdered
A British aid worker died of bullet wounds to the chest and neck last weekend after his jeep was ambushed by gunmen in Sudan. Twenty militants attacked Collin Lee, his wife Hedwig Unrau Lee, and their Sudanese driver, Karaba Juma, on November 5 as they traveled to the southern Sudanese town of Yei from Uganda. The militants opened fire, wounding Lee and hitting the driver in the arm. Despite threats from the gunmen that she would be burned alive inside the jeep, Hedwig Lee - six months pregnant - refused to leave her bleeding husband. Convincing the militants to spare her husband’s life, she pulled him from the passenger seat of the vehicle before it was set ablaze. After the gunmen retreated, the 35-year-old woman helped her husband make the hour-long trek to the village of Morobo. The couple was then taken to Yei Hospital, where Lee died of his wounds six hours after the incident. “Collin was a man after God’s own heart,” his friend and colleague Elias Kamau said. “He felt that he had a calling from God, and he had a real sense of urgency to accomplish that goal.” Lee, 57, had worked with his wife as trauma counselors for war victims in Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda. Hedwig Lee plans to return to Bermuda this week, where her husband’s body is being sent for burial.
Professor Given Key Role in Promoting Christianity
John Haldane, 51-year-old professor of Philosophy at St. Andrews University, is to become consultor to the Pontifical Council for Culture. Saying it was time to "reclaim Europe for Christianity," Haldane added that "we have got to re-evangelize the culture." Western society, he said, has lost the sense of "something beyond themselves that is greater and better than human beings." By way of strategy, Haldane said, "The church has to engage with artists, writers, musicians, and speak through radio, television and print media in an effort to try to re-transcendentalize things." The issue in Europe, he said, is much larger than the declining numbers in churches; religion needs to connect and convince at a cultural and intellectual level. The Pontifical Council for Culture was established in the 1960s in an effort to relate the Catholic Church to modern society.