Religion Today Summaries - November 23, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - November 23, 2005

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.


In today's edition:


VietnamJails Six Montagnard Men after Call for Religious Freedom

ASSIST News Service


The Vietnam News Agency has reported that a Vietnamese court has sentenced six ethnic minority Montagnards to between seven and 17 years jail for "threatening national security." The men, from the Central Highlands, were found guilty of inciting protests in 2004 to call for religious freedom, the agency reported. The men face an additional five years' surveillance after their release, the agency said. The BBC, in a story carried on their website, says, “Vietnam has been criticized by rights groups for repressing the Montagnards. Many are Protestants who follow an evangelical Christian Church not sanctioned by the government. They claim their tribal lands have been taken to grow cash crops and that they face constant harassment from the police. “The 2004 protests, which centered on the capitals of Dak Lak and Gia Lai provinces, were quickly suppressed by security forces. “The crackdown led to hundreds of Montagnards fleeing across the border to Cambodia, from where many have been resettled in places like the US and Finland.” BBC Correspondents say the communist government in Vietnam officially guarantees religious freedoms, but both majority Buddhists and minority Christians have complained of violations to their right to worship.


20,000 Protest Letters Delivered to ACLU Headquarters

Family News in Focus


Reverend Rob Schenck with Faith in Action went to the ACLU headquarters in New York City and hand delivered some 20,000 letters from the American people. Schenck says they let the ACLU know that people are fed up with the liberal organization's legal aggression. "They go in, they harass communities, they use up taxpayer dollars by filing lawsuits over everything from nativity scenes to displays of the Ten Commandments to crosses, or any other vestige of our Judeo-Christian heritage." Schenck says the incident that pushed him over the edge was the ACLU court battle to remove the Ten Commandment displays from a small Ohio school district. After they won, the ACLU sued the school district for legal fees. "The ACLU doesn’t need any reimbursement. The ACLU took in a hundred and fifty million dollars in contributions last year, and they have now demanded $80,000 from the school district there. We said that’s enough." Alan Sears with the Alliance Defense Fund says it’s high time the ACLU heard from Main Street America. "It’s ridiculous what the ACLU has done to the people of this country and what they’ve done to especially small towns and small school districts officials with their campaign of fear, intimidation and disinformation." Schenck says he plans to keep delivering letters to the ACLU on behalf of the American people. The ACLU did not return our call for comment.


Priest Recounts Terror of Mob Attack on PakistaniChurchCompound

Catholic News Service


An enraged mob scaled the walls of the Catholic compound in Sangla Hill as Father Samson Dilawar ushered nine nuns, four teachers and 23 terrified teenage girls inside an upstairs room of the besieged convent. Later, the priest watched from the roof as the crowd destroyed the mission that had taken almost a century to build. 2,000 men, armed with sticks, hammers and flammable substances, swarmed across the parish compound Nov. 12. They broke into the Church of the Holy Spirit, smashing the marble altar and shattering the stained-glass windows. They set Father Dilawar's house on fire before moving on to St. Anthony's Girls School, where the students had already been sent home. Father Dilawar retreated into the locked room where the nuns were praying. The attackers "tried to break the door down but did not succeed. Otherwise, we could have all been killed." The violence has shocked Pakistan's Christian community and highlighted the failure of the authorities to protect religious minorities. Two other churches – one Presbyterian, one Salvation Army – as well as at least half a dozen houses belonging to Catholic families were also burned. The incident was sparked by allegations that a Christian had burned pages from the Quran.


IsraelFinds an Ally in American Evangelicals

Knight-Ridder Newspapers


Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, located in Gloucester County, NJ, is a conservative evangelical Christian organization dedicated to supporting the Jewish state. With $8.5 million a year raised largely from evangelical donors, it airs pro-Israel radio broadcasts, publishes Israel My Glory magazine, and takes hundreds of American evangelicals each year to tour Israel. "Our Christian Zionism -- and we readily endorse that term -- grows out of God's promise in Genesis 12:1-3," executive director William Sutter said. "The land of promise is Israel, and the recipients of the promise are the Jewish people." Conservative evangelical Christians have emerged as some of the staunchest supporters of Israel. There are dozens of groups similar to Sutter's that view Bible prophecies about ancient Israel and modern interpretations about the end of the world as relevant to evangelicalism. These groups have become powerful political allies and fundraisers for Israel, which has reciprocated with special tours and access to government leaders and may permit the creation of an evangelical complex beside the Sea of Galilee. The growing support of evangelicals is especially important at a time when Israel has relatively few other friends and when the religious right in the United States is growing more powerful.