Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Victorious in Alabama, ACLU Targets Another Bible-Belt Judge
- Duma Emerges from Tragedy
- Christian Pastors Taken to Court to Silence Criticism of Islam
- Local Christian Radio Coming To The British Midlands This Advent
Victorious in Alabama, ACLU Targets Another Bible-Belt Judge
Fred Jackson, Agape Press
The American Civil Liberties Union has a new target in its campaign to eradicate the nation of public displays of the Ten Commandments. This time it involves a judge in Arkansas. District Court Judge David Pake has had a framed copy of the Ten Commandments in his suburban Little Rock courtroom since 1994. The 11-by-14-inch copy of the Decalogue hangs near the judge's bench, away from the area where most court participants sit. But after almost ten years of the display being on Pake's wall, the Arkansas chapter of the ACLU has decided the display must go, insisting it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. There is speculation that the Roy Moore case in Alabama had a lot to do with the timing. Judge Pake says religion had nothing to do with his decision to put the Ten Commandments display in his courtroom. He says it is there for strictly historical reasons -- and to back that contention, he recently placed copies of other historical documents, such as the Bill of Rights, nearby. A conservative legal group, The Rutherford Institute, says it has been working with Pake and stands ready to help him in his legal battle.
Duma Emerges from Tragedy
The village of Duma on the island of Halmahera, Indonesia, is one of many communities in the Maluku Islands (also known as the Moluccas) to take tentative steps toward recovery from a violent Muslim-Christian conflict that has claimed a estimated 10,000 lives and driven 700,000 people from their homes since January 1999. The Christian church in Duma, planted in 1866 by Dutch missionary Hendrik Van Dijken, was attacked by a force of around 4,000 jihad fighters on June 19, 2000. According to village elder Levi Selong, about 200 believers were killed when bombs fell on the town that day. Many of the victims died when the church roof collapsed. Survivors ran into the jungle and eventually left the village as refugees. Muslim militants assumed that Duma, the base of missionary outreach to the Malukus, was finished and Christianity would soon be eradicated from the islands. However by July 2003, hundreds of refugees had returned to villages on Halmahera and are rebuilding their homes and replanting crops.
Christian Pastors Taken to Court to Silence Criticism of Islam
Barnabas News Fund
Two Christian pastors have been taken to court by the Islamic Council of Victoria and three Australian Muslims, after making critical statements about the Islamic faith on a website and at a seminar held in March last year. A complaint of religious vilification was made against the two pastors, Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot. The complaint deals with many issues, such as the nature of jihad, aspirations of Muslims in the west, and the connection between the laws of jihad and the treatment of non-Muslims under Islam. The case is due to be heard at the Tribunal in mid-October 2003. To pursue their complaint, the Islamic Council of Victoria has retained the services of a prestigious Australian law firm. The case is one of the first to be brought under Victoria's new legislation and its result will set an important precedent, which will have influence and ramifications all over Australia. Many evangelical Christians in the state fear that the Islamic Council of Victoria is using the case to stifle all criticism of Islam or Muslims, in effect bringing in a pseudo-blasphemy law to protect Islam. Similar legislation against religious 'hate speech' is currently before parliament in both New Zealand and the UK and is prompting serious concern from libertarians and supporters of free speech who fear the similar misuse of such laws.
Local Christian Radio Coming to The British Midlands This Advent
Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service
London-based Premier Christian Radio, which recently celebrated its eighth birthday, is helping local contributors to provide a Christian radio service to Birmingham in the British Midlands this winter. Following a similar project in Manchester this Summer, Premier FM will be a Restricted Service License broadcast, allowed under Radio Authority provision, bringing locally relevant Christian radio to the Birmingham area. The style and approach of these broadcasts are similar to the way in which Premier has reflected the work and witness of the Christian community in the London region, but the content is heavily geared to the context of Birmingham. The purpose of this temporary radio station is to promote the possibility of a 'full time Regional Christian Radio Station' for the West Midlands as part of the Premier United initiative. With Premier United we committed to running 'test stations' in areas where we have a least 2000 interested potential listeners and from the 'test station' we hope to boost those numbers.