Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Pakistani Police Accuse Christians of Killing Priest
- WCC Picks U.S. for Focus During 'Decade to Overcome Violence'
- Churches, Bush to Mark 9/11 Anniversary
- Creationism, Abstinence Added to Wyoming Curriculum
Pakistani Police Accuse Christians of Killing Priest
Barbara Baker, Compass Direct
Pakistani police investigating the July 5 murder of a Roman Catholic priest have accused three local Christians of killing Fr. George Ibrahim during an armed robbery attempt. Together with a Muslim suspect identified as a repeat-offender burglar, the three Christians have denied any involvement in the crime. All four are jailed near the Renala Khurd village where Fr. Ibrahim was shot to death by six gunmen. Police claim robbery was the motive for the murder, but church leaders believe the priest was targeted by the former principal of a girls' school who had threatened him. When local police refused to question her, Catholic leaders filed a petition September 4 on behalf of the four arrested "suspects" before the Lahore High Court. "The presiding judge gave an order to the police to reinvestigate the case," a Catholic official said today from Lahore.
WCC Picks U.S. for Focus During `Decade to Overcome Violence'
Adelle Banks, Religion News Service
The World Council of Churches Central Committee has decided to focus on the United States in 2004 as its "Decade to Overcome Violence" continues. "If ever there was a part of the world where work for peace is important, it is the U.S.A.," said the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church, commenting on the designation in a WCC announcement. A program committee cited the opposition of some U.S. churches to war in Iraq and their work in alleviating suffering across the globe. But the committee added critical comments about the power of American leaders. "The U.S. administration seems to see itself in a position where it can afford to disregard the international order, refuse to be accountable to the (United Nations), and ignore the concerns of the world's populations," their report stated. It also cited problems of "poverty, violence, racism in all its diverse forms, interfaith relations, migration and inequality in education and employment." The U.S. focus within the Decade to Overcome Violence will include attempts to strengthen U.S. churches and movements addressing peace and enhance the churches' understanding of community building. The decade focusing on violence lasts from 2001 to 2010. The council intends to focus on Asia in 2005 and Latin America in 2006.
Churches, Bush to Mark 9/11 Anniversary
Charisma News Service
Thousands of churches nationwide are expected to pay special tributes to heroes Thursday to mark the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Coordinated by the Mission America Coalition (MAC), Honor Our Heroes (HOH) services will remember the courage and sacrifice of police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel during and after 9/11, while recognizing the importance of community heroes. "We are recommending that pastors encourage people to bring to the service those who have been a hero in their own lives, so that they may be honored as well," said the Rev. Glenn Barth, national coordinator of HOH. "Most of all, we want to honor ... Jesus Christ, as we point to the hope and healing He offers for all who turn to Him." Some 80,000 people made decisions for Christ during HOH services in 2002, MAC officials said. More than 60 denominations, representing more than 200,000 churches, and dozens of ministries such as Campus Crusade for Christ and the International Bible Society have endorsed HOH. Meanwhile, President Bush will attend a morning prayer service of remembrance and observe a moment of silence to mark the 9/11 anniversary. He will attend a service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.
Creationism, Abstinence Added to Wyoming Curriculum
A school board in Wyoming has decided that theories other than evolution -- such as creationism -- should be taught in the district's science classrooms, and that sexual abstinence education should be the only instruction their students receive on avoiding pregnancy and disease. Most of the 5,000 residents of Worland, Wyoming, support these policy changes; it is the teachers who are putting up the fight. But school board member Thomas Ball says regardless of the opposition, he is determined that students graduating from his school district know the truth. "I want them to know about the origins of the Earth, that there is a design in nature -- it didn't happen haphazardly," he says. "And on sex education, we want them to have the understanding that the only safe sex is a monogamous relationship in marriage." Ball and the other board members say that while these tenets are found in religion, they are also backed by solid scientific research.