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Korea, Stand for Israel, Cross-Burning & Indian Earthquake

Korea, Stand for Israel, Cross-Burning & Indian Earthquake

In Today's Edition:

South Korean Mother Weeps for Son Who is to be Sent Back to North Korea ... From Christian Solidarity Worldwide -- The fate of a two-and-a-half year old boy hangs in the balance as Chinese police plan to send him back to North Korea. Lee Song-yong, who is one of a group of six North Korean defectors, has been separated from his 31-year-old North Korean mother for the last 18 months. His mother was three months pregnant when she defected to China in May 1999 and gave birth to him in November 1999 at the 292 Chinese Army Hospital in Beijing. Out of fear of being arrested, she was forced to leave China for South Korea without her son in November 2000.

She is now a South Korean citizen and is desperate to be reunited with her son. Through contacts in China, she managed to find a group of North Korean defectors in China who were about to go to South Korea and asked the group to bring her son with them. A friend appealing for international attention and action reported: 'The boy's heartbroken mother is in a state of panic by my side, weeping for help'. The six defectors, arrested near the Chinese border with Burma and Laos, face imminent repatriation to North Korea, where it is feared that they will face severe penalties, including possible execution.

The group has now been taken by the Chinese Government to North China for repatriation. They were arrested in Yunnan Province, sent to Kunmin on May 29 and taken to Changchun May 30. Sources expressed deep concern for members of the group, fearing severe repercussions against them if they are returned to North Korea and believing that execution is a very real likelihood for members of the group. Human rights activists are campaigning for the group's freedom, but the Chinese authorities are moving exceptionally fast in this case.

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said: "As the nations celebrate the start of the 2002 World Cup, it is harrowing to think of the terror of those who are facing repression, punishment and even death for seeking freedom in South Korea."


U.S. Evangelical Christians to 'Stand for Israel' ... Noting increased support for Israel among U.S. evangelicals, Rabbi Yehiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), said he intends to "channel that support into political action." According to The Jerusalem Post, Eckstein announced a "Stand for Israel" campaign, which he will co-chair with Ralph Reed, former director of the Christian Coalition.

Eckstein has worked with evangelical Christians for 25 years and already raised some $59 million, the Jerusalem Post reported, including $14 million in the last year. "Now he wants to use that same support to help Israel's position given the wave of bad press from which Israel continues to suffer. To do so, he is using the sympathy and support of evangelical Christians and conservative Republicans who are motivated by a passion to fight terror and who see Israel and America as allies."

According to the Post, organizers intend to bring together some 50 Christian leaders who will be "briefed by key Israeli officials and discuss ways to develop solidarity with Israel." Christian supporters would receive a daily news update on the Internet, "so they will not have to depend on CNN. They will be able to send messages to their congressman and the president with the help of the Internet site. The people sending such messages, Eckstein noted, are the people who brought Bush into office whom and he still needs."


India Mission Rebuilds School Destroyed by Earthquake ... According to Christian Aid's "Mission Insider" newsletter, an India mission has used relief funds to rebuild a school for 400 children. When the earthquake hit Gujarat in January 2001, Christian Aid sent relief funds to an indigenous Christian ministry that was able to access the stricken area. Immediately, a Christian group began hauling water in tankers to meet the needs of a thousand families affected by the quake. It then looked for a permanent, long-term project it could adopt. By last October the Christian leaders were able to present a proposal to authorities to rebuild a public school that once served 400 children. All of the children except one escaped injury when their old school building fell on them; one boy suffered a broken hand.

Construction began in December and the eight-room school was dedicated on May 18th when the whole village came together for the inaugural function. Some speakers spoke about the dire need and how this Christian group had taken upon itself this project. Others lamented how several agencies had made promises but had come and gone and had not delivered.

"I told them we started the work, not because we had the funds, but because God's love compelled us to help. I also told them how Christian Aid had given for this cause, and then I challenged them to serve their own people in every way possible. There were tears in several eyes as God allowed me to share," Brother Paul, spokesman for the Christian group, said. "We had never done anything like this before, but the Lord orchestrated everything very beautifully. We could not have done this without you," Paul told Christian Aid. To learn more write to [email protected] and put MI-321 646-NMM on the subject line.


Supreme Court Accepts Cross-Burning Case ... From Associated Baptist Press (ABP) ... The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that symbolic burning of the American flag is free speech that is protected by the Constitution. But what about burning the cross? The high court is about to take on that question. Justices agreed May 28 to review a ruling by Virginia's top court finding unconstitutional the state's 50-year-old ban on cross burning intended to frighten or intimidate. The Virginia court cited a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a law in Minnesota that banned cross burning carried out "on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender."

State Supreme Courts in Maryland, New Jersey and South Carolina have also struck down laws banning cross burning, saying they limit speech on the basis of its content, which violates the free-speech clause in the First Amendment. But other laws banning speech that intimidates, terrorizes or causes other harm have been upheld. Virginia's lawyers argue that since the state's ban doesn't make specific reference to religion or race, the 1992 ruling doesn't apply.

Three men were convicted in two separate 1998 incidents under the Virginia law. In one, Pennsylvania Ku Klux Klansman Barry Elton Black presided over the burning of a 30-foot cross in a field -- visible to neighbors and a state highway -- in Carroll County, Va. In the other case, Richard Elliott and Jonathan O'Mara burned a cross on a part of Elliott's Virginia Beach property located 20 feet from the home of an African-American neighbor.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia supported the men who were convicted under the cross-burning law. An ACLU representative told the Washington Post that he considered the burning of a cross "an act with a message, and because it has a message it is protected under the First Amendment." A decision in the case, Virginia vs. Black, isn't expected before next year. In the event that the Supreme Court rules against Virginia, the state's legislature and governor have already passed and signed into law a back-up provision that bans the burning of any object with the intent to intimidate or threaten. The ACLU has said it probably wouldn't oppose that law.