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Religion Today Summaries, August 25, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, August 25, 2003

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.  In today's edition:

  • Christian, Jewish Visits to Temple Mount Resume

  • Multiple Church Attacks in Senegal

  • Study of India's Christian Minority Planned

  • Judge Moore Suspended Pending Outcome of Ethics Complaint

Christian, Jewish Visits to Temple Mount Resume
Michele Chabin, Religion News Service

For only the second time in three years, the Temple Mount, revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians, is open to visits by non-Muslims. Since Wednesday, hundreds of Jews and Christians have visited and prayed on the Mount. Now, non-Muslims may visit between 9 and 11 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. Once the home of the First and Second biblical Temples, the Temple Mount stands above the Western Wall and contains the Holy of Holies, Judaism's most sacred site. The Wakf, the Muslim religious body that controls the mount closed the site's gates to non-Muslims in the fall of 2000 after the head of Israel's opposition party visited the shrine to underscore Jewish rights to it. The renewed access to non-Muslims is the result of months of negotiations between officials from the Wakf and Israel. In May, with little fanfare, Israel and the Wakf quietly began admitting non-Muslims to the mount. Three weeks ago, the Israeli government stopped the visits. With the agreement of the Wakf, Israel reinstated access Wednesday. Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, said he feared a Muslim backlash. The Rev. Ruediger Scholz, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension, voiced similar concerns: "We need to see the political implications, and whether they outweigh opening the site...If the situation worsens, then it wasn't worth it."

Multiple Church Attacks in Senegal
Charisma News Service

An Assemblies of God church in Senegal was recently attacked three times in one week by a mob of young Muslims, causing injuries to several members. According to The Barnabas Fund, a band was playing in Bethel Church in the town of Dakar, when the youths pelted the church with stones. Many of those inside the church were hurt and at least two members suffered serious injuries. The building also sustained extensive damage. Pastor Mignane N'Dour filed a complaint with local police, but they reportedly did not respond. During a prayer meeting several days after the Sunday service, the mob returned and shouted that they would burn the church down if services continued there. The same group of attackers returned last Sunday, again while the band was leading a worship service. Besides destroying some railings surrounding the church, they went inside the church and again threw stones at parishioners. Three members of the congregation were seriously wounded. The West African nation is comprised of 94 percent Muslims, while Christians number 5 percent.

Study of India's Christian Minority Planned
Alexandra Alter, Religion News Service

A government-backed commission in India is planning to conduct the first detailed study of the country's Christian minority.   Christians account for 2.3 percent of India's 1 billion people. More than 80 percent of India's population is Hindu, while 13 percent is Muslim. Jains, Buddhists and Parsees are among the country's other religious minorities. "So far, there has been no proper study or documentation about the Christian community," said V.V. Augustine, the Christian representative on the National Commission for Minorities, which is planning the survey. The commission hopes that the study will help remove "prejudices and misunderstandings" about the Christian minority and highlight their contributions to the nation, Augustine told a meeting of more than a hundred Christians in New Delhi. But some Christian leaders worry the study will ignore the difficulties Christians face in India, where religious minorities have experienced a resurgence of attacks.  Some also worry the government-supported commission may act as an advocate for the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party rather than pressing the government to address minority concerns. The BJP has been accused of limiting Christians' religious rights through such legislation as the Anti-Conversion Law, a law designed to limit Christian evangelical activity.

Judge Moore Suspended Pending Outcome of Ethics Complaint
Baptist Press News

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore will be suspended from his position for 10 days, pending the outcome of an ethics complaint for refusing to follow a federal court order to remove the Ten Commandments monument he ordered installed in the Alabama judicial building in 2001. Moore was automatically suspended with pay Aug. 22 when the nine-member Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission referred an ethics complaint against Moore to the Court of the Judiciary, which holds trial-like proceedings and can discipline and remove judges. Moore will have 30 days to respond to the complaint. Moore had no immediate comment; a spokesman said his attorneys would respond to the complaint Aug. 25. Moore has been steadfast in his refusal to remove the 5,300-pound Ten Commandments monument, missing the Aug. 20 deadline given by federal Judge Myron Thompson. Although the monument remained in the rotunda of the state judicial building Aug. 22, it had been ordered removed by a vote of Moore's associate justices the day before. Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor said the monument would be moved "very soon." Demonstrators were still outside the building Aug. 22, hoping to prevent its removal by peaceful means. (www.bpnews.net)