Religion Today Summaries - August 31, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - August 31, 2004

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

  • Three Imprisoned Protestant Pastors transferred to Unknown Location

  • National Motto on the Move

  • Jordan's Supreme Court Accepts Widow's Appeal

  • Ban on 'Barbaric' Act Unconstitutional, Judge Says

Three Imprisoned Protestant Pastors transferred to Unknown Location
Charisma News Service

Three prominent Protestant pastors detained for months have been transferred from a police station jail in the capital of Asmara to an unknown location. Haile Naizgi and Kiflu Gebremeske, leaders of the Full Gospel Church, have been imprisoned since May 23, and Tesfatsion Hagos, who leads Rema Evangelical Church, has been jailed since May 26, Compass Direct reported. Police had previously allowed the pastors' families to bring them food and clothing while under detention, but face-to-face contact has been denied. No reason has been given for their imprisonment and the three have not been charged with any legal offense. Meanwhile, pastor Mengse Tweldemedhane and popular Christian singer Yonas Haile managed to escape from the Sawa Military Center and flee together to Sudan in late June. Christian vocalist Helen Berhane, jailed since May 13, remains under severe confinement in a shipping container at the Mai Serwa military camp, located just north of Asmara. Although the eastern African nation's constitution guarantees freedom of religion for all citizens, President Isaias Afewerki closed down the country's independent Protestant churches in May 2002, forbidding the 20,000 members of 12 banned denominations to worship even in their homes, Compass reported.  (<>)

National Motto on the Move

In North Carolina, the national motto -- "In God We Trust" -- is literally on the move from the classrooms to the highways, after the state's House of Representatives recently passed a bill allowing the motto to be placed on a new special license plate. The license plate will not only display the national motto, but it will also depict a yellow ribbon the phrase, "Support Our Troops."  Just like other specialty plates, it will cost an extra $30 added to the regular $20 license plate fee.  Revenues garnered from the plates will aid "families of deployed North Carolina National Guard troops." The bill, co-authored by Representative Connie Wilson of Mecklenburg County and Tim Moore of Cleveland County, is awaiting a signature from Governor Mike Easley after its passage by the House in a 110-4 vote, thanks to the leadership of Shelby resident Tony Izzi. "I was thrilled that it passed," Izzi said.  "We had been keeping our fingers crossed so when we got the news that it passed, I was real pleased." Izzi, an active member of the American Family Association, enthusiastically supported that group's initiative.  AFA began three years ago to push for legislation requiring the posting of "In God We Trust" in the nation's 1.5 million classrooms.

Jordan's Supreme Court Accepts Widow's Appeal
Compass Direct

In a surprise decision, the Supreme Islamic Court of Jordan has accepted Christian widow Siham Qandah's last possible appeal to retain custody of her two minor children. Qandah's lawyer was informed on August 20 that the Supreme Court will hear his appeal of a lower court decision granting custody of the widow's daughter Rawan, 16, and son Fadi, 14, to the children's maternal uncle. The ruling came two months after Amman's Al-Abdali Sharia Court refused to cancel Abdullah Al-Muhtadi's guardianship of the children, despite evidence that he had withdrawn nearly 12,000 Jordanian dinars ($17,650) from their U.N.-allocated trust funds. Al-Muhtadi, Qandah's estranged brother who converted to Islam as a teenager, first filed for custody of the children in 1998 so that he could raise them as Muslims. The case has since come to the attention of several members of the Jordanian royal family, who have pledged that Qandah will not lose her children or be sent to jail. Nevertheless, a formal judicial solution has remained elusive.

Ban on 'Barbaric' Act Unconstitutional, Judge Says
Fred Jackson and Jody Brown, AgapePress

Advocates of abortion are calling it a "sensible" ruling, but defenders of unborn babies are reacting strongly to last Thursday's court ruling by a federal judge in New York that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (PABA) of 2003 is unconstitutional.  Those pro-life advocates are blasting the judge's rationale for his decision -- a decision in which even the judge himself described the partial-birth abortion procedure as a "barbaric" act. The ruling from U.S. District Judge Richard Casey was not unexpected.  Implementation of the PABA was already on hold, thanks to an earlier decision by a judge in California.  Still, pro-lifers reacted to the decision with criticism of Casey's reason for his ruling: the ban, he noted, does not contain an exception for instances in which the health of the mother is threatened.  Yet in the same ruling, Casey indicated his reluctance as he did, saying the procedure causes pain to the unborn child and is "gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized." It is likely the ban on partial-birth abortions could end up before the high court.  An earlier California ruling on the ban found the law unconstitutional and has already been appealed by the U.S. Department of Justice.