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Religion Today Summaries, December 3, 2002

Religion Today Summaries, December 3, 2002

In Today's Edition:

  • Nigerian Church Leader Decries Muslim Attacks
  • Liberal “Free Speech” Advocate Accused of Censorship, Loses Lawsuit
  • Conversion Movement among Dalits Gathers Momentum in India
  • Two Westerners Face Beheading Following Questionable Convictions in Saudi Arabia

Nigerian Church Leader Decries Muslim Attacks
(Baptist Press) Preaching from the ruins of the Ramhama English Baptist Church, J.J. Hayab noted what he called the difference between Nigeria's Christians and Muslims.  "Ours is a God of mercy," he told The New York Times.  "Theirs is a God of violence."  Hayab, pastor of the church in Kaduna, Nigeria, and Kaduna State secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, tried to contain his rage at the individuals who attacked the church and its members during rioting that resulted in about 200 deaths.  At least 58 churches in Kaduna suffered damage in the attacks.  Despite the damage, Hayab held services in the building.  Only 18 worshippers attended.  Normally, 110 people gather for morning services.  Hayab's sermon urged parishioners to dismiss thoughts of revenge, however, his anger was still evident, The Times noted.  "The Muslims in Kaduna State have taken the patience of Christians for granted," he told The Times.  The rioting stemmed from an article written by Isioma Daniel that was seen as insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.

Liberal “Free Speech” Advocate Accused of Censorship, Loses Lawsuit

(Charisma News Service) A small Phoenix-based apologetics ministry has won its lawsuit against a liberal free speech advocate.  Barry Lynn, who has claimed that the First Amendment protects the distribution of X-rated movies, agreed recently to stop censoring distribution of an Alpha and Omega Ministries' (AOM) videotape in which he debated the director of the ministry last May over the question, "Is Homosexuality Compatible With Authentic Christianity?"  Lynn filed the suit in April, but AOM officials said he had agreed before the debate to the video's reproduction and distribution.  "The irony was thick enough to cut," said Benjamin Bull, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund Law Center, which represented AOM.  "Lynn has argued that even child pornography is protected by the First Amendment.  But then he wanted to censor a videotape in which he discusses the compatibility of homosexual behavior and Christianity.  It was unusual.  The debate was a newsworthy event," he said.  "There were no relevant copyright issues to contest; the videotape was recorded with full knowledge by all parties that it would be reproduced and distributed.  The First Amendment protects the right to distribute the videotape as a newsworthy event.  People have a right to know the truth." 

Conversion Movement among Dalits Gathers Momentum in India

(ASSIST News Service) Dalit leaders are leading the first wave of Dalits (untouchables in the Indian caste system) in the thousands who will embrace the Christian faith.  The All India Christian Council leaders had openly stated in a media conference that their member organizations and denominations would accept all the Dalits that wanted to come to Christ. In direct response to the Dalit decision to embrace the Christian faith the Council also stated that the doors of the Indian Church would always be open to the Dalits.  Considerable risks and challenges are involved in carrying out the mass conversion ceremony where the anti-conversion law has been imposed by the local government.  Speaking for the All India Christian Counsel, Dr. D'souza said, “Once again, we salute the Dalit people for their incredible courage and we realize that they have taken huge risks in launching this movement. The local government can seriously violate fundamental rights and cause more problems, but the Dalits are determined and we join them and we welcome them and will receive them. If they are willing to take the risk and pay the price, the church has no excuses but to also be willing to pay the price."

Two Westerners Face Beheading Following Questionable Convictions in Saudi Arabia

(Voice of the Martyrs) Seven westerners are incarcerated in a Saudi Arabian jail in connection with various questionable terrorist acts.  Two of the detainees face beheading, although there are questions concerning their convictions for planting bombs. There is evidence that Scottish accountant Ron Jones, an eighth detainee, was repeatedly beaten on the palms and soles of his feet. Unless they win an appeal, two of the westerners, Sandy Mitchell from Scotland and Canadian Bill Sampson, face public beheading in Riyadh's infamous Chop-chop Square. Many believe the real bombers were Islamic extremists.  Details are still emerging.