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Religion Today Summaries, February 13, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, February 13, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top national and international religious news stories impacting Christians

In Today's Edition:

  • Sen. Brownback Honored With Wilberforce Award
  • Jail Ends 'Pro-Christian' Policy
  • Indian Christian Deported from Qatar
  • Faulty Anti-Terrorism Laws Struck Down

Sen. Brownback Honored With Wilberforce Award
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., was presented with the Wilberforce Award Wednesday (Feb. 5) for his humanitarian efforts in the United States and abroad.  "Sen. Brownback is being honored for his courageous effort to alleviate the exploitation and suffering of innocent people and defend human rights and dignity," said Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, the organization that sponsors the award.  The senator has been known for successfully passing legislation dealing with global issues of sex trafficking and slavery.  For 15 years, the prize has been given to an individual who has made a difference in addressing societal problems.  It is named for humanitarian William Wilberforce, who campaigned against slavery in Britain in the 18th century.

Jail Ends 'Pro-Christian' Policy

(Charisma News) Jail officials in Orlando have dropped a policy of rewarding inmates who attended religious services with time off their sentences, because the rule only benefits Christians.  The decision was made in part because of a Muslim inmate who complained that his Christian counterparts were accruing days off their sentences while Muslims were not, "The Orlando Sentinel" reported.  "It's a valid criticism of the programming that was there," Orange County Corrections Chief Timothy Ryan said.  "It wasn't equitable in the sense that if you were Jewish or an atheist, you should have access to the same opportunities."  Earlier this month, the jail officially put an end to an "extra gain time" policy in which inmates could deduct up to six days off a month if they took part in one of several Christian-based programs.  Ryan said the jail was exposing itself to a lawsuit if the practice wasn't stopped.  A Muslim inmate complained for months that Christian inmates had ready access to chaplains and Bibles without questions asked.  Harvey said Muslim inmates did not have access to an Islamic leader and the Quran on a regular basis.  In a jail survey last fall of 2,500 inmates, 74 identified themselves as Muslims.  www.charismanews.com

Indian Christian Deported from Qatar

(Compass) A Christian hospital technician from India employed in Qatar for the past 22 years was deported along with his wife and son from Qatar in late January by order of the Interior Ministry.  “They are not saying what is the reason,” Stanislas Chellappa said as he prepared to leave the predominantly Muslim Gulf state.  “I am a Christian, and that is why they don’t want to say.”  Chellappa pastored a small congregation of Tamil-speaking Christians in Doha, the capital of Qatar.  The government refused to allow Chellappa to appeal the deportation order, but alleged in private that it was linked to a corruption investigation involving employees at Hamad Hospital.  Chellappa was shocked at the charges and said that, in the seven weeks of his ordeal, neither the Qatari authorities nor hospital representatives made any mention of corruption.  “The police asked me several times if I was a Christian,” he noted, “but they said nothing about corruption.”

Faulty Anti-Terrorism Laws Struck Down

(Compass) -- In early January, the Constitutional Tribunal of Peru struck down as unconstitutional anti-terrorism laws decreed by ex-president Alberto Fujimori in the early 1990s, nullifying convictions of civilians in military courts.  Civilians tried in secret military tribunals by “faceless” judges whose identities remained concealed under heavy hoods will be re-tried in civilian courts.  While the news is seen as a positive step for human rights, it actually worsens the plight of some prisoners, said Wuille Ruiz, a lawyer for the Lima-based Peace and Hope Association, an evangelical legal aid group.  Ruiz, himself wrongly imprisoned in 1993, said the ruling will not help the great majority of Christians falsely accused of terrorism.  The ruling does not strike down convictions handed down by masked jurists, nor does it offer reparations to victims, some of whom have lost more than a decade of their lives in prison for crimes they did not commit.  “But we hope that international standards are adhered to (and) that a number of thesecases would be resolved,” Ruiz said.