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Religion Today Summaries, January 20, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, January 20, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top religious news stories from around the world!

In Today's Edition:

  • Church Suit Targets ‘Skewed’ Zoning Laws
  • Jehovah's Witnesses Sued by Four Women Charging Sex Abuse
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?  Libya, the Great Defender of Human Rights!?
  • Sudanese Government Agrees to Take Another Try at Peace Talks

Church Suit Targets ‘Skewed’ Zoning Laws

(Charisma News) A church in Pennsylvania has sued local officials who denied the congregation the right to build on its property. Beaver Assembly of God filed a federal lawsuit against Brighton Township earlier this month after being prohibited from developing its 3.2 acres because it does not meet the community's minimum lot size requirement for "places of worship."  Churches are only permitted within the township on lots that are at least five acres.  However, "sexual encounter centers" and "adult cabarets" do not face a similar restriction.  "It is a sad day indeed for America when municipalities enact laws that are more favorable to strip clubs and porn shops than to churches," said Joel Oster of the Liberty Counsel, which is representing Beaver Assembly.  Its suit alleges violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which protects churches from attempts by local governments to inhibit their building or use of their property.  "The township's zoning code essentially prohibits new or small churches from operating," Liberty Counsel's Mathew Staver said.  "Very few new houses of worship can afford to buy five acres of land prior to construction.  The township's priorities are obviously skewed, and their understanding of the Constitution is no better."  www.charismanews.com

Jehovah's Witnesses Sued by Four Women Charging Sex Abuse

(RNS) Four women have sued the Jehovah's Witnesses, saying a leader of the religious body in Nevada molested them during a period beginning in the early 1970s.  In the suit filed Jan. 9 in Las Vegas, the women claim they were abused by Daniel Steven Fitzwater, a former Jehovah's Witnesses congregation leader, from 1974 though the 1990s, the Associated Press reported.  The women allege that church officials covered up the abuse.  "Outcries were made and they were not reported, and because they were not reported to law enforcement other children were molested afterward," said Kim Norris, the attorney for the women now in their 20s and 30s.  Fitzwater was arrested in 1997 and charged with lewdness with children in a case unrelated to the women's claims.  He is eligible for parole in 2005 after being convicted of two counts of sexual lewdness in 1998.  Fitzwater could not be reached for comment and J.R. Brown, a national spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses, declined to comment on the specific lawsuit.  "Our church policy protects children, not molesters," Brown said.  "Molesters are punished, generally the most severe way, which is disfellowship or public reproof."

What's Wrong With This Picture?  Libya, the Great Defender of Human Rights!?
Ken Connor

(Family Research Council) Libya is slated to become the next head of the UN Human Rights Commission.  Libya?  That's fiefdom of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, patron of terrorists and the man responsible for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland that took almost 300 lives.  The idea of Libya acting as the international watchdog over human rights is laughable. There are no human rights in Libya.  Cross the colonel and you disappear.  Gadhafi's Libya is among the worst violators of human rights.  For the UN to place such a vile state at the head of its commission on human rights is a sick joke.  Congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, has sent a letter to 50 ambassadors representing the other members of the UN panel objecting to this farce.  If the UN proceeds to install Libya at the head of its human rights commission (the vote is scheduled for today), then that body will cease to possess even a shred of credibility.  www.frc.org

Sudanese Government Agrees to Take Another Try at Peace Talks

(VOM-US) Late last week, the Sudanese government announced a decision to send a delegation to Kenya for peace talks next week aimed at ending the country's civil war. Sudan's chief negotiator issued the statement after meeting in the Sudanese capital with U.S. peace envoy John Danforth, who earlier held talks with President Omar el-Bashir. The talks are being held under the auspices of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which has been trying to end the war that has claimed more than two million lives through fighting and famine since 1983.  www.persecution.com