Religion Today Summaries, January 26, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, January 26, 2004

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

  • New Anglican Network Offers 'Oversight' to Conservative Episcopal Parishes
  • Pakistani Christian Teenager Forced into Hiding
  • NC Politician Appears Fearless Over Anticipated Ten Commandments Clash
  • Hindu Violence in Jhabua Was Premeditated, Says Cardinal

New Anglican Network Offers 'Oversight' to Conservative Episcopal Parishes
Jim Brown, Agape Press

Traditionalist Episcopalians angered over the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop have officially formed the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. The Network's charter was approved on Tuesday at a meeting in suburban Dallas by about 100 delegates from 12 Episcopal dioceses across the nation.  It says decision by the Episcopal Church USA "have departed from the historic faith and order and have brought immense harm." Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan, the Network's president, says the group's bishops intend to oversee conservative parishes that are located in liberal dioceses. "We wanted to prosper the cause of 'adequate Episcopal oversight,'" Duncan explains.  "That is, [we want to] care for those in hostile places so we could see that they had adequate bishop's care."  The charter states that local congregations joining the Network from liberal dioceses will "come under the scriptural authority of a bishop" approved by Network leaders. Duncan adds that the Network is also seeking to "renew international ecumenical and North American Anglican relationships" that may have been damaged or severed as a result of decisions by ECUSA leaders on homosexual clergy and same-sex "blessing" ceremonies. Duncan and other Network officials contend they are not leaving the Episcopal Church USA, but that the church left them when it began allowing homosexual clergy and blessings for same-sex couples.

Pakistani Christian Teenager Forced into Hiding
Compass Direct

A Pakistani Christian teenager kidnapped for more than two weeks in November has been forced into hiding to avoid recapture by Muslim extremists. Leaders of a fanatic Islamic school have vowed to send Zeeshan Gill, who just turned 16 last week, to fight in Kashmir as a newly-converted Muslim jihadi (holy warrior). Abducted November 7 on his way home from school in Sargodha, the boy was taken to the Jamia al Qasim al Aloom Islamic school. Kept there under guard, Gill was forced to recite the Islamic creed, an act that makes one a Muslim under the tenets of Islam. The boy was beaten by his captors, who declared that they would kill him if he tried to run away or convert back to Christianity. In late November, four days before they planned to send him to Kashmir, the boy returned home to tell his mother what had happened. Mrs. Gill fled the city with Zeeshan, who remains in hiding at press time. According to Joseph Francis of the Lahore-based Center for Legal Aid and Assistance Settlement, the Gill family's dilemma is not unusual among Pakistan's tiny Christian minority.

NC Politician Appears Fearless Over Anticipated Ten Commandments Clash
Chad Groening, Agape Press

A city councilman in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, says he's hoping to find another city or county in his state that is willing to display a Ten Commandments monument that has been removed from his city hall. Vernon Robinson had placed the one-ton monument in front of the Winston-Salem city hall during the recent Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.  But on Tuesday, the city removed the monument, saying it was concerned the monolith would topple over.  Robinson says that would be very difficult. "It weighs almost a ton," he points out, "and the only you can knock it over is to hit it with a truck." Now the city councilman says he wants to find some government entity that is not afraid to take on the American Civil Liberties Union.  "We believe [display of the monument is] constitutional, and we're now trying to find a municipality or county in North Carolina that will put it in a public place so we can test it against the ACLU -- the 'Anti-Christian Litigating Unit,'" he says. Robinson, who is running for Congress in his North Carolina district, says he is disappointed that his fellow members of the city council decided to remove the monument. "A number of city employees said it was a beautiful monument and [that] they hoped that it stayed," he says. 

Hindu Violence in Jhabua Was Premeditated, Says Cardinal
Voice of the Martyrs News

Recent incidents of Hindu fundamentalist violence against Christians in the Diocese of Jhabua, India, were planned by extremists "to keep tension high," says Cardinal Telesphore Toppo. Hindu fundamentalists belonging to nationalist movements instigated riots in recent days in the state of Madhya Pradesh, say Catholic observers. They said the fundamentalists were looking for an excuse to attack Christian communities. The fundamentalists had accused the headmaster of a Catholic school in Jhabua of being responsible for the death and rape of a young girl murdered on Jan. 11. Police arrested a suspect, but not before extremists carried out acts of violence. Demonstrations and attacks appear to have been purposely planned by fundamentalists to keep tension high. Eyewitnesses said that most of the Hindu extremists involved were not local people. Two days after the death of the girl, Hindu fundamentalists organized protests in the city, distributing anti-Christian leaflets and posters. Rioting crowds attacked Catholic places of worship and institutions. On Jan. 14 more than 1,000 people attacked Jhabua School. The police said they had arrested a suspect in the murderer, but this did not stop the violence. "The defamatory anti-Christian campaign continues," Bishop Thottumarickal said. "Shameful anti-Christian posters have been put on walls all over the city, throwing mud on the Church. There is a danger of fresh outbreaks of violence."