Religion Today Summaries, July 14, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, July 14, 2004

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

  • Cuban Prisoner Savagely Beaten After Requesting to See Letters 
  • Cloture Vote Anticipated Today on Marriage Amendment
  • More Evidence Of Peacetime Atrocities Uncovered In Southern Sudan
  • Filmmaker Commits Money to Save LA County Cross

Cuban Prisoner Savagely Beaten After Requesting to See Letters
Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that a Cuban political prisoner was savagely beaten and tortured by prison guards earlier this week after requesting to see letters and cards of solidarity that had been sent to him from around the world. CSW said that after being thrown to the floor of the prison, kicked and beaten, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, also called Antúnez, who has been in prison for 14 years and is recognized by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, had both of his arms shackled and then pulled in opposite directions, resulting in bleeding from the neck and sustained difficulties in breathing.  The attack took place during a visit by relatives, including his sister, who said that she was also beaten on the back and neck as she tried to intervene. Jorge Luis had requested that the prison officials give letters and cards that he had received from around the world to his sister. The official refused. The attack began when Jorge Luis questioned the official's actions and would not remain silent about such injustice. Perez, aged 26, was arrested and imprisoned on March 15, 1990 and charged with "verbal enemy propaganda" for shouting "We don't want communism, we need reforms!" in a public square during the inauguration of the Fourth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Inside prison he suffered repeated beatings by the prison guards for his refusals to participate in mandatory Marxist "re-education."

Cloture Vote Anticipated Today on Marriage Amendment
Fred Jackson, Agape Press

Although predictions of failure abound, church leaders are calling on their supporters to continue to bombard senators with phone calls in advance of today's vote dealing with a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage. Senators on both sides of the debate have, for the most part, completed their speeches, and now all that remains is a vote on the amendment which confines marriage to being only between a man and a woman. In actual fact, today's vote will likely consists of a vote on a cloture motion by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as a way of ending a Democratic filibuster. But as pro-family leader Gary Bauer puts it, regardless of the specifics of the motion, there is only one way to interpret the results. He says senators who support traditional marriage will vote for cloture, while senators who support homosexual "marriage" will vote against cloture. Conservative leaders and Christians are vowing to hold those senators who show support for same-sex marriage accountable in November's election.

More Evidence Of Peacetime Atrocities Uncovered In Southern Sudan
ASSIST News Service

Persecution Project Foundation announced today the release of new photo and video documentary evidence of atrocities against civilians in southern Sudan's oil region. During its June Sudan relief mission co-sponsored by The Voice of the Martyrs in Bartlesville, OK, a team led by Persecution Project Foundation president Brad Phillips encountered more than 700 Shilluk survivors of a recent government-sponsored massacre in the remote village of Payuer in Northern Upper Nile, Sudan. Reports had leaked out that, from March 26, 2004 through until the second week of April 2004, 22 Shilluk villages had been burned and hundreds of people murdered while Government of Sudan (GoS) troops looked on. "They did more than look on," said Phillips. "Survivors told us that GoS soldiers in motorboats had fired on them from the Nile while government-sponsored militia attacked from the bush. We received testimonies that between 300 and 1,000 people were killed during these attacks. More died afterward from wounds and disease. Hundreds were abducted. Twenty thousand people were driven out of their homes, their villages burned. At the beginning of June, 700 Shilluks who had fled these attacks reached our distribution site in Payuer, where more than 85,000 internally displaced Christians have taken refuge this year." Phillips said. "All of the evidence is denied by Khartoum and ignored by the international community," Phillips said. "The bombardments, systematic killing, abductions, rape, forced displacement are continuing in Sudan, and in some cases, as our team observed in Upper Nile, they are still happening in the south. If Bashir's National Islamic Front is not stopped, as many people as they have killed in 21 years may die in Sudan during the next six months."

Filmmaker Commits Money to Save LA County Cross
Agape Press

Actor and filmmaker Mel Gibson is reportedly planning to pour vast amounts of money into an effort to keep a small cross in place on Los Angeles County's official seal. According to Australia's Herald Sun newspaper, the producer-director of the recent international box-office smash The Passion of the Christ intends to provide funding for a campaign by a conservative religious group to protest the removal of the religious symbol. Legal threats from the American Civil Liberties Union prompted LA County officials to consider the proposed removal or replacement of the Christian emblem on the government seal, a proposal that reportedly has Gibson, a devout Catholic, outraged. Recently the head of the National Jewish Christian Alliance Toward Tradition said the filmmaker had been talking with the interfaith group and had voiced his deep concern about the possible disappearance of the cross. Herald Sun sources report that Gibson has already committed up to $140,000 to a campaign to keep the cross on the LA County seal.