Religion Today Summaries, October 15, 2002

Chad Nykamp

Religion Today Summaries, October 15, 2002

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

In Today's Edition:

  • Iranian Cleric Demands Death For Christian Leaders Who Criticize Islam
  • Retrial of Chinese Christian Leaders Ends in Life Sentences
  • Sharp Disagreement Among Church Leaders Regarding War With Iraq
  • Twelve Killed In Nigeria After Student Election

Iranian Cleric Demands Death For Christian Leaders Who Criticize Islam
Michael Ireland - ASSIST News Service

Iranian Muslim clerics have just called for three American ministers -- Rev. Franklin Graham, Rev. Pat Robertson, and Rev. Jerry Falwell -- to be killed, for statements each made regarding Islam.  In a sermon in a mosque in Tabriz last Friday Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohsen Mujtahed Shabestari called for the death of three prominent American Christian leaders who have recently criticized Islam, said The Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity (ISIC)  "In our opinion, to kill these three is necessary," Shabestari said.  The call was issued in response to an interview given by Southern Baptist Minister Rev Jerry Falwell on CBS television last week in which he described the Islamic prophet Muhammad as "a violent man, a man of war" and a "terrorist."  Shabestari was also calling for the deaths of Franklin Graham, who described Islam as "a very evil and wicked religion" and Pat Robertson who described Islam as a religion which seeks to "dominate and then, if need be destroy."

Retrial of Chinese Christian Leaders Ends in Life Sentences
Allie Martin, Agape Press
Leaders of a banned Chinese church have had their death sentences reduced -- but a spokesman for an organization that tracks Christian persecution says the Chinese government needs to release the Christian church leaders.  "We think [the reduced sentences are] a step in the right direction, but the Chinese government has not gone far enough," Lane says. "We believe these men and women are not criminals. All they want to do is worship freely without government interference -- and what the government has done is [to call] them criminals. Even though they've reduced their sentences, they're still in prison. In prison for what?"  According to VOM sources, SCC leaders have faced harsh treatment in prison. The court ruled the prisoners are forbidden to have Bibles, and copies of the Scripture sent by family members have been confiscated.

Sharp Disagreement Among Church Leaders Regarding War With Iraq
Art Toalston & Daniel Walker Guido – Baptist Press

Clergy who question the need to counter Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime "are wrong to speak on matters about which they lack the information and competence," Diane Knippers, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, said in a news release.  "Church leaders should teach, to both citizens and policy makers, the principles by which moral decisions may be made.  The "grave decisions" of war must finally be made by government and military leaders within their spheres of competence and authority."  Liberal leaders of more than 60 Christian organizations issued a statement Oct. 11 opposing a preemptive war on both moral and practical grounds.  Various evangelical leaders, meanwhile, have supported a preemptive strike on Iraq. A letter from five prominent evangelical leaders to President Bush in early October said a preemptive war is in line with the "just war" theory developed over centuries by Saint Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and other prominent Christian theologians. The letter's signers were Richard Land, Chuck Colson, D. James Kennedy, Bill Bright and Carl Herbster.

Twelve Killed In Nigeria After Student Election

( At least twelve Christian students were killed and over 50 injured in a riot at the Federal College of Education in Nigeria.  The rioting broke out after a Christian candidate won the annual student union elections.  Disgruntled Muslim students whipped up resentment among local Muslims who stormed the campus. Christian students were attacked and forced to flee.  According to official sources twelve were killed and many others were injured and required treatment at the local hospital. Some Christian women students were raped.  Such religiously motivated clashes provide a worrying reminder of the possibility of widespread religiously motivated violence during national elections scheduled for next year.