Religion Today Summaries - October 28, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 28, 2005

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

  • Indian Court Deliberates Dalit Christians' Equal Rights Demand 

  • Human Rights Agency Denounces Persecution In Asia

  • FRC Warns Against Anti-Christian Bias in Post-Hurricane Education Funding Bill

  • Quake Survivors Crying Out For Supplies

Indian Court Deliberates Dalit Christians' Equal Rights Demand
Allie Martin and Jenni Parker, Agape Press

The Supreme Court of India could soon decide to forward a case to the nation's Parliament -- a case the outcome of which may extend civil rights to Christians in that society's lowest social class. For decades now, Christians in India's lowest caste, known as Dalits, have been denied the right to hold government jobs or to receive many other benefits and privileges enjoyed by Dalits of other faiths. That could change, however, if new legislation granting basic rights to Dalit Christians is approved. Last week, India's Supreme Court said it would hear the matter this week and possibly forward it to Parliament. Human rights and religious freedom activists have pointed out that, while amendments to India's Protection of Civil Rights Act have ensured that Dalit Sikhs and Buddhists were covered by the definition of "persons" mentioned in that law, Dalit Christians have enjoyed no such protection. The Indian government stipulated years ago that Christians Dalits would not be afforded even the most basic rights in society, and would not have access to the benefits of the quota system. It is the Dalit Freedom Network's hope that the Supreme Court of India will acknowledge the injustice of the current situation and urge Parliament to redress the discrimination.

Human Rights Agency Denounces Persecution In Asia
Wolfgang Polzer, Assist News Service

A human rights organization has denounced the persecution of Christian missionaries in Asia. According to the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) in Frankfurt, Germany, they run a high risk of discrimination if they exercise their right to proclaim their religion. The organization emphasizes that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations in 1948 protects missionary activity. Among the signatories are some of the states with a high degree of persecution such as India, Vietnam and the People's Republic of China. Vietnam has a "long tradition of persecution" according to ISHR. The clergy of the officially recognized Protestant associations in South and North Vietnam as well as non-registered house churches are subject to discrimination by the Communist regime. This year houses of missionaries in several regions have been burnt to the ground, according to ISHR. Missionaries working among ethnic minorities in the mountainous regions of North and Central Vietnam have been imprisoned, tortured and assaulted if they refused to abandon their faith. Some rice fields belonging to Christians were confiscated and handed over to party officials. Some districts had been declared "free of Christians". ISHR is concerned that the central government in Hanoi is not able to contain local authorities. Anti-conversion laws in some Indian states ease the persecution of Christians, according to the human rights organization.

FRC Warns Against Anti-Christian Bias in Post-Hurricane Education Funding Bill
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A pro-family leader says a new U.S. Senate bill designed to aid hurricane-displaced students contains language that assails private and religious education. The measure sponsored by Republican Mike Enzi and Democrat Ted Kennedy would allow both public and private schools to seek up to $6,000 reimbursement for each displaced student served; however, the proposal forbids using the aid for "religious instruction, indoctrination, or worship." Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC) believes the bipartisan education funding bill discriminates by restricting the use of the funding to support of secular educational activities. And, he contends, in so doing, the measure is unfair to those Christian and other private schools along the Gulf Coast that have opened their doors to accommodate student overflow from the public school system.
"What the government is saying" with this measure, Perkins asserts, is that "a private religious school cannot receive any of the money that might follow that student because [the government is] fearful that [the school] might indoctrinate students in religion." He sees this as just one example of the pronounced bias against religious schools arguably contained in the proposal.Some liberal critics of the Enzi-Kennedy proposal oppose it because they see it as a voucher bill. Meanwhile conservatives like Perkins challenge it largely on the basis of fairness. (

Quake Survivors Crying Out For Supplies
World Vision

World Vision continues to rush emergency aid into Pakistan following one of the worst earthquakes in history, which left over 80,000 thousand people dead and millions more in need of food, water and shelter. Aid trucks carrying water, blankets and other supplies arrived in the devastated town of Balakot amid scenes of desperation. World Vision staff have told us that survivors are crying out for supplies with hands outstretched, pleading for anything that could be given. World Vision has organized flights from Australia, Germany, Dubai, Italy, and Korea to bring in more emergency aid, including tents, blankets and medicines, in addition to procuring supplies locally. Your help is urgently needed today. It is bitterly cold in this region, and children and families desperately need food, blankets and tents to survive. Please give through our SAVE Fund to meet urgent needs. It doesn't take much to help save a life. (