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Religion Today Summaries - September 21, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - September 21, 2004

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

  • Five Afghan Men Who Had Converted To Christianity Have Been Killed

  • Christians In China Appeal Labor Camp Punishment

  • Funeral of Slain Haitian Pastor, Popular Radio Host Draws

  • Saudi Arabia Summons Jailed Indian Christian to Court

Five Afghan Men Who Had Converted To Christianity Have Been Killed
Charisma News Service

Five Afghan men who had converted to Christianity have been killed since June in separate incidents near the country's eastern region. A Taliban spokesman reportedly called Reuters in July to announce the murder of Mullah Assad Ullah in Ghazni province. "A group of Taliban dragged out Mullah Assad Ullah and slit his throat because he was propagating Christianity." "We have enough evidence and local accounts to prove that he was involved in the conversion of Muslims to Christianity." Ullah was baptized secretly nearly three years ago. The murder of another Christian convert who had gone to visit Ullah's family was confirmed on Aug. 7. The body of Naveed ul-Rehman was discovered in early August near his abandoned car in Awdand. Three more Afghan Christians were stabbed or beaten to death in separate incidents in July. Each of the men left behind a wife and several children. The three had been accused by their attackers of studying the Bible, praying in the name of Jesus or associating with other Afghan converts to Christianity. Adopted in December, Afghanistan's new provisional constitution does not allow religious freedom for its citizens. The document declares Islam the religion of the state, with all laws required to conform to the tenets of Islamic law. (http://www.charismanow.com)

Christians In China Appeal Labor Camp Punishment
Xu Mei, Compass Direct

The relatives of three Christian men being held in labor camps in mainland China have appealed to local authorities for an explanation of their crimes. A written appeal was also sent to Christians in Hong Kong in May 2004. The appeal reveals the ignorance of many officials in rural China concerning Christianity. It also demonstrates the injustices suffered by believers in the Peoples Republic of China. All three men hail from Guangxi in southwestern China. They were sentenced to “re-education through labor” for the crime of belonging to an unregistered church. This appeal shows that the basic attitude of Chinese authorities towards Christianity has not changed despite the government’s claims of religious freedom in China. House churches are still being harassed by local authorities and Christians are still being sentenced without trial to “re-education through labor” camps. The appeal seems doubly ironic in the wake of China’s rejection of the annual report issued by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Released on September 15, the report criticized China for continued abuse of religious freedoms. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan denied the allegations, and said China firmly opposed “the U.S. practice of interfering in the religious affairs of other countries.” Quan also claimed that “Freedom of religious belief is protected by China’s constitution and other laws.”

Funeral of Slain Haitian Pastor, Popular Radio Host Draws Thousands
Charisma News Service

Tens of thousands of people attended the funeral of a slain pastor this past Sunday, calling on authorities to do more to combat crime in Haiti. Jean-Moles Lovinksky Bertomieux, who hosted a popular Christian radio show of songs and prayers, was shot Sept. 13 on his way to work in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Police have arrested three suspects, who are accused of shooting the pastor after trying to rob him. Held at an amphitheater near the National Palace, the funeral was postponed Saturday after tens of thousands tried to attend, underscoring frustration with crime in a country where rebels who ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide six months ago still patrol some towns. Bertomieux had worked at Radio Caraibes for 20 years and was host of "La Manne du Matin," or Morning Manna. Joseph Guyler Delva, director of the Haitian Journalists Association, said Bertomieux's radio show was perhaps the most listened to program in Haiti, a Caribbean nation of 8 million people. "Everyone listened to him, even those not from the Protestant church," Delva said. A missionary, who asked not to be named, added: "Keep praying for Haiti. There have been a rash of assassinations lately and a number of pastors have received threats and some are going into hiding." (http://www.charismanow.com)

Saudi Arabia Summons Jailed Indian Christian to Court
Compass Direct

Brian O’Connor, a Christian guest worker from India, was produced before an Islamic court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 15, nearly six months after he was arrested, tortured and jailed for allegedly “spreading Christianity” in the strict Islamic kingdom. O’Connor’s hearing occurred just hours before U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell named Saudi Arabia as one of eight “countries of particular concern” for its “gross infringements of religious freedom.” The U.S. State Department’s annual religious freedom report on Saudi Arabia noted that “non-Muslim worshippers risk arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation and sometimes torture.” During his 90-minute hearing, O’Connor was informed for the first time of the legal charges against him, which include possession of alcohol, possession of pornographic movies and preaching Christianity. It was not clear whether any evidence was produced to support the possession charges. O’Connor himself has acknowledged that he led Bible studies for expatriate Christians in his home.