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Trafficking Report, Jewish Immigrants, Amish Case & Sulawesi

Trafficking Report, Jewish Immigrants, Amish Case & Sulawesi

In Today's Edition:

ERLC, Others Displeased at New Trafficking Report ... (BP)--The U.S. Department of State's second report on trafficking in people elicited strong criticism from some of the advocates of the legislation that mandated the yearly assessment. The Trafficking in Persons report, released June 5, rated 89 countries on their efforts to deal with trafficking, a worldwide problem that has been estimated to involve from 700,000 to four million people. Women and children are the primary victims of traffickers, who coerce their victims into such practices as prostitution, sex tourism and forced labor for financial gain.

The Department of State listed 19 countries in tier three, which consists of the governments that are not making notable attempts to address trafficking in their borders. There should have been more countries in tier three, and some in tier one should have been lower, critics said. The report is a "deplorable shirking of responsibility," said Shannon Royce of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "The Department of State is more worried about maintaining diplomatic relations than about stopping the horrendous trafficking of women and children around the world."

Mariam Bell of The Wilberforce Forum said in a written statement, "By not condemning the nations that deserve the denunciation of a civilized people, the State Department's TIP report is an insult to women and children in places like India, Thailand and Vietnam -- some of the world's worst offenders -- leaving them subject to horrendous exploitation, abuse and betrayal." To read the rest of this story, visit http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=13522


Christian Donors Bringing 400 American Immigrants to Israel ... Close to 400 North American Jews will immigrate to Israel on July 9, thanks to Rabbi Joshua Fass and Nefesh b'Nefesh, an organization he created that finances immigration with the help of private donors, including Christians. According to The Jerusalem Post, this marks the first time in almost 25 years that such a large number of North American immigrants have arrived at one time.

Financial backing for the 400 came from a $2 million grant from the International Fellowship of Christian and Jews (IFCJ). According to Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, IFCJ president, this is the first time American Christians are funding Jewish immigration to Israel. "In the past," he said, "the mainly evangelical Christian supporters of the organization had helped Jews from elsewhere immigrate." The Jerusalem Post noted that Eckstein credits the fellowship's 250,000 predominantly Christian donors, who give millions of dollars every year to fund a variety of projects to help Israel. "He added that many of the donors are children, elderly people, or single parents who themselves have limited means," the Post added.


Renewed Terrorism Against Christians In Poso ... A bus traveling from Palu to Tentena in Central Sulawesi with about 45 Christians on board was bombed June 5, killing four. Dr Jeff Hammond, with Indonesia for Christ (IFC), reports that one of the dead was a Pentecostal pastor who was sent from Palu to assist IFC in rebuilding homes in the Poso region. Another 17 people were injured in the attack, including a mother and child who are among those on the 'critical list'.

Laskar Jihad reportedly boasts that 600 of its fighters are still active in the Poso region and Christians now fear a repeat of the terror that led to attacks on 21 Christian villages late last year. The presence of Laskar Jihad, and their ability to arm themselves with firearms and bombs, places the "Malino Peace Agreement" in a tenuous position. This latest attack has placed the large Christian town of Tentena on high alert.

Mona Saroinsong of the Crisis Center in Central Sulawesi reported that Christian leaders have "warned the police and the army in Poso to stop all public transport from and to Palu to operate, because the mass cannot be controlled any more." There are also concerns that younger Christians, who have been growing up in a culture of violence for the last four years may strike with a revenge attack.


Traffic Ticket to Amish Man Spurs Fight on Religion ... When the Pennsylvania state police stopped 22-year-old Jonas Swartzentruber, of an ultra-plain sect of the Old Order Amish, the officer ticketed him for not having an orange and red reflector triangle on his buggy's rear as night fell. According to a report in The New York Times, Swartzentruber, "arguing instead for a red lantern and plain gray strips of light-reflecting tape, quietly set a new course across the land, one that landed him in jail for three days."

The case has since sparked a constitutional fight. Swartzentruber refused to pay a $93 fine for not displaying the reflective triangle that Pennsylvania requires for slow vehicles. According to The News York Times, he considers "the gaudiness of the colors and the symbolism of the triangle a grave violation of the ordnung," the unwritten rules governing his sect. The group is considered to be one of the most "stringent" among Amish groups "devoted to different interpretations of the biblical call in Romans 12:2 to live symbol-free and plain and not conformed to this world."

Donald B. Kraybill, a sociology and religion professor at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., is an expert on Amish congregations and breakaway sects. For the 180,000 Americans who are members, the Amish buggy has become "an implicit religious symbol, signifying rejection of the automobile and other worldly trappings," said Professor Kraybill, who was a witness for the defense. "They have very serious objections to what looks to them like a symbol of the outside world being forced upon their sacred object."


Islamabad Hospital Discharges Last Church Blast Victim ... Compass Direct reports that Dr. Christy Munir was discharged from an Islamabad hospital this week, almost 10 weeks after a church attack in Pakistan's capital city almost took his life. He was the last of several local Christians critically wounded on March 17 to be released from hospital care. Munir was president of the International Protestant Church, where five people were killed and another 45 injured by a grenade attack in Islamabad.

According to Compass Direct, a second church family is struggling to recover from the attack, which killed their college-age daughter. Reeba Good was the only Pakistani killed, along with two Americans, an Afghan and the unknown attacker. She was sitting in church between her father, Edward, and a younger brother, Arshid, who last track of her when the attack began. They were later told by a diplomat's wife in the congregation that she had cradled Reeba's head as she lay on the floor dying, asking her gently, "Reeba, do you know where you are going?" "Yes," Reeba replied, "I'm going to my Lord Jesus."

Most of the wounded at the International Protestant Church were foreign citizens who were flown to their home countries by their governments or employers, with medical costs paid through their insurance companies. "But we have experienced such comfort in our sorrow," Reeba's older sister Avase said. "We don't want to miss honoring Jesus in this. We cannot tell you how, but He has taken all our mourning."