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Head of US church body arrested in protest over Sudan
In the US, the National Council of Churches
General Secretary Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar was arrested during a daily
demonstration that protested the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
In the Darfur region thousands of people have
died and over a million more have been forced into unsanitary refugee camps.
According to Ecumenical News International, General Secretary Edgar said his
arrest outside the Sudanese embassy in the US was meant to draw attention to
the worsening crisis in the region.
100 Church Leaders Arrested in China
In China a group
of over 100 house church leaders were allegedly arrested recently for
participating in an ‘illegal religious meeting.’ Mission Network News reports that no arrest
warrant or official identification papers were presented to the church members,
most of who are still in custody of the Public Security Bureau of China. It is believed the church leaders were
arrested due to the fact that their respective congregations were not
registered with the Chinese government.
A Voice of the Martyrs spokesman said the Christian work in China will not
stop and that they continue to pray for the safety of the arrested church
Swaziland Churches Overcome Uneasiness to
Christian churches, whose membership includes 90 percent of the Swazi
population, have stepped up efforts to educate the public about AIDS and sexual
health. Traditionally, such topics were
not something churches felt comfortable discussing, however the AIDS epidemic
has hit Swaziland
so hard that action had to be taken. A
project headed by the Swaziland Council of Churches and the United Nations
Children Fund is using churches to educate young girls about incest, AIDS and
their right to say no. This project
marks the first major attempt by a social institution in Swaziland to fight the AIDS crisis.
Pakistani Government drafts bill to change
In Pakistan the
government recently announced that it would introduce a new bill to revise the
so called blasphemy laws. Christian Solidarity Worldwide advocacy officer for
south Asia, Benedict Rogers comments:
sometime the situation in Pakistan regarding the blasphemy law has been very
much a concern for us and for other Christians and human rights organizations
anb President Musharaff recently made a speech earlier this year in which he
called for the blasphemy law and the Hidud* ordinances to be scrutinized and
he’s then going to stage further and put forward legislation to reform these
laws. And these laws are extremely
unjust and discriminatory laws which have resulted in suffering, not only for
Christians but for actually for many Muslims and other religious groups in Pakistan.”
The Blasphemy laws has been open to abuse Rogers continues:
biggest problem with the blasphemy law is that it is so wide open to
abuse. It requires simply the evidence
of one Muslim against another person to accuse them of blasphemy, and so it’s
frequently used in neighbourly disputes that have nothing to do with blasphemy
and a person can then be charged with blasphemy and put on trial, and the
ultimate penalty is death, although so far there haven’t been any executions by
the state. But frequently blasphemy7
suspects become targets for the extremists so even if they’re not killed by the
state, some of them have been killed by the militants.”
The reform of the
blasphemy laws does according to Benedict Rogers not go far enough:
we very much welcome the steps that t y 3691> he government and the President have
taken, we don’t feel they go far enough.
We believe the blasphemy law should be repealed rather than
reformed. What I have heard is that the reforms
will not lift, for example, the death penalty, and really, in effect, the
reforms are tinkering with a very dangerous law it’s self should be repealed.”
According to Benedict
Rogers the international community has probably played apart in bringing change
to the blasphemy laws:
the last few months there’ve been a number of deaths of Christians in Pakistan and I
think that has drawn this whole issue higher up, both to the attention of the
President and to the international community.
Though I’m certainly pleased that the President is taking this seriously
and I think it is in light of a number of very serious attacks on Christians in
800 Farmers to Benefit From
ADRA Training Programme
In Ghana roughly
800 farmers are receiving training from the Adventist Relief Agency, or ADRA,
on how to improve their farming techniques.
According to the AllAfrica news service, the training programme includes
instruction on building better barns and how to grow citrus fruits. ADRA is also aiding farmers with purchasing
fertilizer, seeds, plants and other equipment.
The man in charge of the programme, Agya Asamoah-Muno, said ADRA has
undertaken the project with goal of “empowering the people to be in charge of
their own destiny.”
Hong Kong: Youth Alive Seminar Empowers Delegates Against Drugs
Kong, roughly 350 young adults, many speaking different languages,
met for the Youth Alive seminar recently.
According to Adventist News Network, participants, who were spit into
groups of twelve, learned how to connect with God and to connect with people
their own age. The seminar, sponsored by
the Seventh-day Adventist Church,
was aimed at teaching young people how to communicate with their peers, many of
whom come from Buddhist backgrounds, about drug use and other issues.
African council admits church that once justified apartheid
In South Africa
the Dutch Reformed Church has been readmitted after four decades into the South
African Council of Churches. According to Ecumenical News International, The
Dutch Reformed Church was not part of the council due to its support of
'quiet diplomacy' on Zimbabwe
has failed, say SA churches.
Also in South Africa, the South African Council of
SACC, recently criticised South African President Thabo Mbeki’s
plan of “Quiet Diplomacy” towards the crisis in Zimbabwe. Ecumenical News International reports that
SACC officials have said that Mbeki’s plan has “clearly failed” and was
unlikely to get any results.
bishop advocates cell phone ban in churches
the Anglican Bishop-elect of the Ukwa diocese in the southeastern area of the
nation has forbidden the using of cell phones during services, saying that the
devices are a modern form of idolatry.
Ecumenical News International reports that Bishop-elect Kelechi Eze
has encouraged other Anglican diocese and churches of different denominations
to ban cell or mobile phones as well.
For Network 7 News I’m…