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Sri Lankan Supreme Court Rules Parts of Anti-Conversion Bill Unconstitutional

The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka recently ruled that certain sections of a proposed legislation aimed at curbing religious conversions are unconstitutional.  According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, the Supreme Court deemed sections 3 and 4b of the bill, in violation the constitution of Sri Lanka . The law was proposed by Buddhist Monks, belonging to the National Heritage Party. Iit would punish, with imprisonment and fines, people convicted of using force, allurement or fraudulent means to convert a person from one religion to another. The bill now moves to a Parliamentary Standing Committee for deliberation.


Churches challenged to catch up with information 'revolution'

In Korea the National council of Churches marked their 80th anniversary. Speaking at the celebrations. Bishop Rolf Koppe, head of ecumenical affairs at the Evangelical Church in Germany spoke at the event and challenged churches to catch up with the information revolution. According to Ecumenical News International Bishop Rolf Koppe  said that churches worldwide need a much more active media and information system in order to keep up with the communications revolution. Koppe continued, "In the last ten years a revolution took place through the invention and introduction of the Internet and very effective mass media broadcast stations like CNN and BBC World, Still, only if there is a conflict or a war which includes religions is there some background information about the history or the presence of religion.

Olympic evangelism is difficult

In Greece the Olympic village is out of bounds for open evangelism, this according to Mission Network News. Christian counsellors have been instructed to refrain from proselytising and they must not exert religious pressure on athletes. Dietmar Ness of the German evangelical ministry SRS is an accredited counsellor in the Olympic Village and he confirms the given instruction but is happy to abide by these rules as he is convinced that it is better to talk personally to individual athletes than handing out material. Anonymous distribution of evangelical literature and videos is not permitted and Bibles are only to be given to athlete if they specifically request one.



ADRA Provides Afghan Schools with Water, Sanitation

In Afghanistan, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, or ADRA, recently began a project to provide clean water and sanitary conditions in northern Afghanistan.   The project will focus on digging wells and improving conditions for over 13 thousand students from 50 schools in the area.  Dr. Peter Jaggi, Country Director for ADRA Afghanistan, comments:


          <“We have programs; we do wells in the northern part of Afghanistan, so it’s over 80 wells.  It’s also a kind of a health education to motivate people and to make them understand the relation of clean or dirty water and sicknesses.  These projects are funded on one side by the German government, it’s also paid by UNICEF, and to a smaller degree also by the ADRA headquarters.”>


The vast majority of people in Afghanistan do not have access to clean water and as a result, diseases such as diarrhea and cholera run rampant across the nation.



Anglican Church in Zimbabwe Evangelizes Young People / Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Hits out at Defiant Church Leaders


In Zimbabwe The Anglican Church has recently begun an effort to reach more young people across the nation.  The Anglican Communion News Service reports that the effort includes all people in Zimbabwe but is especially targeted at those under the age of 25, who make up a full third of the population of Zimbabwe.  The effort aims to train young people on numerous aspects of church operation so as to involve them directly in their local congregations.


Also in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe recently criticized Catholic archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo,  for speaking with foreign governments, rather than Mugabe’s government, about Zimbabean issues.  Ncube has alleged that the Zimbabwean government is misleading the public about the severity of food shortages in the nation.



Philippine Religious Leaders Meet to Discuss Terrorism


In the Philippines, leaders from both the Christian and Muslim faiths met with Philippine government officials recently to discuss terrorism and ending religious violence.  According to Mission Network News, the talks come on the heels of 17 Islamic extremists from the Abu Sayyaf being sentenced to death for kidnapping and killing Christians in the southern Philippines.  Muslims make up only seven percent of the mostly Christian nation.


US Lutheran Membership Slides Below 5 Million


In the United States, the total combined membership of the Lutheran Church has recently fallen under the 5 million mark for the first time since the foundation of the denomination.  Ecumenical News International reports that the Lutheran Church experienced a 1 percent decline in baptisms in 2003, sending the membership total to a new low of roughly 4 million, 9 hundred 80 thousand.


Brazil Becomes Top Bible Publisher in World


Brazil has recently become the foremost publisher of Bibles in the world, thanks to a decade of religious fervor and evangelism.  According to the Associated Press, the total number of Bibles published by the World Bible Society last year was 21 million, of those 4.2 million were made in Brazil, and an additional 1.5 million were printed by Brazilian publishers outside of the World Bible Society.  Reasons for the increase in Brazilian Bible publishing include the rapid growth of evangelical churches, a national tradition of Bible ownership and economic condition that allow for low-cost publishing.


North Korea Wants Illuminated Church Crosses Removed


In the Korean Peninsula, officials from North Korea recently demanded the removal of enormous neon crosses from just across the border in South Korea.  The Reuters News Service reports that in exchange for removing the crosses, North Korea would in turn remove massive pro-communist rock carvings on its side of the border.  North Korea’s motive for wanting the crosses removed remains unclear.  The removals will not begin just yet however, as talks between the two countries have stalled.



And Finally,


Christian “American Idol”-Style Show Coming to TBN


In the United States, the Christian Trinity Broadcasting Network, or TBN, recently announced plans to launch a Christian adaptation of the popular television show “American Idol.”  The new program, titled “Gifted,” is scheduled to begin in October and will feature 24 contestants from across the US, with the winner receiving a recording contract.  A TBN bus tour is already underway to gather the contestants, who will then be flown to Hollywood for the final competition.


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