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Priest Boycotts His Trial for Rwanda Killings

In Tanzania, a Roman Catholic Priest has boycotted his own trial for genocide, dating back to the 1994 crisis in Rwanda.  Father Athanase Seromba is accused of offering shelter in a Roman Catholic Church to roughly 2000 ethnic Tutsis, then ordering the church to be bulldozed with the refugees trapped inside.  Those left alive after the demolition were reportedly clubbed or shot to death.  Seromba did not attend the opening of his trial this week in protest of the trial location possibly being moved to Rwanda.  The trial of Seromba is expected to last for several months.



Indian Christians decry 'coerced' conversions to Hinduism

In India Christian groups have condemned Orissa state in eastern India for failing to stop the much publicised re-conversion of Christians to Hinduism, flouting a state law that restricts conversions from one religion to another. Rev. P. R. Parichcha, president of the Orissa chapter of the All India Christian Council said to Ecumenical News International, that  "The government did nothing to stop it". According to Australian Broadcast Corporation Dozens of families are reconverting from Christianity back to Hinduism, by hard line Hindu nationalist. The re-conversions are occurring in an area where murdered Australian missionary Graham Staines and his wife had lived for 30 years, working with Lepers.




Nigeria's Christian leaders unite against corruption pandemic

In Nigeria,  church leaders have denounced a pandemic of corruption  that has been plaguing their country, The Church leaders argue that for it to be tamed, there must be a spiritual and moral rebirth, as well as a social and economic revolution. This revolution, they say, can be attained through adequate funding of anti-graft agencies, the speedy trial of identified corrupt public officers, tackling of poverty and unemployment, and timely payment of worker's wages. Dr Anthony J. V. Obinna, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Owerri in south- eastern Nigeria says to Ecumenical News Interntional that "Today, we are apparently back to those dark days of evil, oppression, terrible bribery and corruption, vote-stealing, election related murders and distortion of governance in the nation". The church leaders accepted that they too have a role to play in fighting the evil of corruption in Nigeria. They said the war against it can be won if religious and political leaders embark on self-examination, and become exemplary in their conduct.



Religious Bodies, Traditional Rules Urged to Support Government

A regional leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ghana, Pastor James Kwaku Badu, recently encouraged religious and secular organizations to assist the government of the nation as it continues the development of the country.  According the allAfrica News Service, Pastor Badu stated that the Adventist church is prepared to assist the government by constructing a new secondary school and hospital in the city of Sunyani, in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana.  Pastor Badu also said that the Adventist church has committed its self to combating HIV and AIDS in the Brong Ahafo Region through educational sensitization programs.




AWR’s Global English Language service is changing, here is more from DirectorVictor Hulbert:<actuality>


After a sixth month process of research and strategic planning AWR has decided to regionalise its English Language Service.  Africa already airs a substantial amount of locally produced English and this service will be enhanced from January 1, 2005.  Some new services will be developed within Asia.  At the same time the Global English Service produced from England will cease production at the end of the year.  The aim is for AWR listeners in the primary listening areas of Asia and Africa to be able to identify more closely with a programme that is locally produced and can address issues on a regional, rather than a global scale.  More specific details for listeners and how it will affect their listening habits will be provided at the end of October.



Horoscopes are new Religion in Britain


In the United Kingdom, a recent survey has found that more young people have faith in horoscopes than the Bible.  A satellite television channel affiliated with the Fox network surveyed three thousand people across the UK and discovered that more than half of the young people in the poll trusted horoscopes while less than 40 percent trusted the government.  The same survey found that people over 45 had greater faith in Tarot cards and palm reading than in the Government of the UK.  The survey was conducted to support the new television program Carnivale.




Iraqi Christians Seek Refuge in Syria

In the Middle East, thousands of Iraqi Christians are reportedly fleeing there homeland for Syria, due to fear of persecution.  According to Mission Network News, the exodus comes on the heels of bombings at five Christian churches and one seminary.  It is believed that the violence against Christians in Iraq is largely due to the idea that radical Islamists may group Christian interests with those of the United States.  Under the government of Saddam Hussein, Christians were able to freely operate in Iraq, since the US-led invasion however, radical Islamist insurgents have made Christian operations increasingly difficult in the nation.


And finally,



Debate on Whether to Tax Philippine Churches Heats Up

Facing a financial crisis, the government of the Philippines is looking into a proposal supporting the taxation of churches.  Ecumenical News International reports that the proposal comes on the heels of Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales’ challenge to the government to give up its “pork barrel” payments for gaining political favor.  While the current Philippine Constitution does not permit the taxation of churches and church-related institutions, such organizations represent a huge source of possible income as the Philippines are 80 percent Christian.  Many Filipino churches have encouraged donations to a public fund set up to fight the looming financial crisis.



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