Floods Leave 40,000 Homeless in Southern Sudan

Heavy rains in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal in Southern Sudan have caused the Kuom River to overflow in the town of Aweil, driving tens of thousands of people into the bush. This is in addition to 50,000 who fled the fighting in May between government and southern troops in the oil-rich Abyei district.

As conditions deteriorate, high water levels increase the threat of cholera, typhoid and malaria.

The UN recently announced that Sudan ranks in its top ten list of "Hunger's Global Hotspots." At the same time, citing "relentless" attacks on food convoys, along with severe budget shortfalls, its World Food Program threatened to stop air services to Darfur this week. More than 300 humanitarian agencies depend on UN flights, which currently deliver emergency supplies to three million people.

"We currently serve over 80,000 Darfur refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in the Bahr el-Ghazal region," said Brad Phillips, president of the Persecution Project Foundation. "Although they may not be directly affected by the WFP cutbacks, more refugees in Darfur will flee to our area of operations on the border, putting a greater strain on our resources. We're going to need all the help we can get."

"Personhood" Amendment on the Ballot in Colorado

When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun authored the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide, he acknowledged that if the definition of "personhood is established" to include the unborn, then the case for abortion rights "collapses" because the unborn's "right to life would then be guaranteed" by the Constitution.

On Nov. 4, voters in Colorado will decide whether to add an amendment to the state constitution stating that "the term person' or persons' shall include any human being from the moment of conception." It is the first time in U.S. history that citizens will vote on such a proposal.

The amendment takes aim at Roe without even mentioning the word "abortion" and marks a new strategy in the nationwide abortion debate. Supporters believe that this could be a turning point in the pro-life movement.

Baptist Press

Violence Against Christians in India Is Spreading Out

Still reeling from violence in eastern India's Orissa State, Christians are suffering major blows in two additional states. As the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) revised its estimate of deaths from two weeks of recent violence in Orissa State from "more than 100" to 53, Christians are facing new attacks in southern Karnataka State and central Madhya Pradesh State. Thousands of houses, churches, and institutions have been damaged or destroyed in the violence that began after members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP) led a funeral procession of murdered VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples on Aug. 23, stirring up anti-Christian sentiment. Maoists have since claimed responsibility for the murders, but the Hindu extremist groups continue to blame Christians. Despite a stream of meetings by Christian and rights groups with high government officials in Orissa State. Meanwhile, at least 20 houses were burned in one night and 70 Christian families were forcibly "reconverted" to Hinduism.

Compass Direct News via HCJB Global NewsUpdate


Homosexual Agenda In Brazil Suffers Serious Defeats

Despite the official support of President Luiz Lula da Silva, the homosexual movement in Brazil has suffered serious recent defeats in two cities in the state of Rio de Janeiro as well as the national Chamber of Deputies, Brazil's lower legislative house.

The first occurred on August 10th, when Zenobio Fonesca, a candidate for the Niteroi city council, won a suit against a law providing pensions for "partners" of homosexual city employees. Citing articles from the federal and state constitutions, Fonesca said that marriage was a union between people of the opposite sex, and therefore, any other relationship could not be granted benefits.

Then on Aug. 21, the homosexual agenda suffered a major defeat at the national level in the Chamber of Deputies, when the chamber voted on the National Adoption Law. Despite direct pressure from the Secretariat for Human Rights, which is directly linked to President Lula, Catholic and Evangelical deputies managed to remove the expression "homosexual couple" from the bill. The expression would have made it possible for homosexual couples to adopt children.

Such opposition is a reminder that, despite enthusiastic support from Brazil's president, large segments of Brazilian society are opposed to the homosexual political agenda.


Episcopal Bishops in California Seek to Defeat True Marriage

All six Episcopal Church bishops in California have taken up arms against Proposition 8, an amendment that would change the California Constitution to preserve the integrity of marriage as being between one man and one woman, according to the Sacramento Bee. Proposition 8 will be voted on in the general election.

The group includes Steven Charleston, assisting bishop of California, who when asked whether he would yield to a call from the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion to return to traditional marriage values, said that he "would accept schism" rather than abandon the homosexual agenda.

In contrast, a large number of faith communities in California have publicly united in avid support of Proposition 8, and are warning voters that the continued dominance of homosexual "rights" in California law will inevitably lead to the marginalization of religious rights.

Proposition 8, would reinforce the wishes of 61% of California voters who supported true marriage in 2000. The California State Supreme Court overturned the popular vote earlier this year by legalizing same-sex "marriage," outraging Californians who complained that a handful of activist judges managed to hijack the democratic process. Accordingly, members of religious communities across California have banded together to support Proposition 8 in an interfaith political advertising campaign on a scale unsurpassed in California's history.

Meanwhile, the ACLU is reported to have chipped in $1.2 million to the anti-Proposition 8, pro-gay-marriage war fund, according to a Baptist Press news release. Fundraising has been said to be the key to the success of the two campaigns in what is expected to be a very tight race. and Baptist Press

New Iranian Death Penalty Law a Threat to Christians

Iranian citizens are threatened by their own government's recent moves toward instituting a penal code that for the first time would legally enshrine the death penalty for so-called apostasy against Islam. If the code is approved as expected in parliament, Christians and members of many religious minority communities could be subject to death sentences.

Christians have been subject to arbitrary arrest and are threatened. The Iranian government this month leveled apostasy charges against two reported Christians, Mahmoud Matin and Arash Basirat. They were among more than a dozen reported Christian converts who were detained in the southern city of Shiraz in May; the others have been released but informed that legal cases remain pending against them. Five more Christians were arrested in August, including Ramtin Soodmand, the son of Assemblies of God pastor Hossein Soodmand, who was executed in 1990.

Because of the Iranian government's egregious and systematic violations of religious freedom and other human rights, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has continually recommended that the U.S. and its allies pressure Iran to end such persecution & release religious prisoners.

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Americans Vague on Who Evangelicals Are

The Christian Post reports that the "evangelical" category is harder to define than one would think, even among those who describe themselves as part of the group. A new study by Ellison Research shows that 36 percent of average adult Americans have no idea what defines an "evangelical Christian." "I'm not sure; all I can think of is Billy Graham," said one 40 year-old woman from Florida who does not attend worship services, in the survey. Fourteen percent of those who described themselves as evangelical still couldn't give a definition. Richard Cizik, vice president for Governmental Affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals, admitted that the category does not have an exact definition.

Religion Today Summaries


Iran House Churches Continue to Grow Despite Persecution

ASSIST News Service reports that a major crackdown against house church Christians is proceeding in Iran. And while the Islamic government could halt its nuclear program if it wanted to, it's finding it's incapable of reversing the rapid spread of Christianity there. Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs explains: "The people look around, they see the poverty, they see the discontent, they're not happy so they have questions. Why isn't it working out, we're doing it the Islamic way, why isn't our country great? So, they are ripe to hear a new way." He continued: "The church is exploding in terms of numbers, but it is coming with a price. The people are arrested, they're harassed, they're persecuted, in some cases they are beaten severely. It is not an easy pathway."

Less than one half of one percent of the Iranian population is Christian, said Gary Lane, correspondent for CBN News International.

Religion Today Summaries

Pentagon to Spend $250 Million Studying Adult Stem Cells

As scientists continue to gather evidence that adult stem-cells hold great potential for healing and rebuilding human tissue, the Pentagon has announced it is investing a quarter-billion dollars into the research, reports The Pentagon plans to speed research in a five-year initiative to further unlock the ability of adult stem-cells to stop scarring, rebuild tendons and grow bones, in order to aid injured military personnel. Adult stem-cell therapy works by harnessing the patient's own regenerative ability, since the cells are harvested from the patient's own skin, bones, or wisdom teeth.

Col. Bob Vandre of the Army's Medical Research & Materiel Command, who authorized the initiative, expressed excitement at the possibilities of adult stem cell research. "I think regenerative medicine is going to change the world," he said. "I can see [it] increasing quality of lives, and becoming a huge technology that'll completely change the way we do medicine throughout the country."

Dr. David Prentice, senior fellow for life sciences at the Family Research Council, said there is little to suggest that embryonic stem-cell research carries the same promise, since only adult stem-cells have a proven track record. "There's such an obsession in the U.S. with embryonic stem cells," said Prentice. "About all embryonic stem cells have done is make tumors in rats."


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