Views from the News
Stephen Baker, Manchester
The purpose of this page is to make believers aware of major developments that are taking place in the world today that may adversely affect Christians or their freedom to live and spread the gospel. Our objective is not to promote false teaching or ungodly people but to stimulate intelligent prayer and awareness of the issues that we are confronted with in an ungodly and condemned world. Please pray that in our day the 'word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified'.
FEARS FOR PAKISTAN'S CHRISTIANS
A 500-strong Christian community in a Pakistan border town was ordered to convert to Islam by the 18th of May 2007 or face death. The Barnabas Fund reported that letters were sent to churches and Christian homes in Charsadda in the North West Frontier Province. The Bishop of Peshawar said he was gravely concerned about the ultimatum. The threat came as an Islamic alliance tabled a draft apostasy Bill seeking to make the death sentence mandatory for men, and life imprisonment for women, who changed their religion three times. In a separate move, the National Assembly has dashed hopes for more lenient blasphemy laws. The bid would have commuted blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad to a five-year sentence rather than the death penalty or life imprisonment. There have been a number of cases where allegations of blasphemy have been used to settle grudges or persecute minorities.
Source: Church Times (18/5)
URGENT PLEA FOR R.E
A national strategy is needed to achieve 'the urgent need for renewal of Religious Education' in schools, colleges and universities, a professional and faith-based council has said. The Religious Education (RE) Council sounded the alarm because of 'widespread ignorance' about religion and beliefs. And there was deep concern that non-existent sixth-form RE in many schools, unqualified teachers and other factors meant young people are missing out on 'a basic entitlement to equip them to be informed and tolerant members of society'. Methodist Education officer Kathleen Wood said the absence of RE from the National Curriculum led to 'considerable variation in quality and uncertainty about the status of the subject'. The Council's three key recommendations were to monitor the quality of RE in all local schools; to provide intense RE training at regional level; and steps at national level to ensure statutory provision and a 'shared vision'.
Source: Methodist Recorder (24/5)
A QUARTER OF CHRISTIANS ARE VICTIMS OF WORK BIAS
In March 2007 the Daily Telegraph reported on a BBC survey which stated that a quarter of Christians in Britain today claim that they face discrimination at work. The poll of 604 Christians found that one in four feels discriminated against at work and one in five claims to suffer from bias in the community. A third of those surveyed complained that media reporting was biased against their religion. The conclusion of one of the Christian campaign groups (Faithwork) was that the church is suffering more than all other faiths in Britain. They state that 'there is an aggressive secularist agenda that says it is OK to support any group ending in 'ism', but it is not OK to support anything connected to Christianity’. EDITORIAL COMMENT: We should not be surprised that this is the case as the Lord warned us that if the world hated Him, it would hate His followers as well.
THE SCOTTISH NUS SEEK TO BAN TEACHING ON MORA RELATIONSHIPS
Members of the Scottish National Union of Students are attempting to ban a Christian course on relationships (The Pure Course) from taking place on university and college campuses. At the Annual Meeting of the Scottish NUS in Glasgow on the 26th of May 2007, a Private Members Motion called on delegates to pass a resolution banning the Pure Course on the basis that it is homophobic. The course, run by Christian Unions, is based on the orthodox Christian teachings concerning marriage, and teaches the importance of fidelity in relationships. It has been run on campuses throughout Scotland over the past 18 months. The Pure Course was suspended from being taught on campus by Edinburgh University at the end of last year following claims by the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans-gendered Society that it was discriminatory and breached Equal Opportunities Policies. However, the University, after examining the course, allowed the CU to continue to teach it on campus, rejecting the claims.
HEROD'S TOMB 'DISCOVERY'
An Israeli archaeologist has uncovered what he believes was the tomb of King Herod. Ehud Netzer, a professor at Hebrew University, discovered pieces of a limestone sarcophagus three weeks ago after spending 35 years exploring the site. The hill-top location at Herodium, eight miles south of Jerusalem, has long been favoured by religious scholars. Three digs have revealed sections of a stone platform on which Prof Netzer believes was a flight of steps. Described by first-century historian Josephus Flavius, these were supposedly used to carry Herod's body to its final resting place.
Sources: BBC online (8/5); The Times (9/5)
'KNOW THE BIBLE' DAWKINS ADVISES
Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins thinks children should be taught the Bible. And the author of The God Delusion even believes in the possibility of a transcendent intelligence behind everything. Dawkins, a frequently ferocious critic of religion, told The Times reporter Ruth Gledhill that he subscribes to 'Einsteinian religion'. He defined this as a 'reverence for the universe and life, which has nothing to do with the supernatural'. He was open to Einstein's belief in 'something that our mind cannot grasp' that is behind everything, but he wouldn't call it God. Prof. Dawkins said an understanding of the Bible was important to understand literary allusions in our culture. But he placed more trust in future scientists than in theologians to discover any 'gigantic intelligence' behind the universe. Source: The Times (10/5) EDITORIAL COMMENT: It is sad to see an intelligent man denying the truth that he obviously can see but does not want to acknowledge, Rom. 1. 19-22.