Religious and World News

A summary of various newswire sources by Angel R. Oyola


Religious Front

Robert H. Schuller, well-known TV evangelist and pastor of the 9,400 member Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, the largest Reformed Church in America congregation, has been fined $1,100 for disrupting a June 28 United Airlines Los Angeles to New York flight. According to a misdemeanor complaint, which was dropped when Schuller apologized and agreed to pay the fine, the Hour of Power preacher "made numerous negative comments" about the quality of the in-flight service and shook a flight attendant "back and forth a number of times, causing [his] head to move up and down in a vigorous manner." Schuller, 70, apologized August 13 for inconveniencing passengers and crew, but said, "I am a hands-on person." The attendant, 33 year old Khaleb Elabiad, filed a $5 million lawsuit August 22, saying he has suffered neck and back pain, and he has been too traumatized to return to work.

[Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money (1Tim 3:2-3, NIV).]


The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) reached an agreement with the IRS in order to preserve the ministry’s tax-exempt status.

CBN spokesperson Patty Silverman says the ministry, founded by Pat Robertson, and the IRS disagreed over the "tax significance of CBN activities." However, CBN lost its tax-exempt status for 1986 and 1987 due to an IRS ruling that three affiliate organizations were involved in political activities during those years. "CBN made a significant payment to the IRS to settle the dispute," reported Silverman.

[As Servants’ News has explained in previous issues, church organizations that receive IRS501c(3) tax exempt status have agreed to abide by all IRS regulations, one of which is refraining from political activity. The definition of political activity seems to be broader as the years go by. The constitutional protection of freedom of religion does not apply when a church group requests IRS501c(3) status and voluntarily puts itself under IRS regulation. —NSE]


For sexually assaulting altar boys, suspended Roman Catholic priest Rudolph Kos, 52, was sentenced on April 1 to life in prison. A jury in a civil suit ordered the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas to pay a record $119.6 million in damages for sexual abuse caused by Kos the year before.


In Bolivia, the National Bolivian Evangelical Association has filed suit to stop the government from enforcing a resolution issued by the vice minister of Foreign Relations and Worship. The resolution stipulates churches "cannot carry out unauthorized acts geared toward proselytism, propaganda, or collecting funds."


After Public Minister Rafael Arias Salgado ordered the closing of Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Tu Pueblo Television station in Madrid, Spain, along with nine of the sixteen evangelical radio stations of the Radio TV Amistad chain linked with the Church of God of Spain [Pentecostals], Protestants have raised an outcry of religious persecution following government orders to shut down evangelical radio and television stations. Spanish authorities say they are enforcing new regulations, not engaging in religious discrimination.


Religious broadcaster John Hagee, pastor of the 16,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, and the U.S. Postal Service are involved in a bitter dispute because it has "delayed, held, and even censored" his ministry’s mailings. Hagee also decreed that for ten months last year the Postal Service denied use of the nonprofit standard mail rate and charged higher rates.

[The above three stories are real reminders that religious persecution is not a thing of the past. There is still some freedom in most of the world, and still a lot in the USA, but it is gradually diminishing. —NSE]


World News

In the face of strong global criticism of its three nuclear tests Monday, India detonated two more underground nuclear devices today (5/13). The two new devices were exploded at 12:21 p.m. local time today in Pokharan, in the northwestern state of Rajasthan—the same site as the earlier tests, the government said. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said in a statement issued in Hindi, "Atomic energy and science and technology are not the preserve of any one nation and for the establishment of a just world order it is important that all nations must feel secure and satisfied."

The United States’ inability to foresee or forestall India’s nuclear tests, despite ample warnings, was a failure of both the CIA and U.S. foreign policy-makers, government officials said.


Referring to India’s nuclear testing, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said, "There will be a chain reaction ...There will be other countries that see this as an open invitation to try to acquire this technology. We have a real proliferation problem that’s taking place globally. This is only going to contribute to that. It’s going to cause other countries to find a rationale," he added. Cohen said the best response for the United States was to impose tough sanctions on India, to try to persuade other countries to impose sanctions and to press other countries not to follow India’s example. "Hopefully we can encourage and be successful in encouraging the Pakistanis not to follow suit. We can continue to urge the Russians not to transfer nuclear technology to the Iranians, for example." Cohen quoted a Pentagon report last year as saying about 25 countries now either have or are acquiring nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

[During the "cold-war" era of the 50’s and 60’s, people regularly practiced streaming to fallout shelters in case of attack. An attack never came, and today almost no one has any idea what to do. The above story shows that we live in a far more dangerous world than that of the 50’s and 60’s.—NSE]


U.S. President Bill Clinton called for India to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and said he’s imposing economic sanctions on Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s government for resuming nuclear testing near its border with Pakistan. The tests were "a terrible mistake’’ and "clearly create a dangerous new instability in the region,’’ Clinton said, in a joint news conference with Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The testing "demands an unambiguous response from the United States,’’ Clinton said, adding he’ll urge other countries to do the same.

Britain said recently it would not impose sanctions on India despite its condemnation of New Delhi’s nuclear tests. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov made clear Russia would not follow the United States in imposing sanctions against India in retaliation for its nuclear tests, Interfax news agency said. France, widely condemned for conducting a series of nuclear blasts in 1995-96, said Wednesday that it disapproved of India’s nuclear tests but opposed U.S. sanctions and would not impose its own.

[It is unlikely that countries or individuals will become serious about stopping the spread of dangerous weapons until they are used in some terrible way. —NSE]


Pakistan’s foreign minister said recently his country will test a nuclear device in response to India’s recent tests, but he did not immediately say when Islamabad would conduct the test. Pakistani Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan told The Associated Press, "It’s a matter of when, not if, Pakistan will test....The decision has already been taken by Cabinet."


Nearly 100 were injured in Israeli-Palestinian clashes in the West Bank. Palestinians protested to commemorate the anniversary of what Arabs call the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe" of Israel’s creation in 1948. Eight Palestinians were killed Thursday (5/14) in the bloodiest clashes with Israeli troops to come across the Gaza Strip and West Bank in 20 months, Palestinian police said. The protests marked the exile and dispossession of Palestinians on the 50th anniversary of Israel’s founding. It was the bloodiest day since an outbreak of Palestinian rage over Israel’s opening of an entrance to an archeological tunnel near Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City in September 1996. Sixty-one Palestinians and 15 Israeli soldiers lost their lives in several days of clashes and gun battles between Palestinian and Israeli forces. Chief of public security in the Gaza Strip, Abdel-Raziq al-Mujaideh, told Reuters, "The number of killed reached eight martyrs." He said the number of wounded in Gaza alone was around 80.


Palestinian president Yasser Arafat urged his people to overcome their bitter history and forge an independent state. As the street battles flared with protests over the "Catastrophe", he said "we have a place under the sun", in a radio broadcast heard by hundreds of thousands in the West Bank and Gaza. "We are asking for the return of the exiled to the homeland and to build an independent Palestinian state on our land [in other words, war on Israel!], on our land, on our land, as all humans do and to celebrate in our eternal capital al-Quds al-Sharif (Jerusalem)," he said. Palestinians stood in silence for two minutes just after noon (0900 GMT) when the recorded wail of sirens, reminiscent of Israel’s own commemoration of Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust, sounded across the West Bank and Gaza. "The killings of innocent citizens and the peace process by the occupation forces uncovers the true criminal face of the organized terrorist government led by Benjamin Netanyahu," the Palestinian Information Ministry said.


These past few days were marked by heavy incitement to violence against the Jews by The Palestinian Television which repeatedly screened scenes from the intifada [uprising], and played a jingle featuring the refrain, "Netanyahu, Netanyahu, we will burn the ground from under your feet." Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was sent a fax recently while he was in Washington, urging him to return home immediately. "The ground is burning," it said. Many believe his presence in Israel is crucial during a time of such upheaval. The last time there were riots of this sort, he was in Germany. NRP Knesset Member Tzvi Hendel said that there is nothing as ridiculous as the negotiation of additional transfer of territory to Arafat who, at the same time, is sponsoring and arranging this violence. Top IDF [Israeli Defense Force] officials are studying the developing situation in many territories. Defense Minister Yitzchak Mordechai instructed IDF commanders there to stay in contact with PA (Palestinian Authority) representatives, to reinforce positions as needed, and to act to prevent a deterioration of the situation in the field.

[This is paradoxical because during the upheaval in September 1996, the Palestinian Authority turned their machine guns and artillery on the IDF! —ARO]


Referring to the Palestinian diaspora, Israeli acting-Prime Minister Moshe Katsav told news reporters, "One can show understanding and sensitivity to the Palestinians’ plight, but under no circumstances am I ready to assume responsibility for this suffering. The Arab leadership is responsible for it, having declared war in 1948 on the 600,000 Jews (who lived here then). They recruited 20 Arab states to bring about Israel’s destruction." The war ended in a series of armistice agreements in 1949 with Israel controlling areas the 1947 U.N. partition plan had earmarked for the Arab state. According to Palestinian accounts, 700,000 landed in refugee camps.


Dainmer Benz of Berlin, Germany emerged with Chrysler as a new superpower in the automobile industry. Dainmer Benz (manufacturers of Mercedes Benz) was the same company to make Nazi weapons, tanks, trucks, etc. during the Nazi Hitler Regime.

[This merger will have severe long-term consequences for Americans. Suppose there is a coup in Germany and the new leader/s confiscate all assets, domestic and foreign, which they previously had under the capitalist regime (see The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 1960, p. 258). Do you think this can never happen? So far, it has: with Stalin, Mussolini, and Germany—in this century! —ARO]

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