1. Monetary Union threatens bank holidays. The launch of
the Euro could kill off bank holidays. EU bank chiefs have so far agreed that Christmas
Day and New Years Day should be declared non-working. The implications would be that
financial institutions would be expected to open on the other days.
2. Barbara Crossette has highlighted the growing concerns in the United States over a
5000 year-old procedure which has subjected 100 million girls and women world-wide to what
she entitled in her book "Female Genital Mutilation". The question is being
asked if the practice, which still obtains in 40 countries, should be a matter for
governmental intervention of a painful custom or a matter of human rights concerns.
Legislation on March 30 1997 made genital mutilation a criminal offence in the United
3. The fall of hard line communism in Eastern Europe giving way to new found freedoms
is now being replaced with new restrictive laws as the Orthodox Church flexes its muscles
to what it sees as an invasion from the West EBF.
4. A campaign for the separation of church and state in North England was launched
calling for the de-establishment of the church of England and its attendant functions as
bequeathed by parliament.
5. Seventh-day Adventists in Pune, India, were urged to Defend Religious Rights for
all. Dr Watts, President of the Southern Asia Division said "that Adventists believe
in the rights of the majority and minority faiths alike."
6. Belem, Brazil. Legislative action in Brazil confirmed by Governor Almir Gabriel
ensures that state exams in Brazil region of Para will not be held on Saturday. This
action may have been a spin off from the Religious Liberty World Congress held in Rio de
Janeiro in 1997. "That congress was fundamental in the sense of clarifying my ideas
in relation to religious liberty and awoke in me the desire to present this project in
this area" said Goes.
A public announcement was made from the Palacio dos Despachos at which time Governor
Gabriel of the State of Para confirmed the "project of Law" which determines
that tests for college entrance examinations and public courses in the state are not to be
scheduled on Saturday.
Additionally, students who miss classes on Friday night and Saturday because of their
religious convictions can immediately make up for their absence.
For Jews, Seventh-day Adventist and other observers of the Sabbath as a day of rest
this governmental law is a historical moment" comments Eneas, Director of
Communication and Education for the Adventist Church in Brazil. ANN.
7. Dr Wilson Endruveit, Rector of the SDA Theological Seminary, speaking at the worship
service at the Seventh-day Adventist headquarters in South America, reacted to the
Popes letter calling for the observance of Sunday with the following comment:
"The proposition that Christians must naturally endorse civil legislation to keep
Sunday is contrary to the constitution of almost all countries that presuppose the
separation of state and church. Even though the popes appeal to attend church
frequently is understandable nothing justifies putting aside constitutions and the
commandments of God". ANN.
8. Beng Tang sends this clipping from the Observer (July 26) and written by Melanie
"The European Working Time Directive lays down the requirement for
one rest day in every seven but only as an average. To achieve this, it permits a choice
between taking a day off in a seven-day period or two days off in 14. Other European
Countries have settled on one day off in seven. The regulations before our parliament
permits this choice thus opening the way for employers to force employees to work through
Saturday and Sunday.
The deregulation of the Sunday Shops Act and the 40-hour week lend
themselves to making life more challenging for those claiming Sabbath privileges".
9. Metropolitan Gregorios Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church
welcomed the opportunity for greater cooperation with the Seventh-day Adventist Church
during a visit to the Adventist headquarters on July 2 1998:
For the Syrian Orthodox Church it is a new day to have a relationship
with the Adventist Church. We need to work to develop better relationships between
Christians" Ibrahim said. The Syrian Orthodox Church has 90,000 adherents and still
uses Aramaic in its services. ANN.
10. The Israeli Knesset (parliament) including Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu approved on May 20 1998 on a first vote a bill that "would imprison for
three years or fine US$13,700 anyone found guilty of preaching with the intent of causing
another person to change his religion".
This is a private members bill proposed as an amendment to the Penal
Code Clause 174 replacing an earlier bill that would have outlawed the distribution of
religious literature to encourage persons to change religions. ANN
11. A proposal was made for a new morality to replace God at the heart
of the school curriculum has been made by the government "guru" who heads the
standards unit at the Department of Education and Employment, Professor Michael Barber.
Professor Barber suggested the teaching of ethics and citizenship
should take over in schools for what he saw as the crumbling belief systems of
Christianity. Methodist Recorder (March 26 1998).
12. Paul Barker, a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Community Studies
pointed out in The Evening Standard May 21 1997 that a research conducted shows that skin
colour may not now be the most important difference among the New Britons -- Religion is
the big divide. 80% of Asians told the researchers they did not think of themselves as
"black". Most identified themselves by their creed Muslim, Sikh or Hindu.
The main prejudice the survey uncovered was also religious, not racial.
13. The Witness Oath should be changed to replace the risk of
Gods wrath with prosecution for perjury, a leading barrister said in October 1998.
It is believed that the oath is not as powerful as it used to be because Britain is now a
less God-fearing nation Nicholas Price QC told the BBC.
14. "State your religious affiliation" is unlikely to be
among the questions on the next National Census form. One of the reasons given is that
ethnicity is more relevant as a determinant of a persons identity than religion.
15. The US model of church-state relations underlines the importance of
equal treatment of religious organizations, the tide in Europe (not just Eastern Europe)
is towards the distinction between traditional and non-traditional religions. This trend
is largely due to fear caused by the rapidly changing cultural and political landscape.
Factors such as increased Muslim immigration, new religious movements, the reform of the
welfare state and the fall of the Berlin wall.
A distinction between traditional and non-traditional churches already
exists in the legal systems of many European Countries. In Italy, Belgium and Spain the
state "recognizes" a number of religious denominations (Belgium however have
classed SDAs among the cults). In Germany some churches are given the status of
"public cooperations" by the State; in Greece and in Nordic countries one
religion or church also receives preferential treatment. Professor Silvio Ferrari,
University of Milan.
16. There is a draft law under discussion in the Austrian parliament,
in addition to requests from other quarters to the European Parliament, that there be
regulations defining and identifying "sects".
17. The Rutherford Institute reported that officials in the Siberian
Republic are now trying to shut down a Lutheran Mission. In Moscow the Pentecostal Church
has been denied registration. In Macedonia only the Orthodox, Muslim and Catholic faiths
18. Religious Freedom suffered in California when Governor Pete Wilson
vetoed AB 1617, the Religious Freedom Protection Act.
The Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion and Civil Rights
Groups, AB 1617. The bill, supported also by Seventh-day Adventists, was designed to
provide broad protection for religious freedom from interference by government regulations
and policies that do not intentionally discriminate against religion but inadvertently
conflict with individual religious practices.
The local Seventh-day Adventists gathered more than 1600 petition
signatures and generated hundreds of calls, letters, e-mails and faxes to legislators and
The Wilson administration had opposed the bill because of its
application to prisons. Pacific Union Recorder.
19. Brussels. The Popes head will be allowed on Euro coins issued
by the Vatican under a European Union scheme (Charles Bremner writes). San Marino have
traditionally issued Italian lire. Coins with their own designs and Monaco has used the
French franc under an arrangement with Paris.
The Commissions proposal in effect admits the micro-states into
the monetary unions provided they abide by all rules and let Italy and France supervise
their coinage. Daily Mail, December 22 1998.
20. Christians targeted in Hindu Hate Campaign. Hindu fundamentalists
have stepped up a campaign of violence against Christians in Indias western state of
Gujarat. In the latest attacks two churches were burnt down in Sarat district on Tuesday.
The fresh attacks come at the end of a bad year for Indias
Christians who comprise about 2.5% of the population. Up to 90 attacks on their community
have been reported during 1998.
Over the Christmas four prayer halls belonging to the church of North
India were targeted in the Gujarat tribal area of Dangs. Daily Telegraph, December 31