Religion news in brief

Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2000

Missionary group's leaders may stand trial for smuggling youths

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Three leaders of a missionary group may stand trial, despite their guilty pleas to charges that they smuggled youngsters into the United States to work at a church-run business.

A federal judge ruled that the leaders of the Word of Faith World Outreach Church, based in Woodbine, Md., could withdraw their pleas.

Joyce E. Perdue, Robert C. Hendricks and Elizabeth Brown were sentenced to prison last year. They appealed, saying they only pleaded guilty because they were not permitted to present their defense that church work is not subject to U.S. immigration law.

Prosecutors say the church brought youths from Estonia for training and schooling and planned to use them to clean homes and install office furniture. They contend the Estonians made $10 to $100 per week while church-run businesses netted thousands in profits.

Indian state orders security for Christian schools

NEW DELHI, India (AP) -- After the beating death of a Roman Catholic priest, security forces India's most populous state are providing protection for all Christian missionary schools, the Press Trust of India reports.

Police in Uttar Pradesh continue to investigate the June 6 murder of the Rev. George Kuzhikandan by unidentified attackers in Mathura, 90 miles southeast of New Delhi. Two days later there were four church bombings in India, though no deaths resulted.

Archbishop Alan de Lastic, president of the national Catholic bishops' conference, said India's Christians face their worst challenge in five decades.

Christians make up just 2.3 percent of India's population of 1 billion. Relations between the two religions have deteriorated the past two years as Hindi groups accused missionaries of using foreign funds to entice poor, low-caste Hindus. Christians deny the accusation.

Professors' group expresses concern on new Catholic college rules

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An American Association of University Professors convention has expressed concern about new church controls over U.S. Catholic colleges.

Last week's resolution came after the nation's bishops announced Vatican approval of the policy. The most controversial rule says any theology teacher must gain endorsement from the local bishop in order to teach at a church-related campus.

The professors' resolution urged the U.S. bishops to hold talks with administrators and faculty to make sure the college policy is applied in a manner ''consistent with the basic principles upon which higher education in this country rests.''

Just before the bishops passed the new rules last November, the academic freedom committee of the 45,000-member professors' association expressed ''deep concern and substantial reservations'' about the text and asked the bishops to postpone action.

That committee also commended the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Catholic Theological Society of America, College Theology Society and Catholic Biblical Association for their efforts on behalf of a more lenient policy.

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Methodists get advance look at new hymnal supplement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The United Methodist Hymnal, last revised in 1989, is already out of date.

The large denomination is preparing a supplement to the hymnal and has sent 70,000 samplers to give an advance look to delegates at regional conferences from May through July. The full song book, ''The Faith We Sing,'' is due in December.

The 285 pieces in the $10 softcover will include contemporary Christian ''praise choruses,'' world and ethnic music, gospel songs, new hymns and some old standards, including hymns that were dropped in the 1989 revision.

The most popular of the latter is ''Eternal Father, Strong to Save.''

Years from now, the next edition of the full hymnal ''will be different than anything we've seen before,'' said senior music editor Gary Alan Smith. He considers the supplement a first step.

Unlike the 1989 hymnal, the supplement will be available in CD-ROM and MIDI electronic format, and in an edition for worship bands as well as traditional organ or piano accompaniment.

Other titles in the supplement are ''Lord, Be Glorified,'' ''They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love,'' ''I'll Fly Away,'' ''Just a Closer Walk With Thee'' and ''His Eye Is On The Sparrow.''

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Muslims plan training for lobbyists

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a public affairs organization, has announced the opening of a Muslim training center for political lobbying, grassroots activism, public relations and community leadership.

The council said its Leadership Training Center for American Muslims, believed to be the first of its kind, ''is a reflection of the growing influence of Muslims and Islam in American society.''

The announcement came as the Muslim council opened new headquarters near Capitol Hill.

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