Reports of religious persecution in China overblown, says registered church leader

"On the whole, generally speaking, the policy is freedom," says Han Wenzao, president of the China Christian Council. In America to speak with church officials here, Han held a press conference to publicly contradict a U.S. State department report and comments by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that religious persecution in China is on the rise. (See Christianity Today's July 1998 cover story, " A Tale of China's Two Churches")

Violence continues in Indonesia: 40 more dead

At least 40 more people were killed last week in continuing Muslim-Christian violence in the Moluccas archipelago.

Battlefield Earth a recruitment tool for Scientology, both overtly and subliminally, says anti-Scientology group

Based on a book by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and starring Scientologist John Travolta, the film contains "sophisticated subliminal messages … to get their movie patrons into Scientology and buy Scientology products," claims F.A.C.T.Net. Even if the subliminal accusations are untrue, the film does have strong Scientology ties, as reported by The Washington Post in an extensive article last November. And the Church of Scientology will reap the profits of the movie's merchandise, says Reuters.

Pastors accused of $7 million scam

Bill Cabe and Shelton Shirley each face 16 counts of money laundering and nine counts of wire fraud. With their HisWay Ministries, the two allegedly promised up to 500 percent return on investments in three months. Cabe earlier told the press, "We've been violated by the crook, and we've been violated by the government."

Christianity is Africa's hope, says South Africa news site

Christianity "may do more to stimulate economic growth in Africa than any politician's theories or international financial institution's prescription," says South Africa's News24. "It may also do more to fight HIV/Aids than any World Health Organisation project." The article, by Charlene Smith, says the evangelical churches' teachings on money, sexuality, and gender are fueling a huge religious movement.

Gene Eugene 'brought Christian music out of the Dark Ages' says Los Angeles Times obit

William Lobdell, the Editor of Times Community News, writes an extensive and honoring obituary of the Christian alternative music pioneer. He also reports that the cause of death hasn't been determined, is are not expected any time soon. (For more on Gene Eugene, his work, and his death, see the True Tunes Web site.)

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President of Nigeria says he will stay out of shari'a

President Olusegun Obasanjo believes the state of Nigeria "was violating human rights [by instituting the Islamic law] but this was not an issue for the government to get involved in," reports the BBC.

Muslims, atheists will broadcast messages in Oslo

"Allahu akbar"(God is great), the Islamic call to prayer, will sound from loudspeakers in Oslo's Old Town neighborhood every Friday. But atheists will also use the opportunity to sound out their own message, with a megaphone, from the rooftops: "God does not exist."

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