Churches Under Fire

On March 8, Muslim extremists beheaded DULAL SARKAR, a lay pastor and evangelist in Bangladesh, Compass Direct reports. Sarkar worked with the BANGLADESH FREE BAPTIST CHURCH IN JALALPUR VILLAGE. His wife, Aruna, immediately filed a case against the killers, and three suspects were arrested. Militants are now threatening Aruna and her children. The beheading is the first since last September, when a gang of assailants decapitated Abdul Gani, a respected Christian leader. • The bodies of well-known Pakistani Christian SHAMOUN BABAR, 37, and his driver, Daniel Emanuel, 36, were found dumped on a road in Peshawar on April 7. Their bodies were riddled with bullets, their noses and ears cut off. Local Christians and Christian Solidarity Worldwide believe the murders were motivated by religious hate. In March, a government committee recommended that the religion column in Pakistani passports be restored. It was removed last year following complaints by Christians that it engendered religious discrimination.

Legal Beat

The OREGON SUPREME COURT on April 14 declared invalid the marriages of 3,000 homosexual couples. Justices refused to decide whether gays and lesbians should have the same rights and benefits as married couples. The decision was a victory for voters, who last year backed Measure 36, an initiative that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. Multnomah County began issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals in March 2004. Gay-rights advocates can file a new lawsuit to obtain equal benefits, but the process could take several years. • Religion News Service

Related Elsewhere:

Compass Direct has more information about the beheading of Dulal Sarkar.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide has more information about the murder of Shamoun Babar.

The State of Oregon's full legal proceedings regarding Multnomah County's same-sex marriage licenses, including its final judgment, is available from the state's department of justice.

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