Academic journal article
By Hendon, David W.; Russell, Jeremiah
Journal of Church and State , Vol. 47, No. 2
The Supreme Ecclesiastical Council of the Armenian Apostolic Church asked the government to reverse its decision to legalize the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses. It also asked for restrictions on evangelical and Pentecostal missionaries.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukaschenko banned child survivors of Chernobyl from traveling to Western countries. Since 1990, about 15,000 children have been able to spend a month of vacation in Germany at the invitation of church families. Bishop Margot Kaessinann of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover said she was "speechless" in the face of the decision. The synod of her church rejected charges that the children were exposed to corrupting influences and appealed to the president to reverse the decision.
Pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko of the charismatic New Life Church in Minsk is facing prosecution for holding religious meetings without permission. The church is meeting in a cowshed because they lost the use of a "house of culture" for their meetings. The government says the church cannot meet in a building whose only approved function is to house cattle. Earlier church administrator Vasily Yurevich was fined about $1,500. He filed a formal appeal, but there was no response.
In response to a request from Prime Minister Paul Martin, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a nonbinding opinion on same-sex marriages. It said that the federal government had the right to define marriage and that a proposed law allowing same-sex marriages would be constitutional. The United Church supports same-sex marriage but allows dissent from that position. The Catholic Church denounced the Supreme Court's ruling. Also opposed to same-sex marriage are the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Islamic Society of Canada, the Seventh-day Adventists, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Church leaders criticized a call made by U.S. President George W. Bush during a visit to Canada for Canada to join in the building of the Ballistic Missile Defense. The Lutheran bishop of British Columbia said that Canada has the reputation of a peacekeeper and that joining in the missile initiative would jeopardize this.
World Council of Churches (WCC) General secretary Sam Kobia used a visit to Chile to meet with leaders of the country's growing Pentecostal churches. He also invited them to participate in the WCC Assembly that is scheduled to meet in Brazil in 2006. The WCC has been slow to come to terms with Latin American Pentecostalism, but observers of church affairs praised Kobia's initiative.
Police arrested Monsignor Julius Jia Zhiguo of the underground Catholic Church of Zhengding (Hubei Province) on 5 January 2005. Zhiguo became a bishop in 1980 and has often been in prison or under house arrest. He was arrested six times in 2004, provoking a protest from the Vatican.
A new law on religion came into effect on 1 March. The Ministry of Religious Affairs said that it was a big step forward in protecting religious liberty. It does promise to make it easier to register with the government, deal with property, and found social service projects. At the same time, however, it provides new provisions for punishing religious groups that do not register.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia refused to turn over the body of a well liked priest, Father Francisco Montoya, whom they kidnapped and killed. Montoya had entered their territory without their authorization. They accused him of being an informant for the army.
Authorities charged Shafik Saleh Shafik, the owner of a shelter for Coptic Christian girls, with holding sixteen-year-old Magda Refaat Gayed against her will, beating her and attempting to rape her. According to the girl's family, they had placed her in Shafik's shelter after shenad run away from home. They said they found her living with a Muslim group that was training her in Islam and that they had promised her she could marry a Muslim boy after conversion. …