Notes on Church-State Affairs
Hendon, David W., McDaniel, Charles, Journal of Church and State
China's leader Hu Jintao has been reaching out to religious leaders in his campaign to create "a harmonious socialist society." In October, he told the Communist Party's Seventeenth National Congress that they should not see religion as a threat to China's social and economic goals, but instead religion should be a positive influence in achieving its goals. In December, Hu led a study session in the Politbüro on the growing role of religion in China. According to an official report, he said, "We must strive to closely unite religious figures and believers among the masses around the party and government and struggle together with them to build an all-around moderately prosperous society while quickening the pace toward the modernization of socialism."
The German government undertook new steps that it hopes will eventually lead to the banning of the Church of Scientology. The Hamburg Ministry of the Interior took the lead in getting the interior ministers of the sixteen German Länder to call for investigations into the activities of the Scientologists. In 1997, the interior ministers developed a report stating that the group appeared to be a danger to "the free democratic order" but that more time was needed to evaluate the group conclusively. Prospects for doing something against the Scientologists improved when in 2004 a Cologne judge ruled against a Scientologist case brought to end surveillance. The Hamburg group is hoping that the new investigations will lead to a ban on the organization by 2008 or 2009. Scientologists see this as persecution, and some other Germans see the drive as unnecessary. Religion commentator Matthias Drobinski wrote that Scientology, in fact, is in decline in Germany. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in September that the Church is entitled to the rights and protections guaranteed under Article 9 of the European Human Rights Convention.
Archbishop Christodoulos of the Greek Orthodox Church has died. Christodoulos did much to reinvigorate the church by creating Web sites and radio stations and making sure that priests behaved appropriately. He also dealt with Pope John Paul II to improve relations with Catholics. He demanded and got an apology from John Paul II for past offenses such as the desecration by crusaders in 1215 of Hagia Sophia, the great church in Constantinople.
A report by the All India Christian Council supported by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India and the Christian Legal Association said there were hundreds of anti-Christian actions in Orissa state around Christmas. It said that many homes and churches were damaged or destroyed and four people were killed. Authorities reportedly did nothing to stop the violence, which was carried out by members of the Hindu extremist group Vishwa Hinud Parishad.
The Malaysian government said that a Catholic newspaper called Herald cannot use the word "Allah." Abdullah Mohammed Zin, a minister, also said that non-Muslim publications could not use the words solat (prayer), kaabah (the shrine in Mecca), and baituallah (house of god). The newspaper did not obey the order because its publishing permit does not contain this requirement, and it is suing the government over the case. The Evangelical Church of Borneo in eastern Malaysia is also suing the government because it has long used an Indonesian translation of the Bible which uses the word "Allah." According to the suit, the use of the word by Christians predates Islam.
There were reports that officials of the Internal security Ministry had confiscated some Christian books from bookstores either because of their use of the word Allah or because of their use of images of biblical prophets. Dr. Herman Shastri of the Council of Churches Malaysia said he did not see how these things could offend Muslims since the publications were not intended for them, but some Muslims …
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Publication information: Article title: Notes on Church-State Affairs. Contributors: Hendon, David W. - Author, McDaniel, Charles - Author. Journal title: Journal of Church and State. Volume: 50. Issue: 1 Publication date: Winter 2008. Page number: 183+. © 1999 J.M. Dawson Studies in Church and State. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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