The leader of the World Council of Churches is urging Pakistan’s president and prime minister to initiate measures toward the repeal of their controversial blasphemy laws, which critics say are often abused by extremists.
In his letter to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit recalled his organization’s past calls of concern over Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which he said are “fraught with danger that can be abused by extremist groups when dealing with religious minorities.”
“It has been proven in the past that the charges of Blasphemy law appear to be arbitrarily applied and at times founded on malicious accusations against individuals and groups,” Tveit wrote in his letter, dated Friday. more >>
The head of one of the world’s largest church bodies recently denounced the extrajudicial killings of two lay church ministers in the Philippines.
In solidarity with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, the World Council of Churches sent a letter to President-elect Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday condemning the killing of Benjamin Bayles and Jovelito Agustin.
Both victims were active lay ministers in their churches and known to be outspoken advocates of human rights. Bayles was a human rights advocate involved with peasants and worker organizations. And Agustin was a broadcaster who helped victims of illegal recruitment and defended workers’ rights. They were murdered by suspected paramilitary groups on June 14 and 15, respectively. more >>
The Edinburgh 2010 conference will open on Wednesday with the aim of providing direction for Christian mission in the 21st century.
Hundreds of leaders from around the world will gather in Edinburgh, Scotland, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first-ever global mission conference, Edinburgh 1910.
From June 2 to 6, mission experts will convene to discuss nine major themes, including Christian mission among other faiths, mission and post-modernities, and Christian communities in contemporary contexts. more >>
A Jewish human rights organization denounced an upcoming World Council of Churches’ peace event as “blatantly anti-Israel.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center was referring to the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, which begins Saturday and will run until June 4. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center, accused the WCC of never standing up for Israel in the 62 years of its existence but being “fixated” on the plight of Palestinians.
“It (WCC) never issued a single response to Arab attempts to annihilate it (Israel), to drive the Jews into the sea, to mass murder Jews at prayer through suicide bombings,” said Cooper. “It is remarkably fixated on the single democracy in the Middle East, while it cannot find its voice in countries that criminalize the practice of Christianity and tolerate the murder of Christians.” more >>
Though overshadowed by flying accusations between Iran and the U.S. on Monday, the opening day of the U.N.’s conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty offered some hopeful signs, said a global church body.
The United States, for the second time in its history, disclosed on Monday the number of nuclear warheads in its stockpile, pointed out the World Council of Churches, which has a long history of advocating for a nuclear-free world.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would pursue more “transparency” in its nuclear stockpile. Afterward, the Pentagon revealed that it has 5,113 nuclear warheads – active and inactive – in its stockpile, and thousands of more retired nukes awaiting dismantling. more >>
More than 100 church-based relief and development organizations worldwide have formally united under an umbrella group.
ACT Alliance, one of the world’s largest humanitarian bodies, was formally launched Wednesday with the main celebration in Geneva. The new body is a merger of the disaster relief network ACT International and its sister organization ACT Development.
Both ACT International, established in 1995, and ACT Development, formed in 2007, were created through the leadership of the World Council of Churches. The two bodies coordinate the work of agencies related to member churches of the WCC and the Lutheran World Federation in the areas of humanitarian emergencies and poverty reduction, respectively. more >>