Today's BP Ledger includes items from:
Florida Baptist Witness
University of the Cumberlands
World Congress of Families (two items)
International Christian Concern
Compass Direct News
Former Florida Baptist lobbyist, D.J. Abernathy Sr., 86, dies
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Florida Baptist Witness)--Dean Judson "D.J." Abernathy Sr., 86, died April 20 after a stroke following a medical procedure for a heart condition.
D.J. grew up in Missouri, the son of a Baptist minister, the Reverend Early Caredean, and Sula Abernathy, according to his family who provided an obituary of his life and service.
"The life of D. J. Abernathy was a wonderful testimony to his love of his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ," the obituary reads. He joined the military to serve his country during World War II and was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. Upon his return he married his lifelong partner and sweetheart, Jimmie Morris. They would have been married 65 years this coming June 6.
D.J. received his undergraduate degree at Furman University in Greeneville, S.C., and earned a Masters of Theology and a Masters of Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. During his ministry, he served Brock Baptist Church in Weatherford, Texas; Jackson Heights Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla.; North Park Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla.; and Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. In 1975 D.J. preached the convention sermon at the Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting.
He was the executive director of United Christian Action in Florida from 1979 until 1990 where he spent the last years of his full-time ministry as a representative of the faith community traveling the state preaching, teaching and interacting with legislators regarding morality issues.
D.J. and Jimmie retired to their beloved Ridgecrest in the North Carolina mountains where he served as interim pastor at three churches, Mountain View Baptist Church, Grassy Branch Baptist Church and Lakeview Baptist Church. He was the father of three married children; Jeanne Burns (husband Nat), Dean Abernathy, Jr. (wife Sue), and Morris Abernathy (wife Sandy). D.J. was especially proud that all three of the children are graduates of Southwestern Seminary. He was the grandfather of six and the great-grandfather of four. D.J. was deeply loved and respected and will be missed, but his legacy is great and his family will honor his Godly heritage, the obituary said.
The family has requested donations be made to the D. J. and Jimmie Abernathy Scholarship at Union University, Jackson, Tenn. A memorial service will take place in Nashville in early June.
To see a story about Abernathy's military service, go to Retired Florida pastor/lobbyist saved from death in Adennes by Army 'angeles (http://gofbw.com/News.asp?ID=11002).'
Union trustees OK new library, NCAA application and publishing project
JACKSON, Tenn. (Union University)--Union University will develop plans for a new library, apply to NCAA Division II and launch a new publishing project after trustees approved all three measures in their spring meeting April 29.
Trustees also approved a record $89.4 million budget for the university for 2011-2012, a 10.2 percent increase from this year's budget.
The library will serve as a complete academic resource center to serve the research and resource needs of a 21st century academic community, Union President David S. Dockery said. Located between Jennings Hall and Miller Tower, the library is expected to be about 60,000 square feet in size. More specific details about the structure will be nailed down during the planning process over the next several months.
"This will not only be a warehouse for books, but a technological center that connects students and scholars with other research opportunities that would not have been possible even a decade ago," Dockery said. "Something like this project is the only thing that really touches every student and every program at the university.
"Everyone needs this kind of resource, and it's the right time for Union as a top-tier institution to have a top-tier resource of this kind."
Construction on the building is scheduled to begin in about a year, with a projected completion date in 2013. Funding for the library will come from a two-year, $36 million capital campaign launching immediately. The campaign will include $18 million for the library, $10 million for endowed scholarships and $8 million for annual scholarships and operations.
Regarding the institution's application to NCAA Division II, Dockery said Union has been considering the possibility of an alignment change since 2009.
"We really like the new identity of NCAA Division II with its commitment to the student athlete, to a holistic understanding of athletics, which they describe as 'life in the balance,'" Dockery said.
He added that NCAA Division II has developed an expectation for their institutions and athletic programs to be involved in off-campus community service, which fits Union's mission well. NCAA Division II has also in recent years been more open to private institutions, which now make up 48 percent of its membership.
"We like all of those things," Dockery said. "In terms of our size, the kind of athletic competition that we want to have and the understanding of an athletic program that fits within a larger mission of an academic institution, NCAA Division II would be a good fit for Union, and we trust Union would be a good fit for Division II."
A decision by the NCAA would come sometime this summer, and approval by the NCAA would begin a three-year process of transition from Union's NAIA affiliation. During the first year, Union's athletic teams could still compete in the NAIA and participate in national tournaments. The following two years, Union would compete in NCAA Division II but would not be eligible for postseason play.
Upon acceptance by the NCAA, Union would adjust to some new athletics regulations. The university would add a compliance officer and a senior women's athletic administrator, and would consider the addition of new sports, such as women's golf. Union currently offers 10 sports, which meets the requirements of NCAA Division II.
Trustees also approved a plan for Union to begin a publishing project that will initially consist of a semi-annual journal entitled "Religio et Eruditio."
The journal will be led by an editorial board consisting of Union University faculty members as well as others from outside the university community. Hunter Baker, associate dean of arts and sciences, and C. Ben Mitchell, Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy, will serve as the journal's senior editors.
Union plans to publish the first edition of the journal in 2012.
As for the budget, Dockery said the increase was driven largely by the university's growth over the past three years. The expanded budget includes raises and ongoing benefit packages to more than 700 Union employees, startup funds to support relatively new initiatives like the Hendersonville campus and the Singapore partnership, new faculty and staff positions and growth in technology.
"It is something for which we are very grateful, and is a great testimony to God's faithfulness to this institution," Dockery said of the budget.
In other matters, trustees re-elected Rod Parker to serve a third and final year as chairman of the board, and selected Norm Hill as vice chairman and Linda Shoaf as secretary. Trustees also offered special prayers for those across the South who were affected by recent storms.
Sanders wins No. 900, Campbellsville baseball splits series with Shawnee State
By Chris Megginson, Campbellsville University Sports Information
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Campbellsville University)--Kentucky's winningest active baseball coach reached another milestone Monday. Campbellsville University head coach Beauford Sanders collected his 900th career win in 33 years of coaching with a 4-3 victory over Mid-South Conference foe Shawnee State University.
The win came in game one of a doubleheader sweep, as the Tigers dropped the second game, 4-0, to the Bears to sit at 24-17 on the season and 18-5 in MSC play at the end of the conference season.
"Honestly and truthfully, I haven't really thought about 900. The big thing for us is playing better baseball and getting better at the plate," Sanders said. "Today I was so proud that the guys started off poorly early innings, but persevered and got a little bit better, and a little bit better. The most important thing is the team and how we're doing. I want the guys to feed off this."
Sanders, who collected his first win in March 1978 at North Greenville Community College with a walk-off home run by Chuck Compton, has found a milestone walk-off hero at Campbellsville.
Craig Edwards, a junior from Taylorsville, Ky., drove in the winning run for the Tigers Monday just as he did last April for Sanders' 600th win as Campbellsville's head coach.
"Anybody would have loved to have done it, but it meant a lot to me, because I've been here three years," Edwards said. "It really meant a lot, because I've been working so hard, and so has he. He's worked so hard for this program, and he's so passionate for the game. Nobody deserves the win more than he does."
Edwards' opposite field RBI double to left scored Rylan Chin for the winning run after the Tigers trailed 3-1 early in the game.
Sanders mentioned a Tiger rally. The Bears put up a two-spot in the first inning, but Campbellsville scored a run in the third, fourth and fifth innings with RBIs by Danny Lapchak, Anthony Jakosa and Gabriel Arcoleo. Michael McBride, who struggled early on the mound also, giving up all four Shawnee hits and three runs in the first four innings. He went on to strike out seven for the complete-game win.
Shawnee State won the second game, 4-0, with the help of a three-run home run by Zach Alexander off Tiger pitcher Jacob Cook.
While Sanders is glad to have win 900 under his belt, he is looking forward to the remainder of the season, which includes a best-of-three series against MSC East champion University of Virginia's College at Wise April 22-23.
"What I want more than anything is for the guys to feed off this," Sanders said. "The 900 is great, but it's because of players, situations and the assistant coaches. I've been blessed and very fortunate to be along for the ride … I thank the good Lord for health and strength and the opportunity to build a decent program and to be able to go to battle with."
Campbellsville will return to action Tuesday at Tiger Field (244 Matthew Street, Campbellsville, KY 42718) for a doubleheader at 3:30 p.m. against Mid-Continent University.
A YEAR BY YEAR LOOK AT SANDERS' LEGACY
N.G.C.C.: 268-247 (.518)
CU: 632-439 (590)
1991: 8-30 (.210) Started 0-18, Finished 8-12
1992: 26-20 (.565) Western Division Champions
1993: 20-21-1 (.488)
1994: 30-19 (.612) KIAC Runner-Up, Regional Appearance
1995: 41-14 (.745) KIAC Champions, Regional Runner-up
1996: 37-19-1 (.661) KIAC Champions, Regional Appearance
1997: 28-25 (.539) Mid-South Regional Appearance
1998: 18-31 (.367)
1999: 30-22 (.577)
2000: 31-29 (.517) MSC Champions, Regional XI Qualifier
2001: 31-18 (.633) MSC Champions, Regional XI Qualifier
2002: 14-36 (.280)
2003: 29-17 (.630) MSC Champions, Region XI Qualifier
2004: 33-23 (.589) Region XI Qualifier
2005: 43-14 (.754) MSC Champions, Region XI Qualifier
2006: 38-14 (.731) MSC Champions, Region XI Qualifier
2007: 43-18 (.705) MSC Champions, Region XI Runner-Up
2008: 27-20 (.575) MSC Champions, Region XI Runner-Up
2009: 39-12 (.765) MSC Champions, NAIA Opening Round Champions, World Series Qualifier
2010: 42-22 (.656) MSC Champions, NAIA Opening Round Runner-Up
2011: 24-17 (.585) MSC West Champions
Totals: 900-686 (.567)
University of the Cumberlands student Rob Floyd: Using Faith and Film to Impact Lives
By Meghann Holmes
WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (University of the Cumberlands)--Rob is in the zone—he moves swiftly from boy to boy, answering quickly-thrown queries.
"Hey! Rob! How do I make that knot again?"
"Rob, Rob! Come here and help me!"
Rob, a native of Rockholds, KY, takes it all in stride, with the patience of a much-older man. He darts from one boy to the other, occasionally finding time to pick up his camera and record one of them working. He stands close, then slowly backs away as he films, his brown eyes focused on his screen, getting the perfect shot. Quick as a flash his camera is back down and off he goes again, helping the boys tie square knots and string beads.
Rob is teaching a group of teenagers to make necklaces, and his snippets of film will be a part of a documentary that will show the importance of investing in relationships with troubled kids.
But, that's not the only reason he's here. He's here because he cares about what happens to these boys.
First United Methodist Church in Williamsburg, Ky., is the meeting place of Reclaiming Futures, an after-school program for teenage boys who have gotten into legal trouble. The court appoints the boys to spend 3 to 4 hours every weekday with a group of therapists and volunteers who give them a safe environment where they can experience healthy, positive relationships with caring adults.
Rob Floyd is a senior and religion major at University of the Cumberlands (a Baptist university in Williamsburg that is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention), and was introduced to the Reclaiming Futures ministry one year ago when he was sent by his advisor to intern with Mike Albertson, pastor of First UMC. Albertson connected Rob with the program, a vital part of First UMC's ministry.
"He would meet with me to fulfill requirements for the internship program, so I said, here's a practical way to fulfill that," said Albertson.
Rob's involvement with Reclaiming Futures did not end when his internship did, however, and he stayed on as a volunteer, "even though he didn't have to," said Albertson.
"It's been amazing," says Rob. "Just seeing how you can make a difference in the community. I've had the opportunity to use my interests, my passion in film…I think if you seek God in doing the right thing He'll open doors and let you use your passions."
Rob's two passions—film and faith—play a vital role in his dedication to the young men in the program.
"He has a passionate love for good film and good scripts and sees both as a great, effective way to share the gospel and help Christians grow in their faith," says Dr. Bob Dunston, chair of the religion and philosophy department Rob's advisor at UC.
This is exactly what Rob says he is trying to do with the documentary.
"I'm trying to capture what they (the boys) do…the nitty-gritty. I'm not trying to stage anything, I'm trying to capture what it's really like, and try to show other churches and organizations what they can be doing, and what we can be doing, as people, to help," he says.
The capability for this film to impact numerous people is large, says Mike Albertson.
"Every Methodist church in the United States is connected, and there is one in every county in the U.S., except 10. So the potential for this to multiply and reach many is great," he says.
Rob's face tone is serious, but his body is tense with excitement and he smiles often as he describes exactly why it's so important that people see these boys on film.
"I think when we look at trouble-making kids, we almost look at them as being in another class of people; like, we look down on them. But it's been amazing seeing them, the things they do, 'coz I get ministered to by these damaged boys that people say are not going to have a future."
For Rob, filming this documentary is a way that he has found to incorporate his love of film into ministry, something he plans to do in future. With plans to attend Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., in the fall, he says he will always find ways to use his interest in film.
As he glides from boy to boy, filming, tying knots and building relationships, it is clear that he is acting on that promise.
"One of my professors, Geraldine Allen, said: 'You don't have to make all of your interests and your passions into a career,' and you know, that really spoke to me. I don't really care if I make money off of my film, it's more about expressing myself creatively, using it to get people to think. It's a ministry tool. That's where my passion is."
Putin Wants to Boost Russia's Birthrate -- World Congress of Families Says Place to Start is at Moscow Demographic Summit, June 29-30
ROCKFORD, Ill. (Christian Newswire)--In a speech late last week, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pledged to raise the nation's birthrate by up to 30% in just three years. Due to a rapidly falling fertility, Russia has experienced a dramatic population decline, going from 148.5 million people in 1995 to 143 million today. Unofficial estimates indicate that there are nearly 4 million abortions per year in Russia yet only 1.7 million live births.
Putin's plan calls for spending the equivalent of 33 billion pounds to encourage Russian families to have more children. Click here for coverage of the prime minister's remarks.
WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs says that more than cash incentives and government benefits will be needed to raise Russia's well-below-replacement birth rate.
Against this backdrop, the World Congress of Families will hold the world's first demographic summit - "Moscow Demographic Summit: Family and the Future of Humankind" - at the Russian State Social University (RSSU), June 29-30.
RSSU is one of Russia's largest public universities, with over 100,000 students, and the nation's leading institution for educating social workers.
Jacobs noted: "The Summit will include discussions of The Demographic Potential of Russia - The Importance of Pro-Family Public Policy in Russia and the West - Demographic Indicators of Developed and Developing Nations - The Crisis of Family: Marriage, Abortion, Contraception - Population Control - Influence of Demographics on Economic Processes - Human Capital and Family-Friendly Business Practices - Population Aging and Ways to Overcome Demographic Challenges."
An array of prominent Russian speakers will include: Metropolitan Hilarion (Foreign Affairs coordinator of the Russian Orthodox Church), Dr. Zhukov V.I. (Rector of RSSU), Bishop Panteleimon (Russian Orthodox Church Social and Charitable Activities), Fr Dimitry Smirnov (ROC - Bioethics Commission), Natalia Yakunina (Sanctity of Motherhood Program, Center of National Glory), Fr Maxim Obukhov (ROC - Pro-Life Activities), Rostislav Ordovsky-Blanco (owner of Rosinter restaurant chain), Fr Vsevolod Chaplin (Relations of ROC and Society), Professor Anatoly Antonov (demographer, Moscow State Lomonosov University) and Igor Beloborodov, PhD (Institute of Demographic Research).
International Speakers confirmed include: Anna Zaborska (Member EU Parliament), Allan Carlson, Larry Jacobs and Don Feder (World Congress of Families), Patrick Fagan (Family Research Council), Steven Mosher (Population Research Institute), Philip Longman (New America Foundation), and Janice Shaw Crouse (Concerned Women for America).
Invited speakers include demographers, sociologists, economists, scholars, elected officials and leaders from around the world.
Jacobs noted the Summit comes at a crucial time. "It's not Russia alone that's experiencing demographic winter," Jacobs observed. "Worldwide, birthrates have declined by more than 50% since the late 1960s. By the year 2050, there will be 248 million fewer children under 5 years-old in the world than there are today. This birth dearth will be one of the greatest challenges confronting humanity in the 21st. century."
Jacobs said special thanks go to Alexey Komov - head of the WCF Representative Office in Russia and the CIS, and organizer of the Demographic Summit - and Russian State Social University Rector Vasily I. Zhukov.
To learn more about World Congress of Families, go to www.worldcongress.org. For the website of the Moscow Demographic Summit (in English and Russian), go to www.worldcongress.ru.
World Congress of Families to Hold Regional Events in Riga, Sydney, Vancouver, London, Moscow, and Lagos in Next Three Months
ROCKFORD, Ill. (Christian Newswire) -- World Congress of Families will have six regional events this year. Managing Director Larry Jacobs noted: "These regional events -- spanning three continents -- will focus on such concerns as euthanasia and assisted suicide, declining birthrates, the need to promote marriage and encouraging governments to adopt family-friendly policies."
In chronological order, here are the World Congress of Families Regional Events taking place in the next three months:
NGO Family Association, the World Congress of Families and the Riga City Welfare Department are sponsoring the Third Annual International Riga Family Forum "The Natural Family as a Value and State's Priority" on May 13 in Riga, Latvia, at the Riga City Hall.
The Forum will focus on demographics in relation to governments, economies, health and education. It will also consider how Latvia and the EU would benefit demographically from a long-term strategy that supports strong families. To register, contact Gunta Irba by email at email@example.com or click here.
The Dads4Kids Foundation's Marriage and Family Conference will take place at the Life Centre in Sydney, Australia on May 18-20. Its slogan is "Great families are built on great marriages. Great marriages produce great children." Click here for more details or visit the website: www.fatherhood.org.au/conference.
The Third International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide will take place June 3-4, at the Airport Marriott in Vancouver, Canada The symposium is sponsored by the Canadian-based Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (a WCF Partner), and is supported by anti-euthanasia and disability rights groups in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.
The Symposium will explain how groups and individuals are defeating the euthanasia lobby worldwide and how we need to prepare for the new challenges we will face in the future. Click here to register: www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca. Click here to download the Symposium brochure.
"The Future of The Family In Coalition Britain Conference" will be held in London on Wednesday, June 29 at the Law Society. The conference is sponsored by Christian Concern, a World Congress of Families Partner.
Keynote speakers will bring their varied experience and expertise in economics, education policy, the media, the legal system and Parliament to bear on the question of how a compelling case can be made, in the current cultural context, for the value of the traditional family. They will seek to evaluate existing strategies, suggest possible new directions and attempt to develop an integrated approach to promoting the value of the family for society as a whole. For more information or to apply to attend the conference, click here ( www.christianconcern.com/future-of-the-family).
The World Congress of Families' Moscow Demographic Summit: Family and the Future of Humankind will take place at the Russian State Social University, June 29-30.
The Summit will be the first international conference to deal with the coming crisis resulting from the worldwide decline of fertility. Speakers will include members of the legislature of the Russian Federation, representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, leaders of other churches and denominations, demographers, scholars, authors, activists and leaders of the World Congress of Families and its Partners.
Click here for the website of the Moscow Demographic Summit ( www.worldcongress.ru).
The theme of the Lagos International Law Conference on Women and Children (July 14-15) is: "Challenges In Upholding the Rights of Women and Children."
The Conference will take place at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs and is being organized by the Nigerian Bar Association in collaboration with the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage, WCF and McGill University in Canada.
Topics include: The policy impact of the exploitation of women and children, Demonstrating that the family is the best environment for the wellbeing of Nigerian women and children, and Mapping strategies to end child labor, child trafficking, infanticide and child prostitution in Nigeria. Click here for the conference website: www.nbailwc.org.
Jacobs concluded; "Along with our Congresses -- including World Congress of Families VI in Madrid, May 28-30, 2012 -- these regional conferences and symposia demonstrate the dynamism of the international pro-family movement."
To learn more about World Congress of Families, click here ( www.worldcongress.org). To schedule an interview with Larry Jacobs contact Don Feder at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-405-1337.
Algerian Christians Arrested for Proselytizing and Blasphemy
Trial Could Lead to Five Year Imprisonment
WASHINGTON, D.C. (International Christian Concern)--International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that two Algerian Christians are scheduled to appear in court on charges of proselytizing and blasphemy, and may face a five year prison sentence. The two men were arrested and briefly imprisoned in Oran on April 14 after sharing their Christian faith with their neighbors.
One of the men, Sofiane, was released a day after their arrest, while Krimo was imprisoned for three days. After the arrest, Algerian police searched Krimo's home for Bibles and other Christian material. Krimo was known to hold weekly prayer services at his home, which Algerian Christians suspect were being closely monitored by the police.
A court hearing, initially scheduled for April 27, was postponed to a later date. Algerian Christians are fearful that a law introduced in 2006 - requiring religious services to obtain a government permit to worship - will be applied, which may result in a five year imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 Algerian dinars (equivalent to 1,390.00 USD). Church leadership has expressed frustration over the government's negligence to lay out a set procedure to register a church or to approve a permit quickly.
"The Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) engaged a lawyer to defend Krimo and Sofiane. We are hopeful that they will be acquitted," a pastor in Tizi Ouzou told ICC. "Although our constitution says to respect other faiths other than Islam, the government is Islamic, and article two says 'Islam is the religion of State.' There is no respect for human rights or religious freedom and the protestant church is suffering."
The arrests came a day before Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika pledged to his country that he would reform the constitution to allow freedom of press and free elections. Since the current constitution was applied in 1996 to strengthen emergency laws and ban religious-based parties following a war between the military and Islamic militants, the Algerian government has been unable to contain Islamists who have been largely responsible for attacks on Christians.
Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, "We urge the Algerian government to expand its pledge to reform the constitution by also offering greater freedoms to Christians and other religious minorities. The first step is to remove the legislation introduced in 2006 that makes it nearly impossible for Christians to worship openly. It is time for the Algerian government to prove that they stand behind article 36 of the constitution, which states that freedom of creed is inviolable, by acquitting Krimo and Sofiane of the charges of blasphemy and proselytizing, and demonstrating to the world that Algeria is steadily making progress to become a country that respects the right to worship freely."
Call the Algerian embassy in your country to express your concern:
United States: + 1 202 265 2800
Canada: + 1 613 789 8505 or + 1 613 789 0282
United Kingdom: + 44 207 221 7800
Germany: + 49 30 43 73 70
France: + 33 1 53 93 20 20
Australia: + 61 2 6286 7355
Survey of Christians in India Sets Off Alarm Bells
Church leaders complain of illegal religious profiling in Madhya Pradesh.
By Shireen Bhatia
NEW DELHI, April 29 (Compass Direct News)--An attempt by police in India's Madhya Pradesh to survey the state's Christian minority came to light this month and left church leaders calling for a federal investigation into alleged religious profiling.
Dr. John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council, called for a National Commission for Minorities probe into the survey, which sought data on where Catholics and Protestants live, their economic status, and details of Christian-operated schools, including sources of income and whether they get foreign funding.
"Such surveys are uncalled for in view of the Union government's own census and the National Sample Surveys, which give all the data that development agencies may ever want," Dayal told Compass. "Surveys of this nature, especially by the police, amount to religious profiling, which is illegal."
To be carried out at the district and block level, the surveys reportedly also sought information on the number of Christians and church buildings, including those under construction, along with details of the clergy heading them; a list of Christians involved in criminal activities, with details about whether they enjoy any political patronage and how much; details of annual functions held at district and block levels, including venues, organizers and funds; and areas that are socially "sensitive" because of their Christian populations.
Police later withdrew the controversial survey after Christian leaders approached state Director General of Police S.K. Rout, who denied any knowledge of it.
"The survey was a mere goof-up by lower-rung officials," Rout reportedly said. In a statement to the BBC he added, "Though police collect such information periodically to ensure protection to minority communities in the state, the way this survey was ordered was incorrect."
Christian leaders remained largely upset and demanded a central government investigation.
"We do not believe the police pretext that they want to know the locations to protect the Christians," Dayal told Compass. "All these questions about funding of churches and missions are absolutely illegal, as Christians get their money through banks under the strict FCRA regulations, and the Union Home Ministry has details of every cent received and how it is spent. The blame for all this rests squarely with the chief minister of the state and his home minister, who are acting at the behest of the RSS to which they both belong."
The survey came to light on April 14 after media in India learned of an order letter issued by state police headquarters to all police station heads. The order, issued on March 23, asked the officers-in-charge to submit a report within 10 days, although presumably the survey was not completed by then.
"The Christian community in Madhya Pradesh is enraged over the state government attempt to treat all Christians living in the state akin to criminals," the Rev. Anand Muttungal, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, said in a press statement. "The police officials initially approached the community leaders without any copy of the order and tried to gather such details verbally. However, when one of the priests objected to it, he was threatened to be taken to the police station."
Madhya Pradesh is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
Christian leaders said they feared that the survey may be a prelude to a systematic, organized pogrom against Christians in the state, with the archbishop of Madhya Pradesh, Leo Cornelio, telling reporters, "It is a conspiracy against Christians in Madhya Pradesh."
He mentioned Gujarat state, where similar profiling was done and Christians faced violent attacks in some districts in 1999 and 2000. Dayal also noted that such profiling almost always leads to targeting of Christians in hate campaigns and eventually leads to large-scale violence, as happened in Gujarat.
Muttungal expressed his concern that the state police force could be employed for the task without the knowledge of senior officials such as the director general of police, the additional director general of police, and the Intelligence Bureau.
"Who wants this information and for what purpose?" he said in his press statement. "According to legal experts, any information sought should have to be in writing. Answers too should be in writing. This sort of profiling is done on people who are with criminal records for the police department to keep a track on them. If one goes with this argument, then is the government treating the Christian community as criminals and anti-social elements with a perceived threat to the nation's security?"
Archbishop of Bhopal Leo Cornelio told The Hindu that the survey indicated a "sinister plan behind all this," and that if the chief minister and others said they were not aware, "it is all the more shocking."
"If it is someone inside the government, the government should apologize, and if not, it should find out and punish the culprit," Cornelio said. "This is clear targeting and profiling of the minority community and a violation of the constitution and principles of a free and fair democracy."
State Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has said he is seeking a report on the matter.
In a letter to Dr. H.T. Sangliana, vice chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Dayal wrote that the damage has already been done even if police have now withdrawn the order.
"Such orders are not born in a vacuum," he wrote. "May we request you and the NCM to please order the Madhya Pradesh government to tell us all where did the idea originate and what were the reasons behind it; is it now a policy of the state to pay special attention to this particular minority, and if so, why?"
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net