BP Ledger, July 11 edition

Baptist Press
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Posted: Jul 11, 2011 4:22 PM
BP Ledger, July 11 edition
EDITOR'S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each Monday from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.

Today's BP Ledger includes items from:

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

The Lausanne Movement

Israeli Government Tourist Office

University of Mobile

Tajikistan: Further Religious Freedom Restrictions Pass Lower House

WASHINGTON (USCIRF)--The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed concern that the lower house of the Tajik parliament has adopted further overly broad restrictive measures on religion. State-imposed restrictions on religious activity have been steadily increasing in recent years, as documented in the May USCIRF Annual Report.

On June 15, Tajikistan's Parental Responsibility Law was approved by the lower house of parliament. Under the draft law, only children enrolled in state-approved institutes of religious education can participate in religious activity. The parliament refused to consider a proposal from the Islamic Renaissance Party that children be allowed to attend religious education after school.

The Tajik president initiated the draft Parental Responsibility Law in April, now under consideration by parliament. Several provisions of the draft Parental Responsibility Law violate the Tajik Constitution and international human rights standards. Article 8 obliges parents not to allow their children to take part in any organized religious activities except funerals. The draft law reinforces the country's harsh 2009 Religion Law and also imposes new restrictions, including on religious education and dress. Local religious communities, independent legal experts and human rights defenders have condemned the draft law.

The lower house of parliament also passed on June 15 new Criminal Code amendments that punish those who organize unapproved religious meetings of any religious denomination and impose harsh prison terms for undefined "religious extremist" teaching.

"USCIRF is very concerned about these troubling developments and urges the U.S. government to further press President Rakhmon to see these changes are not enacted," said USCIRF Chairman Leonard Leo. "If made law, these provisions would accelerate the decline of the status of freedom of religion or belief in Tajikistan."

USCIRF again decided to maintain Tajikistan on its Watch List in 2011. Tajikistan has been on the Commission's Watch List since 2009. Conditions in Tajikistan are close to meeting the statutory standard for a "country of particular concern" which would allow for various Presidential actions, including sanctions, to address such violations.

The Tajik government faces genuine terrorist threats, but Tajik laws on religion are overly broad and restrict freedom of religion or belief. While the Tajik government claims the law under consideration is largely motivated by concerns about terrorism, the Tajik authorities also continue their attacks on non-violent religious communities. In mid-June, a Muslim cleric was detained in the Rudaki district on suspicion of illegal religious instruction to a group of people including five minors aged nine to 17. An unregistered mosque in the southern Khatlon Region was demolished and a Baptist church which had been denied registration was shut down. Many mosques and other places of worship have been closed down and some have been destroyed.

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Lausanne sets out its roadmap

BOSTON (Lausanne Movement)--At its leadership meeting in Boston in June, The Lausanne Movement adopted The Cape Town Commitment, issuing from The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, as its "roadmap for the next ten years."

Doug Birdsall, Lausanne Movement Chief Executive, said, "We trust The Cape Town Commitment will prove to be of global significance and of eternal consequence. We sense a burden of spiritual responsibility as we now work to implement it."

The Lausanne Movement aspires to be Christ-centred, biblically-orientated and missiologically-focused. "Its purpose," said Lindsay Brown, International Director, "is to strengthen the evangelical Church to bear witness to Christ in every area of the world. To do this, we must engage with every region geographically, with every sphere of society, and, too, with the realm of ideas." He said The Cape Town Commitment captured this spirit and intent, describing it as "profoundly elegant, and panoramic in its Biblicism."

George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization (OM), spoke of his desire to distribute a hundred thousand copies of The Cape Town Commitment in the West and in the majority world. "It's a vital document," he said. "I love its Confession of Faith as a basis for its Call to Action. We will see some results from it soon. But others will be invisible, and will surface only in years to come around the world."

Ram Gidoomal, a London-based businessman and entrepreneur and a former Vice Chair of the Movement, has been appointed Chairman of the Board, to succeed Doug Birdsall, who will continue to lead the Movement; Grace Mathews, from Delhi, Director of the Programme for The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, has been appointed Vice Chair. Ram Gidoomal said "I am honoured to take on this role. It will be a joy to serve with the board, and with Doug Birdsall and Lindsay Brown as we implement The Cape Town Commitment."

Beginning in 2012, The Lausanne Movement will host a series of consultations on major issues identified in The Cape Town Commitment. "These will be global in scope, and draw on the sharpest evangelical thinking in each field," said Doug Birdsall.

The Third Lausanne Congress engaged hundreds of thousands of evangelicals through its webcasts, GlobaLink sites and multi-lingual Global Conversation. Future plans for The Lausanne Movement include a Global Briefing for leaders in the church, in mission engagement, and in the public arenas of government, business and academia; and the development of a multi-lingual publishing imprint "The Lausanne Library."

The Cape Town Commitment is available from all booksellers and internet retailers.

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Self-guided MP3 walking tours now available in the Old City of Jerusalem

Audio Tours Highlight Historical, Religious, and Cultural Sites

NEW YORK (Israeli Government Tourist Office)--The Jerusalem Development Authority has recently uploaded ten self-guided MP3 walking tours of the Old City of Jerusalem in four languages, complete with maps and written explanations, to enrich the visiting experience for tourists as they stroll through the Old City's ancient historical, religious, and cultural sites.

"These self-guided MP3 walking tours will be an excellent resource for our Christian friends as they walk through the Old City of Jerusalem," said Haim Gutin, Israel Tourism Commissioner, North and South America.

The MP3 tours and maps can be downloaded free of charge from www.jerusalem-oldcity.org.il. The audio files, which include explanations in English and Hebrew, as well as video, text files and even games, can be operated throughout the walking tour from a third-generation mobile phone or other similar audio device. Another five accessible tours are available for download, aimed specifically at the tourist with disabilities.

The MP3 walking tours of the Old City include the Herodian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem in the First and Second Temple period, from Mount Zion to Jaffa Gate, the Temple Mount Compound, and several others.

The MP3 tours, as well as additional information on hotels, festivals, events, restaurants, museums, etc., in the Old City, can be accessed at www.jerusalem-oldcity.org.il

For more information about travel to Israel, please visit www.EvangelicalIsraelExperience.com.

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New University of Mobile Magazine Now Available Online

MOBILE, Ala. (University of Mobile) -- The first issue of the new University of Mobile Magazine is now available online at www.umobile.edu/magazine.

The magazine's Spring 2011 issue "marks the start of a year of celebration as our school reaches the half-century mark," according to university President Mark Foley.

The magazine will be issued twice a year. Free subscriptions to the printed version are available by request at www.umobile.edu/subscribe.

Brian Boyle, vice president for institutional advancement and UMobile alumnus, said, "There is so much to take pride in at the University of Mobile. It is my hope that, within these pages, you have found new and unexpected ways to experience that pride as well."

For more information about the University of Mobile Magazine, call 251-442-2215 or email umobilemagazine@umobile.edu.

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