Today's BP Ledger includes items from:
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
University of the Cumberlands
Forum 18 News Service
Texas fines abortion clinics for illegal disposal of bodies
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission)--The state of Texas has fined two abortion clinics and a medical waste disposal company a total of about $83,000 for illegally dumping the remains of aborted babies.
The fines were $42,612 for Stericycle, the disposal firm; $22,980 for Whole Woman's Health of Austin, and $17,430 for Whole Woman's Health of McAllen, according to the pro-life activist organization Operation Rescue. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality released documents on the fines to Operation Rescue, the pro-life group reported.
Operation Rescue filed complaints against the abortion clinics after a three-month investigation. The state followed with its own investigation, which included Stericycle.
The fines demonstrate "the violations we discovered were valid and serious. We can only imagine what would be found if every abortion clinic was thoroughly investigated," Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said in a written release.
Bluefield College Students Learn Chinese Culture through Global Exchange
BLUEFIELD, Va. (Bluefield College)--Bluefield College continued its academic and cultural exchange with the country of China this fall. For the fifth semester in a row, students from BC shared history, language, tradition and time with students from China as part of an international exchange program with the Jiangsu Institute of Education.
Bluefield College began the exchange program with Jiangsu in the fall of 2009 by welcoming four Chinese students and a professor to the BC campus. Two Bluefield students and a professor returned the favor with a trip to Nanjing in the spring of 2010. Since then, the two colleges have continued the fall-spring swap with the latest trip this fall featuring four Jiangsu students in Bluefield.
"I had a wonderful time with the students from Jiangsu," said BC art professor Walter Shroyer. "They were great representatives of their college. Their attitude and behavior were superior. Our students from Bluefield College were excited to meet such great ambassadors from China."
As part of Bluefield College's mission to prepare globally-minded students who impact the world, the academic exchange program with Jiangsu is designed to "promote educational cooperation," "friendly ties," and "mutual benefits." Toward that end, students from the visiting country attend classes alongside students from the host country. This fall, the visiting Chinese students studied criminal justice, human growth, foundations of education, research methods, children's literature, world literature, British literature, and creative writing in classrooms alongside BC students.
"I attended a creative writing class and students have a lot of chances to speak themselves," said Sun Lisha, who also goes by the American name, Lisa. "I think that's interesting, because there are few chances for students to express their own ideas in China."
The Chinese students also took part in classes on public relations, instructional media, art appreciation, printmaking, photography, piano, and conducting.
"I get a better understanding of America as a country on the wheel," said Lisa about her interaction with BC students inside and outside of the classroom, "and I know better about the open and inclusiveness of the different things, as well as the sentence, 'live and let live.'"
The learning portion of the exchange for the Jiangsu students also included field trips to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, and to the nation's capital in Washington, D.C., where they learned about American history. In Washington, the students visited the White House; toured memorials, museums, galleries, and gardens; and viewed the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. In Monticello, they toured Jefferson's mansion, the plantation, gardens, and other parts of the historical estate.
"The trip to America enriched my personal experience," said Ge Mengtian, who also goes by the American name, Daisy. "I highly recommended it, since it gives you a wider angle next time you see things. I learned a lot more than in a classroom back in China. Yet, what I cherish most is the friendship I built in Bluefield."
Within the community, the Chinese students visited local churches, hiked Pinnacle Rock, and strolled the Cascades. They also shared meals and birthdays with BC students and took part in tie-dye parties and the school's Homecoming festivities.
"For the first time in my life, I went caving and rock climbing," said Daisy. "It was exciting, interesting, and relaxing when taking part in such outdoor sports. Some teachers even invited me to their house, which made me feel honored."
The Jiangsu students became a part of a community where, they said, "differences are encouraged and respected" and where cultures "live harmoniously with each other."
"When I share my photos of life in America in Renren, which is a Chinese version of Facebook, my friends are excited and ask me questions about life in America," said Lisa. "I will always tell my friends about my experience as a exchange student at Bluefield College, because it's an awesome time, and I made a lot of friends there in America."
As part of their giving portion of the exchange, the Chinese students shared presentations with BC students about Chinese history, language and culture, including information about Chinese food, greetings, and cities. They also offered BC students lessons in world literature, specifically the influence of Socrates and Confucius on Chinese culture.
"They may be at Bluefield College learning about our culture," said BC student Heather Paisley, "but BC students are learning about their culture, as well."
Joining Lisa and Daisy as part of the Chinese delegation visiting Bluefield this fall were Zhang Hantian, also known as Harry, and Liu Jinwen, also known as Ruby.
"America is really an amazing country," said Ruby. "It's our dream to come here and now my dream has come true."
Cumberlands Collects over 800 Toys for Children
WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (University of the Cumberlands)--On Friday, December 2, University of the Cumberlands (UC) Mountain Outreach (MO) held their 6th annual Midnight Toy Shopping Spree at Walmart in Williamsburg, Ky. The students and everyone involved were extraordinary examples of what it means to give during the holiday season.
"We needed 800 toys and got 805 gifts on Friday night," exclaimed Marc Hensley, MO Director.
In all there were 48 students and 3 faculty members that came out to help shop for gifts for kids on Christmas morning. The toys collected started at the infant age all the way up to 14 years old. Although MO helps so many children, families, and people around the community, these events that they take part in provide a lot for those that participate as well.
"We forget sometimes that just a few years ago these students were children and then they come to college where they are expected to be mature; this gives them the opportunity for a break from class and fun themselves," said Hensley.
The night was very special for all those involved including the UC Golf Team which decided to lend their services to the shopping spree. The golf team helped collect toys, bag them at the register, and load the gifts into a U-Haul truck to take to storage.
The local Wal-Mart also gave a helping hand, having prepared for the Shopping Spree. Wal-Mart placed sale items out along with items that were low on stock at reduced prices.
Hensley expresses gratitude and appreciation on behalf of Mountain Outreach for those that either helped shop or raise funds for the event. "Can you imagine 4 or 5 people trying to choose 800 gifts for children ages infant through 14? The event would not have been possible without those who reached out a helping hand to Mountain Outreach."
Mountain Outreach has been nationally recognized for its work several times: the Action Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty selected it as one of ten charities to receive the Samaritan Award; USA Today noted the program in its 1996 "Make a Difference Day" competition; and President George H. Bush honored Mountain Outreach as his 220th Daily Point of Light.
Located in Williamsburg, KY, University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; nine pre-professional programs; nine graduate degrees, including two doctorates, a specialist, and six master's degrees; certifications in education; and online programs.
Article provided by Tiera Ball, University of the Cumberlands Multimedia and Athletic Services Student Assistant
Campbellsville University Sports Ministry Class Leads Bible Conference for Juveniles
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Campbellsville University)--Campbellsville University sports ministry students recently taught a Bible conference to juvenile offenders from Lincoln Village in Elizabethtown, Ky.
Dr. Ted Taylor, professor of Christian studies and lead professor of the sports ministry program, and his sports ministry class, began this year hosting students from the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center once per semester.
The juveniles earned the trip to campus with good behavior. The juveniles are from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky and are completing a 20-week treatment program of the state.
Mike Smith, recreational director for Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center, of Hodgenville, Ky., is also a senior at Campbellsville University. He plans to graduate next December with a degree in criminal justice. "By bringing select youth to Campbellsville we are showing these youth that someone does care for them. They see firsthand that life has options and a return to life on the street is not their only option.
"I have brought four groups to CU now as a means to show these youth that young people their age are succeeding, just as they have a chance to succeed. To be successful, you must taste success. Visiting campus makes these young men feel they are important. This leaves an impression which impacts their treatment in a positive way," Smith said.
The Bible conference, titled "Facing the Giants," provides a "challenging leadership opportunity for sports ministry students to teach the Bible," Taylor said.
Students played games with the teens from Lincoln Village throughout the conference, while also telling their testimonies, reading scripture, leading worship and fellowshipping with them.
Logan Hazelwood, a graduate assistant from Salvisa, Ky., organized the conference. He said, "It was truly humbling to see these young men from Lincoln Village come in with maybe not the best reputation, deliver the utmost respect toward us. It was even more humbling to see God and His Gospel at work through the teachings and attitudes of our class. I feel that this was one of the most genuine and influential conversion experiences I have witnessed throughout my life."
Out of the eight Lincoln Village teens, all eight committed to take the Gospel back with them to Lincoln Village and to their local communities.
Half of the teens proclaimed this was their first time the Gospel made sense and knew they had a "complete heart change," Hazelwood said.
"While the others were struggling and needed repentance for fleshly desires, during invitation all eight stood, many with tears, and discussed one on one with our class what God was doing with them that night.
"God reshaped hearts of young men from Lincoln Village, and renewed minds of ministry students from CU. Praise Him!"
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master's degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.
Uzbekistan: Baptist fined
Illegal prosecutions and punishments
By Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service (http://www.forum18.org)
OSLO, Norway (Forum 18 News Service)--Uzbekistan continues to fine people for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief, Forum 18 News Service has learned, in one case using an apparently false witness and with many irregularities in documentation police submitted to court. In other cases, punishments have also been imposed, even though the charges were brought beyond the legal time limit for charges to be brought in Uzbekistan. The police have also bullied two schoolgirls into not attending a church.
Illegal prosecution and punishment
Sergei Kozin, a member of an officially registered Baptist Church in Sergeli District near the capital Tashkent, was on 21 November fined 80 times the monthly minimum salary, or 3,978,800 Soms (12,810 Norwegian Kroner, 1,655 Euros, or 2,220 US Dollars at the inflated official exchange rate). Judge Sanjar Dusmanov of Tashkent Region's Yangiyul District Criminal Court found, in a verdict which Forum 18 has seen, that Kozin broke the Code of Administrative Offences' Article 201 Part 2 ("Violation of the procedure for holding religious meetings, street processions or other religious ceremonies"). Judge Dusmanov also ordered that three Christian songbooks and a book of Psalms and with the New Testament be handed for storage to the state Religious Affairs Committee.
The case followed a raid by police on a group of Baptists including Kozin, who were on holiday and who were at that time reading. Officials had originally told Baptists that charges were being brought under Administrative Code Articles 240, Part 1 ("Holding unregistered religious meetings") and 241 ("Teaching religious beliefs without specialised religious education and without permission from the central organ of a religious organisation, as well as teaching religious beliefs privately"). The trial and punishment violated the Administrative Code, as Article 36 states that charges cannot be brought more than two months after an alleged administrative violation (see F18 News 2 November 2011 ).
A case opened at the same time against another Baptist holidaying with the group, Pavel Nenno, has apparently been dropped by police.
"Holding of a religious meeting is against the law"
The verdict states that the Religious Affairs Committee wrote to the Court, stating that Kozin is "the leader of the Baptist Church officially registered in Sergeli District of Tashkent Region since 20 March 1996, and has rights to carry out religious activity only in the territory of the legal address of the Church. The letter is also said in the verdict to state that no complaints were made to the Committee of any religious meetings in Niyazbash or the Mauviy Kullar Resort. "However, if it took place, holding of a religious meeting is against the law."
Judge Who? Prosecutor Who?
Yangiyul Court officials refused to comment on the case to Forum 18. Various officials, none of whom would give their names, several times asked Forum 18 to call back on 30 November saying that Judge Dusmanov was busy.
When Forum 18 was finally put through to Judge Dusmanov, he took down Forum 18's questions and said that he was not Judge Dusmanov, only his colleague.
He said that he could not make any comments on the case, and that Judge Dusmanov was not available to talk.
Yangiyul Prosecutor's Office on 5 December referred Forum 18 to Deputy Prosecutor Dylmurod Kasymov. The Prosecutor's official who answered the phone of Kasymov at first said that "there is no such official under that name in our office." When Forum 18 told him that the number and the name was given by the Prosecutor's officials, and insisted asking about the case, he said, "Kasymov is on vacation, and there is no one here who can comment on the case." He then put the phone down.
The Religious Affairs Committee refused to discuss the case with Forum 18 on 2 December. Begzot Kadyrov, the official who oversees work with non-Muslim communities, told Forum 18 that: "You know I do not answer your questions over the phone. You must either come in person or send your questions in writing." He refused to talk further.
The telephones of Committee Chair Artyk Yusupov and other officials went unanswered on 2 and 5 December.
Baptists, who asked not to be named for fear of state reprisals, stated to Forum 18 on 28 November that the case was "fabricated", with a "fake" witness. They stated that an Ergash Ermakbayev was produced in court as a witness, but he did not produce as required documents proving his identity.
Baptists said that they think that the witness may have been given an "invented name".
Various sources in the past have stated to Forum 18 that police in Uzbekistan use "fake witnesses" while investigating alleged offences by the religious communities and their members. One such source (who wished to remain anonymous for fear of state reprisals) stated that in several cases, the addresses of the witnesses were later checked. But, "we found that no such persons resided at those addresses".
The telephone of police Captain Murat Yusupov of Yangiyul Police Criminal Investigation Department, who opened the case against Kozin, and of other police were not answered on 2 December.
Baptists told Forum 18 that Kozin's legal representative asked the Court to open a criminal case against the witness, but Judge Dusmanov ignored this request.
According to the verdict, Ermakbayev was tending his land not far from the village of Niyazbash on 29 July. He is reported as stating that police officers came to him at 3 pm to ask him to be their witness in inspecting a site at the Mauviy Kullar Resort. "I saw Kozin and other holidaymakers holding some books in their hands, which I later learned were religious books", Ermakbayev told the Court.
Judge Dusmanov heard Kozin's case for the on 28 October, and referred the case Yangiyul Prosecutor's Office for further inquiry into the case. Among Judge Dusmanov's reasons, which Forum 18 has seen, he stated that:
-- the Yangiyul Police investigation report did not include the date and time of the alleged administrative violation;
-- Kozin was not given a copy of the police report to familiarise himself with the charges; - Kozin was not told of his rights, or given opportunities to prepare his defence, or have a lawyer and a Russian language interpreter present his defence;
-- the case files did not include reports of the other officials who participated in the police raid, the statements of Kozin and other participants in the alleged religious meeting, or a list of names of participants in the alleged religious meeting;
-- the site of the alleged religious meeting was not thoroughly inspected, no photographs of the site were attached to the case files, and there were no records of the questioning of witnesses who participated in the inspection of the site;
-- and the statement of Alimzhon Bahodyrov, a guard at the Mauviy Kullar Resort, does not state that Kozin and others were holding a religious meeting. It just states that they were reading some "biblical books".
Forum 18 has been unable to discuss this with Judge Dusmanov, as as noted above he refused to answer questions.
Home raided despite no search warrant
Five officials in the eastern town of Fergana , one of whom was in police uniform, on 19 November raided the private flat of Latifzhon Mamazhanov. He is a member of an unregistered Baptist Church, Baptists who wished to remain unnamed for fear of state reprisals, told Forum 18 on 29 November. They complained that no search warrant was produced by the officials, who claimed they were from the police. When Mamazhanov's wife refused the officials entry, they "pushed her out of the way" and "with threats" entered the house.
One of the officials in the raid was police Inspector Dilshod Atagulov of Fergana City Police's Crime Prevention Division. He insisted to Forum 18 on 30 November that he "did everything on legal grounds", when asked why the police raided Mamazhamov's home without a warrant. He then said that "I do not wish to discuss the matter with you", and put the phone down.
Subsequent calls to Inspector Ataguolov went unanswered.
The officials confiscated, about 100 Christian books, including two Bibles, a Bible Dictionary, a Bible Encyclopedia in Russian, a New Testament in Uzbek, 30 Uzbek-language DVDs of the "Jesus Film" (a film of the life of Jesus Christ), four officially licensed Uzbek films on DVDs, a video tape of a film based on St John's Gospel, and a Dell notebook computer.
It is expected that Fergana Police will charge Mamazhanov under the Administrative Code's Article 184-2 ("Illegal production, storage, or import into Uzbekistan with a purpose to distribute or distribution of religious materials by physical persons"), Baptists said. This "offence" is punishable with a fine of between 50 and 150 time the minimum monthly salary, "with confiscation of the religious materials and the relevant means of their production and distribution".
The officially registered Baptist Church in Angren, Tashkent Region, was raided twice on 16 October. At 11 am, during a meeting for Sunday worship, Furkat Boltayev, Deputy Chief of the town's police Criminal Investigation and Struggle against Terrorism Division, "illegally broke in" to the meeting, which had eight adults and seven children aged between 13 and 15 were present. He confiscated written consent letters of parents allowing their children to attend the Church, Baptists who asked not to be named for fear of state reprisals told Forum 18 on 5 November.
Later the same day at 1.30 pm, five police officers with Saidibrahim Saynazarov, Deputy Head of Angren's Administration, raided the church.
After being summoned to a police station for questioning, two schoolgirls stopped coming to church. The police threatened them that "they will be in police records and thrown out of school", Baptists elsewhere told Forum 18.
Under duress, the two then wrote statements against Vyacheslav Gavrilov, the Church's Pastor, Baptists said.
The authorities have bullied and harassed schoolchildren who attend places of worship - including mosques and Christian churches - as well as their parents. The mass media has been used as part of this (see F18News 12 January 2009 ).
The use by officials of violence and torture, or threats of this, is "routine" the UN Committee Against Torture has found. Women in particular are often targeted by such assaults (see eg. F18News 29 April 2010 ).
Even though his church is registered, Baptists suspect that Gavrilov may be charged under Administrative Code Articles 240 Part 1 ("Holding unregistered religious meetings") and Article 241 ("Teaching religious beliefs without specialised religious education and without permission from the central organ of a religious organisation, as well as teaching religious beliefs privately").
Boltayev of the police Criminal Investigation and Struggle against Terrorism Division refused to answer questions on 30 November. "Talk to the leadership of the police", he told Forum 18 before putting the phone down.
Yerali Erbutayev, Deputy Chief of Angren Police told Forum 18 on 30 November that he did not know the details of the case and asked Forum 18 to call later. On 1 December Erbutayev stated that police had opened an unspecified administrative case against Gavrilov, but did not want to comment further. He referred Forum 18 to Kudrat Kholmirzoyev, Chief of Angren Police's of Criminal Investigation and Struggle against Terrorism Division. Kholmirzoyev on 1 December asked Forum 18 to call an hour later, saying that he needed to look in the case files. Later, and on 2 and 5 December, his telephone was not answered.
Judge Anzhelina Shamsutdinova of Tashkent City Criminal Court on 9 November rejected appeals by Lidiya Guseva, Natalya Belan and Larissa Permyakova against fines. The three had been fined 50 times the monthly minimum salary for visiting a hospital patient (see F18News 5 October 2011 ).
Judge Shamsutdinova refused to comment on her decision on 1 December. When asked why such heavy fines were given, she told Forum 18, "I will not discuss my decisions over the phone and especially with you from Norway."
She then put the phone down.
Similarly, Judge Gaziyev of Tashkent City Criminal Court on 12 October rejected an appeal by Albina Bankova against a fine of 50 times the minimum monthly salary. She had been fined for possession of religious literature, despite the fine breaking Article 36 of the Administrative Code's bar on charges being brought more than two months after an alleged administrative violation. The literature, including Bibles, was ordered to be destroyed by the Court (see F18 News 26 August 2011 ). (END)
For a personal commentary by a Muslim scholar, advocating religious freedom for all as the best antidote to Islamic religious extremism in Uzbekistan, see .
For more background, see Forum 18's Uzbekistan religious freedom survey at .
Full reports on freedom of thought, conscience and belief in Uzbekistan can be found at .
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net