Jehovah’s Witnesses banned in Russia
THE Supreme Court in Russia has ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses are an “extremist” organisation, and must be disbanded, Reuters reported from local media last week. It came after the justice ministry applied for an order to shut down the JWs’ national headquarters near St Petersburg. A spokesman for the religious body in Russia, Yaroslav Sivulskiy, said: “We are greatly disappointed by this development and deeply concerned about how this will affect our religious activity.” The group has 30 days to submit an appeal.
Preaching valued by US worshippers
THREE in four worshippers in the United States consider the sermon to be the most important reason for attending a church, synagogue, or mosque, a Gallup poll suggests. Of the 1526 adults surveyed across 50 states and the District of Columbia, most of whom were Christian, 76 per cent said that the sermon was a major factor of communal worship. Youth programmes played a large part for 64 per cent of worshippers. Protestants laid more emphasis on sermons (83 per cent) than Roman Catholics (62 per cent).
Sanctuaries for cows planned in India
THE Indian government has announced plans to establish sanctuaries for cows, similar to its tiger reserves, to protect the cattle, which are sacred to Hindus, the national faith of India, The Times reported on Saturday. Project Cow will be modelled on Project Tiger, a conservation project established in the country in the 1970s. The minister of state for home affairs, Hansraj Ahir, said: “We need to stop cow slaughter, but the biggest stumbling-block is who will take care of these cows? We need to make cow sanctuaries for this.” Cow slaughter is a punishable offence in most Indian states; and Gujarat recently legislated for a sentence of life imprisonment. A private member’s Bill from a right-wing BJP member of the Indian national Parliament recently proposed the death penalty.
Vigils held after Arkansas executions
AT TRINITY Episcopal Cathedral, Little Rock, Arkansas, in the United States, a service and vigil of prayer were held last week after a convicted murderer, Ledell Lee, was the first to be executed in the state since 2005. Another vigil was due to be held yesterday after another expected execution. Arkansas reportedly scheduled eight executions in quick succession after learning that its supply of a drug used in the lethal injections was to expire later this month. Two murderers on death row, Jack Jones and Marcel Williams, were both executed by lethal injection in Arkansas Monday, in the first double execution on the same day in the United States for 16 year. The US Supreme Court had rejected their last-minute appeals.