World news briefs

Published April 1, 1999

U.S. church leader faces seven years in jail

(ENI)-The president of one of the biggest predominantly black denominations in the United States has been convicted of theft and racketeering. He now faces up to seven years in prison. On Feb. 27, at the end of a month-long trial, Henry Lyons, the 57-year-old leader of the National Baptist Convention USA, was convicted by an all-white jury in St Petersburg, Florida, on charges that he defrauded more than US$4 million from companies which had hoped to use church mailing lists to sell products and services to the church’s members. Lyons was also convicted of pocketing most of a $244,000-donation from the Anti-Defamation League to help rebuild churches that had been destroyed in a series of arson attacks.

Man arrested for church arson

(ENI)-A 36-year-old man has been arrested in Indiana for setting fire to seven churches. Jay Scott Ballinger, of Yorktown, Indiana, was charged with the arson attacks on seven churches in Indiana. Some of the attacks date back to 1994. According to the Associated Press news agency, Ballinger has confessed to 50 arson attacks in 11 midwest and southern states. The arrest was praised by the National Council of Churches which played a key role in raising national awareness about a series of arson attacks on churches over the past few years. Many attacks were directed at churches with mainly black congregations, and the NCC claimed that the attacks were racially motivated. Ballinger and two other suspects, Angela Wood, 24, of Georgia, and Donald Puckett, 37, of Indiana, are white.

Christian persecution in India condemned

(ENI)-India’s National Human Rights Commission has expressed deep concern over recent violence against Christians and praised the Christians’ contribution to the nation. Christians had “identified themselves with the people and looked after the welfare of the people,” said judge M. N. Venkat-achaliah, chairman of the commission. “The best schools in the country are run by Christians, the best hospitals are run by them and they provide the best nurses for the care of the blind, lepers and unfortunate sections [of society].”Such a community does not deserve this kind of treatment,” he said. Last year there were more than 120 incidents of violence against Christians by Hindu fundamentalists.


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