E.V. Hill, 69, dies of pneumonia
The Rev. E.V. Hill, the pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, passed away Monday night at the age of 69. Hill, an influential player in politics and the National Baptist Convention, died of an aggressive form of pneumonia.

Pastor of Mt. Zion for 42 years, Hill had continued to preach at the church despite diabetes and a condition that weakened his legs so much that he had to deliver sermons sitting down for the last eight months. His wife, Jane, passed away from cancer several years ago.

Bishop Charles E. Blake, pastor of West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times that Hill was "one of the most significant personalities in the clergy over the past 30 or 40 years."

Hill grew up in poverty and rose to become not only an influential pastor but also a figure in the civil rights movement and confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. The Los Angeles Times said Hill was also known for standing by figures in the midst of scandal. In 1998, as a leader in his denomination, Hill stood by the Rev. Henry Lyons after he was found guilty of racketeering. Hill also supported televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart when sex scandals brought them national attention.

Sermons by Hill are available on Christianity Today International's Preaching Today.

Gujarat to pass anti-conversion law
Following up on his campaign promises, the state governor of Gujarat, India, announced yesterday that a ban on religious conversions will be brought before the state assembly during the current legislative session. The bill will be drafted at a cabinet meeting next week.

The southern state of Tamil Nadu passed a similar law last fall that forbade conversion "by force, allurement, or fraudulent means." Such bans are also law in Madhya Pradesh and other smaller states, according to The Hindu. In the recent Gujarat elections, the ruling BJP regained control of the state with assurances that it would ban conversions. At that time BJP national president Venkaiah Naidu told the press that all Indian states should enact anti-conversion laws.

According to the BBC, Gujarat's push for a conversion law is "an attempt [by the BJP] to pursue a more right-wing pro-Hindu agenda" as part of an alliance with the RSS, a conservative Hindu cultural organization. Gujarat has a history of bloody religious tensions. A year ago, rioting between Muslims and Hindus led to the death of hundreds of Gujarat citizens.

Also yesterday, India's deputy prime minister L.K. Advani said the BJP government would bring several issues to India's congress, including banning religious conversion and cow slaughter, if there was congressional support. The Times of India reports that the BJP strategy is to force a national debate about its pet issues, like conversion bans, by prompting state actions like the Gujarat ban.

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Since the implementation of the Tamil Nadu law, there have been protests and arrests. Christian and human-rights observers say the law is an attack on religious freedom by fundamentalists within the Hindu majority.

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Missions & ministry:

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  • Local missionary dies in Honduras fall | Bridge accident also injures six others from Gwinnett churches (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • The quiet crusader | The `Billy Graham of Africa' lives in Florida, is German (Orlando Sentinel/Beacon Journal)

  • Earlier: 'Come and Receive Your Miracle' | German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke's mass healings and evangelistic crusades are setting records, but career missionaries say the quality of disciples, not the quantity of the crowd, is the key to reaching Nigerians (Christianity Today, Feb. 2, 2001)


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  • Sacred mysteries: Iraq's fake Christian voice | Although Mr Aziz has been called a "devout" Christian, no evidence has been adduced. To judge from externals, he seems to be a very bad man, and a secular socialist devoted wholly to the Ba'ath party (Christopher Howse, The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • War 'should be last resort' | The Archbishop of Canterbury says alternative ways of disarming Iraq have still to be tried before any resort to war. (BBC | video)

  • Americans are the chosen people | America believes it has a divine mandate to lead the world (Clifford Longley, The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • That wartime religion | Each side in America's greatest conflict claimed to be part of God's army (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Clergy set Hill vigil against Iraq war | Anti-war church leaders from the United States and Europe are touring world capitals to meet heads of state, but they haven't gotten an appointment with President Bush (The Washington Times)

  • Synod says Iraq attack must be backed by UN | The Church of England's general synod has voted heavily against hostilities unless sanctioned by international law through the UN. (The Guardian, London)



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