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Members of the General Council of the BWA voted unanimously at its
meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, in July to create the BWA Division
of Freedom and Justice (F&J).
The division, established on September 1, will address justice issues,
particularly those related to human rights and religious freedom.
Responsibilities of the division include making representation when Christians,
especially Baptists, are arrested and imprisoned on false charges, maintaining a
stream of information on the progress of work in the area of freedom and justice, and
strengthening the BWA’s presence as a Non-Government Organization at the United
The proposal to establish the F&J division was fi rst made in 1999. The 21st
Century Committee, established to examine the state of the BWA and to make
recommendations for the future of the organization, urged the BWA in its 2005
report to pay keener attention to justice issues. Members of the BWA Commission
on Freedom and Justice continued to advocate for a full time director who would
“devote his or her time to pressing human rights concerns around the world.”
BWA General Secretary Neville Callam stated that “we can no longer delay
taking the action that we believe God requires of us,” and brought the proposal to
establish the division to the General Council in Prague.
Callam said that the new division “will increase our ability to uphold those in
places in the world where men, women, and children are oppressed, where churches
are closed by force and church leaders arrested, where the dispossessed are ignored
and marginalized, starved, and left to die from treatable diseases.”
Julie Justus, who previously worked in Baptist World Aid, is the fi rst appointed
member of staff of the F&J division. She will be joined by a full time director when
that appointment is made.
Christians were the targets of violent attacks in the state of Orissa
in eastern India beginning on August 23.
In response to the persecution, Baptist World Alliance (BWA)
General Secretary Neville Callam said, “Unfortunate events have
taken place in Orissa in recent days. These began with the senseless
killing of Hindu Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on August 23. I
am disappointed by the false claim that Christians have responsibility
for this murder and I am saddened by the atrocities being visited on
Christians in Orissa.”
Vishwa Hindu Parishad religious leader Swami Laxmanananda
Saraswati and four of his associates were murdered in the Kandhamal
District of Orissa on Saturday, August 23.

(Photo: Evangelist Rev. R.K. Digal and his family take shelter in the Relief Camp,
Raikia. Photo by Abhiram Keshari Singh) (continued on next page)
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