- The Washington Times - Friday, October 27, 2006

Colson steps down as board chairman

Watergate figure Chuck Colson has stepped down as board chairman of Prison Fellowship USA, the ministry he started three decades ago after serving seven months of a federal sentence.

Mr. Colson, 75, will instead focus on teaching, speaking and writing for the organization, which runs Christian-based rehabilitation and support programs in prisons in every U.S. state and 110 countries, according to a statement from the group Monday.

In 2002, Mr. Colson had turned over day-to-day operation of the fellowship to former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, who became the group’s president and chief executive officer.

On the board, Michael Timmis will succeed Mr. Colson as chairman. Mr. Timmis is co-owner and vice chairman of Talon, a private investment company focused on leveraged buyouts. He became chairman of the Prison Fellowship International board in 1997.

Mr. Colson will remain a member of the Prison Fellowship USA board.

Mr. Colson, White House counsel for President Nixon, pleaded no contest to obstruction of justice in the 1972 Watergate scandal.

Evangelicals rally against church closure

MINSK, Belarus — About 1,000 parishioners of an evangelical Christian church rallied to protest its potential closure by authorities in the ex-Soviet nation.

The New Life church bought a disused building and a patch of surrounding land three years ago and made improvements, but the authorities last year ordered the church to vacate the building and sell it to the government at a nominal price.

“We are facing a tougher persecution than even during the communist times,” said one protester, Yelena Kuchinskaya. She held a banner saying: “We are praying for Belarus.”

The Oct. 21 rally was sanctioned by the authorities, and police didn’t intervene.

Pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko said at the rally that about 40 parishioners had been on a hunger strike for weeks to protest the closure.

Court bans Sikhs from carrying daggers

COPENHAGEN — A Danish court has upheld a ruling by a lower court that Sikhs cannot carry knives for religious reasons.

Denmark’s Eastern High Court on Tuesday confirmed a decision by Copenhagen City Court that Ripudaman Singh had violated a Danish arms law that prohibits carrying knives with blades longer than 2.8 inches in public places.

Mr. Singh repeatedly carried a ritual dagger known as a kirpan in his waistband, a tradition that is a basic tenet of Sikhism, an India-based faith with more than 20 million followers worldwide.

The Eastern High Court said the initial ruling was not a violation of human rights because “the clampdown on such an arms possession was necessary in a democratic society that takes public safety into consideration.”

However, the court annulled a $500 fine meted out in the original ruling last year, saying Mr. Singh’s religious reason for carrying the knife was “an extenuating circumstance.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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