Entries in Prayer (3)


Father of 'American Taliban' Is 'Proud' of Son's Testimony in Group Prayer Lawsuit

John Walker Lindh's mother and father, Marilyn Walker and Frank Lindh, in 2002. SHAWN THEW/AFP/Getty Images(TERRE HAUTE, Ind.) -- The father of John Walker Lindh, the young American who was captured in Afghanistan after 9/11 and sentenced to prison for aiding the Taliban against U.S. troops, said he is proud of his son for fighting in court Monday for the right to pray with other Muslim prisoners.

"I was really proud of John," Frank Lindh told ABC News. "Today he did such a good job of explaining the daily prayer. It was a really well-informed testimony. It shows how much depth of knowledge he has about Islam."

John Lindh, who pleaded guilty to helping the Taliban and carrying explosives, testified in court Monday that a prison policy limiting group prayer has forced him to sin.

Lindh, 31, is suing prison officials for the right to pray five times a day with fellow Islamic inmates instead of praying alone in his cell.

Lindh is being held in the Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute, Ind., where he is serving a 20-year sentence for supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony.

"I am a Muslim and my religion requires that I perform five daily prayers in congregation. This is mandatory and not optional," Lindh wrote in a handwritten complaint to prison officials that was also filed in federal court.

A ban on daily group prayer was instituted in 2007 after Muslim inmates ignored a lockdown caused by a fire alarm, court documents stated. Inmates are free to pray in their individual cells.

Every Friday, Lindh and his fellow inmates in the specialized unit are permitted to gather in the multipurpose room of the prison for the Jum'ah prayer service, which the Koran dictates must be done in a group, court documents stated.

The Communications Management Unit, which was established in 2006, has been referred to as "Guantanamo North." Inmates whose communications are considered "high risk" to the prison community and the public's security are housed in individual cells within the unit, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

Amos Guiora, a professor of law at the University of Utah who teaches religion and terrorism courses, said daily group prayers in the unit are unlikely to be a terrorism concern.

"I don't think it raises security concerns, but if it goes beyond the text of the prayer than I can understand how it could be seen as a security question," Guiora said.

The daily prayers typically take "only a few minutes," according to Lindh's lawsuit.

Frank Lindh said he and John's mother take turns each month commuting from their homes in California to visit their son in Terre Haute, which is 70 miles from Indianapolis.

He said he gets a 15-minute phone call from his son every Wednesday, while John's mother gets a call every Sunday.

"It's a very safe environment for John. I'm sorry he's in prison but this is the best circumstance, that he is not in the general population," the elder Lindh said.

John Walker Lindh, who converted to Islam as a teenager, was captured in Afghanistan on Nov. 25, 2001. During his sentencing, he condemned terrorism and said he made a "mistake" joining the Taliban.

"Although I thought I knew a good deal about the Taliban when I went to the front line, it's clear to me now that there were many things of which I was not aware," he said.

At the end of his testimony Monday, Lindh was placed in chains and transported back to Terre Haute. On Tuesday, he will be provided with a video link so he can still be present during proceedings in his case, his father said.

Lindh is eligible for release in 2019.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Minn. Community Prays for Retirees Missing in Italian Cruise Wreck

Laura Lezza/Getty Images(WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn.) -- Friends of missing retirees Jerry and Barbara Heil are planning a prayer service for the Minnesota couple, who haven’t been heard from since the cruise ship they were on capsized off the coast of Tuscany last Friday night.

On Tuesday, divers recovered five bodies from the wreckage of the Concordia Costa -- four men and a woman -- although it’s unclear if the Heils were among them.

“At this point we don’t have anything new to report,” said the latest posting on the Heil family’s blog.  “We will await word from the U.S. Embassy and Italian authorities on the newly discovered passengers.  Please continue to pray for the other families and the safety of the rescuers.”

The uncertainty has prompted a 24-hour prayer vigil at the church the Heils attend.

“The sense from fellow parishioners is that there is still a lot of hope,” said Dr. Larry Erickson, the parish administrator at the Church of St. Pius X in White Bear Lake.  The 1,500-member parish will hold a prayer service for the Heils on Wednesday night.

Sixty-nine-year-old Jerry, a retired state worker, and Barbara, 70, a cancer survivor, attended mass every morning, and would often come early to pray the rosary.  Their absence leaves a void.

“I see Jerry and Barb every day.  It’s a different kind of missing them right now,” said Erickson.

The Heils are parents to four grown children and have 15 grandchildren.  They are well known for their devotion to family and faith.  Friends describe them as a quiet couple who would volunteer to run church dinners, make meals for those in need and drive neighbors to medical appointments.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gov. Rick Perry Asks Texans to Pray for Rain

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(AUSTIN) -- As wildfires continue to scorch the state of Texas, Gov. Rick Perry is asking for prayer.

The unprecedented droughts, strong winds, and low humidity are to blame for the severe conditions spreading throughout Texas. Hundreds of homes have fallen to ashes and the once lush acres of trees have turned into charred sticks.

Since the beginning of the year, wildfires have burned over one million acres of the drought-stricken state.

Perry says the dangerous plumes of more than 8,000 wildfires are engulfing land and lives -- and it is time for Texans to join together in prayer. He has declared the next three days as "Days of Prayer for Rain" in Texas.

Perry made the proclamation on his website, stating: "I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal way of life."

Perry is not the only state lawmaker to ask for prayer. In 2007, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue hosted a prayer service for the southeastern drought.

Perhaps it's working. The first day of prayer began on Good Friday, and is forecasting isolated thunderstorms Friday and Saturday -- with a 30 percent chance of rain in Fort Worth.

Several public pages have popped up on Facebook over the past few days. One event named "Pray for RAIN in Texas!" has 306 participants so far who plan on praying for precipitation.

The page's wall drew several comments, not only from people in cities across the state of Texas, but also New Jersey, the Caribbean, and Morocco. One person posted, "Lord, please send us rain to quench the land, relive our firefighters, and help our ranchers and farmers. You are great O' Lord and you hear our cries."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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