Religion Today Summaries, August 5, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, August 5, 2004

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.  In today's edition:

  • Federal Court Says School District Cannot Censor Religious Message

  • Jordanian Child Custody Ruling Expected Within Days 

  • Groups Issue 'Homeland' Prayer Alerts Over Possible Attacks on U.S.

  • Iraqi Churches Targeted by Terrorists; Open Doors Calls for Prayer

Federal Court Says School District Cannot Censor Religious Message
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A federal judge has ruled that an Arizona school district violated the free speech and equal protection rights of the parents of two students by censoring their religious message in a school fundraiser. The judge said the Paradise Valley Unified School District in Phoenix acted unconstitutionally when it barred Paul and Ann Siedman from including the word "God" in publicly posted messages to their children in the district's "Tiles for Smiles" program.  The fundraiser allowed members of the community to purchase a tile that would then be inscribed and displayed on the walls of the school. The Seidmans were told their messages that included a reference to God, would violate the separation of Church and State.  Attorney Peter Gentala with the Center for Arizona Policy litigated the Seidmans' case with assistance from the Alliance Defense Fund.  He says the district is engaging in viewpoint discrimination. The attorney explains that by granting the Siedmans' motion for summary judgment, the judge sent the district a clear message.  "What this case stands for is the proposition that public school are not religion-free zones," Gentala says. Mrs. Seidman told the Center for Arizona Policy they filed the lawsuit to demonstrate to their children that their faith is important. 

Jordanian Child Custody Ruling Expected Within Days
Barbara Baker, Compass Direct

A lawyer who has fought for the past year for Christian widow Siham Qandah to retain custody of her two children expects the Supreme Islamic Court of Jordan to rule against her in the next few days. After filing a final appeal on July 18, the veteran Amman lawyer said he is now forced to expect Jordan's highest court to rubberstamp a lower Islamic court ruling in June supporting the children's Muslim guardian in the custody battle, despite accusations that he embezzled money from the children's trust funds. If Qandah loses the appeal, she will be ordered by the court to surrender her daughter Rawan, 15, and son Fadi, 14, to their Muslim guardian. In a desperate search for some legal solution, Qandah went last week to several family law experts. Qandah said she was blinded by her tears as she left the office of one Muslim lawyer, who attacked her because she hadn't raised her children as Muslims. "I am a Christian, and I don't want to become a Muslim. I just want my very small right, here in my country, to raise my children," Qandah said.

Groups Issue 'Homeland' Prayer Alerts Over Possible Attacks on U.S.
Charisma News Service

Intercessory groups are urging Christians to pray for the United States in light of new intelligence pointing to a threat of terrorist attacks on targets in New York and Washington, D.C. Last Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge issued an orange-level threat alert, which represents a "high risk of terrorist attacks," based on information that al-Qaida is targeting the New York Stock Exchange, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. "Pray that the Lord would grant those who serve our country, local police, national security [officials], FBI, CIA, the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Air Force, to not rely solely upon the strength of their weapons and intelligence, but first turn to God, the source of all wisdom and strength," Intercessors for America asked its supporters in an e-mail sent Monday. Meanwhile, Jim Goll, facilitator of the Encounters Network, formerly Ministry to the Nations, encouraged believers to take part in Homeland Security Prayer Initiative II of 91 Days of Prayer for Protection. The campaign which began yesterday and ends on the day of the national elections, Nov. 2, urges Christians to pray Psalm 91 every day over the United States. A former pastor, Goll issued a Homeland Security Prayer Initiative after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Iraqi Churches Targeted by Terrorists; Open Doors Calls for Prayer
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A series of attacks at Christian churches in Iraq have heightened the fear and anxiety level of the Christian minority in that country. The bombings by Islamic terrorists took place at five Christian churches, resulting in the deaths of at least 11 worshippers. Carl Moeller is president of Open Doors USA, a ministry that serves the persecuted Church worldwide. He says the situation for Iraqi Christians is volatile. "We had been getting some reports from our workers there," he explains, "that the Christians were fearing this might come about, because Christian churches make such inviting soft targets for the forces that would introduce chaos to Iraq." The series of lethal attacks by Muslim terrorists against Christian churches in Iraq has prompted Moeller to call for increased intercession. He says Open Doors is praying along with other Christians "that the Church in Iraq will stand strong." Moeller estimates that about a half-million Christians live in Iraq, where they are affected by the threat of violence and persecution. While the current situation is already dangerous for members of the Church in Iraq, he says the emergence of a fundamentalist Islamic government in that country could lead to a mass exodus of Christians.