Religion Today Summaries, December 16, 2002

Religion Today Summaries, December 16, 2002

In Today's Edition:

  • Judge Roy Moore to Appeal Order to Remove Ten Commandments Statue
  • City Sued Over Religious Literature Ban
  • Gospel Changes Stony Hearts in India
  • Evangelical Leaders in Ethiopia Held Illegally by Local Police Forces

Judge Roy Moore to Appeal Order to Remove Ten Commandments Statue

(Baptists Press) Chief Justice Roy Moore has filed notice that he will appeal a federal court order declaring his monument to the Ten Commandments in the state judicial building rotunda unconstitutional, according to The Birmingham News.  "Federal district courts have no jurisdiction or authority to prohibit the acknowledgement of God that is specifically recognized in the Constitution of Alabama," Moore said in a written statement released Dec. 10.  "Our constitution provides that to establish justice, we must invoke 'the favor and guidance of Almighty God.'"  The 5,300-pound monument features the King James Bible version of the Ten Commandments sitting on top of a granite block.  Around the monument are quotes from historical figures and documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, but critics contend the commandments dominate.  U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled Nov. 18 that the monument violates the First Amendment's ban on state establishment of religion and requested that Moore remove the monument within 30 days.  The monument remains in the judicial building, and Thompson has scheduled a Dec. 19 hearing on whether to issue an injunction to require Moore to have it removed in 15 days.

City Sued Over Religious Literature Ban

(Charisma News) A Christian couple has sued officials in a Tennessee community challenging an ordinance that prohibits placing literature on automobiles unless there is someone in the car willing to accept the material.  Self-supporting missionaries who distribute Christian literature, the Mesaroshes were recently told not to pass out the materials because they were violating the ordinance.  However, the Cleveland police department recently distributed literature on automobile theft by placing the materials on unoccupied vehicles.  "It amazes me that the City of Cleveland can choose to ignore the law and place literature on cars when they feel they have important information to get to the public," said Mat Staver, president of the Liberty Counsel.  "Yet the city then denies the rights of individuals to place their own literature on cars in the same manner."  Staver called the ordinance "clearly and blatantly discriminatory."  "The Constitution mandates that citizens be treated equally in the area of free speech and that the government not be given special treatment," he said.  "This ordinance makes the First Amendment a laughing stock in the eyes of the general public.  It is unconstitutional and must be stricken in order to protect the rights of average citizens to engage in free speech."

Gospel Changes Stony Hearts in India
(Mission Insider) A recent evangelistic crusade in North India touched stony hearts and brought 103 souls to the feet of the Savior.  "The Lord visited his people with healings and miracles as proof of the truth of the gospel," the mission leader told Christian Aid.  "Sinners, praying with tears, were forgiven.  The lost were found and the sick healed.  Mockers and those once bitterly opposed to the gospel now give testimonies to Christ's saving grace.  Young and old were jumping in the joy of the Holy Spirit, clapping their hands and rejoicing, praying without ceasing. Many backsliders returned to the Lord.  The gospel crusade broke down the stony hearts of the people bringing them to the Savior," the leader continued.  "Christians made deeper commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and non-Christians found life in Christ."  The group has now planted congregations in six villages, though at least three of them lack meeting halls.  In the ministry's first outreach to a certain village, three families of non-Christian background came forward to commit their lives to Christ and were baptized.  The new believers gather regularly for worship, and some of their unbelieving neighbors even meet with them.

Evangelical Leaders in Ethiopia Held Illegally by Local Police Forces

(Compass Direct) The two evangelical Christian leaders jailed in northern Ethiopia since September are still incarcerated. They have now been under police detention for more than eight months without charges, despite lower court orders to withdraw the case against them. They were accused as "suspects" in the death of an Orthodox church member during a two-day rampage last April that left five evangelical churches looted at the hands of a mob of Orthodox extremists. Although the fatal bullet was apparently shot into the air from the local police chief's gun, the two Pentecostals have been detained without bail during the prolonged murder investigation. After the presiding judge of a lower court ordered the case again them withdrawn, they were returned to the local police station, where under Ethiopian law they could not be detained for more than 48 hours. But local police have still refused to release them. The presiding judge had given local police until December 11 to produce solid evidence against the two Protestants, or release them.