Religion Today Summaries - December 2, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 2, 2004

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

  • CFI Spokesman: United Way, Target Should Get Nothing from Christians This Christmas

  • Religious Hate Law Comes Before British Parliament: Barnabas Fund Expresses Serious Concern

  • Students Barred from Fulfilling Service Requirement with Religious Activity

  • India: Christians Face Beatings, Threats

CFI Spokesman: United Way, Target Should Get Nothing from Christians This Christmas
Bill Fancher and Allie Martin, AgapePress

A pro-family organization, CFI, has issued an alert to those who may be considering giving to one of the nation's largest charities this holiday season. The group's spokesman is warding donors away from United Way, and he also wants shoppers to know a thing or two about Target stores. In a recent interview on CBN, he mentioned the recent announcement by Target that the retailer would not be allowing non-profit groups to solicit outside its stores this year. This means the familiar Salvation Army bell ringers will not be able to set up their kettles and collect donations at Target locations this shopping season. Salvation Army officials say Target stores nationwide helped raise about nine million dollars through last year's kettle campaign. Major George Hood, a spokesman for the Christian service organization, says, "When you begin to strip budgets of 75 percent of a revenue stream, it means that some very difficult decisions will have to be made in those local communities about what they will be able to do during the holidays and all year long with families." He says he is trusting in that truth, and he also believes many Christians who normally might have contributed at Target will help make up any deficit in the season's collections by increasing their kettle donations at other retail locations.

Religious Hate Law Comes Before British Parliament: Barnabas Fund Expresses Serious Concern
Dan Wooding ASSIST News Service

The UK-based Barnabas Fund, which exists to assist persecuted Christian minorities by prayer and practical support, has again expressed grave reservations about laws banning incitement to religious hatred which received their first reading in the British House of Commons on Wednesday November 24. The laws have been introduced as a small part of the Serious Organized Crime and Police Bill the bulk of which deals with the setting up of a Serious Organized Crime Agency, measures extending police powers and introducing new crimes. The bill was announced in the Queen's Speech on Tuesday November 23. The next day it received its first reading in the House of Commons indicating that it is at the top of the government's list of priorities and they intend to make sure it comes into law before the election, widely expected to be held in May 2005. The bill will have its second reading on 7 December when it will be debated for the first time. Barnabas Fund is calling on its supporters to write to their MPs to register concern about these proposals and to urge them to give careful consideration to the section of the bill relating to incitement of religious hatred. The Fund is calling for the bill not be passed into law without a proper debate about whether the section relating to incitement of religious hatred should be included or removed.

Students Barred from Fulfilling Service Requirement with Religious Activity
Jim Brown, AgapePress

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has adopted a policy that prohibits students from performing their required community service in a religious context. Students must complete 30 hours of volunteer work to graduate, but the new policy prevents them from using any religious activity to fulfill the requirement. A university committee and the faculty senate at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire have approved the policy. Under its guidelines, UW students will no longer be allowed to teach in vacation Bible schools or churches, or in any way to conduct, recruit for, or preach religion in order to meet the terms of the 30-hour requirement. Volunteer projects requiring religious membership would also be disqualified. The school's administrators claim they have adopted the new policy in the interest of maintaining the so-called "separation of church and state" mandated in the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States. However, Jay Anderson of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship says it is not unconstitutional for the school to recognize religious community service. According to Anderson, recognizing student volunteer service done in a religious context does not by any means violate the Establishment Clause. What the UW-Eau Claire policy does do, Anderson contends, is undermine the students' right to religious freedom by refusing to recognize their volunteer service in religious milieu.

India: Christians Face Beatings, Threats
Christian Aid

Native missionaries have faced much opposition from radical Hindus in recent months, according to an indigenous ministry supported by Christian Aid. Violent attacks against gospel workers have been frequent, especially in the south-central states of Andhra and Orissa. Repeatedly, Christian leaders have been beaten for preaching the gospel. From the state of Orissa come reports of seven believers being arrested under false allegations while meeting together one Sunday morning. After three weeks in jail, they were released upon paying heavy bail fines. Missionaries have seen this kind of antagonism in many places they visit to spread the word of God. Gospel workers are often threatened with violence if they ever to return to speak of Christ. This opposition comes mainly from militant Hindu groups that have been intensifying attacks on Christians lately. Moderate Hindus tend to be very tolerant of Christians and favor religious freedom, as did Gandhi. In the face of increased opposition, native missionaries have not ceased to preach the gospel of Christ.