Religion Today Summaries - December 3, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 3, 2004

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

  • Christian Teacher Sues Over 'Shameful' Declaration of Independence Ban 

  • Syria: Indigenous Ministry Takes Gospel to Iraqi Refugees

  • India: Christians Charged With Crime

  • Colombian Pastor Dies in Bomb Explosion

Christian Teacher Sues Over 'Shameful' Declaration of Independence Ban
Charisma News Service

A California teacher is suing public school officials for barring him from using the Declaration of Independence and other historical documents in class because they contain references to God and Christianity. Steven Williams, a fifth-grade teacher in the San Francisco Bay area suburb of Cupertino, filed the federal lawsuit last week, arguing a First Amendment right to teach U.S. history, which includes religious, and specifically Christian, references, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Williams, who claims he had been subjected to discrimination because he is a Christian, said the school's principal prevented him from using handouts from documents including the Declaration of Independence, "The Rights of the Colonists" by Samuel Adams and President Bush's 2004 Day of Prayer proclamation. Williams contends that the subject of God came up in his classroom when a student asked a question about a pending California lawsuit in which an atheist sued to have the words "under God" stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance as recited by schoolchildren. "It's a fact of American history that our Founders were religious men," argues Terry Thompson, an attorney for Williams,  The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. "And to hide this fact from young fifth-graders in the name of political correctness is outrageous and shameful. ... There is nothing in the Establishment Clause that prohibits a teacher from showing students the Declaration of Independence." (http://www.charismanow.com)

Syria: Indigenous Ministry Takes Gospel to Iraqi Refugees
Christian Aid

War has caused tens of thousands of Iraqis to flee to neighboring Syria. Native missionaries are seizing the opportunity to reach these mostly Muslim refugees with physical aid and spiritual truth. Syria first officially opened its borders to Iraqi refugees in 2003. By the end of that year, an estimated 40,000 Iraqis had streamed into Syria. Thousands more have continued to come since. One indigenous ministry supported by Christian Aid has long been burdened to help these refugees in the name of Christ. Missionaries now work among 1000 Iraqi refugee families in Syria, meeting basic needs while sharing Christ. They provide food and schooling for children of refugees; a clinic gives medical care to those who cannot afford it. Many Muslim refugees have been drawn to the Lord through this ministry. Christian meetings in refugee communities are well attended. Thousands of Arabic Bibles have been distributed. Indigenous ministries work not only among Iraqi refugees but also among Sudanese, many of whom have fled the decades-long civil war in their native country. Two Sudanese refugees who became Christians went on to attend a 6-month Bible training school. Hopefully, once conditions stabilize in Iraq and Sudan, refugees led to the Lord in Syria will be able to return and establish strong witnesses for Christ in their troubled homelands.

India: Christians Charged With Crime
Charisma News Service

Five Christians were recently charged with the crime of "wounding the religious feelings" of Hindus in Orissa State. The believers were released on bail on Oct. 28, but a full trial is expected, Compass Direct reported.  One of the accused, Abhiram Dhala, is a local convert. His companions, pastor Karl Silva, Roshan D'Souza, Ganesh Wankhede and Ramesh Thawar Chandwa, belong to a fellowship in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, located in Maharashtra State. The charges against the five relate to an incident at Suliapada village in Baripada district, which was the former home of Australian missionary Graham Staines. He was killed by Hindu extremists on January 1999. Police arrested the five on Oct. 21, after a student filed a complaint against them. The student claimed the Christians had threatened him after he asked them to stop preaching near a shrine dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga, Compass reported. "The case is fabricated," Silva told Compass. "We were at least one kilometer away from the [shrine] in an open square, and we were simply sharing the love of God. "When we felt a section of the people could turn violent, we went to the police station, hoping we would be protected by the police, but the police turned against us," Silva added. (http://www.charismanow.com)

Colombian Pastor Dies in Bomb Explosion 
David Miller, Compass Direct

Javier Segura, the 31-year-old pastor of a Mennonite church located in the La Victoria neighborhood of Bogotá, Colombia, died instantly Sunday night, November 28, when a bomb detonated outside a public building near downtown Bogotá. The minister was the only fatality in the 10 p.m. terrorist attack in which six other people suffered injuries. Segura had just said goodbye to his fiancée, Sandra Figueroa, and was returning to his home, where he lived with his elderly parents. According to ALC news, investigating police initially implicated Segura himself as one of the bombers, but later withdrew the allegation. "He was a person completely dedicated to his work as a pastor, and it occupied all his time," Figueroa said. In the past two years, more than 400 evangelical Christians have died in violent incidents. Of those, 65 were pastors or church leaders.

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