Religion Today Summaries - January 18, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 18, 2005

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

  • Lawsuit Preventing Prayer at Inauguration Rejected

  • Broadcasters To Give Hall Of Fame Award To D. James Kennedy

  • Eritrea Cracks Down on Catholic Believers

  • Belarus: Administrator of Church Fined 150 Times Monthly Wage

Lawsuit Preventing Prayer at Inauguration Rejected

Christian Coalition of America is commending the federal judge who rejected Michael Newdow's lawsuit attempting to prevent prayer at the 2005 Presidential Inauguration. The atheist activist's suit alleged that he would be forced to accept unwanted religious beliefs if a minister at the inauguration ceremonies invoked God. But U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled that the "balance of harms," particularly the public interest in the case, did not weigh strongly in favor of granting the legal relief sought by Newdow, which would have required "the unprecedented step of an injunction against the president." The Christian Coalition's vice president of legislative affairs, Jim Backlin, was pleased with Bates' decision and commented, "Thank God there are still federal judges -- including the Supreme Court justices who threw out Mr. Newdow's Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit last year -- who reject the goals of a tiny vocal minority trying to impose their anti-God prejudices on more than 80 percent of Americans who hold traditional values and want God to remain in the public square." President Bush's first inauguration included religious invocations, a tradition with precedents that go back as far as the presidency itself. As CCA noted in a recent press release, George Washington referred to God during his 1789 inauguration, and President Franklin Roosevelt began the practice of including Christian prayer during his second inauguration in 1937.

Broadcasters To Give Hall Of Fame Award To D. James Kennedy
Coral Ridge Ministries News

The world's largest association of Christian communicators will induct Dr. D. James Kennedy into its Hall of Fame in February. The National Religious Broadcasters, an international group of broadcasters with over 1,700 member organizations, announced the honor in January and will presents its Hall of Fame Award to Dr. Kennedy on Tuesday, February 15, at its annual convention in Anaheim. Dr. Kennedy is Senior Minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and President of Coral Ridge Ministries, an international Christian broadcast organization that reaches into 200 countries. More than three million people in the U.S. tune in to his radio and television programs each week, as do millions more around the world. The Hall of Fame Award recognizes "invaluable contributions to the field of Christian communications, all the while exhibiting the highest standards of conduct and evidence of faithfulness in Christ," according to Dr. Frank Wright, President of National Religious Broadcasters. While Dr. Kennedy's media outreach began in 1974 with radio, his connection to Christian broadcasting extends uniquely back to 1953. He went to Fort Lauderdale in 1959 to pastor Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Since then, he has founded nine other ministries, including a radio outreach in 1974 and a television program four years later.

Eritrea Cracks Down on Catholic Believers
Compass Direct

Eritrean authorities extended their crackdown on organized religion to Roman Catholics, jailing 25 members of the Catholic Church during a wedding rehearsal in Asmara on January 9. Police inexplicably entered the building and took the entire wedding party to jail, where they remained under arrest as of yesterday. The arrest marked the first reported crackdown against Eritrea 's Catholic community, which enjoys "official" recognition by the government, along with Orthodox and Lutheran Christians and Muslims. The same Sunday morning, security police swooped down on a wedding ceremony in Barentu and arrested the 67 evangelical Christians present. All the prisoners - among them a number of elderly people and young children -- reportedly were to be taken to the Sawa Military Training Center for "military punishment." Meanwhile, Compass has confirmed that 25 of the 60 Rema Charismatic Church members arrested at a New Year's Eve celebration in Asmara have been released after signing a pledge not to participate in such meetings again.

Belarus: Administrator of Church Fined 150 Times Monthly Wage
Charisma News Service

The administrator of a charismatic congregation in the capital Minsk was recently fined 150 times the monthly wage for organizing an "illegal" service on property the church owns. Members of the 600-strong New Life Church in the capital Minsk rejected the "unjust" fine handed down to Vasily Yurevich on Dec. 28, Forum 18 News Service reported. Yurevich plans to appeal the fine. New Life pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko, who could also be fined on the same charges, estimated that the average wage in the eastern European country, located near Poland, is between $100 and $150 per month. Yurevich's fine came exactly two weeks after the church received written notice that its re-registration application had been rejected, rendering all its public activity illegal and subject to punishment. Goncharenko insisted that authorities do not intimidate his congregation. "We will stand up for our rights to worship God. This is all we want to do, and God will defend us," he said. In October, Pastor Andrei Sidor of the registered Light to the World charismatic Full Gospel congregation in Minsk was fined about five weeks' of wages, or about $174, for holding an unsanctioned religious meeting at his home. Additionally, three members of a Council of Churches Baptist church were each fined $175, about 20 times the minimum wage, for singing hymns at a hospital in the Gomel region without first obtaining state permission, Forum 18 reported. (