Religion Today Summaries - January 20, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 20, 2005

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

  • Inauguration Sparks Flaps Over Religious Expression in Public Square

  • Christian Leader: Bible Display Removal Order Proves Christians Need to Know Their Rights

  • Missionary Group Abandons Plan to Raise Muslim Tsunami Orphans

  • Kidnapped Iraqi Archbishop Released Unharmed

Inauguration Sparks Flaps Over Religious Expression in Public Square
Charisma News Service

President Bush's inauguration this week has sparked two controversies over religious expression in the public square. Bush will be sworn in to a second term at noon today outside the U.S. Capitol, overlooking the National monuments. Michael Newdow, the atheist doctor and lawyer from Sacramento who tried to have the phrase "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, lost a lawsuit last Friday to bar the saying of a Christian prayer at Bush's inauguration, the Associated Press (AP) reported. U.S. District Judge John Bates said Newdow's claim should be denied because he already had filed and lost a similar lawsuit in a federal appeals court in California last year. Newdow said he planned to appeal. Attorneys representing Bush argued that prayers have been widely accepted at inaugurals for more than 200 years and that Bush's decision to have a minister recite the invocation was a personal choice the court had no power to prevent, the AP reported. The Constitution does not require the new president to place his hand on a Bible while repeating the oath. The tradition has been kept since George Washington -- with the exception of Theodore Roosevelt, who did not use a Bible when he took the oath after President William McKinley's 1901 assassination. Inaugural organizers confirmed there will be an invocation and a benediction by ministers chosen by the president, The Washington Times reported. (http://www.charismanow.com)

Christian Leader: Bible Display Removal Order Proves Christians Need to Know Their Rights
Allie Martin, AgapePress

The founder and president of Vision America says the recent removal of a Bible in front of a Texas courthouse is yet another example of an out-of-control judiciary in a politically correct climate. Earlier this month a court order forced the removal of a King James Bible from a 48-year-old monument in front of Houston's Harris County Courthouse. The Houston monument was erected by a homeless mission to honor a longtime supporter, and Vision America's Rick Scarborough says the Bible was prominently displayed for nearly half a century -- until one person complained. The entire case, he contends, is just one more example of an all too common misunderstanding of citizens' free-speech rights. Scarborough says it is time to stop allowing one person's offense to authorize the perpetration of mass offense upon a whole culture. The Vision America spokesman says too many Christians do not realize how judicial activists and civil liberties groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and others have misinterpreted the constitution. He says one reason for this is that most churches have not properly educated believers about America's religious heritage and the Christian beliefs of many of the founding fathers. They are important ideas, he says, adding, "Our people cannot be good citizens if they don't understand who they are as Christians, first, but also as American Christians."

Missionary Group Abandons Plan to Raise Muslim Tsunami Orphans
Charisma News Service

A Virginia-based missionary group has dropped its plans to place 300 Muslim tsunami orphans in a Christian children's home after it triggered proselytizing concerns. After the Indonesian government denied making such a deal, WorldHelp canceled its orphan mission last week, The Washington Post reported. In an e-mail, as well as in statements given to Reuters and Agence France-Presse, the group's president, the Rev. Vernon Brewer, said WorldHelp had raised $70,000 to place 50 of the children in a Christian orphanage, but had halted its efforts when it learned last Wednesday that the Indonesian government would not allow it. WorldHelp was founded by Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell. The group's plan to raise children from Muslim families in a Christian home struck a sensitive nerve in Indonesia, which had regulations in place even before the tsunami requiring orphans to be raised by people of their own religion. A senior Islamic leader warned foreign relief workers last Friday of a serious backlash from Muslims if they bring Christian proselytizing to tsunami-struck Sumatra, Indonesia, along with humanitarian help. "All non-governmental organizations, either domestic or international, with hidden agendas coming here with humanitarian purposes but instead proselytizing, this is what we do not like," said Dien Syamsuddin, secretary-general of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas, or religious scholars. (http://www.charismanow.com)

Kidnapped Iraqi Archbishop Released Unharmed
Compass Direct

Less than 24 hours after armed gunmen kidnapped the Syrian Catholic archbishop of Mosul, 66-year-old Basile Georges Casmoussa was set free today unharmed. Late yesterday afternoon armed men accosted Casmoussa as he left a parishioner's home near the university, forced him into the trunk of a car and drove away. The Vatican reacted quickly to the abduction, calling it a "despicable terrorist act" and demanding the archbishop's immediate release. Casmoussa was released just before noon local time and by 2:15 p.m. had arrived back at his diocesan office. Catholic officials declared that no ransom had been paid for his release. Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel Delly confirmed today from Baghdad that several days ago, a Chaldean priest had also been kidnapped and held by gunmen for 24 hours and then released. Delly emphasized that such incidents were not "deliberate attacks against Christians," but indications that "Iraq is in a state of chaos."

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