Religion Today Summaries, January 8, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, January 8, 2003

In Today's Edition:

  • Ethnic Cleansing Resumes in Sudan’s Oil Fields
  • Federal Court Finds Texas City Policy Prohibiting Religious Meetings Unconstitutional 
  • Students Fight School's 'Jesus Candy' Suspension
  • Yemen Worker Recovering Well, Joking with Wife, Doctor Says

Ethnic Cleansing Resumes in Sudan’s Oil Fields

(Christian Solidarity International) Sudanese government troops have resumed "ethnic cleansing operations" in the vicinity of Talisman and Lundin oil installations in western Upper Nile, according to a senior Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) official.  It was confirmed that the Sudanese Government launched a six-day offensive in Mayom and Leer Counties on December 31, involving approximately 1,500 ground troops, supported by helicopter gun ships.  In Lare, government troops burnt the facilities of the World Food Program and MSF-Holland.  The most recent attacks took place on January 6 when government troops attacked villages around the town of Tam.  Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced from their homes and are now without food and shelter.  Local officials are still trying to determine the number of killed, wounded and abducted civilians.  The Red Cross has evacuated some of the wounded.  Since last June thousands of women and children have been abducted by government soldiers from western Upper Nile and transferred to government controlled areas.  Last October, U.S. President George W. Bush, in the Sudan Peace Act, condemned Sudan’s government for acts of genocide, including low-intensity ethnic cleansing and slavery, in and around the Talisman and Lundin oil concession areas.

Federal Court Finds Texas City Policy Prohibiting Religious Meetings Unconstitutional

The American Center for Law and Justice announced today that a federal district court has ruled that the City of Van, Texas acted in a discriminatory fashion when it rejected requests to use city facilities for religious meetings.  The court also declared the city’s facilities use policy unconstitutional and granted a permanent injunction to prevent the city from continuing with its discriminatory actions.  “This is a total and complete victory for our clients who faced the discriminatory action of the City of Van which prohibited our clients from using city facilities because their message was religious,” said Stuart J. Roth, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ, which filed suit.   “The court properly concluded that the city acted in a discriminatory manner.  The decision sends a very powerful message that if a city permits its facilities to be used for a wide variety of purposes, it cannot legally reject a request to permit religious meetings from taking place.  We are hopeful the city will now get the message and permit our clients to exercise their constitutional rights without further discrimination.”

Students Fight School's 'Jesus Candy' Suspension

(Charisma News) Several students from a Boston-area high school have been suspended for distributing candy canes with a Christian note to their classmates at Christmas.  According to "The Boston Globe," seven Westfield High School students will appeal the one-day suspension, accusing school officials of violating their rights to free speech and expression.  Mary Etta Grabowski, whose 16-year-old son, Stephen, is co-leader of the school's Bible Club, said: "I think it's kind of ridiculous how far it's gone over a little piece of paper and kids wanting to wish their friends a merry Christmas.  I'm proud of my son because I've taught him to stand up for what he believes in, and he's doing that even though it's costing him something."  "No matter what they do, we're not backing down,” said Stephen.  “We really believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we're prepared to fight.  They picked the wrong people to step on."  School administrators have said the issue is not religion, and they were only adhering to a policy that bars students from passing out non-school-related literature on campus."  Stephen told the "Globe" that "maybe we'll ask them to change the policy.  There's a possibility we'll file a lawsuit."  The group had distributed the candy canes in the past.

Yemen Worker Recovering Well, Joking with Wife, Doctor Says
Manda Roten

(Baptist Press) Don Caswell, the International Mission Board worker who survived the Dec. 30 shootings at the Baptist hospital in Jibla, Yemen, is resting with his family and expected to recover fully from his injuries, reported Judy Williams, his attending physician.  Bullets from his attacker's pistol hit Caswell's right and left sides.  Though Caswell remembers being shot three times, Williams thinks he probably felt the impact of a bullet entering and exiting his left side and actually was shot twice.  Caswell, 49, is well on his way to recovery, Williams said. He is now able to walk completely upright and is joking with his wife, Terry -- a sure sign he's getting back to normal.  The pharmacist, who has served at the Jibla hospital since July 2001, is expected to have no long-term complications from his injuries.  According to Williams, the family is sleeping late, taking walks and enjoying being together.  "Terry wanted to 'get her little chicks under her wing again and be able to nest a little bit,'" Williams said.  "She's been able to do that here."  In the meantime, Caswell's older son, Thomas, 11, constantly asks Williams about his dad's condition, while the younger boy, Caleb, 5, is fascinated with the wounds.