Religion Today Summaries, July 15, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, July 15, 2004

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

  • Ohio Ten Commandments Case Appealed to Supreme Court 
  • Egyptian Christian Who Survived Torture Helps Persecuted Church
  • Video Series Explores Differences Between Faiths
  • Southern California Harvest Crusade Draws 51,000 For Extreme Sports, Music, And Message Of Faith

Ohio Ten Commandments Case Appealed to Supreme Court
Jim Brown, Agape Press

The highest court in America has been asked to clarify conflicting rulings that have been handed down by several U.S. circuit appeals courts concerning Ten Commandments displays. The American Center for Law and Justice has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a January 2004 appeals court decision banning Ten Commandments monuments at four public schools in Adams County, Ohio.  The case stems from a 1999 lawsuit filed against the school board over those displays, which resulted in a lower-court ruling that the displays were unconstitutional. The county tried to fix the problem by displaying the Decalogue in an appropriate historical context along with other documents.  However, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled that once a school district has violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, there is nothing it can ever do to undo that violation. ACLJ senior counsel Frank Manion believes the case should have ended when the county changed the display in 2002. The ACLJ attorney says he is hopeful the high court will examine its own precedent by clarifying what it meant in the one case the Supreme Court weighed in on the issue. "What they said was that while public schools were forbidden by the Constitution to display the Ten Commandments...for a religious purpose, there was nothing to prevent them from displaying the Ten Commandments in an appropriate study of history." he explains. According to the ACLJ, the Sixth Court's decision conflicts with other decisions involving display of the Ten Commandments in the Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits. 

Egyptian Christian Who Survived Torture Helps Persecuted Church
Charisma News Service

An Egyptian Christian brutally tortured for his faith by Egypt's military police is now a political refugee living in Canada who has used his freedom to start an international organization for persecuted Christians. Maged El Shafie, a 27-year-old law student who fled his native land in 1999, endured horrific physical abuse after the police discovered he started an underground Christian organization that eventually grew to thousands of people. "I was physically tortured for seven days because I wouldn't give the police the names of my Christian friends," El Shafie said. When he was on house arrest, one of his guards said that a court had secretly sentenced him to death on charges of trying to change Egypt's national religion. That night, El Shafie fled the country. When he reached Israel, El Shafie changed his name to Mack Smith, and immigrated to Toronto in February 2002. El Shafie started One Free World International, a human-rights organization for persecuted Christians and began broadcasting "River of Love," a weekly Arabic-language radio show. He said 425 Egyptian Muslims have come to the Lord through the program. One Free World is currently raising funds to buy farm machinery and other practical tools to send to persecuted Christians. El Shafie also speaks frequently at churches, schools and human-rights organizations about the plight of persecuted Christians. 

Video Series Explores Differences Between Faiths
Agape Press

Gateway Films/Vision Video has announced the release of a new video series that explores the differences between the Muslim and the Christian faiths. "Christianity and Islam" is hosted by best-selling author Dr. Timothy George, who is also dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University. The series is divided into four 25-minute chapters and based on George's book Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? A 32-page study guide is also included. The author notes, "In recent years we have seen the confluence of two major trends, the secularization of the West and the globalization of Islam. Christians can no longer ignore Islam, because Islam is increasingly seen as competing for the souls of men everywhere." The series explores common questions about Islam and Christianity, contrasting the two faiths, with Muslim scholars, clergy and laity speaking to the theological aspects of Islam and George discussing each Islamic belief and how it is similar to or distinct from Christianity.

Southern California Harvest Crusade Draws 51,000 For Extreme Sports, Music, And Message Of Faith
Jeremy Reynalds, ASSIST News Service

Harvest Crusades with Greg Laurie marked its 15-year anniversary of Southern California crusade events with extreme athletes and crowds dancing to Christian music. The day long event, dubbed Southern California Harvest, took place on Sat. July 10 at Anaheim's Angel Stadium. Extreme athletes flew from ramp to ramp during a Motocross demo, BMX riders and skateboarders exhibited tricks on a Vert Ramp, and crowds danced to music from artists as diverse as Skillet to Fernando Ortega. However, the underlying theme was the simple message of God's love and salvation presented throughout the day by Southern California based evangelist Greg Laurie. The evening crusade program called "A Night of Worship," featured a message from Laurie, known for communicating the Gospel in a fresh, culturally relevant way. According to a press release from Harvest Crusades, more than 51,000 people attended this year's event, with about 21,000 people participating in the afternoon Summerfest youth program, and an additional 30,000 attending the evening "Night of Worship" program. According to the same press release, more than 3,200 people dedicated their lives to Christ by the end of the crusade.