Religion Today Summaries, June 17, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, June 17, 2004

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

  • School Backs Down, Allows Student's Pro-Life Message on Clothing
  • Pentecostal Preacher Escapes Islamic Captors in Pakistan
  • Catholic Bishops Urged to Censure Pro-Choice Politicians
  • Couple to Train Thousands for a Final 'Healing Explosion'

School Backs Down, Allows Student's Pro-Life Message on Clothing
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A Virginia high school has agreed to no longer bar a Christian student from wearing a pro-life sweatshirt to school. The dramatic about-face comes after the Thomas More Law Center threatened to sue Osbourn Park High School in Manassas on behalf of senior Heather Holbrook, whose sweatshirt bore the words:  "Abortion is homicide. You will not silence my message.  You will not mock my God. You will stop killing my generation.  Rock for Life." Holbrook's assistant principal said the shirt displayed a political message the school did not want to promote and it was "offensive." Richard Thompson, chief counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, says the type of discrimination the senior encountered has become all too common in schools.  "It's generally the kid who has the Christian point of view who the school tries to silence," he says. The attorney says students who wear clothing that bears morally questionable messages are typically given a pass.  Thompson contends that conservative viewpoints are often censored in public schools -- and that schools will come up with every excuse they can think of to tell students they cannot wear clothing with certain messages. Thompson explains that students are not required to express only those messages that the school approves -- and he applauds the Holbrook family for having the courage to stand up to the school and its attempt to silence their daughter's pro-life message.

Pentecostal Preacher Escapes Islamic Captors in Pakistan
Stefan Bos, ASSIST News Service

A Pentecostal preacher abducted by Muslim militants in Pakistan's southwestern region has escaped from his captors. Wilson Fazal, 41, who pastors a church in the city of Quetta, disappeared May 16 after receiving threatening letters from an unknown group of Islamists who urged him to convert to Islam or face unspecified consequences. Fazal told police that he had been kidnapped and taken to the northwestern city of Peshawar, about 375 miles northeast of Quetta, when he managed to escape recently. No details of his escape were immediately available. Fazal's son, Jerry, said that a hand-written letter delivered to their home in early May warned Wilson to stop preaching Christianity. A group calling itself Mahaz-e-Jihad, or "Frontier of the Holy War" sent the letter. "Get ready, ready, ready, or else..." said the letter which had a hand-drawn rifle for a signature at the bottom. About 70,000 of Quetta's population of 1.5 million are Christian. They have largely lived in harmony with the Muslim population, even though the city is also home to hard-line Islamic militants opposed to religious tolerance and the United States-led war in neighboring Afghanistan. Yet the kidnapping has underscored concern among human rights groups about growing pressure on Pakistan's Christian minority.

Catholic Bishops Urged to Censure Pro-Choice Politicians
Rusty Pugh, Agape Press

As they conduct their closed-door retreat in Denver, Colorado, this week, America's Roman Catholic Bishops are deliberating over whether political officeholders and candidates who reject the Church's teachings on abortion should receive the sacrament of Communion. The Catholic leaders can set policy for their own dioceses and have taken varied positions on the question. But in an Associated Press interview, one pro-life advocate said there should be no debate about the issue -- politicians who support abortion should be denied Holy Communion. American Life League spokesman Joe Giganti says the U.S. Catholic bishops should take decisive action and sanction these pro-abortion politicians. He notes, "Abortion has a primacy within the realm of civil rights because if you do not have that right to life and it is not protected above all other things, then there are no other civil rights that matter." Giganti says his group has been engaging the U.S. Catholic bishops and asking them to use their authority to withhold communion from known pro-abortion Catholic politicians until they either recant their position or stop calling themselves Catholics.

Couple to Train Thousands for a Final 'Healing Explosion'
Charisma News Service

A couple who have led healing crusades worldwide since 1985 plan to hold a final Healing Explosion in Houston later this year. Charles and Frances Hunter will train thousands in healing ministry during a crusade to be held Oct. 2 at the Astrodome. "I think it will be a historic event because we're going to train 10,000 people how to minister healing," Frances Hunter, 88, said. "When we anoint the 10,000 people on the healing team, do you have any idea the explosion of power that's going to go out?" she added. The training sessions will be held Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, and Frances believes the Healing Explosion will affect people around the world. They've already received reservations from India, Indonesia, Korea, Peru, Ecuador and the Ukraine. "We believe that these 10,000 people ... [will] go back to their churches, and they're going to start teaching their people so our churches can really come alive with the power of God," she said. The Hunters have been teaching Christians how to minister healing for more than 30 years. Known as the "Happy Hunters," the couple has hosted healing crusades, written dozens of books on healing, and produced training videos about healing ministry. In 1990, they began the World Evangelistic Census, a campaign that mobilizes people to do door-to-door evangelism while taking a census of the world.