Religion Today Summaries, June 8, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, June 8, 2004

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

  • Attorney Sees Doors Opening For Christian Clubs On Campus 
  • 'G8 Prayer Initiative' Targets World Leaders Summit in Georgia
  • Unfairly Imprisoned Missionary Goes on Quest to Tell His Story 
  • Muslim Prayer Calls Echo Through Detroit Suburb; Petitioners Unhappy

Attorney Sees Doors Opening For Christian Clubs On Campus
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A school district in Washington State has agreed to no longer bar Child Evangelism Fellowship from using school facilities. The Mount Vernon School District had been charging CEF's "Good News Clubs" a rental fee, even though other secular clubs were given free use of the facilities. Once CEF overcame that hurdle, the district decided to prohibit the Good News Clubs from passing out fliers advertising its events to students. The school system finally did a dramatic about-face, ending its discrimination against CEF, but only after the Liberty Counsel legal organization issued lawsuit threats on three separate occasions. Liberty Counsel president and general counsel Mat Staver points out that equal access means equal treatment in every aspect, but he notes that the kind of discrimination happening at Mount Vernon is all too common. Still, the attorney notes, the school had its ultimate "change of heart" not because it wanted to do the right thing voluntarily, but because Liberty Counsel intervened. He says Christian groups need to take advantage of the legal protections the law presently affords, thanks to a number of court cases that have "opened the doors wide." "I think it's a very opportune time for Christians to be able to take Christian clubs to schools immediately after the last bell," Staver says, "and be able to bring essentially a high powered Sunday School program to the public schools. It's an opportunity that we've not had in our lifetime until recently."

'G8 Prayer Initiative' Targets World Leaders Summit in Georgia
Charisma News Service

Georgia pastors, ministry leaders and intercessors will be standing in the gap for a gathering of leaders from eight of the world's most powerful nations that starts today in a coastal region of the state. About 20,000 police and federal agents have been assigned to patrol the streets, beaches and waters off Sea Island to provide heightened security for the Group of Eight (G8) summit, which runs through Thursday. President Bush and the leaders of Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia are expected to attend the summit. Meanwhile, the U.S. Strategic Prayer Network and the Institute for Global Affairs, a Christian organization based in the United Kingdom and Canada, have organized the G8 Prayer Initiative, which consists of unified prayer and worship groups from across the state. Organizers said dozens of prayer networks have been organized involving tens of thousands of intercessors mobilized to pray specifically for the attending G8 leaders, the decisions they will make and for peace throughout the world. "God is calling His church to take her place within a global arena," said Jacquie Tyre, coordinator of the Georgia Strategic Prayer Network. During the G8 summit, believers and church leaders from around the world will attend worship and prayer summits running simultaneously in Atlanta, Brunswick, the county seat for Sea Island, and Savannah.

Unfairly Imprisoned Missionary Goes on Quest to Tell His Story
Mervin Ralph, ASSIST News Service

Bruce Balfour, the Canadian Christian who was acquitted of charges of spying for Israel by a Lebanese military tribunal in Beirut, has gone on the road to tell his story.  Balfour was charged and convicted of “spying for Israel” in abstensia in a Syrian controlled Lebanese military court in Beirut, Lebanon in the early spring of 2003. Not knowing of the arrest warrant, he returned to Beirut last summer to film a documentary of the biblical importance of Lebanon and was immediately arrested and imprisoned. Bruce has been involved in Lebanon and Israel since 1981. He is a good friend of Israel and this attracted the attention of the Islamic regimes. After arrest, the Lebanese authorities refused to allow him to contact the Canadian Embassy, which is against many International laws. After two weeks, a private source got a message to the outside world about Balfour’s imprisonment and he received a visit from a Canadian official. Thus began an intensive campaign to inform the world of his plight. After going through four military trials and teaching the Bible through most of it, he was charged and convicted of a new crime, “teaching the bible boldly.” The “spying for Israel” conviction was dropped. Through intensive world media coverage and millions praying for him, his deliverance came on September 3, 2003. Now, Bruce is on a continuing quest to tell of “The Masters” freedom in spirit, soul, mind, and body, to all who ask.

Muslim Prayer Calls Echo Through Detroit Suburb; Petitioners Unhappy
Chad Groening, Agape Press

Some residents of a Detroit-area town hope that an August ballot initiative will send a strong message to the Muslim community that they do not want to hear Islamic calls for prayer broadcast five times a day over loudspeakers. In the meantime, citizens will have to call the police if they don't like the noise. Hamtramck, Michigan, remains embroiled in the loudspeaker controversy, as non-Muslims have successfully put a city council ordinance amendment into abeyance until voters decide the issue. Following approval of the council's amendment -- which exempts the prayer calls from a local noise ordinance -- citizens gathered a sufficient number of signatures on a petition to bring the issue to a vote. But local mosques have gone ahead with plans to broadcast the calls to prayer -- albeit at a somewhat subdued volume. Resident Bob Golen, one of the petition organizers, says he is not surprised that the mosques have decided to broadcast the prayer calls anyway.  "We're hoping that we get a big enough election turnout to show these people where we're coming from and [that] we mean business -- and hopefully they'll decide on their own to back off," Golen says. According to Golen, the council tried to explain to those opposing the ordinance that there was nothing that could be done to stop the prayer calls anyway, and that the ordinance was merely an attempt to get control of the situation. But the ordinance permits the mosques to determine what is "too loud or not right,' he says, adding that no decibel level is defined in the ordinance. Golen says right now, residents of Hamtramck still have the recourse to call the police and file a complaint if the prayer calls get too loud -- and a successful referendum, he says, would keep it that way.