Religion Today Summaries, May 21, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, May 21, 2004

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

  • Ruling Against Christian Speaker Appealed to Ninth Circuit
  • Texas Outreach Shares Gospel, Builds Churches in Mexico
  • Young U.S. Agriculture Specialist Graduates to Sudan Mission Field
  • Six Villagers Arrested for Shaving the Heads of Christians in India

Ruling Against Christian Speaker Appealed to Ninth Circuit
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A civil liberties group is appealing a case involving a motivational speaker who was barred from addressing an assembly of middle school students in Montana. Two years ago, School District No. 10 in Dillon rescinded its invitation to Jaroy Carpenter because of his affiliation with an evangelical group called the Dawson McAllister Association (DMA).  Carpenter had been invited to help Dillon middle school students cope with a rash of teen suicides deaths.  But the school board and a county attorney claimed hiring Carpenter might cause the middle school to be in violation of the alleged "separation of Church and State." Casey Mattox with The Rutherford Institute is Carpenter's attorney.  Mattox is asking the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a district court ruling in favor of the school district's motion to dismiss the case.  Mattox maintains that his client's right to free exercise of religion was abridged and that, like everyone else, people with deeply held religious beliefs have the right not to be discriminated against because of those beliefs. According to the Institute, at the time of Dillon's invitation, Carpenter had made more than 200 secular presentations at school assemblies around the country and had never addressed religion or sought to proselytize those in attendance. 

Texas Outreach Shares Gospel, Builds Churches in Mexico
Charisma News Service

Launched by a pastor who spoke no Spanish, a Texas-based ministry plants churches and offers relief in Mexico. Founded in 1982 by Larry Myers, Mexico Ministries (MM) runs two Bible schools, two medical clinics and a missionary training center. "I saw the tremendous needs there," Myers, 67, said. "Every little town of 10,000 in this country has 20 churches or more, but in Mexico there are thousands of villages without a church at all. I realized I was needed there more than in the States." Despite humble beginnings, awkward moments and financial difficulties, MM expanded through Myers' diligent efforts. He has taken the gospel by boat along the Mexico-Guatemala border and by horseback deep into the mountains of Chiapas. These days, he alternates between raising funds in the United States and ministering in Mexico. Myers said his passion is to share the gospel and build churches. Years ago his organization quit counting the number it has constructed. "The greatest call for me is taking the gospel to an unchurched people, building a church, walking away and duplicating it again," said Myers. "Last year we completed a church almost every three weeks." Since MM began the outreach has helped thousands receive medical and dental care, blankets, a place to worship and most important, the message of Christ.

Young U.S. Agriculture Specialist Graduates to Sudan Mission Field
Allie Martin, Agape Press

Shortly after Tim Windmeyer graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in agriculture systems management, he contacted Samaritan's Purse, a Christian international relief organization, to find out if they could use anyone with his background and skills. Today he is lending his agricultural expertise to struggling farmers in war-torn Sudan. The 24-year-old Windmeyer has been in Sudan nearly two years now, and has spent most of that time developing a mechanized farming project in the Nuba Mountains. He says years of draught, famine, and civil war have left thousands of families in the region without food and the means to plant new crops. The farming project Windmeyer has been developing is designed to address some of these needs for Sudan's agrarian families. The effect of this agricultural project on the Sudanese people is "so huge," he notes, "because they are farmers by tradition and that's what they want to be doing." Getting to know the locals has been another gratifying aspect of the project for Windmeyer. Samaritan’s Purse volunteers and staff reach out to victims of the civil war and in other suffering regions, ministering to victims of wars, disease, and natural disasters with critical assistance in the name of Jesus Christ through hundreds of projects in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Six Villagers Arrested for Shaving the Heads of Christians in India
International Christian Concern

Six people were arrested on May 3 in connection with a February 10 incident regarding residents of Kilipala village in Orissa state shaving the heads of a local pastor and eight Christian women. Tonsuring, or shaving the crown of the head, is seen as the mark of a Hindu convert and caused great humiliation for the Christians concerned. The arrests were made after a Public Interest Litigation was filed on behalf of the victims. The villagers had previously accused Pastor Samal of forcibly converting two girls in the village; “forced conversion” is banned under the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act. Pastor Samal denied the charges, and the two girls signed an affidavit saying they had converted of their own free will. Despite this evidence, an arrest warrant was issued against Pastor Samal just a few days after the villagers responsible for tonsuring him were arrested. Concerned Christian and secular organizations in India are proceeding with further appeals on behalf of Pastor Samal and the eight women, who remain in sheltered housing in the state capital.