Religion Today Summaries, November 10, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, November 10, 2003

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

  • School Violated Students' Rights When It Stopped Christian Photo Message

  • Graham Marks 85th Birthday, Prepares for Future ‘Crusades’

  • Christian Aid Workers Under Attack in Iraq

  • Attackers Critically Injure Turkish Christian

School Violated Students' Rights When It Stopped Christian Photo Message
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A California school district may soon find itself in federal court after officials told Christian students they could not express their religious beliefs in a senior-class photo. Recently the senior class at Fountain Valley High School gathered for a group photo for the student yearbook.  Several Christian students decided to wear T-shirts to the photo shoot that, when placed together, expressed messages such as "Jesus is the Way" and "Jesus Loves You." However, the students were told by school officials that they could not express any kind of religious message in the photo. They were forced to step out of the photo. Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute feels the school officials censored the religious expression of the students. Dacus notes that Fountain Valley High administrators did not exclude several students who wore clothes with visible "name brands" or logos. Nor did the school interfere with Muslim students who wore headscarves for the photo. But the students who wanted to express their faith by participating in a group Christian message were not allowed to do so. According to the attorney, the Pacific Justice Institute responded to "this outrageous discrimination" by sending a legal opinion and demand letter to Fountain Valley High School officials, explaining how they were violating the Constitution and the rights of the students.

Graham Marks 85th Birthday, Prepares for Future `Crusades'
Adelle Banks, Religion News Service

Evangelist Billy Graham marked his 85th birthday Friday (Nov. 7) and began solidifying plans for continuing his evangelistic ministry next year. "I never dreamed that I would live to be 85," Graham said in a statement. "I am grateful to the Lord for the strength he gives me to hold additional crusades." Graham spokesman A. Larry Ross said officials of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association have decided to once again use the term "crusades" to describe Graham's major events, rather than "missions." "I think that there's been consensus among the leadership to return to the more familiar term `crusade,'" Ross told Religion News Service. "It's what he's been known for for all these years." In 2001, shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Graham suggested the next announcement of an evangelistic outreach be called something other than a "crusade" in an effort to be sensitive to people of non-Christian faiths. Ross said the change reflects an emphasis on the "denotation of the word" rather than "any implied connotation." The evangelist has been meeting with his son, Franklin, the CEO of the association, and others to discuss invitations he has received to hold future crusades. He is scheduled to announce his plans for 2004 crusades in January.

Christian Aid Workers Under Attack in Iraq
Stefan Bos, ASSIST News Service

At least six American soldiers died in a helicopter crash Friday, Nov. 7, in northern Iraq as Christian aid workers were reportedly preparing for attacks against them as well. News reports said a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter went down near former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, and military officials did not rule out the crash was caused by an attack adding that an investigation was ongoing. This crash came just five days after 16 soldiers died when their Chinook helicopter was downed by what was believed to be a shoulder-fired missile near the town of Fallujah west of Baghdad.  The increased anti- American violence, comes amid reports that attacks specifically targeting aid workers and other humanitarian organizations have increased in many areas of Iraq, Mission Network News (MNN), an international Christian broadcaster, reported.

Attackers Critically Injure Turkish Christian
Compass Direct

A Turkish convert to Christianity who was severely beaten for distributing New Testaments last week in his hometown of Orhangazi in northwestern Turkey has slipped into a coma in critical condition. Yakup Cindilli, 32, was hospitalized on October 23 after a savage attack by three individuals who inflicted heavy blows on his head and face. Although he was initially coherent and able to talk with his family, he went into a coma during his second day in the hospital. Local police have identified and apprehended three suspects in the crime, all jailed by order of the public prosecutor reviewing the case. No date has been set for a hearing on the expected criminal charges against the accused. Both Cindilli and a colleague identified in local Turkish newspapers as Tufan Orhan were reportedly distributing New Testaments at the time of the attack. Both were left semi-conscious in an open lot in Orhangazi after their attackers fled. One of the suspects, Metin Yildiran, is president of the local chapter of the Nationalist Movement Party, a far-right political party accused of “neo-fascist” activities, that has historically linked its platform with an Islamic-tinged version of nationalism.