Religion Today Summaries, November 21, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, November 21, 2003

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

  • ACLU Aiming to Censor Christmas in Colorado
  • Muslim Rioters Destroy 13 Churches in Nigeria
  • Judge OKs Religious Display in Florida Holiday Lights Event
  • Pro-Family Group Asks Nation's Pastors for Help

ACLU Aiming to Censor Christmas in Colorado
Alliance Defense Fund

The Colorado ACLU is threatening to sue the Elbert County Charter School if the principal refuses to censor Christmas for the school’s children. On November 10, 2003 the Colorado ACLU, in a letter joined by the Anti-Defamation League, alleges that, “Jewish students no longer feel safe or welcome at the Elbert County Charter School .”  The letter demands that Principal Les Gray censor Christmas, and the school “must take immediate steps to comply with the constitutional separation of church and state.” Barry Arrington, the school’s attorney, an ally of the Alliance Defense Fund, said this week that the “ACLU’s suggestion is outrageous and inflammatory.   These scarcely-veiled charges of anti-Semitism hurt the innocent and cheapen the painful experiences of those who suffer real bias.” As for the so-called separation of church and state, Arrington points out that those words do not appear in the Constitution.  “The truth is that no court has ever ruled that public schools must ban the singing of religious Christmas carols, and no court has ever held that celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas as religious holidays requires recognition of all other religious holidays.  The ACLU has a different vision for America than our founding fathers.” The ACLU demanded the school remove any reference to Christmas from their holiday program. “How tragic that these organizations would use children as pawns in their political game,” Arrington said.

Muslim Rioters Destroy 13 Churches in Nigeria
Barnabas News Fund

Muslim rioters have burnt down 13 churches in Kazaure, Nigeria. On Tuesday evening, 18 November, a crowd of Muslims tried to enter a girls’ school where a pupil had allegedly blasphemed against Islam. When they were prevented from doing so by police they rampaged through the town torching thirteen churches, 40 businesses and many Christian homes. Firstly Christian market stalls were targeted, then houses, other businesses belonging to Christians and the thirteen churches. Muslim shops were also looted as the mob grew further out of control. The crowd had gathered outside the school because they were unhappy with what they considered to be the lack of action against the pupil and attempted to gain entry in order to enforce their own punishment. When police shot a 17 year-old protester in the neck whilst trying to protect the school the crowd turned on local Christians and their property. The incident which had enraged Muslim anger occurred two weeks earlier when a 12 year-old Christian girl reportedly responded to taunts from Muslim classmates by insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Tensions provoked by the adoption of full Islamic law (shari’a) in twelve states in northern Nigerian since 1999 has led to widespread religious riots in which over 5000 people have been killed.

Judge OKs Religious Display in Florida Holiday Lights Event
Religion News Service

A Florida judge has ruled that Broward County officials cannot exclude a church's "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" display from a holiday lights event in a county park. U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch of Miami said Wednesday that the county violated Calvary Chapel's right to freedom of speech when it rejected its application to participate in the event.  Aware of church-state concerns, the judge ordered that the display by the Fort Lauderdale church be slightly modified to say "Calvary Chapel Says Jesus is the Reason for the Season." In a suit filed Oct. 22, the nondenominational church said it paid $15,000 to participate in the "Holiday Fantasy of Lights" but an original approval was revoked by county officials. John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, which filed the suit on the church's behalf, was pleased with the outcome. "This ruling clearly sends a message that the First Amendment protects religious speech just as it protects secular speech," Whitehead said in a statement. 

Pro-Family Group Asks Nation's Pastors for Help
Ed Vitagliano, Agape Press

A new Internet site has been created by the American Family Association to enroll pastors across the U.S. in an effort to combat the growing cultural threats to the nation's traditional values and religious liberties. The new website, www.ChurchCoalition.com, is intended to raise an army of 50,000 pastors who are willing to respond and act on issues of concern to the Church and its families. "Our religious liberties and traditional, biblical family values are being attacked with greater and greater frequency by the liberal left, often through the federal court system," said AFA founder and chairman Don Wildmon. "It is time for the Church to rise up and say, 'Enough is enough.'" Pastors who sign up will be contacted through their e-mail from time to time when important issues arise. A simple, specific action will be suggested, such as sending an e-mail, a letter and/or making a phone call to members of Congress or other relevant decision-makers in the private sector. As the new campaign kicks off, areas of immediate concern include the nation's religious heritage, as seen in the ongoing battles concerning the display of the Ten Commandments and National Motto, and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, and same-sex marriage.

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