Religion Today Summaries - November 9, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - November 9, 2004

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

  • Marines Turn To God Ahead Of Anticipated Fallujah Battle

  • Initially Snubbed, FGBMI Sees 1,100+ Salvations at AZ State Fair

  • Egyptian Teenagers Fight Forced Muslim Identities

  • PJI Defends Sacramento Church Against City's Harassment

Marines Turn To God Ahead Of Anticipated Fallujah Battle
Michael Ireland, Assist News Service

With US forces massing outside Fallujah, 35 marines swayed to Christian rock music and asked Jesus Christ to protect them in what could be the biggest battle since American troops invaded Iraq last year. Men with buzz cuts and clad in their camouflage waved their hands in the air, M-16 assault rifles laying beside them, and chanted heavy metal-flavored lyrics in praise of Jesus Christ late Friday in a yellow-brick chapel, says a report circulated by the French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP). They counted among thousands of troops surrounding the city of Fallujah, seeking solace as they awaited Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's decision on whether or not to invade Fallujah, the agency said. AFP said the US military, with many soldiers coming from the conservative American south and Midwest, has deep Christian roots. In times when fighting looms, many soldiers draw on their evangelical or born-again heritage to help them face the battle. Please pray for the safety of all coalition forces as they move into Fallujah for the final assault on the terror camp there. Pray for legions of guardian angels to surround them and bring them all home safe, alive and healthy.

Initially Snubbed, FGBMI Sees 1,100+ Salvations at AZ State Fair
Jim Brown, AgapePress

A Phoenix-based pro-family law firm says a recent First Amendment victory has helped further the spread of the gospel. Arizona State Fair officials had refused to rent exhibitor space to the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International, claiming that too many people had found their speech "personally offensive" at the previous year's fair.  At the same time, the fair granted space to other groups that even included profanity and blatant sexual references in their messages. But as Alliance Defense Fund attorney Elizabeth Murray points out, officials with the fair reversed their decision after being accused of suppressing free speech.  "The Alliance Defense Fund was able to send a letter to State Fair officials, arguing that the First Amendment does not allow them to discriminate based on the content of the speech," the attorney explains. After officials were informed they were acting unconstitutionally, the Fellowship was permitted to rent a booth at this year's fair. A spokesman for the Southern Arizona chapter of the Fellowship reports 1,130 individuals indicated their desire to become a Christian as a result of the group's presence at the fair this year. The ADF attorney says that judging by the number of people who stopped by the group's booth demonstrates that the charge of the Christian message being offensive was baseless.

Egyptian Teenagers Fight Forced Muslim Identities
Barbara G. Baker, Compass Direct

Two teenage Christian sisters in Egypt have gone to court to contest the forced change of their official religious identity to Islam. Iman and Olfat Malak Ayet, now 17 and 18 years of age, were raised as Christians by their Coptic Orthodox mother. Their father left his Christian wife, baby daughter and unborn child in 1986, converted to Islam and married a Muslim. He changed his daughters' official identities from Christian to Muslim several years before his death in November 2002. In order to enter their final school examinations and then apply for university acceptance, the Christian sisters must first be issued their national I.D. cards. The formal identity cards will declare them Muslims if the State Council verdict, due at the end of November, isn't in their favor. "How can these children be forced to become Muslims, when they have never practiced Islam in their entire lives?" Coptic Christian lawyer Naguib Gabriel asked the court at the third trial hearing on July 6.

PJI Defends Sacramento Church Against City's Harassment
Mary Rettig, AgapePress

A group of Russian immigrants in California are fighting their local government's hostile effort to keep them from filling their church pews. The immigrants who make up the congregation of the Independent Baptist Church of Sacramento fled Russia to escape communist oppression. But now, they have had to seek legal assistance from the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) in order to avoid what many see as another kind of oppression -- the tyranny of municipal bureaucracy. Brad Dacus of PJI is representing the Independent Baptist Church. He says the church's building can hold 500 people, but the city of Sacramento will only allow the congregation to have 120 -- the capacity of the church parking lot. Dacus is outraged by the way the city has strung this Christian body along and asks, "Is America no longer the land of religious freedom these immigrants thought they were coming to? According to the lawyer, the city's actions are a clear violation of religious land use laws and an infringement on Independent Baptist's First Amendment rights. Pacific Justice Institute is determined to see that the constitutional and legal rights of the church members are protected. Dacus says PJI welcomes this opportunity to set a valuable precedent for other churches facing similar struggles over land use issues.