Religion Today Summaries - October 27, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 27, 2005

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

  • Christians Under Attack In Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia

  • Church's Right to Equal Treatment is Acknowledged with Refund 

  • International Conference to Explore Christian Contributions to a Culture of Peace

  • Legal Advice to U.S. Schools: Don't Be a Grinch About Christmas

Christians Under Attack In Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia
Assist News Service/Open Doors USA

Each year Open Doors releases the World Watch List which ranks 50 nations where persecution of Christians is the worst. For the third year in a row North Korea stands No. 1 on the list followed by Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. But the hard-hit tsunami countries of Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia rank No. 29, No. 34 and No. 37, respectively, on the World Watch List. The tsunami, which hit Dec. 26, 2004, just added to the suffering our brothers and sisters have been enduring over the years. Open Doors, which has supported and strengthened Christians in those countries for years, is continuing to minister with tsunami relief and support. That support includes rebuilding schools and churches, replacing Bibles lost in the flooding, putting livelihood projects into effect and grief and trauma counseling. Open Doors USA is focusing on those three countries during the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Sunday, Nov. 13 when millions of Christians in the West lift up their voices as one for suffering believers. Open Doors USA is offering a free kit filled with resources for pastors to lead their churches in praying for believers in these three countries and all around the world. You can order free IDOP materials by going to www.odusa.org/IDOPinfo  or calling 1-888-5-BIBLE-5. Deadline for orders is November 1.

Church's Right to Equal Treatment is Acknowledged with Refund
Jody Brown, Agape Press

With the help of the Pacific Justice Institute, a church in Sacramento, California, has been refunded almost $3,000 in unjustified fees. The New Life Foursquare Church had been leasing space for Sunday morning worship services from a local high school. But the church was concerned that it was being charged higher rental fees than other nonprofit groups solely because of its religious nature. Church leaders contacted the Pacific Justice Institute, which then informed the school that its actions were unconstitutional and warned of legal action if the situation was not remedied. Acknowledging the church's right to equal treatment, the school refunded the unjustified fees that the church says it now plans to fund its ministries. PJI's Kevin Snider, who represented the church in the matter, commends the school for owning up to its mistake and correcting it. The attorney says churches like New Life Foursquare are making a "positive impact" on their communities and should not be penalized "just because they are religious." The president of PJI, Brad Dacus, adds that his group is ready to represent other churches -- without charge -- that may find themselves in similar situations.

International Conference to Explore Christian Contributions to a Culture of Peace
Religion News Service

The root causes and complex nature of violence, and aspects of Christian spiritual life that can contribute towards the building of a culture of peace in today's world, will be the focus of an international conference taking place in Boston, USA from 27-29 October 2005. Entitled "Violence and Christian spirituality", the conference is sponsored by the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in cooperation with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Boston Theological Institute. After considering violence from a broad variety of perspectives - including human rights, development, social change, interreligious relations, Christian anthropology, and gender - the conference will seek to lift up resources for peace from Christian spiritual life, and will explore the history of non-violence; the Patristic approach to forgiveness and reconciliation; the role of prayer and worship; and the relationship of justice and peace. Hosted by an Orthodox theological institute, it is described by organizers as a direct contribution by the international Orthodox Christian community to the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010). Social scientists, theologians, religious and community leaders from a broad range of Christian backgrounds, including some of the world's foremost authorities in the study of peace and violence, will bring an interdisciplinary and critical approach to bear upon their subject, and speakers from Orthodox and other church traditions will contribute ecumenical perspectives on violence. More information is available at: http://www.hchc.edu or www.wcc-coe.org

Legal Advice to U.S. Schools: Don't Be a Grinch About Christmas
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A Christian educators group is teaming up with a Christian legal group as part of a national campaign to warn schools against prohibiting celebration and discussion of Christmas. The campaign, called "Friend or Foe," provides education about celebrating Christmas in public schools and on public property. For the past three years, Florida-based Liberty Counsel has conducted the campaign, offering pro bono legal advice and defense to government entities that do not censor Christmas, but filing suit whenever Christmas is censored. Joining Liberty Counsel this year is the Christian Educators Association International, which is asking its 8,000 members to be the "eyes and ears" of the campaign. CEAI executive director Finn Laursen says the members of his organization are being encouraged to report incidents of religious discrimination -- specifically, attempts to censor Christmas -- as the holiday approaches. The CEAI leader says schools that willfully engage in religious discrimination will be challenged in court by Liberty Counsel. Laursen notes that students have the right to say "Merry Christmas" and to sing Christmas carols -- and teachers have the right to display Nativity scenes. As part of the campaign, CEAI members will be distributing to school districts and government officials a seven-page memo from Liberty Counsel explaining that schools are not "religion-free zones," and that the right to free speech includes the right to distribute printed material.


 

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