Religion Today Summaries - September 16, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - September 16, 2004

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

  • Schools Reminded of the 'ABCs' of Religious Freedoms of Students

  • Reconciliation Walk Seeks to 'Reverse the Damage' of Slave Trade

  • Eastern Europe: Desire for Gospel Encourages Leaders

  • Turkey:  Christian Training Ministry Building Targeted by Local Council

Schools Reminded of the 'ABCs' of Religious Freedoms of Students
Jim Brown, AgapePress

A civil liberties group has kicked off its annual campaign to educate parents, teachers, and public school officials about the constitutional rights of religious students. The Rutherford Institute has sent a legal memorandum to each of the more than 15,000 public school superintendents across the nation, warning them against censoring student religious expression.  The notice, called the "ABCs of the Constitution in the Classroom," is aimed at curbing growing censorship in public schools. Institute president John Whitehead says every year, his group encounters school board officials who are either ignorant of the Constitution or have school board attorneys who are ignorant of the Constitution. "A lot of the teachers and school officials don't know that Christians and other religious people out there actually have rights to free speech and freedom of religion in the schools," the attorney says.  Apparently knowledge of religion-related freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution is not a given. According to Whitehead, the campaign explaining the law and the Constitution has resulted in many schools putting constitutional policies into place.  "[T]he ones that don't [make policy changes] are apprised -- and if need be, we'll have to file a lawsuit against them," he adds.

Reconciliation Walk Seeks to 'Reverse the Damage' of Slave Trade
Charisma News Service

A group of African and European Christians will visit the United States this fall with a message of repentance and apology over the slave trade. The initiative by Lifeline Expedition, affiliated with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), will feature white marchers wearing chains on their hands and yokes on their necks while being escorted by black people. The group will travel to 10 cities, starting in Annapolis, Md., on Sept. 29. Organizers said it is an effort to bring "reconciliation" and "healing" in Africa, Europe and North America through symbols of penitence. "I believe that it helps, or potentially it helps, white people to think in a different way," said David Pott, who started the London-based organization to "reverse the damage" of the slave trade. Since 2000, it has held similar demonstrations in European cities linked to the 18th- and 19th-century industry. Lifeline Expedition ( also plans to walk through the streets of Baltimore; Boston; Charleston, S.C.; New York; Richmond, Va., and several other cities. The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation is the sponsor for the Annapolis walk, working to raise $75,000 with organizers in Europe to pay for travel and event costs for between 14 and 20 demonstrators.  (

Eastern Europe: Desire for Gospel Encourages Leaders
Christian Aid

Christian ministry leaders in several countries of Eastern Europe have been encouraged lately by the receptiveness of their countrymen to the gospel. In this part of the world that was held captive for years by the Iron Curtain of communism, people still feel the scars of an oppressive regime that denied them the freedom to serve God. It is true that once communism fell, there was a time of renewed evangelical activity. Newly free to spread the gospel, native missionaries found many open to their teaching. Yet numerous civil wars, low growth of the sluggish economy, and resulting unemployment have hardened the hearts of many Eastern Europeans. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches have picked up the mantle of religious persecution where the communists left it, opposing evangelical groups in most Eastern European countries. In fact, in some of these countries, there are fewer evangelical Christians than there are in countries considered "third world." Native missionaries have persevered to bring the hope of Christ. In Bulgaria, a native pastor reports, "Recently, we have experienced a revival in our churches." He goes on to say, "This was one of the strongest things I have ever experienced-to see more than a hundred people praying strongly hand-in-hand before the Lord."

Turkey: Christian Training Ministry Building Targeted by Local Council
Barnabas Fund

Ephesus Protestant Church at Selçuk is to be sealed by the local council on the grounds that the corrugated roofing and metal poles of the veranda contravene building regulations. This is likely to be followed by a fine of $1,000 and the forced demolishing of the veranda. Although at least 20 buildings in the neighbourhood have a similar construction, only the church and one immediate neighbour have been targeted by the council. The veranda was already in place when the church fellowship bought the building which they now use for worship. The chief civil engineer of Selçuk told church leaders that even if they were to demolish the veranda, there were other issues which the council would then raise with them requiring the demolishing of other parts of the building. The church leaders believe it is the Christian training activities which take place at the church that have incurred the hostility of the local council. They fear that the council intends eventually to demolish the whole church building. The governor of Selçuk, to whom the Christian leaders appealed, has refused to help. Please pray that the Selçuk authorities will cease their threats and harassment of the Ephesus Protestant Church and its training ministry. Pray for courage and wisdom for the church leaders as they decide how to respond.