Religion Today Summaries, April 7, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, April 7, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top national and international religious news stories impacting Christians
In Today's Edition:

  • Appeals Court: Faith-Based Halfway House Constitutional
  • Russian Islamic Leader Calls for `Jihad' in Iraq
  • Christian Anti-Hunger Group Says Subsidies Hurt Poor Farmers
  • Gospel Music Hall of Fame & Museum Announces New Inductees

Appeals Court: Faith-Based Halfway House Constitutional
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) An appellate court has ruled that the funding of a Milwaukee faith-based program by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections is constitutional. A decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Faith Works Milwaukee is one of several choices given parole violators who are required to enroll in a halfway house contracting with the state. The court compared allowing Faith Works among the choices of halfway houses to the use of vouchers for private school education. "The state in effect gives eligible offenders `vouchers' that they can use to purchase a place in a halfway house, whether the halfway house is `parochial' or secular," the decision states. "To exclude Faith Works from this competition on the basis of a speculative fear that parole or probation officers might recommend its program because of their own Christian faith would involve the sacrifice of a real good to avoid a conjectured bad," the court ruled. Annie Laurie Gaylor with the Freedom From Religion Foundation told the Associated Press that her group considers it "bad treatment to tell addicted men their addiction results from sin and belief in Christ is the solution."

Russian Islamic Leader Calls for `Jihad' in Iraq
Frank Brown

(RNS) One of Russia's top Muslim leaders called for a jihad late last week against the United States for its attack on Iraq but was quickly threatened Friday by government officials to keep quiet or risk prosecution. "We will collect donations and then use that money to buy weapons for the struggle against America and to buy supplies for the Iraqi people," Russia's Supreme Mufti Talgat Tadjuddin was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. Tadjuddin did not specify precisely Thursday how the country's 20 million Muslims could take part in the jihad -- holy war -- but said in a March 29 interview with the Izvestia newspaper that those believers not satisfied with prayer could go "quickly and quietly to Baghdad and take weapons in your hands, and if you have no weapons, strangle the aggressors with your hands." The next day, the local prosecutor's office issued an official warning to Tadjuddin not to break the Russian law that forbids inciting ethnic or religious hatred, the ITAR-TASS agency reported. Officials in Russia, with its Orthodox Christian majority and sizable Muslim and Buddhist minorities, are extremely wary of religious conflict, especially given the ongoing violence in mostly Muslim Chechnya.

Christian Anti-Hunger Group Says Subsidies Hurt Poor Farmers
Kevin Eckstrom

(RNS) A Christian anti-hunger group says that government subsidies for farmers are actually hurting rural America and keeping foreign farmers locked in poverty. Bread for the World said in its 13th report on world hunger that the $310 billion spent by developed nations on agricultural subsidies could be better spent on economic development, job training and direct assistance to the poor, both at home and abroad. "This is an irrational structure in the world," said the group's president, the Rev. David Beckmann. "The way we organize it now is very expensive for rich countries, not the best way to help poor countries, and really harsh on poor farmers in developing countries." According to the report, almost half of the $95 billion spent by the United States to support U.S. farmers in 2001 went to only 8 percent of farmers. Approximately 60 percent of farmers got no federal aid; most went to large agribusiness operations. "This is not the best way to help poor farmers and struggling rural communities in our own country or other countries," Beckmann said. Don Lipton, a spokesman for the American Farm Bureau, said U.S. farmers depend on government support to balance against low exports, weather catastrophes and overseas competition.

Gospel Music Hall of Fame & Museum Announces New Inductees
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) Gospel artist Dottie Peoples is among the honorees that will be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame & Museum this year. Peoples, who is based in Atlanta and is the former general manager of Church Door Records, will join the other inductees at an Oct. 25 ceremony in Detroit. Other honorees include Shirley Ables & the Joy Gospel Singers, a Baltimore-based group that has performed nationally and internationally; the Consolers of Miami, featuring husband-and-wife team Sullivan and Lola Pugh; Jimmy Dowell, who has had a 50-year gospel music career, including service as choir director at St. James Baptist Church in Detroit for more than 35 years; and Dorothy Grant of Detroit, founder of the Fine Arts Fellowship Chapter of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses Inc. Additional inductees are the Highway QCs, a Chicago-based group founded in 1945; Leonard S. Scott, owner of Tyscot Records, a black-owned gospel record company; the Swan Silverstones, originally known as the Four Harmony Kings, of Montgomery, Ala.; William E. White, chairman and general manager of KIRL Radio in St. Louis; and Vickie Winans, gospel artist based in Detroit.