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Religion Today Summaries, August 19, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, August 19, 2004

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

  • Injured Turkish Christian Contacts Fellow Believers
  • Calif. School Disallows Christian Club's Posters Bearing Scriptures 
  • Evangelist Grateful for ACLU's Increased Coverage of God's Law
  • Dalai Lama's Visit Mobilizes Christians Concerning Buddhism's Growth

Calif. School Disallows Christian Club's Posters Bearing Scriptures
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A San Francisco Bay Area high school is being threatened with a lawsuit over its decision to censor a Christian student club. The Hayward, California, school has barred a Christian group from putting up posters with Bible verses to announce their meetings.  A feminist club and the Gay Straight Alliance, however, have been allowed to put up their posters. Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, has sent a demand letter to the school, claiming its "viewpoint discrimination" was in clear violation of the Equal Access Act.  "Everything will be fine," he says, if the school stops what he describes as "discrimination, hostility, and intolerance" toward Christian clubs. "But if they don't [decide to do what's right], then we at the Pacific Justice Institute have pledged to represent this Christian club in a court of law to seek full and complete justice," Dacus promises.

Injured Turkish Christian Contacts Fellow Believers
Barbara Baker, Compass Direct

Nine months after he was beaten into a prolonged coma by ultra-nationalists opposed to his conversion to Christianity, Yakup Cindilli, 31, has for the first time made personal contact with Protestant Christian acquaintances in Turkey. Without telling his conservative Muslim family, Cindilli left his home in Orhangazi in late July and made the three-hour bus trip to Istanbul, where he attempted to make contact with some of his Christian friends. Friends noted that Cindilli spoke rationally, but was not always able to pronounce his words clearly. "He showed us that he did not have full use of his right arm," commented one of his friends. "But he was able to walk normally and seemed to be in good spirits." Another friend said, "He prayed that God would bring him back to full health. His faith appears to remain intact, even after all that has happened." Following the unexpected visit, Pastor Ismail Kulakcioglu drove him back to his home in Orhangazi.

Evangelist Grateful for ACLU's Increased Coverage of God's Law
Agape Press

A California evangelist says one of the most liberal organizations in the country is responsible for increasing the public's awareness of God's laws.  Ray Comfort is president of Living Waters Ministries, a ministry that equips Christians to witness biblically and effectively.  Comfort, who uses the Ten Commandments extensively in his witnessing efforts, says recent attempts by the American Civil Liberties Union to remove God's laws from public display have actually backfired.  "I am so grateful to them because at the end of 2003, to my unbelief as I watched peak prime-time television -- day after day, night after night -- [I saw] slow panning of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox News Network over the Ten Commandments."  The evangelist says the repetitious images of Commandments such as "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not commit adultery" and "You shall have no other gods before me" reminded an entire generation that there is a God "who has a law that's written in stone."  Comfort also says efforts to remove the Ten Commandments from public display have made it easier to witness for Christ.

Dalai Lama's Visit Mobilizes Christians Concerning Buddhism's Growth
Charisma News Service

A highly-publicized visit earlier this year by Tibetan Buddhism's leader, the Dalai Lama, to Pasadena, Calif., and three major Canadian cities motivated some Christians to pray and raised others' awareness of the growing presence of a previously ignored religion. When he landed in Los Angeles in April, the Dalai Lama hosted three days of Buddhist teaching. He also spoke to 4,500 school children, lectured 5,000 university students and dispensed advice to a crowd of business executives. James Stephens, a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary in California who was a devout Buddhist for 14 years, said the spiritual threat of Buddhism influencing unsuspecting "seekers," even some who consider themselves Christians, is very real. "I call [the Dalai Lama] the 'pluralist pope' because he advocates exploring Buddhism while staying within the security of your professed religion. And he attracts huge crowds," Stephens, who leads the Sonrise Center for Buddhist Studies, which teaches Christians how to evangelize Buddhists, said. There are an estimated 10 million Buddhists in the United States and 305,000 in Canada. House of the King (HotK), a Toronto-based prayer and worship movement, was set up specifically for the Dalai Lama's visit. Supported by a variety of Toronto churches and denominations HotK commissioned shifts of prayer-walkers to intercede at key spiritual locations around the city, while friendship evangelists were posted in a Tibetan teahouse and art gallery set up inside a downtown church. "The Dalai Lama's visit gave us a chance to represent Jesus to the visiting Tibetans, who responded very positively," HotK's Hany Boghossian said.