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Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 4, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 4, 2006

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

  • Santa Claus Deemed Too 'Religious' for School Fundraiser
  • Pakistani Court Acquits Christian Woman of Blasphemy Charges
  • Trial Of Cuban Pastor Set For December 4th
  • Episcopal Concessions Made as Diocese Backs Down from Split

Santa Claus Deemed Too 'Religious' for School Fundraiser

CNSNews.com reports that a Christmas-themed event to raise money at a public elementary school in Warwick, N.Y., has been altered to accommodate a parent's complaints that the program would illegally spotlight a "religious" figure - Santa Claus. "Breakfast With Santa" has since been changed to "Winter Wonderland Breakfast," and -- in an effort to be inclusive of all beliefs -- the bearded one will now be joined at the Dec. 9 event by Frosty the Snowman. Organizers made the changes after one parent charged that she and others in the community were offended that the Parent Teacher Association at the Sanfordville Elementary School was sponsoring a program geared toward one religion. That parent, who did not wish to have her name used, wrote a letter to the school board asserting that Santa represents Christmas -- a Christian holiday -- and by law, a public school is not allowed to promote religion. Catholic League President Bill Donohue called the events at the school an "exercise in tyranny." "There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution, of course, that bans 'Breakfast with Santa' from taking place in a public school," Donohue said in a statement. "This has nothing to do with the law -- it has everything to do with bowing to the pressure of bigots."

Pakistani Court Acquits Christian Woman of Blasphemy Charges

A Pakistani court acquitted a Christian woman of blasphemy charges on November 27, ASSIST News Service has learnt. The sessions court Kasur acquitted Nasim Bibi, 30 resident of Kot Fattah Din (a small town in District Kasur) who was charged with defecating on a picture of Khana Kabbah, Muslims’ holy place in Saudi Arabia in March this year, said the Sharing Life ministry’s news release sent to ANS via email. The case was registered against Bibi vide FIR No. 93 on March 3, 2006 offence under section 295-A with police station A/Division Kasur, it said. Fearing further possible trouble her family members moved to provincial capital of Punjab, Lahore after her arrest. Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP) claims it made arrangements for the surety bond money to bail the Christian woman out. “I love Jesus Christ too much. I often saw Him in my dreams. Jesus met me many times in my dreams and showed His love to me. That’s why I have emotional attachment with Jesus Christ, Bibi told the ministry team led by its Chief coordinator Sohail Johnson after she was bailed out.

Trial Of Cuban Pastor Set For December 4th

ASSIST News Service reports a Protestant Cuban pastor, imprisoned for four months earlier this year, will go on trial in Havana on Monday, December 4th. Pastor Carlos Lamelas is being charged with “Human Trafficking”; however, observers believe he is being targeted for his outspoken calls for increased religious liberty in Cuba. The public prosecutor is asking that he be sentenced to nine years in prison. This news comes from UK-based human rights group, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). A spokesperson for CSW said, “Pastor Lamelas, the former president of the Church of God denomination, a member of the Cuban Council of Churches (CCC), has stated that he and his lawyer believe he will be found innocent of the charges because of a lack of evidence on the part of the State. However, they expressed concern that the public prosecutor is using Pastor Lamelas’s application to leave the country, which he made following his four month imprisonment, as evidence against him.

Episcopal Concessions Made as Diocese Backs Down from Split

AgapePress reports that Episcopal leaders have offered conservatives more independence from the national church as a California diocese backed down from its threat of a swift break with the denomination. The Diocese of San Joaquin had been pressured by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori and her advisors to ease off a proposal to leave. Episcopal Church leaders are trying to heal divisions over the Bible and sexuality that erupted over the 2003 consecration of the openly homosexual Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. San Joaquin and six other conservative dioceses have rejected Jefferts-Schori's authority. On Thursday, leaders of the national church offered to appoint a new vicar who would work with those dioceses and perform functions that normally fall to the presiding bishop.