Religion Today Summaries - December 16, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 16, 2004

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

  • Christians Again Influence Election Outcome, This Time In Ukraine

  • Philly Court Orders Four Christians to Trial; Emergency Appeal Likely

  • Jordanian Court Postpones Child Custody Verdict 

  • Thomas More Law Center Filed Court Brief with U.S. Supreme Court over Ten Commandments Display

Christians Again Influence Election Outcome, This Time In Ukraine
Assist News Service

The pastor of a 26,000-member Ukrainian church at the center of that nation's election fight has just wrapped up a trip to the United States, encouraging American Christians to pray for his country - just as they did for the U.S. during the American presidential elections. Pastor Sunday Adelaja and his church have become a gathering point for the daily street protests and prayer vigils in Ukraine's capital city Kiev during the political crisis that erupted after fraudulent elections on November 21. "I believe this is a critical moment for the future and destiny of the Ukrainian people," Pastor Adelaja said. "Twelve years ago we were freed from Communism. Though we have had a different government with different uniforms since, the same corrupt people have remained in power. Now, Ukraine has its first opportunity to choose our own free way of life. More than 80 percent of the population is supporting opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, who is democratic, pro-West and a Christian. "He is a committed believer who is serious about his faith, and is influenced by God and the Bible," Pastor Adelaja said. Much has been reported about the role of the Church in influencing the outcome of the U.S. elections last month, particularly with respect to moral issues. According to Pastor Adelaja, the faith community is having a similar impact on the political process in Ukraine. Another run-off election will be held December 26.

Philly Court Orders Four Christians to Trial; Emergency Appeal Likely
Allie Martin, AgapePress

An attorney with a pro-family ministry says a judge's decision on Tuesday, ordering four Christians in Philadelphia to stand trial for witnessing at a homosexual pride event, is comparable to the atmosphere of the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. In October, 11, Christians were arrested as they were praying and reading scripture during the annual "gay pride" event known as "Outfest" in Philadelphia.  Those in the group were charged with three felonies (criminal conspiracy, ethnic intimidation, and riot) and five misdemeanors.  On Tuesday, charges were dropped against seven of the individuals; but Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge William Austin Meehan ordered the other four to stand trial on the charges.  They were also banned from doing any type of evangelism within 100 yards of any "gay and lesbian event." Brian Fahling is the senior trial attorney for the American Family Association (AFA) Center for Law & Policy, which represented the group in the Philadelphia court. Fahling says the Christian activists are being persecuted simply for exercising their constitutional rights. An emergency appeal may be the next step because the four, if convicted, could face up to 47 years in prison. The attorney says the charges were dropped against the remaining seven because they were not seen quoting scripture on the videotape. Fahling says in Philadelphia, it appears the public reading of scripture will land a person in jail.

Jordanian Court Postpones Child Custody Verdict
Compass Direct

An Islamic court in Jordan postponed until January 10 a final verdict on Christian widow Siham Qandah's legal battle to prevent a Muslim guardian from taking custody of her two minor children. Today's delay is the second postponement within the past three weeks on the drawn-out lawsuit. Qandah said she did not know why her lawyers had asked for the delay, although so far as she knew, the courts still did not have any address or direct contact information for the guardian, Abdullah al-Muhtadi. Al-Muhtadi had refused to attend a previous hearing on November 23, despite a summons from the Al-Abdali Sharia Court in Amman requiring his presence. Instead, he sent word to the judge that he feared for his life if he came to the court. "I do not know what he is trying to accomplish, since this is a lie," a Christian friend of Qandah told Compass. Al-Muhtadi is Qandah's estranged brother who converted to Islam as a teenager. Qandah has appealed to King Abdullah II and Queen Rania for a just resolution of her case.

Thomas More Law Center Filed Court Brief with U.S. Supreme Court over Ten Commandments Display

The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center announced yesterday that it has filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Ten Commandments displays on public property. The Supreme Court will hear the case in February 2005 with a decision expected in June of that year. The case involves two Ten Commandments displays in the lobbies of Kentucky courthouses in the counties of McCreary and Pulaski. After the ACLU sued to remove the displays, the two counties supplemented the framed copies of the Commandments with 11 historical documents, including the Mayflower Compact and the Bill of Rights, calling the new displays the "Foundations of American Law and Government." Despite the contextual additions, a federal trial judge struck down the displays because they included the Ten Commandments. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed with the trial judge's ruling, holding that the original display was "blatantly religious" and therefore "unconstitutionally tainted" the subsequent display. The case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Thomas More attorney Edward White says hopefully the court will reverse the lower court decisions and permit display of these biblical laws that have "largely influenced the foundation of American law" and which "should be displayed in public."