Religion Today Summaries - December 17, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 17, 2004

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

  • School District Rescinds Christmas Music Ban On Buses

  • Church's 'Christmas Cross' in City's Square Aims for Racial Healing

  • Canadians Who Favor Same-Sex 'Marriage' Denying Authority of God, Says Pastor

  • Philippines:  Converted Muslim Recovering From Attack by Muslim Activists

School District Rescinds Christmas Music Ban On Buses
Jim Brown, AgapePress

An Illinois school district has reversed a policy that prohibited bus drivers from playing Christmas music while children are aboard their buses. The Woodland School District in Gurnee, Illinois, had told its bus company that Christmas music was not allowed to be played because it might be an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity. Then, after local media got wind of the story, district superintendent Dennis Conti seemed to change his tune, claiming the music ban was implemented for "safety" reasons. In any event, at a special meeting last week, the school board instructed Conti to lift the ban. Sandi Hartogh, a Woodland mom who had threatened to sue the school district over the ban, is upset that Christmas seems to be under attack in public schools around the U.S. Hartogh says she and many other concerned mothers and fathers in the Woodland district are pleased that the political correctness in their school system has been curbed, at least for the time being. She noted that the school board is now actively addressing issues of religious equality and allowing the holiday expressions of many cultures, religions, ethnic faiths and organizations "as they should." However, while the Woodland school district's music ban has been lifted, similar prohibitions are still in place in other school districts around Illinois.

Church's 'Christmas Cross' in City's Square Aims for Racial Healing
Charisma News Service

Promoting a message of racial healing and harmony, a church recently erected a cross in an Ohio community to counter past Ku Klux Klan (KKK) displays. Last Saturday, members of Decoursey Baptist Church in Covington, KY, placed the yellow cross, featuring the message "Jesus is God's gift to us" at Cincinnati's Fountain Square, the Associated Press reported. A sign next to the cross reads: "Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight!" The KKK erected 10-foot tall crosses in the square in the 1990s, prompting fights, vandalism and a long legal battle. "We wanted to do something very positive for this city -- to try to achieve racial healing," Ashley Beagle, 37, pastor of Decoursey Baptist, told The Cincinnati Enquirer. The church applied to the city for a permit for its cross in August, hoping to counter the Klan's past actions and any future plans, Beagle said. In April, an appeals court declared that a 2002 city ordinance barring private displays on the square was unconstitutional. Since the Klan began erecting crosses, Cincinnati had tried to pass various bans and limits on square displays, efforts that were repeatedly blocked in court. The cross, which stands alongside a Christmas tree and Menorah this holiday season, will be removed on Dec. 20. (

Canadians Who Favor Same-Sex 'Marriage' Denying Authority of God, Says Pastor
Chad Groening, AgapePress

The pastor of a Toronto-area evangelical church says last week's decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to give Parliament the go-ahead to approve same-sex "marriage" legislation illustrates the fact that more Canadians need to come to Christ. Last Thursday, justices on Canada's high court announced that it would constitutional to allow homosexuals in their country to wed.  In response, the Canadian justice minister pledged to bring forward legislation legalizing homosexual marriage promptly when Parliament reconvenes in January. The development brought reaction from both sides of the aisle across North America. Conservative, Bible-believing Christians may wonder how the movement toward same-sex has advanced to this point. Jeff Christopherson, pastor of the Oakville Sanctuary outside Toronto, says it should be pretty easy for any Christian to understand why Canada has been so willing to embrace the idea of homosexual marriage. "The problem is we live in a country that doesn't accept the authority of God's Word and doesn't accept Jesus Christ as the Way.  And so that's the problem -- that's where the battle lies," he says bluntly.  "We can stand and preach 'homosexuality is wrong' all day long, but somehow we need 'Jesus Christ is right' to be our central message.  And then all the other sin that's listed in the Bible becomes sort of a heart response." Despite last week's development, the Canadian pastor says evangelism must go forward.

Philippines:  Converted Muslim Recovering From Attack by Muslim Activists
Charisma News Service

A Christian who converted from Islam is recovering from serious injuries after being shot recently by Muslim activists. The 24-year-old man, a fruit vendor, was shot Nov. 17 in Zamboanga City as he took his usual route home from the market, Compass Direct reported. Friends and family have asked that the victim not be identified by name because they believe the three men who attacked him and left him for dead are likely to come back to finish the job. His fiancée said the gunman who shot him has attempted to trace his location. Hospital workers are on the alert for anyone attempting to enter his hospital room, Compass reported. The shooting victim is a member of the Tausug tribe, the first tribe in the Philippines to accept Islam and one of at least 13 mostly Muslim tribes in the nation's southern region. Originally a Muslim, the man saw several members of his family converted after he became a Christian. He started reaching out to others through public evangelism. This led to several death threats from Muslims in Zamboanga, who objected to his profession of faith. Several Muslim terrorist organizations exist in the Philippines, including the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which have been linked to Al-Qaeda. (