Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 27, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 27, 2009

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

  • Supreme Court Lets City Refuse Religious Monument
  • Graham Organization to Trim Staff by 10 Percent
  • Malaysia to Allow Christians to Use 'Allah'
  • ESV Bible Available for Free on Amazon's Kindle

Supreme Court Lets City Refuse Religious Monument

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday (Feb. 25) that a city park in Utah does not have to include a monument of a small religious sect, even though it already features a Ten Commandments monument. Religion News Service reports that Summum, a Salt Lake City-based group, had argued that officials in Pleasant Grove City, Utah, violated its free speech rights when they did not permit a proposed monument of the group's beliefs. The "placement of a permanent monument in a public park is best viewed as a form of government speech," wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the unanimous opinion, "and is therefore not subject to scrutiny under the Free Speech Clause" of the First Amendment. Summum's attorney plans to continue the fight, saying the ruling violates the Establishment Clause.

Graham Organization to Trim Staff by 10 Percent

Baptist Press reports that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is reducing its staff by 10 percent, laying off 55 employees, according to a report in the Charlotte Observer. A BGEA spokesman, Ken Barun, confirmed the Observer's Feb. 24 report, telling the newspaper that donor gifts have been "relatively flat" while sales of books and other products has declined as has interest income from the organization's endowment. The organization's budget is being pared by 15 percent, back to $84 million, through the layoffs and other reductions in expenses. The country's economic downturn, however, isn't the only catalyst for the cutbacks, Barun said, recounting that BGEA President Franklin Graham had requested in mid-2007 a review of costs toward making the organization more efficient yet still capable of its varied ministry initiatives.

Malaysia to Allow Christians to Use 'Allah'

The Associated Press reports that a Christian newspaper will be able to use the word "Allah" to refer to God after all, as Malaysian officials relented from an earlier ban. The publication must continue to print "For Christianity" on its cover to avoid "confusing" Muslims who might think Allah refers to their God, the government said. Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Roman Catholic  Herald, said the paper will continue to push its legal case against the ban, as it prevents use of imported literature without a cover warning. "If this (order) is enforced, it will be difficult to possess materials ... from Indonesia, and thus practicing our religion will not be easy. This goes against ... the constitution," he told The Associated Press.

ESV Bible Available for Free on Amazon's Kindle

Crossway Books & Bibles has announced yet another high-tech option for its popular ESV Bible, offering free access for all Kindle and Kindle 2 users. Amazon's Kindle 2 was released Tuesday. “With more than 250 books available for the Kindle, Crossway is excited to make the ESV Bible available for free. Access to the ESV Study Bible for the Kindle will also be available for purchase soon," said Geoff Dennis, Vice President of Sales & Marketing. The ESV is already available for iPhone. The popular ESV Study Bible is already in its third printing since its release last fall, when it was “by far the fastest selling new product in the history of our store," said Mark Traphagen, Web Sales Manager for Westminster Bookstore.