Religion Today Summaries, February 10, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, February 10, 2004

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

  • Proposed Law Could Finally Settle Ten Commandments Conflicts
  • Pastors in Belarus Fined for Unregistered Religious Gatherings 
  • Alabama's Christian Coalition Plans DC Tour during Critical Pledge Hearing
  • Chinese Evangelist, Missionary Pioneer Nora Lam Dies

Proposed Law Could Finally Settle Ten Commandments Conflicts
Bill Fancher, Agape Press

If one Atlanta legal organization has its way, it may not be very long before a new law requires the display of the Ten Commandments in many state buildings across the United States. The Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) has launched a new project that would mandate the display of the Ten Commandments in state buildings throughout the country. SLF spokesman Todd Young believes the state-by-state project, if successful, will end the problems that have plagued religious freedom advocates and sparked "separation of Church and State" debates all over the U.S. The SLF is hoping the project will result in the enactment of laws that will keep groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State from overriding the will of the people regarding the state's display of historical documents that acknowledge the biblically-based moral foundation of American law. The SLF's project has already begun in the Foundation's home state of Georgia, and negotiations are under way in other states as well. Young says the effort will free local governments from the necessity of fighting a multitude of lawsuits resulting from attempts to carry out the wishes of the majority of local citizens, and merges the legal challenges for a single confrontation at the state level.

Pastors in Belarus Fined for Unregistered Religious Gatherings
Charisma News Service

In separate incidents, three Baptist pastors were fined recently for their work because their congregations are unregistered with the government. The congregations belonged to the International Union of Baptist Churches (IUBC), which said the pastors were fined based on a 2002 religion law that outlaws systematic, unregistered religious gathering. Viktor Yevtyukhov was fined the equivalent of $40 in December for leading a congregation in the village of Zamoshye. Also in December, Oleg Kurnosov, was fined the equivalent of $8 for holding an evening worship service in his home in the town of Dubrovno, located in the Vitebsk region. The previous month, Yevtyukhov was cited by a local police officer, who demanded that he remove a "Prayer House" sign from outside his house. Yevtyukhov refused to comply. The third pastor, Konstantin Yeremeyev, was fined the equivalent of $12 last year for failing to register his congregation. Yeremeyev was cited after Vitebsk authorities visited the Sunday morning service of the IUBC congregation. The average annual salary in Belarus, which is part of the former Soviet republic, is the equivalent of $128.

Alabama's Christian Coalition Plans DC Tour during Critical Pledge Hearing
Allie Martin, Agape Press

The Christian Coalition of Alabama will lead a group to the nation's capitol to defend the phrase "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Pledge of Allegiance case March 24. The case began when Michael Newdow, a professing atheist, decided to work to remove the phrase "under God" from the pledge. The Christian Coalition of Alabama (CCA) will be leading a bus tour to Washington, DC, to coincide with the hearing, allowing the group to offer support to other Christians who will be gathering there to oppose efforts to secularize the pledge. Coalition president John Giles says the tour group will also be attending a White House briefing from U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions. Giles notes that there is a lot at stake in the high court hearing. "This is such an important case because there is an assault by the atheists to remove God and the acknowledgement of God from the public square," the CCA spokesman says. The CCA delegation plans to join with members of the National Clergy Council and the Christian Defense Coalition for a prayer vigil on the eve of March 23 and a prayer rally on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court the following day, while the case is being heard.

Chinese Evangelist, Missionary Pioneer Nora Lam Dies
Charisma News Service

Chinese evangelist Nora Lam, who pioneered missionary ministry for women, has died after suffering a massive stroke six months ago. Lam, 71, died Feb. 2 in a nursing home in San Jose, Calif. "Nora Lam liberated thousands of women for missionary ministry and she especially helped Christians respond to the needs of persecuted, underground believers in China on many different levels," the Rev. William Bray, who serves on the board of directors of Nora Lam Ministries (NLM), said. "Most people probably think of her work only in terms of Bible distribution, evangelism, and support for persecuted house churches and Bible schools in China, but she was also very concerned for children and the humanitarian needs of Chinese people everywhere," added Bray, who is a staff member of Christian Aid Mission. Lam, who fled her native Shanghai as a refugee from Mao Tse Tung's Cultural Revolution in 1958, is best known for her book "China Cry," which chronicles her suffering under communist persecution. "China Cry," that tells how Lam refused to deny Christ even while enduring physical abuse late in her pregnancy. “Nora Lam's life on this earth is over, but the work she started goes on," said her youngest son, Joseph Lam, vice president of NLM said.