Religion Today Summaries, February 12, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, February 12, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top national and international religious news stories impacting Christians

In Today's Edition:

  • Bush Challenges National Religious Broadcasters to Bring Differing Churches Together
  • Schools 'Hostile' to Prayer Risk Funds
  • Church Leaders in Uganda Attempt to Save Children From War
  • NRB Honors Coral Ridge Hour as 2003 TV Program of the Year

Bush Challenges National Religious Broadcasters to Bring Differing Churches Together
Erin Curry

(Baptist Press) President Bush told those gathered at the 2003 National Religious Broadcasters Convention they could play an important role in the mentoring and healing of those who hurt in America by bringing churches together.  "Christian media outlets like yours reach 141 million people every year.  That's a huge audience, and it's a responsibility that I know you take seriously," Bush said.  "This nation has got a lot of wealthy and caring congregations, and we've got a lot of churches in low-income areas that need help, too.  Your voices reach them all.  You can communicate with them, rich and poor alike, suburban church and urban church alike.  And you can help bring them together to serve those who hurt, so we can achieve a more just and generous society.  It's been said that 11 a.m. on Sunday is the most segregated hour in America.  We all have a responsibility to break down the barriers that divide us.  In Scripture, God commands us to reach out to those who are different, to reconcile with each other, to lay down our lives in service to others.  And he promises that the fruits of faith and fellowship, service and reconciliation will far surpass the struggles we go through to achieve them."

Schools 'Hostile' to Prayer Risk Funds

(Charisma News) Schools that prohibit students from praying outside the classroom or do not allow teachers to hold religious meetings among themselves risk losing federal funds.  Issued by the Department of Education last Friday, the guidelines reflect the Bush administration's desire to ensure that schools give teachers and students as much freedom to pray as court rulings have allowed, the Associated Press (AP) reported.  Supporters say the directive may clarify the debate and free students and teachers to express themselves without fear of reprisal.  "These guidelines on prayer and religious expression will be a blessing to students and teachers," said Mathew Staver, president of the Christian-based Liberty Counsel.  "The message is simple -- school officials must stop discriminating against students and teachers who chose to pray or engage in religious expression."  Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, disagreed: "The Bush administration is clearly trying to push the envelope on behalf of prayer in public schools."  Under federal law, the burden is now on schools to prove they have no policy that prevents constitutionally protected prayer.  The department's new guidelines make clear that schools can lose their federal money if they don't comply, the AP reported.

Church Leaders in Uganda Attempt to Save Children From War

(Compass) Church and government leaders are desperately searching for a solution to northern Uganda’s intractable civil war.  The so-called Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a cult-like rebel group that mixes Christianity with traditional tribal beliefs, has abducted 26,000 children over the last 17 years and uses terror to prevent them from escaping.  Escapees from the LRA describe its leader, Joseph Kony, as a religious paranoid seduced by occultism that kills because he enjoys it.  He uses children -- 9 of 10 LRA fighters are minors -- because they can be brainwashed to kill like he does.  Ochola Baker, former Anglican Bishop of Kitgum, introduced an amnesty initiative meant to return young LRA soldiers to “civilization” without penalty or relocate them in neighboring countries.  However, the proposal failed.  “Officers are getting fat military allowances from the war zone, so it’s become a business,” said Ochola.  “Meanwhile, Uganda is fighting its own children.”  As thousands of refugees face starvation, President Yoweri Museveni has cut
government budgets by 23 percent to fund the military efforts.

NRB Honors Coral Ridge Hour as 2003 TV Program of the Year

The National Religious Broadcasters, the nation's leading association of Christian communicators, presented The Coral Ridge Hour its 2003 Television Program of the Year Award at its annual convention in Nashville.  The Coral Ridge Hour, the weekly-televised worship service of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, was chosen for the award by a vote of the 1,500 members of the NRB.  "I am humbled by the honor and grateful to God," Dr. Kennedy said in remarks before the award was given.  "Since it is chosen by 1,500 plus Christian media ministries, it is always gratifying to know that your work has been appreciated by your peers."  The Coral Ridge Hour was launched in 1978 and now airs on nearly 200 stations in the U.S. The program, which features pulpit messages from Dr. Kennedy, followed by a news or Christian testimony segment, was similarly honored by the NRB in 1998.  The award underscores the ministry philosophy of Dr. Kennedy: "Excellence in all things and all things to God's glory," a standard inscribed in large letters on the outer wall of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.  "We have attempted to follow that formula in all of our various ministries," Dr. Kennedy said.