Religion Today Summaries - February 17, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - February 17, 2012

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Christian Student Quits School Choir Over Islamic Song Praising 'Allah'
  • NYC Church Evictions Temporarily Lifted
  • Egypt: 20,000 Muslims Attempt to Kill Pastor and Torch Church
  • Persecution of Christians Soars in Iran


Christian Student Quits School Choir Over Islamic Song Praising 'Allah'

A Colorado high school student says he quit the school choir after an Islamic song containing the words "There is no truth except Allah" and "Allah is the only eternal and immortal" made it into the repertoire, reports. James Harper, a senior at Grand Junction High School, objected to Mesa County school district officials about the selection, but when the school stood by the choir director, he decided to quit. "I don't want to come across as a bigot or a racist, but I really don't feel it is appropriate for students in a public high school to be singing an Islamic worship song," he said. "This is worshipping another God, and even worshipping another prophet. ... I think there would be a lot of outrage if we made a Muslim choir say Jesus Christ is the only truth." School district spokesman Jeff Kirtland said the song was chosen for its "rhythms and other qualities," adding that choir was a "voluntary, after-school activity." The song's composer said he respected Harper's decision to opt out, but said, "This incident is an example of why we need further cultural education through music."

NYC Church Evictions Temporarily Lifted

Churches facing eviction from New York City public schools won a brief reprieve yesterday as a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order to allow congregations to meet in school buildings for 10 more days, reports. "The court's order is a message of hope for fundamental freedoms in New York City because it means that, for the time being, the city must welcome churches as it does other groups," said Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund. The ruling gives the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York more time to consider arguments about the constitutionality of the city's ban on religious groups to rent vacant public school space on weekends -- the only such ban in the nation. State lawmakers now also have the opportunity to pass a bill to overturn the ban; a bill that would compel the city's education department to allow the worship services passed the state senate earlier this month and awaits action by the state assembly.

Egypt: 20,000 Muslims Attempt to Kill Pastor and Torch Church

A mob of nearly 20,000 radical Muslims attempted to break into and torch the Church of St. Mary and St. Abram in the village of Meet Bashar, Egypt, ASSIST News Service reports. The mob was demanding the death of the church's pastor, Rev. Guirgis Gameel, on false accusations of abducting a 15-year-old Muslim girl who disappeared after her father arranged a marriage for her. Nearly 100 terrorized Coptic Christians sought refuge inside the church as Muslim rioters threw stones in an attempt to break in, assault the Copts and set the building on fire. A home of a Copt living nearby and the residence of a church staff member were torched, as well as three cars, before security forces arrived. A Coptic member of parliament contacted Egypt's Prime Minister, who ordered security officials to the village to disperse Muslims from the church and Gameel's home after the crisis and remain as peacekeeping forces in the area for at least two weeks.

Persecution of Christians Soars in Iran

In the wake of the most recent incident of Iranian authorities raiding a house church and arresting members of the congregation, reports from the Muslim-majority nation indicate that the persecution of Christians there is growing worse each day, World Net Daily reports. "The forces of sharia Islam are in the ascendant all over the Middle East these days," said Clare Lopez, senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy. "With the newfound sense of empowerment combined with what is perceived as Western complicity and weakness in the face of that situation, it is to be expected that all religious minorities ... will feel the brutality of Islamic supremacism. ... Remember, pluralism and tolerance are totally Western ideas, completely foreign to Islam and certainly the Middle East."

Publication date: February 17, 2012