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Religion Today Summaries, February 27, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, February 27, 2003

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

  • California Church, City Reach Agreement to End Bitter Land Dispute
  • Student Sues Charter School Over Bible Club
  • Trial Postponed for Ethiopian Elders
  • `Best Christian Places to Work' Survey Results Announced

California Church, City Reach Agreement to End Bitter Land Dispute
Ted Parks

(RNS) After a lengthy battle pitting an expanding California church against a local government eager to carry out its own development plans, the Cottonwood Christian Center and the City of Cypress, near Los Angeles, have reached an agreement that promises to end their widely publicized conflict.  At the heart of the dispute was an 18-acre tract of land the church bought more than three years ago for a building expansion that local officials then blocked by not granting the permits required for the church to execute its construction plans.  Located in Orange County, the City of Cypress preferred to develop the land commercially, with hopes of placing a large discount retailer on the tract, according to a court document. As the conflict escalated, Cottonwood sued the city, which then took steps to seize the congregation's property by right of eminent domain.  With the help of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, based in Washington, D.C., the congregation won a preliminary injunction last August barring the city from taking the land.  Cypress officials approved an agreement at the start of this week that will allow the city to buy the property it once threatened to take by legal force.

Student Sues Charter School Over Bible Club
Matt Bach

(RNS) A Florida law firm on Tuesday (Feb. 25) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a 15-year-old claiming the International Academy of Flint, Mich., refused her request to form and lead an after-school Bible study club.  "I feel I'm being denied my rights," said Elisha Moore, a sophomore at the charter school. "They have other clubs at the school. But they are not allowing me to have mine just because it's Christian."  International Academy attorney Gregory Meihn said the school denied the request twice in the past six months, but not because of an anti-Christian bias.  Meihn said last week (Feb. 20) that he's now working with Elisha's attorneys and expects the club to be allowed in the school by the end of the month.  "This is a no-brainer," said Mathew Staver, an attorney with the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, which is representing Elisha. "This kind of lawsuit has become less and less common because it's pretty clear what the law is. But still there are some renegade schools that won't comply with federal and constitutional law. This is apparently one of them."

Trial Postponed for Ethiopian Elders

(Charisma News) Instead of being released as expected last week, two Pentecostal church elders in the northern city of Maychew jailed without charges for 10 months have been remanded in custody by a local judge. Under Ethiopian law, the two should remain under arrest only if there were sufficient evidence to press formal murder charges against them, Compass Direct reported.  The judge was required to release them, but instead the duo's hearing was postponed for two more weeks. Meles and Desalegn were arrested after a mob of Orthodox Church extremists staged a two-day rampage in April against Maychew's five evangelical churches. Police named the two men as suspects in the death of a young Orthodox man shot dead during the last day of the riots. According to Maychew evangelicals, police have used the two Protestants as scapegoats in an attempt to exonerate an off-duty policeman accused of firing the fatal bullet from the police chief's gun, Compass reported. Last week, Pentecostal church sources said the parents of the Orthodox victim had gone to police, stating that they knew the two leaders were innocent and that it was the arrested policeman who was responsible for their son's death. Meanwhile, Maychew prison officials reportedly have stopped allowing the wives of Meles and Desalegn to bring them food. They have also confiscated the men's Bibles, "allegedly because they have been continuing to evangelize their fellow prisoners," Compass reported. Some prisoners have accused the two of bribing various inmates to join the Pentecostal faith.  www.charismanews.com

`Best Christian Places to Work' Survey Results Announced
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) Organizations ranging from the Evangelical Christian Credit Union in Brea, Calif., to Colorado-based Group Publishing have been named some of the "Best Christian Places to Work" in a new survey.  The results were announced Monday (Feb. 24) at the Christian Management Association's annual convention in Colorado Springs, Colo.  "Treating employees well is less about offering creative perks and high compensation and more about managers having the right mind-set toward their staff," concluded Helen Lee, co-founder of the institute in Seattle.  Organizations were credited by employees for having family-friendly mind-sets and a focus on nurturing their employees with training and mentoring opportunities.  Winners were:

  • Large service and product organization: Evangelical Christian Credit Union, Brea, Calif.
  • Small service and product organization: Christian Medical and Dental Associations, Bristol, Tenn.
  • Large media organization: Group Publishing, Loveland, Colo.
  • Small media organization: Howard Publishing, West Monroe, La.
  • Large missions and parachurch organization: Coalition for Christian Outreach, Pittsburgh
  • Small missions and parachurch organization: Medical Ambassadors International, Modesto, Calif.
  • Large college, university or seminary: Whitworth College, Spokane, Wash.
  • Medium college, university or seminary: Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas and Multnomah Bible College and Seminary in Portland, Ore. (tie).
  • Small college, university or seminary: Phoenix Seminary, Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Private Christian school: Covenant Christian High School, Indianapolis.