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Religion Today Summaries, July 23, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, July 23, 2004

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

  • California City Council Puts God on Seal Despite Recent Threats
  • Argentine Church's 'Operation Blessing' Offers Food, Clothing
  • Hindu Mob Assaults Church under Construction
  • Christian Citizen Continues Fight Against Pro-Islamic Ordinance

California City Council Puts God on Seal Despite Recent Threats
Agape Press

Either the members of the Oceanside, California, city council don't read the news -- or they don't care what the ACLU thinks.  The city fathers of this Southern California coastal community decided earlier this month to make official what they first considered almost two years ago: adding the phrase "In God We Trust" to their city seal.  According to a press release from the Pacific Justice Institute, the unanimous vote on July 7 was greeted with applause, cheers, and whistles from the standing-room-only crowd in the city council chambers.  The PJI calls the move "courageous" in light of recent threats levied by the American Civil Liberties Union against the City of Redlands and the County of Los Angeles regarding religious symbols on their official seals.  Some citizens of Oceanside have reportedly contacted the ACLU about challenging the new design for their city's seal, but the organization has not made a decision yet.  If a lawsuit does emerge, the PJI says it is ready to represent Oceanside without charge.  Brad Dacus, president of the PJI, says any ACLU action against the community will be met with "strong resistance" by those who are interested in preserving the essential principles upon which America was founded.

Argentine Church's 'Operation Blessing' Offers Food, Clothing
Charisma News Service

A leading minister in the Argentina revival movement that saw thousands come to Christ in the mid-1980s and 1990s has launched a new initiative to take the gospel outside the walls of the church. Calling his effort Operation Blessing, Claudio Freidzon has been taking teams of volunteers to remote areas throughout Argentina to distribute food, clothing, medicine and other supplies, and to host evangelistic meetings. The pastor said that the effort is an attempt to preach the gospel not only in word, but also in deed by combining evangelism with practical assistance. Freidzon said he felt God calling him to "bless" his country after an economic crisis rocked Argentina in late 2001. Burdened by the difficult conditions many Argentineans faced, Freidzon and his wife, Betty, launched Operation Blessing last year. The first Operation Blessing event was held in the province of Tucumán in April 2003, with more than 35,000 people in attendance and thousands reporting decisions for Christ. In July 2003, the second Operation Blessing took place in the province of Chubut, with the customary hospital visitations and distribution of food and medical help. The third outreach event was held in the province of Misiones in November, with 20,000 people in attendance. This year, Freidzon visited the provinces of Tucumán, Chubut, Misiones and Chaco. In Chaco, more than 9,000 reported decisions for Christ during the outreach.

Hindu Mob Assaults Church under Construction
Joshua Newton, Compass Direct

Tension has gripped the tribal village of Rohiyal Talal in the northwest state of Gujarat, India, after a mob of 15 local Hindu farmers desecrated a Christian church under construction in the hamlet. In an early-morning assault on Sunday, July 17, attackers demolished walls, iron gratings and windowpanes of the independent Protestant church. Officials at the nearby Kaprada police station have identified the assailants and say some are local leaders of the extremist Hindu organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad. However, no arrests had been made by press time. Attacks on Christian churches are a major issue of religious freedom in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka , where dozens of places of worship have been damaged or destroyed in recent months. Militants belonging to the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which lost ground in India's recent national elections, have distributed thousands of anti-Christian pamphlets accusing Christians of forcibly converting impoverished Hindus to Christianity, raising fears of yet more attacks.

Christian Citizen Continues Fight Against Pro-Islamic Ordinance
Chad Groening, Agape Press

A Michigan man says he believes voter confusion probably played a major role in the defeat of a referendum that would have repealed a Hamtramck city ordinance giving Muslims the right to broadcast their calls to prayer over loudspeakers. However, he insists the fight is not over. Born-again Christian Bob Golen says he is not surprised that Muslims were able to win Tuesday's referendum vote. He believes many Hamtramck voters may have been confused because of a school board recall issue also on the ballot. Golen thinks many of the people who were voting "no" on the recall issue thought they were voting on the issue of the Muslim prayer-call ordinance. The Christian citizen-activist says he intends to contact public-interest law firms around the U.S. that might be willing to pursue a court challenge to the ordinance. Believing the pro-Islamic noise ordinance to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution, Golen also intends to seek legal counsel locally, in hopes of finding someone who can help him prove his contention in court. Until such time as a hearing on that issue can be scheduled, Golen hopes to seek immediate relief against the Muslim prayer call broadcasts in his community, perhaps by getting a temporary injunction.