Religion Today Summaries - June 13, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 13, 2005

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

  • Prohibition of Bible Reading at Recess Results in Lawsuit 

  • A New Reformation: Theologian Matthew Fox Challenges Pope, The Church And The World To Rethink Christianity

  • Evangelist Doubts Muslim Group's Koran Giveaway Will Have Much Impact 

  • India: Ministering to the "Unreached People of the Woods"

Prohibition of Bible Reading at Recess Results in Lawsuit
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A Tennessee elementary school is being sued for barring a ten-year-old boy from reading his Bible during recess. Knox County School officials have been served with a federal lawsuit alleging they violated the free-speech rights of fourth-grader Luke Whitson.  The young student was recently prohibited from reading his Bible with a few friends on the playground at Karns Elementary School in Knoxville.  The school claims recess is not "free time," but in fact instructional time -- and thus, the Bible reading during recess violates the so-called separation of church and state. Whitson's attorney, Chuck Pope with the Alliance Defense Fund, says the school is trampling the boy's constitutional rights and should stop immediately. ADF points out that recess has long been regarded as non-instructional time, during which students are free to read or discuss a wide range of literature -- including the Bible. Pope says his firm and his clients had hoped to avoid litigation. The school principal, Cathy Summa, ordered the students to end their Bible reading after one parent complained about the activity.  Pope says as a result of the Whitson incident, other children at Karns Elementary have been afraid to even bring their Bibles to school.

A New Reformation: Theologian Matthew Fox Challenges Pope, The Church And The World To Rethink Christianity
Religion News Service

Crowds gathering at the famous Wittenberg Cathedral (Schlosskirche) witnessed the nailing of the 95 Theses for a New Reformation, by American theologian Matthew Fox. Like his predecessor Martin Luther in 1517, Fox believes that the church is in trouble and in need of a drastic change. Fox took it upon himself to write an updated version of the 95 Theses for this millennium. While Luther's protest was against indulgences and corruption in the administration of Pope Leo X, Fox's beef is more attuned to the injustices and power abuses currently in the Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI and the apathy epidemic present in Protestant Churches. Matthew Fox, a former Dominican priest and author of 26 popular religious and theological textbooks, is the founder of Wisdom University in Oakland California. His concern about the Church's corruption reached a turning point after the election of Joseph Ratzinger to the position of Pope. Fox's new book "A New Reformation!" challenges Pope Benedict XVI and exposes part of the corruption of the papacy. Hailed as "the New Reformer" by the German media, Fox and his quest for a new reformation was supported by over 500 attendees in Bad Herrenalb while his nailing of the 95 Theses on the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg drew new crowds and interviews from various magazine and television journalists.

Evangelist Doubts Muslim Group's Koran Giveaway Will Have Much Impact
Chad Groening, Agape Press

A Christian evangelist and former Muslim says she is not concerned about the news that a radical Islamic group is offering free Korans to anyone who wants one. USA Today recently reported that the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, plans to distribute as many as 25,000 Korans. W.L. Cati, founder of Zennah Ministries, believes most Americans would probably find the Islamic sacred text hard to decipher. Besides, Cati contends, a reading of just a few key verses would likely scare off most rational readers. According to the evangelical ministry leader, the Koran instructs followers of Islam that if they encounter any nonbelievers, a good Muslim may "strike their necks." And, she notes, the Islamic faithful are instructed, "If you take them as captive, you may ransom them until the war ends." Cati says while the inspired words of the Holy Bible are meant to move hearers to repent and seek salvation, the Koran encourages Muslims to use aggressive means, even violence if necessary, to compel others to become followers. The Zennah Ministries founder says she doubts that CAIR's massive distribution effort will have a great effect on most Americans who do receive a free Koran. Cati believes out of those who do read the Islamic holy book as a result of this campaign, many will be turned off by what they find in its pages.

Ecuador: One Man's Journey from Communism to Christ
Christian Aid Mission

Once a prisoner for crimes committed in the name of communist reform, Felix Valencia is now a powerful witness for Christ in the isolated Anchayacu region of northwestern Ecuador. Valencia was born in this remote jungle area. At the age of 16, Valencia, frustrated with the desperately poor plight of his countrymen, dropped out of school to join a Marxist group. Six years after joining the communists, he was in prison. One day when native missionaries visited the prison and gave the young prisoner a copy of the New Testament. Valencia read the whole book, scrutinizing it for two weeks before finally kneeling in his cell to ask the Lord's forgiveness. "I prayed, 'Lord, if You think my life is still worth something, I'd like to do something for You.' In that prison, I felt the call to preach Him to my people," says Valencia. The former zealous communist came to be known around the prison for another kind of zeal-an eagerness to preach Christ to fellow inmates. Miraculously, after serving one year of his 12-year sentence, Valencia was released. He became well-known as an effective preacher and evangelist in the area. Fourteen years ago, he took his wife and three young children to this remote region. Only two churches existed in the area when they arrived. Today, six more churches have been planted through the Valencias' ministry.