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Religion Today Summaries, June 22, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Service

Religion Today Summaries, June 22, 2004

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

  • Psychologist Stresses Importance of Faith in Recovery
  • Sri Lankan Cabinet Approves Bill Prohibiting Religious Conversion
  • Lawyer Expects Court to Uphold Christian Teacher's Rights 
  • Human Rights Organization Demands More Rights For Christians in Turkey

Psychologist Stresses Importance of Faith in Recovery
Mary Rettig, Agape Press

A Christian psychologist says faith plays a very important role in helping a patient recover from or cope with a mental illness. Dr. Robert Rogan, a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, says all physicians need to take spiritual foundation into consideration when treating mentally ill patients because, "in my work I've noticed that people that come from a Christian background have a strength with which to do better ultimately and to continue to do better than those that may not come from that background." The doctor says with Christ individuals can endure any type of discomfort or difficulty. However, he notes that churches are often less than supportive of the mentally ill in their congregations. "A person may be dealing with a lot of anxiety and fear over a situation, but he may feel reluctant to express that in church or among his friends because fear is not really an acceptable Christian emotion," Rogan says. He encourages Christians to find ways to support and be sensitive to the struggles of the mentally ill in their midst, and to recognize the importance of faith in the healing process.

Sri Lankan Cabinet Approves Bill Prohibiting Religious Conversion
International Christian Concern

The Sri Lankan Cabinet has approved a bill to prevent conversion of Buddhists to other religions. In May of 2004, the Jathika Hela Urumaya party (JHU) put forward a bill to paliament on "the Prohibition of Forcible Conversion.' In addition, the minister of Buddhism put forth his own bill to prohibit "Forcible Conversion" on June 16. On June 17, the Cabinet approved the Bill to be presented to Parliament. The scope of the Minister's Act is wider in interpretation than the Bill tabled by the JHU. This Act effectively makes conversion from one religion to another an offense under the law. Section 2 of the draft Act stipulates that no person shall convert nor attempt to convert or aid or abet acts of conversion of a person to a different religion. This Act, if it is enacted, will effectively infringe upon an individuals fundamental right of embracing a religion on his/her choice, by making the very act of conversion illegal.

Lawyer Expects Court to Uphold Christian Teacher's Rights
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A federal appeals court in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is considering whether it may bar a Christian teacher from taking part in an after-school Christian club that meets on campus. Recently the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case involving Barbara Wigg, a teacher in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, school district who was prohibited from serving in Good News Clubs anywhere in the district. Good News Clubs are groups that use songs, crafts, and stories to teach children character and moral development from a Christian viewpoint. Mrs. Wigg's attorney, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, says the school district's actions are blatantly unconstitutional. Last summer Liberty Counsel sued the Sioux Falls School District on Wigg's behalf, and Staver says the judges who heard his Federal Court of Appeals argument appeared to agree. "In fact," he notes, "the Court of Appeals judges were confused by the district and simply said, 'Why don't you allow Mrs. Wigg to be treated equally like you allow equal treatment for your other personnel and other community groups to discuss secular issues?'"Staver believes the judges will uphold his client's rights and set a precedent that will apply to others liker her. Although district policy allows both religious and secular groups to use school facilities for after-school meetings, the district still contends that Wigg cannot be involved in the Good News Clubs because she is a teacher in a public school.

Human Rights Organization Demands More Rights For Christians in Turkey
Wolfgang Polzer, ASSIST News Service

The International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) in Frankfurt is demanding more rights for Turkish Christians. ISHR claims Turkey should not only recognize the Kurdish culture but also that of other minorities such as Aramaic and Assyrian Christians. Turkey is striving for membership in the European Union and is responding to demands for greater respect for minority rights. Radio and television programs in the Kurdish language have recently been introduced. ISHR also reminds Turkish leaders of a demand by the European Parliament that Turkey should officially acknowledge the Armenian genocide. 1.5 million Armenian Christians were murdered by Turks in 1915. Turkey has always denied the massacres. ISHR encourages the Turkish authorities to lift the ban on teaching in the Aramaic language in orthodox monasteries in the Tur Abdin region. In addition Christian should be granted access to all professions including leading positions in administration and the military. “Turkey is not a Muslim club,” declared the human rights organization. 99.6 per cent of the 67 million Turkish inhabitants are Muslims, 0.3 per cent Christians. 55 evangelical churches have 3,000 members.