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Religion Today Summaries, June 3, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, June 3, 2004

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

  • Favorable Ten Commandments Ruling May Herald Positive Trend, Attorney Says 
  • Bush's Faith-Based Speech 'Sounded Like a Revival Meeting'
  • Black Pastors Stand With Pro-Family Groups Defending Traditional Marriage 
  • Some Christians Released; Church Leader Remains Detained in China

Favorable Ten Commandments Ruling May Herald Positive Trend, Attorney Says
Allie Martin, Agape Press

Despite a liberal group's efforts, a Ten Commandments monument that has stood for more than 30 years in a public park in Utah will not be removed. The Society of Separationists sued the city of Pleasant Grove City, Utah, and several of its officials, claiming the monument installed in 1971 by the Fraternal Order of Eagles violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, federal district court judge Bruce Jenkins dismissed the lawsuit. The Thomas More Law Center and the American Center for Law and Justice represented Pleasant Grove City in the matter. According to Thomas More Law Center associate counsel Edward L. White, the judge's ruling states clearly that "the Ten Commandments can be displayed on public property without running afoul of the United States Constitution." White says the Jenkins's decision may be part of a new trend. "For a while there, the federal courts had been ruling against the Ten Commandments, so these monuments had to be taken down," he observes. "But recently the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in Texas, upheld a decision that the Ten Commandments can be displayed in the state capitol building in Texas." White commends the Pleasant Grove City officials for standing up to the atheist group. He says most of the time, "cities will immediately... on the threat of a lawsuit, remove the monument rather than try to fight this."

Bush's Faith-Based Speech 'Sounded Like a Revival Meeting'
Charisma News Service

President Bush delivered an emotional address this week to a Washington, D.C., gathering of 2,000 religious leaders and social service workers in which he pledged to increase the money available to faith-based organizations. In 40 minutes of mostly off-the-cuff and impassioned remarks to a White House Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives on Tuesday, Bush said the government gave $1.1 billion in grants last year to social programs operated by churches, synagogues and mosques, but that "governments cannot put love in a person's heart or a sense of purpose in a person's life." The same day, Bush signed an order establishing faith-based offices in three more parts of the executive branch -- the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs -- bringing to 10 the federal agencies that house offices devoted entirely to helping religious organizations tap into government grants. "I told ... the people in my government, rather than fear faith programs, welcome them," Bush said. "They're changing America. They do a better job than government can do." Parts of his speech "sounded like a revival meeting," the New York Times observed. Bush, who has in the past credited Christ with helping him to recover from alcoholism, stopped short of mentioning his own experiences to the group.

Black Pastors Stand With Pro-Family Groups Defending Traditional Marriage
Allie Martin and Jenni Parker, Agape Press

Pro-family activists were joined by several black pastors during a press conference yesterday in Washington, DC, expressing support for a biblical view of marriage. According to one pro-family leader, their presence sent a strong message that traditional marriage defenders will not let homosexual activists hijack the civil rights movement for their cause. Among the speakers at Tuesday's Capitol Hill press conference were Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation. Several African American pastors spoke out as well, saying they represent a coalition of black churches dedicated to preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Gary Bauer points out that, "the polling data shows that African Americans in this country overwhelmingly reject same-sex marriage," he says. Bauer notes that there have been attempts by radical activists to hijack the civil rights movement in order to promote same-sex marriage, but he says this attempt will not succeed. He believes the participation of these African American pastors in the fight to defend traditional marriage is extremely important for the pro-family movement because it "helps to dispel one of the great lies of the left -- that homosexual 'marriage' is a civil rights issue."

Some Christians Released; Church Leader Remains Detained in China
International Christian Concern

Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom hails the release by Chinese authorities of two Catholic priests and a Protestant pastor, Zhao Wenquan. However, well-known Christian evangelical leader Xu Shuangfu, founder of the independent Three Class Servants church, detained on April 26, remains in custody.  In press releases last month, the Center urged the U.S. government to press Beijing for their freedom. According to China Aid, a Pennsylvania-based rights group, Zhao's family and church members credit international pressure for his recent release and report that he was only "lightly beaten" while in jail. Zhao had been arrested in Anhui province in east-central China on May 9 during a large outdoor harvest celebration.