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Religion Today Summaries, March 1, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, March 1, 2004

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

  • Student Sues School for Removing Bible Club Display
  • Effort to Send 100,000 Chinese Missionaries into 10/40 Window
  • Christian Magazine Changes Name to Better Reflect Content
  • Laos Christians Facing Intense Persecution 

Student Sues School for Removing Bible Club Display
Jim Brown, Agape Press

An Oregon high school senior has filed a federal lawsuit against the Portland School District over its decision to remove a display of items from his Bible club. The suit alleges that Marshall High School allowed 17-year-old Jeff Chatterton, a leader in Teens Encountering Christ, to put religious books and other items in a school display case. However, the suit claims the material was removed within days because school officials said it sanctioned religion. Chatterton's attorney, Stuart Roth of the American Center for Law and Justice, says the school's actions were a clear violation of the Equal Access Act, which was upheld as Constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. "It appears that the school district has created different types of classifications," the attorney says, "but [unfortunately it created] the type of classification that leaves the Bible club as a second-class citizen, so to speak, without the full range of rights and privileges as other non-curriculum related clubs." The ACLJ litigator commends Chatterton and his family for standing up for the young man's constitutional rights. He says the ACLJ does not see many legal situations like Chatterton's anymore because the law is so well known. However, he says such cases have far-reaching implications, and arguing them lets Christians know they are not second-class citizens.

Effort to Send 100,000 Chinese Missionaries into 10/40 Window
Charisma News Service

Three Chinese house church leaders are reviving an 80-year-old vision to take the gospel from China to Jerusalem - a region that comprises 90 percent of the world's unreached people. After a combined 40 years in prison for preaching the gospel, Peter Xu Yongze, Enoch Wang and "Brother Yun" are spearheading the effort known as the Back to Jerusalem movement. The campaign seeks to mobilize 100,000 Chinese missionaries who are willing to die to evangelize the estimated 2 billion people living in the area known as the 10/40 Window. This vision was first implemented by China's Jesus Church in 1949. Most of the missionaries were imprisoned and died before being freed. Yongze, Wang and Yun explain their strategy in "Back to Jerusalem: Called to Complete the Great Commission," written with Paul Hattaway, who has authored several books about the church in China. Hattaway said the number of missionaries sent out from China already has climbed to about 1,000. Bush, who heads a ministry that assesses missions activity inside the 10/40 Window, added: "The Chinese missionaries will face opposition in these regions. But they believe the persecution they have already endured was like a training ground for this difficult mission that left them equipped to take the gospel through these territories."

Christian Magazine Changes Name to Better Reflect Content
Agape Press

After 80 quarterly issues, a Christian magazine is changing its name to reflect its commitment to accurately report on historical events and the people who were involved in those events.  Christian History, a publication of Christianity Today International, is re-launching under a new banner: Christian History & Biography.  Managing editor Chris Armstrong says the name change reflects two editorial commitments: to report on a variety of topics beyond the "cover story," and to continue to examine the "human face" of history.  "Every story has its drama and pathos, and very historical figure his or her distinctive personality," Armstrong says.  "We will keep narrating history with all the human details that make its lessons so vivid and compelling."  Along with the new name comes several new departments at the magazine: Living History, The Story Behind, Changed Lives, and Eye Witness.  "We hope that with the new variety of material and the continued emphasis on history's human face, we will help a new generation of Christians discover how knowing our spiritual heritage edifies us and builds us up," Armstrong says.  Upcoming issues will include features on John Newton, author of the hymn "Amazing Grace"; the origin and meaning of the "Christian fish symbol"; John Wesley, the founder of Methodism; and on Christians in Communist China.

Laos Christians Facing Intense Persecution 
Voice of the Martyrs

Christians in Laos are currently undergoing intense persecution for their faith. On 19th February a meeting was held at which the Christians were told ”If you do not give up your Christian faith, leave the village; if you do not give up your faith or leave the village, you will be punished by death.” It appears that the officials’ purpose is to totally eradicate Christianity in Laos. There are numerous complaints of lands and livelihood being threatened. One source states: ”They are threatening to destroy our homes and to burn our homes. We are not able to travel anywhere. We are kept in an area of confinement. They kept watch on us. If we do not move from our village, they said they would kill us because the whole village agrees with them.”