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Religion Today Summaries, March 30, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, March 30, 2004

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

  • Mexico Conference Helps Nations Share Strategy for Strengthening Families 
  • Suspect Arrested in Ugandan Missionary Slaying 
  • Ohio State Motto Stays Despite Lawsuit 
  • Orthodox Churches Denied Meeting Places by Local Authorities

Mexico Conference Helps Nations Share Strategy for Strengthening Families
Allie Martin, Agape Press

Thousands of people have gathered in Mexico's capital for a three-day conference with the goal of orchestrating a common strategy to affirm and defend the natural family. The World Congress of Families is being attended by pro-family leaders, scholars, pastors, politicians, and families of all nationalities. Alan Carlson is president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, which organized the conference. He says the meeting, which is taking place March 29 through March 31 at Mexico City's Banamex Center, will help counteract efforts to redefine the family, such as the United Nations' attempts to supplant the traditional definition. Carlson says organizers of the Congress hope to send those attending back to their countries with a plan to help strengthen the family and promote its biblical definition. "One thing we're hoping for is a program of action," he says, "that is, common, agreed-upon strategies that can then be taken back to individual nations and applied as appropriate." Carlson says the Congress will hopefully begin the process of building lasting international relationships and continuing dialogue on family issues. "We are looking, hopefully, to build an ongoing network -- an informal but vital network of organizations that will stay in regular communication and will work together to blunt international efforts to undermine the family," he says.

Suspect Arrested in Ugandan Missionary Slaying
Charisma News Service

Police have arrested a suspect in the recent killing of two American missionaries and a Ugandan student in the East African nation's northwestern region. Amin Aruma was detained March 20 about 10 miles from a Christian agricultural training center, where Warren Pett, his wife, Donna, and the student were killed two nights earlier. The Petts, dairy farmers from Mukwonago, Wis., were shot when seven armed men wearing military uniforms raided the college near Yumbe, some 310 miles northwest of Kampala, where the couple taught. There has been no clear motive for the slaying of the missionaries who were both 49. About 90 percent of the area population is Muslim, and some were upset by the setting up of Christian schools in the region, police said. Yumbe District is a remote area near Uganda's border with Sudan. About 10 percent of Uganda's 24 million people are Muslims. Affiliated with Africa Inland Mission, the Petts had been in the African nation for more than a year and were teaching at the Esther Evangelical School of Technology, 15 miles east of Yumbe.

Ohio State Motto Stays Despite Lawsuit
Agape Press

In a reversal of a lower court's ruling, a federal appeals court has decided in a 9-4 vote that Ohio's state motto, "With God, all things are possible," is constitutional after all. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that the state motto does not violate the constitutional separation of Church and State, as the lower court had said. The phrase, which quotes Christ's words in Matthew 19:26, was suggested by a young boy and adopted by state lawmakers in 1959. The majority on the Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Ohio motto is no different from other ceremonial references to God, such as the national motto, "In God We Trust." In the majority opinion, Judge David A. Nelson wrote that the motto "does not purport to compel belief or acquiescence" and "does not assert a preference for one religious denomination or sect over others."  The four dissenting judges, however, claim the New Testament-derived motto is a uniquely Christian phrase that violates the ban on government establishment of religion. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the original lawsuit opposing the biblical quotation as the state motto in 1997. The opponents of the 6th Circuit Court's ruling say they hope to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Orthodox Churches Denied Meeting Places by Local Authorities
Voice of the Martyrs News

Although True Orthodox communities can normally gather in private homes and do not require a worship building in Russia, indications have been found that local authorities sometimes bar attempts to acquire or maintain worship buildings by the True Orthodox, as well as other Orthodox groups opposed to the Moscow Patriarchate. In Moscow, this problem has existed since the early 1990s, when the City Council decided that pre-revolutionary Orthodox Church buildings may be returned only to the Moscow Patriarchate. A spokesman for the City Council has claimed that, before 1990, alternative Orthodox groups "did not exist."