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Religion Today Summaries, March 6, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, March 6, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top national and international religious news stories impacting Christians
In Today's Edition:

  • Reciting 'Under God' Pledge OK, for Now
  • Chaplains: Prelude to War Prompting Soldiers to Seek Christ
  • Muslim Group Condemns Prayer Walkout by Washington Lawmakers
  • Jews Protest PETA Campaign

Reciting 'Under God' Pledge OK, for Now

(Charisma News) Schoolchildren can go on pledging allegiance to one nation "under God" -- at least for now.  Tuesday, a federal appeals court stayed enforcement of its controversial ruling that use of the phrase makes the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional when recited in public school, "The Los Angeles Times" reported.  Judge Alfred Goodwin issued a 90-day stay, which allows schoolchildren in nine Western states to continue reciting the pledge, pending a decision by the Supreme Court on whether it will review the case.  Goodwin issued the order in response to a request filed Monday by the Elk Grove School District near Sacramento, where the thorny case arose.  Last Friday, the appeals court refused to reconsider its ruling.  Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a statement, saying the Justice Department would "spare no effort to preserve the rights of all our citizens to pledge their allegiance to the American flag.  For centuries our nation has referenced God as we have expressed our patriotism and national identity in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, national anthem, on our coins, and in the Gettysburg Address," he added.  "The Supreme Court...opens each session by saying, 'God save this honorable court.'"  www.charismanews.com

Chaplains: Prelude to War Prompting Soldiers to Seek Christ
James Dotson

(Baptist Press) Chaplains in the Middle East are reporting a swell of spiritual interest among troops preparing for war -- including capacity crowds at chapel services and numerous professions of faith.  "Now is a golden opportunity to reach soldiers for Christ.  I am witnessing all the time and it is the soldiers who want to talk about God and their faith," said Maj. Keith Kilgore, a U.S. Army chaplain currently based in Kuwait.  A recent Washington Post article on the upsurge of spiritual interest gives a firsthand report from one of Kilgore's services in the desert.  A khaki tent is regularly packed beyond its capacity of 150.  Maj. Timothy Bedsole, an Army chaplain also based in Kuwait, relayed a description of a typical chapel service as written by his commander, Col. Mike Biering.  "There was a feeling of sensory overload as the service began amongst the outside sounds of heavy engineer equipment, the sound of helicopter rotor blades and truck traffic moving supplies for the soldiers further north -- and oh yes, a starting round of praise music complete with two soldiers playing guitar," Biering wrote.  "It was some of the sweetest music I have ever heard.  In this strange and far away place, we worshiped our God."  www.bpnews.net

Muslim Group Condemns Prayer Walkout by Washington Lawmakers
Kevin Eckstrom

(RNS) A leading Muslim group said two Washington state lawmakers who left during a prayer by a Muslim cleric threaten to damage the country's image with Muslims around the world.  Republican State Reps. Lois McMahan and Cary Condotta left the floor of the Washington House on Monday (March 3) when an Olympia man delivered the day's opening prayer.  McMahan said it was a matter of patriotism.  "Even though the mainstream Islamic religion doesn't profess to hate America, nonetheless it spawns groups that hate America," McMahan told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, adding, "My God is not Muhammad."  Condotta said he left the chamber to talk to another legislator and called the timing accidental.  "Let's just say I wasn't particularly interested," he told the Seattle paper.  Imam Mohammad Joban of the Islamic Center of Olympia asked "Allah, or God, to bless the state of Washington so it may continue to prosper and become a symbol of peace and tranquility for all people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds" and prayed that "America may succeed in the war against terrorism."  Nihad Awad, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, called on Republican leaders to condemn McMahan's and Condotta's actions.

Jews Protest PETA Campaign

(RNS) Canadian Jewish leaders joined their counterparts in the United States in condemning a controversial new ad campaign that likens the slaughter of farm animals to the execution of 6 million Jewish Holocaust victims.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal rights group known for its publicity stunts, is touring North America with gigantic posters depicting the supposed similarities between Nazi death camps and present-day factory farms.  Jewish groups say the PETA campaign, titled Holocaust on Your Plate, belittles millions of murders in an attempt to shame meat eaters into vegetarianism.  "To equate what is truly one of the most monumental crimes in the history of mankind to the abusive treatment of animals is totally unconscionable," Manuel Prutschi of the Canadian Jewish Congress told the National Post.  "The analogy is obscene.  It is totally lacking in any proportionality."  PETA's tour is scheduled to make its way to the northeastern United States in April, followed by a possible visit to Canada.