Religion Today Summaries -- May 10, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries -- May 10, 2004

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

  • OK Governor Okays Posting of National Motto in Schools
  • Police Officer Murders Three Christians
  • United Methodist Agency Denies Malfeasance Charge
  • Indonesia: Pastor to Receive Urgent Medical Treatment

OK Governor Okays Posting of National Motto in Schools
Rusty Pugh, Agape Press

An Oklahoma pro-family advocate says she is overjoyed that her state has made it legal to post "In God We Trust" in all public school classrooms. Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry signed into law this week a measure that allows every classroom, cafeteria, and auditorium to display posters bearing the phrases "E Pluribus Unum" (Out of Many One) and the national motto "In God We Trust." State law did not prohibit schools from posting the mottos, but now that HB 2477 is law, teachers and principals are reassured they can use the mottos without risking lawsuits. Patty Morton is president of the group Oklahomans for Patriotic Values, which worked for two years to get the bill passed. "We are so excited," Morton says. "The Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified in our schools." Morton shares that it was a long fight to get the bill through, mainly because of one state senator, but it was worth all the effort. "I apologized to God that I had not already gone [forward earlier], but ... then you deliver these things, [saying], 'God, I just take this school back in the name of Jesus for You and for Your glory,'" she recalls.

Police Officer Murders Three Christians
Barnabas News Fund

A police officer in El Minia, Egypt, drove a truck into a canal killing three of his five bound prisoners, including an elderly church leader. The police officer had arrested five Christians in the early hours of Sunday May 2. Sixty-four year old Father Ibrahim Mikhaeil and four others were charged with the unlawful construction of a church fence. Part of the fence had collapsed during a storm and the five men attempted to mend it as soon as possible, concerned that local officials would stall and possibly halt its rebuilding. Obstruction and the refusal to grant permits for church repairs is a recurring problem in Egypt. The officer, Ahmed Kelani, went to the church at 1 a.m. after a Muslim villager informed the police station of the efforts of the five men. The arrested men were bound and placed in the back of a rented vehicle. As the vehicle approached the brink of the Ibrahimiya Canal, Kelani jumped out. Father Mikhaeil and two other Christians (Mahrous and Nasef) were killed, while the other two remain in a critical condition in hospital. News of the killings has caused an uproar in the local Christian community.

United Methodist Agency Denies Malfeasance Charge
Jim Brown, Agape Press

The United Methodist Church is being rocked by a scandal involving the misuse of money by the denomination's top lobby office in Washington, DC. For the past 40 years, the UM Board of Church and Society has been violating the trust agreement governing its Capitol Hill office building, which was erected by the church's Temperance Board. The agreement stipulates that the "Methodist Building" and its income must be devoted in perpetuity to alcohol-related issues. However, the Board of Church and Society has instead been spending that money on a vast array of liberal political causes. Mark Tooley, with the conservative group United Methodist Action, points out that the board has been ignoring the terms of the trust for four decades, and continues to do so. In fact, he says, "this lobby office uses its budget of five million dollars a year for political lobbying and for political statements that I think even most liberal United Methodists would find inappropriate for a church agency to be involved with." The Board of Church and Society insists that the agency is in full compliance, and Tooley believes the issue will have to be resolved in a Washington, DC, court of law.

Indonesia: Pastor to Receive Urgent Medical Treatment
Compass Direct

Rev. Rinaldy Damanik, a pastor who many believe was framed on false charges of "illegal weapons possession," has finally received permission to travel to Jakarta for urgent medical treatment. Damanik has been in and out of the hospital since mid-April with a severe kidney condition. Doctors believe he needs urgent surgery; however facilities for this are only available in Jakarta. Members of Damanik's support team submitted the necessary documents to the Department of Justice and Human Rights on April 27, asking for a letter of permission for the transfer from Maesa prison to a hospital in Jakarta. However the submission was treated like a "ping pong ball," according to Mona Saroinsong, a church official and leader of the support team. Department officials left for a tennis tournament on April 28, leaving nobody to process the documents. Permission was finally granted on May 3, but doctors fear the delay in medical treatment may affect Damanik's chances of complete recovery. Saroinsong has asked for continued prayer for Damanik and his family, who lack financial resources to pay for the surgery.