Religion Today Summaries - May 13, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 13, 2005

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

  • 'Powerful Movement of God' Anticipated for Global Day of Prayer 

  • Panel Cites Leading Religious Persecutors 

  • PJI Defends Dance Teacher Fired for Using Sacred Music 

  • Bethlehem Torn By Muslim, Christian Strife

'Powerful Movement of God' Anticipated for Global Day of Prayer
Charisma News Service

Organizers of the first-ever Global Day of Prayer (GDP) are calling on Christians in the United States to be unified in persistent prayer leading up to the worldwide gathering this Sunday. An estimated 200 million Christians in more than 160 countries are expected to seek God's blessings upon the nations and in order to usher in a global transformation. Activities from Reunion Arena in Dallas, which is serving as the main location for GDP events taking place at various locations nationwide, will broadcast live on Sky Angel ( from 5 to 8 p.m. Eastern time, enabling believers to gather in homes, churches, colleges and other venues to take part via satellite, Assist News Service reported. The GDP will be preceded by "A Whole Night for the Whole World" on Saturday, when a worldwide network of youth ministries organizes all-night prayer sessions. That event is part of an organized 10 days of prayer that lead to Pentecost Sunday, in remembrance of the period between Christ's ascension and Pentecost, 50 days after Easter. Besides TV broadcasts, GDP, which will be observed in 175 nations and had its genesis in South Africa four years ago, will be on radio and Internet simulcast. For more information, visit (

Panel Cites Leading Religious Persecutors
Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The U.S. Commission on International Freedom added a country and deleted another in its latest list of the world's worst violators of religious liberty. On the same day it released its annual report May 11, the bipartisan panel recommended for the first time Uzbekistan be designated by the State Department as one of the "countries of particular concern," a category reserved for governments that have "engaged in or tolerated systemic and egregious violations of religious freedom." The USCIRF also removed India from its list of countries recommended for CPC designation. The commission recommended to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice the retention of Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Vietnam on the CPC list. It also repeated its previous advice that Pakistan and Turkmenistan be added to the category, a suggestion the previous secretary of state, Colin Powell, did not agree to last year. The USCIRF recommends governments for CPC designation each year, but the secretary of state actually designates which countries are on the CPC list.

PJI Defends Dance Teacher Fired for Using Sacred Music
Allie Martin, Agape Press

Officials at one California school district fired a dance teacher after a complaint that she used religious music in her instruction. The teacher, who prefers to remain anonymous, worked for a Southern California school district and typically used a wide variety of music in her dance classes and always took especial care to use family-friendly selections. But earlier this year, a school staff member complained that some of the music the dance instructor was using referenced Jesus. On the day in question, the dance teacher made use of several secular music selections, and also a classical piece by J.S. Bach, with sacred lyrics in Latin; as well as a Swahili song called "O Si Funi Mungu," the title of which translates into "Praise God." Although the teacher offered to expand her diverse repertoire, district officials -- rather than taking her up on her offer -- terminated her employment. The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a nonprofit legal defense organization, has taken the dance instructor's case. PJI president Brad Dacus says it is clearly constitutional and legal under California law for a teacher to use both religious and secular music as a part of instruction. He says PJI is willing to provide legal assistance at no cost to any public school teacher who uses a religious reference in the many subjects in which such references are appropriate.

Bethlehem Torn By Muslim, Christian Strife
Dan Wooding, Assist News Service

Sectarian tensions are boiling over in Bethlehem after members of a local Christian family accused a Muslim man of kidnapping their 16-year-old daughter. According to a story released by ICEJ News in Jerusalem, the girl, who holds American citizenship, was rescued with the help of American diplomats over the weekend from a hideaway house belonging to a large Muslim clan in Hebron and flown with her mother to the United States. The Jerusalem Post reports that at least 35 Christians have been injured by Palestinian Authority policemen during ensuing protests outside the Muslim abductor's home in Bethlehem. PA police have disregarded Christian calls for his arrest and trial, saying the girl wanted to marry him and to convert to Islam. Christian families are worried at the continuing Christian flight from Bethlehem and the deliberate targeting of Christian girls for Muslim marriages. The incident in Bethlehem comes only days after a Christian man from Ramallah brutally murdered his 20-year-old daughter because she had expressed her desire to marry a Muslim - a shockingly rare case of Christian "honor killing." She was murdered on the same day that a Jerusalem Arab man strangled to death his two sisters in a similar incident.