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Religion Today Summaries, May 26, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, May 26, 2004

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

  • ICLU Gets Prayer Cut from Indiana Public School Graduation

  • Pakistani Christian Attacked by Police for Blasphemy
  • Christian Legal Advocacy Group Argues California Homosexual Marriage Case
  • High Hopes for ‘Summer of Salvation’ in Southern California

ICLU Gets Prayer Cut from Indiana Public School Graduation
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A lawsuit threat from the Indiana Civil Liberties Union has prompted a high school in the Indianapolis area to drop its tradition of prayer at graduation. After receiving a complaint from one student who did not want an invocation at this year's graduation ceremony, officials at Avon High School decided there would be no public prayer at the program. The decision came under advice from the district's legal counsel and pressure from the ICLU, which is assisting the 18-year-old student. Longtime school board member Lloyd Acton, a professing Christian, says he is in a difficult position in this matter because school leaders cannot authorize a school-led prayer. "My hands are somewhat tied," he says, "because you're interviewing me as a school board member and not as a citizen. I have a hard time separating out the two, but I have to.” However, the ICLU has said it will not sue if student-led prayers occur at the commencement ceremony. A prayer rally, organized by the father of an Avon High School senior, is being held at the school administration building Tuesday evening, just three days before graduation. Another student was quoted as saying that most of the graduating seniors want prayer included in the commencement ceremony. According to education guidelines released last year, U.S. schools could lose federal funding if they choose to bar students from praying at graduation.

Pakistani Christian Attacked by Police for Blasphemy
International Christian Concern

ICC is receiving reports that a Christian man (Samuel X) has been admitted to General Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan as a result of being attacked by a policeman. The understanding at this point is that the policeman attacked him regarding his comments about Islam. Possibly this was done during an interrogation as Samuel was previously being held at the police station. We do have a reported quote from the policeman stating that he had "done his religious duty" (in trying to kill him for blasphemy). Samuel is said to be on life support and not showing signs of life according to a hospital source. Our representatives have attempted to gain access to Samuel but access to him is being blocked by the police. Doctors in attendance are also not cooperating. This is only the latest incident in a long string of attacks and abuses against Christians in Pakistan.

Christian Legal Advocacy Group Argues California Homosexual Marriage Case
Agape Press

A Christian legal advocacy group goes before California's Supreme Court today to argue that San Francisco's mayor acted lawlessly when he issued marriage licenses to thousands of homosexual couples. Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) lawyer Jordan Lorence, who once argued a religious liberty case before the U.S. Supreme Court, will maintain that Mayor Gavin Newsom cannot unilaterally decide that the state's marriage law is unconstitutional. The ADF's chief counsel, Benjamin Bull, says, "Our starting point is the Bible, always ... but we understand we operate in a secular judicial system where you need to develop winning arguments and strategies that will be accepted by secular judges." ADF president Alan Sears is co-author of a book titled, The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today.

High Hopes for ‘Summer of Salvation’ in Southern California
ASSIST News Service

When the prophet Jeremiah lamented the apostasy all around him he said: “Harvest is past, summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Those who are catching a vision for a ‘Summer of Salvation’ (S.O.S.) in the greater L.A. area hope to see Jeremiah’s heart cry turned into a new song of celebration—if many respond to the call of Jesus Christ. Three independently planned large-scale events will unfold in July, representing an unprecedented opportunity for outreach. First is a ‘Freedom Celebration’ at Cerritos Stadium in the City of Norwalk featuring Pastor Poncho Juarez (July 3) and Pastor Greg Laurie (July 4), with fireworks displays both nights. On July 10 Harvest Crusade comes to Angel Stadium in Anaheim, as Pastor Greg Laurie delivers the gospel, and Matt Redman, Tommy Walker, Fernando Ortega, and Cliff Barrows perform music. Later in the month, the Greater Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade arrives at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, with music by Third Day, Michael W. Smith, Mercy Me, Kirk Franklin, and Jars of Clay, among others. The Graham Crusade will begin July 29 through August 1. “This is just God’s timing,” says Jeff Johnson, Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel Downey, who is organizing Freedom Celebration. “Even the Billy Graham Association said there is something very unique coming down this July into the Southern California area,” he notes.