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Religion Today Summaries - May 5, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 5, 2005

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

  • School District Cancels Discriminatory Fee Schedule Imposed on Christian Group 

  • Pastor Slain Outside His Church Prayed for Flock to 'Win Neighborhood'

  • Hindu Extremists in India Attack Church, Burn Bibles

  • Liberia: Native Missionaries Restore Lives after Civil War

School District Cancels Discriminatory Fee Schedule Imposed on Christian Group
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A Washington State school district has backed down from charging a Christian after-school club excessive fees to use school facilities. Initially, representatives of Child Evangelism Fellowship's Good News Clubs in the Marysville School District were told by district officials that state law in Washington required them to charge the Christian group more for its use of school facilities than they would charge similar secular clubs. While civic and community groups such as the Boy Scouts were charged one set fee, the Good News Club was being charged more because it is a religious organization. The director of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) contacted Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based legal organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom and other pro-family causes. Liberty Counsel immediately sent a demand letter to the Marysville School District, explaining that Washington state law does not require school officials to target religious groups for discrimination by charging disparate fees based on their religious viewpoint. "As a result of our intervention, they did reverse their position, fortunately," Liberty Counsel president Mat Staver notes. "They've now agreed to allow Good News Clubs to meet on campus after school at the same kind of rental fee that they charge anyone else." The district officials changed their minds after they were confronted with the fact that they were actually violating the Christian organization's constitutional right to equal access.

Pastor Slain Outside His Church Prayed for Flock to 'Win Neighborhood'
Charisma News Service

A Los Angeles-area pastor who was recently gunned down outside the church he founded had a passion to see his crime-laden community come to Christ. A week ago, Charlie Williams, assistant pastor of 250-member Christian Unity Missionary Baptist Church in Inglewood, was shot before he could get a few feet from the church's doors, The Los Angeles Times reported. Williams, 70, died a few hours later at a local hospital. Police said the motive for the shooting was unknown. Williams' death has shaken a working-class neighborhood where gang crime has been a persistent problem and where Williams was a reassuring face, the Times noted. Williams was known for buying toys for children, feeding the needy and spreading the Word of God. Friends and family described him as a voice of optimism in a neighborhood filled with more than its share of troubles. "He would pray that the church could win the neighborhood," his wife, Lois Moore-Williams, who is the church's main pastor, told the newspaper. Williams and his wife constantly prayed that God would allow the church to be a beacon of light for the people in the neighborhood, Moore-Williams said. She could not bring herself to preach last Sunday, but plans to return to the pulpit later this month. She has already chosen the title of her sermon: "All Is Well." (www.charismanews.com)

Hindu Extremists in India Attack Church, Burn Bibles
Compass Direct

A crowd of nearly 500 Hindu villagers attacked a house church in Mangalwarapete village, Karnataka state, India, on May 1. Assailants molested some of the women among the 60 people present at the Sunday service and burned Bibles and other Christian literature. The mob beat Pastor Paulraj Raju of King Jesus Church. His wife and an elder of the church were also seriously injured in the attack. According to Pastor Charles Isaac of the Evangelical Free Church Urban Movement of India, the attackers identified themselves as members of the Hindu fundamentalist group Bajrang Dal and the nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party. Raju, who is still in the hospital recovering from his injuries, was beaten by local people in January and later arrested by police on charges of attempting to convert Hindus. Only one million of the 52.8 million inhabitants of Karnataka state are Christians. Hindus number 44.3 million, according to 2001 census figures.

Liberia: Native Missionaries Restore Lives after Civil War
Christian Aid Mission

Liberia's 14-year civil conflict that left 250,000 dead also left hundreds of thousands of lives broken by violence and loss. Though the path to total restoration is long and hard for this poverty-stricken country, native gospel workers are committed to light the way with Christ's love. One indigenous ministry currently provides basic care for more than 300 refugees and over 60 orphaned or abandoned children. Stories like that of 8-year-old Jennet Johnson are typical of war victims the ministry helps. As Jennet and other family members fled for their lives after rebels attacked the family’s village, a stray bullet hit Jennet's mother. The little girl was picked up by another escapee, leaving her mother where she lay. The girl and her rescuer made their way to a refugee camp. Approximately one year after she lost her parents, Jennet met a group of native missionaries visiting the camp where she was living. "Jennet's guardian told us about her condition, and requested that our ministry help take care of her. Jennet was very sick with malaria; she lacked food and clothing. I consented to take her in," writes one of the missionaries. Today, Jennet is in the second grade at a local school, doing well in her studies. Her health has returned, and she is learning about restoration in Christ Jesus through gospel workers.