Religion Today Summaries - May 9, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 9, 2005

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

  • Mom Sues After Bible Reading Barred at Her Child's School 

  • India: Persecution in Karnataka State

  • Saudi Arabia: Forty Christians Arrested for ‘Trying to Spread Their Beliefs’ 

  • Nepal Accuses Couple of 'Forcibly Converting Minors'

Mom Sues After Bible Reading Barred at Her Child's School
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A Pennsylvania school has been sued over its alleged censorship of a Christian mother and her young son. Last October, Donna Busch was invited to visit her son's kindergarten class in Philadelphia and to take part in "Me Week." As the featured student of the week, her son was allowed to choose his favorite book and have his mother read an excerpt from it aloud to the class at Culbertson Elementary. But when he chose the Bible as his preferred book, his mother was barred from reading a passage from Psalm 118 because of its religious content. Principal Thomas Cook told Mrs. Busch that reading the Bible in class is against the law because it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment -- that is, the so-called "separation of church and state." According to John Whitehead, Busch's attorney with The Rutherford Institute, the incident might have passed over without further incident had it not been for the kindergartener, coming home and telling his mother that his teacher told him it was bad to read the Bible. The Pennsylvania mother contacted The Rutherford Institute, which has since filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging that the mother and son's free-speech and equal-protection rights were violated. Whitehead feels what happened at the elementary school was a case of blatant discrimination since the school officials, while silencing Busch, allowed other forms of religious expression to take place.

India: Persecution in Karnataka State
Christian Aid Mission

Christian Aid has just learned that in January of this year, a mob of young Hindu activists attacked and beat a pastor, his wife and several church members while they were meeting in a home for a prayer service. Though no one was seriously injured, many Bibles and hymn books were taken and burnt. The extremists threatened to burn down believers' homes as well if they converted anyone to Christ. The case has been taken by Christians to local police, yet persecution continues. Certain extremists have recently sent letters threatening to bomb another church building planted by the beaten pastor's ministry. The leader of this ministry writes that, though India's central government is secular and tolerant, instances of persecution by Hindu radicals seem to be increasing. Despite opposition, many indigenous missions are seeing the Lord work mightily. At a recent evangelistic outreach, the ministry mentioned above drew 65 souls to salvation, most of whom were from Hindu backgrounds.

Saudi Arabia: Forty Christians Arrested for ‘Trying to Spread Their Beliefs’
Barnabus Fund

On April 22nd forty Christians were arrested in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after attending a Christian service in a private apartment. The group included men, women and children, all of whom were foreigners. The service was held in the Thaharat al-Badi’a neighbourhood of western Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and led by a Pakistani Christian. The raid took place as he was delivering a sermon. The Saudi religious police, the mutawwa, had followed the forty Christians who attended the service, collecting information on their activities. Saudi press reports stated that the apartment was equipped as a church with crosses, Christian pictures and many evangelistic books and cassettes. The service itself had included prayers, preaching and communion. According to Saudi press reports the raid was part of a sweeping police operation in Riyadh, conducted on the orders of Riyadh Governor Prince Salman bin Abd Al-‘Aziz. While non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia are supposed to be allowed to practice their faith in their own homes, it is illegal to hold non-Islamic religious gatherings and to promote religions other than Islam. At present all forty are being detained while they are investigated. If they are convicted of proselytizing they may face harsh prison sentences followed by deportation.

Nepal Accuses Couple of 'Forcibly Converting Minors'
Sarah Page, Compass Direct

Police have arrested a Christian couple who manage an orphanage in Nepal and charged them with forcibly converting minors. Babu and Sabitri Varghese were arrested on April 27 after a disgruntled former employee stole a photo of an adult baptism and told the police that the couple was baptizing Hindu children. Local newspaper editors printed the photo and then demanded the Vargheses pay them 100,000 rupees ($2,300). When the couple refused, the paper printed calls for them to be jailed for six years. Babu, 36, and Sabitri, 32, are confined at separate police stations, while their children Blesson and Benson are being cared for by orphanage staff. Some observers fear the Nepali government may try to make an example of the couple to discourage Indian Christians from establishing charitable institutions in the country.