Religion Today Summaries, May14, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, May14, 2004

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

  • Honolulu Employee's Free-Speech Suit Prompts City Policy Change
  • Violence Between Muslims and Christians Continues, Estimated 500 Dead
  • 'Praise Report' Defamation Case Against Jews for Jesus Dismissed
  • Religious Freedom Group Goes Up Against Goliath of Censorship

Honolulu Employee's Free-Speech Suit Prompts City Policy Change
Allie Martin, Agape Press

The city of Honolulu, Hawaii, has issued new guidelines allowing for greater religious expression among its employees. The new directives were drafted after a maintenance worker sued the city for its alleged attempt to abridge his First Amendment rights. Several years ago, Kelly Jenkins, a maintenance worker for the City of Honolulu, was prohibited from placing religious literature in common areas at work. Jenkins contacted the Rutherford Institute, which filed suit in a district court on his behalf. But now, Rutherford Institute lawyer Michael Mattox says, Honolulu officials have approved new guidelines protecting religious expression in the workplace. He says the revised policy protects the constitutional rights of all the city's employees. Mattox says the company has "affirmed that individuals have the right to post things relating to their faith or religious beliefs to the same extent that everyone else does." The attorney says many supervisors around the U.S. are confused about the alleged separation of Church and State. "The general default position is just to say, 'Well, we'd better avoid allowing anyone to do anything religious because we're a public employer.'" But Mattox says that is an incorrect understanding of the law, and prohibiting such religious expression is "not only not required by the Establishment Clause, it's forbidden by the First Amendment and Title 7." The lawsuit has been dismissed.

Violence Between Muslims and Christians Continues, Estimated 500 Dead
International Christian Concern

Muslim mobs brandishing machetes and clubs attacked Christians in the streets of Kano, Nigeria on Wednesday as security forces struggled to quell a two-day rampage to avenge a massacre of hundreds of Nigerian Muslims. Police confirmed at least 30 killed in strife engulfing this northern city, where thousands - mostly minority Christians - cowered in army barracks and police stations as mobs attacked victims outside. Witnesses spoke of scores more slaughtered. "I saw them put an old tire on his neck and set him ablaze," said a 30-year old Christian, Barry Owoyemi, of a dead Christian neighbor. Owoyemi was whisked to safety by police who fired guns in the air to scare away the attackers. The rampage exploded Tuesday following a demonstration by thousands of Muslims protesting the slaying of up to 600 Muslims by a predominantly Christian ethnic group last week in the central Nigeria town Yelwa.  On Tuesday, Kano's most influential cleric launched the Muslim protest from the main mosque, telling protesters that the Yelwa killings were part of a supposed Western conspiracy against followers of Islam. The May 2 and May 4 attacks on Yelwa by ethnic Tarok Christians left 500 to 600 dead in the largely Muslim Hausa-speaking town, according to a Red Cross official who traveled there.

'Praise Report' Defamation Case Against Jews for Jesus Dismissed
Charisma News Service

A West Palm Beach, Fla., judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the nation's largest Messianic Jewish organization that arose out of "a praise report" in a Jews for Jesus (JfJ) newsletter. Last week, Circuit Court Judge Catherine Brunson threw out the suit by Edith Rapp, who claimed that Jews for Jesus defamed her by claiming that she was a "Jewish believer." The case started when JfJ sent out a newsletter in 2002. The newsletter included a praise report about a visit with Edith. "Edie began to ask me questions about Jesus," the author, her stepson, wrote. " ... When I asked her if she would like to ask God for forgiveness for her sins and receive Yeshua [Jesus], she said yes!" The newsletter also contained a prayer request that urged prayer for "grace and strength for new Jewish believer Edie." But on Dec. 11, 2003, Edith Rapp sued JfJ, claiming that the conversion account was fictitious and that Jews for Jesus knew the account was false when it published the newsletter. Her suit stated that Jewish people harbor extreme animosity toward JfJ and that Jews for Jesus seeks the "end of the Jewish religion and the Jewish faith." Liberty Counsel, which represented JfJ, filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that it was not defamatory to call someone a Christian.

Religious Freedom Group Goes Up Against Goliath of Censorship
Chad Groening, Agape Press

Ten members of an Ohio church have dedicated themselves to supporting religious freedom in the United States, by whatever godly means necessary, even if it requires them to take their message on the road all across the country. The New Covenant Worship Center in Wellston, Ohio, is a church of about 250 members. But Pastor Jim Marquis says his church is dedicated to a mighty mission. Within the church is a ten-member group called David's Mighty Men that about a year ago felt "impressed of God to do what it took -- to travel the nation if necessary -- in support of religious freedoms in America." The pastor says David's Mighty Men supported Judge Roy Moore, when he was ousted from office. Now the group is helping residents in Hamtramck, Michigan, fight an ordinance that allows Muslim prayer calls to be blasted over loudspeakers, even as they look for other opportunities to help Christians fight censorship of their religious expressions. New Covenant's pastor says the tiny advocacy group is dedicated to facing the giants of censorship and discrimination and to supporting religious freedom and its proponents from Alabama to Michigan, or wherever the fight takes them.