Religion Today Summaries, November 14, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, November 14, 2003

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

  • Attorney Says City Discriminates Against Christians While Endorsing Other Faiths

  • Alexandrian Converts & Supporters: All but 5 Released

  • N.H. Priest Suspended for Opposition to Gay Bishop

  • Presidential Letter Disappoints Christians

Attorney Says City Discriminates Against Christians While Endorsing Other Faiths
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A federal judge hears oral arguments today on a motion to temporarily restrain New York City from enforcing a ban on nativity scenes in its public schools. In 2001 and again last year, officials with the Catholic League attempted to convince New York City public school officials to allow Nativity scenes as part of Christmas displays. Under current policy, city officials only allow Christmas trees and similar non-religious symbols in displays commemorating the Christian celebration, while they encourage display of the Jewish menorah and the Islamic star and crescent during their respective holidays. Robert Muise is an attorney with the Thomas More Law Center, which is suing the City of New York. The attorney contends that the city's ban on nativity scenes is both discriminatory and unconstitutional. Muise is representing a mother and her two children, both of whom are elementary school students in the New York City public school system. He says his legal group's view is that even a policy that excluded all mention of religion from the public schools would be intolerant, since religion is "part of our culture, part of our heritage.”

Alexandrian Converts & Supporters: All but 5 Released
Barnabas Fund News

Seventeen of the 22 Christian converts and their supporters who were arrested in Alexandria in late October have been granted bail; the five remaining in prison are still suffering degradation and abuse. Between 21 and 24 October twenty-two converts to Christianity and those who had helped them were arrested in Alexandria. Whilst in custody they were all severely beaten, tortured and some were raped. They were put under tremendous pressure to convert back to Islam. Seventeen have now been released on bail with cases pending against them, while five others are still being detained. One Christian died in prison. The detention of the five remaining in prison comes up for review on 20 November when they will either be released or have their period of custody extended. Those released are being kept under close surveillance by the police in the hope of finding out the identities of yet more converts. 

N.H. Priest Suspended for Opposition to Gay Bishop
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

A New Hampshire Episcopal priest has been told he cannot serve as a priest because of his opposition to an openly gay bishop. New Hampshire Bishop Douglas Theuner told the Rev. Don Wilson he could no longer lead services at Church of the Redeemer in Rochester. Wilson opposes the diocese's new bishop, V. Gene Robinson, who was consecrated as the church's first openly gay bishop on Nov. 2. Leaders of the conservative American Anglican Council, who also oppose Robinson, called Theuner's "unconscionable" action "an act of war against a small church." Theuner is retiring and is scheduled to hand over the diocese to Robinson in March. During the service on Sunday, opponents interrupted the service and led a walk-out of about 40 parishioners. The Rochester parish is one of two in New Hampshire that are seeking guidance from the bishop of Albany, N.Y., because they refuse to be led by an openly gay bishop. Robinson said Wilson was not removed simply because of his opposition. “What he said was he ... would not submit to my authority as bishop. That's a violation of his ordination vows," he commented.

Presidential Letter Disappoints Christians
Agape Press

Shock and dismay -- that's how pro-family groups are reacting to news that President Bush wrote a letter of praise to a homosexual church last month, just days after he had issued an official proclamation for Marriage Protection Week.  In the letter from the White House, the president praised the Metropolitan Community Church for putting "hope" and "purpose" in people's hearts and for serving God for 35 years.  Bob Knight of the Culture and Family Institute was surprised by the letter.  "The president has a reputation for being a devout Christian, which I don't doubt -- but you don't send letters to institutions that mock the Christian church, such as this gay church set up by a practitioner of sadomasochistic gay sex," Knight says.  The pro-family spokesman says the letter is "so beyond the pale" that he wonders if the president is even aware that it was sent out under his signature.  "If he is aware of it, then he ought to be ashamed of himself -- and if he's not, some heads ought to roll at the White House," he says.  "This is not what a Christian president ought to be doing."  No one is saying for sure if President Bush wrote the letter or approved of it.  He has, in fact, appointed more homosexuals to federal posts than any other president.