Religion Today Summaries - November 23, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - November 23, 2004

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

  • U.S. Conference Of Catholic Bishops Meet To Discuss Crisis Of Abusive Priests

  • Christians in Kosovo Face Challenges in Reaching Nation's Muslim Majority

  • Christian Holiday Displays at RI City Hall Ruled Constitutional

  • Egyptian Authorities Refuse to Charge Christian Prisoner

U.S. Conference Of Catholic Bishops Meet To Discuss Crisis Of Abusive Priests

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been meeting in Washington, DC, this week to deal with the continuing fallout over the crisis involving abusive priests. In Boston, 30 parishes have been closed in order to help the church afford to pay for over $90 million in settlements to victims of homosexual priests in that diocese alone. Joe Starrs of Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church says the USCCB is dealing with a number of hot button issues, including how to deal with the hundreds of millions of dollars the Roman Catholic Church has been ordered to pay to victims of abusive priests, as well as what to do about what some bishops are calling the "gay crisis" in the priesthood. Another controversial issue the USCCB is facing, Starrs says, is the question of how the church should address the problem of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. He notes that pro-lifers in the church are calling upon clergy to withhold Holy Communion from public officials who support so-called "abortion rights," but among Catholic clergy there is also plenty of resistance to taking that step.

Christians in Kosovo Face Challenges in Reaching Nation's Muslim Majority
Charisma News Service

The United States invaded Kosovo five years ago to bring freedom to Serbia. Today, churches there are growing -- but Christians who are sharing Christ with the nation's Muslim majority face a challenge. Brothers Artur and Driton Krasniqi, who pastor 100-member Fellowship of the Lord's People in Pristina, the largest Pentecostal church in Kosovo, said the changes in Kosovo are paramount. "In the history of Kosovo there has never been such freedom as today," Artur told Charisma magazine. Driton, who like his brother is not yet 30 years of age, added: "Under Serbian rule [until 1999], there were seven Albanian Protestant [meaning Pentecostal, charismatic or evangelical] churches in Kosovo, all suffering from ongoing persecution. Today there are some 25 churches and church plants, and there is freedom, even though it is not perfect. Then there were 150-200 believers. Now there are at least 10 times more." Besides being the largest Protestant church in the country, Fellowship of the Lord's People is also the oldest one, established in 1984 as the first Protestant Albanian church in modern-day Kosovo. Church growth has been significant in Kosovo, but still below expectations, Driton said. "In the face of war, the religious interest peaked, but now money -- or rather, the lack of money -- is topmost on people's minds," he said.

Christian Holiday Displays at RI City Hall Ruled Constitutional
Allie Martin, AgapePress

An attorney says one federal judge has helped Christmas come early for believers in one Rhode Island city by ruling in favor of private, Christian-themed holiday displays on public property. The judge ruled that the city of Cranston's practice of allowing private holiday displays, including Nativity scenes and other Christian displays, on the front lawn of City Hall was allowed under the U.S. Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union sued Cranston after the city opened the front lawn of City Hall for private seasonal and holiday displays last winter, even though the city had clearly posted disclaimers letting all know that the displays were from private citizens and groups and in no way officially endorsed by the city. Despite the disclaimer, the ACLU claimed Cranston was violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution by allowing private citizens to display Nativity scenes on the grounds of a city government building. But Tom Marcelle, the Alliance Defense Fund-affiliated attorney who represented the city in the case, says the federal court's Judge William Smith disagreed. "The judge said in his opinion that it was perfectly constitutional to put a Nativity scene on the front lawn of City Hall," Marcelle explains. The ADF lawyer says cities and municipalities have a lot of leeway when it comes to allowing Christmas displays on government property.

Egyptian Authorities Refuse to Charge Christian Prisoner
Barbara G. Baker, Compass Direct

An Egyptian Christian jailed without charges for 19 months has become emotionally disturbed and lost vision in one eye from torture and lack of medical treatment, his widowed mother declared last week. Hany Samir Tawfik, 28, has been continuously jailed since March 2003. After being deported back to Egypt from Saudi Arabia on June 15, 2002, he was arrested at the Cairo international airport upon his return and detained for 52 days. Tawfik was then re-arrested by police seven months later because he refused their demands to spy on an evangelical Christian pastor, Tawfik's family and church sources said. Despite direct appeals by Tawfik's widowed mother to Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, authorities refuse to release him or make public his alleged "crimes." Tawfik's mother told Compass that prison authorities had taken away his Bible and destroyed it in front of him. "He said they told him he was a 'special' case, so they had been told to give him extra suffering."