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Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 5, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 5, 2006

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

  • Faith Community Responds to School Shootings
  • Public High Schools Try Out New Bible Course
  • Turkish Christian Hijacks Plane, Asks Pope's Help
  • Maryland School Sued for Refusing to Let Girl Read Bible

Faith Community Responds to School Shootings

According to a Family News in Focus story, while government officials start the process of reevaluating school security and the like, Christian counselors like Danny Huerta are pondering how to talk to kids that are traumatized by recent school shootings. Huerta says the first thing is not to downplay the fears. “If you look in scripture one of the things he reassures us most is he says, ‘Do not be afraid.’ If you look at the frequency of those words it’s very frequent in scriptures, so he knows that that’s a battle we have in our own minds.” Ron Luce of Teen Mania says the shootings are a microcosm of what’s happening to our youth. Education analyst Dick Carpenter says it’s time for Christians to flood the mental health field, because, he says, the Christian community is uniquely positioned to offer good news when the world seems to be falling apart.

Public High Schools Try Out New Bible Course

This academic year, 78 U.S. school districts in 26 states are boldly embarking on a newsworthy experiment, The Christian Post reports. They’re offering high school elective courses using a new textbook, The Bible and Its Influence alongside Bible versions chosen by each student. More schools might have signed up but the teacher’s edition of the book wasn’t available for assessment till late August. Don’t “disparage the Bible or treat its content lightly,” but also “avoid uncritical adulation” that violates academic objectivity, advises the teacher's edition. The U.S. Supreme Court rules in 1963's Abington School District v. Schempp case that “the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities” so long as material is “presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.” In practice, however, schools have shied away from Bible courses and potential controversy.

Turkish Christian Hijacks Plane, Asks Pope's Help

Catholic News Service reports a man claiming he was discriminated against as a Christian in Turkey forced a Turkish airplane with 113 people on board to fly to Italy, where he hoped Pope Benedict XVI would help him obtain asylum. The alleged hijacker, 28-year-old Hakan Ekinci, surrendered about two hours after the plane landed Oct. 3 in Brindisi, Italy. Ekinci apparently was unarmed and no one on board was hurt. Initial reports from Turkish television -- widely rebroadcast, but denied by both Italian and Turkish authorities almost immediately after Ekinci surrendered -- had identified the hijacker as a Turkish Muslim protesting Pope Benedict's plans to visit Turkey in November. Ekinci said in a letter he was living in a refugee camp, but Albanian authorities wanted to extradite him to Turkey. "Help me, pope," he wrote. "I no longer want to live in a Muslim country. I can no longer breathe in a Muslim city. Only you, the supreme pontiff, can save me."

Maryland School Sued for Refusing to Let Girl Read Bible

A conservative civil liberties group has filed suit against a school in Greenbelt, Md., for violating the constitutional rights of a seventh-grader who was allegedly threatened with discipline for reading her Bible in school, CNSNews.com reports. "This was a young Christian girl, who has been a Christian for less than a year, and so this is really important for her," said John W. Whitehead, president and founder of the Rutherford Institute, which represents Amber Mangum in the case. "She is in a public school where there is no religious influence. So she eats her lunch, she's taking a break, she's reading her Bible, and this school official comes up to her and says she's going to be disciplined if she doesn't stop reading it," Whitehead added. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland against Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School. Eighth grade Vice Principal Jeannette Rainey and Principal Charoscar Coleman are among the defendants in the suit. According to the student's mother, Maryanne Mangum, Amber was reading her Bible after finishing her lunch when Rainey gave her a "verbal warning" to put the Bible away. Amber was told she "was not allowed to read it, and if it happened again," Amber would be punished, her mother said. "She didn't take the Bible back to school." The school district's policy, along with the guidelines under the U.S. Department of Education's 2003 No Child Left Behind Act, gives students the right to read Bibles or other religious scriptures during lunch hour, recess or other non-instructional times.