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Religion Today Summaries - October 15, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 15, 2004

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

  • Intercessory Teams 'Encircles' Site of Last Presidential Debate With Prayer 

  • Judge Says School Discriminated; Cross-Embossed Bricks Must Be Restored 

  • Evangelical Movement Loses Momentum 

  • Pakistan:  Atmosphere of Impunity for Acts of Violence 

Intercessory Teams 'Encircles' Site of Last Presidential Debate With Prayer
Charisma News Service

While the final presidential debate between President Bush and John Kerry focused on domestic issues Wednesday night, intercessory teams "encircled" the site of the debate with prayer. Cheryl Sacks, the U.S. Strategic Prayer Network's (USSPN) apostolic coordinator for Arizona, mobilized onsite prayer for the debate at Arizona State University in Tempe, as well as the national elections on Nov. 2. Twelve teams prayed and declared specific Scriptures over the debate. Meanwhile, the Presidential Prayer Team (PPT) is encouraging Christians to register for its latest Virtual Prayer Rally (www.presidentialprayerteam.org/praythevote) on Nov. 1. The grass-roots effort urges believers to select specific times to pray for the November elections on that day. According to PPT's Web site, there are 35,151 people praying in the prayer rallies. Elsewhere, the National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDPTF, www.nationaldayofprayer.org) is asking for Christians and churches to set aside Oct. 31 as "Pray for Election Day!" "America is a nation that is 'of the people, by the people, for the people' and this representative democracy needs to hear from God's people," the NDPTF said. (http://www.charismanow.com)

Judge Says School Discriminated; Cross-Embossed Bricks Must Be Restored
Jim Brown, AgapePress

A federal court has found a Virginia high school guilty of viewpoint discrimination against religious expression. The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Rutherford Institute, which challenged Potomac Falls High School's decision to remove bricks engraved with the cross from a school walkway. The High School's parents organization has conducted a fundraising campaign for years to help student clubs and organizations raise money for school fieldtrips. The effort involves the sale of engraved bricks, which buyers can have personalized with a small symbol. After purchase, the bricks are placed around the school's flagpole. However, when one student's parents complained about the inclusion of bricks bearing the cross, the school decided to remove those bricks engraved with the Christian symbol. Rutherford Institute filed suit in U.S. District Court in 2003 on the parents' behalf, asking the federal court to order the school to put the cross-engraved bricks back in their rightful places around the flagpole. The attorneys argued that the school had created a limited public forum where people could express private messages and then, by removing only the bricks bearing the crosses, had violated the First Amendment rights of the parents who had purchased them. Judge James Cacheris agreed and found in favor of the plaintiffs, ruling that the high school had indeed engaged in "impermissible viewpoint discrimination against expression with a religious viewpoint."

Evangelical Movement Loses Momentum
Wolfgang Polzer, Assist News Service

The evangelical movement is losing momentum. According to the Scottish theologian Stuart McAllister, who lives and teaches in the United States, the term evangelical is no longer synonymous with evangelistic. Only a few Christians are capable and willing to proclaim the Gospel in a meaningful way for everyday life. Most Christians are dealing with theological questions, which have no relevance for Non-Christians, according to McAllister. The former General Secretary of the European Evangelical Alliance was speaking at a faith conference with 1,800 participants celebrating the centennial of the Evangelical Alliance in Nuremberg, Germany, October 10. McAllister regretted that many local churches have retreated into a pious corner. Christians should, however, be representatives of the Kingdom of God. Cooperation between Christians is often superficial, said McAllister. Real unity could only be found if Christians from different theological backgrounds were united in prayer and in the implementation of the Great Commission. The Evangelical Alliance in Nuremberg is made up of 26 different local churches and ministries. Hartmut Steeb, General Secretary of the German Evangelical Alliance, stressed the need for Christian unity. Without it credibility in evangelism would be lost. The Alliance in Nuremberg organizes prayer meetings, bible studies, youth worship and evangelistic outreach programs. It also has working committees for the protection of unborn children and for solidarity with Israel.

Pakistan:  Atmosphere of Impunity for Acts of Violence
Charisma News Service

Two years after seven Christians were gunned down at the Karachi headquarters of a Christian welfare agency, local police investigators have failed to identify a single suspect. Sept. 25 marked the second anniversary of the execution-style massacre of seven staff members shot to death in their downtown office of the Institute of Peace and Justice (IPJ), Compass Direct reported. Of the two Christians who survived the attack, 26-year-old Robin Sharif remains partially paralyzed due to a gunshot wound to the head. The other, Robin Piranditta, has been in hiding and separated from his family since his release from police custody. The IPJ's longtime watchman was subjected to severe torture for 27 days while undergoing interrogation in connection with the shooting. Three separate sources who have carefully studied the case told Compass that "mounting evidence" indicates that members of Pakistan's secret police were directly involved in the IPJ murders, Compass reported. Christians constitute between two and three percent of Pakistan's 150 million people, 96 percent of whom are Muslim. A report released last month by the U.S. State Department on religious freedom in Pakistan said: "The lack of adequate government response contributes to an atmosphere of impunity for acts of violence and intimidation against religious minorities." (http://www.charismanow.com)