Religion Today Summaries, October 20, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, October 20, 2003

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

  • Florida Monument to American Heritage Remains Unquestioned
  • Top Episcopal Bishop Won't Atend Installation Rite after Flap
  • Another Christian Arrested in China
  • Conservative Writer High lights America's Backwards Religious Tolerance

Florida Monument to American Heritage Remains Unquestioned
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A monument in a Florida county that has the Ten Commandments etched on one of its sides will stand unchallenged by the American Civil Liberties Union. The 6,000-pound monument, called the "American Heritage Rock," was unveiled last September 11 in Polk County, Florida.  The monument has four sides, each of which displays various documents that played a pivotal role in the birth of the nation -- such as the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and the Ten Commandments. ACLU attorneys reviewed the monument and concluded they would not put up a legal challenge because it includes the other documents relating to the nation's founding.  Barbara Weller, an attorney with the Christian Law Association, says it is possible to have a Ten Commandments monument that is virtually lawsuit-proof. "We basically tell [communities interested in displaying the Ten Commandments] that they need to ...  have a secular purpose, which is generally just to celebrate the foundations of American law," Weller says.  "And of course this is a very appropriate thing to do right now when those foundations are under attack in a lot of quarters." According to the American Heritage Rock Foundation, the purpose behind the monument is to remind citizens to remain steadfast in protecting liberty, promoting patriotism, and demonstrating good citizenship.

Top Episcopal Bishop Won't Attend Installation Rite after Flap
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

The top bishop of the Episcopal Church will not attend the installation rite of a Florida bishop after his planned presence at the ceremony prompted sharp rebukes from Catholic leaders and the outgoing Episcopal bishop of Jacksonville. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold was scheduled to preside at the Nov. 1 installation service of the Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida. When Catholic officials read Griswold's public comments in support of homosexuality, they rescinded an invitation to allow the diocese to hold the installation rite at a large Catholic parish.  In an Oct. 14 letter to the outgoing bishop, Stephen Jecko, Griswold said he would not attend. Jecko voted against the approval of the church's first openly gay bishop, at the church's General Convention meeting in August. Griswold voted to approve Robinson. "It is my hope that I might visit the Diocese of Florida at some future time when there is less rancor," Griswold said in his letter. Jecko issued a letter to Griswold in which he postponed the consecration. "Your attempts to posture a reconciling public image in the church are absurd when, in truth, your abuse of the office has already abandoned any pretense of objectivity and mutual concern," Jecko said.

Another Christian Arrested in China
Voice of the Martyrs News

Beijing house-church Christian Liu Feng Guang has been arrested by Public Security Bureau authorities in Zhejiang Province, China. Zhejiang PSB officers, in cooperation with Beijing police, searched Liu's apartment in Beijing and confiscated 36 items, including two computers, his address book, cameras, documents and other items. Liu traveled last week to Xiao Shan, where he met with underground church leaders, including some recently released after almost two months in custody. The exact time or circumstances of his arrest are unknown. During the search of Liu's home yesterday, PSB officers told his wife, Bi Yu-xia, that her husband was facing serious charges for "leaking national secrets" to those outside of China. However, the PSB did not provide Bi with official documents stating the charges against her husband, as required within 24 hours of arrest by Chinese law. These documents will be needed in order for attorneys to work on Liu's defense. "Please pray for our Christian brother," said Voice of the Martyrs spokesman Todd Nettleton, "and for his wife and four-year-old son. The Chinese government doesn't want the world to know how they treat people of faith, and this case shows how far they will go to silence those who speak out."

Conservative Writer High lights America's Backwards Religious Tolerance
Chad Groening, Agape Press

A best-selling author and syndicated columnist says the U.S. government has a double standard when it comes to religious freedom. Michelle Malkin wrote that there is something terribly wrong when an American soldier serving overseas is not allowed to receive biblical scriptures in the mail, while a Muslim chaplain can preach freely among al Qaida and Taliban enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay. Malkin gives the example of U.S. Army Chaplain James Yee, who was arrested after military officials discovered his possible terrorist ties. He was in a position to give counsel to terrorist enemies of the U.S. detained at the prison in Cuba. In contrast, she tells of the father of a National Guardsman, who was informed that he could not mail Christian material to his son so not to offend Muslims.  Malkin references a postal code declares that "any matter containing religious materials contrary to Islamic faith or depicting pornographic items are non-authorized political materials." Malkin, formerly a writer for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Seattle Times, has a nationally syndicated column that appears in about 100 papers nationwide. Her book Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores reached #14 on the New York Times bestseller list.