Religion Today Summaries, October 24, 2002

Religion Today Summaries, October 24, 2002

In Today's Edition:

  • Disbanding of Militant Muslim Group Signals Hope for Indonesian Christians
  • Cuban Christians Report Sweeping Revival
  • Former Muslim Employee Sues Christian-based Chick-fil-A 
  • Pastors Disagree on Response to City Sponsored Gay Decadence Festival

Disbanding of Militant Muslim Group Signals Hope for Indonesian Christians

(Voice of the Martyrs)  The militant Islamic group responsible for much of the violence in the Maluku region of Indonesia has reportedly been disbanded. On October 12, a lawyer for the Laskar Jihad announced that they were closing their headquarters and offices and withdrawing their warriors from the Malukus and Central Sulawesi.  In an interview reported in the Chicago Tribune, their leader, Jafar Umar Thalib, said, "Our purpose to help our Muslim brothers has been achieved. We are now concentrating on offering only social help to our brothers in the Moluccas."  According to CNN, 700 Laskar Jihad members left Maluku's provincial capital of Ambon by ship on October 15, returning to their homeland of Java.  The headquarters for the organization appears to be closed and the official website is down.  One source estimates that there were 3000 Laskar Jihad members who are being withdrawn in stages.  While Christians in the area are rejoicing at this news, there is fear that the organization may be simply going underground, making it more difficult for the authorities to track their activities.

Cuban Christians Report Sweeping Revival

(Mission Insider)  A Cuban missionary wrote recently: "In the midst of all kinds of economic difficulties, the Holy Spirit of God has been moving mightily within the nation of Cuba.  Hundreds of preaching points known as 'home churches' and prayer cells are springing up all over.  In them, the Lord meets with His afflicted and needy people, to bless and to heal them.  It is a marvelous thing."  Statisticians estimate that between 400 and 500 people accept the Lord as their personal Savior every minute in Latin America.  According to the missionary, the statistics produced by the revival taking place in Cuba are equally striking.   The missionary also said that in an unprecedented move, the Cuban government has allowed for the preaching of the gospel inside the prisons.  As a result, inmates are experiencing the true freedom that can only be found in Christ.  In Bible seminaries and correspondence courses hundreds of young people are preparing themselves to join the ranks of indigenous missionaries who in the midst of all the struggles, difficulties and personal needs, are preaching the good news of salvation.

Former Muslim Employee Sues Christian-based Chick-fil-A

(Charisma News Service)  A Muslim former employee of a Christian-based fast-food chain has sued the company claiming religious bias.  In a lawsuit filed Monday, Houston resident Aziz Latif, 25, said Chick-fil-A's Christian stance runs deeper than simply being closed on Sundays, "The Houston Chronicle" reported.  Latif alleges that the Atlanta-based chain's corporate purpose to glorify God discriminates against its non-Christian employees.  Latif claims he was fired a day after he refused to pray to Jesus during a training session in November 2000.  The lawsuit said a week before his firing, an evaluation reportedly praised Latif as a "great manager" who knew the "operation side of the business very well."  He accuses the company of refusing to pay his medical bills and expenses incurred while a participant in Chick-fil-A's employee benefit plan.  Latif - who was hired in 1996 -- is seeking reinstatement and damages for emotional distress, attorney's fees and back pay.  Jerry Johnston, a spokesman for Chick-fil-A, said the company's well-known religious credo does not infringe upon employees' rights, the "Chronicle" reported.

Pastors Disagree on Response to City Sponsored Gay Decadence Festival

(Agape Press)  Local pastors in New Orleans are divided over how they will respond to the annual homosexual Mardi Gras-type festival that the city is helping to sponsor.  The name says it all: the Southern Decadence Festival.  According to Family News In Focus, the gathering annually draws more than 100,000 people over the Labor Day weekend where the debauchery and lewdness is rampant -- and quite public.  Pastor Grant Storms is a local pastor who wants to run the festival out of town.  Storms says the public should not welcome the participants of Southern Decadence to New Orleans any longer.  But some pastors are reluctant to join in on the protest.  Pastor Kevin Cox is more interested in reaching the participants for Christ than making a statement.  Cox says the homosexual community basically "nails you" and says those opposed to the festival are more concerned about how it looks to the city than about caring for homosexuals as individuals.  The annual homosexual festival brings about $30 million to the city's coffers every year.