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Religion Today Summaries, October 30, 2002

Religion Today Summaries, October 30, 2002

In Today's Edition:

  • Violence Against Christians in Ivory Coast Heats Up
  • Chevy Sponsorship of Michael W. Smith Worship Tour Drives Controversy
  • Louisiana Health Dept. Reverses Itself In Religious Discrimination Case
  • Free Congress Foundation Fellow Defends New Book on Islam


Violence Against Christians in Ivory Coast Heats Up

(Barnabus Fund)  Christians have been a particular target of soldiers and their supporters in rebel-held areas during the month-long rebellion in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).  Reports from Bouaké indicate that Christians and other non-Muslim groups have been singled out for attack.  Hundreds have been killed and thousands forced to flee.  Christian districts of the city have been attacked and devastated, while Muslim areas remain untouched.  The rebellion started with a mutiny of soldiers who were due to be demobilized.  This mutiny was quickly suppressed in the south, but developed into an armed rebellion against the government in the north.  Christian ethnic groups largely populate the southern part of the country, while in the north most of the tribes are Muslim.  A temporary ceasefire has been agreed to between the government and rebel forces.  French troops are monitoring the ceasefire, which leaves the rebels in control of much of the north of the country, while attempts are made to resolve the situation.

Chevy Sponsorship of Michael W. Smith Worship Tour Drives Controversy

(Charisma News Service)  Some critics say an American automaker has taken a wrong turn with its sponsorship of a forthcoming worship tour featuring Michael W. Smith.  Calling it divisive to be partial to Christianity, they are outraged by the "Chevrolet Presents: Come Together and Worship" presentation, which debuts next Friday in Atlanta.   "For an American icon like Chevrolet to link itself to ...Christianity is divisive," said Rabbi James Rudin, spokesman for the American Jewish Committee in New York.  Phyllis Tickle, an expert on religious marketing for "Publishers Weekly" magazine, was quoted in the Detroit Free Press as saying, "it would be very, very bad business for Chevrolet to put the idea into people's minds that they're the evangelical brand.”  However, Steve Betz, who is overseeing Chevy's campaign, disagrees, saying he is confident the tour -- which features Smith and Third Day -- will send a positive message and give dealers a boost.  "It's important that we get the message out there with regards to Chevrolet and how we're so family-oriented and have great values," said Betz, General Motors division's marketing manager for the Southeastern region.

Louisiana Health Dept. Reverses Itself In Religious Discrimination Case

The American Center for Law and Justice announced that the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has reversed itself and has now agreed to stop discriminating against a public health nurse from New Orleans who was threatened with termination for refusing to dispense pregnancy-ending medication – a job requirement that violates her deeply held religious beliefs.  The move comes less than one week after the ACLJ filed formal complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.  “We’re delighted that the religious beliefs of our client will now be accommodated in the workplace,” said Stuart J. Roth, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ, which is representing the nurse.   “From the beginning, our client just wanted to do her job without violating her conscience and her religious beliefs.  Unfortunately, it took formal action on our behalf and publicity about the case before the state agreed to do what it should have done all along – stop threatening and criticizing our client and permit her to work without violating her religious beliefs.”

Free Congress Foundation Fellow Defends New Book on Islam

(Agape Press)  The author of a new book on Islam says he is not being a "hatemonger" by pointing out the violent nature of that religion.  Robert Spencer is an adjunct fellow at the Free Congress Foundation. In his new book, Islam Unveiled, Spencer quotes passages of the Koran that clearly show what the religion actually teaches.  Spencer says he wanted to point out that he is actually quoting verses from the Koran and is not trying to convince anyone of any particular interpretation of those verses or of the Koran in general. He said his intent is only to point out there are many millions of Muslims in the world who read certain verses and take them at face value -- and who are interpreting them in a bellicose and violent way.  "I don’t think in any sense," Spencer says, "that that makes me a 'hatemonger' to point that out."  Spencer says he wanted to debunk all the one-sided discussion in the media that says Islam is a "peaceful" religion.