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Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 21, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 21, 2009

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

  • Florida School Officials Cleared in Prayer Injunction Case
  • Iran: Imprisoned Christian Women Seriously Ill
  • 'Equality Directive' Will 'Silence' Christians, Says Legal Group
  • Coalition Seeks Repeal on Federal Grant Rules

Florida School Officials Cleared in Prayer Injunction Case

Christian Newswire reports that two high school officials accused of violating an order against prayer at school functions were cleared of charges on Friday. The ACLU accused Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman of criminal contempt after they offered a simple blessing of a meal at a school booster luncheon. On Friday, the federal courtroom in Pensacola, Florida, was packed with people supporting Lay and Freeman. The Pace High School students made T-shirts with the image of a potato chip that read: "Lay's Supportive Patriots." Busloads of people jammed the steps of the courthouse to cheer and show their support. Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, "It is ridiculous that these men even had to think twice about blessing a meal."

Iran: Imprisoned Christian Women Seriously Ill

Voice of the Martyrs reports that two female converts held in Evin Prison continue to suffer declining health. Maryam Rustampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, have been imprisoned for more than six months and suffer from sore throats, irregular painful stomach aches and intense headaches. "Both have lost much weight during their ordeal, because of their sicknesses and lack of nutrition," officials from Elam Ministries said. "Marzieh's tooth infection is only being treated by painkillers." Officials added that if the tooth infection spreads Marzieh's health status could become critical. Maryam and Marzieh are being held in Evin prison, a notoriously harsh institution. The prison is overcrowded, has limited medical facilities, and many prisoners are reportedly sick, causing a high risk for spreading viruses. The women have refused to recant their faith in court.

'Equality Directive' Will 'Silence' Christians, Says Legal Group

Christian Today reports that European Christians may be effectively silenced if the European Union's Equal Treatment Directive passes. "Its provisions are likely to restrict Christian freedoms to the extent that, in certain cases, we would be silenced and prevented from providing goods or services to the public without violating our consciences, particularly if required to promote other religions or the practice of homosexuality," said Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the legal group Christian Concern for our Nation (CCFON). The directive would forbid discrimination of goods and services based on religion, belief and sexual orientation. "This will cast a chilling shadow over free speech and freedom of expression for Christians, as it will for those with any views that challenge the prevailing ‘politically correct' ideology," said Ms Williams.

Coalition Seeks Repeal on Federal Grant Rules

Religion News Service reports that dozens of legal and religious groups have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to rescind a Bush-era memorandum they believe wrongly permitted a religious charity to receive federal grant money. The relief organization in question, World Vision, maintains a policy of hiring only Christians. Organizations such as Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the Anti-Defamation League told Holder in a Thursday (Sept. 17) letter that the 2007 memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) misinterpreted the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). At issue is whether religious groups that receive federal grants are exempt from federal nondiscrimination employment law, or whether groups that make hiring decisions on faith should be eligible to receive federal funding at all.