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Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 3, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 3, 2007

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

  • Christian Valedictorian Sues over Forced Apology Following Speech
  • Two U.S. Priests Defect To Anglicans in Kenya
  • Freed South Koreans Return Home
  • Uzbekistan Church Could Lose Building, Right to Worship

Christian Valedictorian Sues over Forced Apology Following Speech

OneNewsNow.com reports that a 2006 graduate of a Denver high school has filed a lawsuit against the school. As one of 15 valedictorians, Erica Corder was given 30 seconds to speak during the ceremony, during which she spoke about her Christian faith. She was escorted to the principal's office after the ceremony and told that she would not receive her diploma because of what she had to say. Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel says Erica was instructed to correct her actionsn. "The principal, Mark Brewer, then required that she not only apologize, but have a specific statement in an email which he sent to the entire high school community -- stating that if she had asked for permission, she would not have received it," says the attorney. Liberty Counsel also notes that Brewer later described Corder's comments at the podium as "immature." Erica complied, fearing her diploma being withheld. According to Staver in the lawsuit, school officials clearly crossed the bounds of decency and constitutionality when they punished Erica.

Two U.S. Priests Defect To Anglicans in Kenya

An Associated Press story states that two American priests were consecrated last Thursday as Anglican bishops in Kenya, the latest in a string of conservative priests who are defecting to African churches in a dispute over gay clergy. Bill Atwood of Texas and William Murdoch of Massachusetts left the Episcopal Church because it allows the ordination of gay priests. "The Gospel... must take precedence over culture," said Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, one of 10 Anglican leaders or representatives who attended the ceremony in Nairobi. "Homosexual practice violates the order of life given by God in Holy Scripture."

Freed South Koreans Return Home

ASSIST News Service reports that the 19 South Korean church workers freed from captivity in Afghanistan have arrived home, after being held by the Taliban for six weeks. The BBC reported, “Speaking on their arrival, several of the former hostages said they were very sorry for the trouble they had caused. “Of the 23 Koreans snatched on July 19 by the Taliban, two were murdered and two were freed earlier. Seoul denies paying a ransom for their release. The release was negotiated by South Korean officials earlier this week.” Carrying portraits of their two colleagues executed by the Taliban, the former hostages looked pale and tired as they faced the waiting wall of television cameras at South Korea's Incheon airport. “We apologize to the people for causing trouble and thank everyone who helped us return home safely,” one of the 19, Yu Kyeong-Sik, said. “We owe the country and the people a great debt.” He cried as he paid homage to their two slain colleagues, saying “we will live our lives for them.”

Uzbekistan Church Could Lose Building, Right to Worship

Members of Grace Presbyterian Church in Uzbekistan’s capital of Tashkent fear the authorities are trying to strip it of its state registration and its ability to conduct any religious activity at all, ASSIST News Service reports. Forum 18 News Service reported that Protestants speaking on condition of anonymity also told the news service that they also fear the seizure of their church building. Forum 18 reported that the church has initiated a time of prayer and fasting in response to the new pressures. Grace Church - which is led by Pastor Felix Li - bought a former movie theater in Tashkent's Khamza District in April 1999 from the city department of the State Property Committee. However, on July 24 the same department filed a suit at the city's Economic Court to have the sale annulled. Local Protestants described the move to Forum 18 as "illegal." Then on Aug. 13, Justice Ministry officials paid an unexpected visit to the church to inspect its financial records and whether officials believe church activity in general is complying with the Church's statute. The inspection was led by Akbarhon Nabiraev, head of a department within the Justice Ministry's Administration for Social and Religious Organizations. "The aim of the check-up was to strip the church of its registration," one Protestant told Forum 18 from Tashkent following the visit.