Religion Today Summaries - September 1, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - September 1, 2004

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

  • Nigeria Stops Christian Crusade

  • Iowa Middle School Teacher loses Job

  • Vietnam's Evangelical Fellowship Responds to New Ordinance

  • Christian Group Fights for Equal Access in Public School

Nigeria Stops Christian Crusade
Obed Minchakpu, Compass Direct

Religious passions flared in Nigeria following the decision of the Kwara state government to stop a series of evangelistic meetings organized by German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke with the support of all churches in the city of Ilorin. The state government of Kwara dispatched policemen to stop the five-day program after its second day on Thursday, August 19, claiming that if the meetings were allowed to continue, Muslim militants would attack Christians at the meeting grounds the following day.  The assistant to Kwara state's governor said at a press conference in Ilorin on Friday, August 27, that the government's action stemmed from the need to prevent bloody religious crisis in Ilorin , the state capital. Muslim militants protested the evangelistic meetings the weekend before Bonnke arrived in Ilorin on Tuesday, August 17, his first trip to Kwara state in 14 years. After the announcement that ended the meetings, thousands of Christians mounted a protest against the government's action. They were heading towards the Government House before anti-riot policemen shot sporadically into the air to disperse them. Christian leader Dr. Olusola Ajolore accused the government of pandering to the whims of Muslims in the state. He described the program's cancellation as ill-motivated and preconceived.

Iowa Middle School Teacher loses Job
Jim Brown, AgapePress

An Iowa middle school teacher has been terminated from his job over his refusal to remove items from his office that symbolize the Christian faith. School officials told music teacher Luke Miller having faith-based posters, gospel tracts, and a picture of the Lord's Supper was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. Miller, who has been a teacher for 10 years, says administrators knew about the items in his office for a long time, but chose to confront him about them one week before classes started. He feels the school's decision was not about him, "but it's about God," he says. Last year, Miller was told by school officials to take down a Ten Commandments poster in his classroom. After he moved it to his office, he was ordered to remove it from the building entirely. School officials claimed allowing him to have the items in his office violated the so-called separation of Church and State. Miller says unless God leads him otherwise, he will probably leave public education for good. According to him, the situation is unlikely to be any different anywhere else in the U.S.

Vietnam's Evangelical Fellowship Responds to New Ordinance
Compass Direct

The Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship (VEF) has just released a statement on Vietnam's new Ordinance on Religion, due to take effect on November 15.  The VEF is an organization of about 30 unregistered house church organizations representing many hundreds of house churches. The August 30 letter states, "This Ordinance will create many problems and disadvantages for the church, especially for our gatherings for worship. At the same time, it is likely to permanently outlaw our house church organizations, none of which have been recognized since 1975. Many articles in this Ordinance will also provide a legal basis for local authorities to hinder and persecute the church." This new law purportedly guarantees religious freedom in one article but uses most of the remaining 40 articles for detailing a long series of complicated regulations to insure close state management of religious activity. The VEF reportedly worked and prayed long and hard to forge the consensus for this letter.  It is a courageous statement, especially in that it asks prayer for the government of Vietnam to withdraw the Ordinance issued on June 18, and to stop all forms of persecution and hindrances to the church's activities.  Though this letter is a request to Christians in Vietnam, it was sent abroad with a request for wide international distribution to gain greater prayer support.

Christian Group Fights for Equal Access in Public School
Allie Martin, AgapePress

A Christian club has filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) against a California school district that contends state law requires it to discriminate against religious groups. Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) sponsors after-school clubs knows as Good News Clubs, which teach elementary-age students morals and character development from a Christian viewpoint.  The organization has now filed a TRO against the Bear Valley Unified School District, located in the mountains northeast of San Bernardino, because it has been prevented from using school facilities for a Good News Club. California law requires that public school facilities be open to the public for after-school use.  However, district officials have established a usage fee in which religious groups are charged, but secular groups are not.  Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, says the U.S. Supreme Court has already settled the issue in a similar case. "In that case [Good News Club v. Milford Central School District], the court rejected the same argument by a New York school district that said it was required to discriminate based on state law," Staver explains. As the Liberty Counsel attorney points out, the First Amendment forbids policies like those being imposed by the Bear Valley district. The lawsuit asks for an emergency hearing seeking a court order allowing CEF to use the facilities beginning this school year.