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Religion Today Summaries, September 10, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, September 10, 2003

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

  • Muslim Call for Secularization Withdrawn
  • FRC Launches New State-of-the-Art Website
  • Christian Publication Dropped
  • Russian Church Says Gay Marriage Not Recognized

Muslim Call for Secularization Withdrawn
Barnabas Fund News

A Muslim group which issued demands to the government of Zimbabwe to scale down the Christian emphasis in schools - with the threat of legal action - has backed down. In a letter received by the Education Ministry on August 5, the Islamic Convent of the Strict Observance (ICSO) complained that Zimbabwe's school calendar only made provision for Christian holidays and that prayers during assembly to the "Christian God" and Christian religious instruction prejudiced a Muslim's right to freedom of religious expression. The letter gave the government 60 days to rectify the situation or else face a Supreme Court challenge. However on 13 August the ICSO withdrew their demands, acknowledging that they had not canvassed the prevailing opinion of Muslims in Zimbabwe. The argument of the ICSO appeals to liberal ideals in its calls for the secularization of schools, but the group is undoubtedly keen to promote its own Islamic agenda in Zimbabwe's schools. Over 70% of Zimbabwe's population identify themselves as Christians. The Muslim community only represents 1%. The Education Minister responded to the letter saying: "We accept the existence of the minority and their rights and we are not against their religion. But it will be foolhardy for them to expect us to transform a whole school curriculum to cater for two Muslim pupils." 
FRC Launches New State-of-the-Art Website
Crosswalk News Editor

Family Research Council announced Monday the launch of the organization's new website (www.frc.org), which features improved usability and better search results, while also offering visitors the ability to directly e-mail President Bush, U.S. Congressmen, and state representatives on pending legislation. The new site is designed to more quickly and efficiently put FRC's research into the hands of pro-family activists, while channeling grass roots involvement to influence legislation. The revamp of FRC's website comes during a time of transition for the organization. Former state Rep. Tony Perkins of Louisiana began as FRC president on September 1 and with his start introduced a new, interactive, daily e-newsletter called the "Washington Update," which tracks the latest news and political events affecting the family. In a press release regarding the new website, FRC said, "With the looming battle over marriage in Washington D.C. and across the nation, (our) website will also serve as a 'war room' of ideas and action, providing specific guidance on what people can do to help preserve the institution. With an entirely new navigation system and edgy design, FRC's site makes it easier for the visitor to access the depth and breadth of FRC research materials and to be better informed about Washington-related news impacting the family."

Christian Publication Dropped
Agape Press

A regional Christian publication in Ohio has been dropped by its distributor, the Marc's Discount Store chain, due to complaints from Muslims. Connection Magazine, an award-winning member of the Christian Newspaper Association, recently ran an article about the highly publicized kidnapping of missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham by Islamic radicals. After spending a year in the Southern Philippine jungle as a prisoner of Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim group known for ransoming hostages, Gracia Burnham was rescued, but her husband Martin was killed in the rescue attempt. According to a Marc's official, a Muslim employee complained that the article in the Christian magazine's September issue was offensive. Marc's claims other customers also complained. Connection's editor Jon Hanna says the magazine has been distributed for some five years without incident. He wonders where such censorship will end. "If Muslims in America can continue to remove Christian publications from public distribution, then it won't be long before the Christian media in America loses its freedom of speech rights," Hanna says. Connection Magazine serves 68 Ohio cities in the Cleveland, Akron, and Canton areas.

Russian Church Says Gay Marriage Not Recognized
Religion News Service

Officials in the Russian Orthodox Church say an illicit wedding ceremony for two men is blasphemous and will not be recognized in the eyes of the state or the church. The New York Times reported that two men, Mikhail Morozov and Denis
Gogolev, were married by an Orthodox priest recently in the town of Nizhny Novgorod. Photos show the couple standing before the priest with traditional Orthodox wedding crowns on their heads. The priest, the Rev. Vladimir, is now in seclusion and claims he was bribed by the couple to perform the ceremony. "How shameful," he said before the ceremony, according to Gogolev. Viktor Malukhin, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, said it was the first time a gay couple had tried to marry in the Orthodox Church in Russia.  "Under no circumstances can this be considered a church marriage," he told The Times. "The church still views a marriage blessed by God to be a union between a man and a woman."  Gogolev and Morozov were turned away from the town offices when they tried to register the marriage.  "This wasn't a registry office, this was the house of God. Open any Bible and there's nothing in there about gender in marriage, only love." Gogolev said.