Religion Today Summaries, September 29, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, September 29, 2003

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

  • Outreach Program Exposes Prisoners to Gospel Message

  • Judge Sets Aside Wisconson Tem Commandments Decision

  • Christian Held by Egyptian Police

  • Ministry Tells Congress to 'Put God First'

Outreach Program Exposes Prisoners to Gospel Message
Agape Press

In Nebraska, hundreds of prison inmates have recently been exposed to the gospel, thanks to a five-day blitz organized by a Christian outreach program. There are about 4,000 prison inmates in Nebraska, and a ministry called Operation Starting Line reports that more than half of those prisoners were recently given an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But the program's coordinator, Dallas Anderson, is quick to add that the event is more than a one-shot revival. "We offer them not only a chance to change the direction of their life, but we [also] offer volunteers who come in on a regular basis and really help them makes some better choices and grow in their Christian walk," he says. Anderson adds that many of the inmates have written him to express their gratitude to the ministry for remembering and reaching out to them. He notes that since Operation Starting Line began almost four years ago, it has been welcomed into about 20 state prison systems and has touched the lives of more than 300,000 inmates.

Judge Sets Aside Wisconsin Ten Commandments Decision
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

A federal judge has set aside a decision declaring a Ten Commandments monument in La Crosse, Wis., unconstitutional. Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb in Madison, Wis., said last week that she "erred" in issuing a July 14 ruling because she did not permit the Fraternal Order of Eagles to be a party to a lawsuit about the monument. She had decided at that time that the monument, which is owned by the fraternal organization, should be removed from a city park. Francis J. Manion, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, said he was pleased with the judge's declaration. "It is highly significant that the court has not only allowed the Eagles to intervene, but also has nullified its own order declaring the monument's presence to be unconstitutional," he said in a statement. "This means we're back to square one." He expressed confidence that the court could be convinced that the purchase of the monument by the Eagles was a "valid and constitutional way" to end the dispute. His Virginia-based law firm had filed motions with the court in August seeking that the fraternal order intervene as a defendant and asking for reconsideration of the July decision. Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which sued the city of La Crosse, said she thinks the judge was just being careful about hearing all sides. "I don't believe that she would change her mind on the outcome at all, and she seems to be giving us a lot of hints to that effect," Gaylor told the Associated Press.

Christian Held by Egyptian Police
Voice of the Martyrs

Egyptian Christian Bolis Rezek-Allah was pulled off an international flight this afternoon in Cairo, Egypt, and is being held by Egyptian secret police. Rezek-Allah, who had been granted an immigrant visa to Canada, was on the plane to leave Egypt when police arrested him. His wife, Enas Badawi, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, is also being sought by police but has not yet been apprehended. She had planned to eventually join her husband in Canada, but now is in hiding. In Egypt it is illegal for a Christian man to marry a Muslim woman, and in the eyes of the police and government Badawi is still a Muslim, as they refuse to recognize her conversion. “It is interesting that the Egyptian government has no problem with Muslim men marrying Christian women,” said VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton, “but they won’t recognize the right of Christian men to marry Muslim women. There is complete freedom for Christians if they want to convert to Islam, but no freedom for Muslims to choose to follow Christ.”

Ministry Tells Congress to ‘Put God First’
Agape Press

The president of a Texas-based ministry has reminded members of Congress to put God first if they want the Lord's blessings. David Shibley of Global Advance was in Washington Wednesday to deliver the invocation in the U.S. House of representatives. He began his prayer by reciting the little known final verse of the patriotic song "My Country 'Tis of Thee." The lyrics are "Our father's God, to thee, Author of Liberty, to thee we sing. Long may our land be bright with freedom's holy light. Protect us by thy might, great God, our king." Shibley then went on to ask God to remind the nation's leaders of certain key biblical truths, acknowledging -- as President Lincoln said -- "that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord." Quoting from Psalm 127:1, the minister affirmed that "unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it," and "unless the Lord keeps the city, the watchman stands guard in vain." Shibley ended his prayer in the name of Jesus, who he said "loved us and gave Himself for us."