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Religion Today Summaries - September 30, 2004

Religion Today Summaries - September 30, 2004

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

  • Crisis Counseling Needs Grow As Hurricane Devastation Mounts

  • New Film On Bush's Faith Will Withstand Criticism, Director Says

  • Islamic Sect in Nigeria Attacks Villagers

  • Successful Petition Drive Would Put Cross Back on L.A. County Seal

Crisis Counseling Needs Grow As Hurricane Devastation Mounts
Carolyn Nichols & Joni B. Hannigan, Baptist Press

After dealing with Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne within a six-week period, residents of central Florida are experiencing more than property damage and power outages. Along with clean up and recovery crews, residents need volunteer chaplains and counselors to help in stress management, according to Baptist disaster relief workers. Central Florida was pummeled from the west by Hurricane Charley Aug. 13, and, before residents could recover, they were hit from the east Sept. 5 by Hurricane Frances. Hurricane Jeanne struck again from the east Sept. 26. "People in this area are just traumatized," Larry Elliot, director of church planning and revitalization with the Florida Baptist Convention, said even before Jeanne struck. Elliot, one of dozens of Florida Baptist Convention staff who have been deployed to assist in relief efforts, is at the helm of the disaster relief command center in Kissimmee. Elliot told Florida Baptist Witness there continues to be a need for volunteers who will assist in clean-up and rebuilding efforts, but chaplains and crisis counselors with experience in trickle instance stress management and post traumatic stress syndrome also are needed. "Clean up will take a long time. The city can only do so much, FEMA can only do so much. Everybody is overwhelmed. The need for volunteers will continue to exist for quite a few months," Elliot said.

New Film On Bush's Faith Will Withstand Criticism, Director Says
Chad Groening and Jenni Parker, AgapePress

The director of a documentary that delves into the faith of George W. Bush believes the new video is an inspirational alternative to filmmaker Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. David Balsiger helped produce the popular NBC-TV series "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams" (1977-1978). Now that show's eponymous production company, Grizzly Adams Productions has released a new documentary, hosted by Janet Parshall, titled George Bush: Faith in the White House. Balsiger is the veteran producer of more than 500 family-friendly TV programs, and has also been involved as a writer, researcher, or filmmaker on several of what he calls "critic-proponent" shows. He feels Faith in the White House provides a striking contrast to the recent anti-Bush documentary by Michael Moore. Faith in the White House is different, Balsiger contends, because it makes use of both pro-Bush and anti-Bush sources, including "three books" and "also our own independent research" to verify the film's assertions. "We did not go to George Bush, the White House, the Bush-Cheney campaign, nor the Bush administration to get their blessing," he says. The resultant lack of bias in its creation lends this new documentary on Bush an integrity that the producer suggests the controversial Michael Moore film, Fahrenheit 9/11, lacks. The producer-director believes Faith in the White House will stand up under even the most skeptical scrutiny.

Islamic Sect in Nigeria Attacks Villagers
Obed Minchakpu, Compass Direct

An Islamic militant group that has been terrorizing non-Muslim communities in the northern Nigerian states of Boro, Yobe, and Kebbi since the beginning of the year struck again on September 20, burning villages, killing four policemen and kidnapping seven Christians. About 60 members of the Muslim sect known in Nigeria as the Talibans attacked police stations in the towns of Bama and Gwoza, Borno state. After retreating, the militants carried out raids on Christian communities, killing, raping and burning down houses. Ezekiel Ibrahim, a Christian businessman from the city of Maiduguri, told Compass that the militants attacked several villages and police stations, killing people they perceive to be enemies of Islam, particularly Christians. "Reports from some of the Christian communities affected indicate that seven Christians were taken away by the Muslim fanatics in Bama and Gwoza local government areas," Police officials said they are attempting to trace the whereabouts of the seven kidnapped Christians. The Islamic militants involved are predominantly Muslim university students and claim affiliation with the Islamic Taliban of Afghanistan. Borno governor Ali Modu Sherif told journalists on September 24 that he had ordered security forces to track down the members of the Islamic group.

Successful Petition Drive Would Put Cross Back on L.A. County Seal
Allie Martin and Jody Brown, AgapePress

The battle to keep a cross on the Los Angeles County seal is still being waged. Last week, by a 3-2 vote -- and in an effort to avoid a threatened lawsuit -- L.A. County supervisors voted to remove a small cross from the official county seal.  The threat of the lawsuit came from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which stated it was offended by the inclusion of a religious symbol in a government emblem and demanded the seal be redesigned, omitting the cross. Now the Thomas More Law Center is mounting a petition drive to reinstate the original seal.  Richard Thompson, who is with the Michigan-based legal group, says a majority of the L.A. County supervisors acted like puppets of the ACLU. "We said that by removing the cross from the seal, they were showing a hostility towards Christians and Christian symbols and the history of Los Angeles County, which has a lot to do with the [Catholic] missions that were there for centuries." As Thompson explains, a petition drive is under way to reverse that vote.  If successful, the citizens' movement would change the law in the county to allow the cross to remain on the seal and to take away the power of the County Board of Supervisors from changing the seal.