Wednesday, May 28, 2008

28 May 2008

Presbyterians Week Headlines

[1] Appeals Court Considers State Responsible for Illegally Strip-Searching Children

[2] South Carolina Principal Resigns Due to High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club

[3] Daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman Killed in Tragic Accident

[4] Algerian Court Pressures Woman to Renounce Christ

[5] Westminster Seminary California News Now Comes to You

[6] Colorado Legislation 'Tramples Religious Freedoms'


Corrections: The 21 May 2008 Presbyterians Week item Presbyterian Pastor Arrested on Prostitution Charge” included the Chicago Tribune’s since-corrected reference to the PCUSA’s Presbytery of Chicago. The correct reference was the PCA’s Chicago Metro Presbytery.

Additionally, the correct spelling of the subject pastor’s surname is “Haltom”.

[1]Appeals Court Considers State Responsible for Illegally Strip-Searching Children

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of two Wisconsin children who were strip-searched by a state social worker at a private Christian school. The court unanimously ruled that the social worker, Dana Gresbach, violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the children to be free from an unreasonable search.

The eight-year-old boy, his nine-year-old sister and their parents are represented by Stephen Crampton, Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Liberty Council, and Wisconsin attorney Michael D. Dean.

The court held the social worker personally responsible for violating the students' rights because the law in this area is so clear that she should have known her actions were unconstitutional. Although the school principal allowed the social worker to interview the students, that permission was not the same as consent to a physical search.

Gresbach was an employee of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, which was previously found to have violated the constitutional rights of a child at a private Christian school, and also the rights of the school and the child’s parents under remarkably similar circumstances. Crampton and Dean also represented the parents in that case.

+ Liberty Council, Post Office Box 540774, Orlando, Florida 32854, 800-671-1776

[2] South Carolina Principal Resigns Due to High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club

Michael Baggot reports that principal Eddie Walker of Irmo High School in Columbia, South Carolina has gained national attention after announcing his resignation on Wednesday in response to his school’s decision to approve a “Gay-Straight Alliance Club” (GSAC).

“Allowing the formation of this club on our campus conflicts with my professional beliefs and religious convictions,” wrote Walker in a letter to Lexington-Richland School District Five officials.

Walker also contended that the GSAC would conflict with the goals of the school’s abstinence education program.

Walker also agreed to continue as principle during the 2008-2009 school year, in fidelity to his previous commitment to the school.

“In my opinion failure to fulfill my contract would constitute a breach of trust with School District Five of Lexington and Richland County, my student heroes, returning Irmo High School employees, and new employees who have chosen to work at Irmo High school for the 2008-2009 school year.”

+, Inc., Post Office Box 25382, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania15220-3514

[3] Daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman Killed in Tragic Accident

According to an Associated Press report, the family of contemporary Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman suffered a horrible tragedy 21 May 2008 when their 5-year-old daughter Maria was struck and killed by an SUV in her own driveway. Deepening their loss is the fact that the Toyota Land Cruiser was driven by Maria's older teenage brother, who apparently did not see his little sister.

Maria is one of three daughters Chapman and his wife Mary Beth have adopted from China. The couple has been very active in promoting international adoption, having created a ministerial foundation called Shaohannah's Hope to financially assist couples in the process, the AP reports.

Chapman is a winner of five Grammys and 51 Dove awards.

+, Salem Communications, 4880 Santa Rosa Road,Camerillo, California, 805-987-0400

[4] Algerian Court Pressures Woman to Renounce Christ

An Algerian public prosecutor has demanded a three-year sentence for a convert to Christianity in western Algeria for practicing her faith “without license.”

Habiba Kouider, 35, was plucked off an inter-city bus outside of her home town of Tiaret on March 29 when police found several Bibles and books on Christianity in her hand bag. Held for 24 hours and interrogated by police regarding her conversion, Kouider was eventually brought before a state prosecutor.

“You reinstate Islam and I will [drop the case]; if you persist in sin you will undergo the lightning of justice,” the prosecutor told her, according to French daily Le Figaro.

Passed in February 2006, a law governing non-Muslim worship has been cited in a number of arrests and trials of Algerian Christians this year. The law, known as Ordinance 06-03, outlaws proselytism of Muslims, as well as the distribution, production and storing of material used for this purpose.

A total of 10 Christians visiting or residing in Tiaret have been detainedor tried on religious grounds since January. More than half of the country’s 50 Protestant churches, many of which meet in homes, have been ordered to close down.

“For several months a there has been a hunt for Algerians who converted to Christianity,” wrote el Watan columnist Taybe Belghiche on 22 May 2008. He said that Kouider’s case was one example of the hunt, which he described as a violation of freedom of worship enshrined in the constitution.

+ Compass Direct News Service, Post Office Box 27250, Santa AnaCalifornia 92799, 949-862-0304

[5] Westminster Seminary California News Now Comes to You

Westminster Seminary California information technologist Adam Claus has made available a free news feed for Google, Yahoo, and other blog readers.

+ Westminster Seminary California, 1725 Bear Valley Parkway, Escondido, California 92027, 888-480-8474

[6] Colorado Legislation 'Tramples Religious Freedoms'

Jennifer Mesko writes that the next time you visit Colorado, you may run into members of the opposite sex when you use a public restroom.

Under a bill sitting on Gov. Bill Ritter's desk, all "public accommodations"must be open to men, women, bisexuals, transsexuals and "transgendered" individuals.

Senate Bill 200 adds religion and sexual orientation to state nondiscrimination statutes. Supporters claim the bill will prevent discrimination; in reality, the bill endangers religious freedom by opening the door for the state to punish any person or organization — including small and home-based businesses — that refuses, for religious or other moral reasons, to offer or sell goods or services to homosexuals, bisexuals, 'transgendered' and transsexual individuals.

SB 200 would apply to all "public accommodations" in Colorado — including gender-specific public restrooms in shopping malls and movie theaters, and public locker rooms in athletic facilities, which would suddenly be required to permit equal access to men, women and cross-dressers. Churches, mosques and synagogues would be exempt.

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action says, "SB 200 threatens public safety and tramples religious freedoms," he said. "This bill needs to be vetoed and sent back to the Legislature with instructions to come back next session with something that all Coloradans can be proud of."

+ Focus on the Family Action, Inc., 8605 Explorer Drive Colorado Springs, Colorado 80920, 866-655-4545