Education Department shows grace to schools on prayer issue
Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, all schools in the country had until Tax Day to certify that they follow guidelines protecting prayer and other religious activities.
But the Associated Press reports that initial responses showed "dozens of schools out of compliance." More specifically, 150 to 200 school districts in five states (Arizona, California, Ohio, Illinois, and New York) don't comply with the federal guidelines. Three states and the District of Columbia haven't filed compliance reports.
"But leaders in those states say paperwork problems, not trouble over prayer policies, accounted for the delay," says AP education writer Ben Feller.
"None of them are saying, 'Look, we're not going to comply.' There hasn't been anything that would indicate some sort of opposition view," said Larry Jaurequi, assistant superintendent in the California education department, which has 55 schools out of compliance—down from 133 on April 15.
This could have been extremely bad news for the noncompliant schools and states—the act says noncompliant schools can lose federal funding. But since this is the law's first year in effect, the U.S. Department of Education isn't going too hard on anyone.
"We're not at the point where we're talking about taking funding away from schools or states," Education Department spokeswoman Susan Aspey told the AP. "The goal all along has been to make sure local school districts do not have any policies in place that sanction religion—or policies that prohibit voluntary religious expression by students."
But Matt Staver, president of Liberty Counsel (which brings many religious freedom lawsuits against schools) says there's deeper problems than paperwork at issue. "Some of these schools have probably represented they're in compliance when they're not," he told the AP. "If they were, we wouldn't be getting the kind of calls we're getting."
President of Toccoa Falls College resigns after student journalist uncovers errors on résumé
Joel Elliott, a senior at Toccoa Falls College, was the editor of the student newspaper and a reporter for the local paper. So when his journalism professor (who was once Weblog's journalism professor at Wheaton) gave him an assignment to write a profile of the college president, he knew how to research.
What he found was President Donald Young's résumé, which said he had received a master's degree from Fuller Theology Seminary. But Fuller said he only took classes there.
Young says the error was that of his secretary, but several documents—including the college's catalogue—say he's a Fuller graduate.
Young brought to the board of trustees the issue of a corrected error that appeared in his educational profile which was printed in his resume in the year 2000. He corrected the error when he found it in January 2001. The matter was reported to the board and they took no action. It was his leadership and not letters which was a requirement of his being elected president of Toccoa Falls College. The board of trustees wholeheartedly supports the ministry of Dr. Donald Young as president of Toccoa Falls College
Still, a faulty resume is a big deal these days in Georgia, after former Georgia Tech head football coach George O'Leary lied on his résumé and was fired by the University of Notre Dame. Last Monday, the school's faculty issued a vote of no confidence in Young (23 voted against him, 19 for him, and 11 abstained). Young resigned Saturday night.
"He would have had an uphill battle to provide leadership for the college in the present climate," Vice President for Academic Affairs David Reese told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
As for Elliott, Reese says, "I don't think there will be any repercussions against him, but some students were upset because they like the president and didn't want to see anything that would harm the president. I believe he is a sincere young man who was just trying to do his job as a journalist."
LCMS charges against David Benke dropped:
- Lutheran panel reinstates official | Benke was accused of praying with pagans (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- Lutheran minister's suspension overturned (The Journal News, N.Y.)
- Lutheran panel clears minister of heresy charge (Chicago Tribune)
- Minister's suspension over 9/11 service lifted (The Washington Post)
- Some Christian humanitarian groups put Bush administration in difficult position | The two groups being viewed with the greatest amount of skepticism by American Muslims are the Southern Baptist Convention and "Samaritan's Purse", both of which are made up of some of President Bush's most loyal constituents (Voice of America)
- Baptists in Iraq | Interviews with Al Mohler and Charles Kimball (Fresh Air, NPR)
- Shi'a power worries Christian minority | Christian women say they've been harassed by Shi'a men for walking on the street without head scarves, and priests complain that Shi'a clerics inflame religious hatred by calling for the expulsion from Iraq of "nonbelievers." (The Star-Ledger, N.J.)
- Jesuits are hoping to reclaim a school | Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party expelled Baghdad College's 33 priests in 1969 and seized the school in retaliation for what it saw as America's pro-Israel policy in the aftermath of the Six-Day War (The Boston Globe)
- Protestant social ethics expert assails religious doves who question U.S. war policy (Associated Press)
Employment and religion:
- Christian claims discrimination by Burger King | A practicing Christian claims fast food chain Burger King discriminated against him by ending a job interview after he said his religious beliefs meant he could not work on Sundays (The Dominion Post, New Zealand)
- Also: Christian claims bias over job (The New Zealand Herald)
- Blair gives religious employers the right to sack gay workers | Equal rights campaigners were furious when they discovered that regulations intended to combat discrimination in the workplace contain wide-ranging exemptions for any employer "with an ethos based on religion or belief" (The Independent, London)
- Back gays or face the sack | A Merseyside council threatened workers with the sack over their religious opposition to gay adoption (Daily Post, Liverpool, U.K.)
Science and health:
- Religious leaders vow to fight stigma, discrimination | Leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Islamic Affairs Supreme Council and the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Makane Yesus were brought together here last Wednesday on the occasion of the National Religious AIDS Week (Addis Tribune, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
- Also: Ethiopian religious leaders unite in battle against AIDS | Leaders from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the chairman of the Islamic Affairs Supreme Council and the president of the Evangelical Church combined to combat the virus during a news conference earlier this week (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks)
- Christians risk lives to donate livers | Members of Catford-based Jesus Christians are considering donating parts of their liver but the operation is so risky, the death rate is one in 200, they cannot find a hospital to do it (This is Local London)
- Spirituality protects against end-of-life despair | Among people with less than three months to live, U.S. investigators found that those with a strong sense of spiritual well-being were less likely than others to feel hopeless, want to die, or consider suicide (Reuters)
- Amish on the rise | Within a year or two there will be 200,000 of them—"Their number doubles every 20 years." (UPI)
- New divisions in churches revive heresy trials | Today's church courts don't send people to the stake, of course. But they can strip clergy of their ministerial authority and of the paycheck with which they support their families (Chicago Tribune)
- Earlier: Christian History Corner: Heresy, Salvation, and Jack the Ripper | Why heresy trials will have to do, until something better comes along (Christianity Today, Feb. 28, 2003)
- Changing the face of service | Local priest strives to bring all religious sects together (Savannah Morning News)
- Greeks exclaim their love of God | There's more to the ancient Greek Orthodox Church than big, fat weddings and food festivals (David Waters, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)
- Church, cable station end ties | Church wanted its pastor featured more prominently on Christian station (Honolulu Advertiser)
- In northern woods, churchgoing faces change (The Boston Globe)
- When Judy met Jesus - Part II | It's been a mixed reception as a gospel artist, she says (Jamaica Gleaner)
- Earlier: When Judy met Jesus | To hear Judy Mowatt speak of her journey of faith from Rastafarian to Christian is to learn how painful experiences in her childhood and adulthood served in the end to set her on fire in ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ (Jamaica Gleaner)
- Rock at a CROSSroads | Alternative metal bands made up of avowed Christians encounter curious typecasting all the time (San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.)
- 'Lord help us really rock' | Christ and clubbing may seem like an unlikely mix, but the twain do meet in New Jersey (The New York Times)
Billy Graham's San Diego mission:
- Final call to the faithful | Evangelist wraps up what may be his last San Diego mission (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
- The ballad of Elvis and Billy | For decades, America has been caught up in this dizzying oscillation between marketed piety and license (Richard Louv, The San Diego Union-Tribune)
- Why mix religion and journalism? | Some readers were displeased by the May 4 eight-page section about Billy Graham's four-day visit (Gina Lubrano, The San Diego Union-Tribune)
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