Thursday Religion Briefs

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

Nativity Scene Banned in Massachusetts

( - A nativity scene has been banned in Lexington, Massachusetts, bringing to an end almost a century of local tradition. The Knights of Columbus have been refused permission to display their annual nativity scene on the town's historic battle green, but have vowed to fight the ruling, according to the Boston Globe. US District Judge Nancy Gertner upheld the decision to ban the nativity, saying in a 12-page ruling that a new town ordinance prohibiting unattended structures from being placed on the common for more than eight hours was designed "primarily to protect the historic and aesthetic qualities" of the area. KOC attorney Chester Darling was quoted by the paper as saying the nativity scene had been displayed for nearly a century and that it had been "sanctified by the blood of men who fell in the fight to exercise their religious freedom."

Family Group Responds to School-Based Homosexual Programs

( -
A family advocacy group is readying a series of conferences for people worried about what it calls the "growing tragedy of homosexuality" among young people. The Focus on the Family conferences are planned for San Diego, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Atlanta beginning in February. The "Love Won Out" conferences feature talks by experts and instruction on how to respond to "misinformation in the public school system." The conferences will also delve into causes of homosexuality, how the church should respond and how to help homosexual friends, according to the ministry.

Muslims, Christians Clash in Indonesia

( - The French press agency AFP reports that Muslims have killed nearly 100 Christians on an island in Indonesia's Moluccas chain. An estimated 93 people were reportedly killed on Kasiui, a small island east of the capital city of Ambon, for refusing to convert to Islam. More than 700 people agreed to convert. According to AFP, the victims were among 3,000 refugees who fled into local jungles when Islamic troops attacked villages.

Today In Religious History:

867 - Adrian the Second begins his reign as Catholic Pope.

72 - John the Eighth begins his reign as Catholic Pope.

1363 - Birth of Jean Charlier de Gerson, French theologian. During the papal schism of 1378-1414, Gerson attended the Councils of Pisa in 1409 and Constance in 1414 to 1418. He spent his last years in a Monastery at Lyons teaching children, composing hymns, and writing books on Christian mysticism.

l836 - Birth of Frances Ridley Havergal, English devotional writer. In frail health most of her life, Havergal was nevertheless a fruitful writer and authored such hymns as "Take My Life and Let It Be," "Who is on the Lord's Side?" and "I Gave My Life for Thee."

1922 - "Toc H," the British alphabetic letter abbreviation for "Talbot House," was chartered. A Christian fellowship that originated in 1915 in Belgium under Anglican Chaplain P.T.B. Clayton, M.C., its various branches minister through a variety of Christian social services.

1955 - Catholic religious leader Bishop Fulton J. Sheen was quoted in "Look" magazine on this date as stating that 'an atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support.'

1981 - The modern nation of Israel formally annexed the Golan Heights, which had been captured from Syria during the 1967 War.