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The Buzz

Need-to-know news

Issue: "Food fight," May 3, 2008

Union reconstruction

Nearly 10 weeks after a vicious tornado ripped through student housing complexes at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., freshman David Wilson walked out of a Chattanooga rehabilitation hospital on crutches. Wilson sustained severe damage to his legs and kidneys after spending nearly five hours trapped under rubble with 13 other students in a dorm at the Southern Baptist university on Feb. 5.

The 19-year-old soccer player will continue outpatient rehabilitation, and he plans to return to school in the fall. Out of nine students hospitalized, one remains in a Jackson hospital: Freshman Matt Kelley is slowly recovering from kidney failure and several surgical incisions to relieve pressure in his badly damaged legs. A blog charting Kelley's recovery reports the Union golfer is still confined to a wheelchair and suffers significant pain from extensive skin grafts.

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The tornado destroyed or severely damaged nearly 80 percent of the school's dorms, but Union communications director Tim Ellsworth told WORLD that reconstruction of student housing is going "exceptionally well." The school expects to open nine of 14 new dorms on campus by the fall.

Ellsworth says the school has raised $5.2 million out of some $17 million needed for lost revenue and reconstruction of dorms that will be "bigger, better, and safer." Despite the remaining obstacles, he says the school's rapid progress is "one more evidence of God's work among us."

Frank talk

French actress Brigitte Bardot, 73, is facing a two-month suspended prison sentence and a nearly $24,000 fine for saying the Muslim population in France is "destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts." This is the fifth time since 1997 that Bardot has faced the charge of inciting racial hatred, so prosecutor Anne de Fontette is seeking a tougher sentence: "I am a little tired of prosecuting Mrs. Bardot."

Eating orders

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of two Muslim inmates at the Wyoming State Penitentiary. The suit alleges that prison policies around mealtimes violate the men's constitutional right to practice their religion. Inmates are required to consume their meals within 20 minutes of delivery, which often conflicts with prescribed Islamic prayer times. During Ramadan, meals arrive and are taken away before sunset, leaving the men no food to break their daily fast.

Such religious discrimination lawsuits are increasingly common among U.S. Muslims, and often they are part of a campaign to disguise the imposition of Shariah law in terms of civil rights. But in this case, should Christians side with Islam? Leaving meals behind for an extra 20 minutes imposes nothing, and the more prisons accommodate religious practice the better for inmates and ministries of all religions.

Special delivery

Some 134,000 subscribers to The Philadelphia Inquirer found something extra with their Sunday morning paper on April 13: a New Testament from the International Bible Society and Send the Light (IBS-STL), a recently merged distributor of Christian literature. Philadelphia is one of nine metropolitan areas where IBS-STL is contracting with newspaper carriers to package and distribute copies of the New Testament for about $2.00 per copy.

In Philadelphia, the New Testaments (with the title Our City, God's Word) included images of the city on the cover and a list of local churches inside. Marion Clark, executive minister at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, told WORLD that his congregation contributed funds to the project and purchased 1,500 copies for their members to personally distribute to neighbors. "I'm praying about three different neighbors right now," says Clark. "This gives us a pretext to approach them with the Scriptures."

Faith forum

Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama addressed topics of faith, social justice, and moral responsibility April 13 during CNN's Compassion Forum-organized by Faith in Public Life and hosted at Messiah College days before Clinton prevailed in the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. The forum, pegged as a way for the candidates to reach religious voters, signaled a shift in religious politics where the understanding of Christian social values now extends beyond just issues of abortion and gay marriage, according to Messiah religion professor Richard Hughes. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins questioned the event's agenda, however, saying it "was taken directly from the playbook of the Religious Left," which he said "is trying to realign, and thereby dilute, the values-voter message."

To arms

A Chinese cargo ship believed to be carrying 77 metric tons of small arms-including AK-47 assault rifles, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades-docked in South Africa April 17 on its way to Zimbabwe. Copies of the documentation for the Chinese ship, the An Yue Jiang, show that the weapons were sent from Beijing to the defense ministry in Harare. British prime minister Gordon Brown called for an arms embargo on Zimbabwe while President Robert Mugabe, who has refused to release results of nationwide elections held over a month ago, remains in power.

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