News Briefs From Planet Earth
Christianity Is Only True Religion
WASHINGTON, D.C. (EP) — Though many interfaith services have sprung up since Sept. 11, gathering various faiths for worship remains troubling for some Christians. The Rev. Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) explained to the Washington Times, "We embrace tolerance in the right sense, which is religious freedom for all, without bigotry, while rejecting a misguided, misunderstood tolerance which sees all religious beliefs as equally valid." NAE organized its own memorial service in October after finding that the Sept. 23 interfaith service at Yankee Stadium was not religious enough. Interfaith services often require clergy to agree not to use Christ's name, and to focus only on broad spiritual themes shared by all faiths. "We do no one a favor by appearing to support a mistaken pluralism that pretends all religions are the same," Cizik noted. Jesus is the only way.
Former Chaplain: Military Pushing 'Religious Pluralism'
(AgapePress) - A retired Navy chaplain and Baptist minister says he is concerned that Islam is getting too much attention in the media. He says that even the small number of Islamic military chaplains are getting a lot of ink.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently published an article about a Muslim Army chaplain who has become one of the most sought-after figures at Fort Lewis, Washington. The newspaper revealed that James Yee, a West Point graduate, has appeared on various media outlets "to educate people on what Islam is."
Greg DeMarco is a former Navy chaplain endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention. He says Islamic chaplains are getting far too much publicity.
"I think we have a total of about ten or twelve thousand practicing Muslims in the entire military, and yet we are having trotted out in front of us Muslim chaplains as though they're the greatest thing since sliced bread," DeMarco says. "I would like to hear a little bit more about what some of our Christian and Jewish chaplains are doing" for the spiritual welfare of American military personnel during the war on terrorism.
DeMarco says while evangelical Christian chaplains are often passed over for promotion, he believes the small number of Muslim chaplains will have little trouble in attaining higher ranks. "One of my fears is seeing how absolutely gleeful [the Navy was] when the first Muslim chaplain came on board," he says. "I have no doubt this person [Yee] will make captain. If he hangs around, he'll make O-6."
According to DeMarco, the military is going out of its way to push religious pluralism in the chaplain corps. "There's no question ... there is a political agenda going on as well as a religious [agenda], and that is to show the world how pluralistic the military really is," he says. "My hope is that ... they would be very careful how they detail these individuals."
DeMarco is one of six SBC chaplains who have joined dozens of other evangelicals in challenging the Navy chaplain corps' promotion policy, which they contend discriminates against evangelicals. DeMarco left the Navy after he was told not to preach evangelical messages to sailors in Naples, Italy.
Ohio DOMA Halfway Home, Hopes to Protect State from 'Artificial' Marriages
(AgapePress) - An Ohio pro-family activist is praising the Ohio House of Representatives for passing a Defense of Marriage Act.
Since the 1999 "civil unions" law was enacted in the State of Vermont, many other state legislatures have been scrambling to pass statutes that clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman. Linda Harvey is president of Mission America. She says not only would Ohio's Defense of Marriage Act protect the Buckeye State from those seeking recognition of same-sex unions performed in other states, it would also close a serious loophole.
"Somebody could go to another state like a Vermont and have one of these 'marriages' for same-sex couples, come back to Ohio and potentially sue for recognition of that 'marriage.' So we wanted to close off that possibility," Harvey explains.
"[This bill] would tighten up and reaffirm the current law of Ohio as being between one man and one woman," she says. "[But] it goes one step further in adding a provision to close-off a loophole so that we don't have any pseudo-marriage [or] artificial marriage like domestic partnerships nor civil unions that would be recognized in the state as having the benefits of marriage."
Harvey says the DOMA must still go to the Ohio Senate, but that body is not likely to take up the bill before 2002.
Glen Campbell's New Life
(AgapePress)...Glen Campbell talks about his deliverance from self-destruction. According to Religion Today, Campbell thanks God for delivering him from a life of drink and drugs. Campbell's stardom in the 1960s and 1970s led him down the path of self-destruction, but he committed his life to Christ nearly 20 years ago. Campbell says in his 1994 autobiography, co-authored by Tom Carter, that he has "a ministry in music, much of which is focused on God, and all of which is performed for God." The music star also credits his salvation to the prayers of his wife Kimberly, saying "her prayers [for my salvation] just might have saved my life."
Post-Attack 'Revival' — Is It Over? Did It Ever Exist?
(AgapePress) - A new survey shows that the religious revival seen after the September terrorist attacks has played out.
According to the survey by the Barna Research Group, although churches reported increased attendance in the aftermath of the attacks, church attendance is now back to pre-attack levels. In addition, the survey showed that Americans are less likely to believe in absolute good or evil.
In January 2000, 38% of adults agreed that there are absolute moral truths or principles that do not change according to circumstances. Last month, that number fell to 22%. The survey also found that most measures of religious belief and behavior showed no change from a similar Barna survey in August. Four in ten people still say they attend church on Sunday.
Also, 68% said their religion is very important, 85% pray regularly to God, and 39% say they read the Bible outside of church — but only 13% say they rely on it for moral guidance.
Columnist Warren Smith, in reacting to Barna survey, says it is tragic that it appears it will take a disaster much worse than that of September 11, to turn Americans' collective hearts to an increased dependence on God. Smith believes that one of the most significant implications of Barna's findings is that despite vows we will "never forget," we are already forgetting the lessons of September 11.
Preach...But Don't Preach Jesus
(AgapePress)...The Canadian military has issued a directive to its chaplains. According to the Calgary Sun, the Canadian military, in an unprecedented move, is directing its chaplains to avoid all specific Christian references during public services. Religion Today reports that the Sun editor says the policy change came down from Canada's military chaplain general in Ottawa in July. The directive leaves Canadian military chaplains unable to say "Father, Son and Holy Ghost," the name of Jesus, or even The Lord's Prayer. Sun editor Licia Corbella wrote, "In countries where Christians are in the minority and where their very lives are at risk if they proclaim their faith — like in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan — they are often bolder than we, the majority, are in our own country [of Canada]."
President Bush Planning To Arm Israel's Enemy
(AgapePress)...Some members of Congress are expressing grave concern with a new $400 million arms deal the Bush Administration is planning with Egypt. The Washington Post reports that among other things, the U.S. would provide Egypt with sophisticated satellite-guided surface-to-surface missiles. But as The Post notes, given the ongoing tensions between Arab nations and Israel, and Egypt's less than enthusiastic endorsement of the U.S. war on terrorism, some lawmakers from both parties in Congress are speaking out against the plan. The report says Democratic Senator Joe Biden, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has written to Secretary of State Colin Powell to provide a rationale for making the sale at this time. Pro-Israeli groups in the U.S. are also lobbying congressmen to put a halt to the deal. The Post quotes Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of American, who asks "Who is Egypt planning to go to war against?" He says the only country he can think of is Israel.
Deadly Abortion Pill Is Declined In China
(AgapePress)...A national pro-life group is reporting that the abortion pill RU-486 has been banned ? in China, where abortion is government policy. Judie Brown of the American Life League calls the announcement "an amazing admission" in light of the communist country's one-child-per-family mandate. Nevertheless, a major Chinese newspaper reported last week that the government there has decided to pull "mifepristone" from its pharmacy shelves after Chinese hospitals reported treating women for the drug's serious side effects. Brown's organization, as well as numerous other pro-life and pro-family groups, has repeatedly called on President Bush and the Federal Drug Administration to take similar action in the U.S., but feels it has been ignored.