News Briefs From Planet Earth - February 2003
CHINA: CHRISTIANITY'S LAST FRONTIER
(AgapePress) A Christian scholar says China is poised to become this century's leading Christian nation. David Aikman, a senior fellow with the Trinity Forum -- says he spent more than three months among Christians in various parts of China this past year. He says the gospel is spreading so rapidly in China that by 2030, one-fourth of the Chinese people could be believers, with the Christian worldview prevailing in China, the world's most populous nation. Aikman points out that certainly not everybody in the communist nation will be a Christian, nor even that a majority will be. But, he says, it could be such a significant minority in China that the regime will have to implement a freedom of faith. "If that is the case," Aikman says, "we are talking about a China that, in theory, could be the next world Christian power." Aikman says Christians in unauthorized house churches envision China sending missionaries to evangelize the Muslim world.
MORE CATHOLIC TORMENT REVEALED
(AgapePress) Children are apparently not the only victims of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a 1996 survey conducted by St. Louis University researchers shows that nearly 40% of all Roman Catholic nuns in the United States have suffered some sort of sexual trauma. The survey, which was paid for in part by several orders of Catholic nuns, finds that some of that sexual abuse, exploitation, or harassment came at the hands of priests or other nuns within the church. The Post-Dispatch says the results of the study were published in two religious research journals in the spring and winter of 1998, but were intentionally never publicized in the mainstream press because a national women's Catholic group, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, believed the information would be sensationalized.
HOLLYWOOD ACTRESS FIGHTS ABORTION
(AgapePress) .Actress Jennifer O'Neil was on Capitol Hill in September to take part in a seminar, which is part of a pro-life campaign that centers on the rights of women. The award-winning actress and cover girl said she was taking part in the seminar because she is devoted to ending abortion and the subsequent pain it causes women. O'Neil says the unborn child is first and foremost in her heart, but abortion in terms of the aftermath for women who have experienced abortion and women who may be considering it is the reason she attended the gathering. O'Neil's life has taken a whole new turn since she gave her heart to Christ 15 years ago. Although her life, as viewed from the outside, looked enviable with three movies, working in Europe, working with John Wayne and more, on the inside she had an emptiness, a hole in her heart from the time she was a little girl. That hole was not filled until she came to faith in Jesus at age 38. The famed actress is now working with Christian producers and moviemakers.
FATAL DRUG GROWS IN POPULARITY AMONG TEENS
(AgapePress) The use of the street-drug ecstasy is increasing among American teenagers, and Congress is holding hearings on Capitol Hill to bring attention on the issue. Howard Simon is deputy director for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Simon expressed concern that America has seen the number of teens in grades 7-12 who say they have tried ecstasy jump by 71% since 1999. Ecstasy is a street drug that not only leads to anxiety, depression, and paranoia, it can also be quickly fatal. Some of the latest figures show that roughly 12% of high-school seniors have tried ecstasy.
RACIST ROOTS OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD
(AgapePress) One of the nation's leading pro-life groups says Planned Parenthood's hypocrisy knows no bounds. During the recent flap over Senator Trent Lott's comments that ultimately led to his resignation as majority leader, Planned Parenthood's president, Gloria Feldt, was among those who railed against Lott and the so-called "racist politics" of the 1940s. But Ed Szymkowiak of American Life League says Feldt is a hypocrite. He says Feldt conveniently failed to mention PP's own racist actions -- including the targeting of minority babies for abortion. Szymkowiak says Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, is on record discussing her plans to exterminate blacks -- secretly known as "The Negro Project" -- and how to keep them from finding out about her racist intentions. Sanger wrote in December 1939: "We do not want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten that idea out if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." Szymkowiak says Planned Parenthood has not apologized for those kinds of remarks, and that PP's bigotry continues to this day with the targeting of minority babies for abortion.
Editor's note: Does your pastor agree that women should have the right to kill the baby in their womb?
AMERICAN WOMEN OF FAITH
(AgapePress) A ministry that has been called "America's new women's movement" is poised for a banner year in 2003. It is called Women of Faith, and began six years ago with Christian conferences for women. More than 1.6 million women have now attended Women of Faith conferences held in sold-out arenas nationwide. Sheila Walsh is a frequent speaker at the conferences. She says Women of Faith is a true liberating movement. She says women are very hard on themselves because they feel that they have to be "everything." That perception, she says, came out of the women's so-called "liberation movement" -- but it proved to be a prison for many women, she says, who wanted to buy into it but suddenly discovered that the very things that were supposed to liberate them had become a "cage." Women of Faith recently held its first international conference in Toronto.
See their ad on page 2.
FORMER NIXON AIDE CELEBRATES PRISON MINISTRY
(AgapePress) The former so-called "hatchet man" of the Nixon White House recently celebrated 25 years of taking the life-changing gospel of Christ to those behind bars. In 1974, Chuck Colson, a former aide to President Richard Nixon, served a short sentence for Watergate-related crimes. After his release, Colson founded Prison Fellowship, which has become the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. Colson says prisons are an important place for people and faith-based groups to spend time and resources, and to take the message of the gospel to people who are "desperately in need." He encourages believers to go into prisons, which he describes as "the garbage heap of our modern society," and redeem the two million "lost neighbors" currently occupying America's prisons. Prison Fellowship also works with local churches to address the needs of ex-offenders as they return to society.
PRESIDENT BUSH STANDS UP TO ANTI-CHRISTIAN BIAS
(AgapePress) A leading women's pro-life group says the Bush White House deserves some credit for sticking to principle by appointing a pro-life Christian doctor to an important government committee. Pro-abortion groups were bitterly opposed to the appointment of Dr. David Hager to the Advisory Committee on Reproductive Health Drugs at the Food and Drug Administration. Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America says radical feminists and pro-abortion supporters opposed Hager because of his personal religious beliefs. She says the White House did the right thing by not listening to the radical element, and appointing Hagar based on his professional and scientific credentials. Wright also points out the appointment did not require Senate approval or that of any other person or political group. She calls the attacks on Hager "religious bigotry," and says he also should be praised for his courage in standing up to the anti-Christian bias.
FIGHTING FOR THE US OR THE UN
(AgapePress) While actor Sean Penn visited Iraq to get, as he put it, "the real story" -- and while other liberal Hollywood types call for a peaceful settlement with Saddam Hussein -- the Bush Administration's handling of the situation is under attack from some conservatives. One of those is Cliff Kincaid of America's Survival. He objects to Bush's method of using the United nations to get Saddam, saying what the U.S. has done is attempt to get U.N. permission for American troops to "fight and die on behalf of the U.N. to enforce their resolutions." Kincaid calls that a clear surrender of American sovereignty to the U.N.. He says the U.S. should control its own security and make decisions without the U.N.'s help or permission.
TIME IS UP FOR POWELL?
(AgapePress) A pro-family activist says he thinks it would be a good idea for Colin Powell to step aside as Secretary of State. He says that would allow President Bush to appoint someone who more closely supports his own foreign policy position. Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute says since becoming Secretary of State, Powell has often been at odds with the Defense Department and even President Bush over the direction of the nation's foreign policy. That is why Mosher would like to see a new Secretary of State whose views are more in line with those of President Bush himself. As Mosher puts it: "After all, we elected George Bush president -- we didn't elect Colin Powell as Secretary of State." Mosher says Powell was useful at the beginning of Bush's presidency because at that time the former Texas governor had little foreign-policy experience. But now Mosher believes the president is qualified to handle foreign affairs and should put his own man in as Secretary of State.
CHURCH BUDGET CUTBACKS, LACK OF TITHES CITED
(AgapePress) .A report says budget problems have hit many of the nation's churches. USA Today reports many churches finished November at 10% to 20% below budget levels for this time of the year. Jerry Butler is executive director of the Willow Creek Association, a group representing close to 5,000 evangelical mega-churches. He says the word heard everywhere is "cutbacks." He says programs such as youth camps and equipment budgets are usually the first to be hit, but there have also been staff cuts. And in some cases, missionaries are being recalled from the field. According to the report, a big part of the problem is the fact that the vast majority of church members give nowhere near the 10% that scripture teaches. In fact, the average is about 2.6%. It also says churches are spending increasing amounts of their budget on things such as theater seats and lavish sound systems while cutting back on funds for outreach programs.
ACLU 'DOUBLE SPEAK'
(AgapePress) One of the nation's most visible pro-family groups says the American Civil Liberties Union claims to believe in free speech -- but not when traditional family values are at stake. Citizens for Community Values have launched a web-based campaign, CleanHotels.com that is designed to educate families about hotels that carry in-room pornographic movies. The Webster offers a list of hotels that carry porn and those that do not. CCV president Phil Burros says a spokesman for the ACLU criticized the campaign, calling it "Taliban-like tactics." Burros says the left-wing group needs to be reminded that this is America and that the campaign is a First Amendment, free-speech activity -- supposedly everything for which the ACLU claims to stand. He says the ACLU is just ill-informed when it calls the program "Taliban-like" -- and that he likes to remind people that the ACLU defends the right to possess and distribute child pornography -- "and that pretty much tells us who they are," he said.
ARE CHRISTIANS WAKING UP?
(AgapePress) Most pro-family advocates seem to agree that Christians are becoming more active in the political arena. That was very evident in the recent mid-term elections, when people of faith turned out in large numbers to help Republicans regain control of the U.S. Senate. Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America welcomes this trend. She hopes that Christians are now waking up to see what a great difference they can make in this country -- not only in local communities, but nationally as well. She hopes that this is a trend that will continue. Activists in Washington say it will take a strong Christian involvement in order to see more successes in the pro-family and pro-life agenda issues in the upcoming congress.