News Briefs From Planet Earth - August 2003

Parents Are Failing Their Children

(AgapePress) A new study indicates that despite what they say, most parents are leaving it totally up to the church to teach their kids about spiritual matters. Christian researcher George Barna says that in a recent survey of parents, 85% said they have the primary responsibility to teach their kids about religious beliefs and spiritual values. But when Barna looked into how that feeling of responsibility translated into action, the result was shocking. The majority of the parents reported that in a typical week, they do not spend any time discussing spiritual matters with their children. Barna says although about two out of three parents of children under 12 attend religious services at least once a month and generally take their children with them, most are willing to let their church provide all of their youngsters' spiritual training. As Barna puts it: "Children are one of the most significant and fertile mission fields -- yet the very people who claim responsibility for their spiritual growth are doing little about it."

Sacrifice and Offering Instead of Relationship

(AgapePress) A well known author and Bible teacher is calling on church leaders to better equip lay people for God's work. Dr. Henry Blackaby says pastors and church staff are called by God to do much more than help a church be successful. Blackaby says, toady's church is much like God's people in Old Testament times. Blackaby says, "All the activities that God gave the children of Israel at the beginning, were not designed to be an end in themselves. They were to lead them to Him." But, Blackaby says, they soon began to practice the activity -- the sacrifices and everything -- and did not let it lead them to Him and they just kept the activity up assuming that that is what God wanted. Blackaby says Christians need to focus on deepening their relationship with God as opposed to finding more activities to fill the calendar.

Flesh or Spirit?

(AgapePress) A well-known Christian pastor says evangelical churches need to be more willing to confront popular culture's immodesty where it exists among their congregations, and return a sense dignity to worship services. Dr. John MacArthur is the pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. He laments that many churchgoers attend worship services dressed as if they were at a baseball game. MacArthur believes such a casual attitude lowers peoples expectations and sense of reverence. MacArthur says unfortunately today we have a whole generation of [young] people who have never been to a formal occasion in their life and do not know how to conduct themselves in such a setting.

Teacher Can Wear Cross

(AgapePress)A federal judge has issued a preliminary ruling in favor of a teacher's aide in Pennsylvania who received a one-year suspension for wearing a cross necklace at the school where she worked. Brenda Nichol has been reinstated at Penns Manor Elementary school with full back pay and benefits. In the court's decision, Judge Arthur Schwab said forcing Nichol to remove or cover the cross violates her right of free speech, and free expression of religion. Nichol's attorney, Vince McCarthy with the American Center for Law and Justice says a permanent injunction hearing may be yet to come. McCarthy says the judge has allowed them until August 28 to come in and put on any evidence that they have not put on already. He says there is some indication that they might not be able to do that as that they do not have any additional evidence. Nichol will return to the classroom in mid-August.

Follow This Act

(AgapePress)A group of Hollywood writers wants to improve the moral quality of today's movies -- working from the inside, out. And now, they have gone to the nation's capital to get some help. According to a report from Family News in Focus, the group is called Act One and their goal is to train and develop Christian screen writers. The group would like lawmakers -- some of whom are critical of Hollywood -- to fund their efforts. Zena Dell Schroeder of Act One says this trip was "low-key." Schroeder says part of the groups intention was just to see what's going on [in Washington] with those folks. "We knew that there were people who were having the same goals as us which is to positively impact culture through positive values, family values and that sort of thing," Schroeder says. She believes that the worst thing Christians can do is just walk away. Act One intends to stay in the fight for morally-centered entertainment at the movies.

Bush Administration Seeks Homosexual Votes

(AgapePress) It appears the Bush Administration is trying to find some politically safe ground on the issue of giving constitutional protection to traditional marriage. In the wake of last week's Supreme Court ruling striking down a long-standing Texas sodomy ban, pro-family groups are stepping up efforts to head off an expected campaign by homosexuals to legalize homosexual marriage. Conservative groups believe the best way to protect traditional marriage is through a proposed constitutional amendment. Yesterday, President Bush reaffirmed his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, but was less than enthusiastic when asked how he feels about the proposed amendment. "I don't know if it is necessary yet," the president said. "Let's let the lawyers look at the full ramifications of the recent Supreme Court hearing." The Washington Post quotes various Republican sources who say that while the Bush Administration is very concerned about alienating the GOP's conservative base, it has also been taking steps to appeal to the homosexual vote. As an example, a homosexual newspaper in Texas reports without fanfare, that the administration has appointed about 20 openly homosexual officials to government positions.

Pampered Chef Supports Abortion

(AgapePress) An Arizona mother who quit a lucrative sales career with a leading kitchenware company says Christians who continue to sell for that company are only fooling themselves about how the company's profits end up supporting abortion. Cindy Cogglin is a mother and housewife in the Phoenix area. She has joined a growing number of Pampered Chef consultants who say they would rather quit than contribute profits to a company whose owner donates millions of dollars to abortion-related causes. Cogglin says she does not want to debate other consultants about how owner Warren Buffett's money is divided before he contributes at least $9 million a year to Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups. She says some consultants refuse to believe that they are in fact contributing to Buffett's favorite cause: abortion. Cogglin says when she hears Christian consultants argue in favor of remaining with Pampered Chef, she is reminded of the scripture that exhorts believers to "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." She says she does not understand how strong Christians can circumvent that verse with their arguments -- "and yet they are doing it." Cogglin says some consultants refuse to accept this fact because they risk losing a very substantial monthly income if they quit.

New interest in U.S. withdrawal from United Nations

AgapePress …Cliff Kincaid, spokesman for America's Survival, says the corruption within various agencies of the United Nations and the anti-American feeling that prevails in the organization are good reasons to terminate U.S. membership. He believes more people are seeing the United Nations in its true light.

"Clearly, the tide is turning," said Kincaid. "More and more people are realizing that the U.N. is on the side of America's enemies. At the very least, I would hope that we could start the process of withdrawing from certain U.N. agencies and de-funding them."

Efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives to begin the process of withdrawal from the international body have fallen short in the past, but there is renewed interest in such action.

Let's Make Clones

(AgapePress) The American Medical Association (AMA) has taken action endorsing cloning research and stem-cell research. Many doctors have expressed shock and disappointment in the AMA's decision. Reaction was swift once the AMA issued its endorsement. Dr. Eugene Rudd of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations says the AMA has broken its own established, well-reasoned ethical guidelines for the sake of unproven scientific gains. Rudd says science "always pushes the envelope" and "wants to do what it can do" -- but ethics tempers that attitude by saying "this is what you ought to do and what you ought not to do." He says it is unfortunate that the AMA has abandoned ethics for the sake of "science without ethics."

Another Result of Catholic Drunkeness

(AgapePress) In Pittsburgh, a Roman Catholic priest has been relieved of his duties after the death of a college student who had attended a church cookout. According to Associated Press, 19-year-old Billy Gaines, who was drinking at the cookout, died after he fell 25 feet from a church catwalk. The report says priest Henry Krawczyk was the only person of legal drinking age at the cookout. A spokesman for the diocese says Krawczyk has faced two previous allegations involving the provision of alcohol to teenagers.

Israelis Will Prevail

(AgapePress) The latest outbreaks of violence in the Middle East have seen scores of Israelis and Palestinians killed, but determination to survive remains strong in the Jewish state. Israeli Minister of Tourism Rabbi Benny Elon visited the U.S. last week for meetings with evangelical leaders. He said the people of Israel are determined to live in their God-given land, and that terrorists have discovered it will not be easy to uproot them. He acknowledged that Israelis have suffered, but added: "We are strong." Elon said God has graciously given Israel a second chance to occupy the Holy Land. As he put it: "Coming back to the land of Israel is the will of God, and no one can fight against God and against the Bible." The rabbi says Israel will outlast the terrorists.

Canada's Moral Decline

AgapePress ...In the same week that a Canadian court has ruled in favor of legalizing homosexual marriages, a government report shows a major decline in traditional families in that country. The latest government census has found that just 44% of Canadian families are composed of a dad, a mom, and kids. That is down from 55% in 1981. At the same time, couples with no children at home accounted for 41% of families -- up from 34% in that same period. According to the Globe and Mail newspaper, the shift is due to declining fertility rates, delayed childbearing, and a rise in the number of childless couples. The government report also indicates a sharp rise in couples living together out of wedlock. Sixteen percent of all couples were common-law in 2001, up from just 6% in 1981. The common-law rate in the U.S. is 8%. Children born into out-of-wedlock households also showed a major increase in Canada over the 20-year period.

Cedar Point's Gay Day

(AgapePress) A pro-family activist who wants to spread the message of Christ to those trapped in a deadly lifestyle flew a banner over another amusement park. Like Disney World, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, is also the scene of a "gay day" celebration. Joe Glover, president of the Virginia-based Family Policy Network, flew a banner over the park with the message: "Jesus Christ: Hope for" Glover says the reason the special "gay day" events have become popular can be found in Romans 1:32, which states: Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Glover says in other words, "they want to promote the lifestyle, force it on society, and have everyone else accept it as well." Glover has been asked if his banner flying was too much of an "in your face" approach. But the pro-family activist says his campaign is not about opposing anything, but only about "lifting up the name of Jesus and inviting people to accept Christ." Glover testifies that he found joy when Christ came into his life and forgave him of sin -- and he just wants to offer that to other people. He asks: "How is that opposition to anything or anybody?" Cedar Point's "gay day" was held on Father's Day. Glover says the irony is quite obvious.

Weapons Instructor Prayed With Iraqi

(AgapePress)A former U.N. weapons inspector says he was forced out of the military after praying with an Iraqi Christian. Now the former Army officer is preparing to sue the government. Bill Tierney was a U.N. Weapons inspector during the Clinton Administration. The Army intelligence specialist says in December 1998 he was debriefing an Iraqi Christian defector who was very nervous about talking. So Tierney prayed with the Iraqi. The man ended up being very thankful, and Tierney had a very successful debriefing. But unfortunately, Tierney's prayer got him into trouble. He explains a Muslim who was also in the room mentioned it to someone, and the story eventually became that Tierney had not just prayed with the Iraqi, but was proselytizing him. Tierney says he tried to explain that was impossible because the Iraqi was already a Christian-but "they had already made up their mind and …didn't want to hear it." Eventually Tierney says he was forced to leave the military. Now, instead of interrogating "jihadists" or preparing junior interrogators, the intelligence specialists is preparing a federal case against his own government. Tierney says he cannot have his constitutional rights chipped away by political correctness.

Pennsylvania's Bold Witness For Truth

(AgapePress) Recent remarks from GOP Senator Rick Santorum dealing with homosexuality apparently haven't cost him any political support in his home state. Homosexual groups and their backers went on the attack last month when Santorum went public with his concerns about what would happen if the Supreme Court overturns a Texas sodomy law. He said it could open the door to legalizing other deviant behavior such as incest and polygamy. But an independent poll just released in his home state of Pennsylvania indicates the folks there do not think he said anything wrong. The survey done by a university group shows Santorum has the same 55% approval rating this month as he did last month. In addition, 75% said he should not be forced to give up his chairmanship of the Senate Republican Conference Committee. Also, when asked whether they personally feel homosexuality is "morally acceptable," 58% of the Pennsylvania voters said it was wrong, while 27% said it is acceptable.

Former Homosexual Preaches Truth

(AgapePress) A former homosexual who now ministers to those wanting to escape that lifestyle has produced a new resource warning of the dangers of the homosexual subculture. Stephen Bennett says he was able to leave the homosexual lifestyle more than ten years ago through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Now his ministry has produced an audio tape called "The Medical Truths and Dangers About Homosexuality" -- which he says exposes many of the myths about the alternative lifestyle being promoted by a lot of the homosexual activists. The tape, he says, "holds nothing back in sharing the truth about homosexuality as being a dangerous, deadly, and destructive lifestyle." Bennett says much of the graphic information on the dangers of the homosexual lifestyle is being kept from the public due to political correctness.

Churches Balk/Judgement is Coming

(AgapePress) The moral climate in America is becoming increasingly less so -- and Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition blames the nation's churches for letting that happen. Mahoney charges that churches have succumbed to the politically correct ideology and abandoned the teachings of God's Word. He recalls that just 30 years ago every major denomination stood for the integrity of the Word of God and believed that homosexuality was a sin, marriage was between a man and a woman, and abortion was the tragic killing of an innocent child. But Mahoney says those days are gone -- unless there is a renewed commitment to God's Truth. Meanwhile, he feels the nation will suffer judgment if it stays on its current downward path.

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