News Briefs From Planet Earth - October 2003
Billboards For Israel
(AgapePress) A Christian activist is urging Americans to call the White House and tell President Bush not to violate God's covenant with Israel. Ed MacAteer is part of a coalition of Christians and Jews that has raised $70,000 for billboards that urge Christians to contact the White House on behalf of Israel. MacAteer, founder of the group Religious Roundtable, says Bush is making a big mistake in pushing the "Roadmap for Peace." The president, he says, is a "powerful man-but he ain't God." MacAteer points out that God gave that land (Israel) to the Jews-"and regardless of what Colin Powell, the State Department, the United Nations, Yasser Arafat, or whoever says, we are making [an] enormous mistake in dealing with terrorists to divide the land that God gave to the Jews." MacAteer says even though the president has confessed he is a Christian, Bush is doing something that is contrary to the Word of God by pushing the idea that God's covenant land must be carved up and turned over to terrorists.
Palestinians Bomb Jewish Children
(AgapePress) The latest homicide bombing in Israel by Palestinian terrorists has once again killed innocent civilians and further thwarted the peace process. Pro-family activist Gary Bauer mourned the killing, but added that the Palestinian leadership has to share the blame because the Palestinian Authority (PA) could end such terrorist attacks if it wished. He explains that PA security forces, which he says consist of thousands of men, could confront the terrorists, arrest them, and confiscate their weapons-but that the Palestinian prime minister has said on many occasions that he will not do that because it would risk a civil war. Bauer says U.S. leaders must look beyond the rhetoric and see the true nature of the Islamic terrorists. He encourages everyone to read the detailed descriptions of the scene in Jerusalem where the bus was bombed, and to take note that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails celebrated when they heard the news that many Jewish children had been killed in the attack. Bauer says such an incident is "obscene" and shows that the Bush Administration's Roadmap for Peace is "fatally flawed." This is the third bombing following several weeks of a cease-fire. Now many Jewish families begin the mourning process.
Secrets to Living Long
(AgapePress) Martha Yoder credits the Word of God for helping her live for more than a century. More than 100 people attended a birthday party Sunday for the Maryland matriarch, who turned 100 last Thursday. She has had ten children, 37 grandchildren, 70 great-grandchildren, and seven great-great-grandchildren. Yoder says reading the Bible every day is her secret to living to age 100.
Congregation People Stops Financial Support of Episcopal Church
(AgapePress) Another Episcopal congregation is taking a stand against the decision by church leaders to approve an open homosexual as a bishop. Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbus, Georgia, has voted to withhold the money it pays to the Diocese of Atlanta. The board of Trinity says it disagrees with the bishop of Atlanta for supporting the confirmation of homosexual bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Trinity's pastor, Tom Jones, has told his congregation that Robinson's behavior violates "the consistent teaching of the holy scripture." Earlier this week, the bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Florida decided to withhold funds from the national church in protest of Robinson's appointment.
ACLU's Hypocrisy Exposed
(AgapePress) An Iowan citizens group is calling the ACLU to task for not opposing an Army Corps of Engineers proposal to construct a Muslim summer camp on federal land. The Army Corps of Engineers has put its stamp of approval on a plan to build the nation's first summer camp for Muslims on a tract of federal land north of Iowa City. Greg Evans is with Concerned Citizens of Johnson County, which opposes the project. Evans thinks it is outrageous that the American Civil Liberties Union does not seem to care that the government is endorsing the religion of Islam. He says when his organization contacted the ACLU regarding the Iowa proposal, the legal organization appeared to be disinterested and indifferent about the matter. And yet, Evans points out, when mere Christian symbols are displayed on government land, the ACLU "goes ballistic." He points to a recent episode in the Mojave Desert when a veterans group was forced to cover a cross with a burlap bag "as though it were a shameful thing." Evans says it is quite evident that the ACLU has chosen to discriminate against Christianity.
U.S. Soldier Finds Peace in Iraq
(AgapePress) U.S. Army Specialist Barry Page says he has gained a whole new perspective on life since being sent to Iraq. Page made the comment this week just after his baptism in the Tigris River in Tikrit, not far from one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. Page and three other soldiers became the latest of a number of U.S. military personnel to be baptized while serving in Iraq. The Army chaplain who performed the ceremony says there have been about 16 baptisms in the last few weeks. The 22-year-old Page, who is a military policeman, says since coming to Iraq he has realized that, although death is always near, it is a blessing to find peace with God through Jesus Christ.
Free Speech For Churches?
(AgapePress) In America today, if a pastor or church staffer makes a political endorsement on church property, the Internal Revenue Service can move in and rescind the tax-exempt status of the church. A North Carolina congressman's bill would end that threat and return free speech to churches if it is enacted. Republican Walter Jones says his Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act (HR 2357) is gaining ground this session. He says he is encouraged by the fact that more than 160 members of Congress have signed the bill or have voiced their support for it. "I think the Ways and Means chairman [California Republican Bill Thomas] is engaged with the issue this year, which he was not last year." As the support for the bill grows, there is one group that will not help Jones at all. "Every member of the Way and Means Committee has signed on the bill or agreed to vote for the bill, except the Democrats. I have reached out [to them], but I cannot get them to go on the bill." Jones adds that he has been able to find some support in the Senate as well, having met with staff members for Senators Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, and George Allen. Those and other key Republicans are getting behind Jones' bill and want to see free speech restored to churches. Jones has also introduced legislation that would give U.S. military academies the ability to include voluntary, non-denominational prayer in their activities.
Babies in Womb Are People Too
(AgapePress) The Mississippi Supreme Court has issued a landmark ruling that recognizes an unborn child as a person with rights. The ruling paves the way for wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of unborn children to proceed. The court's decision said that a child who has developed so that he or she moves in the mother's womb is a legally defined person protected by Mississippi law. Pat Cartrette, director of Right to Life of Jackson, says the ruling is definitely a step in the right direction. She says 3,500 "quick" babies-babies that can swim inside of the womb- were aborted in Mississippi in 2001, but the court's 2003 ruling pushes the issue out to society and challenges what she calls the nation's "schizophrenic attitude toward unborn babies." Cartrette insists that individuals must look at the facts and decide to protect "these little humans." She adds that pro-abortion forces are in an uproar because, more than anything, they fear any ruling that reinforces the personhood of an unborn child.
(AgapePress) The ongoing public controversy surrounding the posting of the Ten Commandments in the halls of the Alabama Supreme Court has led one pro-family group to re-launch a book cover campaign. In the past few years, the Family Research Council (frc.org) has distributed more than half a million Ten Commandments book covers nationwide. FRC spokesman Bill Murray says it is important for Christian students in public schools to express their support for God's sacred laws. He feels that with all the slogans on kids' T-shirts, books, and backpacks, there could be no better slogan than the ten God-given commandments. And, Murray says, the book cover campaign is especially timely this year. "We think it's very important, not only to support the situation down in Alabama but also just in general, that we get as much religious expression into our schools [as possible], because wrongheaded decisions by the Supreme Court have so limited our public school system with regard to the expression of religious liberties. We think the Ten Commandments are a great way to stem that tide," he says. The FRC also makes available an additional book cover design portraying the Pledge of Allegiance.
Unprotected U.S. Borders
(AgapePress) A Washington, D.C.-based immigration reform group says two years after 9-11, America's borders are still virtually unprotected, and the illegal immigration problem has grown worse. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) says creating a Homeland Security Department and reorganizing and renaming the Immigration and Naturalization Service have done nothing to stem the tide of illegal immigrants pouring across U.S. borders. Spokesman Jim Staudenraus says the nation is actually less safe than it was prior to the attacks. "We are seeing state government and city government all over the country engage in reckless, pro-terrorist acts. Policies are being adopted that encourage foreign terrorists and illegal aliens to come here and blend in with our culture," Staudenraus says. He cites laws recently passed in certain states preventing police from inquiring into suspects' immigration status or allowing illegal aliens to acquire drivers' licenses. Staudenraus regards such policies as "lunacy" and says politicians two years ago may have been able to claim they did not know how out-of-control immigration puts Americans at risk, but today they have no excuse.
Promise Keepers' Leader Steps Down
(AgapePress) Former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney will resign as head of Promise Keepers, the Christian men's organization he founded in 1990. According to Associated Press, the ministry leader plans to step down, effective October 1, in order to spend more time with his family. McCartney has been on a board-approved leave of absence since March caring for his wife, Lyndi, who suffers from a severe respiratory illness. McCartney informed the Promise Keepers board of his decision at their quarterly meeting on Monday, telling members that during his leave he had sensed his leadership of the organization was coming to an end and that God had assigned him to the role of husband and grandfather. But McCartney said PK's ministry is needed now more than ever, and he is "confident that the Lord will direct and empower the ministry to move forward in strength and support." Board chair Alonzo Short has announced that the board has struck an internal committee to prayerfully select McCartney's successor. Short says McCartney has enabled millions of men to find their identity in Christ and become better husbands, fathers, and church and community leaders, and that Promise Keepers will continue to solicit the ministry founder's "advice, counsel, and expressions of love."
United Nations Inept
(AgapePress) President George W. Bush wants the United Nations to step up and join efforts to stabilize Iraq and turn it into a thriving democracy. However, some critics feel involving the U.N. in Iraq is a mistake. Fred Gedrich of the Freedom Alliance is one of those critics. "I think the reason behind this recent initiative is to gain troops from Turkey, Pakistan, and India, who for their own political reasons need cover of a U.N. mandate," Gedrich says. But his biggest concern is the U.N.'s own record in Iraq, which the Freedom Alliance spokesman says is abysmal. "Not only has the U.N. been an enabler of Saddam Hussein, they made money off the Oil-For-Food program," he says. Moreover, according to Gedrich, the U.N. has never been successful in creating a free and democratic government anywhere. He says most of the organization's own member nations have not achieved freedom or democracy, so the U.N. is the last organization he would want to see go into Iraq and try to accomplish those goals there.