News Briefs From Planet Earth - November 2003
Most Dangerous Man
(AgapePress) The man who heads Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson, has labeled U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy "the most dangerous man in America." Dobson says activist judges such as Kennedy, who wield power not granted them by the Constitution, pose a grave threat to the American family. He points out that Kennedy has authored the majority opinions in three of the most egregious examples of what he calls "judicial tyranny" -- the 1992 Planned Parenthood case affirming abortion rights, the 1995 Romer case which accused people in Colorado of being biased for denying special rights to homosexuals, and this summer's Lawrence v. Texas case which struck down laws against sodomy.
To Protect or Not Protect U.S. Borders
(AgapePress) An immigration reform group says it is "absolutely ludicrous" to suggest that U.S. Border Patrol agents should be disarmed simply because one illegal alien was shot and killed. Earlier this month, on the Mexican border near San Diego, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man who threatened him with a knife. According to the Los Angeles Times, a group known as the American Friends Service Committee complained about the shooting and called on the Border Patrol to use non-lethal weapons when confronting illegal aliens. But Rick Oltman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform says the idea of disarming Border Patrol agents is ridiculous because they encounter border bandits and drug traffickers -- and many of the latter carry AK-47s. Oltman says this is not the first time a mass immigration interest group has complained about the agents doing their job. He maintains that whenever anything happens, however justified it is, such groups use it as an excuse to disarm law enforcement officers. In February, another illegal alien was shot and killed in El Paso, Texas, after he assaulted an agent with a ladder. The agent was cleared of any wrongdoing.
A Covenant of Marriage
(AgapePress) The widow of Bill Bright has been honored for her commitment to a "covenant marriage" by a Christian ministry that strives to strengthen and encourage the bonds between a husband and wife. Vonette Bright was married to the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ for 54 years when he passed away in July. At a recent "Rekindling the Romance" conference in Orlando, FamilyLife Ministries presented Mrs. Bright with the Robertson McQuilken Award, an award given to "people who exemplify their commitment to a covenant marriage in an age of divorce." According to a statement released by FamilyLife, Mrs. Bright concluded the presentation with a piece of advice. "The key [to a good marriage] is voluntary submission on the part of the wife, and sacrificial love on the part of the husband," she told the audience. "When those two combinations are at work, you can't help but have harmony."
Churches Are to Blame
(AgapePress) Churches may be to blame for the downward slide of American culture. That's the opinion of Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. He believes the religious element of American society has to share the blame for the depravity that is running rampant throughout the nation's culture. "There's no doubt that we're seeing a cultural shift, [and] part of the 'anchor' that should be there -- the Church -- in many ways has contributed to the drifting," he says. According to Perkins, many churches have rejected the teachings of the Bible and embraced a secular worldview of life while the remaining churches kept quiet. Activists say both of those attitudes have contributed to the culture's decline.
Islam in America Poses Danger
(AgapePress) An expert on Islam says incidents such as the recent arrest of Muslim chaplain James Yee serve as reminders of the real nature of that religion and the danger it poses. Robert Spencer of the Heritage Foundation says westerners can peacefully coexist "only with Muslims who truly, thoroughly, explicitly and honestly renounce jihad ideology in all the forms in which it appears in Islamic law as a mandate for violence against non-Muslims." But Spencer says that obviously does not happen often, if at all, so any Muslim is a potential threat. He believes that there is always the possibility that some followers of Islam will take up jihad as a rallying cry and use the Koran and Islamic tradition to recruit others for strikes against the West on that basis. The incident with Chaplain Yee is the latest episode involving Muslims in the military, but many critics of Islam fear it will not be the last. Michael Waller, a researcher at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, says the arrest of Yee -- as well as that of an Arabic translator who also worked with terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay -- should be sounding alarms at the Pentagon. The Center's Michael Waller believes that, while some Muslims in the U.S. armed forces may be assets in the war on terrorism, others may be undercover agents for al-Qaida. Waller wonders how the Pentagon ever assigned Yee, who studied Islam in Syria, to the most "highly classified base on Earth." And New York Senator Charles Schumer is also criticizing the Pentagon for not looking into the Islamic organization that certified Yee as a chaplaincy candidate.
Terrorism in Iraq
(AgapePress ) While American troops in Iraq are still being targeted by Iraqi terrorists, the killers have turned their attention to other targets: Iraqi democracy advocates, Iraqi police, and the United Nations facilities. U.S. military strategist Jack Spencer says this demonstrates one thing. "It shows us that it's not that the Iraqi people don't want the coalition there, it's that the terrorists don't want the coalition there," he says. Spencer believes that radical dissidents will continue to attack anyone working to stabilize Iraq. "It doesn't matter if it's Americans, or coalition forces, or U.N. personnel or nationals from some other country -- the terrorists will attack them, because it's they who will bring about the stability that [the terrorists] so much don't want." Security is tightening in Iraq and lessons are being learned as to how to make the country safer for coalition forces and Iraqi citizens who want peace.
Removing God From America
(AgapePress) Each volley in Judge Roy Moore's much-publicized war with the federal courts over the Ten Commandments monument he placed in the Alabama judicial building in Montgomery seems to have been a shot heard around the U.S. Now similar battles across the country are drawing national attention. According to Associated Press reports, the Christian Coalition of Alabama is planning protests in Georgia supporting a Ten Commandments display at Barrow County Courthouse. In a demonstration today and a Monday rally, the Coalition is protesting an American Civil Liberties Union federal lawsuit filed to force county officials to remove a framed copy of the Commandments from the courthouse. And in another case, a federal judge is rethinking her decision that a Ten Commandments monument in a La Crosse, Wisconsin, city park is unconstitutional. La Crosse sold the plot of ground where the display sits to the Fraternal Order of Eagles, an action Judge Barbara Crabb proscribed as a disguised effort to continue endorsing religion. But now Crabb has set aside her order and will hear the Eagle's arguments early next year. Meanwhile, a Ten Commandments monument at a county courthouse in Montana has been moved to a privately-owned Miles City museum in settlement of an ACLU lawsuit. And state park officials in Lynnwood, Washington, are being sued because they ran a fundraiser which allowed donors to put an inscription on a brick for a $100 gift, but refused one donor couple's request to have their brick read "Thank you Jesus." In their federal suit, Dan and Olga Buchanan say park authorities violated their free speech and free exercise of religion rights, but the officials contend the Buchanans' brick -- and another the officials plan to remove that says "God loves all children" -- violate the separation of church and state.
Persecuted For Disagreeing with Homosexual Activists
(AgapePress) Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie's commitment to include a statement opposing homosexual marriage in the GOP platform continues to win him praise. Bob Knight of the Culture and Family Institute feels Gillespie's affirmation of the traditional view could lead to positive fallout. Knight says he is hopeful that Gillespie's "clear, compassionate, yet firm vision" will embolden other office-holders to speak out on the issue. He says groups like the Boy Scouts and The Salvation Army need to be defended. "It's not just marriage that's under attack," Knight says, "it's the whole idea that you can disagree with homosexual activists and not be persecuted by your own government." Pro-family leaders believe Gillespie's bold stance may also be reflective of the growing support for a Constitutional amendment (nogaymarriage.com) defining marriage as the union of one man and one women.
Catholic Payoffs? HomosexualS Out?
(AgapePress) The Catholic Church's decision to spend millions of dollars to settle hundreds of sex-abuse lawsuits is not going over well with many in the pew. A national pro-life activist and dedicated Catholic believes her church still is not getting to the root of the problem. Catholic pro-life leader Judie Brown says she felt "horrified" when she heard of the payoffs because she believes it is a symptom of a larger problem. She says the church is hiding from its problems and must face them head-on. "What we have to do is look at the organization of bishops and what they do as a whole -- and I would have to say that I haven't seen any progress in 30 years," she says. According to Brown, truth must be taught and doctrine must be adhered to. She says the payoffs demonstrate the bishops' non-action on the problem -- an attitude which she says will not prevail. "I don't know what it will take, but I do believe that in the end, the seminaries will be cleaned up, the homosexuals will be out, she says.
American Clergy Want to Remove Symbol of Cross
(AgapePress) An effort to get Christian ministers to remove crosses from their churches is being promoted by an interfaith group that was started by the head of the Unification Church. The American Clergy Leadership Council (ACLC), an organization founded by Sun Myung Moon, is spearheading the campaign to get rid of the cross, calling it "a symbol of oppression and perceived superiority." The ACLC claims that the key to true and lasting peace in the Middle East is the reconciliation between the world's three largest religions. Archbishop George Stallings, the ACLC's executive committee chairman, says the cross is an obstacle to peace between Muslims, Jews, and Christians, and that churches should take down their crosses to symbolize Christian "willingness to remove any barrier that stands in the way of us coming together as people of faith." Mainstream Christian leaders are calling the request "outrageously bigoted." Michael Schwartz of Concerned Women for America (cwfa.org) says that if a Christian objected to the Jewish Star of David or the Islamic Crescent, that person would be known as a bigot, and when a Jew or Muslim objects to the Christian symbol, he or she can be identified in the same way.
'Inclusion' Doctrine is Dangerous
(AgapePress) The new watchword in the American culture war seems to be "inclusion," the idea that even a nation founded on Christian values must accept and recognize as legitimate any behavior, whether deviant or not. That is Christian commentator Janet Parshall's analysis of the cultural battle taking place in the United States today. Parshall says the idea of inclusion will harm the nation's future unless believers take a stand. She quotes Joshua 24:15, echoing the biblical leader's ultimatum: "Choose you this day whom you will serve; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." The national spokeswoman says until Christians decide whom they choose and "follow him without blush or hesitation," America is in big trouble. Parshall asserts that God is not tolerant of sin and says that should end the inclusion debate once and for all.
Billy Ray Sings For Jesus
(AgapePress) Multi-award-winning country music artist and actor Billy Ray Cyrus is returning to his gospel roots. The singer has signed with Christian label Word Records and will release his debut gospel album, The Other Side, on October 28. Cyrus also begins his fourth season this fall as star of #1-rated PAX television series, Doc. Mark Lusk, senior vice president of marketing for the Word Label Group, says Word is honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Cyrus. "We are so excited about this partnership and have already received a great response to Billy Ray in and outside of the Christian market. People are really looking forward to this new project, and we're pulling out all of the stops," Lusk says. The Other Side offers reflections from Cyrus's personal journey and deep-rooted Christian faith and feature his trademark "rockin" country and big ballad sound. The album's 11 tracks speak of faith and present a side of the artist that fans have yet to hear. The Other Side also features special guests, from '80s pop icon Kim Carnes, rocker Bekka Bramlett, and Denise Walls of the Christian group "Anointed" to the Jordanaires, a beloved southern gospel ensemble well known for their seamless harmonies. Cyrus says he feels proud and blessed to be part of the Word family, and that this project is special to him because it "became who I was and what I wanted to sing and where I am at in my life."
RU-486 is Russian Roulette
(AgapePress) The death of California teenager Holly Patterson after taking the abortion drug RU-486 marks the second death of a young woman since the Federal Drug Administration approved the drug four years ago. Ed Szymkowiak of STOPP, a group whose name stands for Stop Planned Parenthood, says this sort of tragedy goes with the killing business in which Planned Parenthood is involved. While Szymkowiak does not find the 18-year-old's death shocking, he says "it still is very sad, and we're urging our supporters to pray for [Holly Patterson] and her family." According to Associated Press reports, the Christian Medical Association is saying that the teen's death after she took the abortion drug shows that RU-486 should not have been rushed through the FDA approval process. Patterson took the drug after visiting a Planned Parenthood clinic two weeks ago, and although she followed the prescribed instructions for its use, she began to experiencing bleeding and debilitating cramps. She was taken to a hospital, given painkillers, and sent home. But three nights later, Patterson was hospitalized again and died the following day. The Christian Medical & Dental Associations' Dr. Gene Rudd says the FDA gave RU-486 the sort of fast-track approval that it normally reserves for life-saving drugs. But according to the physician, the abortion pill is the opposite of a life-saving drug because it destroys the unborn child's life in addition to endangering the life of the mother.