News Briefs

Condit Case Raises Concerns About National Security
        (AgapePress) - Some former top intelligence officials believe the scandal surrounding California Congressman Gary Condit could compromise national security.

       Former CIA officer Duane Clarridge said the flood of allegations about the Democratic congressman's private life following the disappearance of Chandra Levy has captured the attention of those Condit oversees. Condit is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which covers the nation's 13 different intelligence agencies and helps control an annual budget of about $30 billion. He has access to sensitive information that goes beyond Top Secret.

        "This guy [Condit] was made to order for blackmail," Clarridge told McClatchy Newspapers. "This guy is a perfect setup."

       Former Defense Intelligence Agency chief Patrick Hughes said that he would cut off Condit's access sensitive material until more questions were resolved. In fact, Hughes, a retired Army lieutenant general, said that if Congressman Condit were held to the standard that intelligence professionals are held to, he would not be able to work for the intelligence agency.

       Condit was elected to Congress in 1989 and joined the intelligence panel in 1999 after being tapped for the position by House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt. House members selected by party leaders are exempt from the usual scrutiny imposed on non-politicians before they gain access to classified information.

A Government Mission

       MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (EP) - Former Hollywood actor Bob Turnbull, who appeared in everything from "Hawaii 5-0" to "Highway to Heaven," has accepted a position as Pastor of Family Life at McLean Bible Church in Virginia. The 7,000 member evangelical congregation includes many government leaders, and President Bush attends the church on occasion. "The potential is incredible," Turnbull says. "There's lots of people the Lord will use us to touch. Half are involved with the federal government."

Survey of Home Schooling Spawns Call for Change in Tax Law

        (AgapePress) - A pro-family group is using a new government report on home schooling to make a call for a change in tax laws.

       For years, home schooling has been dismissed by mainstream society as nothing more than a fringe element mainly composed of right-wing fundamentalist Christians. But things have changed in recent years. Even the liberal media has taken note of the academic achievement of many home schoolers, particularly those who have taken top honors in such events as the National Spelling Bee and National Geographic Bee.

       Now comes the first-ever government survey of home schooling. Among other things, it concludes that most children who are home schooled live in cities and have well educated parents raising a handful of children on one income.

       Rabbi David Eidensohn is the director of the National Non-Sectarian Council of Pro Family Activists. He says the government report is further evidence that home school parents should not be forced to also fund a failing public school system through their tax dollars.

       Eidensohn says public schools have become a place where homosexuality is promoted, and where children are taught to hate religious people. He says the family and biblical community must assert their rights.

Russian Analysts Foresee Middle East War Within Months

        (AgapePress) - There are reports that a full-scale regional war may not be far off in the Middle East.

       Although the mainstream press has not been reporting such a threat, other sources are talking about Arab forces gathering for an attack on Israel.

       For example, the World Tribune is quoting Russian defense officials and strategists who say it could happen within three to six months.

       Russian analysts expect an Israeli offensive against the Palestinian Authority as early as October, triggered by Palestinian bombings of Israeli cities. They say such an offensive could prompt Egypt to direct its Third Army to enter the Sinai. Indeed, the Third Army is already scheduled to conduct an exercise near the Suez Canal next month.

       Other sources say that in addition to this, Iraq has just assured Syria that in the event of hostilities with Israel, Iraq will come to Syria's defense.

       Well-known conservative voice, Gary Bauer, says now is the time for the United States to make it clear to Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and others that any move against Israel will draw us to her side.

U.S. Trade Strategy With China Isn't Working

       A human rights group claims China's human right abuses are getting worse and worse. The Hong Kong-based Information Center on Human Rights and Democracy says the news director at the Jiangxi Metropolitan Consumer News was fired for writing about a local court's alleged plot to sell the kidneys of an executed prisoner. Reuters News reports his dismissal is just the latest evidence of one of China's broadest media crackdowns in recent years. A Communist Party document circulating among Chinese publications last month threatened newspapers and magazines with instant closure if they stepped out of line.

SBC Leader Disturbed Over Extensive Doctrinal Error Among 'Evangelicals'

        (AgapePress) - A leading Southern Baptist theologian says a recent Barna Research report represents a striking indictment of the erosion of Biblical beliefs that marks American Christianity.

       Albert Mohler is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He, like many other conservative born-again believers, is growing increasingly alarmed at the degree to which people who call themselves Christians no longer believe in the absolute authority of the Bible.

       For example, in the Barna report, only 43% of Baptists believe that works do not earn salvation. And an even greater number - 66% - no longer believe satan is a real being.

       Mohler tells Baptist Press that the trends Barna has been tracing have been progressing for several years. He says Americans have been negotiating away the core doctrines of the Christian faith, all the while claiming to be Christians.

       But, Mohler says, Christianity is defined by certain definite and non-negotiable doctrines. Without these, he says, there is no Christianity at all, just the emptying sanctuaries of declining churches and denominations. He says while many have come to expect doctrinal compromise in the liberal denominations, we now see the same process at work among those who call themselves "evangelicals."

Survey Reveals Waning Scriptural Adherence of Many Professing Christians

        (AgapePress) - The latest survey from Christian researcher George Barna shows that traditional moral values are continuing to lose ground even among those who call themselves Christians. However, there is an exception: the Bible readers.

       According to Barna, most churchgoing people today exhibit a diversity of opinion on doctrinal and moral matters that would shock the average pastor. He says increasingly, his team of researchers is finding that the positions on moral issues that are taught from the pulpit are not necessarily shared by those sitting in the pews.

       For example, Barna says a significant number of people now attending Christian churches believe both abortion and homosexuality should be legal activities. But he says people who read and study the Bible for themselves continue to be the exception, with the majority of them taking much more conservative positions on these key social issues.

       Based on this, Barna concludes that if conservative Christians have any chance of restoring a more traditional moral perspective in America, it will come by encouraging people to make their choices on the basis of God's Word rather than cultural leanings or political arguments.

Spotlight On Washington

       A Washington church that meets in a movie theater is replacing sound Bible teaching with what it calls an "emotional experience." About 275 young people gather every Sunday morning at D.C.'s National Community Church. Most are single Gen-Xers who come dressed in shorts and sundresses. According to The Washington Post, except for Bibles, no traditional signs of Christianity are evident. Instead, one can find spotlights drifting over a drummer and two electric guitarists playing contemporary music. The Post says rather than teaching sound doctrine, the 45-minute services are geared toward providing an "emotional experience" that "refreshes" or "renews." National Community was established in 1994 by the Assemblies of God, the nation's largest Pentecostal denomination. Attorney General John Ashcroft and his wife, Janet, sometimes attend National Community's services.

Conservative Coalition Says US Needs to Back out of ABM Treaty

        (AgapePress) - Several conservative organizations have teamed up to form a new coalition to lobby Congress into supporting President Bush's plans for a missile defense shield.

       It's called Americans for Missile Defense, and it is concerned that congressional Republicans are being pressured by Democrats to trim the missile defense budget.

       Frank Gaffney is president of the Center for Security Policy, and a member of the coalition. He says the new group wants to counter the claims by missile defense opponents like Democratic Senator Tom Daschle.

        "It is certainly intended to counter the arguments being made by people like Tom Daschle that the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which we signed of course with a country that ceases to exist, is a formula for leaving the country terribly vulnerable to threats that we couldn't imagine in 1972 and that really represent grave dangers to our supreme interests."

       Gaffney says terms of the treaty itself give President Bush the right to unilaterally withdraw from the agreement if the United States believes its interests are threatened. So he believes the President should move quickly to scrap the treaty.

       Bush has said the ABM treaty "enshrines the past," ignoring today's reality that missile technology and weapons of mass destruction have spread to a number of states "for whom terror and blackmail are a way of life."

Palestinians React With Joy To Terrorist Tragedy In U.S.

       SIDON, Lebanon (EP) - Palestinian refugees reacted with joy to news of terrorist attacks on the U.S.. Dozens of Palestinian refugees fired assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades into the air from the Ain al-Helweh refugee camp near Sidon. Similar celebrations were held at the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut. U.S. television showed faces of happy Palestinians dancing in the streets and distributing candy in celebration of the attacks.

       When news of the terrorist attacks reached the West Bank town of Nablus, thousands of people flooded the streets chanting "God is Great."

       That sentiment was certainly not shared by all Arab people. Dan Wooding, founder and director of ASSIST Ministries, was in Jordan at the time of the attack for a conference of Christian journalists and leaders in Jerash. "We have been overwhelmed by the kindness of the Jordanian people we have met since the horrendous terrorist attack yesterday," said Wooding, who was told by a friend that Christians across Jordan were praying for America. "While on a street, three young men came up to me and asked if I was American. When I said that I was, they said, 'We are very sorry for what has happened.'"

       As the Palestinian people celebrated in the streets, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat claimed to be horrified by the attack. "We are completely shocked. It's unbelievable," he said. "We completely condemn this very dangerous attack, and I convey my condolences to the American people, to the American president and to the American administration, not only in my name but on behalf of the Palestinian people."

       The celebration of some Palestinians was quickly condemned by other Arabs around the world. "We have to reflect on why we, as Arabs and Muslims, have sunk so low as to glorify violence and destruction," said Ahmed Bishara, a Kuwaiti political activist. "Yes, we can differ with U.S. policy. Yes, the U.S. way of life may differ. But there's no way for me as a human being to accept violence."

        "The killing of innocent people is a despicable and heinous act that is accepted by neither religion nor human sensibility," agreed Grand Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Islam's most prominent religious institution.

       The Sabeel Liberation Theology group, a Palestinian organization in Jerusalem, said, "As Palestinians, who have been victims of terror, we are appalled at the reports of Palestinians celebrating your tragedy. Amidst all the pain and injustice that we have been living through the past year, we condemn all terrorist crimes that dehumanize and perpetrate evil."

       Egyptian political analyst Gehad Auda noted that the inappropriate celebrations were hurting the Palestinian cause. "Celebration at the moment of grief is wrong, uncalled for, and it's unwise," he said. "America before was undecided. Now America will be decided - for the Israelis."

Official Reverence

        (AgapePress)...Top officials in the Bush Administration are taking time out from their hectic schedules for weekly prayer and Bible study. Every Thursday, from noon until 1:00, more than four dozen White House staffers gather for organized prayer meetings. According to World magazine, the weekly meetings include individuals from presidential personnel, speechwriting, the office of the White House counsel, the White House staff, and White House interns. World correspondent Joel Rosenberg says there are two separate weekly meetings. He says the Thursday meeting is for political appointees. A Tuesday meeting is for career government employees - none of whom, he says, want to go on the record because they do not want to draw attention to what each of them are doing. Rosenberg says the participants are Christians who are looking for an opportunity to break away from their high-stress work to remember "whose kingdom they really serve in." The meetings are organized by long-time Bush aides who held similar prayer meetings in Texas when the President was governor there.

Abortion Linked To Cancer

        (AgapePress)...The world's largest abortion provider is facing a lawsuit in California that claims it withheld information linking abortion to breast cancer. Attorneys for three people filed a lawsuit in San Diego accusing Planned Parenthood of withholding information showing a link between breast cancer and abortion. According to one plaintiff's attorney, the complaint alleges that both the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its San Diego affiliate consistently mislead women about the safety of abortion by obscuring evidence that induced abortions are linked with breast cancer. The suit, which asks for no monetary damages, is aimed at forcing Planned Parenthood to reveal scientific evidence linking abortions to an increased vulnerability to breast cancer. The complaint contends that Planned Parenthood touts the safety of abortion both in printed materials and on its websites.

David Limbaugh: Believers Must Stop Appeasing the Enemies of God

        (AgapePress) - A best-selling author and syndicated columnist says Christians need to stop trying to get along with the politically correct crowd, and boldly fight for their right to worship as they please.

       David Limbaugh may be best-known for his best-selling book Absolute Power, which documents the abuses by the Janet Reno Justice Department during the Clinton years.

       But the brother of talk show giant Rush Limbaugh says he is a born-again Christian, and isn't happy with the way many Christians appease the left.

        "I am troubled by the fact that sometimes I get feedback from fellow Christians to the effect that 'We need not be confrontational in the public arena, because we're going to turn people off.' I reject that," he says."

       And I don't mean to be confrontational. I do believe we have to approach matters as the Bible says with gentleness and respect. But Jesus was confrontational. The truth divides, and we cannot run from the truth for the sake of being liked and respected by those who are politically correct."

       Limbaugh asks, "If Christians can't stand up for God, what can they stand up for?" He believes Christians need to stand up for the right to worship as they please.

What is the True Christian Church?

        (AgapePress) - Southern Baptist theologian, Dr. Albert Mohler, has offered his views on what defines the true Christian church.

       Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Despite the fact that the debate over what constitutes the true Christian church has gone on for centuries, Mohler's definition is surprisingly simple.

       He says the true church can be identified by those who confess the Lordship of Christ and who stand on the authority of scripture.

       According to Baptist Press, Mohler believes the problem today is that too few churches are willing to say to their members "Thus saith the Lord." Instead, he says, members just do whatever is right in their own eyes, and the churches let them get away with it.

       The church's Authority, Mohler says, is the Word of God. And he says, "any church that will not distinguish between truth and error based on that authority is not a genuine church."

Faith Can Lower Blood Pressure

       DURHAM-Faith helps lower blood pressure in African Americans, according to a study conducted by Duke University Medical Center. Researchers examined a group that included 78 black subjects, monitoring their blood pressure throughout the day. They found that black subjects with higher levels of religious belief had blood pressure readings up to seven points lower than others; no significant difference was seen among whites in the study. "Our findings suggest that 'religious coping' may help buffer cardiovascular disease in African Americans," said researcher Patrick Steffen, who published the findings in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine-EP