New Poll Shows 67% Support Federal Marriage Amendment

The same day that Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex "marriage," a new poll was released showing that two-thirds of Americans support the Federal Marriage Amendment.

The poll, conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide for the Alliance for Marriage, found that 57% of Americans strongly favor and 10% somewhat favor the wording of an amendment that would protect the traditional definition of marriage, thus banning same-sex "marriage." Combined, 67% of Americans support the amendment while 30% oppose (23% strongly oppose, 7% somewhat oppose).

"The constitutional problem created by almost a decade of activist lawsuits to destroy our marriage laws demands a constitutional fix," Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage, said in a statement.

Among the poll's other findings:

79% of Republicans, 63% of independents and 56% of Democrats support the amendment.

66% of men and 66% of women favor the amendment.

67% of whites, blacks, and Hispanics support the amendment.

Baptist Press

Catholics Battle over Pro-Choice Communion

The battle among Roman Catholics regarding pro-choice politicians who belong to their church is spreading. While the focus has been on Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, the controversy recently has engulfed New Jersey's governor and a prominent cardinal in the church.

Newark, N.J., Archbishop John Myers sent a message to Catholics in his diocese that prompted Gov. James McGreevey, a Democrat, to say he would not take communion at public masses. McGreevey not only supports abortion rights but has signed legislation to provide state funds for a research center designed to experiment on embryonic stem cells. Such research destroys embryos.

"Every faithful Catholic must be not only personally opposed' to abortion, but also must live that opposition in his or her actions," Myers said in a statement issued May 5. On April 23, Cardinal Francis Arinze, a leading official at the Vatican, said priests should refuse communion to pro-abortion politicians. Those politicians, Arinze said, are "not fit" to receive communion."

Baptist Press

Non-Hindu Is India's New Prime Minister

Manmohan Singh, a Sikh reformist, has been named as prime minister of the new government of India. He faces the challenges of a country in financial crisis and a Parliament in discord, but with the amazing defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Singh's election takes India one more step away from a Hindu nationalist state.

India's 14th general election-the world's largest electoral process-began on April 20 and ended May 10, with the early returns so strong against the BJP-led coalition that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee resigned May 13.

Joseph D'Souza, president of the All India Christian Council, said in a statement carried by ASSIST news service, "In a surprise spontaneous move of public anger, the masses, the downtrodden, the poor, the Dalits [untouchables], and even the urban unemployed all joined together to throw out the BJP-led alliance." He had described the balloting across India as "a make or break election" that had stirred many Christians to prayer and fasting.

Voice of the Martyrs' Todd Nettleton said, "It will be the first non-Hindu prime minister in the history of India. Obviously, that opens the door for more religious freedom, more religious tolerance, and a little more protection for the Christians who have come under attack under the previous administration." There are concerns that the persecution of believers may continue under localized Hindu fundamentalist groups, now fueled with anger at defeat.

Compiled from Mission Network News and Baptist Press

New Search for Noah's Ark

Although technology may not be able to prove it, the man financing a summer expedition to find Noah's Ark believes he knows the exact location of the ancient vessel. The expedition to the upper reaches of Turkey's Mount Ararat is an effort to prove that an object protruding from the snow and ice is indeed Noah's Ark. Ahmet Ali Arslan, a Turkish mountaineer and leader of the planned expedition, says in 1989 he was able to climb to within a quarter mile of what he believes is the Ark. He says it looks like a "huge barn" with a "roof-like" top. "I saw two windows under the roofing, and then beams that are completely visible," the guide said.

Daniel McGivern, who is financing the trek, says the goal is to enter what they believe to be a mammoth structure that was partially exposed by last summer's heat wave in Europe. "We really feel that we have Noah's Ark," McGivern said. "Do we know it for sure? You never know until you walk into it." Explorers have long searched for Noah's Ark on the nearly 18,000-foot mountain where the biblical account of the Great Flood places it.

Religion today/Agape Press via MissionNet

Pastors Favor NIV, KJV

When pastors choose a Bible, what do they use? According to a new survey, it's usually either the New International Version or the King James Version. The study, involving 700 pastors, was conducted by Ellison Research for Facts & Trends magazine.

"The NIV, King James, New King James, New American Standard, and New Revised Standard are clearly the versions of choice for most clergy, as well as the ones they would recommend to their congregations," Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, based in Phoenix, said in a news release.

Different denominations had different favorites. Southern Baptist pastors are split evenly between the NIV, KJV, New Kings James Version and the New American Standard Bible. Methodist pastors prefer the NIV and the New Revised Standard Version. A plurality of Lutheran ministers choose the NRSV. And close to half of Pentecostal pastors favor the King James Version. The survey found that 31% of all pastors use the NIV, while 23% use the KJV, 14% the NRSV. 13% the NLKV, and 10% the NASB.

Baptist Press

Uzbeki Christians Pressured to Convert to Islam

In recent weeks, pressure has been put upon members of the unregistered Church of Christ in Nukus, the capital of the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan in north-western Uzbekistan. Eleven members were summoned to the office of M. Arzymbetov, the public prosecutor. According to an April 21 report from Forum 18, the believers were pressured to convert to Islam and verbally abused, to the point of being threatened with being shot. Arzymbetov denies the accusations, while confirming that the Christians face fines for being members of an unregistered religious organization.

The prosecutor's office has also attempted to have a church member, Iklas Aldungarov, removed as a student at a medical university. Arzymbetov confirms that he wrote a letter regarding the student to Oral Ataniyazova the university rector, but denies pressuring her to remove Aldungarov as a student.  However, a copy of the letter obtained by Forum 18 clearly called for the removal of Aldungarov by April 10. The rector refused to remove him, saying that his religious beliefs are a personal matter.

Voice of the Martyrs via MissionNet

Minister Fights Mosque's Prayer Broadcasts

Members of an Ohio church are coming to the aid of some Michigan residents who do not want a call to Muslim prayers blasted over loudspeakers in their community. Jim Marquis, pastor of the New Covenant Worship Center in Wellston, Ohio, took nine church members with him to speak on behalf of citizens in the Hamtramck community who felt the ordinance exempting mosques from the city's noise regulations would infringe on their rights. "There's no place that you can go. You're going to be able to hear it in your home; you're going to hear it wherever you are-you have no choice. Five times a day you're going to have to hear this prayer recited to Allah," Marquis says.

Members of the city council argued that prayer calls are no different than church bells but Marquis disagreed.

Agape Press via MissionNet

Christian Workers in Israel Face Visa Difficulties

Until recently, receiving a visa to serve as a Christian worker in Israel was relatively easy.  However, Middle East Concern (MEC) reports that this has recently changed.  Rather than renewing visas for one or two years, as normal, many visa renewals are being delayed or extended for only a few months.

When visa requests are delayed, the Christian worker faces a dilemma; to stay means being an illegal alien.  To leave means facing the possibility of arrest at the airport or being refused future admission to the country.  According to an April 27 release from MEC, these problems have affected various ministries in the country.  The United Christian Council in Israel (UCCI), a local chapter of the World Evangelical Alliance, reports that the only ones being allowed visa renewals are pastors with at least five hundred members in their church. The work of many ministries has been seriously affected.  The Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Church have also faced similar problems.

Voice of the Martyrs via MissionNet

Egyptian Police Drown 3 Coptic Christians

Egyptian police forces in El Minia arrested a Coptic priest and four other Coptic Christians in the early-morning hours of Sunday, May 2, loaded them onto a police truck and drove the speeding vehicle into a water-filled canal, killing three. Police had arrested Ibrahim Mikhaeil of the St. Mena Church in Taha el Omodeen and the four congregants, charging them with unlawful construction of a church fence. Police bound their hands and loaded them into the police van, then drove toward the Ibrahimiya Canal. At the brink of the canal, the police officer who was driving bailed out of the vehicle. Mikhaeil and two of the men were killed. The two others were in critical condition in a local hospital.

"Local police officials have repeatedly shown themselves to be antagonistic toward Coptic communities," said Michael Meunier, president of the U.S. Copts Association. "The killing of this priest and his laymen marks yet another sign of official injustice perpetrated against the Coptic community."

U.S. Copts Association via MissionNet

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Christians Hope EU EnlargementWill Boost Evangelism

Thousands of Christians across Europe celebrated the enlargement of the European Union (EU) during church services early in May. On May 1, 10 central and southeastern European nations joined the EU: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Malta and Southern Cyprus. This raised the total EU population to 455 million, up from 370 million in the former 15 EU-member states.

While politicians mainly praised the economic opportunities of the enlarged union, churches welcomed new chances of intensifying human contacts. International partnerships of local churches have become even easier. But church leaders also expressed sympathy for the worries connected with the EU extension. Citizens in the West are concerned that jobs will be lost to the new member states because of lower wages. And Catholics in Poland are concerned about the influx of theological and ethical liberalism.

IDEA via MissionNet

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Shortage of Pastors Looms in China

It used to be that Chinese Christians sang their hymns silently, hiding in a room with closed windows. But these days that scenario has exploded beyond the walls into the open, says China Partner Ministries' Erik Burklin. The organization has seen church growth extend to the construction of seminaries and more new churches. "In Hubei province...there are 500,000 baptized Christians, but only 60 ordained pastors shepherd these Christians," he says. "That's a ratio of one pastor for every 8,300 Christians! This is the challenge that the Chinese church faces today."

Burklin says "lifestyle evangelism" is the most effective method of bringing more people to Christ."

Mission Network News

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Czechs Yearn for Moral Stability

Years of atheism have taken their toll in the Czech Republic, and though it remains one of the most resistant places to the gospel in the world, skyrocketing alcohol and drug abuse, along with a lack of moral guidance has forced the government to turn to Christians for help. IN Network's Rody Rodeheaver explained, "They are seeing a population of young people somewhat out of control. There's a real desire on the part of the school system to try to do something about it. But they're really not quite sure how to teach ethics because that was never a part of their teacher training."

 "We're allowed by the school to speak from a platform of Christian values, Rodeheaver added. "They can't directly share the gospel obviously, but the exciting thing is once you lay some of these values out there and allow young people to ask questions, it doesn't take them long to get to the spiritual base of these values." The main ministry of IN-Czech Republic is the project called "Youth Outreach," carried out in the form of lectures for students between the ages of 14 and 18.

Mission Network News

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