The release in February of Today's New International Version Bible [TNIV], an update to the NIV, pushes to the forefront a hair-splitting debate among evangelical Christians. Depending on whom you ask, the TNIV is either a way to connect with a new generation or a paean to the feminist agenda.
Bible scholar and theologian Wayne Grudem commented, "By employing gender-neutral language, translators have edited the Scriptures in a manner that is both inaccurate and unnecessary."
In a landmark decision in late January, an Oregon judge signed the first judgment ever against an abortion provider for psychological injury and failure to inform a young girl seeking an abortion about the increased risk of breast cancer from induced abortion. The judgment was decreed following an "offer of judgment" a month before the trial date from All Women's Health Services. This put the plaintiff, a woman identified only as "FB," in the same legal position as if she had won her case in court, according to Oregon Right to Life (ORTL).
The increased risk of breast cancer stems from the interrupted process of cell multiplication within the breast, in preparation for lactation. In a normal pregnancy, the proliferation of cells stops at the 32nd week, and most of the growing cells differentiate into milk-producing cells. Differentiation permanently turns off the cells' capacity to multiply. This is key, because only cells which can multiply are susceptible to being transformed into cancer cells later. But the differentiation never takes place if abortion halts the process, the Life in Oregon article by Jonathan Clark, FB's attorney, and Cindy Rahm, explained.
"The right to choose has to be a right to know, commented Clark. "Girls have been telling us for years that abortion clinics provided them no information whatsoever with which to make an informed choice," said Gayle Atteberry, executive director of ORTL.
Life in Oregon
The U.S. Agency for International Development has dismissed a report by a Harvard professor which says abstinence is the method that has worked best in dramatically reducing the AIDS epidemic in Uganda, according to Focus on the Family's Citizen magazine. USAID instead tapped a nationally-known condom advocate to conduct another study that shed a more favorable light on the role of condoms in Uganda's success.
Citizen interviewed Edward C. Green, an anthropologist at Harvard University and the lead author of a study financed by USAID that found abstinence to be more effective than condoms in reducing the spread of AIDS in Uganda. At issue is a strategy pushed by President Bush called "ABC"—an acronym for Abstinence, Being faithful in marriage, and Condoms only for high-risk populations.
Green discovered that by 1995, 95% of Ugandans ages 15 to 49 were practicing abstinence or monogamy while just 6% of the population was using condoms. But when he submitted his study to USAID in early 2003, the government agency refused to publish his findings and instead hired Douglas Kirby, a senior researcher for one of the nation's largest condom-promoting sex education groups, to conduct another study on AIDS prevention in Uganda, Citizen said. Kirby turned in his report in late 2004, saying condoms played a greater role in Uganda's AIDS decline than faithfulness or abstinence.
"Data that could save lives is being ignored—at the cost of millions of lives," said Rand Stoneburner, an epidemiologist who has studied the pattern of AIDS during the past 20 years for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "That's a great abuse of human rights because you would have saved 3 to 5 million lives if the ABC data was recognized and used years earlier."
In a victory for pro-family demonstrators, a Philadelphia judge Feb. 17 dismissed all criminal charges against four Christians who had protested a homosexual-themed event last October. The protesters for Repent American had been arrested during Outfest, a public celebration of homosexuality held annually in Philadelphia. The protesters were charged with eight crimes, including ethnic intimidation.
The case received national attention, particularly when videos of the event surfaced that apparently showed the protesters doing nothing wrong. Common Pleas Court Judge Pamela Dembe watched the videos and agreed with Repent America's lawyers. Noting the protections the First Amendment provides, Dembe said, "We cannot stifle speech because we don't want to hear it, or we don't want to hear it now," the Associated Press reported. Alliance Defense Fund-allied attorneys represented the group.
The founder and president of Vision America says the recent removal of a Bible in front of a Texas courthouse is yet another example of an out-of-control judiciary in a politically correct climate. Earlier in January a court order forced the removal of a King James Bible from a 48-year-old monument in front of Houston's Harris County Courthouse. The Houston monument was erected by a mission to the homeless to honor a longtime supporter.
Vision America's Rick Scarborough said the Bible was prominently displayed for nearly half a century—until one person complained. The entire case, he contends, is just one more example of an all-too-common misunderstanding of citizens' free-speech rights. Scarborough says it is time to stop allowing one person's offense to authorize the perpetration of mass offense upon a whole culture. The Vision America spokesman said too many Christians do not realize how judicial activists and civil liberties groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and others have misinterpreted the Constitution. "Our people cannot be good citizens if they don't understand who they are as Christians, first, but also as American Christians," he said.
Agape Press via Religion Today Summaries
Police have arrested five men in the wake of the vicious attack against six students attending the Gospel for Asia (GFA) Biblical Seminary in Thiravalla in southern India's Kerala State on Feb. 13. The attackers were arrested after a raid conducted by the deputy superintendent of police. The Hindustan Times reported that those arrested were affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu group hostile to Christianity and other religious minorities. The six students had been regularly visiting a community of laborers on previous weekends, praying for the sick, caring for the needy, sharing the love of Christ, and offering hope. When the students arrived at a bus stop on Feb. 13, a gang of men began abusing and assaulting them before pushing them into a vehicle and driving them to a secluded place where they were repeatedly beaten. All the students suffered from internal pain and headaches, some severe.
In the first ruling of its kind, a federal judge in Florida upheld the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Jan. 19, dismissing a case brought by a lesbian couple that had sought to have their Massachusetts marriage license recognized in Florida. The lawsuit was filed last July on behalf of Nancy Wilson and Paula Schoenwether, a lesbian couple from Florida that had "married" in Massachusetts. The couple asked the court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 federal law that gives states the option of not recognizing another state's same-sex "marriage." Florida has a law banning "gay marriage."
But U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr., agreed with Attorney General John Ashcroft's motion to dismiss the case and ruled that DOMA does not violate the U.S. Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause, as the plaintiffs had argued. His ruling likely will be appealed. The Defense of Marriage Act has been at the center of the national same-sex "marriage" debate. If overturned, then all 50 states presumably would be forced to recognize "gay marriage."
An Egyptian Christian father, Hossam Armanious, along with his wife and two daughters were found knifed to death in their home in Jersey City, N.J., Jan. 14. Police are investigating several theories, but religious tensions have been suggested as a potential motive. Armanious had been threatened during an Internet chat-room session following his critical comments on Islam. While police are suggesting robbery as the possible motive, the style of killing has made friends and relatives see a link with Islamic teaching on killing unbelievers. Armanious and his family moved to the U.S. in the late 1990s to escape the growing anti-Christian violence in Upper Egypt. As a devout Christian, Armanious was outspoken about his faith and continued to publicize the persecution of Christians in Egypt that had caused them to flee. He was known to have frequent vigorous debates on religion, including criticizing Islam in Internet chat rooms. Two months ago he received a threat that if he didn't stop these comments, he would be killed.
Barnabas Fund via MissionNet
Who do pastors in the United States consider the most influential personality on churches today? Or the most trusted spokesperson for Christianity? Christian pollster George Barna asked more than 600 senior pastors those questions recently. Interestingly, the large majority of the greatest "influencers" are themselves not in the pastorate. Barna spread his poll over three basic groups of Protestant clergy: Pentecostal, Baptist, and "Mainline" (American Baptist/U.S.A., United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Presbyterian Church U.S.A.).
Evangelicals dominate both lists and para-church leaders, by far, are more likely be cited as trusted ambassadors of Christianity, the survey found. But Billy Graham's name was atop both lists: 34% feel the 86-year-old evangelist has the greatest influence on American churches today, but an even larger group, 58%, see him as the most trusted spokesperson for Christianity.
Agape Press via MissionNet<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>