News

Organizations, Churches Join Relief Effort

Traumatized and homeless, many hurricane survivors are now showing up on the doorsteps of local churches asking for help. Churches are being overwhelmed by the needs. Along with FEMA and the Red Cross, churches are on the frontline providing shelter and food for evacuees. Among Christian organizations pitching in, World Vision is helping churches, and other faith-based organizations as well as other local agencies by providing them with supplies, material, and financial support to aid the evacuees. To date, more than 24,000 people have received supplies. World Vision will be providing both short and long-term assistance to hurricane survivors as they work in partnership with churches, faith-based organizations, and local agencies. Lives have been shattered. Families torn apart. Experts estimate 1 million Americans have lost their homes. Please join, take action, and pray for children and families who have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

World Vision via
Religion News Summaries

Quote of the Week

"Certainly, in my history of 41 years as a Salvation Army officer, this is the greatest mobilization of churches in general, but definitely the Christian churches, who in my mind have come to truly realize what Jesus said in Matthew in the 25th chapter: Inasmuch as you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.'"

W. Todd Bassett, Salvation Army national commander, who has been heavily involved with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Via Religion News Service

Round 2: Judge Rules School Pledge Unconstitutional            

In re-treading ground that had already been covered, a federal judge ruled Sept. 14 that requiring students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance containing the words "under God" in public schools is unconstitutional.

Michael Newdow, a Sacramento atheist, had filed a suit and gotten the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to rule in 2002 that the pledge was unconstitutional, but once it reached the Supreme Court, the justices ruled in 2004 that Newdow lacked appropriate legal standing to file the case because he did not have full custody of his daughter, on whose behalf he sued.

The high court's ruling left open the door for Newdow to round up other parents of elementary school children who said their children were offended by the daily reciting of the pledge. In January, Newdow filed a similar federal suit on behalf of three unnamed parents asking the court to rule as unconstitutional a 1954 law inserting the phrase "under God" into the pledge.

Now, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton has ruled that the three families have the right to sue and that the pledge's reference to "one nation under God" violates children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

Because the judge limited his ruling to the three Sacramento-area school districts listed in the lawsuit, a ruling by either the Ninth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court would be required for wider impact.

Baptist Press

More Abortions Than Live Births
In Russia

Russia has more abortions than live births each year, the country's leading obstetrician says. According to Moscow News, Bloomberg.com reported 1.6 million women had abortions in 2004, while 1.5 million gave birth, said Vladimir Kulakov, vice president of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. He said "many more" abortions went unreported.

The reason for the inordinate number of abortions vs. births is economic, Kulakov said. "The appearance of a first child pushes many families into poverty," he told the state's official newspaper, Rossiskaya Gazeta, according to Moscow News. "Potential parents first try to start a career, stand on their feet, and so forth."

The margin of abortions over births is better than it once was, however. In 1990, shortly before the fall of communism, the World Health Organization reported there were 1,971 abortions per 1,000 live births, the International Herald Tribune reported in 2001. In 2000, there were1,696 abortions for every 1,000 live births, according to the newspaper.

Baptist Press

Group Urges Pro-Life MDs Be Forced to Refer Abortion-Seekers

Pro-life doctors have decried a request from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that federal law be changed to require physicians who oppose abortion to refer patients to those who will perform the procedure.

In an Aug. 30 letter, ACOG president Michael Mennuti urged senators to amend the Abortion Non-discrimination Act to mandate that pro-life doctors make referrals for abortions. "Doctors who morally object to abortion should be required to refer patients to other physicians who will provide the appropriate care," Mennuti wrote, according to the Christian Medical Association.

"We've always known that abortion affords no choice or rights to a developing baby. Now we learn that ACOG would also strip choice and rights away from the very physicians it claims to represent," CMA President David Stevens said in a written release.

Baptist Press

Pioneer of Indigenous Missions Passes Away

One of the most effective native missionaries to work in Burma passed away in late July at the age of 89. Ronald Lalthanliana was the son of the first native missionary to Manipur, an Indian state bordering Burma. In 1955, Lalthanliana started a small fellowship in Upper Burma with 10 people. Today, after 50 years of ministry, churches planted by Lalthaniana's mission comprise over 18,000 believers.

Lalthanliana was a key figure in a spiritual renewal across Burma; for many years, he was one of only a few men in this Buddhist country standing for the true gospel. As a result of his unbending faith, Lalthanliana was persecuted by both religious leaders and government officials. At one point, he was imprisoned for four years without trial under false charges. Yet even in prison, Lalthanliana was a consistent witness for Christ, leading 40 inmates and four policemen to the Lord.

Missions Insider

Most Americans Want Creationism Taught

A substantial majority of the public favors including creationism in school curricula, according to a recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The survey found 64% of Americans support teaching creationism along with evolution in the public schools while only 26% oppose the idea. Support for teaching creationism alongside evolution is broad-based, Pew said in an Aug. 30 release, with majority support even among seculars, liberal Democrats, and those who accept the natural selection theory.

"Large majorities of Americans believe that parents, scientists and science teachers, and school boards should all have a say in how evolution is taught in public schools, and these majorities are found among all religious groups and people on both sides of the question of how life developed on Earth," Pew said.

The poll, conducted July 7-17 among 2,000 people, also found that 78% say God created life on earth and 5% believe a universal spirit or higher power was responsible for creation. Forty-eight percent say humans and other creatures have evolved over time, and 42% say humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

Twenty-six percent of the public overall accepts the Darwinian account of evolution, Pew reported, and 18% say that evolution was guided by a supreme being for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today, a view consistent with the emerging intelligent design theory.

Baptist Press

67% of Alabamians Termed "Born-Again"

A recent Barna Research Group survey finds that 67% of Alabamians can be classified as "born again," making theirs the state with the highest concentration of born-again Christians in the U.S. John Giles, president of Christian Coalition of Alabama, believes this high ranking explains the defeat of the expansion of gambling in Alabama, the demand for good stewardship in government spending, and increasing positive influences on the legislative agenda. "If anything good needs to happen or if anything bad needs to be blocked, Alabamians can meet that challenge," the CCA spokesman asserted. He also feels the Barna survey results explain why citizens of his state are so generous to the poor. According to the 2004 Generosity Index published by the Catalogue for Philanthropy, Alabamians ranked 38th in personal assets but 7th in giving.

Agape Press via
Religion Today Summaries

Mission Seeks to Plant 7,000 Churches in Asia

Bible Mission International (BMI) is thanking God for answered prayer in Kyrgyzstan. Five years ago, when a young Kyrgyz family came to Christ, family members were abandoned by their home village and their relatives. Now there's a thriving church with services in both Kyrgyz and Russian. Church members have nearly reached their goal of bringing the good news to each house in their district, and ministries have been established in "five more places." BMI hopes to evangelize 1% of the population of Central Asia with the gospel. Their goal is to plant 7,000 churches across the region.

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