News

President Pledges Anew to Defend Marriage

President Bush forcefully restated his call for passage of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage  in a speech before the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Speaking via teleconference, Bush said "I will defend the sanctity of marriage against activist courts and local officials who want to redefine marriage."  Several prominent evangelicals in Washington, DC, have told the White House that backing the constitutional amendment is vital to getting Christian voters to turn out on Election Day. The president gave a hearty endorsement to the NAE whose membership include 45,000 congregations, with 30 million members. "The National Association of Evangelicals was founded 62 years ago with the highest of callings-to proclaim the Kingdom of God," he said. "You're doing God's work with conviction and kindness." 

Charisma News Service via
Religion Today Summaries

Demo Leader Supports Same-Sex "Marriage"

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came out in support of same-sex marriage March 24, becoming the highest-ranking member of either chamber to take that position publicly.

Pelosi's comments are sure to cause grumbling from more moderate and conservative Democrats.

Appearing on FOX News' "Your World with Neil Cavuto," Pelosi, D-Calif., was pressed to give her position on same-sex "marriage." Her district includes San Francisco, which handed out more than 4,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples against state law before the California Supreme Court told the city to stop.

"Can same-sex couples marry?" Cavuto asked. "Yes," Pelosi replied.

Moments later Cavuto asked, "So what the mayor of San Francisco is doing, you would approve of it?" "Yes," she said.

Pelosi said she would use her "leadership to defeat" a constitutional marriage amendment backed by President Bush, which would protect the traditional definition of marriage, thus banning same-sex "marriage."

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., recently also came out in support of same-sex "marriage."

While polling on the issue has been somewhat erratic, a March CBS/New York Times poll showed that 59% of Americans favored an amendment-up four points from the same poll in December.

Baptist Press

Four Missionaries Killed in Iraq

Four American missionary workers serving with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB) were killed in the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, in a drive-by shooting March 15. The attack occurred as they were working on a water-purification project. Three Americans died at the scene and a fourth person, 28-year-old David McDonnall of Rowlett, Texas, died early the next morning en route to a military support hospital in Baghdad, IMB reported. His 26-year-old wife, Carrie, was subsequently listed in critical but stable condition.

Those killed were Larry Elliott, 60, and his wife, Jean, 58, of Cary, N.C., and Karen Watson, 38, of Bakersfield, Calif. The Elliotts had been transferred to the Middle East last month after serving in Honduras since 1978. Watson had served with IMB since March, 2003. All four victims reportedly died of bullet and shell fragment wounds from automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades after being attacked by unidentified assailants.

During IMB's weekly chapel service on March 17 in Richmond, Va., the five workers were honored for their courage and commitment to God's work. A special video with footage of all the workers was shown to the staff. In the video, a smiling David McDonnall shared why he and his wife felt called to go to Iraq. "The love of God and the power of Christ can change any heart," David said while sitting next to his wife. "[God] can turn people from violence into carrying the Sword of the Spirit ... and piercing the heart of people, not with bullets, but with the word of God." 

The testimonies of the four fallen workers will live on despite this tragedy, said IMB President Jerry Rankin.. Quoting Paul's words from Scripture-"to live is Christ and to die is gain"-Rankin encouraged the staff to continue using the time they have been given for God's glory, even in places where the risks may be high.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, said such attacks were meant to divide the coalition, reported the Associated Press.

Assist News Service/Associated Press and Baptist Press

Bolivian Mob Blames Christians for Hailstorm

An angry mob of Quechua Indians destroyed the only evangelical church building in the remote village of Chucarasi in the Bolivian Andes Feb. 28, blaming the believers for a hailstorm that damaged local crops. Trouble began in the village during the annual Carnaval festival, celebrated to mark the beginning of Lent. Chucarasi observes the holiday with the veneration of Christian and pagan icons, ritual dances, and excessive consumption of alcohol, believing such activities appease local deities and avoid natural disaster. Since converting to evangelical Christianity several years ago, the 30 families belonging to the Church of God in Chucarasi have declined to take part in Carnaval celebrations.

Two days after the festival ended, a severe hailstorm struck Chucarasi, damaging fields of potatoes and grain and fueling fears that evil spirits were punishing the community for the evangelicals' refusal to participate in Carnaval. A village meeting was called, and the evangelicals were summoned. Only one came, Fortunato Bernal, who believed his elected position in the community would protect him. The rest of the church members gathered to pray on a mountainside. When he arrived, Bernal was beaten unconscious by the mob that had gathered. Then the irate mob destroyed Bibles and hymnals, smashed the pulpit and pews and tore down the church's building. Community leaders sided with the animists and insisted that the evangelicals renounce their faith or leave.

Religion Today/Compass/Voice of the Martyrs via MissionNet

Emails Can Put Missionaries, Nationals in Danger

The Internet has changed the way missionaries and supporters are communicating today. In most cases email has helped facilitate relationships and even fostered short-term mission trips, as churches feel more connected. However, email can cause some problems, says OC International's David Daum. "In restricted-access countries where they really don't want any type of missionary work to be going on, it's a very sensitive issue to have email flowing back and forth with Christian information in it. It can get missionaries kicked out of the country. It can get nationals put in jail, or even worse sometimes."

Daum has some advice for those who are emailing missionaries overseas. "You can never guarantee a 100-percent security in these things," he says. "Refrain from going into a lot of detail and using a lot of Christian or divisive words. In some cases you'll have to ask your missionary what words you should be using."

Mission Network News

One-Third of Web Users Seek Religious Information

More than a third of all Americans who are connected to the Internet have used it to access religious and spiritual information, a recent Pew Research Center study shows. Moreover, there has been a significant increase in the daily use of the Internet to access religious information. What researchers call "religion surfers" almost doubled to 35 million from 18 million between March 2000 and November 2002. The growth appears to be only "slightly linked" to the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. The most recent research found that not only has the interest in religion held since 9/11, but it increased 25 percent during the subsequent 15 months. The poll found Internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 to be the least interested in searching out religious material (24%), while those ages 30-49 (33%) were the most interested.

Religion Today/Agape Press via MissionNet

Sudanese Accused of Funding Nigerian Attacks

Government security agents in Nigeria have reported the arrest of a Sudanese Muslim businessman who heads a Saudi Arabia-funded charity in connection with financing bloody Islamic attacks on Christians. Sheik Muhiddeen Abdullahi, director of the Al-Muntada Al-Islami Trust, was arrested Feb. 20, in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, following the "discovery of financial transactions running into millions of dollars between him and an Islamic fundamentalist cleric, Alhaji Sharu," an official of the State Security Service said. Trust funds have reportedly gone to propagate the Wahhabi sect of Islam in Nigeria and to finance a fundamentalist Muslim uprising in December, 2003, that left two policemen and a dozen militants dead and thousands of Christians displaced. When authorities released Abdullahi 10 days after his arrest, more than 5,000 Sufi Muslims protested, calling for the immediate
closure of Al-Muntada Al-Islami Trust offices and demanding that the Wahhabi sect be banned from the country.

Religion Today/Voice of the Martyrs via MissionNet

Kosovo Violence Destroys Ancient Churches

Violent clashes between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in a number of cities throughout Kosovo left 8 dead and hundreds wounded in what the Associated Press called one of the bloodiest days since the end of the Kosovo war in 1999. The clashes were apparently triggered by Albanian charges that 2 youths died after Serbs set a dog on them. Three Albanian youths were said to have fled into an icy river, where 2 drowned and the third was missing.

In the resulting battles throughout Kosovo, many churches and monastery buildings-some dating back to the 12th century, were destroyed or damaged by fire. In retaliation, demonstrators set on fire a mosque in Belgrade and another in Nis.  Serb houses were also set ablaze in Caglavica, according to the AP report. United Nations police and NATO-led peacekeepers were unable initially to stop the wave of violence.

Based on reports from the Associated Press and the Institute on Religion and Public Policy

NAACP Now
Pro-Choice

The board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has placed the 95-year-old organization on record in support of abortion rights for the first time. "This is an issue of equal rights, and we are pleased to join those insisting on a woman's right to control her own body," board chairman Julian Bond said in a Feb. 24 news release.

The resolution, which was approved unanimously, also urged attendance at the pro-choice "March for Women's Rights" rally April 25 in Washington. Black Americans for Life criticized the resolution, calling it "incomprehensible."

Baptist Press

Survey Shows Faith
in UK Declining

A BBC survey of faith across the globe found that only 46% of UK respondents said they "always believed in God" compared to 73% worldwide. Thirty-seven percent of British respondents "blame people from other religions for much of the trouble in the world." This is more than any other country. After South Korea, the UK had the fewest regular worshipers (2%), and only 19%said they would be willing to die for their faith compared to 52%worldwide.

Operation Mobilization/Christian Herald via MissionNet

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