News

California Court Nixes Gay Marriages

The California Supreme Court voided San Francisco's same-sex "marriages" Aug. 12 and said that city officials had no authority to issue the licenses. In a unanimous 7-0 decision, the justices ruled that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had no authority to violate state laws that define marriage as between one man and one woman. In addition, in a 5-2 vote the justices ruled that the 4,000 licenses the city issued to homosexual couples should be declared void from their inception.

The court did not address the much broader question of the legality of same-sex "marriage" in California. Cases seeking legalization are making their way up the court system and likely will end up before the same justices someday.

Newsom had argued that California marriage laws violated the state constitution, and that by not issuing the marriage licenses, he himself was violating his oath to uphold the constitution. But the court disagreed.

Baptist Press

Dem Platform Okays Homosexual Agenda

Though the homosexual agenda was not showcased during prime-time hours at the Democratic National Convention, it did make its way into the party's platform and onto the convention floor through a leading homosexual activist's remarks in pre-prime-time hours.

The Democratic platform states in part, "We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families."

The platform also places the Democrats on record as opposing the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. "We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a Federal Marriage Amendment.' Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart."

Among other Democratic platform statements involving facets of the homosexual agenda is one that says, "We will enact the bipartisan legislation barring workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation." The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and other conservative and religious organizations oppose the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) because it equates sexual behavior or self-identity with such traits as race, ethnicity, gender, and religion.

Baptist Press

The entire Democratic Party platform can be accessed at www.democrats.org/platform.

Nigerian Governor Accused Of Leading Persecution

Gov. Alhaji Ahmed Sani of Nigeria's Zamfara State, who first introduced sharia (Islamic law) in the country four years ago, is being accused by Zamfara's Christians of religious persecution. The state's Islamic government recently said it would demolish all churches it marked as "illegal structures," close all businesses belonging to Christians during Muslim prayers, and enforce a new law banning clothing that is not compliant with sharia.

In addition, the Zamfara government has decreed payment of school tuition for Christian children. While Muslim students do not pay tuition fees in the state, Christian students are charged the equivalent of $50 to $250 per term. Saidu Dogo, secretary general of the Christian Association of Nigeria, says the implementation of sharia in Zamfara and other northern states is aimed at eliminating Christians and their religion.

Compass via MissionNet

Church-Planting Going Great Guns in Germany

While evangelical Christians make up only 3% of Germany's population, a paradigm shift is taking place, says Greater Europe Mission's Fred McRae. "The situation for church planting in Germany has really turned the corner, and as a church planter I would say Germany, relatively speaking, compared to where it used to be, is a church-planting paradise." More than 1,000 churches have been established in Germany in the last 15 to 20 years. McRae says the battle in this effort isn't against the post-Christian culture but against Christians who often lack the motivation needed to plant churches. He is also concerned about mission groups. "Mission organizations are still working in Germany and in Europe the way it was done 40 to 50 years ago. I'm afraid that the organizations are going to miss the paradigm shift that God has brought about." He adds that church-planting consultants are needed to motivate and train more German believers.

Mission Network News

Protestants Losing Majority Status

With many evangelicals referring to America as "post-Christian," it should come as no surprise that the decline in Protestant church affiliation is drawing nearer the time when the United States will no longer be a majority-Protestant country. This was the finding of a survey which showed that between 1993 and 2002, the percentage of Americans who identified themselves as Protestants fell from 63% to 52%.

The study was released in July by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, as reported by the Associated Press.

The survey also showed a rise from 9% to 14% of respondents who said they had no religion. Many of these, the AP noted, formerly identified with Protestantism.

Tom Slack, spokesman for the United Methodist West Ohio Conference, who was not surprised by the results, commented that the loss of majority status could be a good thing. "The church is always most vibrant, exciting, innovative, and significant when it is a minority," he said. "When we're in charge and try to run the world, we tend to get caught up in the very things that we're often critical of," he added.

From an Associated Press article printed July 21 in the Columbus Dispatch.

Palestinian Video Makes False Claim to Holy Land

A new Palestinian poetry video, aired on Palestinian Authority television nearly every day in recent weeks, says the Palestinian people have been in the Holy Land since man was created, according to an independent Israeli media watchdog group. Despite historical evidence to the contrary, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and other PA officials have claimed for years that the land on which the State of Israel was established never belonged to the Jewish people; there was never a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City; and Jesus was not a Jew but a Palestinian. "Denying Israel's right to exist by claiming the Jews have no historical roots in Israel is a backbone of Palestinian Authority cultural education, as is the attempt to reinforce Palestinian claims to the land by creating an ancient Palestinian history in Israel," said the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) in a report issued on Friday. "You and Us," the new poetry video, combines both of those elements, PMW said. "You are phantoms on my land," the video says, showing pictures of Israelis. "And our roots in her are deep," it says showing scenes of the land. "For a million years it is our homeland."

Julie Stahl, CNS News via Religion Today Summaries.

Pro-Life Dems Feel Shut Out

The Democratic platform adopted at the national convention in July pointed the party more strongly toward alignment with the abortion-on-demand standard of NARAL and Planned Parenthood, according to Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America.

The action which brought her reaction was the dropping of an abortion-related "conscience clause" which had been part of previous Democrat platforms in 1996 and 2000. The conscience clause stated: "We respect the individual conscience of each American on this difficult issue, and we welcome all our members to participate at every level of our party."

This year, the following was substituted: "We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine current abortion laws." Ms. Day commented: "I think they (NARAL and Planned Parenthood) are really driving the party right now."

Based on "Aborted Language" in the Aug. 7 issue of World magazine

Christian Compound Attacked in Baghdad

The Assyrian Christian compound in Baghdad came under mortar attack Aug. 9, just eight days after bombers killed up to 15 Christians in coordinated attacks on five Iraqi churches. Assyrian leaders said the damaged compound in the capital's Zayuna District houses a clinic, a women's center and a computer center. It also provides free telephone calls to those in need and supports humanitarian relief activities while serving as the nerve center for Assyrian Christians in Iraq. The attack further increased concern among Iraqi Christians who say they are being targeted. Hundreds of Christians have reportedly fled to countries such as Jordan and Syria following the attacks against five Assyrian churches on Aug. 1, in Baghdad and Mosul. Christians say that the latest assault reconfirms that "anti-democratic forces in Iraq are trying to start sectarian warfare."

Assist News Service/ AssyrianChristians.com via MissionNet

Muslims Could Dominate Europe By Century End

If present trends continue, Europe is "likely to become part of the Western Arab world" by the end of this century, says Bernhard Lewis, a leading Islamic scholar. Missionaries with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB) agree. "The indigenous Europeans have a low birth rate, but many of the [Muslim] immigrant populations that are moving into the region have high birth rates," says IMB's Chris Mills. "It's just a matter of time before there's a shift in the balance of culture and worldview. Part of our goal is to share the gospel, meeting these [immigrants] as they come into these countries and building relationships with them," Mills said, adding that Muslims living in Europe are often open to the gospel. "Islam is not their heart faith," he says. "It's a cultural religion, but it's not really who they are."

Mission Network News/
Assist News Service

Thousands Come to Christ at Minnesota Festival

A weekend of faith and fun wrapped up Aug. 8, as an estimated 200,000 people attended the two-day Twin Cities Festival with Luis Palau at the State Capitol grounds in St. Paul, Minn. Palau encouraged teenagers that God has answers to their deepest questions such as, "Who am I? What is the purpose to my life? What about eternity? When I die, am I going to live forever? Am I going to hell? Am I going to heaven?"

More than 10,400 attendees made first-time decisions and recommitments to Christ.

Mission Network News/
Assist News Service

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