American Life League questions prolife victories
The American Life League, a $7.5 million/year organization that runs such antiabortion programs as Rock for Life, STOPP (Stop Planned Parenthood), Rachel's Vineyard (for postabortion healing), and Campus for Life (which was recently profiled by The Washington Post) is earning a reputation as the wet blanket at the prolife party.
That ALL isn't totally happy with the state of abortion in the U.S. isn't a surprise. This is an organization with the motto "Prolife without exception, without compromise, without apology." But where other prolife organizations see victory, ALL sees defeat.
Take, for instance, this week's House vote on the partial-birth abortion ban. Most prolife organizations were absolutely ecstatic at the news.
"We applaud the prolife community's tenacity and commitment to ban the cruel practice of partial-birth abortion and look forward to a day in this country when every human being at any stage of life is welcomed as a valuable individual," said Carrie Gordon Earll, bioethics analyst for Focus on the Family.
Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told Focus's Family News in Focus that the bill "is evidence that the prolife movement is gaining momentum in the struggle to reassert the sanctity-of-life ethic upon which this nation was founded."
"What a triumph of the American spirit it has been to see moms and dads, activists and plainspoken parishioners remain committed vote after vote, even through the Clinton vetoes, to seeing this legislation become law," said Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America.
"We are proud to stand against this barbarism and make no apology for affirming the infinite worth of every human being," Family Research Council President Ken Connor says in his daily Washington Update. He adds, "The 33 senators and 139 members of Congress who voted to affirm the atrocity of partial-birth abortion are morally unfit for public service."
But ALL's Judie Brown isn't singing along. "It's just a shame that the partial-birth abortion bill claims to ban a procedure that by the definitions and exceptions in the bill will not ban anything and probably will not stop one abortion," she told the American Family Association's Agape Press. "I just find it terribly disconcerting that all these members of Congress have gotten together to have a 'parade' about a bill that won't stop any abortion." Brown says abortionists will simply abort children by other means.* * *
"The problem is that in the process of doing things like this, millions and millions of lives are lost and nobody seems to pay any attention to that," Brown said. "I find that egregious."* * *
Earlier, ALL's STOPP took a similar absolutist position against the Global AIDS Bill, which was also praised by prolife groups for its emphasis on abstinence.
"Celebrating the fact that this bill reserves a third of its prevention funding for abstinence programs is like celebrating the fact that condoms are effective 85 percent of the time," STOPP national director Ed Szymkowiak said in a press release. "In both cases, you are overlooking the 800-pound gorilla in the corner. Namely, that a substantial portion of the so-called prevention funding is being spent on condoms, which have been proven to be inadequate at protecting against HIV/AIDS."
Szymkowiak is also upset that the bill will allow groups that perform or encourage abortion to receive the AIDS funds. "Despite the best intentions of many profamily legislators who wanted to steer this bill in the right direction, it is simply not on par with the traditional family values the administration claims to represent," he said.
Clearly, there's a significant disagreement between ALL and other prolife groups on tactics. But while ALL is public in its disagreement with other organizations, Weblog hasn't seen the other prolife groups respond to ALL's stances. Is the disagreement hurting the prolife cause? Does ALL have a large enough constituency to make a difference in the debate? Are prolife donors aware of the tactical differences between these organizations?
Randall Terry isn't in as much trouble as he'd like you to think
In other prolife news, World magazine reports on the questionable fundraising of Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry.
"The purveyors of abortion on demand have stripped Randall Terry of everything he owned," Terry's website says. "The home was sold, and Randall's equity and assetts were given to pro-abortion activists. Bank accounts were seized … even his frequent flyer miles were taken by court order. … Please give as generously as you can to restore what the enemy took."
The problem, reports World's Lynn Vincent, is that "Mr. Terry is set to close on a new $432,000 home near St. Augustine, Fla., in South Ponte Vedra Beach."* * *
Terry explains to the magazine that he needs a home where "we could entertain people of stature, people of importance."
[Update: Terry has since issued a response to the World article.]
Does Christian Identity have a Christian identity?
- Arrest of accused Olympic park bomber sparks debate on 'Christian terrorism' | The recent capture of the man believed responsible for the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta is an important reminder that "Christian Terrorism" was in the United States long before its Islamic counterpart was unleashed on New York and Washington, D.C. (Voice of America)
- Churches unite in face of 'Christian Identity' group | Local churches are planning an interfaith service in response to news that a white supremacist is teaching hate in Bay County (The Bay City Times, Michigan)
- Search for lost Christian teachings | In her latest book, scholar Elaine Pagels reveals something of her own personal religious quest. (Los Angeles Times)
- Bishops warn Catholics about 'Left Behind' books | The Roman Catholic bishops of Illinois are condemning the best-selling, Christian-themed Left Behind books as "anti-Catholic" (Chicago Sun-Times)
- A year of terror | Missionary writes of kidnapping, husband's death in new book (Ocala Star Banner, Fla.)
- Deciding on the church of your choice | The Unauthorized Guide to Choosing a Church was inspired by Carmen Renee Berry's odyssey from the deeply conservative church of her childhood, the Church of the Nazarene, into the world of seekers and cynics—and back again (USA Today)
- The story behind 'the greatest' English Bible | If you want a serious volume among your summer reading selections, I suggest Adam Nicholson's well-received God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible (Leo Sandon, Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)
Film and TV:
- Hollywood discovers new jackpot in old-fashioned 'Bruce' | What do you get when a movie crosses a) respect and reverence in a cinematic portrayal of the God most Americans worship and b) fart jokes? (Maggie Gallagher)
- Silly movies can teach serious religious lessons | Bruce Almighty, which opened recently, is a plump target for the slings and arrows of religious leaders (Gerald L. Zelizer, USA Today)
- 'New' Jim Bakker returns to Christian television | Show started taping 16 years to the day of his last 'PTL Club' program (Charisma News Service)
- The gospel according to the 'Matrix' | Here's a philosophical question: If you don't know when you've made a decision, can you say you enjoy free will? (The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.)
Sex, love, and marriage:
- Pastor twists Bible's lessons on marital sex | A Southern Baptist Convention leader says that if a husband reads his Bible enough, then he will have a good sex life (Robert Parham, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Should religious congregations sponsor speed dating? | Most religious institutions appear to have conceded love and romance to the secular powers that be (Terry Mattingly, Scripps Howard News Service)
Clergy sex abuse:
- Bishop avoids charges | Phoenix prelate gives up power in sex abuse cases (The Washington Post)
- Bishops have eluded sex abuse indictments | Experts cite hurdles for prosecuting those who did not stop others' crimes (The Washington Post)
- Nazarene pastor charged in sexual assault | When investigators asked Gene Francis if sex ever occurred, Francis said he did not remember, says report (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)
- Church tip led to arrest | Lutheran church officials investigated a local pastor "on and off" for months before providing the tip that led police to charge the cleric with sexually abusing a girl for years (Palm Beach Post)
- Bishop tells of clerical club gay secrets | Homosexual rights advocate fuels flames of controversy in the Church of England (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Also: Call for bishop to quit over gay link | The Archbishop of Canterbury was facing a fresh storm over homosexuality last night after it emerged that the Church of England's most recently appointed bishop had been in a gay relationship for decades (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Should Nigeria say whether our priests can be gay? | What is going on in the Church of England is medieval: like the Spanish Inquisition without the violence (Mary Ann Sieghart, The Times, London)
- Gay Episcopal priest nears election as bishop | A clergyman who left his wife and two daughters for a male lover would become the first openly homosexual priest elected an Episcopal bishop if he prevails in a contest in New Hampshire (The Washington Times)
- Church rift widens in struggle over gay rights bishop | Splits in the Anglican Church widened last night after two senior archbishops called for the new Bishop of Reading, who is a passionate advocate for gay rights, to stand down (The Times, London)
India and its conversion laws:
- Sacrilege during conversions: Report | More accusations that Christians are paying Hindus to convert (Indian Express)
- VHP to counter missionary activities in south Gujarat | Radical Hindus move to oppose Christianity (KeralaNext.com)
- Peterson case a kicker for abortion | The Peterson tragedy has helped catalyze a renewed national appreciation for the personhood of the unborn child (Vernadette Ramirez Broyles, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- How 'partial birth' bill fits into shifting abortion wars | With Wednesday's vote, antiabortion forces score a win and Bush hones his support base (The Christian Science Monitor)
- Commitment to tithing is now rare | Churches nationwide report a decline in members who give 10% of their gross income. The soft economy is among reasons given (Los Angeles Times)
- Returning the faith | Churches, mosques and synagogues help society in ways that councils do not or can not. Yet they are under-used and receive little thanks (Stephen Bates, The Guardian, London)
- Subtle and sinful? Sydney Anglicans risk split in Lord's Supper rumpus | Documents obtained by the Herald outline how the Sydney diocese plans to allow lay people to administer the Lord's Supper (The Sydney Morning Herald)
Crime and violence:
- The work of God | Decent pay, flexible hours, good benefits package - but being Saudi Arabia's state executioner does have its down side, as Muhammad Saad al-Beshi tells Mahmoud Ahmad (The Guardian, London)
- Also: Saudi executioner tells all | Saudi Arabia's leading executioner says he is "very proud to do God's work" and does not lose sleep over beheading several people in one day (BBC)
- Daily struggles in Basra cut across all religions | When war came again to Basra in March, most Christians again left the city. Only now some of them are returning, says Archbishop Djibrael Kassab (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
- Our deteriorating moral framework | Two houses of worship not far from our home were burglarized recently (Colbert I. King, The Washington Post)
Politics and law:
- Poland's Catholics shun membership of 'Godless' E.U. | The Roman Catholic Church in Poland, probably the country's most powerful arbiter of public opinion, is wavering in its support for European Union entry because of the failure to refer to God or Christian values in the draft European constitution (The Times, London)
- Also: Bishops astonished to see Godless Constitution | Bishop Josef Homeyer, who is President of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, has sent a strongly worded letter to the Convention president, Válery Gisgard d´Estaing (EU Observer)
- Pa. town won't let Amish men keep horses | Officials rejected a request to change a local ordinance so two Amish men could keep horses on their rural central Pennsylvania property, meaning the men have less than a week to remove the animals or face fines of $100 a day (Associated Press)
- Christians also battle for Palestinian side | The questioner's tone is usually incredulous: "You mean there are Palestinian Christians?" (Sherri Muzher, USA Today)
Church and state:
- Graduations don't always welcome God | Students sharing faith test free speech limits (The Ventura County Star, Calif.)
- Services walk the line between church, state | Christian-oriented baccalaureate ceremonies fall in a gray area (The Ann Arbor News, Mich.)
- Boston church becomes politically important again | The only good church is a dead church, says Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (Terry Eastland, The Dallas Morning News)
- Messiah text service expands | A Cardiff company is to offer people a regular message from the bible via their mobile phones in an attempt to show how up-to-date the church is (BBC, video)
- Lakeway cross also a tower for cell phones | Parishioners at Emmaus Catholic Church try to maintain a clear connection with God, says the pastor, Monsignor Richard McCabe. Now they have one with their earthly friends, too (Austin American-Statesman)
- Catholic school chooses funding over religion | Becoming public charter is best financial option, educators say (The Dallas Morning News)
- The campus crusade against Christ (revisited) | It's time to end the unconstitutional assault on religious organizations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Mike S. Adams)
- Lauderdale school's assemblies spur dispute | For three years, a teenaged R&B musician hired by Lauderdale Lakes Middle School to boost students' self-respect has preached Christianity during mandatory motivational assemblies, a teacher alleges (South Florida Sun Sentinel)
- God save the Iraqis from the American God | The new conservatism is based on the profoundly hubristic unconservative idea of creating heaven on earth, of playing God (James P. Pinkerton, Newsday)
- Band-aids, beans & conversion for Iraqis | For evangelical Christians, 'the question is not whether, but how and when, they should convey their faith' (Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange.com)
- The ballad of joking Jesus | Who's zoomin' who in postwar Iraq? (Tim Cavanaugh, Reason)
- Baghdad's baptizers | Revering John the Baptist, these Iraqis sustain an ancient religion (U.S. News & World Report)
Prayer and spirituality:
- Amazing grace | No matter what's on the plate, giving thanks is universal (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Contract chaplains aid employee productivity | Chaplains offer spiritually based counseling and guidance to workers dealing with everything from divorce and depression to illness or death (The Washington Times)
- Exploration of spirituality group's goal | Mind-body-spirit relationship a vital part of holistic healing (Diane Evans, The Beacon Journal, Akron, Oh.)
- Data: Not keeping the faith| Is Christian fundamentalism in America on the rise? A Gallup poll analyzed in the March Scientific American by Rodger Doyle suggests a trend toward moderation among evangelical Christians (Reason)
Faith and war:
- Why won't they listen? | Those of us in the church are no longer listened to when we preach peace because, often, there is no peace within us (John Newbury, The Guardian, London)
- God only knows | The conflicting demands of wartime prayers (Reason)
- Pope making landmark 100th foreign trip | The grueling five-day, five-city tour, which gets under way Thursday, will put the 83-year-old pope's strength to the test (Associated Press)
- Crossing the Tiber | Lutheran and Anglican clergymen convert to Catholicism with increasing frequency—usually in despair over what they consider the slide of their previous spiritual homes into apostasy (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)
- Bombs found under Pope's stage | Six bombs and two unexploded mortar shells from World War II have been found under a stage where Pope John Paul II is due to celebrate mass during his visit to Bosnia next month. (The Australian)
Other stories of interest:
- Religion news in brief | Sharing communion with Catholics, Jewish-Orthodox dialogue, Afroman's faith, and other stories (Associated Press)
- Couple walk out of own wedding on religious grounds | Evangelical Christians Aurel and Simona Sandu had warned their parents they would not attend the ceremony if the guests were served alcohol or if "profane music" was played (Ananova)
- U.S. 666 officially renamed U.S. 491 | Highway and Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught had said earlier this year that the number's ''negative connotation'' was one officials didn't want associated with the state because it discouraged tourism and area economic development (Associated Press)
- Was local preacher God? | Followers age & dwindle, some still believe (Associated Press)
- Jokes about religion not always wise | I've opened Pandora's religion jokebox a few times and usually wished I'd kept a lid on it (Steve Crain, The Pilot, Pinehurst, N.C.)
- Rowers ready to make epic St. Columba voyage | The crossing, to commemorate the anniversary of the journey that brought Christianity to Scotland, will begin on Monday in a 37ft replica Irish-built curragh (The Herald, Glasgow)
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