Methodist Bishops Table Policy Change on Homosexuality United Methodist bishops have tabled a proposal that would have loosened restrictions in the church's mostly conservative policies on homosexuality. --by Kevin Eckstrom of Religion News Service at the PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly website 5.10.07
Abuse Victim Tells Her Story at National Press Club
Speaking at a recent press conference at the National Press Club in Washington , DC , a member of an underground house church in China told about her experiences of torture, abuse, and arbitrary imprisonment by Chinese police.
According to a news release from the China Aid Association, Ms. Liu Xianzhi, 34, a member of the South China Church , escaped from China last month after serving her sentence in a labor camp making Christmas lights and rugs.
In 2001, the news release continued, police arrested Ms. Liu and tortured her into falsely testifying that the pastor of the South China Church , Gong Shengliang, raped her. Liu said that her prison experience continues to haunt her.
Liu is one of 8903 members of the South China Church who police have arrested for their religious beliefs, the news release stated, including Pastor Gong, who is serving a life sentence in prison based on multiple confessions obtained through torture. –excerpted from Talon News, 02.18.05
“Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.” –Henry Clay
Swedish Pastor Acquitted After Anti-Gay Sermon
A Swedish pastor convicted of hate crimes for a sermon denouncing homosexuals as a “cancer” was acquitted Friday by an appeals court that said he was protected by the country’s free speech laws.
The Goeta Appeals Court said that while Aake Greens views of gays can be “strongly questioned,” it was not illegal to offer a personal interpretation of the Bible and urge others to follow it. –from Fox News, 02.11.05, AP
“Do you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain?”
A budding romance between a Jordanian man and woman turned into an ugly public divorce when the couple found out that they were in fact man and wife, state media reported.
Separated for several months, boredom and chance briefly re-united Bakr Melhem and his wife Sanaa in an Internet chat room, the official Petra news agency said.
Cyber love blossomed between the pair for three months and soon they were making wedding plans. To pledge their troth in person, they agreed to meet in the flesh near a bus depot in the town of Zarqa , northeast of Amman.
Upon seeing Sanaa-alias-Jamila, Bakr-alias-Adnan turned white and screamed at the top of his lungs: “You are divorced, divorced, divorced”- the traditional manner of officially ending a marriage in Islam.
“You are a liar,” Sanaa retorted before fainting, the agency said. –Contributed by Mark Zaveson, excerpted from an unknown source 02.06.05.
The Rich and Shameless: The continued slippery slope for the royals and their relations
Following the marriage announcement of Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, the director of a British think tank said it’s time to rethink the issue of church-state relations.
(T)he British think tank Ekklesia stated in a news release that the marriage decision places the Church of England — as the state church — in a very difficult position. It has “as its future Governor and Defender of the Faith a man who even the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot permit to re-marry in his own Church using the official liturgy he is meant to uphold.”
However, according to the Episcopal News Service, Prince Charles marriage plans have won “qualified support” from the one million member Evangelical Alliance.
That group, the news service stated, says it promotes Biblical truth in contemporary society and described the planned marriage as a “serious move to put their relationship on a more moral footing.”
But the Alliance still commented, “The couples previous divorces, their documented adultery and the nature of their extra-marital relationship up to this point, do present difficulties for many of our Anglican members and others with respect to Charles suitability to govern the Church of England.” –Jeremy Reynalds, from Talon News, 02.14.05.
The Road to Hell
“The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”–C.S. Lewis
Contestant on NBC Reality Show Commits Suicide
A contestant in “The Contender” a new NBC reality series about boxing scheduled to start next month, committed suicide yesterday in Philadelphia , network executives said last night.
The contestant, Najai Turpin, 23, a middleweight boxer from Philadelphia who was known as Nitro, took his life, NBC executives said…
Mr. Turpin, who entered the series as a well-regarded young fighter with a 13-1 record, had a 2-year-old daughter with his girlfriend.
Except for a planned live championship, set to take place in May, all the bouts in the “The Contender” have been completed and are on tape. Because the show, like all other reality shows, depends on the suspense of not knowing the outcome of each weeks episode, no results of the bouts have been released. NBC executives said they were saddened by the news and were setting up a fund to help Mr. Turpins family. But they said they were convinced the network would be able to broadcast the show as planned.
Mark Burnett, the show’s executive producer, said: “Nothing changes. Im not even going to make any edits because its real.” Mr. Burnett said that at some point, the series will make a mention of Mr. Turpins death, probably in an onscreen message at the end of an episode. –from The New York Times, excerpted from an article by Bill Carter, 02.15.05.
On Freedom of Speech
“Too many people — some of them judges — seem to think that freedom of speech means freedom from consequences for what you have said. If you believe that, try insulting your boss when you go to work tomorrow. Better yet, try insulting your spouse before going to bed tonight.” –Thomas Sowell
Swiss Nurse Commits Euthanasia
A Swiss nurse has been convicted of killing 22 elderly patients by lethal injection or suffocation and sentenced to life imprisonment, according to Britain ‘s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.
The nurse, Roger Andermatt, claimed that his motive was compassion — but, according to a statement by police officials in Lucerne, he also cited a desire to ease the work overload. Many of his victims were elderly, and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. –from Focus on the Family at www.citizenlink.org Copyright (c) 2005.
“I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. … Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope.” –Ronald Reagan
Waltzing with God
One of the unexpected results of the tsunami has been the fiery theological debate it has spawned around the question of what kind of God allows such a horrific occurrence that took the lives of close on 200,000 innocents.
For many who are devout, the earthquake and tsunami had less to do with shifting tectonic plates and submarine pressure waves, and more to do with the will of God. They seek their explanation not from geologists, geographers and marine scientists, but from priests, pastors and imams. The issue of why things happen is one of the most obvious differences between believers and non-believers. Is there a divine plan behind everything, or is life just a brief random-chance waltz?
What one might call the Christian sophisticates are the ones who are doing most of the soul searching. These are believers, mostly in the developed Western nations, who would like to believe in an essentially benign supreme being.
This is not much different from the Muslim fundamentalists who explain the deaths as a manifestation of Allahs anger. They share with Christian fundamentalists a simple thesis: those who died deserved to. According to them, the collective punishment of the great natural disaster is a justified punishment for usury, alcohol use and fornication. “That it happened at this particular time is a sign from Allah. At Christmas fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come to commit fornication and sexual perversion,” according to one Muslim cleric on Qatar television.” –William Saunderson-Meyer. Excerpted from The Witness, 01.22.05
“In 1848, Karl Marx said, a progressive income tax is needed to transfer wealth and power to the state. Thus, Marxs Communist Manifesto had as its major economic tenet a progressive income tax. … I say it is time to replace the progressive income tax with a national retail sales tax, and it is time to abolish the IRS.” –Rep. James Traficant, Jr. www.federalist,com
You mean we’ve heard it before?
“If you don’t do anything [with Social Security], one of two things will happen. Either it will go broke and you won’t ever get it, or if we wait too long to fix it, the burden on society … of taking care of our generations Social Security obligations will lower your income and lower your ability to take care of your children to a degree that most of us who are parents think would be horribly wrong and unfair to you and unfair to the future prospects of the United States.” –William Jefferson Clinton, 02.09.98.
Article contributed by Richard Vandagriff and Mark Zaveson